Working as a young, self-funded, independent investigator, Charles Darwin formulated the theory of evolution by variation and natural selection.
Modern science funds independent investigators differently:
It has become increasingly difficult for young U.S. researchers to win funding for their ideas.
Unfortunately, our iconic images of great scientists distort perceptions of age and accomplishment. Both Darwin and Einstein were in their 20s when they discovered principles that revolutionized human thought:
Scientists doing great work seldom look like Great Scientists.
[Graph adapted from Jason Hoyt, “Are there too many PhDs?”]
Update: I’ve done follow-up post in response to a discussion on the Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science blog.
On evolutionary themes, see also:
- For Darwin Day: On the Origin of Genetic Information
- Evolutionary Capacity: Why organisms cannot be like machines
- Machines Evolving to the Brink of Failure