Fame in the sciences: a culturomics approach
Although scientists, like many other professionals, aspire to fame and recognition, research in the emergent field of fame and celebrity has as yet neglected to explore their fame trajectories. This study therefore uses the frequency with which scientists’ names appear in English language books between 1800 and 2000 to trace the fame of a large number of eminent scholars from different fields. The analysis suggests that, on average, fame grows substantially between the approximate ages of 30 and 50, at which point its growth slows before peaking at around 70. Beyond this point, the growth of fame is more volatile, although we observe no clear decreasing trend. In fact, fame grows again after scientists’ death, but with the fame of those born in the twentieth century exceeding that of their nineteenth century counterparts.
KeywordsFame Recognition Celebrity Science Culturomics
The authors thank an anonymous referee for many helpful comments on a prior version. Ho Fai Chan and Benno Torgler benefitted from support by the Australian Research Council (ARC), DP180101169.
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