Compared with other awards, the Nobel Prize in Natural Science has a high degree of credibility and authority in the academic world, and its winners represent the highest level in the field. In addition, the Nobel Prize in Natural Science emphasizes the basic sciences. It is the basic knowledge about human cognition of nature. It has achieved breakthrough results in this field, and reflects the overall scientific research level and original innovation ability of a country for subsequent scientific and technological applications. And the production practice has a steady stream of driving forces.
Therefore, the Nobel Prize for Natural Science awards, like an indicator that is not precise enough but is sufficiently clear, reflects the development pattern of modern natural science at the national level. This article examines the international competition under this scientific honor by counting the national ownership of the Nobel Prize in Natural Science over the years.
According to the Nobel Prize official data, since the award was awarded in 1901 (after the publication of the 2019 winners), a total of 612 scientists won the Nobel Prize in Natural Science, and four of them won the Nobel Prize twice. Statistics on the nationality of these 612 scientists (two statistics of dual nationals) found that they are distributed in 31 countries on 6 continents. Among them, there are 267 winners with US citizenship, accounting for 43.63%, and it is far ahead of the UK, Germany, France and other countries. The fifth place is Japan, with 22 winners.
So far, there are two winners of the Nobel Prize in Natural Science of China (one is Yang Zhenning, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1957 with Li Zhengdao and joined Chinese nationality in 2017; one is Tu Yu In 2015, he won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and was the first Chinese native scientist to win the Nobel Prize. He ranked 18th. The countries ranked before this are all developed countries, and the top ones are all world economic powers. It can be seen that the Nobel Prize for Natural Science has a clear agglomeration in geospatial space and is concentrated in developed countries. The winners of the United States, Britain, Germany and France account for almost three-quarters of the total.
If you want to reflect the overall scientific strength of a country through the number of Nobel Prize winners, then nationality statistics may not be very appropriate. Because the scientific elites often have cross-border migration at different stages of their life, their nationality, place of birth, place of education, place of work, and completion of the Nobel Prize results are not uniform in space.
Considering the importance of academic traditions, work collaboration, research funding and equipment for research work, it is more accurate to examine the completion of the Nobel Prize results (in which country the award-winning research work is conducted). For example, although Mr. Yang Zhenning is already Chinese nationality, the result of his winning the Nobel Prize was completed in the United States. Even though Yang Zhenning had not yet joined the US nationality at that time, according to the Nobel Prize achievement principle, his Nobel Prize should be Counted in the United States.
From the perspective of the completion of the Nobel Prize achievement, the phenomenon of spatial agglomeration is more obvious. The results of 612 award-winning scientists were concentrated in 25 countries, with the United States accounting for almost half of the country. That is to say, in the past century, almost half of the scientific discoveries and inventions of great significance to human beings were born in the United States, and more than one-third of the results were completed in Western Europe. The main creators of human modern natural sciences are the United States and Western European countries. In these more than 100 years, they have continuously promoted the cognitive boundary of human beings to nature and are the scientific center of the world today.
So far, there are two winners of the Nobel Prize in Natural Science in China.
In the nearly 120 years since the Nobel Prize was awarded, if we intercept the time in different historical periods, we can diachronically examine the development of natural science in different countries. Professor Chen Qirong did this type of research in 2011.
Since 1901, every 20 years is a stage, and the development of the Nobel Prize for Natural Science can be divided into six periods. The number of Nobel Prizes completed in different countries can be roughly divided into three types at each stage.
Straight up type. This type is represented by the United States and Japan. Since the United States won the first physics award in 1907, Albert Michaelson, the number of Nobel Prize winners has risen year by year, and the growth has been rapid, and has remained at a high level so far, showing no signs of decline. The situation in Japan is similar to that in the United States, but it has been a late start for nearly half a century. In 1949, Yukio Yukawa’s physics award was the first Nobel Prize in Natural Science in Japan. After entering the 21st century, the number of Japanese winners was “blowout”. Since 2000, 19 Japanese scientists have won the Nobel Prize. Japan’s Nobel Prize for Natural Science won 86.4% of the total number of people.
The scientific innovation of the Nobel Prize level is closely related to the discipline accumulation tradition and the knowledge inheritance system.
Straight down type. Contrary to the straight-up type, Germany and France won awards in the first 20 years of the 20th century, but the number of winners gradually decreased. Although from a global perspective, Germany and France are still popular countries for the Nobel Prize, but they are no longer as brilliant as before, especially in the dazzling light of the United States. Also faint is the birthplace of modern natural sciences – Italy, which briefly withdrew from the past in the early 20th century and almost withdrew from the stage of the Nobel Prize.
Single peak type. In some countries, the number of awards is significantly higher than other periods, forming a small peak of the Nobel Prize, such as Austria in the 1920s and 1930s, Britain in the 1960s and 1970s, Switzerland in the 1980s and 1990s, and the Cold War period. The Soviet Union, and Israel since the 21st century, but such a climax does not seem to have continuity and stability.
If you sort the number of winners in each stage, you can find the transfer trajectory of the Nobel Prize for Natural Science award space, that is, Germany ranked first in the first 40 years of the 20th century, and the United States has stood out since the 1940s and has remained so far, only in the 21st century. At the time, a new chaser, Japan, appeared.
Looking at the history of the Nobel Prize in Natural Science Awards, the United States and Japan can become a rising country in terms of the number of awards, largely due to the status of the world’s economic power that was first realized by the two countries. At the end of the 19th century (in 1894), the United States became the world’s hegemon over the United Kingdom. After more than 20 years, it became the world’s scientific center. After more than 40 years, it won the Nobel Prize. In 1970, Japan’s GDP exceeded West Germany. In the late period of the year, he surpassed the Soviet Union and became the world’s second largest economic power. In the next 30 years, the number of “no prizes in the stage” jumped to the second place in the world.
Since the Nobel Prize in Natural Science focuses on basic research that has a groundbreaking contribution to human science cognition, rather than an application technology invention that directly directs practice and commercial production, the overall economic strength of a country is to safeguard scientists’ commitments. An important prerequisite for award-level original research. Superior economic conditions promote scientific innovation, while scientific innovation feeds back economic development through subsequent production practices. The cyclical cumulative effect between economic powers and scientific powers makes the country’s advantages continue to strengthen and continue. The United States is the most prominent example. .
In addition to the economic base, Japan’s emphasis on basic scientific research at the national level and the respect for the Nobel Prize have made it a powerful chaser. In the 1960s, Japan proposed the “integrated basic policy for revitalizing science and technology”, which used 2% of national income for scientific research. In 1971, it raised the target to 3%, higher than that of the United States, Germany, France and other countries. In 2001, in the new century, Japan introduced the “Second Science and Technology Basic Plan” and proposed the goal of winning 30 Nobel Prizes in the next 50 years, sparking heated debates and controversies. However, the time has only passed less than 20 years, and the 50-year target has been completed.
If the number of Japanese Nobel Prize winners breaks out, mainly because of the “internal power” such as domestic economic growth and policy orientation, then the rapid rise of American scientific research strength, to a certain extent, also relies on rare “external forces.”
Since the 1930s, the genocide policy pursued by the fascist government and the World War II smoke that pervaded Europe have forced a large number of European scientists, especially Jewish scientists, to flee Europe and seek refuge in the United States. According to statistics, at least 63% of the approximately 12,000 Jews who were forced into exile during World War II were accepted by the United States, of which about 1,400 were scientists, including “the father of modern physics” Einstein, “the father of the atomic bomb”, Hillard, “Father of hydrogen bombs” Teller and so on. The loss of elites in Europe was again in Germany. From 1937 to 1939, German universities lost 45% of their teachers. Large-scale German knowledge exile and American knowledge injection have greatly accelerated the replacement of the world science center between Germany and the United States.
From a microscopic point of view, the scientific innovation of the Nobel Prize level is closely related to the discipline accumulation tradition and the knowledge inheritance system. According to American sociologist Harriet Zuckerman’s statistics on 286 winners from 1191 to 1972, 41% of the winners were at least studying or working together around a Nobel laureate. Before 1972, among the 92 winners in the United States, the proportion of mentoring relationships was 61.3% in physics, 57.9% in chemistry, and 42.9% in physiology or medicine. Nernst, a student of the 1909 Chemistry Prize winner Ostwald, won the 1920 Chemistry Prize, and the student of Nernst, Millican, won the 1923 Physics Prize, and the students of Michigan, Anderson Received the 1936 Physics Award, Anderson’s student Glazer won the 1960 Physics Award.
Therefore, the massive outflow of scientists, for a country and a scientific research institution, not only loses the scientists themselves, but also completely destroys the academic accumulation and inheritance mechanism necessary for scientific innovation, making it difficult to sustain and harder. revival.
For example, the University of Berlin (now the Humboldt University of Berlin, the predecessor of the Free University of Berlin), since its inception in 1810, the school has a collection of masters, not only the world-class masters in the humanities field, Hegel, Schopenhauer, but also nature. Science giants Einstein, Planck, Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Born, Fischer, etc., 21 of the students who taught or graduated at the University of Berlin won the Nobel Prize in Natural Science. However, the collective escape of scientists during World War II made the school devastated. In 1954, the University of Berlin gave birth to the school’s last Nobel Prize winner in natural science, Bot, and no scientists won the Nobel Prize.
Once the academic advantage is formed, there will be a virtuous circle of “edge-central” talent migration, and scientific elites will gather from all over the world to the science center.
Judging from the research institutions at the meso level, the Nobel Prize winners are concentrated in world-class research universities regardless of their higher education or work place. As of 2018, the Nobel Prize in Natural Science won the top three universities with the highest academic qualifications: Cambridge University (61), Harvard University (55), and University of California at Berkeley (34).
From a macro-level perspective, 3,067% of the 603 Nobel Prize winners in natural sciences were born in the United States, 38.64% were educated in the United States, 42.74% were in US, and 47.26% were in the United States. jobs. The American scientific community has attracted and gathered the world’s best brains and maintained its leading position as the world’s science center. Economic strength is the endogenous driving force for the improvement of the scientific research level of a country. The “Matthew effect” of the spatial level formed by the flow of talents is the way of external force to maintain and continuously expand the existing advantages.
In 2008, China spent more on research in the field of scientific research than Japan; in 2018, the State Council issued “Several Opinions on Comprehensively Strengthening Basic Scientific Research”, establishing “to the middle of this century (2050), building China into the world’s major scientific center and innovation The strategic goal of the Highlands. According to the changes in the scientific research strength of countries around the world in the past century, the distance between China and the Nobel Prize for Natural Science and the World Science Center may only take time to shorten.