Choosing the winning countries

Looking at the latest Wikipedia list of Nobel prizewinners in science (physics, chemistry, physiology/medicine) and calculating ratios of the number of prizes per 1 million population per country one finds an unexpected distribution. In soccer terms we have one Superleague, a credible First Division and two more.

Superleague (more than 2.0)
Switzerland — 2.50
Division 1 (1.0 – 2.0)
Austria — 1.88
Sweden — 1.65
Denmark — 1.61
UK — 1.41
Hungary — 1.12
Germany — 1.07
Netherlands — 1.00
Norway — 1.00
Division 2 (0.5 – 1.0)
US — 0.77
Israel — 0.75
Division 3 (0 – 0.5)
The rest of the world (90 countries)

As to the top nine countries, if their cultures remain stable and if their governments fund basic scientific research well enough then they ought to survive the coming decades. In short, they will be able to develop advanced services, production goods and infrastructure design in order to trade with China, which will be able to make all the consumer goods fit for urban living for all those who can afford them.

Division 2 is interesting. Although America has won the largest number of prizes (246) it is only half as creative as the first nine countries. And even that is only due to its recruitment of 84 scientists who were born elsewhere in the last century. Had they not become naturalised Americans the US would only have achieved 0.47 prizes per million and would belong in Division 3.

Israel, with only 6 Nobel prizes so far since its inception in 1947 is perhaps disappointing but, because of its fraught circumstances, a great deal of its scientific research lies in weaponry or advanced communications and is not published. However, it’s only a matter of time before the scholarship tradition of Judaism comes to the fore. On a wider scientific front in America, 25% of its Nobel prizes are won by Jewish-Americans, 3.0% of the US population.

As to Division 3, countries such as , Finland (0.36), Poland (0.18), Japan (0.16), Italy (0.20) and Russia (0.12) night succeed in future years if they can develop their existing scientific facilities, but as for most countries of the world, only able to offer food or minerals for export they’ll have to wait until their populations are a great deal lower than they are now before their citizens can comfortably share the same standard of living as middle-class people in the advanced countries do already.

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