January 20, 2011

My 0.15 MilliDarwins of Fame

The Science Hall of Fame uses Google's ngram-viewer to calculate fame of scientists, based on how often they are mentioned in books. The unit of measurement is the milliDarwin, being mentioned a thousand times less often than Charles Darwin.


Plotting fame versus birth and death (and still living scientists as a separate line above) shows that fame doesn't seem to be that strongly clustered in time. There is actually no tendency for long-lived researchers to have a high ranking, which surprised me.


Most surprisingly, the distribution of fame is not a power law distribution. It is very skew, but looks to me more like a stretched exponential distribution. Perhaps people are more explicit when referring to obscure or normal scientists, while references to Darwin or Einstein are left implicit.

As for myself, I estimate my scientific fame to be 0.15 mD. This is a bit of guesswork, since google Ngram viewer doesn't show books after 2002, and I have good reasons to suspect more has been written mentioning me recently than before 2002. Also, I am conflated with several other Anders Sandbergs. Looking at the Google books hits, I estimate that I am the target of around 36%. But I am not surprised that I am small fry. So far.

Posted by Anders3 at January 20, 2011 02:45 PM