90% of all scientists who have ever lived are alive today.

90% of All the Scientists That Ever Lived Are Alive Today

The following paper was written and submitted by Eric Gastfriend. The information he presents is helpful to keep in mind as we consider the speed with which technologies are advancing today.

This simple statistic captures the power of the exponential growth in science that has been taking place over the past century. It is attributable to Derek de Solla Price, the father of scientometrics (i.e., the science of studying science), in his 1961 book Science Since Babylon. If science is growing exponentially, then the major technological advancements and upheavals of the past 200 years are only the tip of the iceberg.

The implications of exponential growth are notoriously difficult for us humans to wrap our minds around. Legend has it th… Continue Reading (9 minute read)

14 thoughts on “90% of all scientists who have ever lived are alive today.”

  1. Lol_A_White_Boy

    In my half awake delusional state, I swear I read this as “Legend says 90% of all scientists who have ever lived are alive today.” and was irrationally confused and alarmed by how it was phrased.

  2. evanthesquirrel

    I’m willing to bet 95% of computer programmers who ever lived are alive today.

  3. Sdog1981

    The article says that data for PhDs awarded is incomplete.

  4. SnooCookies5854

    This is only because we have 100% documentations of everyone and everything they do and have done today. A couple hundred of years ago and before any discovery would normally be shown to a superior who would then take credit or the scientist work would be lost after their passing. No disrespect but for someone claiming the accuracy of science you def had no problem bypassing logical reasoning to why 90% are recorded as of today.

  5. twirky

    Depending on what you call a “scientist”. Nowadays the word scientist is attached to anything: political scientist, computer scientist, something-unrelated-to-science scientist.

  6. ElfMage83

    This makes even more sense when you consider that they used to be called “natural philosophers”.

  7. IceNein

    They’ve discovered the secrets of immortality and they’re not sharing it with us.

    Maybe they’re all liches. What’s the easiest way to determine if somebody is a lich?

  8. Legobrick1000

    What qualifies you as a scientist?

  9. potato-shaped-nuts

    Weren’t they called natural philosophers before they were called “scientists”?

  10. user10205


  11. steinbockcs

    72% of all statistics are made up

  12. black_flag_4ever

    Science is a relatively new concept for humanity.

  13. Theverybestversion

    Cool. What’s the percentage of McDonald’s employees who are still alive today since 1955? Also, what are the total numbers between the two? That would be an interesting comparison.

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