If you’re about to hit 30 or 40 or 50 or whatever, and you haven’t had your Breakthrough Success yet, don’t give up. Because according to a fancy new analysis of some 2,800 physicists — which is a hard field — your age isn’t nearly as important as your hustle.
…. Published this month in Science, a research team led by Roberta Sinatra of Central European University in Budapest dug back to right around the birth of the field, 1893. The researchers collected 2,856 physicists who had 20-year careers and had published “impact papers” — the kind of research that gets cited by fellow academics and covered by the press.
…Rather [the study revealed], productivity ruled: The more experiments a given researcher did, the more likely they’d score a hit paper.
….But in law, psychoanalysis, history, or philosophy, you’ve got to spend more time marinating. “You need a much longer lead time, and so your best work is likely to occur in the latter years,” he said.
To that end, a 2011 study found that contemporary physicists make their biggest discoveries around 48, and a 2013 paper found that modern-art painters make their highest-priced work nearly two-thirds of the way through their lifespans.
…there are two types of artists: the experimental, who paint the same thing often, and rely on their sense perception to discover new ways of working — Paul Cézanne and his many apples and Claude Monet and his haystacks come to mind, both of whom were doing some of their most ass-kicking art well past their 60s.