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Six Degrees of Physics Nobel Laureates

Six Degrees of Physics Nobel Laureates

The small world of science laureates.

Monday, October 7, 2013 - 20:45

Sara Rennekamp, Contributing Editor

(Inside Science) -- In 1929, Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy published a short story called "Chain-Links." In that story, the characters create a game out of the notion that any two individuals in the world could be connected by five acquaintances at most. As the story progresses, the characters find their world growing smaller and smaller, figuratively speaking, through the vast interconnectedness between each person. And with that, the 'six degrees of separation' concept was born. 

We at Inside Science adapted this idea to explore the connections across multiple generations, within one very particular demographic: Nobel laureates in the sciences. To do this, we looked at a very specific connection: their research. 

What you have before you is six degrees of separation between the first Nobel laureate in physics, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, and the 2012 Nobel laureate in physics: David J. Wineland using other physics laureates throughout the prizes' 112-year history. 

Early Monday morning, the Nobel Committee announced that Randy W. Schekman, along with James E. Rothman and Thomas C. Südhof, won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Schekman's freshman chemistry course at UCLA was taught by 1960 Nobel laureate in chemistry, Willard F. Libby, who invented carbon -14 dating. And the connections go on. 

We invite you to add your own connections between Nobel laureates in the comments.


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