National Academy

As part of a report on a study (or several studies) I was writing last week (because evidently I can’t find enough things to keep me from making progress on the Project), I was including some data on the geographic distribution of members of the National Academy of Sciences within the US. The focus was on Physics, Astronomy, and Applied Physical Sciences. It was rather interesting, binned by state, especially if you grab the columns and tell Numbers to throw up a graph of it all. The concentrations are striking. I wondered whether the concentrations were simply following population, at least roughly, and so I went elsewhere and grabbed the population numbers for each state and ran that into a chart as well. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions as to the results. I find them interesting. Look at California, Texas, and Florida, for example.


You can look at the membership data (and slice them to your liking) here.


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6 Responses to National Academy

  1. Am I reading the graph correctly? It seems to say that if you plot blue over green, DC comes out highest, then MA, then CA.

  2. Whoops – I ignored NJ, which belongs between MA and CA. (Poor Jersey, always getting ignored)

  3. Ele Munjeli says:

    They would just cluster around facilities. Telescopes, universities, aerospace industries (NASA, JPL), and supercolliders all make great bait for physicists. When I lived on the Big Island of Hawaii, there were ads in the paper, Wanted: Physicist, because of the telescopes.

  4. Clifford says:

    Sure, but that’s a tad obvious, no? You don’t explain why there are people concentrated in big cities by saying “well, that’s where the buildings are”. Well, not entirely, anyway…



  5. Ele Munjeli says:

    Yes. Why do you find it interesting? A city grows at a crossroads, a harbor, a strategic point. A telescope needs a clear sky, a rocket needs a desert, and a collider needs funding. Is it surprising physicists have a distinct geography?

  6. Clifford says:


    If physicists needing certain geography explains it all for you, so be it. It does not for me. (Presumably plotting the whole membership, across all fields, against the population fraction would be an interesting test.)