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AGING WITHOUT GRACE: Trust the children | Lost Coast Outpost

“Age is, of course, a stroke of fever / which every physicist must fear.
It’s better to be dead than still live/When he’s past his thirtieth year.

— Paul Dirac, winner of the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics

Not just physicists either. For instance :

Alexander The Great
had conquered most of the known world of his time by the age of 30. (He died in Babylon on his way home to Macedonia, aged 32.)



Mosaic of Alexander from the House of the Faun in Pompeii, dated to around 100 BC. (Public domain)

Noam Chomskyrevolutionized the field of linguistics at age 26, introducing his radical theory of language acquisition (we are all born with a “language organ” already in place, as much from a baby’s body as its heart or lungs ). I wrote about his ongoing feud with (my hero!) Daniel Everett here.

Jeanne D’Arca peasant, successfully led the French army against the English at age 19.



compatriot of Joan, Napoleon Bonapartehad beaten Russia, Austria and Turkey, that is to say the Ottoman Empire, before his 30th birthday. (* Sorta: he was Corsican, the island having recently been annexed by France from Italy, so he was really Italian.)

The Scottish William Wallace won the Battle of Stirling Bridge against the English at the age of 27.

Albert Einsteinwas 26 in his “miracle year”, 1905, when three of his papers – including special relativity – changed physics and the world, forever. (He said, “A person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of 30 will never do so.”)



Joseph Smithpublished on Book of Mormon when he was 25.

Charles Darwinreturned from his five-year voyage on the Beagle at age 27, having understood evolution by natural selection. (It took him another 23 years to work up the courage to go public with his “It Wasn’t God” opinions in The origin of species.)

Clyde Tombaughwas 24 when he discovered Pluto.

Margaret Meadpublished Coming of Age in Samoa at the age of 28. The controversy over this continues today.

Isaac Newtonhad understood the calculation at 24 years old. Gottfried Leibniz by 29. (Neither published their findings at the time, leading to a bitter feud which some jingoist writers say still rages on.) (Archimedes beat them both by 2,000 years. We don’t know how old he was when he nailed the method of infinitesimals.)

Sara Bareilleswas 28 when she Love song was #1 on iTunes “most downloaded albums” in its first week of release in 2007.



Bareilles on October 16, 2022 (Barry Evans)

And then there is
mozart

And of course, never trust anyone over 30.