From: NBC News (edited)
Einstein said physics belonged to young people. He was wrong. Today, the average physicist does his Nobel Prize-winning work at age 48.
In the early 20th century, young physicists were part of a revolution in theoretical knowledge. That meant that older knowledge was less relevant.
That's why they referenced mostly recent work in their papers. Now, however, physicists are more likely to cite older studies. That means they benefit from their greater knowledge of earlier work.
Olga Khazan notes, however, that people who excel in abstract fields, like art or physics, tend to be younger than those who win prizes in fields that require more background like medicine.
One reason: theoretical scientists don't have to wait for experiments to be completed. Also, being new to their fields allows them to see the holes in earlier arguments that veterans might not.
The ability to identify radical departures may be greatest shortly after initial exposure to a paradigm, before it has been fully assimilated. Drake Baer notes that the more you're exposed to other people's ideas, the more you're infected by them.
Khazan's separation of conceptualizers and experimenters is also made by David Galenson in reference to the arts.
The Experimenter has imprecise goals. Cézanne, for instance, revisited the same subjects again and again, waiting for perfection to emerge.
The conceptual artist knows exactly what he wants to communicate. Picasso is an example. He expressed himself fully in one style and then moved on to something else.
Experimenters build their skills over the course of their careers, while conceptual artists express an idea and then drop it altogether. So, naturally the Experimenter tends to be older when he discovers what he wants.
Everything above is modified quotations not original work.