Figure 1: Physics Nobel Prizes 1901-2009:
Evolution of cumulative national shares by citizenship at the time of the award.
Countries are ordered from upper left
to lower right corner by
the year their first laureate received a Nobel Prize fraction.
The vertical width of a nation's colored
band at each year measures its percentage of all Physics Prizes
up to that year (image height = 100%).
Germany took the lead in 1901,
the Netherlands caught up in 1902,
France in 1903,
the UK in 1904;
Germany led alone in 1905,
the UK caught up in 1906,
France in 1908,
then Germany led alone until 1948,
then shared the lead with the UK until 1950;
then the UK led alone until 1959 when the US caught up;
in 1960 the US took over for good.
Note the differences
to the birth-based ranking,
reflecting brain drain from Germany
and other countries such as Hungary to the US (and also the UK).
From Evolution of National Nobel Prize Shares in the 20th Century,
Jürgen Schmidhuber, 2010. PDF. HTML.