America’s nerdiest cities

From Money Magazine, a list of American cities with the highest percentage of residents with graduate degrees. Cambridge, MA (26.3%) narrowly edges out Palo Alto, CA (25.4%) and Berkeley, CA (24.5%) — but beating them both by a long shot is Arlington, VA, the winner at 35.7%. It takes a much more educated crowd to unify Iraq and 9/11 than to unify relativity and quantum mechanics.

12 Responses to “America’s nerdiest cities”

  1. Elan Says:

    I’m probably missing something, but if you’re suggesting Arlington, VA is conservative, then you’re mistaken. They voted for Kerry over Bush by a huge margin in 2006 (68% to 30%)

  2. Robin Blume-Kohout Says:

    I don’t know what their minimum population cutoff is (most are over 150,000, although a bit of poking around with the find-your city search located Fort Smith, AR, with 79,000 souls), but it clearly excluded Los Alamos, NM. 🙂

    I also wonder if you could distinguish the D.C. suburbs by separating graduate degrees into PhD/terminal master’s vs. non-terminal master’s. Most of the cities on the list are university towns, but the Washington-area entries are an exception. I hypothesize that university towns are full of terminal-degree types, whereas there’s a lot of MA/MS folks working in government.

    [Pedantic note: With probability –> 1, Elan means “2004”…]

  3. Scott Says:

    Hi Elan, I assume you mean 2004. In any case, all I meant is that Arlington is where much of the country’s defense community lives and works, and should therefore share in the honor of that community’s celebrated recent achievements.

  4. IC Says:

    The D.C. area (including Arlington, VA) has too many lawyers and politicians, and in general, the educated there are more concerned with attaining power, prestige, and money than in pursuing knowledge and learning for its own sake. The whole area is just too political for a nerd like me. For a nerdy place, I’d rather live in Cary, NC (most Ph.D.s per capita in the U.S.) or Ann Arbor, MI (39.4 % of its >=25 adult population have graduate degrees) or any other college town. (Data derived from the 2000 U.S. census.)

  5. Jonathan Vos Post Says:

    R.I.P. John “Jack” Todd; Re: Faith and Reason

    I don’t know what thread this belongs in, but the man who taught me the beauty of algorithms as mathematical objects, in the late 1960s, has just died. He was a friend of Turing, and a walking history of 20th century Math/computers..

    Todd, former Caltech math professor, dies
    By Elise Kleeman Staff Writer
    Article Launched: 06/25/2007 09:29:37 PM PDT

    PASADENA – John “Jack” Todd, a Caltech professor emeritus and one of the pioneers of 20th-century mathematics, died June 21 at his home in Pasadena. He was 96.

    Todd, who started his career in the days before computers or hand-held calculators, specialized in
    understanding how to find numerical answers to complicated equations.

    “The methods that he developed to solve all kinds of equations had to be really, really efficient because you couldn’t just punch a few keys on a computer,”
    Gary Lorden, a Caltech mathematician, said Monday.

    Now, although most people use computers to solve complex math, “what goes on behind the scenes is very much the application of the kind of mathematics that Jack developed,” Lorden said.

    Todd was “a very fine gentleman of the old school,” Lorden said.

    In a statement, Caltech officials said Todd was born in Ireland in 1911 and grew up near Belfast, Northern Ireland. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Queen’s University, Belfast, in 1931 and attended Cambridge University for graduate studies.

    At King’s College in London he met and wed Olga Taussky, one of the most prominent female mathematicians of the century.

    “They just loved mathematics – that was the center of their life, that was their great love,” Lorden said. In 1939, when Britain declared war on Germany, Todd took a post with the British Admiralty, studying ways to protect ships from
    enemy fire.

    In his Caltech oral history, Todd – referred to by some as the “Savior of Oberwolfach” – recalled his wartime rescue of the Mathematical Research Institute at Oberwolfach in Germany as “probably the best thing I ever did for mathematics.”

    Near the war’s end, he and his colleagues investigated rumors that mathematicians were being held as prisoners of war in Germany’s Black Forest. There, they discovered that the University of Freiburg was protecting the mathematicians at the institute. Todd
    claimed the building for the Admiralty and prevented Moroccan troops from destroying the school and its work.

    He and Olga Taussky-Todd came to the United States in 1947 and took posts at Caltech in 1957, where he remained a professor until his retirement.

    She was the first woman to receive a formal Caltech teaching appointment, and, in 1971, a full professorship. She remained active in research until her death in 1995.

    The couple, who lived simply and saved their money, donated a seven-figure endowment to Caltech to support future generations of mathematicians.

    Services have not been announced.

    (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4451


  6. Coin Says:

    The D.C. area (including Arlington, VA) has too many lawyers and politicians

    What I would be very curious to learn is whether, if we could get a breakdown not only of concentration of graduate degrees but field of graduate degrees, whether it would turn out that humanities, engineering/sciences, and polysci/economics people are all concentrating in different areas.

    By the way, what’s in Santa Monica?

  7. Mark Says:

    I strongly suspect that there is a large concentration of graduate-level degreed people in the Arlington area who work in military contractor companies. That area serves as a sink for people who might otherwise do constructive work. Or who might otherwise cause much less damage.

  8. Thane Plambeck Says:

    Is that the Todd as in Todd-Coxeter coset enumeration?

  9. IC Says:

    Is that the Todd as in Todd-Coxeter coset enumeration?

    No, that’s a different one – John Arthur Todd – a geometer who died in 1994.

    By the way, what’s in Santa Monica?
    1) RAND Corporation
    2) Nice neighborhoods within short driving distance from UCLA and other universities

  10. skysaw Says:

    There are many large organizations within an easy commute of Arlington that are likely soaking up many IQ points without necessarily being connected to the military or law. We could start with the National Science Foundation which sits right in the heart of Arlington.

  11. IC Says:

    The National Science Foundation is to science as university administration is to academics. The analogy is not perfect, but I hope it captures the idea. And you’re right, skysaw, the area does have many such organizations. I suppose some of them are necessary, but would a true nerd be comfortable working in one for long?

  12. Cynthia Says:

    Gotta say, I’m a bit surprised that my homeland (Dixie) has made this list – several times over, in fact. After all, the bible has this covert (yet clear) tendency to repel most other texts… But then Va, Fl, and Tx are merely on the fringes of Dixie – nowhere near its heart…