Celebrities of today become more famous than the old ones, but their fame is short lived as they are forgotten much faster, reports a study on cultural trends.
Scientists at Harvard University and a team at Google Books said that they had investigated five million books published between 1800 to 2000 - four percent of all those published - for mentions of the most famous people of their age to reach their conclusion, News.com.au reported.
AdvertisementIn the study of fiction and non-fiction books, celebrities were sorted by the year they were born and by the 50 most popular, based on the number of times they appeared in the literature.
It found that fame is disappearing faster, with the average time taken for the number of mentions of a celebrity's name to fall to half its peak dropping from 120 years to 71 years.
For example, Robert Louis Stevenson, the author, born in 1850, continues to make frequent appearances, while the musician Stevie Wonder and the artist Antony Gormley, who are among the most mentioned names of those born a century later, were projected to fade into obscurity more rapidly.
The study also found that modern celebrities are younger than their 19th-century predecessors. Those born in 1950 initially achieved fame at an average age of 29, compared with 43 for those born in 1800.
Most famous actors tend to become famous earlier - at about 30 - than the most famous writers, who are most well-known at the age of 40, while politicians have to wait until they're over 50.
Scientists reach a similar level of fame as actors, but not until after their deaths.
The findings have been published in the journal Science.