To give a comparison, the highly literate Malayali community outnumbers Jews almost two to one. But the number of Nobel prizes 'Mallus' have won is exactly zook (yes, we have *lost* at least one Nobel - the one repeatedly denied to physicist ECG Sudarshan!)
Jewish over-representation in the upper reaches of science has been well-known to me for a long time, but I was totally unprepared for the above *quantification* thereof - the antecedents of Einstein and Feynman had been known for many years but when Pauli, Josephson, Wigner, von Neumann, Landau, Andre Weil, Ed Witten, Steven Weinberg and so on keep piling up (source: Wikipedia), the effect is truly overwhelming!
Geographically, despite their paltry numbers, Jews have a great range; And this explosion of Jewish creativity is very widespread as well. Though the deepest springs of the phenomenon appear to be in Eastern Europe, Jews from the entire sweep of their present geographical range (India included) have achieved world level distinction in several domains of creativity. Indeed in countries like Russia and Hungary where the Jewish population is very small, almost the *majority* of eminent academicians today happen to be of Jewish origin.
And as one looks a little closer at this remarkable intellectual flowering, its most telling feature is revealed: it is a very recent phenomenon, less than two centuries old - although Jews have been around for over three millennia.
Indeed, if one surveys the intellectual landscape of the western world during Renaissance and immediately thereafter, the tallest peaks - Fermat, deCartes, Kepler, Harvey, Galileo, Newton...- were almost all non-Jewish. There had been the occasional Jewish genius and even Jewish Golden Ages (as in the Arab-ruled Spain before 1000 AD) but the totality of their achievement was never really inconsistent with their share in the population. Even in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Jewish intellectual had not begun to overwhelm - Euler, Gauss, Lavoisier, ... were all 'Gentiles' (about the earliest Jewish Mathematical genius I know of was Frenchman Olinde Rodrigues (1795-1851).
But come the latter half of the 19th century and one sees Jewish seekers of scientific manna from all over the west suddenly rising way beyond the level of the 'rest' - and with exponentially increasing frequency. From the Minkowskis, the Freuds, the Mathematicians from Russia and Poland and Hungary ... on to the Einsteins and Paulis and countless Twentieth Century and post-Millennial masters, the deluge of Jewish creativity has only gotten more powerful with time!
Even in areas like Western Classical Music, where the greatest masters of 17th and 18th centuries were almost all non-Jewish, Jews have excelled in more recent times. And that reminds me of an anecdote (not sure if it is authentic, but I guess it is illustrative in a rather profound way):
Someone asked famous Jewish violinist Itzhak Perlman as to how his family had so many gifted violinists. The answer was: "While fleeing from Pogroms, a violin could be easily carried under one's arm. We could not have possibly chosen to specialize in the Piano!"
(And after pogroms ceased in post-1917 Russia, things appear to have changed somewhat: a virtuoso pianist who often performed and recorded with Perlman was Vladimir Ashkenazy, ethnically a Jewish Russian!).
I am not knowledgeable enough to analyze the factors which triggered this Jewish phenomenon of truly Biblical proportions. But I do see some serious lessons for the wider world: Immense potential greatness is intrinsic to mankind (and there is far more of it available now than there ever has been, given our rising numbers and education levels); and it is just that the tiny Jewish community, rather mysteriously, has found the magic key to unlock this potential. In other words, Jews have NOT overachieved, but the rest of us (Mallus and all) have been a *mass of criminal underachievers*; and we need to do something serious about it!
Note: A more low-key and on-going process is the slow decline of Germany. World leaders in the 19th and early 20th centuries, German Science has now fallen behind the US, France and UK and Russia to almost Indian levels. The expulsion of the Jews during the Third Reich must have plenty to do with that!