It was "the physicist who would win the race (as opposed to the mathematicians) to making discoveries about mathematical structures relevant to our universe" However, that trend seems to be changing. Are there any philosopher's of science who explain this this emerging trend?
Perhaps this list isn't exhaustive or the existence of the mathematical physicist obscures the analysis. But the main point I'm driving at is this the mathematicians seem to be playing a more direct role in physics. Where M stands mathematician and P stands for physicists "winning the race."
P - Maxwell versus Gauss (1873): Gauss was in the camp that electromagnetism could not be described by a wave and Maxwell proved him wrong and laid down the foundation of electromagnetism.
P - Einstein versus Gauss (1905): Einstein discovered special relativity first.
P - Einstein versus Hilbert (1915): Einstein discovered general relativity first.
P - Dirac versus Hilbert (1928): Hilbert did not believe the it was possible the Dirac equation could yield a solution which was both physically meaningful and mathematically consistent.
P - Dirac versus mathematicians (1930): Mathematicians were skeptical on the application of the Dirac Delta function. However, we now have a theory of distributions which justifies Dirac's work.
M - Hawking versus Penrose (1965): Penrose discovered blackholes first.
M - Alexander Grothendieck (& David Mumford) versus physicists (1966): David Mumford applied Grothendieck 's scheme theory in renormalization which was initially not well received by physicists.
P - Witten versus mathematicians (1990): Witten successfully discovered applications of Morse theory and knot theory's applications for QFT with formulas which even perplexed mathematicians.
M - Perelman vs physicists (2003): Perelman solved the Poincare conjecture. His proof was accepted by physicists in 2006.