May 2, 2004

Globalizing Science

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at May 2, 2004 8:58 PM

In tomorrow's New York Times:

U.S. Is Losing Its Dominance in the Sciences
The United States has started to lose its worldwide dominance in critical areas of science and innovation, according to federal and private experts who point to strong evidence like prizes awarded to Americans and the number of papers in major professional journals.

Foreign advances in basic science now often rival or even exceed America's, apparently with little public awareness of the trend or its implications for jobs, industry, national security or the vigor of the nation's intellectual and cultural life.

"The rest of the world is catching up," said John E. Jankowski, a senior analyst at the National Science Foundation, the federal agency that tracks science trends. "Science excellence is no longer the domain of just the U.S."

If it's just that the world is catching up, i.e. other countries are devoting increasing resources to scientific research, I have a hard time seeing much that's bad about this. More publicly available science benefits everybody (and if we're talking at published articles and prizes, we're talking about publicly available science).

On the other hand, factors that decrease (or slow) America's scientific output in absolute terms could be worrisome.

Shirley Ann Jackson, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, told the recent forum audience that the drop in foreign students, the apparently declining interest of young Americans in science careers and the aging of the technical work force were, taken together, a perilous combination of developments.
Apparently declining interest of young Americans? This is barely mentioned in the article. I'd rather read more about this, which really is cause for concern, rather than this odd "How horrible, China's doing science!" angle. Tags:
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