Is America competing?

America still produces some of the most well respected science, but with the growth seen in Asia, that may not be the case for much longer, according to linkurl:new data;http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind10/ released from the National Science Foundation (NSF) today (15 January). "Science and technology is no longer the providence of rich developed countries," said Rolf Lehming, director of NSF's Science &Engineering Indicators (S&EI) Program, during a press conference on Wednesday. "

By | January 15, 2010

America still produces some of the most well respected science, but with the growth seen in Asia, that may not be the case for much longer, according to linkurl:new data;http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind10/ released from the National Science Foundation (NSF) today (15 January). "Science and technology is no longer the providence of rich developed countries," said Rolf Lehming, director of NSF's Science &Engineering Indicators (S&EI) Program, during a press conference on Wednesday. "That opens up opportunities for collaboration. It also brings competitive elements into play," he added.

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At 1.47 million, the number of researchers in the United States is still the highest of all the regions surveyed, but the overall growth from 1995 to 2008 was 3%. The growth in number of researchers in China over the same period was 8.7%, with 1.42 million today, and no signs of slowing, said Lehming. "The time that we had a monopoly on talent, if there ever was such a time, is behind us," Lehming added. The Science and Engineering Indicators are rolled out every two years and represent the most current data available (usually 1-2 years old). For the first time (that I've seen), the NSF is presenting its data in user-friendly online format that pulls out some of the most interesting observations in eye-catching linkurl:interactive graphics.;http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/digest10/ Some of the other trends discussed this year include: ● In the US, industry accounts for nearly 80% of R&D funding, whereas the government funds only about 20%. ● However, at 60%, the federal government still provides the highest percentage of funding for basic research, with universities and colleges providing about 20%, and industry trailing at 5.5%. That industry figure represents a decline of about 1.5% from 1990. ● Of all the fields funded by federal money, life science gets the biggest slice of the pie with $29.7 billion according to 2008 numbers. The second highest field, engineering, gets a mere $9.35 billion. ● As a point of comparison, defense research gets $81.05 billion. ● In terms of output, the US still leads the world in number of science and engineering publications per year, with nearly 209,000 in 2007. Still as a combined entity, the 27 countries in the EU produced the most with 245,000 publications. ● The US also still holds the world record for patents issued in 2007 at 82,000; the majority of those came from the biological sciences (50%). The second highest patent recipient is Japan with 34,600.
**__Related stories:__***linkurl: 2010 NIH budget bump;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/56211/
[10th December 2009]*linkurl:NSF examines plateau in US publications;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/home/36407/
[14th November 2006]

Comments

Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 85

January 15, 2010

This is all about quantity of science (people involved, research funding, patents issued, articles published). It's much harder to evaluate QUALITY of the scientific endeavor. My gut feeling is that the overall US quality of scientific output is much higher than that of China but lower than that of Japan and the EU countries, but of course I don't know how to try to prove (or disprove) that my gut feeling has any validity.\n\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 34

January 16, 2010

before long you will know who is competing.

January 16, 2010

On 15th January,2010 the National Science Foundation in the United States released its regular report on science and engineering indicators. Not surprisingly, Asia appears to be ascending -- and quickly -- toward the top of the heap with regard to science and engineering development. "In most aspects of S&E the U.S. still has a leadership role," NSF officials told a press briefing on Wednesday, January 13, "but there is erosion in specific areas... In Asia, especially China, there is rapid growth." \n\nDr.A.Jagadeesh,Nellore,Andhra Pradesh,India\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 125

January 16, 2010

1. The U.S. has become less the land of opportunity for attracting the best and the brightest from abroad to come and stay, to be exploited to maintain its scientific supremacy.\n\n2. The rest of the world and particularly Asia has learned to play the same game as the U.S. and can afford to keep more of its best and the brightest from permanently leaving their native countries to seek better professional and economic opportunites in the U.S. or other advanced nation.\n\nIncreasingly less foreign talents are willing to be held back by the glass-ceiling that they inevitably face after working in the U.S., for some years, doing harder and more work which they are often expected or, even, required to do than their American colleagues. In short, it's no longer worth their sacrifice to be exploited for the decreasing rewards and recognitions, while subsidizing their host colleagues who expect to benefit from their labor and advance by promotions while they are left behind in lower positions.
Avatar of: J J CAPONE

J J CAPONE

Posts: 9

January 18, 2010

Why should young men and women want to bother with all that difficult science and math? MBA's and lawyers - that's what we need to move forward. We have no manufacturing base so there's little need for engineers. Oh well, nothing lasts forever.
Avatar of: JOHN COLLINS

JOHN COLLINS

Posts: 37

January 19, 2010

Taking, competing and exploiting is well established in American business and science. Many non-US citizens saw an interest in having a post-doc in the US as a way of experiencing another culture and seeing a different way of doing things. In the best cases this lead to life-long friendships and collaborations; in the worst, life long feuds and distrust. \n\nGrowing from a sort of complacency in the 70s I detected the beginning of an isolationism in the States already in the late 80s which seems to be growing. Politically the US antagonized a large part of the civilized World.\n\nLooking at nature and evolutionary mechanisms that lead to long term success maybe there are lessons to be learned. Cooperation, comensalism and symbiosis are the rule of the day. \n\nOne comparison: The European sequencing of the yeast genome was the largest cooperation that ever took place in the life sciences. The competitive bickering, personal denigration and fighting for grants and recognition during the American efforts to sequence the human genome, including internationally recognized scientists such as Jim Watson and Francis Collins was a disgrace.
Avatar of: MARK WEBER

MARK WEBER

Posts: 19

January 20, 2010

This article and many others like it tend to focus on a positive spin, and their conclusion is generally "The U.S. is still ahead in Science" with the accompanying implication, "So stop worrying!". But the current position is not as important as the trends. And the trends clearly indicate that the U.S. is on a path towards second-rate status in Science and Technology. There have been some very good editorials in the papers lately that I have read about the need for a "wake up call" on the order of the Sputnik-challenge. We have our moment now to re-invest in education, science and technology with a progressive administration in power. Lets hope they can respond to this wake-up call before its too late.
Avatar of: James Sacco

James Sacco

Posts: 10

January 20, 2010

60% of current postdocs are foreign born; life in the US after a postdoc is already hard for the Americans that are interested in scientific careers, let alone those of us who need to transit from an H1B visa to permanent residence.\n\nThis is how many postdocs who got their PHD here in the US think: We were trained HERE in the best labs in the world (the US invested in us), and then there is very little effort by the authorities to protect and increase the value of this investment by encouraging us to stay here. Does this make economic or scientific sense?
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

January 21, 2010

"The time that we had a monopoly on talent, if there ever was such a time, is behind us," Lehming added.\n\nA rather American perspective. From an European point of view, it is not obvious that America has ever had a monopoly on scientific or any other sort of talent. A great deal of it, yes of course.

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