Turn to the “Tools” or “New Products” pages of The Scientist and you will discover splendid state-of-the-art instruments, many of which carry rather hefty price tags. It’s hard not to notice that the cost of doing science has been rising precipitously. The reason? For one, scientific investigations are increasingly more detailed or far-reaching, requiring more complex and powerful instruments.

Many universities and companies in the U.S. can afford the latest equipment. But expensive instruments are, in many instances, simply beyond the reach of our Third World colleagues. These scientists typically must make do with equipment that is 20 or more years old. In many developing and Eastern Bloc nations, the absence of instruments and supplies has led to a tradition of excellence in theoretical work. And in Latin America and Africa, scientists have taken up subjects of local consequence relating to agriculture, many of which do not require sophisticated equipment....

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