It is all too easy to focus on the deficiencies of Soviet science. Ask Soviet scientists themselves and they will readily recite a laundry list of their research system's failings. Perhaps the greatest impediment, they say, is a lack of lab equipment and computers. Now that Soviet scientists can more easily travel to the West, if only temporarily, many are jumping at the opportunity. In fact, among eight of the most-cited living Soviet scientists (see below), at least four are visiting professors at Western universities or have recently held such posts. One wonders: Unless the system is soon improved, will the Soviet Union be faced with a serious brain drain in science?

An overview of Soviet science that focuses on shortcomings and ignores successes, however, makes for only a partial - and an inaccurate - assessment. A physicist in the West has a very different opinion of science in the...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?