The July 24 issue of Nature has several articles on china. China: The end of the science superpowers by(Rogers Hollingsworh and colleagues (reuires subscription)is reported in Historian predicts the end of 'science superpowers'. From the article: "Each former giant of science emerged when the society's economy became extraordinarily robust by world standards. As the French, German and British economies declined relative to the world's most dynamic centres of fiscal growth, so did their science systems. The independence and flexibility that once characterized their research systems diminished markedly. Each former scientific power, especially during the initial stages of decline, had the illusion that its system was performing better than it was, overestimating its strength and underestimating innovation elsewhere. The elite could not imagine that the centre would shift.
Meanwhile, fundamental changes over the past few decades in economics, funding, communication, organizational structure, and specialization could mean that the United States is not simply poised to cede its scientific throne to a national successor such as China. Rather, the end of America's era as the scientific hegemon could also be the end of the era of scientific hegemons."
From the Physorg report: "Hollingsworth and his co-authors - UW-Madison senior scientist Ellen Jane Hollingsworth and Karl H. Muller, director of the Vienna Institute for Social Science Documentation and Methodology - assert that U.S. science is still strong and performs at a high level. For example, U.S. researchers still account for more than half of the top 1 percent of most-cited papers in the world.
But the global proliferation of science will present new challenges to the United States. Hollingsworth says that the biggest threat to U.S. science competitiveness may be the massive size of major research universities, which produce a high volume of published work but not a corresponding increase in "major breakthroughs." For example, Hollingsworth says that almost 50 percent of papers published by U.S. scientists are not cited by other scientists, which raises the question of whether the high volume of publishing "is really enhancing our stock of knowledge."
"I think we have become too obsessed with quantitative measures of science - the volume of papers published, where they're published and the number of grants attained," he says.
"To thrive in this transition from a science hegemony to a global competitive landscape, the biggest need will be to become more flexible and more adaptive," he adds. "And if you're not adaptive, you can see what happens with the examples of the auto industry and steel industry in America."
Hollingsworth recommends a major investment in a new type of nimble and interdisciplinary science in the United States by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. He says the creation of more than two-dozen smaller-scale research institutes that would be autonomous from, but adjacent to, current universities could have great results. These would operate with little bureaucracy and without the constraints of conventional academic departments, and be more likely to fuel creative thinking, he says.
These institutes would mirror the successes of smaller-scale campuses such as Rockefeller University in New York, the Salk Institute in California and the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico. Each of these campuses, Hollingsworth says, produces a high percentage of breakthrough research advances despite their small size, and their successes stem from an organizational culture and structure that is nimble, collaborative and cross-disciplinary."
Satyajit Das of eurointelligence on US economy:"We interrupt regular programming to announce that the United States of America has defaulted …" Part 2
(via Naked Capitalism)