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Q: American Technological and Scientific Leadership ( Answered,   6 Comments )
Subject: American Technological and Scientific Leadership
Category: Science
Asked by: asdny-ga
List Price: $35.00
Posted: 18 Apr 2006 15:48 PDT
Expires: 18 May 2006 15:48 PDT
Question ID: 720352
American Leadership Question

There are a great number of reports about the United States losing its
competitive edge in a large number of scientific, technological and
industrial fields.

Can we identify ten fields in which the U.S. is the undisputed leader
in the world today and provide brief examples?

In which fields has the U.S. lost the most ground?  That is, which are
the scientific, technological or industrial fields where the U.S. was
once the clear leader but has now fallen behind other countries? 
Which countries are leading in the areas where the U.S. is falling

Data and sources supporting the response is necessary but does not
have to be extremely detailed or extensive.

Clarification of Question by asdny-ga on 21 Apr 2006 06:15 PDT

I generally agree with your comments. California and other state and
private initiatives notwithstanding, the stem cell area is an obvious
example of where funding restrictions are holding back research in the

The (ungrammatical) "data and sources" was an afterthought to my
question.  What I need is a not just a list of fields where the U.S.
is leading and another where is is falling behind; I was asking where
the info is coming from.  E.g., if the NIH, NIST,Business
Roundtable,....  So it is not the data per se, just the source of the
ranking that I am interested in.  And yes, it would, of necessity be
an ethnocentric or politically influenced list.  Exxon-Mobile has
different take on this than say the Union of Concern Nuclear

I would like to see your full response (the additional $15 worth) but
I need it by 4/25 for it to be useful.

Subject: Re: American Technological and Scientific Leadership
Answered By: hedgie-ga on 23 Apr 2006 23:45 PDT
IS IT TRUE? Have we lost our 'edge' in science and technology?

Let's see:

  A good measure would be 

  Nobel prizes - but there is a delay of perhaps 20 years before that may show up,
              the classical Citation Index or as described here
               or references given for major topics in Wikipedia, like
here - as an example
  However, considering the limited funding of the study we're undertaking here,
 I will just look for  countries which are leaders in few key areas that will
 likely be important in the  future, such as:

1) Space: 
2) Nanotechnology / electronics/ photonics
3) Energy / nuclear power/ computing
4) Cultural leadership  - meeting the challenges facing the world

The areas overlap,  and the inter-relationship of computing and nuclear research
 may  only be  apparent to a  student of history. Nevertheless, we
will look for breakthroughs in each area which (subjectively)
breakthroughs which look like begining of new  developments:

1) Space:
-----------------------------recent history
       Challenge was presented in 1957, when the Soviet Union
successfully launched Sputnik

  Space race not only was a symbolic version of a real war, it
demonstrated capabilities of the two powers

  NASA was formed in  1958,  and met the challenge with flying colors.

 Thirty six years ago mankind accomplished the single greatest
technological achievement of all time when a human  first set foot on
another celestial body.
 "That first landing was that of American Neil Armstrong, commander of
the Apollo 11 mission,... "

To present 'fair and balanced' coverage we need to note that according
to some experts this did not happen: the whole thing was faked in the
Nevada desert...

--------------------------------- today

         Today the space program in the United States is in trouble
(according to some, posibly self-serving reports)

        Today The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975,

        compares well:  GPS Vs EGNOS, Galileo,
     Testing of 'MOND over matter' hypothesis
          ESA - Venus Express

    Today, ISA also looks better than 30 years ago,
         more sexy:
      and  it gained lot of  cooperation and respect

"Solar Power Satellite (SPS) is one of targets which will be developed
in the 21st century .."
       They will be developed in Japan.

So, it looks like we have lost some edge, and it is also apparent why:

It is not so much that we regressed, but that others progressed, and faster.
But the first glance may be misleading.
 There are things going on which are not  in the limelight, such as 

         Space: The Final Battlefield,13319,FL_space_033104,00.html

Developing and Fielding Unrivaled Space and Missile Capabilities:

 I agree that US is unrivaled here, investing huge resources. 
   If we do not consider War on Terror to be a 'real' war, US is
   investing unprecedented resources in peacetime into defense.
    Fortunately, we can afford both 'cannons and butter'. But perhaps
    not all ''cannons and butter and basic research and education'?

-- So this may be a second reason for losing our edge:
  Resources are limited; not just money, but human resources.

There are lots of links on this:
SEARCH TERMS: militarization, vaporization of space, kill vehicles
 Above I picked only two which look 'official'

  They are important, perhaps necessary, BUT is it science?
   How much does this application drain resources from more basic research?

"Of the 10.1 million scientists and engineers working in the U.S.,
more than 3.1 million were employed in S&E
occupations, including 973,555 in high tech jobs in California in
2000. Yet despite continuing demand,
universities are awarding fewer technical degrees nationwide.

Department of Defense (DOD) which accounted for approximately 53% of
all federal R&D dollars spent in
California in FY2000. NASA accounted for another 25% of federal R&D
expenditures in California."

    There are some crossovers:
  ARPA supports some high quality basic research out of DOD budget
 and NASA does some of the defense research.
 and lot of both is carried at  universities.

2. nanotechnology / electronics/ photonics /biotech

 US  leads in  microarrays and bioinformatics

Dolly the sheep is cloned  by scientists in Scotland

Squeezed light breaks quantum barrier at  Canberra and  Paris

Japan  leads in some electronics, memories, electroptics and Korea
moving up quickly:

Samsung Announces It Has Developed World?s First 16Gb NAND Memory Chip

 Sixty years ago United States "invented" nuclear energy.
 OK - perhaps it was Meitner,Fermi, Ulam, Szilard, Von Neumann... who
provided some ideas, but it was Los Alamos which 'did it'. It was not
just physics: Computers were essential:
      A whole new concept was developed on a grand scale:
      National Labs -a  partnership of the government with the best
industry research labs
     Bell Labs (remember Bell Labs? lot of basic science was going on there)
   Today, some industry group are attempting to recreate  that:
" Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC LMB)
in Cambridge, England, and AT&T's Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill,
New Jersey are generally considered to have been the most successful
institutions of their time in biology and solid state physics..."

 but 'times' have changed:
          We still have some industrial labs with basic research ( I
am not referring to our National Labs) such as those of the IBM. But
today, these are global labs:

In IMB lab scientist developed a new kind of microscope, which can
actually help us to 'see atoms'
That laboratory happens to be in Switzerland.

3: Energy / nuclear power/ computing

 SPS and fusion are the main candidates for meeting global energy needs.
 We already mentioned SPS.

 Let's look at nuclear and computing history:

 ---- recent history : blossoming of US science occurred during and after WWII

  In nuclear we need to  recognize several phases

Nuclear Fission was 'DISCOVERED' in Germany just before  WWII started

But it was 'INVENTED' in the US during the war:

       Phase 1:  Oppenheimer phase  1920-1950
             2:  Teller phase       1950-1990
             3:  Department of Energy phase  1990 .., continued

 I cannot go into detail here. I recommend a book - a remarkable and
well documented survey of these phases is mentioned in the comment to
this question:

     --------- More recently, today, 

Japan, the US and the EU competed for hard for the  ITER location. 
It is an international effort and US is an important partner. But the  EU won. 
 That would have been hard to imagine 30 years ago!.

 There is a good chance that ITER is our planet's hope for affordable energy. 
  It will be developed in Europe.

4) Cultural leadership - a mission  to redeem the world

US since its founding, had a mission to redeem the world.
  This was not  some megalomanic delusion. Most nations were looking to the
  'new nation' which (as some believed) 'did rise from the ocean', and became
   home of many peoples of many kinds, forming one nation. Forshadowing what
   we expect to happen, one day, (in the Last Times) on the whole planet.
   This was ceertainly true during the WWII and during the cold war.
References are here:

   This  was true for most scientists, those born in US, those who
came to US, those who wanted to come to the US and could not, and
those who wanted to emulate the US at home.
   This was true only for scientists, of course, but scientists have
always found it relatively easier to migrate and to integrate into a
new home.

 Many of the brightest came to the US to study and stayed. US had a
clever and generous immigration policy. It was science-and-immigrant
friendly. When it
came to a combination immigrant-scientist A. Einstein became an US icon.

Just as in the first phase we were "all" fighting against Nazism, in
the second phase we were fighting against a common enemy, against

 That changed around 1990, the end of the second phase.
 It changed even more after 9/11, 
 and it is still changing in the same unpleasant direction.
 Today, US feels like a Europena country, if mot wose, to a foreign student.

5) Conclusion

          Yes, we have lost some leadership, in the key emerging area
of  the basic research. We are still a technological superpower, and
in defense technologies we increased our lead. In that, we are still
"the undisputed leader in the world today," as you put it.
 Will American-born PhDs leave for better research opportunities
abroad and fewer foreign students stay to work in the U.S.? It is a
trend that has already begun. US is offers resources and above average
monetary rewards.
   The very best scientific minds are not attracted primarily by the money.
   Young people are idealistic (or naive :-)  ?) 
  The entire research and cultural milieu plays a big role.

  An opinion - added for free:
 I do not think that can be changed:
 No initiative not even governmental initiative, not even sn
initiative of the US government, can change ZeitGeist - the spirit of
the times.
 The conditions which exixted during and after the WWII were unique -
and we really would not want to recreate them, if we could, would we?

  The element of choice is elswhere: We will either be wise and accept
 new reality, new global spirit - and become 'one of the guys' - first between
 the equals.
 Or will we try to repeat the past, and create new American century
for this planet, and fail.

 Retreat from glory happened to all past empires which overextended
their resouces. It happened to imperial England, Napolein's France,
Germany ..

 If Jefferson's vision of the US, as not just new nation, but nation
with new principles, was correct, I believe we will make some right
choices in the future.

Good luck and thanks for worrying about these esoteric questions,
which are not well funded.
Subject: Re: American Technological and Scientific Leadership
From: hedgie-ga on 19 Apr 2006 00:36 PDT
This is an interesting question asdny.

 If "Data and sources supporting the response is necessary" 
 it is also wastly underpriced.

Just to collect and organize criteria and measures 
(references in papers, nobel-prizes, patents (!?) ..)
would take hours of research. It would also be controversial, since
many stats and publishing ventures are 'ethnocentric' (e.g. subsidised
publications of AIP).

Question about the reasons for this decline would be even more interesting.

In which fields has the U.S. lost the most ground?

 That's probably biotech  - and one cause is clear:

The current ruling coalition has clero-fascists (= religious extreme right)
 as an important coalition member and their point of view has an
government policy impact.

 The stem-cell affair is an example of such negative impact of ideology on science.

If we take a lesson from history 
(of a more extreme impact of ideology on science)

we can conjecture that there is a 'hirearchy of sciences'
 with hard sciences (math, physics) on the top, 
 then applied sciences (medicine, engineering)
 then social sciences, economy  and philosophy

As society moves in direction of totality, the sciences are infected from the
bottom first.

In USA, astronomy is still unscathed, as resolution of a recent scandal shows: 02/04/outrage-at-attacks-on-nasa-science/

P.S.  This comment is free,
  as an answer, if we look  at the time, effort and expertise needed,
  it would be an $20 answer.
  I can supply the remaining $15 worth, if you would like,  but it would fall
short of what you asked for.

Subject: Re: American Technological and Scientific Leadership
From: ansel001-ga on 20 Apr 2006 19:45 PDT

I am appalled at your comments.  Instead of giving any evidence for
why you think the USA is losing ground in biotech, all you did was
quote a left wing anti-religious diatribe.  Lest you think my comments
are too harsh, look at some of what you said, namely,

"The current ruling coalition has clero-fascists (= religious extreme
right) as an important coalition member and their point of view has an
government policy impact."

"Clero-fascists"?  That is nothing but prejuice.
Subject: Re: American Technological and Scientific Leadership
From: ansel001-ga on 20 Apr 2006 21:46 PDT
That should read:

"Clero-fascists"?  That is nothing but prejudice.
Subject: Re: American Technological and Scientific Leadership
From: hedgie-ga on 20 Apr 2006 23:24 PDT
"Clero-fascists"?  That is nothing but prejudice.

  It is a label, admitedly a negative label.

You can use label 'theocons' as described here
if you consider fascist-anything too strong.
On the other hand, once any movement starts publicly
advocate assasinations of political opponents,
 it is at least flirting with same philosophy which
the governments classified as clero-fascist by mainstream
historians adopted. I did not invented the label.

Subject: Re: American Technological and Scientific Leadership
From: ansel001-ga on 21 Apr 2006 00:02 PDT

No, of course you didn't invent the label.  Google answers finds
someone to quote.  But you chose to quote it rather than actual data
to support your contention that the US is losing its edge in biotech. 
As for Pat Robertson's unfortunate remarks, he is not in government,
and the government and Christian community quickly and unambiguously
repudiated his remarks.
Subject: Re: American Technological and Scientific Leadership
From: hedgie-ga on 21 Apr 2006 18:29 PDT
"is US is losing its edge in ..." is not my thesis.
   It is asdny's question.

 I have been invited to provide the  (the additional $15 worth) "and
will do that  by 4/25. I would  prefer to limit this thread to
discussion of that question
 and I am looking forward to your comments on my findings. 

As for debate 
Search terms : robertson chaves

I would suggest to shift that discusssion to one of these threads

which are dealing with politics rather then science. 

e.g. as continuation of 

Subject: Re: iraq oil 
From: pugwashjw65-ga on 06 Jan 2006 00:55 PST 	  	

"Are the Americans there for the oil or for political purposes.... their kingdom to the wild beast,
...until the words of God will have been accomplished "

As for   State dept.  and Christians "repudiated his remarks..."  I would quote
bible, something about fruit and judging people by their deeds, rather then 
words.  Pat's Robertson's  gaffe was to state openly what usually is a
black operation. As in.
I do see articles about the next pre-emptive war all over the news.
I am impressed with the Christian concept of the 'just war'.

But when I enter  
SEARCH TERMS: 'just war'   Iran

I draw blank. I do realize that there is a spectrum of opinions
 and am not 'blaming Christians' for neocons policies, (not all of
them :-).  However, more diplomatic than Pat 'theocons' are and were
in the government.

 The article from Nation was  to just to define that label, which 
 I guess is less judgemental. You may propose a label you prefer
 for this movement.

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