A New York Times article today sounds an alarm over the US falling behind in science and innovation, especially in the physical sciences. According to the article, Europe and Asia are forging ahead in scientific publications in physics and science and engineering doctoral degrees granted and are quickly gaining ground in patenting and Nobel prize winnings. And it warns that politicians and the public are oblivious to the trend and its implications for jobs and overall competitiveness.
Couple this with the decline in the number of students going into undergraduate computer science/engineering in the US (blamed in part on offshoring by the Computing Research Association that did this survey), and it makes you wonder if in 20, 30, or 50 years, we’ll be looking to places like China as leaders in innovation.
This trend raises a number of questions: How valued are math and science in U.S. elementary and high school education, and by American culture compared to other countries? Does government spending on R&D (still at record levels in the U.S.) translate into actual results? And could the U.S. actually be on the losing end of something it advocates so strongly–free trade and globalization?