The United States has started to lose its worldwide dominance in critical areas of science and innovation, according to federal and private experts who point to strong evidence like prizes awarded to Americans and the number of papers in major professional journals.
Foreign advances in basic science now often rival or even exceed America’s, apparently with little public awareness of the trend or its implications for jobs, industry, national security or the vigor of the nation’s intellectual and cultural life.
“The rest of the world is catching up,” said John E. Jankowski, a senior analyst at the National Science Foundation, the federal agency that tracks science trends. “Science excellence is no longer the domain of just the U.S.”
Even analysts worried by the trend concede that an expansion of the world’s brain trust, with new approaches, could invigorate the fight against disease, develop new sources of energy and wrestle with knotty environmental problems. But profits from the breakthroughs are likely to stay overseas, and this country will face competition for things like hiring scientific talent and getting space to showcase its work in top journals.