Another question is why most of the world's important scientific work takes place in a small number of countries. Curiously by far the major hotbed for technical advances until our modern era was China. But China never made the step to actual science and modernity and use their many technical discoveries to create science-based industrial socities. And modern science is today based primarily on work done in America, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and important contributions from several smaller European countries, primarily Scandinavia and the Lowlands. National wealth and population are both important factors, but not decisive ones. Virtually no science comes out of Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich states. Very limited science comes from modern China, the world'most populace state, but that we suspect is about to change. Nor have major scientific achievements come from Russia despite the massive resources the Soviet Union poured into science. In fact Russia today has a third-world economy based on the export of raw materials--primarily energy. Here ironically, socialism which triumphed a scientific approach to human development, appears to have been the major imediment to science. Other countries have been impeded by cultural factors. Christianity has both impeded and promoted science. Islam today appears to be impeding the development of science in Muslim countries. Scientific leadership has changed. England was once the leading scientific nation. It was suplanted by Germany at the turn-of-the 20th century, but German science has never recovered from its war on the Jews and two world wars. America since World War II has been the leading nation in science.
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