Why has Continental Europe put themselves back regarding Science compared to Anglo-Saxon world?

Apr 2018
48
West
#1
110 years ago, most advances in Physics, Chemistry, Bio-Chemistry, were distributed among Germany (they were at the top), France, Denmark, Great Britain, United States, Netherlands.

But nowadays, among the top 30 best universities in the world, only Zürich ETH appears as non-anglosaxon university, while almost every university is American or British. Its hard to see German Nobel laureates in science, in the past 2 decades, but american, british, canadian are extremely common, even Japanese.

It seems continental Europe is not top in Natural Science anymore. (Well, there is the CERN, but still, most of their guys are British)
 
Oct 2013
12,948
Europix
#2
Why has Continental Europe put themselves back regarding Science compared to Anglo-Saxon world?

To answer that question You should convince me (us?) that Continentals did put themselves back.

Without that, it looks more like a Janossy Ur's kind of thread, ( only it's in the mirror) ;)
 
Likes: Olleus

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
4,473
Netherlands
#3
I am pretty sure one of the chaps who won the physics one last year was French.
Thing is that currently when you want to do real research in a real science, you have to move to the States (or Japan and Israel for chemistry). In US you can actually get funding for it.
 
Oct 2013
12,948
Europix
#4
I am pretty sure one of the chaps who won the physics one last year was French.
Thing is that currently when you want to do real research in a real science, you have to move to the States (or Japan and Israel for chemistry). In US you can actually get funding for it.
Two years ago a Swiss for the chemistry.

But as You said: at that level the knowledge isn't enough, one needs funds, tools, organisations. And that's mainly outside continental Europe.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
4,846
#5
The US top 20 have more money. The US was the richest country in the world for most of the 20th c., while also one of the largest. Selection of small set of elite academic institutions in the worlds richest, also one of the largest, countries over much of a century has made the situation look like this.

There are almost 3000 universities in the US, about 1/6 of the global total, and the vast majority are very average also by international comparison..

The Europeans were less wealthy, and all much smaller. Education and research has been national affairs. Germany is 25% of the US, France, the UK, Italy 20%. And then we get into the REAL overachievers when factoring for size, like the Swiss...

There tends to be no problem at all to start a brilliant global research career at any of the top 300 or so universities. Though the way money and opportunity is currently distributed the pinnacle of a career tends to involve one or more of those top 20.

It's one of the things the EU is looking into. Hoping to pull together the funds for a small number of EU universities well-funded enough to be able to compete with the best US ones.
 
Mar 2018
478
UK
#6
I am pretty sure one of the chaps who won the physics one last year was French.
Thing is that currently when you want to do real research in a real science, you have to move to the States (or Japan and Israel for chemistry). In US you can actually get funding for it.
Plenty of funding here in Europe. I'm pretty sure there is more fundamental science research done in the EU than in the USA. Just look at the number of papers published in top-tier journals. As for the top university rankings, it's because universities and the divide between teaching/research is handled differently in different countries, and most rankings benefit the anglo-saxon system. For example, the french CNRS is one of the top research institutes in the world, but it isn't a university, so it doesn't show on any rankings.

Why do people keep starting threads with "Why is X happening?" without doing the bare minimum of research to see if X is actually happening in the first place?
 
Apr 2018
454
Upland, Sweden
#7
Geopolitics, funding, infrastructure and higher education systems.


Everyone speaks and does research in English, meaning that the peer review process and different rankings of education systems are sometimes a bit biased towards alternative perspectives, at the risk of sounding like a whiny continental. That said, the US and the UK both have very good such systems at the elite level, although perhaps that is changing...

Contrast all of this with the Geopolitical situation a century ago when the West was essentially divided between German, French and English cultural spheres of influence, where English and the Anglo-Saxons might have been primi inter pares but not in the completely dominant position they're in today. Countries and peoples with no self-confidence and sense of control of their own destinies tend not to produce excellence.

Also, as deaf tuner and Willempie have pointed out, the picture is a bit exaggerated - we still have a couple of aces up our sleaves...
 
Mar 2018
478
UK
#8
You can look at the data here:
Country outputs | Nature Index

Institutions in Germany + UK + France + Switzerland publish almost as many papers in Nature (top scientific journal in the world) as the USA. This is despite those 4 countries together having only about half the population of the USA. Continental Europe has most definitely not left science behind. Stop trying to explain things that aren't true; it's a completely meaningless exercise.
 
Apr 2018
454
Upland, Sweden
#9
Plenty of funding here in Europe. I'm pretty sure there is more fundamental science research done in the EU than in the USA. Just look at the number of papers published in top-tier journals. As for the top university rankings, it's because universities and the divide between teaching/research is handled differently in different countries, and most rankings benefit the anglo-saxon system. For example, the french CNRS is one of the top research institutes in the world, but it isn't a university, so it doesn't show on any rankings.

Why do people keep starting threads with "Why is X happening?" without doing the bare minimum of research to see if X is actually happening in the first place?
But the OP is not entirely without merit though. The proportion of US (or at least US-based...) Nobel prizes in the sciences has skyrocketed in the post-war period.
 
Apr 2018
454
Upland, Sweden
#10
You can look at the data here:
Country outputs | Nature Index

Institutions in Germany + UK + France + Switzerland publish almost as many papers in Nature (top scientific journal in the world) as the USA. This is despite those 4 countries together having only about half the population of the USA. Continental Europe has most definitely not left science behind. Stop trying to explain things that aren't true; it's a completely meaningless exercise.
That is actually impressive - far more than I thought. Go Europe... Still, if one wanted to be cynical one could say that perhaps it just proves that there are a lot of middle-highbrow academics in Europe. :lol:

You are of course right that the picture the OP paints is exaggerated, but it is still a fact that there has been a very remarkable shift in the balance of research over the Atlantic in some ways (like Nobel prizes) compared with how things looked like at the beginning of the 1900s.

Furthermore, the US completely dominates Europe in many aspects of Tech. (though not all - we have an advantage in physical communication-networks for example, while the US does not have a single company like Nokia or Ericsson making such things in a competetively meaningful way contra the Chinese). I say this with great sadness, but I unfortunately don't think it is debatable. Some might argue that Europe is merely developing along a different, more decentralized and at the same time legalistic trajectory, but I am not convinced...