Are We Losing Our Edge?

The U.S. still leads the world in scientific innovation. But years of declining investment and fresh competition from abroad threaten to end our supremacy

Gabriel Aeppli was born in Switzerland, but when he was 1 year old, his father came to the U.S. to pursue a career as a mathematician. Back then, America was a scientific "city on the hill," a place where enormous resources, academic freedom, a tradition of skepticism and a history of excellence lured everyone from astronomers to zoologists from all over the world, and like Aeppli's father, many of them never had any interest in leaving.

Aeppli, now 48, attended M.I.T., where he got a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, and went on to work at Bell Labs, the legendary research arm...

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