The U.S. still leads the world in the total amount of money it spends on research and development, but other countries are increasing their emphasis on research and steadily narrowing the gap, according to The Economist. "A mixture of government-funded basic research, built on and deployed by business, lies behind two of the innovations that are doing most to help America out of its current economic doldrums: hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling," the magazine notes. "...They are now giving a massive boost to the oil and gas industry -- and hence to the broader economy."

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