As a historian interested in the development of science and technology in East Asia, I follow the scholarly debate about the Needham Question. The Needham Question is basically this: why did modern science and technology develop in Europe when China seemed much better placed to achieve it?
Until a few centuries ago, East Asia led the West in many areas, from gunpowder, printing, to navigation. The Needham Question is named after Joseph Needham, the twentieth-century British sinologist who tried to explain it. There is now a Needham Research Institute at the University of Cambridge devoted to the study of the history of science and technology in East Asia.
Timur Kuran, an economist at Duke University who is interested in the Islamic world, has written a review article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs on Ian Morris‘ recent book, “Why the West Rules — For Now.” The Stanford University classicist and historian has written broadly on world history. This article discusses the comparative history of science and technology in the East Asian, Islamic and Western world. Read this interesting article at: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67035/timur-kuran/west-is-best?page=show You can also watch Professor Morris talk about his book on the Forum Network.