Increases in industrial R&D are the highest recorded since the early 1980s, according to a report to Congress by the National Science Board. Expenditures on R&D performed in the U.S. exceeded $200 billion for the first time in 1997. All three categories of R&D funding--basic research, applied research, and development--are at their highest levels in both current and constant dollars. Profit-making companies are responsible for all of the growth. Last year industrial firms spent $3 out of every $4 invested in R&D in the U.S. Federal R&D funding, especially for defense research, has fallen almost continuously in real terms for a decade. The report attributes the gain in industrial investment to stiff global competition, the surge in information technology, and record profits. The electrical equipment industry exhibited the highest percentage rise.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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