I saw this question, and I got interested.

Besides a culture or country having a lower level of technology or research ability due to wealth, access, etc, is there any difference in how cultures study and research hard sciences (think physics, chemistry, etc) differently from one another? E.g. does an Eastern European scientist think about or conduct scientific research differently than a scientist from the United States, Australia, Africa, or any other country or culture? I don't need an exhaustive list, if there are strong differences, but some examples would help in my investigation. I am trying to decide if I want to pursue a graduate program in physics/materials science abroad, or just stick to my own culture, for now, since it is what I am used to.

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    There absolutely is a social/geographical component in choice of textbooks, curriculum design, exposure to ideas where they're popular, etc. Presumably this shapes thinking to some extent. For example, in physics there is a common impression that Russians are more terse in their writing than West Europeans and Americans, and guaranteed to be comfortable with the use of special functions. – Anyon Aug 9 '18 at 3:02
  • Having several years spent Western, Eastern Europe, USA and Japan, my opinion is yes, academic culture can be very different country by country. However you should formulate more specific questions if you want to compare them. Teaching, research, life, writing style etc can all be different, so you should focus on one topic in your question. – Greg Aug 9 '18 at 19:08
  • Greg? You there, bro? – RJP Aug 9 '18 at 19:10

It's not impossible that there is some effect, but figuring it out would be a complex task. A researcher would also need to guard against making value judgements that would, in the end, be treated as racist.

However, if you look at other fields, you see some differences, but I would attribute a lot of it to language more than culture, and some to history. In literature, the South Americans in general have produced some amazing stuff in Spanish and Portuguese that is quite different from literature elsewhere yet shares some characteistics. Art is another field in which different cultures have produced qualitatively different things, say China and Europe.

As humans we use language to express ourselves and the language both captures and guides thought patterns. If your language structure helps you think in a certain way that may effect how you think about, for example, mathematical problems and what insights you have naturally.

Likewise history (and the accidents of history) play a role. If one region of the world generally does something different than others, it may just be the accident that some person started a line of thought in a place and it was picked up by others.

On the other hand, the academic community is pretty much a world-wide phenomenon now, with a long history of students and teachers moving about. The effect you suggest is likely dampened, if it exists at all, by this world wide exchange of ideas and the consequent sharing of thought patterns.

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