Update: here's the map that I was imagining, thanks to Andy in the comments section. It's on the Worldmapper site linked to below, but I missed it while putting the post together. Most of my speculations turned out to be reasonable, although Venezuela (for one) looks a bit better than I thought it would, and Iran looks a bit worse. Africa and the Islamic world are, as hypothesized, almost invisible.
I’d like to see a map of the world with country size dependent on the number of scientific publications and patents – perhaps you’d want to use publications per capita, or per educated capita. That's a cartogram, and although there are plenty of interesting ones on the web, I haven't found that one yet. The US would loom large, that’s for sure. Japan might be the most oversized compared to its geography, although Singapore would also be a lot easier to pick out. Western Europe would expand to fill up a lot of space, with Germany, England, and France (among others) taking up proportionally more room inside the region and (perhaps) Spain and Portugal taking up somewhat less. Switzerland would swell dramatically.
South America would be dominated, I think, by Brazil, even more than it is on the map. You’d be able to find Argentina and Chile, but I think some other countries (like Venezuela) would dwindle in comparison. Africa, as it does so often in maps of this kind, would appear to have been terribly shrunk in all directions, with a few countries – Egypt, South Africa – partially resisting the effects. Moving on to Asia, India would appear even larger than it is, unless you went for the per-capita measurement to cut it back down a bit, and China would be a lot more noticeable than it was ten (or especially twenty) years ago.
Another region that would basically disappear would be the Middle East and most of the rest of the Islamic world. Iran would hang in there, smaller but recognizable, and you’d be able to find Pakistan, too. But the Arab countries (with the minor exception of Egypt) would nearly vanish. The figures from the Organization of the Islamic Conference (the multinational group involved) show that from 1995-2005, the Islamic countries contributed 2.5% of all the peer-reviewed scientific papers. That’s all the more interesting when you consider the amount of potential funding that washes around that part of the world.
This disconnect has been noticed by the region’s scientists, as well it might. The OIC has designated a committee of science ministers to help with a multiyear plan for modernizing things, but no one’s sure if any real money will be forthcoming. According to this Nature article (headlined "Broken Promises"), the OIC countries allocate less than 0.5% of their GDP to research and development. Most of the money promised just to fund that science committee never showed up. Lip service is, of course, a feature of politics (and politicians) everywhere, but I don't think I'm out of line if I suggest that it's very close to an art form in that part of the world.
And that's a very short-sighted approach. Many of these countries are sitting on huge amounts of money at the moment, which should be invested against the day that their oil runs out (or against the day that the world decides that it's not as desperate for oil as it once was). That latter day will, presumably, be hastened along by the countries who spend more on research. . .