Based on more recent science spending developments in countries such as China, Korea, India and Brazil, there is a growing sense that the world's scientific deck of cards is in the midst of a major reshuffle. But it is not clear if this reordering is limited to just the top spenders, or, indeed, how these changes have been playing out over the longer term. The new, more comprehensive research and development (R&D) spending estimates presented and discussed here reveal that we are in the midst of a possibly game-changing, albeit partial and perhaps irregular, reshuffle of the global R&D deck. These changes have potentially profound domestic and international economic development implications over the medium to long term. Notably, the fortunes of many of the world's poorer countries continue to look bleak. Using the evolving structure of past R&D spending to project forward, and absent marked changes in science policies and spending priorities, we foresee a continuing and substantial shift in the geography of R&D towards parts of Asia, along with a continuing large, and in many respects growing, gap between the world's scientific haves and have-nots.