Science and Technology - On the need to sustain international science and technology



"In the world of science America has come of age in the decade immediately preceding the second world war. Before this time, basic science was largely a European monopoly and Americans trained either in this country or abroad had large stores of accumulated ideas and facts on which to draw when building new industries or promoting new processes. The automobile, for example, was engineered from basic ideas many of which went back to Newton and the radio industry has developed from the late nineteenth century theories and experiments of Maxwell and Hertz. Unfortunately the technological advancements of the last war, extended as they were by every means possible, appear to have largely exhausted developments latent in the present store of basic knowledge. This means that, unless steps are taken, the technological development of really new industries will gradually become more difficult and that in time a general leveling off in progress will take place. The implication of this for America and particularly for American foreign policy could be quite serious for, if such a plateau is reached, other countries, such as Russia, could presumably catch up with or even surpass us in production and hence in military potential. The consequences of such an altered balance are not difficult to foresee. Competent American scientists have recognized this dilemma for some time and have consequently come to believe that efforts must be made to stimulate basic science throughout the world in order that subsequent development either in America or elsewhere will have something on which to feed."

—R. Gordon Arneson, U.S. Department of State, Secret Memorandum, 2 February 1950 (declassified 22 July 1998)—



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