Simon Ramo was exceptionally well qualified to write of the challenges to the nation as it sought to regain its world leadership in science and technology. He wrote The Business of Science: Winning and Losing in the Big Tech Age (Hill and Wang, 1988) from a background of more than fifty years’ experience at General Electric, Hughes Aircraft, and TRW—which he co-founded—and of working closely with leaders in the highest councils of government. In those years he participated actively in the growing and inevitable relationships between science, business, and government, since the costs of research and development have grown beyond the capability of even the largest corporation.
Dr. Ramo’s incisive recollections are full of warmth and humor. In 1981 Ramo was appointed to President Reagan’s board of advisers for science. By joining them, he brought a fresh liberal outlook. He brings to life innumerable meetings in Washington over the years—with John von Neumann and other leading scientists, Charles “Engine” Wilson, Robert McNamara, Nelson Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger, Donald Regan, George Schultz, and James Fletcher, among others. Dr. Ramo found government officials for the most part ill equipped to comprehend the impact of science and technology on the country. All too often, scientists, engineers, and businessmen spoke a different language from that of our country’s leaders.
Dr. Ramo—physicist and imaginative executive—urges the need for nuclear disarmament and for increased cooperation between the United States, other leading industrial nations, and the developing world. To maintain our eminence as scientific/technical entrepreneurs, he contends that it is imperative for the U.S. government to work even more closely with the scientific community in our universities and industry in order to meet the virtually unlimited challenges in genetics, space, computer science, and energy, and to improve the education of our youth.