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Kenyon College – Oppenheimer, the Dangers of Nuclear War Today, and How Physicists Can Help Reduce Them

September 29, 2023 @ 12:10 pm - 1:30 pm EDT


The film Oppenheimer barely hints at the debate among the Manhattan Project physicists on “the impact of the Gadget on Civilization” and their efforts to influence the decision on using nuclear weapons against Japan. It also does not explain that Oppenheimer’s “trial” and termination as a government advisor was due to his opposition to developing the H bomb because it would carry “much further than the atomic bomb itself the policy of exterminating civilian populations.” During the Cold War, physicists worked for policies to reduce the danger. Despite near misses, no additional cities have shared the fates of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now, with Russian President Vladimir Putin making nuclear threats against NATO, and China and the US in a growing confrontation over Taiwan, physicists are mobilizing against a new nuclear arms race and to advocate policies such as no first nuclear use.

About the Speaker

Dr. Frank N. von Hippel, a theoretical particle physicist by training, is a Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs emeritus at Princeton University.  He co-founded Princeton’s Program on Science and Global Security, the International Panel on Fissile Materials, and the Physicist’s Coalition for Nuclear Threat Reduction. During the 1980s, he worked with Soviet physicists advising Mikhail Gorbachev on initiatives to end the nuclear arms race and the Cold War.  During 1993-4, he worked in the White House Office of Science and Technology on nuclear policy issues including improving the security of Russia’s fissile materials, partnering with Russia on a global effort to convert research reactors from weapon-grade to low-enriched uranium fuel, and disposing of the plutonium from excess Cold War warheads.

This is a virtual event, live attendance is exclusive to students at Kenyon College. 


September 29, 2023
12:10 pm - 1:30 pm EDT
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