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Columbia University – Dismantling the Nuclear Doomsday Machine: Scientists, the Bomb, and the Challenges of Nuclear Disarmament
April 10, 2023
Eighty years ago, physicists first worked out what it would take to build a simple nuclear weapon and the immediate effects of its use. Five years later, theory and experiment became devastating facts as the United States built, tested, and then used the first nuclear weapons to destroy cities. Today, there are nine nuclear armed states and over 13,000 nuclear weapons in the world. The nuclear-armed states are developing or modernizing their arsenals, easing constraints on when these weapons might be used, and pursue policies that risk accidental nuclear war. The hard-won international arrangements intended to halt, reverse and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons programs are unraveling. Russia’s leader has made nuclear threats in the context of the war against Ukraine. One potentially hopeful development, the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, has elicited opposition rather than support from the nine nuclear-armed states. This talk will look at what role scientists have played in the past and can play today in helping address the challenge of reducing and eliminating the threat from nuclear weapons in the United States and globally, it also will introduce the new Physicists Coalition for Nuclear Threat Reduction.
About the Speaker
Dr. Zia Mian is a physicist and co-director of Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security, part of the School of Public and International Affairs. His research interests include nuclear arms control, non-proliferation, disarmament, and policies for a safer and more peaceful world. He is co-editor of the journal Science & Global Security, co-chair of the International Panel on Fissile Materials, and a co-founder of the Physicists Coalition for Nuclear Threat Reduction. He received the 2014 Linus Pauling Legacy Award, the American Physical Society’s 2019 Leo Szilard Award, and in 2021 he was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He serves on the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament, and on the boards of the Arms Control Association and of the Union of Concerned Scientists. He is a co-founder of the Physicists Coalition for Nuclear Threat Reduction.