Texas A&M University – The Continuing Risk of Nuclear War and How Physicists, Acting as Citizen-scientists, Can Help Reduce It
With the end of the Cold War, the public, activists and our government thought the danger from nuclear weapons was on a glide path to zero and those concerned about existential threats turned to other issues, notably global warming. Unfortunately, we were wrong. Russia has made nuclear threats to keep NATO from intervening against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and China has decided to greatly increase its nuclear forces in the face of a potential war with the United States over Taiwan. It is therefore necessary to educate ourselves anew about the dangers and policy options that could reduce them and then, for those of us with an activist inclination, to help more members of Congress understand the issues and the options. To this end, the American Physical Society helped launch a Physicists Coalition for Nuclear Threat Reduction that is now an independent organization with a membership of about one thousand that would welcome concerned nuclear engineers as well.
About the Speaker
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.