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RE: [cdn-nucl-l] " A physicist ponders nuclear Armageddon "
Hello Andy and others,
[just realized that I only replied to Andy yesterday... now to the list....]
At 03:18 PM 6/25/2002, you wrote:
>Jeremy, Ben, Jaro,
>C'mon guys, you're taking this way too seriously. Vlado (now that's a
>name... Vlad the Impaler, perhaps?) is being philosophical. And after
>all, he's probably a PhD; which gives him the right to be philosophical,
But he is a PhD atomic physicist - not a philosopher - so has his own
"moral obligation" to know a little bit about what he is talking about if
he will use those credentials to write about this topic!
>I find it more interesting that Vlado asks, "Do scientists have a moral
>obligation to censor what they do, or at least consider the possible
>impact of their discoveries? And then answers, "Yes they do." If that
>were the case, we would have scientists making policy. What on earth
>would the politicians do?
It is even more interesting to ponder this more closely within the context
of the discoveries of nuclear fission. In Richard Rhodes' fabulous book on
this subject, "The Making of the Atomic Bomb", he suggests that Otto Frisch
was in fact very concerned with his moral obligation (I think it was Frisch
but I don't have my copy in my office). Rhodes goes on to indicate that
the only reason that Frisch published his work at all was a concern that
the Germans might be secretly discovering the same thing and that his
silence might hold back Allied scientists keeping pace with the
Germans. Perhaps the more important question, if we want to be
philosophical, is whether or not there is a "right" answer when we
scientists consider the possible impacts of our discoveries???
-- --------------------------------------------------------- --
Paul P H Wilson UW-Madison Engineering Physics
Assistant Professor 1500 Engineering Dr
firstname.lastname@example.org Madison, WI 53706
608/263-0807 fax:608/263-4499 http://www.engr.wisc.edu/ep
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http://www.cae.wisc.edu/~wilsonp Fusion Technology Inst.
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