APS News

Letters

APS Social Conscience has Long History

In the January issue of APS News, our new President of APS discusses the way in which the Society's interpretation of its mission has evolved in the last century. Dr. Sessler states ".in the 1980s we formed committees on women and minorities in physics." I would like to point out that the evolution of APS into "a society with a social conscience," or at least a social consciousness, began to occur rather earlier than Dr. Sessler recalls. The Committee on the Status of Women in Physics (CSWP) and the Committee on Minorities (COM) were formed in 1972. We have therefore had more than 25 years of this evolutionary process. APS members may wish to consider, as one measure of the social evolution of the Society, the degree to which these two segments of the population at large are presently represented among our membership. One might conclude (as I do) that there is still a great deal of transformation yet to be achieved, and that evolution occurs rather slowly when there is no direct intervention.

Laurie McNeil
1997 CSWP Chair

Products over Proliferation

I read with interest the article by Thomas Neff on Liquidating the Cold War.The HEU deal is but one of several programs that the US government has initiated with former Soviet Union (FSU) countries to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). One such program, called the Initiative for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) was begun in FY 1994 by the Department of Energy (DOE). Its purpose is to stabilize personnel and resources that represent a proliferation risk. The objective of IPP is to identify and develop nonmilitary applications for defense technologies, and create jobs for weapons scientists and engineers in the high technology commercial marketplace.

To this end, DOE has directed its ten National Laboratories to collaborate with Institutes in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakstan that have been responsible for the development of WPDs to redirect its staff towards industrial applications.The funds provided are split evenly between the DOE laboratories and the FSU (NIS) Institutes. To date, 250 Institutes in these four countries are engaged in 377 Thrust I projects (R&D) and 77 Thrust II projects (Commercial Applications). Over 4000 scientists and engineers are thus gainfully employed in the NIS countries along with several hundred scientists and engineers at the 10 DOE labs, most of whom are members of APS. From my vantage as chairman of the 10-DOE laboratory consortium, I believe IPP is one of the most viable nonproliferation efforts initiated by the US government, with the potential (already proven) of multiple-fold returns over the investment made by DOE ($30M /yr).

Kenell J. Touryan
Indian Hills CO

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