Volume 22, Number 1 January 1993
FORUM ELECTIONSWe print, here, the backgrounds and statements of the candidates for this year's Forum elections. Ballots will be mailed to Forum members.
Benoit F. Morel, Vice-ChairProfessor of Physics and Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University. Belongs to the International Peace and Security Program at Carnegie Mellon. PhD in theoretical physics, University of Geneva, postdoctoral fellow at Harvard and at Caltech, Science fellow at Stanford. Current research is on proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and military modernization in the context of budget cuts.
Statement: The Forum is unique in that it provides the physics community with an arena to debate policy issues freely among scientists. It has proven its usefulness in the context of international security and arms control, and more recently in global warming and climate change. Still the Forum could and should have a more prominent place and impact. Global warming, for example is an area where scientific facts are scarce, and their interpretation controversial within the scientific community. The Forum could plan an important role as a meeting point between scientists anxious to discuss the policy implications of the uncertainties of the evidences, away from the political scene. In my view one of the Forum's first priorities should be to broaden its scope and occupy a larger place in the scientific community.
An important function of the Forum is to interest the scientific community in policy questions. It has consistently tried to inspire a more active attitude from scientists. To a large extent it has been successful, but still there is room for improvement. I think the priority of the Forum should be to interest the widest possible community of scientists (not necessarily physicists only) to participate and debate.
A way to achieve that is for the Forum to strengthen its role as a catalyst by more actively initiating studies and seeking the participation of a wider range of scientists. The idea is not to replicate what the National Academy of Science is trying to accomplish. Instead of being an opportunity for acknowledged luminaries to enlighten mankind on the deep problems of the world, the Forum's studies could give the opportunity for diverse informed points of view to confront one another on difficult and controversial problems like the policy implications of the uncertainties of global warming.
Alvin M. Saperstein, Vice-Chair
Professor of Physics, member and former Chair of Executive Board of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, initiated and directed co-major program in Environmental Studies, reviewed and ran a university research participation program for inner-city and suburban high school students, all at Wayne State University. Research in theoretical nuclear physics led to election as fellow of APS and AAAS. Visiting Professor at University College (London), Open University (UK), SIPRI (Stockholm), and Fulbright Fellowship at PRIO (Oslo). Long term Forum member, previously served on its executive committee, and currently initiating a Forum-sponsored study on job and career prospects for physicists. Current interests: chaos theory and its applications to modeling the international security system; interrelations between science, technology and public policy as manifested in arms control and energy/environment issues; revamping and rejuvenating the teaching of elementary physics, its applications and implications to science and non-science students.
Statement: The Forum has long been successful at catalyzing and sustaining physicists' interests in the scientific/technological basis of weapons systems and international arms races. It has helped some physicists to create careers out of studies in these areas while others have been enabled to make useful contributions to society while continuing in their more traditional scientific careers. The end of the Cold War does not eliminate the need for our continued interest in such international security studies, but strongly suggests that we also pursue studies in its end effects, such as the "reconversion" of technical industry to civil purposes and the associated need for new productive jobs and career paths for young and reconverting physicists. Working together, older and younger members of our profession should be developing the qualitative and quantitative basis upon which useful advice about physics careers and the roles of physicists in society can be grounded.
The Forum should also be exploring physics studies and other activities useful in heading off possible drifts toward future conflicts. For example, energy and environmental problems are major areas usefully served by physicists' methods of thinking and measuring. Our mandate as the link between physicists and society implies that we should be working with other groups of physicists to stimulate and carry out improvements in the teaching of introductory science. Too many well-motivated and well-prepared students are being turned off from potential science/technical careers because of existing introductory courses, courses which are also failing to prepare the general student for his/her role as a citizen in our increasingly competitive, technological world.
There are many "shoulds" appropriate for the Forum, and no one year or set of Forum officers can hope to see significant progress, or even involvement, in all of them. Also, I don't believe the officers should set priorities based upon individually-held pre-conceived abstract principles. Progress and accomplishment will stem from the focused effort and interests of the Forum membership. As a Forum officer, I would strive to keep all of the "shoulds" before the eyes of its membership, catalyze and encourage the development of interests, and support those membership efforts which seem likely to result in useful activities or products.
Norman Chonacky, executive committee
Research Associate, University of Puget Sound. Board of Directors, Explore-Maine, an organization for public science education; founder of and consultant for Science Advent, an organization for bringing science and technology innovations to business and education; Chair of AAPT Committee on Computers in Physics Education. Recent activities include: research in applied optics, atmospheric physics, and medical physics; research and development in telecomputing for physics professional development, in collaborative learning techniques, and in microcomputer-based laboratory instrumentation for curricular and public science education; direction of high school student participation in research on instrumentation, materials, and techniques for demonstrating radiative global warming phenomena via interactive exhibits for the general public.
Statement: The Forum has provided opportunities at working together for academic, laboratory, and organizational physics to develop their own sensibilities about the societal aspects of science while creating important and useful scientific information about key issues in the public interest. I refer to recent, excellent studies that the Forum has sponsored and published. The Forum has also provided arenas for physicists to discuss and debate such issues at scientific meetings and conferences. I refer to the recent excellent Global Warming Conference and various sponsored sessions at APS/AAPT meetings. But in addition to continuing these worthwhile activities, the Forum is capable of doing more. In particular, I will pro-actively seek ideas for new activities from members, identify members whose qualifications would be useful for new activities that the board approves, and extend the scope of such activities into interdisciplinary areas by recruiting non-physicists to participate. I am also anxious to see how the Forum can use telecomputing to create electronic forums for enlarging and quickening the discussion of societal aspects of science, as a supplement to our current, excellent newsletter.
Michael V. Hynes, executive committee
Program Manager, Los Alamos National Laboratory, MS in Management from MIT in 1991, Sloan Fellow at MIT, Oppenheimer Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory during 1980-1983, Weizmann Fellow at MIT during 1978-1980, PhD in physics from MIT in 1978. Author of numerous publications in nuclear physics and currently working on strategic planning issues at Los Alamos involved with the reconfiguration of the nuclear weapons complex.
Statement: The Forum has a long tradition of contributions to the national effort towards nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. With the recent successes in international nuclear disarmament and the fall of the Soviet Union the long-sought advent of a comprehensive test ban or a vastly expanded limited test ban could be a reality before the end of the decade. Already the existing legislation has scheduled a halt to testing by 1997. The Nonproliferation Treaty is due for renewal in 1995 and an expanded debate on the role of the nuclear deterrent in US strategy and more generally on the national and international role of the US nuclear expertise can be expected.
With the departure of the threat of massive nuclear destruction a renewed concern over the rise of nuclear capabilities in other nations has come to the fore. What will the nations of the Former Soviet Union do with their nuclear capability and expertise? What are we to do with our own? All of these issues and the manifold that surrounds them need an active public debate to which the Forum can contribute through its traditional role as an unbiased arbiter of objective technical analysis.
As a member of the executive committee I would work toward re-enunciating the Forum's leadership role in the public debate on nonproliferation and toward establishing the Forum as a leader in the debate on the future of the US Nuclear Weapons Complex.
Tina Kaarsberg, executive committee
Member, APS Panel on Public Affairs starting 1993. APS Congressional Science Fellow in the Office of Senator Pete Domenici in 1992. APS Liaison Physicist in the Office of Public Affairs, 1990-1991. Public Policy interests: science funding priorities, interdisciplinary research such as materials/manufacturing and global climate change, defense conversion, technology transfer, international research and technology cooperation and environmental technologies. Research physicist, University of California at Los Angeles, 1988-1990. Research in experimental high energy particle physics. PhD from SUNY at Stony Brook, 1988. Since coming to Washington in Fall of 1990, she has written, spoken, and organized events around the role of physicists and their research. For example, she and Robert Park co-authored "Scientists Must Face the Unpleasant Task of Setting Priorities," in the February 1991 Chronicle of Higher Education. As a Congressional Fellow she drafted a bill to involve the DOE laboratories in adapting environmental technologies for developing and transitional countries consistent with the US commitments at the June UN Conference on Environment and Development.
Statement: I joined the Forum because I believe physicists can contribute to solving many societal problems ranging from economic competitiveness to global environmental degradation. But such problems are sufficiently complex that physicists alone cannot solve them. The Forum, however, tended to focus on those societal problems, such as arms control, for which physicists are uniquely qualified. I would like to expand the Forum's scope. I believe this expansion is also necessary as the importance of "national security," in which physicists were preeminent, shrinks. Policy makers are asking all researchers, even those doing basic research, to justify their funding. They want science to help increase exports, to protect our environment and to cure cancer and AIDS and do all of this cost-effectively. Where do physicists fit in? We in the Forum need to talk more to each other and to scientists in other disciplines to contribute to this discussion. I have worked closely with the APS Public Policy Committees, with the APS Washington Office, and with other scientific societies, and this experience would aid me in better coordinating Forum activities with other APS and other scientific society activities. We need a timely "Forum" to democratically discuss urgent issues. I would like to survey the membership and try new formats at Society meetings--such as the "Town Hall" meetings now seen in the election campaigns. I strongly support current Forum efforts to set up an electronic bulletin board for Forum members. The result of such efforts would be that the Forum will provide better input to traditional scientific advisory committees and the policy community in Washington and worldwide.
Robert Lempert, executive committee
Staff scientist, RAND, Santa Monica, California. PhD from Harvard in 1986. Current research includes examining long-term implications of near-term policy responses to climate change; assessing the role of national labs in developing new energy technologies for developing countries; and simulation gaming of transitions to sustainable waste management. Member of RAND's Critical Technologies Institute, providing analytic support on technology policy to the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy. Previous work on smart conventional weapons technology, stealth technology and cost-effectiveness of strategic defenses. Term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Statement: Physicists have a proud tradition of contributing to the debate over societal problems involving science and technology. But this tradition has centered on nuclear weapons and the Cold War. Our challenge is to re-invent the way we think about physics and society.
The Forum can play an important role in facilitating this change. I would stress three themes. First, the Forum needs to continue expanding its range of issues. Recent studies and workshops on smart conventional weapons, climate change, energy, and education are a good start. The revolution in telecommunications and the increasing importance of innovation for maintaining high wage jobs have also become central issues in today's world. The Forum should not avoid examining basic issues affecting physicists, such as the level and purpose of federal funding and the relation between university and industry research.
Second, in addressing these issues the Forum needs to make its discussions more useful to the policy community by focusing on questions of process, in addition to questions of fact. For instance, the current uncertainties about climate change are huge. Policy-makers need answers to difficult questions such as: how is our knowledge likely to increase in a decade? How badly might we by surprised by impacts which are much worse than we currently imagine? Institutional issues are also important. For example, it is increasingly clear that scientists should play a more central role in shaping US foreign policy so that it better deals with issues such as competitiveness, environmental protection, the telecommunications revolution, and defense. How can this best be done? These questions are more subjective than questions of fact, but the input of physicists is vital if they are to be answered well. To enrich our thinking, the Forum should expand its contacts outside the physics community. We should sponsor articles and speakers from other academic disciplines, from the policy research community, and from policy-makers themselves.
Third, the Forum needs to raise the visibility of its activities within the APS and in the outside community. Several promising activities are already underway. Additionally, we might develop a database of members' areas of expertise in order to have a quick response capability for fast-breaking issues. We might also examine physics and society issues facing state or local governments. Compared to the federal government, these bodies have little good scientific information and would be particularly grateful for some help.