Volume 24, Number 1 January 1995
ELECTIONS OF THE FORUM ON PHYSICS AND SOCIETY
We present here the backgrounds and statements of the candidates for the offices of the Forum on Physics and Society. Election ballots are enclosed in the newsletter.
John F. Ahearne, Vice-Chair
Twenty-five years government service in the Defense Department, White House (under President Carter), Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Energy Department, and Government Accounting Office. Chair of the National Research Council Committees on Risk Communication and the Future of Nuclear Power, Co-Chair of National Research Council Committee on Opportunities in Plasma Science and Technology, Member of the National Research Council Committee on Risk Characterization and of the Reactor Panel of the Weapons Plutonium Disposition Committee of the National Research Council. US Representative and Chairman of the Program Committee for the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). Currently, Executive Director of Sigma Xi. Member of APS, Society of Risk Analysis, American Nuclear Society, Sigma Xi, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Adjunct Scholar of Resources for the Future.
Statement: The scientific community faces major public issues: why should the public fund science, what is the interaction of science and public policy, and how can science best meet future needs? For nearly 50 years physics has been seen by the public as 'the' science, only recently replaced by biology. FPS is an opportunity for physicists to help develop a new paradigm to replace Vannevar Bush's "Science: The Endless Frontier." The physics community can take the lead in meeting the issues which have been raised by Congressman George Brown, Senator Barbara Mikulski, Frank Press, and others. Also, population growth, the widening split between the rich and poor countries, the push for development, and pollution of the environment are initial conditions that have placed the world on a trajectory that will lead to unfavorable results in the middle of the next century. However, science can modify the initial conditions. There is a need for physicists (and all scientists) to devote some of their time to these issues. Other major issues involve changes in the former Soviet Union, related questions of former weapons scientists and radioactive contamination of the Russian weapons complex, the US defense transition, especially of the weapons labs and industrial defense labs, and new models for PhD education. Our Forum can be the APS venue for such discussions.
Caroline L. Herzenberg, Vice-Chair
Physicist at Argonne National Laboratory. Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago. Taught at Illinois Institute of Technology, the University of Illinois Medical Center, and California State University at Fresno, and worked as a research physicist at ITT Research Institute. Fellow of both the APS and the AAAS. Chaired the APS Committee on the Status of Women in Physics and served as FPS Secretary-Treasurer. Organized and chaired a variety of invited science and society sessions at both APS and AAAS meetings.
Statement: FPS has a uniquely valuable role in providing physicists with an arena in which to examine and discuss the influences of physics and society on each other. FPS helps the physics community consider policy issues and understand and respond to the significant challenges that American science is now facing. We can be proud of our excellent newsletter, the many outstanding symposia that FPS has organized at APS meetings, the numerous special studies we have organized, and many other endeavors. I want our Forum to continue these valuable activities, and to continue its important role of enabling APS members to examine and participate in issues mutually affecting physics and society. With the major problems facing our profession, the FPS role is in many ways even more important for physicists than it has been in the past. As vice-chair, I would work with the executive committee and FPS members to identify and raise important issues, to strengthen and facilitate our means of addressing issues, and to further efforts to develop new approaches to understanding and resolving contemporary issues impacting physics and society.
Paul P. Craig, Secretary/Treasurer
Professor Emeritus in the Applied Science Department at UC Davis (as of July 1994, due to UC's "golden handshake" windfall). Continue to teach and serve as Chairman of the UC Davis Graduate Group in Ecology's Environmental Policy Emphasis Area. Interests are in social decision-making on issues with large technological components. Recent work is on environmental accounting systems appropriate for intergenerational time frames, for use in the global warming and rad-waste management debates. BA Haverford (1954), PhD Cal Tech (1959). Worked at Los Alamos and Brookhaven. Physics career mostly in cryogenics and the Moessbauer Effect. Worked in Washington DC on energy policy, and at UC since 1975. Served as FPS Chairman a half dozen years back.
Statement: Our Forum plays a unique role within APS of providing a meeting ground for physicistsinterested in using their physics background in non-conventional social policy areas. FPS serves both as a support group for physicists who have moved into such areas, and as a way for physicists considering changing their careers to learn what others are doing and to get their feet wet. All indicators suggest that interest in career changes will continue to grow, and that increasing numbers of physicists will use their physics training in non-traditional ways. FPS is on the right track. The job of the Secretary-Treasurer is to help keep it there.
Michael I. Sobel, Secretary/Treasurer
Professor of Physics at Brooklyn College of CUNY, member of Doctoral Faculty of CUNY, Board of Directors of Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives, member of FAS, UCS, UCS Speaker's Burea. PhD Harvard 1964. Research on nuclear theory, few-nucleon problems, heavy ion collisions. NATO Postdoctoral and Senior Fellowships. Visiting positions at the Niels Bohr Institute, Weizmann Institute, Hahn Meitner Institute, Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, Princeton, others. Authored Light, a book for a general audience, developed and taught courses on energy, on the nuclear arms race, and (for the Ford Colloquium) on science and civilization. FPS executive committee and other committees. Organized an FPS symposium on missile technologies. Current interests: collaboration with faculty in science education in developing an NSF-supported hands-on curriculum for elementary education majors; science education in elementary schools; new national math education standards; critique of math instruction from the perspective of science teaching for both scientists and non-scientists.
Statement: The Secretary/Treasurer should take the lead in Forum funding issues, especially in view of the reduced APS contribution. It may be worth approaching some of the numerous small foundations for support, e.g. for a particular Forum program that falls within a foundation's area of interest. Forum activities will follow the interests of active members as in the past. In my experience, the short courses that the Forum has sponsored have been particularly valuable. I would also encourage a program to prepare accounts of science and society issues for nonscientists and for public school teachers. Negative and distorted views of science and of its impact on society have become widespread in the academic world. College politics being what it is, these views are not likely to affect the science curriculum, but they do have an insidious effect on student attitudes. I think FPS may play a role here, not only in demonstrating good science, but also by documenting the growth of anti-science.
Tony Fainberg, Forum Councillor
PhD UC Berkeley 1969, research in experimental high energy physics at LBL, CERN, Brookhaven, Research Assistant Professor at Syracuse University. Switched to applied research in 1977, joining a Brookhaven group working on nuclear safeguards and nonproliferation. APS Congressional Science Fellow in 1983, working for a year as a Senator's legislative aide, then permanently relocated to Washington, becoming a staff member and now Senior Associate of the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). Worked on many technical issues at OTA including ballistic missile defenses, terrorism and nuclear proliferation. Currently studying the role of technology in international peace support operations. Past FPS Chair and a member of the APS Panel on Public Affairs.
Statement: The past few years have seen major changes in world politics and in the public's view of science and scientists. The end of a bipolar world has removed a major argument to heavily fund scientific research. Thus, the scientific community must rapidly adjust to new realities. We always knew there were other reasons to fund science; we must now articulate these more effectively. Economic competitiveness is one argument, but if we rely on it too strongly politicians will emphasize engineering rather than science. The community will have to emphasize that it is vital to maintain a scientific infrastructure, e.g. to support university and college laboratories, while not overproducing new PhDs in areas of limited work opportunities. The SSC debacle has taught us that unlimited shopping lists are not always requited; we will have to reset our sights accordingly. Astronomers were able to prioritize their wish lists and physicists may have to as well. Finally, while "strategic research" has become a shibboleth in the research community, we had better get used to the idea that some research funding will be targeted in this time of fiscal constraint.
Since the Councilor represents FPS on the APS Council, I suggest that FPS take a higher profile within APS, e.g. by organizing sessions at more than the current two meetings. As one of the few centripetal forces in US physics, we should try to make the divisions more aware of the need to interface with the world. We also need to generate more studies, with books as a final product, as we used to do. Further, I agree with those in our Forum who are distressed by the negative and ignorant view of science that is increasingly generated by "New Age" mystics, fundamentalist religious ideologues, deconstructionists, and old-fashioned luddites. Improved science education at all levels is one excellent approach. In addition, science's perspective needs to be more broadly communicated to the public. The APS Council should join with other societies in activities, especially via television and CD-ROM/PC, to inform the public about new scientific developments. Such opportunities should also be used to explain how and why science is done, and why it is good to try to better understand the universe.
Dietrich Schroeer, Forum Councilor
Professor of Physics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. PhD in nuclear physics from Ohio State University, NATO postdoctoral fellowship at the Technical University in Munich, Fulbright and NEH Fellowships at Deutsche Museum in Munich, Research Associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, Visiting Professor at the Department of War Studies at King's College in London, and APS Fellow. Organized various FPS symposia and short courses, often with AAPT, on teaching physics-and-society courses, on the physics and technology of the nuclear arms race (AIP Proceedings #104 and #178), and other topics. Secretary/Treasurer and Vice-Chair and Chair of the Forum, 1980-84 and 1986-88 respectively. Developed and taught courses on the relationship between science and society, resulting in the textbooks Physics and its Fifth Dimension: Society (Addison Wesley, 1972, AIP-US Steel Science Writing Award) and Science, Technology and the Nuclear Arms Race (Wiley, 1984). Current research is on arms races in conventional weapons, including the transfer, dual use, and conversion of military technologies.
Statement: FPS's primary role should be to help the physics community understand and respond to the significant outside challenges it is now facing--challenges about the relationship between basic and applied research and between physics and other sciences, and about the input physicists can have into public-policy debates. Although our Forum should not impose conclusions, it can stimulate and facilitate discussions. FPS is also the home within the APS of who are following some alternative physics career path. It should be supportive of these teachers, applied scientists, policy analysts, and administrators, and help improve their integration into the physics community. The Forum Councilor plays four roles related to these Forum functions: (1) representing the Forum on the APS Council, (2) monitoring Council activities and reporting them to the Forum, (3) participating in FPS governance as an executive committee member, and (4) participating in APS governance as a Council member. (1) I would be able to represent FPS because of my long-time participation in its activities, and because of my understanding of its role within the APS. One critical issue coming up in the Council is FPS funding. This funding needs to be preserved. To ensure the broadest participation, APS members should continue to be allowed to join the Forum at no charge, yet APS should provide enough funds to the Forum to let it operate at a reasonable level. (2) I can make useful reports back to the Forum because my science-policy experience will help me understand how the Council works. (3) I could make a useful contribution to the FPS Executive Committee, as proven by my long-term active FPS participation. (4) My long-time interest in science policy would allow me to make a useful contribution as a Council member.
Steve Fetter, Executive Committee
Associate professor, School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland; teaches and writes about scientific aspects of security, energy, and environmental policy. Previously special assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, Council on Foreign Relations Fellow at the State Department, postdoctoral fellow at Harvard UniversityUs Center for Science and International Affairs, and the first Rarms control fellowS at LLNL. PhD in energy and resources from UC Berkeley, and S.B. in physics from MIT.
Statement: I no longer consider myself to be a practicing physicist, in the sense of working to extend the state-of-the-art in a particular field of physics. I do, however, make constant use of my physics training to understand security and environmental problems and to analyze potential policy solutions. It is essential to ensure, through our teaching, research, and outreach activities, that current and future policy makers know enough about the scientific dimensions of security and environmental issues that they are able to ask the right questions and craft sensible policies, and that they understand both the promise and the limits of scientific knowledge and technology. FPS has made valuable contributions in this regard in the past, particularly in security policy, and I would work to keep it relevant in the future, especially in the areas of energy and environmental policy.
Laurie Fathe, Executive Committee
Assistant Professor of Physics at Occidental College since 1989. APS Congressional Science Fellow; 1993, as science advisor to Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and working for the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Member of APS Panel on Public Affairs, 1994. Member of 1994 APS Congressional Fellow Selection Committee. Current research includes laser-surface interactions and science policy. Senior Faculty on Los Angeles Collaborative for Teacher Excellence, a multi-year, multi-million dollar program to revise pre-service training for math and science teachers. Past executive board member of the LA Chapter of the Sierra Club (66,000 members) and also of its Charitable Foundation.
Statement: The Administration's document Science in the National Interest states that "This country must sustain world leadership in science, mathematics, and engineering if we are to meet the challenges of today...and tomorrow." The physics community must be an active participant in defining the actions that will manifest from the Administration's policy. The end of the cold war has fostered a shift in priorities that will affect all scientists, perhaps physicists most of all. As the perceived need for more sophisticated weapons of destruction is displaced by concerns for health and the environment, so will the perceived need for physics be displaced. Our Forum is the ideal body to examine this sea change, and determine strategies for dealing with it. One strategy is to inform young physicists about the situation, and offer advice and assistance on multiple career paths. Another strategy is to better educate those who formulate the broad policies affecting the community. The entire physics community must become more aware and more involved with society and government. The persistent image of the scientist in an ivory tower retains a basis in reality; but it can no longer be supported. The same society that provides the dollars to support our research now demands tangible returns on that investment. This accountability should not mean that every research project must yield a marketable product, but it may mean that fields must think harder about why what they do is important to the world, and how a decreasing funding base can be distributed within the community. FPS can also be a bridge to the broader community of physicists who have branched out into associated areas like biophysics, geophysics, engineering, and environmental science. We need the perspective and the council of all our members. In this vein, FPS can address the concerns of the less strongly represented members of our community, and help give voice to their unique perspectives. With the input of the entire community, FPS can continue addressing a broader range of concerns and embodying a wider viewpoint. FPS can serve physics and the general society by motivating discussion, encouraging debate and analysis, and distributing the points made. Isn't that what our Forum is all about?
Alex deVolpi, Executive Committee
APS Fellow, sponsored by FPS, for contributions to arms control verification and public enlightenment on the consequences of modern technology. Elected to national council of Federation of American Scientists (1988-92). Active in arms control issues for over 30 years: Participant, joint FAS/NRDC projects with Soviets/FSU on nuclear-warhead dismantlement (1985-); Co-founder of Concerned Argonne Scientists; Member, Executive Committee, Chicago Alliance to End Repression (1969-1985); retired Lt. Commander USNR; physics PhD, Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Argonne National Laboratory physicist; technical manager for physics and engineering, ANL Arms Control and Nonproliferation Program; principal investigator for treaty verification analysis and technology; nuclear-weapons detection and counting, non-destructive evaluation, foreign verification technology, on-site inspection, radiation detectors, Pu demilitarization. Author of book Proliferation, Plutonium, and Policy and co-author of Born Secret: The H-Bomb, the Progressive Case, and National Security.
Statement: My current extracurricular and professional activities are focused on preventing a recurrence of the Cold War and cleaning up its debris, with particular attention to nuclear weapons and plutonium. This seems to irritate DOE officials. Twice in the past year my articles on nuclear issues have been banned through unjustified classification (and confiscation of my computer and files): first, an encyclopedic update describing public information on nuclear weapons; and now a document and article on the subject of demilitarization of plutonium. In previous Administrations I had been blackballed from DOE projects because of attendance at NRDC/FAS meetings on nuclear disarmament. From my viewpoint, the APS should continue to conduct independent qualified evaluations of technical-policy issues, particularly to keep pressure on the elimination of surplus nuclear weapons and materials. For example, the NAS has described a standard for nuclear fuel rod self-protection; but what would be an equivalent standard for messing up plutonium so it couldn't be replaced in existing nuclear-weapons casings? Rather than keep weapons-conformable plutonium around for many decades, preventing its quick substitution in proven weapons designs might be possible in the meantime. In order to evaluate public-policy on sensitive subjects, residual Cold-War-secrecy by the DOE classification bureaucracy will need to be decreased, and professional societies will have to continually defend scientific inquiry.
Daniel M. Kammen, Executive Committee
Assistant Professor and Co-chair of the Science, Technology & Public Policy Program in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University. Research on energy resource management, technology policy and environmental issues in developing nations. Interests include gender and community based development, technology transfer, risk assessment, and regional and global environmental change. Weizmann Postdoctoral Fellow at Cal Tech 1988-91, Post-doctoral fellow and Lecturer in Physics at Harvard prior to current position at Princeton. Currently also a Research Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences, and a Visiting Lecturer in the Physics Department of the University of Nairobi, directing a field program on sustainable development. This program, supported by UNESCO, trains 30-60 African researchers, community activists, and students each year in technical and policy areas of energy management and development. Author of over 50 publications, featured on NPR and BBC radio, and PBS and NHK (Japan) television. Received the 1993 21st Century Earth Award, recognizing contributions to rural development and environmental conservation. Elected a 1994 APS Fellow, sponsored by FPS. Physics B.A. in 1984 from Cornell, M.A. in 1986, and physics PhD in 1988 from Harvard.
Statement: The past few years have seen our Forum evolve and diversify the dialog on the relationship between physics and society. This process must continue with FPS playing a greatly expanded role both to foster interdisciplinary research, and to inform physicists and non-physicists about the technical content of emerging issues of social and policy importance. One way to do this involves publishing topical issues of Physics and Society and providing them to an audience beyond the APS community. These expanded special issues or supplements would provide technical background and contrasting views on topics such as the measures and meaning of risk assessments, the environmental impacts of new materials, methods to diversify physics education, and discrimination in the natural and physical sciences. One use of these documents would be as educational memos for public officials. Further, FPS could coordinate outreach efforts to contact a wide variety of educational, industry, and policy organizations that could benefit from technical advising, also leading naturally to new ways for Forum members to address social problems. A second critical FPS role is to not only to encourage, but to take action to increase, the ethnic and intellectual diversity and gender balance in physics and related fields. Schools could introduce disadvantaged students to the problems of science and technology in which FPS members are active. We could also work to obtain sponsorship for fellowships for physical scientists wishing to train and teach at the primary and secondary level. Success in these efforts would then suggest additional avenues to increase and support diversity within the physics community, and to expand our Forum's utility to the wider community.