With the passing of Wolfgang ("Pief") Panofsky, this newsletter has lost a great friend and contributor. Starting a few years ago, Pief would occasionally invite me (JJM) to his office at SLAC for a "brown bag lunch", during which we would discuss issues of interest to readers of Physics & Society. Sometimes, Pief would also suggest a series of articles for the newsletter. The following three series resulted directly from his suggestions during our "brown bags":
- The dangers of nuclear weapons after the Cold War (published in P&S October 2003 thru January 2005)
- Science advice and executive policy formulation (October 2005, October 2006, January 2007)
- What are nuclear weapons for? (starting with October 2007)
Pief suggested not only topics but also authors qualified to write on those topics. Through Pief, and with the invaluable assistance of his administrative assistant Ellie Lwin, I recruited several of the members of Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) to write for our series starting in 2003 and continuing to this day. In addition, Pief himself contributed articles to P&S during that time period, as a glance at the Tables of Contents will show.
Two of the more memorable times that I had with Pief include the time when he showed off to me his brown bag, made not out of paper but of plastic made to look like a brown paper bag. He'd been using it for years, and it was clearly environmentally superior to traditional brown bags since it could be used hundreds of times. The last time I saw Pief, a few months ago, I took a Stanford shuttle bus to his office. As he was showing me to the entrance door at the end of our meeting, I jokingly remarked, "Al Gore would be pleased to know about the minimal CO2 emissions involved in getting me to SLAC today." Without skipping a beat, Pief replied, "Just be sure to also minimize your methane emissions."