Editor's Comments

Cameron Reed

Our three feature articles for this edition of P&S examine issues of both current and historical significance. As this issue was being prepared for publication, Americans were reflecting on the ninth anniversary of 9/11. When physicists think of the role of science in the fight against terrorism, we likely think in terms of developing technological innovations that can help to detect and thwart such threats in advance. Former P&S editor Al Saperstein's article on scaling laws in terrorist attacks reminds us, however, that the analytic tools of physics can also be deployed in attempting to model the dynamics of such horrors, work that may contribute insights to developing policies to minimize their effects. 

Readers will be well aware of the British “Climategate” situation of earlier this year. We are pleased to be able to reprint from Science an article by Sheila Jasanoff of Harvard University which addresses lessons learned from Climategate and decades of science policy regarding how practicing scientists can work to establish the trust of the many external audiences their work now affects. Openness, transparency, integrity and accountability of the processes, purposes, and products of science are crucial in establishing public and political credibility. Our third feature article, by Cindy Kelly of the Atomic Heritage Foundation, describes how private individuals can team effectively with government agencies and laboratories to preserve historically scientifically significant sites, specifically, Manhattan Project properties. Her article very nicely complements that by Bob Potter which ran in our January edition on efforts to preserve the Hanford B-Reactor. 

I always enjoy reading letters that we receive in response to articles, and in this edition we have one from former Editor Art Hobson, who offers some observations on teaching scientific literacy motivated by Richard Muller's July article on Physics for Future Presidents. Art's efforts as our book reviews editor have again been very fruitful: we offer three reviews, one on the history of nuclear proliferation and two on tips for how scientists can be more effective public communicators. I also draw your attention to an announcement of an upcoming Forum-sponsored workshop on the Physics of Sustainable Energy: Efficiency and Renewables to be held next March at Berkeley.

We welcome readers' contributions and feedback.

These contributions have not been peer-refereed. They represent solely the view(s) of the author(s) and not necessarily the view of APS.