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Sadly, we open this edition of P&S with obituaries of two scientists who contributed in significant but very different ways to science-and-society issues: former Presidential Science Advisor John H. Marburger (1941-2011) and Nobel Laureate Rosalyn Yalow (1921-2011). Dr Marburger’s career reminds us of the importance of delivering objective scientific information to those in positions of power, and Dr. Yalow’s of how personal determination can overcome irrational and discriminatory obstacles to scientific careers. The staff of P&S extends our most heartfelt condolences to the Marburger and Yalow families.
In other news of interest to Forum members, in the April 2010 edition of P&S, we ran an AIP FYI reporting on the appointment of a Blue-Ribbon Commission by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to provide advice and recommendations on the issue of nuclear waste. The commission has now released a draft report, on which it is asking for public input; we reprint in this edition a recent follow-up FYI.
At the time of this writing the worldwide price of oil is fairly stable, but we know all to well from past experience how quickly that can change. Our feature article for this edition, by Danny Krebs, examines the pros and cons of various possible alternative fuels for personal transportation as petroleum resources dwindle over the coming decades. There are no clear winners yet, and the transition to a reduced-petroleum transportation sector will by no means be easy.
Supplies and prices of petroleum and other commodities are especially sensitive to outbreaks of war, and, in a second feature article, former P&S editor Alvin Saperstein offers a commentary on how the evolution of what he describes as non-provocative defense strategies and weapons can help to minimize hot conflicts.
Our book reviews deal with the life and career of Edward Teller, and the first phases of the International Tokomac Reactor (ITOR) collaboration in the 1970’s and 80’s. Both of these topics involve questions of the organization and management of big-science projects, albeit in very different venues. We look forward to your feedback and contributions.