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The mid-term elections are fast approaching and with that in mind, this edition of the newsletter focuses on physicists and politics. As many of you know, there are only two physicists in Congress, and that number will drop down to just Bill Foster when Rush Holt retires at the end of this current term. Of course some of us have held public office at a variety of other levels, from state to local. An interesting question to consider is what role, if any, should being a physicist play in public office?
In this issue you will find commentaries from two people that share their own experiences and consider whether or not we, as scientists, have a bigger obligation than others to seek out and hold public office. First, Maury Goodman who was a member of the Warrenville, Illinois City Council for 14 years shares his experiences dealing with several issues before the Council, how his training as a scientist informed his own decision-making, and how his peers perceived his scientific background. Then, I offer my own thoughts after running in a Congressional primary election this past spring to succeed Rush Holt. Interestingly, we reach opposite conclusions in regards to the question of the role of a scientist in politics.
What do you think? Do we have any greater role than others in regards to public office? I would appreciate hearing from you about this and your own experiences in politics. We also have a commentary from one of our student members who was a Society of Physics Students intern assigned to the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. That experience, along with others, has confirmed her desire to “bridge the gap” between physics, science policy, and law.
Not all elections are political and our Chair, Micah Lowenthal, has a message about both the upcoming FPS elections to the Executive Committee and the APS vote on corporate reform. We end with two book reviews on topics that will interest most — papers from a short course on Nuclear Weapons Issues and a history of bicycle design.
As always, we are looking for people that would like to publish articles of interest to our readership. Please let me know if you or one of your colleagues would like to submit an article for an upcoming newsletter.