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I wish to express my strong reservations concerning the APS statement on DOD basic research (APS News June 2002)
Support of basic research should be based primarily on the desire to discover more about nature and our universe. Emphasizing applications tends to undercut some science at the frontiers of knowledge such as cosmology and elementary particle physics. I remember with embarrassment the attempts of a Texas congressman to describe the wonderful applications to arise from the SSC; they only served to hasten the demise of that frontier accelerator project.
It is important and correct to emphasize that all the wonderful applications of science in our modern world have as a foundation the results of basic research. The examples that we should point to are those that can benefit all of mankind. Unfortunately it is hard to say whether applications that augment U.S. military power are more of a benefit or a danger to mankind.
In conclusion, for moral reasons as well as to achieve the results we desire, we should refrain from defending basic research in physics on the basis of military applications.
We are disappointed that the APS Council, at the April meeting, adopted a resolution on military spending. Whether you agree or disagree with the content of the resolution, you may agree that it seems inappropriate for the Council to speak out on this subject on behalf of the entire membership.
Would it not have been more appropriate for those influential leaders of the Society to make known their views on weaponry as individuals? And better for the organization as a whole to keep its focus on advancing and diffusing knowledge of the physical world?
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