APS Statement Draws Fire

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.

Lincoln Wolfenstein
Pittsburgh, PA

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?

Nina Byers,
Santa Monica,California
Kenneth Ford
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette

August/September 2002 (Volume 11, Number 8)

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Articles in this Issue
APS Selects 26 as 2002-2003 Minority Scholarship Recipients
Department Chairs Confer, Drop In On Congress
Tannenbaum is New APS Congressional Fellow
Societies Honor Physics Olympiad Team
APS Fellows Win Four National Medals of Science, 1 Technology
Demand for Boycott of Israeli Science Stirs Controversy
Hamre Commission Takes Hard Look at Security Mismanagement at Weapons Labs
Scientists Toy with Origami As A Solution
APS Lobbyists Work the Hill While Brinkman and Colwell Correspond
Proposed New Department Complicates Outlook for Visas
Speaking Out In Support of Science Education Funding
APS Executive Board Passes Resolution on Perpetual Motion Machines
Viewpoint: Odds Are Stacked When Science Tries To Debate Pseudoscience
Viewpoint: Letters Reveal New Insights Into the Bohr-Heisenberg Meeting
The Back Page
Members in the Media
This Month in Physics History
Physics and Technology Forefronts
Inside the Beltway: A Washington Analysis