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Is the United States Heading Toward a Nuclear Apocalypse?


Press Release

Wednesday, March 12, 2003 – Is the United States doing enough to prevent nuclear terrorism? What actions should the nation be taking to thwart a "dirty bomb" attack? Is the greatest nuclear threat to the country really from terrorists or from other nuclear powers? On March 12, 2003, Steven Weinberg, who holds the Jack S. Josey-Welch Foundation Chair in Science and is Regental Professor at the University of Texas in Austin, addressed the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at its 1868th Stated Meeting at the House of the Academy in Cambridge. Weinberg concentrated on these and other questions in his lecture "Nuclear Terror: Ambling Toward Apocalypse." This lecture was in honor of two past American Academy presidents, Herman Feshbach and Victor Weisskopf, who devoted their lives to fostering East-West cooperation in nuclear arms control.

Weinberg, a Fellow of the American Academy since 1968, has taught at Columbia University, the University of California at Berkeley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University. In 1982, he moved to the University of Texas, Austin and is founder and director of its Theory Research Group; he is also a member of the physics and astronomy departments. His research has spanned a broad range of topics in quantum field theory, elementary particle physics, and cosmology, and he has been honored with numerous awards, including the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics and the National Medal of Science.

He holds honorary doctoral degrees from thirteen universities and is a member of the National Academy of Science, the Royal Society of London, and the American Philosophical Society. Currently he serves as a member of the Board of Editors of Daedalus, a member of the Board of Directors of the Federation of American Scientists, a Senior Advisor to the JASON group of defense consultants, a National Sponsor of the Committee of Concerned Scientists, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations Independent Task Force on Homeland Security Imperatives. In addition to the treatises Gravitation and Cosmology and The Quantum Theory of Fields, Weinberg has written several books for general readers, including the prize-winning The First Three Minutes, The Discovery of Subatomic Particles, Dreams of a Final Theory, and, most recently, Facing Up – Science and Its Cultural Adversaries. He is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books.

The American Academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams "to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people." Drawing on the wide-ranging expertise of its 3,700 Fellows and 600 Foreign Honorary Members, the Academy conducts innovative non-partisan studies on American institutions, security, social policy, the humanities and education.


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