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Old Men And Their Nukes

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George Dyson, son of Freeman, took to Mastodon today with an aging suggestion for world peace.

Here’s the memory he quotes:

We need a moratorium on old physicist-related men talking about nuclear weapons.

Harold Agnew, carrier of the core for one of the weapons used against Japan and later director of the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, is probably the first to make that suggestion. It may have seemed to have some wisdom back in the day, but it’s totally out of place now.

  1. One of the remaining treaties controlling nuclear weapons is the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963, which prohibits atmospheric tests. Yes, America, let’s throw that in the trash alongside the Antiballistic Missile Treaty and the JCPOA.
  2. Policymakers were seldom the ones witnessing nuclear tests firsthand. The people who were there were military and scientists and engineers from the weapons laboratories.
  3. Castle Bravo produced an unexpectedly large yield and was the biggest nuclear test ever done by the US. The quote from the Air Force colonel is very similar to Agnew’s. They were all located much too close to the test.

Dyson would like us back in the days when physicists were revered as the source of all wisdom on such things. Unfortunately, our current organizations focused on control or abolition of nuclear weapons are mostly run by old white guys, some of them physicists.

Those organizations have not abolished nuclear weapons. Our most urgent threats are the rise of fascism and global warming. It’s time for the old men to let the youths take over.

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