In its Voices of Tomorrow feature, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists invites graduate students, undergraduates, and high school scholars to submit essays, opinion pieces, and multimedia presentations addressing at least one of the Bulletin's core issues: nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, climate change, biosecurity, and threats from emerging technologies.
You learn a lot about a society from the way its accidents happen.
Safety analysts have found that Korean plane crashes were facilitated by a culture in which junior pilots do not challenge senior pilots, even when keeping quiet may result in their own deaths. Respect for elders, highly valued in Korean culture, can be a danger.
Diplomat Thomas R. Pickering draws upon his 40 years of experience in the US State Department to give the Bulletin’s Dan Drollette Jr. his take on a wide range of current affairs—such as the progress of negotiations with Iran over its nuclear capabilities, the assassination of Iranian scientists, North Korea’s weaponry, Russia’s attitudes toward the West, the effectiveness of realpolitik, and the possibilities for eliminating all nuclear weapons.
I had an opportunity to sit down with Iran's deputy foreign minister and one of Iran’s chief negotiators, Majid Ravanchi, in the Coburg Hotel in Vienna, Austria, where the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany) and Iran are working around the clock to strike a nuclear deal that would curb Tehran's nuclear activities and provide assurance of their peaceful nature, while granting Iran relief from international economic sanctions. I asked Ravanchi about the state of play in the negotiations and the stumbling blocks on the path toward a final deal.
I read with interest Lawrence Krauss’ article on Laudato Si’, "The Pope’s encyclical on the environment: Not even close?" His critique of the pope’s affirmation of some Church doctrines, particularly regarding contraception, is one I share. It is important to recognize, however, that scientists, policy makers, and theologians will read Krauss's piece through very distinct lenses, and assessments will focus on different emphases.
It would not take much highly enriched uranium to kill hundreds of thousands of people: as little as what could fit in a five-pound bag of sugar. That it has not happened so far does not mean it may never happen, especially when one considers that there are more than 2,000 metric tons of dangerous nuclear materials in hundreds of sites scattered across the globe. And that there have been more than 2,300 cases of theft or loss of nuclear or radioactive material since the early 1990s.