The Doomsday Clock is an internationally recognized design that conveys how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making. First and foremost among these are nuclear weapons, but the dangers include climate-changing technologies, emerging... Read More
A typhoon was coming, the fuel pump failed, they had to switch planes, things were wired incorrectly, they missed their rendezvous, they couldn’t see the primary target, they ran out of gas on the way home, and they had to crash-land. But the worst part was when the Fat Man atomic bomb started to arm itself mid-flight.
The author argues that a gender-based sense of patriotism often turns disarmament into something "soft," feminized, or emasculated—not only hindering disarmament but also making it difficult to establish a credible feminist approach to hard-core strategic studies and policy making.
In the classic film Dr. Strangelove, Brig. Gen. Jack D. Ripper was the ultimate insider threat. As the nuclear-armed B-52s that Ripper unilaterally dispatched proceeded toward their Soviet targets, the American president confronted Air Force Gen. Buck Turgidson in exasperation: "When you instituted the human reliability tests, you assured me there was no possibility of such a thing ever occurring." To which Turgidson replied, "Well, I don't think it's quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up, sir."
Shortly after its failed April 13 rocket launch, North Korea was widely expected to conduct its third underground nuclear test. Such a test would have fit the pattern of the first two nuclear tests, both of which followed failed rocket launches and international condemnation. And Pyongyang has compelling technical, military, and political reasons to conduct a third nuclear test that would demonstrate it can miniaturize nuclear warheads to fit on a missile, making its nuclear arsenal more threatening.
It appears that the managers of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, taken by surprise, did not know exactly what to do after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the plant on March 11. Experts in the United States, thousands of miles away, had a duty to provide timely, helpful advice. Both the press and US officials failed. In particular, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's recommendation to stay at least 50 miles away from Fukushima was inappropriate and may have caused unnecessary panic.
Thirty years ago, I had the good fortune to visit with Stephen Cotgrove, whose 1982 book Catastrophe or Cornucopia: The Environment, Politics and the Future was a pioneering analysis of emerging controversies over the risks and benefits of modern technologies.
The highly sophisticated Stuxnet computer worm suspected of sending Iran's nuclear centrifuges into self-destruction mode forces a difficult debate on whether longstanding firewalls in our country's democracy should be breached for the sake of national security.