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The high stakes of New START

With President Obama determined to bring New START to the Senate floor before the end of the year, the national security establishment is virtually unanimous in its support of the treaty.

New START and the allure of strategic superiority

After countless Senate hearings and nearly six months after the signing ceremony in Prague, the New START treaty has successfully passed out of committee. The support of the necessary 67 out of 100 senators appears likely but is not yet a done deal; as a Senate staff member told the Washington Post, "The administration is still going to have to work on these votes."

Against counterinsurgency in Afghanistan

It says something about American politics that Gen. Stanley McChrystal was not fired because U.S. casualties in Afghanistan are running at record levels, because the much vaunted Marja initiative has failed, or because the Kandahar offensive is already in trouble during its preliminary rollout. No, he was fired because he and his team embarrassed the White House with carelessly frank talk to a journalist. "This is a change in personnel, but not a change in policy," said President Barack Obama in announcing General McChrystal's dismissal.

Deconstructing the meaning of Iran’s 20 percent uranium enrichment

On February 11, the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered the "sweet" news that Iran had successfully produced 20 percent enriched uranium. More than anything, the announcement served as Iran's response to the stalemate over purchasing fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor that is used, in part, to produce medical isotopes.

Do professional ethics matter in war?

What happens when the U.S. military decides that an academic discipline's professional ethics code is a nuisance? That is the situation in which anthropology now finds itself.

What to do about tactical nuclear weapons

Since the United States and Russia might soon sign a new treaty that limits their strategic nuclear weapons, it's natural to wonder about Washington and Moscow's tactical nuclear weapons, which the treaty won't cover. The hope is that the momentum for a nuclear-weapon-free world, the renewed U.S.-Russian negotiations, and the ongoing review of the U.S. nuclear posture and NATO strategic concept will help make progress on reducing nonstrategic nuclear arsenals--an issue that has been largely neglected for more than a decade.

An American suicide bomber?

"As for the Taliban fighters, they not only don't cherish life, they expend it freely in suicide bombings. It's difficult to imagine an American suicide bomber," Washington Post pundit Richard Cohen opined in a recent column.

Is the cyber threat a weapon of mass destruction?

Google's surprise announcement of "a highly sophisticated and targeted attack" on its systems--a case of computer-aided espionage--has also raised the specter of offensive warfare. Defense News quotes Adm. Robert Willard of U.S.

The lasting toll of Semipalatinsk’s nuclear testing

During the rainy, windy early morning of August 29, 1949, the Soviet Union conducted its first nuclear explosion--code-named "First Lightning"--at the Semipalatinsk Test Site in eastern Kazakhstan. Witnesses remember feeling the ground tremble and seeing the sky turn red--and how that red sky was quickly dominated by a peculiar mushroom-shaped cloud. The Soviet military and scientific personnel conducting the test knew that the rain and wind would make the local population more susceptible to radioactive fallout.

Putting the cost of going green in context

Editor's note: The following column was coauthored by Benjamin Urquhart, a research associate at Harvard University's Center for the Environment, and Mark Winkler, a PhD student at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Thirty years after TMI: Five lessons learned

When I ask my students at the University of Pittsburgh if they know what "TMI" stands for, they respond with, "Too much information." They can be excused; they were born long after the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island.

Can the U.S. military move to renewable fuels?

In a 1906 planning document, the U.S. War Department imagined, "In 1950, the U.S. military [will be] a highly effective, mobile, and mutually supporting force, protecting all required American interests through dominant air, land, and sea operations powered by a petroleum energy standard that is reliably and economically produced from domestic sources."

How can we reduce the risk of human extinction?

In the early morning of September 10, the Large Hadron Collider will be tested for the first time amid concern that the device could create a blackhole that will destroy the Earth. If you're reading this afterwards, the Earth survived. Still, the event provides an opportunity to reflect on the possibility of human extinction.

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David Baltimore, 1975 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine

Paul Berg, 1980 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

Georges Charpak, 1992 Nobel Laureate in Physics

James Cronin, 1980 Nobel Laureate in Physics

Jayantha Dhanapala, former United Nations Under-Secretary General for Disarmament Affairs

Carl Djerassi, recipient of the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology

Peaking fuel sources can’t keep up with population growth

Joe Chamie calls targeting unintended fertility a “delay tactic” that hinders the immediate pursuit of reducing resource consumption. Again, we want to reiterate that we don’t view this as an either-or proposition. Instead, to avoid catastrophic climate change, we believe that the international community should pursue the methods that Fred Meyerson describes below to reverse … Continued

U.S. nuclear double standards

As seen from Pakistan, U.S. nuclear weapons policies present troubling trends; an exclusive interview with the irreverent Brig. Gen. Atta M. Iqhman.

Sustainable lifestyles, not population control, will solve the climate crisis

I’m glad we agree that universal access to noncoercive family planning and reproductive health services should be an important goal of international development policy. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve reached a consensus. I’d like to clarify several points of difference. First, although the distinction may seem subtle, there’s a big difference between family planning … Continued

Tomorrow’s nuclear power will be different than yesterday’s nuclear power

Amory is correct that the sort of nuclear power last built in the United States is much more expensive than other major sources of electric power. The construction costs of the most recent nuclear plants were about $10,000 per kilowatt (kW). But this figure is misleading when considering the cost of future plants. For example, … Continued