Who are nuclear weapons scientists? | Hugh Gusterson | TEDxFoggyBottom

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Most people study nuclear warfare by studying the new developments in the weapons themselves. Hugh Gusterson takes a different approach. Instead of studying the weapons, he studies the nuclear scientists who created them. He took to the TEDxFoggyBottom stage to share what he learned.

Dr. Gusterson’s research focuses on the interdisciplinary study of the conditions under which particular bodies of knowledge are formed and deployed, with special attention to the science of war, the military, and nuclear weapons.

His research addresses the problem of how to understand knowledge as a cultural formation, and how to analyze the historical and structural transformations of science and technology. He asks questions such as: How do cultures of science initiate and shape participants? How can we critically assess universalist claims about scientific and military “truths?” How do scientists justify their complicity with the projects of nation-states?

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

Comments

justin serra says:

Well he lied/mislead about the Arnold part,  it's to study Fusion for creation of energy, and yes that is what a hydrogen bomb is but you use lasers to create electricity instead of a fission bomb to fuse hydrogen.

Taylor the Impaler says:

When I got into nuclear physics and started to design experimental (and obviously theoretically modeled) nuclear weapons, I didn't do it for the sake of nuclear deterrence or out of a dream to have my weapon used in an actual war. No, I did it out of a fascination with their ability to destroy. I majored in nuclear physics because I was impressed by the capability of a nuclear warhead. They are far more destructive than just as an explosive.

Do I think about the ethics of my work? Yes, I do. That is why I am very much against using nuclear weaponry as a deterrent. Humans are not as trustworthy as many people believe. After having studied the killing power of nuclear weapons, I find them to be the worst invention ever created by mankind.

So, what should we do? At this point, we're too far down the rabbit hole to get rid of nuclear weapons. The only thing we can do at this point is to be as diplomatic as we can. Diplomacy is our best deterrent against nuclear war. So, maybe we could all practice some tact, no?

atwaterpub says:

"Prepare for doom." – Zobo the Clown

atwaterpub says:

Q. Who are nuclear weapons scientists? A. People who secretly hate all life on Earth and want to kill everyone they know.

Nicholas Ennos says:

My information is from Phillippe Hubert's precis of his scientific paper for measuring the age of wine, which is shown on the internet. His graph in this precis shows no caesium 137 in the atmosphere before 1952. He also states on this paper that if a wine contains Caesium 137 it was made in 1952 or later.

Technology and Innovation says:

They were in graduate school and they wanted stable employment. Building "weapons of mass destruction" probably the reaction was … "so what", and it never even entered the equation of their conscience. People are inherently insecure.

Steven Turner says:

If they really believe that we will never use the weapons, it would be cheaper and safer to just build realistic models. Of course they are meant to actually function and that function is to kill millions and wreak havoc on the world. But hey whatever pays the bills I guess.

E77381 says:

This is obvious. The Defense Department recruits quiet, shy, competent, unambitious types, pays them well, and treats them well. The government doesn’t want high turnover in these positions. The government doesn’t want heroes or mavericks in these positions. The government is looking for loyalty and stability in these positions. And for the right price, the government can almost always find people willing to go along. That’s how the world works. It’s no secret.

Nicholas Ennos says:

Nuclear weapons scientists are all frauds. Nuclear weapons do not exist, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were fire bombed. There was no caesium 137 in the atmosphere before the first nuclear power station accident in 1952.

Jernej Jerin says:

I absolutely agree and share the same belief, nuclear weapons are the ones responsible that there hasn't been a WW3 already.

WormholeJim says:

My take on the NW-building scientist was that a common trait would be patriotism. I'm not entirely convinced that that isn't the case, but it is really surprising to me that they should think they are ensuring peace down in those labs. And it really, really doesn't strike me as a savoury logic, especially not when put forth by people who you'd think would be able to pick up on the inherent absurdity. Perhaps if put on edge, it will become clear: We need nuclear weapons to prevent nuclear war. That's the logic of the statment. Insane.

Czeckie says:

What strikes me is the high proportion of religious people among nuclear weapons scientists. I know, this is quite a shady area, but numerous studies about religiosity among scientists are consistent with their findings, that only a small proportion of them are religious.

Clinton Osborn says:

Nice video — would be better with some sound.

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