Physicists Question SDI Weapons

CRYSTAL CITY, VA.—The American Physical Society's report on the science and technology of directed energy weapons, released here at the society's spring meeting last month, is a scientific document with inescapable implications for defense policy. Its reception indicates that every action connected with such a report can be, and almost inevitably is, interpreted in a political light. Specifically, the report suggests that several of the fundamental assumptions of the Strategic Defense Ini

Peter Gwynne
May 17, 1987
CRYSTAL CITY, VA.—The American Physical Society's report on the science and technology of directed energy weapons, released here at the society's spring meeting last month, is a scientific document with inescapable implications for defense policy. Its reception indicates that every action connected with such a report can be, and almost inevitably is, interpreted in a political light.

Specifically, the report suggests that several of the fundamental assumptions of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) are dubious enough to throw into question the validity of recent decisions to move rapidly to deploy simple forms of SDI. However, SDI supporters questioned whether the society's panelists were justified in interpreting their subject so broadly.

In fact the issue illustrated the extreme narrowness of the line that divides science from policy based on that science—particularly in an area as controversial as national defense.

The report concludes (see "Star Wars a Decade or More...

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