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Being wary of genetic engineering


Positions on further weapons research
Freeman Dyson Scientist
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We have a clear commitment, both from our own government and from the scientific community: we don't do biological weapons and we don't do chemical weapons any more. So that's already... that's a done deal, and what Bethe is suggesting is that we do the same for nuclear weapons; simply say we're not ever going to develop new nuclear weapons. I think that's good and I think it's high time we do that. I would certainly be very happy to see that adopted officially. To some extent it is. I mean, Clinton already has... I think even before Clinton, I think, Ford or whoever it was, no, I guess it was Bush... already declared the policy of not making new nuclear weapons, so it is our declared policy and clearly that should be maintained. What Bethe is saying is that every individual scientist should also declare the same policy and I think that's fine. I would do... certainly do it myself. In my whole life, in fact, I never did design a nuclear weapon so in a way it's sort of not applicable to me, but... but I think it would be a good idea. The weapons labs themselves are not in that business any more. They are only interested now in understanding the stockpile as we have it.

Freeman Dyson (1923-2020), who was born in England, moved to Cornell University after graduating from Cambridge University with a BA in Mathematics. He subsequently became a professor and worked on nuclear reactors, solid state physics, ferromagnetism, astrophysics and biology. He published several books and, among other honours, was awarded the Heineman Prize and the Royal Society's Hughes Medal.

Listeners: Sam Schweber

Silvan Sam Schweber is the Koret Professor of the History of Ideas and Professor of Physics at Brandeis University, and a Faculty Associate in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. He is the author of a history of the development of quantum electro mechanics, "QED and the men who made it", and has recently completed a biography of Hans Bethe and the history of nuclear weapons development, "In the Shadow of the Bomb: Oppenheimer, Bethe, and the Moral Responsibility of the Scientist" (Princeton University Press, 2000).

Tags: USA, Bill CLinton, George Bush, Gerald Ford, Hans Bethe

Duration: 1 minute, 26 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1998

Date story went live: 24 January 2008