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The scientist as a go-between


The voice of scientists in the public arena
Murray Gell-Mann Scientist
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There are so many scientists whose voices form a kind of cacophony and I think the whole thing is rather... the whole situation of communication with the public is rather sad. I think it's very important to form a politically potent organization. It could be based on the American Association for the Advancement of Science if it took in a lot more members or if it took in associate members, or something, so as to form a bigger group that would include science teachers, people employed in science-based and technically-based industries, and so on and so on. It could be a huge lobby for adequate treatment of science and technology in the country. I think that could be very useful. It would be nice if science and technology were a potent political force, but getting the relevant people to agree on things, of course, would not be very easy, but there might be some issues on which they would agree.

New York-born physicist Murray Gell-Mann (1929-2019) was known for his creation of the eightfold way, an ordering system for subatomic particles, comparable to the periodic table. His discovery of the omega-minus particle filled a gap in the system, brought the theory wide acceptance and led to Gell-Mann's winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1969.

Listeners: Geoffrey West

Geoffrey West is a Staff Member, Fellow, and Program Manager for High Energy Physics at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is also a member of The Santa Fe Institute. He is a native of England and was educated at Cambridge University (B.A. 1961). He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1966 followed by post-doctoral appointments at Cornell and Harvard Universities. He returned to Stanford as a faculty member in 1970. He left to build and lead the Theoretical High Energy Physics Group at Los Alamos. He has numerous scientific publications including the editing of three books. His primary interest has been in fundamental questions in Physics, especially those concerning the elementary particles and their interactions. His long-term fascination in general scaling phenomena grew out of his work on scaling in quantum chromodynamics and the unification of all forces of nature. In 1996 this evolved into the highly productive collaboration with James Brown and Brian Enquist on the origin of allometric scaling laws in biology and the development of realistic quantitative models that analyse the influence of size on the structural and functional design of organisms.

Tags: American Association for the Advancement of Science

Duration: 1 minute

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 29 September 2010