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Krauss encourages sensible nuclear strategy

January 13, 2009

Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist at Arizona State University, will co-chair the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists with Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman. Together they plan to re-energize a national discussion on the reduction of nuclear weapons stockpiles, and a commitment to fight proliferation and encourage disarmament efforts.

“With a new administration in Washington, it will be an unprecedented opportunity to re-examine our policy on missile defense, nuclear weapons, nuclear proliferation and nuclear energy,” says Krauss, who is director of a new origins initiative at Arizona State University.

“There are a number of different areas where U.S. policy has been stagnant or gone backwards, and there is a tremendous need for a sensible strategy,” says Krauss. “We will use the talent and reputation of the Board of Sponsors to be leading voices; to reinvigorate and raise the profile on these nuclear-related issues, so vital to our long-term peace and safety.”

The role of the Chicago-based Board of Sponsors, founded in 1948 by Albert Einstein and first led by J. Robert Oppenheimer, is to support the efforts of the Bulletin to amplify voices of reason and encourage rational policymaking on nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, climate change and biotechnology. The board has 44 members and includes 17 Nobel Laureates.

Krauss, a professor in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences where he is a faculty member in the Physics Department and the School of Earth and Space Exploration, was named to the Board of Sponsors in 2006, along with Stephen Hawking, Lisa Randall and Brian Greene. Scientific American has described Krauss as a public intellectual. He is the author of more than 250 scientific papers. In addition to writing the best-seller, “The Physics of Star Trek,” Krauss has written six other books, including “Fear of Physics” and the science epic “Atom: An Odyssey from the Big Bang to Life on Earth ... and Beyond.” He also frequently writes commentary for New Scientist magazine.

“Lawrence is a distinguished scientist who is well-recognized as someone who can translate complex scientific concepts into terms that the general public can understand. He has an exceptional way with words, which is a good fit with the Bulletin’s goal to communicate clearly with the public and policymakers about the dangers and opportunities that accompany technological advancement,” Lederman says.

Lederman, the 1988 Nobel Laureate in physics and former director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, has been chair of the Board of Sponsors since 2001.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was founded more than 60 years ago by Manhattan Project scientists who “could not remain aloof to the consequences of their work.”

The Bulletin’s “Doomsday Clock” counts minutes to midnight in a symbolic expression of humankind’s proximity to total destruction. The Clock currently is at five minutes to midnight, the result of moving the hands two minutes closer on Jan. 17, 2007. Over the years, the hands of the Clock have been moved 19 times – an action determined by the Bulletin’s Board of Directors in consultation with the Board of Sponsors. Initially set at seven minutes to midnight in 1947, the hands of the Doomsday Clock were placed at two minutes to midnight in 1953 after the United States decided to pursue the hydrogen bomb. In 1991, with the Cold War officially over, the hands were set at 17 minutes to midnight.