Physical Insights

An independent scientist’s observations on society, technology, energy, science and the environment. “Modern science has been a voyage into the unknown, with a lesson in humility waiting at every stop. Many passengers would rather have stayed home.” – Carl Sagan

The President’s Guide to Science

with 4 comments

Here’s another very good science documentary from the BBC’s Horizon program.

As President Richard Nixon awarded the prestigious National Science Medal to a group of scientists, he was heard to say: “I have read the citations and I want you to know that I do not understand them, but I want you to know, too, that because I do not understand them, I realise how enormously important their contributions are to this nation.”

In order to make the best decisions regarding important issues as diverse as energy, the environment, nuclear weapons proliferation, anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, abortion, biotechnology and embryonic stem-cell research, and the role of nuclear power, and how to ensure that it is used most effectively, the President of the United States really needs to have ready access to advisers who are scientifically literate, and abreast of the details of developments in science and technology.

To examine some key issues where the next President of the United States really should be well advised about the intricacies of scientific and technological issues, the Horizon team have assembled a panel of notable scientists, including Neil DeGrasse Tyson, British Nobel-laureate biochemist Sir Paul Nurse, the controversial Professor Richard Dawkins, the notable theoretical physicist Professor Michio Kaku, and a few more, to examine these key contemporary issues of science in society.

Michio Kaku is none too fond of nuclear power – although, since he is clearly somebody who most physicists will at least hear out, and he’s clearly scientifically literate, one cannot help but think that perhaps Kaku is in a unique position to elucidate his scientific argument as to why, scientifically, nuclear energy is not safe, or that there is some intractable dilemma presented by radioactive byproduct materials.


Written by Luke Weston

November 10, 2008 at 1:58 am

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. Have you heard Kaku’s arguments against nuclear power? They are almost childlike in their naivete!

    His alternative: solar. I realize that many physicists these days like solar (probably because they are intrigued by the condensed matter physics that goes into their design), but they seem to almost universally lack the perspective of how much solar would be required and why this is not practical.

    (Of course, it’s not surprising that Kaku’s research involves something that is completely theoretical, without any experimental evidence [yet] to support it.)

    If Kaku is seriously involved and influential, then I weep for our future.


    November 10, 2008 at 9:44 am

  2. Yeah, certainly – Kaku’s argument is essentially just the familiar old “it’s dangerous and there’s the waste and we don’t know what to do with the waste” – which is really astonishing and surprising, coming from a professor of physics.

    If he really believes that nuclear fission power is no good (he’s positive and optimistic about fusion), he really should elucidate why, in a scientifically sound fashion – he’s clearly scientifically literate – instead of just sounding like any Greenpeace representative off the street.

    Luke Weston

    November 11, 2008 at 4:52 am

  3. I knew Kaku 30 years ago in NY during the anti-war movement. He’s on the far left was an organizer around the Nuclear Freeze (weapons) in the 1980s. He is literate, but caught the antis religion during TMI. There is no hope for him.


    david walters

    November 12, 2008 at 5:38 pm

  4. I was rather disappointed by the narrator’s pronunciation of nuclear, as “nucular”. I expected better of the BBC.

    Brad F

    November 16, 2008 at 4:40 am

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