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  Educators Course Syllabi Physics, Wilson-Problems of Nuclear Disarmament, Description

Problems of Nuclear Disarmament-Physics 239

Course Description

Illinois Wesleyan University
Professor: Raymond G. Wilson
May Term 

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PREMISES OF THE COURSE

In an age of - MTV, HIV, AIDS, Desert Storms, women's Equal Rights, terrorism of all kinds, African starvation and massacres, racism, 200,000 Vietnamese-MIA, Tian'anmen Square massacre, developing nations claiming the "right" to develop weapons of mass destruction, ozone-layer depletion, will I be able to get a job after graduation?, anti-abortion movements, "Freemen" standing off the FBI, stock market ups-and-downs, "comfort-women" reparations, Middle-east civil wars, unemployment, high divorce rates, militarism, neo-Nazism, child-abuse, kids shooting kids, kids having kids, "The Bulls?," It's Spring!, Central American cruelties, questionable leaderships, -gates, Russian "rightists" comparing Chernobyl to Hiroshima and Nagasaki - and threatening use of nuclear weapons, North Korea testing missiles over Japan, India and Pakistan doing their bit for nuclear abolition by arming with and testing nuclear weapons, environment contaminated with nuclear waste, and growing dependence upon foreign resources with concomitant loss of control of same;- with all that, and more, it has been easy to never understand that with the mere push of a few buttons or chain pulls, nations or the earth and its inhabitants can still be flushed down a path so catastrophic that "surviving mankind" for the remainder of its existence on this planet, could never escape the resulting deep psychological trauma; the course of civilization would be so drastically altered. Do you think this is something you should know about? There were still (1993) about 50,000 nuclear weapons in the world. Do you think the world has dismantled 20,000 in the last six years?

"...the course of civilization would be so drastically altered." I wonder about that. What other events have had equivalent historical impact? Invention of the bow and arrow? The wheel? Iron smelting? The Black Death (killing 1/3 - 1/2 of Europe and more)? The Thirty Years War? Gunpowder? computers? Does anyone remember WWI? The birth of Jesus? . . . Think about that.

COURSE OBJECTIVES

Learn enough and understand enough to be able to create, propose, test and challenge possible solutions to the war problem and specifically the nuclear war problem. With some 20,000 nuclear warheads and bio-chemical weapons targetable on America, the U. S. Department of Defense cannot have peace of mind. We will get a glimpse of the role militarism plays in affecting the economy, the environment, and the general well-being of the international community. Why target us? Isn't America the world's hope and source for peace and justice?

Dec. 27, 1993
"We will create new Hiroshimas and Nagasakis. I will not hesitate to deploy nuclear weapons. You know what Chernobyl meant for our country. You will get your own Chernobyl in Germany."

   - Russian ultranationalist VLADIMIR ZHIRINOVSKY, complaining of supposed German interference in Russian affairs

   - one of many comments that made world leaders fear the surprising gains by his party in last week's parliamentary elections. -- Newsweek.

   (Better first check which way the fallout will blow. - R. Wilson)

You will learn some very basic science which will then allow you to understand the physics and technology of nuclear explosions and nuclear war. You will be able to actually do atomic and nuclear physics problems. This is a major ingredient of the course.

You will understand in detail what happened, to the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to their people, as a result of the Allied nuclear attacks of 1945. You will learn of the injuries and fatalities brought about by the nuclear weapons industry, and by nuclear testing. You will become familiar with the people of Bikini and Rongelap, and why some critics have said our testing program destroyed some unique societies. Were the people of Rongelap left on their island to remain in the fallout as expendable "human guinea pigs?" Woven throughout the course is some exploration of Japanese society, before, during, and after WWII. We do encounter some global diversity.

May 25, 1994     Total nuclear disarmament under study
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The possibility of ridding the world of nuclear weapons - long an idea championed by pacifists - is gaining serious study for the first time by people who have been key architects of the American defense establishment. The Clinton administration is not endorsing total nuclear disarmament, so it will not happen anytime soon. But it is reassessing the nation's nuclear "posture" - how many weapons it needs and what role they should play. But it takes for granted that at least some level of nuclear force will be retained for the foreseeable future. The administration isn't seriously considering a zero-nukes option. - The Pantagraph.

   (Zero nukes for everyone could solve a lot of problems.- Maybe that should read, "championed by pacifists and other thoughtful people." - R. Wilson.)

May 31, 1994     Official: Russian missiles no longer targeted
MOSCOW - Russia and the United States are no longer aiming nuclear missiles at each other's territory, a Russian parliament leader announced Monday during a meeting with U. S. senators. The declaration by Sergei Yushenov, who heads the Defense Committee of the Duma, the Russian parliament's lower house, was repeated in a Foreign Ministry statement later Monday. Instead of coordinates for U.S. targets, the missiles' guidance systems now have "zero flight task," Col. Gen. Igor Sergeyev, commander of the Russian Strategic Troops, told the Interfax news agency. That means that the missiles have no target coordinates in their computer memory and will not move even in the case of an unauthorized launch, Sergeyev said. - The Pantagraph.

   (How many microseconds to load a few numbers into my 486PC? - R. Wilson)

February 12, 1999     Russians see nuke missiles as top priority
MOSCOW (AP) - At the height of Russiaâs financial meltdown, the minister named to save the economy outlined an overriding priority: build a new generation of nuclear missiles. ... The warning ... that Russia could lose its nuclear capability, has produced rare unanimity among the countryâs bitterly divided political factions. (They all)...agree that Russia must stake everything on its nuclear forces if it wants any claim to be a world power ... "The only thing for which Russia is respected in the world and which makes us worthy partners ... is our strategic rocket forces," said Alexander Lebed, a former general and a leading presidential candidate. ... With the economy in a nose dive and conventional forces collapsing, Russiaâs military has become increasingly dependent on its still massive Soviet-era nuclear forces - The Pantagraph.

   (A worthy partner, like Brutus? - Poor Norway! Poor Sweden! Poor Japan!

   Some people never learn. - R. Wilson)

(Write to a Moscow newspaper? Try Online Newspapers)