Scientists and the Ethics of Cold War Weapons Research

Sarah Bridger, Columbia University<br>PACHS 2008 Dissertation Research Fellow

Chemical Heritage Foundation, Brown Bag Lecture

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 12:00 pm EDT

Time: 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. Place: 6th Floor Conference Room, Chemical Heritage Foundation The success of the Manhattan Project and the devastation caused by the atomic bomb raised complicated ethical problems for physicists and chemists whose work had military applications. This talk tracks the political and ethical debates that accompanied the development of cold war weapons systems, as well as the political and economic factors that shaped weapons research itself. Key topics that arose after the Soviet launch of Sputnik include the expansion of presidential science advising and science education in the late 1950s, scientists and nuclear proliferation during the Eisenhower and Kennedy years, biochemical weapons and the Vietnam War, scientists and the “military-academic complex” in the late 1960s and early 1970s, command-and-control technology and the Massachusetts defense industry in the 1970s and early 1980s, and the growth of defense research during the Reagan years. Sarah Bridger is a Ph.D. candidate in U.S. history at Columbia University. She holds a one-month Dissertation Research Fellowship from the Philadelphia Center for History of Science. She received her B.A. in history from Brown University and her M.A. and M.Phil. from Columbia. Her interests include cold war political and intellectual history and labor history. Prior to graduate school, Sarah investigated police misconduct cases in New York City.