An objective overview of the nuclear arms race will be presented with an emphasis on the present situation. A brief sketch of how nuclear weapons work and some ironic lessons from history will be presented. Scientists' discussions about preventing proliferation and use started in the secrecy of the Manhattan Project and continued in public during the rapid cold war buildup to the present (e.g., Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists). The central role of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the Iran agreement, possible pathways to nuclear conflict, and a personal view of the outlook to prevent future nuclear weapons use, including the vital role of education, will be presented.
Aron Bernstein is Professor of Physics, Emeritus, MIT. His physics research has focused on experimental tests of the symmetries of the standard model (chiral anomaly and symmetry). He has followed the nuclear arms race carefully since the Cuban Missile Crisis, has taught courses on this subject, and has done research on arms control issues such as the dangers posed by the Russian and US short ballistic missile launch and warning times. He is a National Board Member of the Council for a Livable World, started by physicist Leo Szilard, which works with Congress on nuclear arms control issues.