Posts categorized as FAS RSS feed for this section

Old Anti-nuclear Movie from FAS

The Federation of American Scientists was formed just a couple of months after the dawning of the nuclear age by scientists as who had worked on the Manhattan Project to develop the world’s first nuclear weapons. In the fall of 1945, there was tremendous interest in the new atomic bomb: what it was, how it worked, and its effects–and not just direct effects but the effect this invention would have on the military balance and politics of the world. FAS organized a group of its members, which it called the National Committee on Atomic Information, to talk to the public, the press, and political leaders, and to produce media materials for distribution. (Sixty two years later and we still seem to be at it…)

Jeff Aron here at FAS recently came across this amazing little film on YouTube called One World or None. It was produced by FAS and the National Committee. I have to admit, no one currently at FAS knew about it, it predates anyone’s memory here, and we are ourselves doing some research on its origins and asking our long-term members what they know. (If any of our blog readers can provide any information, please let us know.) Presumably, it was released in conjunction with the release of the first publication of the Federation, also called One World or None, a collection of essays by great scientists of the day, including Albert Einstein, that was first published in 1946. One World has recently been reprinted by the New Press in New York and is available through bookstores, Amazon, and the FAS website.

The film is clearly a bit dramatic, but the dangers of nuclear weapons are dramatic. By today’s standards, the graphics are Stone Age but the message is as important today as it ever was and doesn’t depend on fancy graphics. I can’t say you should enjoy this little film–not much to enjoy when discussing nuclear dangers–but I hope you take it to heart. The Federation is still working to reduce the global threat of nuclear weapons.

Can A Summer Intern Do The Work Of The Department of Homeland Security?

Today the Federation of American Scientists launched ReallyReady.org, a comprehensive emergency preparedness website that addresses the inaccuracies and incomplete information on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) preparedness site, Ready.gov. ReallyReady was developed in two months by FAS intern Emily Hesaltine for the price of a domain name. In comparison, it took millions of dollars and over five months to create Ready.gov.

A thorough analysis of Ready.gov is available on the site. It is a critique of the inaccurate information, generic advice, unnecessarily lengthy descriptions, and repetitive information found throughout Ready.gov, examples of which were mentioned in a previous blog entry, Ready or Not: Ready.gov Gets a Facelift.

ReallyReady.org also includes clear and accurate information for families, businesses, and individuals with disabilities. It is important to note that ready.gov does not contain sufficient information for people with disabilities despite being told that they might be in violation of Federal law. We developed our page using information from the National Organization on Disability’s Emergency Preparedness Initiative.

We hope the information will serve as a model for the essential changes that need to be made to Ready.gov. We recommend that DHS request the assistance of scientific, military, and emergency response experts to make these alterations. The Department of Homeland Security has declared September National Preparedness Month. Before then, FAS hopes to see Ready.gov updated so that it is more useful to the public that has paid for it, especially since a 20 year-old college student was able to single-handedly complete the same task in only two months.

Welcome to the Federation of American Scientists’ Blog

Welcome to the inauguration of the Federation of American Scientists’ Web Log on national security issues. We are very excited about this new blog.

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) was founded by scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bombs. The birth of the atomic bomb was, or course, a turning point in history but one that had a particular significance for scientists because of their special role in its development. The founders of FAS thought that scientists should be concerned about the social, security, and political implications of their work and should strive to make the public aware of the implications of new science and technology. The founding motivations of FAS were keeping nuclear weapons and research under civilian control, minimizing the number of nuclear weapons and their salience to national security, and emphasizing international cooperation to reduce nuclear dangers. It would be nice, 60 years after the founding of FAS, to be able to say that all of these concerns have been taken care of. Unfortunately, in many ways they are as relevant today as they were then.

The six project directors of the FAS Strategic Security Project will be the regular contributors to our blog. Each of them has contributed a brief introduction as their first blog entry. I am Ivan Oelrich, the Vice President for Strategic Security, and I will cover nuclear weapons issues, including dirty bombs, and address some conventional weapons and budget questions. I will also write on nuclear energy questions when they relate to nuclear proliferation. Steve Aftergood will discuss the needed balance between secrecy and a well-informed public. Anne Fitzpatrick’s interests include technology policy, especially computers, the National Labs, and all things Russian. Hans Kristensen will discuss nuclear doctrine and force structure. Matt Schroeder will look at conventional arms control and the international trade in arms. Mike Stebbins covers biology, bio-security, and bio-terrorism. We will occasionally invite guest contributors.

Readers will be able to filter the blog by author or subject matter. The blog will include a moderated letters section. We welcome thoughtful letters but suspect we will be able to publish only a fraction of them. We think the blog is unique and fills an important niche – the first NGO blog with overall coverage of national security written by real experts in the field. We hope you enjoy the blog; we know we are looking forward to it.