Federation of American Scientists: Wikis

  

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The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) is a non-profit organization formed in 1945 by scientists from the Manhattan Project who felt that scientists, engineers and other innovators had an ethical obligation to bring their knowledge and experience to bear on critical national decisions.[1] Their first projects focused on controlling nuclear weapons and research on civilian nuclear power, issues that remain prominent to FAS today.

The Federation was able to maintain a full-time office only for three years after its founding on October 31, 1945. The story of these first three years can be found in "A Peril and a Hope; The Scientists' Movement in America 1945-47" by Alice Kimball Smith (University of Chicago Press, 1965).

Through the fifties and sixties FAS was run by part-time staff and volunteers, with the help of various chapters only two of which (Los Angeles and Boston) were operating by late 1969. In June, 1970, Jeremy J. Stone descended from the FAS Executive Committee to become its first full-time employee in twenty-two years. During his tenure as chief executive, the Federation budget rose from $7,000 a year to about $1,000,000, the staff grew to about a dozen, and FAS became sponsored by 57 Nobel Prize winners with a peak membership of about 5,000 scientists. Early in the process, Stone ended the FAS Chapter system. (The Boston Chapter later became the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)). FAS papers for the period through the sixties can be found in the University of Chicago Library.

Stone resigned in June, 2000, at age 64, to become the President of a very small non-profit, "Catalytic Diplomacy" which he founded for the purpose of continuing his work. But an inside view of his own work at FAS over three decades can be found in his memoir "Every Man Should Try: Adventures of a Public Interest Activist" (PublicAffairs, 1999) which is posted at www.catalyticdiplomacy.org along with a second Stone memoir covering his subsequent work. Some 200 FAS Public Interest Reports that he authored during the 30 year period, have been given to the American University Library, as part of his papers, and will soon be available through the University website.[2]

Now endorsed by 84 Nobel Laureates[3] in chemistry, economics, medicine, and physics, FAS addresses a range of issues where science and technology analysis is critical.

Contents

Strategic Security Program

The Strategic Security Program pursues projects intended to reduce the threat to the United States, and the world, from biological, chemical, conventional and nuclear weapons. The U.S. confronts a broad range of threats in a security environment that has changed dramatically since the end of the Cold War. Policymakers working on security issues must master an increasingly sophisticated set of technical issues and need ready access to the relevant facts and analysis. FAS continues to give high priority to projects designed to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons, secure existing weapons and materials, strengthen international nonproliferation regimes and guard against the spread of dangerous technologies to unreliable states and terrorist groups.

In nuclear weapons, FAS says it played a key role in helping a bipartisan Congressional effort block funding for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP) or “bunker buster.”[4] Using public data, FAS says it has shown that the device could not achieve its mission without creating catastrophic collateral damage. FAS inserted this analysis into the debate using printed reports, a computer animation, and numerous briefings for members of Congress and Congressional staff. The work was cited in the Congressional debate.

FAS is currently engaged in efforts to block what the organization considers to be dangerous plutonium reprocessing efforts. Three decades ago, the U.S. government opposed civilian nuclear reprocessing because of nuclear proliferation dangers. Recently, however, the Congress reversed this policy by requiring an accelerated schedule of decisions to use unproven reprocessing technologies.

FAS is also completing a comprehensive technical and scientific review of the reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile. This report will be important to upcoming debates about nuclear testing and the role of the Reliable Replacement Warhead, or RRW.

In late 2005, the Nuclear Information Project (NIP),[5] an FAS-sponsored effort pushing for greater declassification of nuclear weapons-related information, called attention to a new emphasis by the Bush administration on preemption in a revised nuclear doctrine. Sixteen members of Congress subsequently submitted a letter to the administration objecting to the nuclear doctrine and asking the President for clarification. NIP also co-authors the Nuclear Notebook column in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the overview of world nuclear forces published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Yearbook.

FAS biosecurity projects include the development of a biosecurity resource on the web and the development of interactive, web-based course materials.

The FAS Government Secrecy Project's stated goal has been to increase access to information so that the public can play a meaningful role in their democracy, while still preserving what FAS believes is a level of security and secrecy sufficient to protect critical national secrets. This has been a source of some controversy; for example, the Administration of George W. Bush has increased the level of secrecy and withdrawn many documents previously available in government archives. The American Library Association recognized the FAS Government Secrecy Project in 2006 with the James Madison Award for championing, protecting, and promoting public access to government information and the public's right to know.[6]

The Arms Sales Monitoring project works to block the flow of weapons to unstable states and terrorist groups. It has succeeded in securing funding for a federal program to destroy weapons seized from illegal traffickers and ensuring that data on arms trade is easily available to the public.

Government Secrecy 
This project seeks to challenge what FAS sees as unwarranted secrecy in general, and promotes reform of national security information policy and practice. Since 2000, this project has published Secrecy News, a free newsletter about the handling, withholding and release of information by governments and armed forces. It replaces the prior publication, Secrecy & Government Bulletin, which has issues archived on the website going back to Issue 30, of January 1994.[7]
Arms Sales Monitoring Project 
This project studies the global arms trade and analyzes the effects of both legal and black market sales.
Biological and Chemical Weapons 
This project informs scientists and the general public about biological and chemical weapons and their control. The project researches and advocates policies intended to balance science and security without compromising national security or scientific progress. That includes preventing the misuse of research and promoting public understanding of the real threats from biological and chemical weapons.
FAS has produced a series of case studies intended to define the issues associated with “dual-use” research and security in the research lab. They include interviews with researchers whose legitimate scientific work could potentially be used for questionable or harmful endeavors, as well as a historical perspective on their research, bioterrorism, and regulations.
America's War on Terrorism 
This project provides information and analysis on the War on Terrorism, as well as the United States security policy.
United States Weapon Systems 
This project compiles a detailed multimedia guide to United States military systems and hardware.
United States Munitions 
This project compiles a detailed guide about non-nuclear, biologic and chemical WMD ammunition currently in use in the United States military ranging from bullets to bombs.
Rest of World Military Equipment 
This project compiles a guide to non-US military systems and hardware.
Nuclear Weapons 
FAS has focused on nuclear weapons since its founding in 1945 by scientists concerned about control of the technology they had helped create. It now studies modern day uses and deterents for nuclear weapons and monitors United States military decisions regarding their development.

FAS has a speakers' bureau of persons who represent its point of view and advocacy, on the dangers of radiological weapons known as dirty bombs and of nuclear weapons proliferation by individuals, non-state terrorists, and states.

FAS also follows next generation nuclear weapons development including proposed “bunker busters” and tracks the debate over resuming nuclear weapons testing and provides Congress with reports and analyzes Administration policy.

The project provides a document archive to educate the general public about Administration policy and Congressional reports. It advocates that individuals and groups contact members of Congress to urge them to stop work on next generation nuclear weapons.

The project provides a Bomb-A-City Calculator to calculate the radius within which most buildings would be destroyed.

FAS published "Missions for Nuclear Weapons after the Cold War," which states as its thesis that, of 15 missions claimed for US nuclear forces, only one justified its size and structure: a first strike capability against Russia’s nuclear arsenal, which in turn, Russian maintains to deter our attack.

Learning Technology Program

The Learning Technologies Program works to intensify and focus research and development to improve how we teach and learn. FAS believes that the United States is facing an education crisis in formal schooling and workforce training. Even in the contentious political atmosphere in Washington, no one doubts that a world-class U.S. workforce – skilled in math, science, and technology – is needed to maintain or improve the competitiveness of U.S. companies and ensure national security. FAS has promoted advanced information technologies, including interactive simulations, “question management” systems that combine automated and human responses, and continuous assessments.

Current projects include development of three experimental educational games. Discover Babylon, set in ancient Mesopotamia introduces 8 year olds to the fundamentals of literacy by following the introduction of writing. Immune Attack, aimed at high school and first year college students, teaches immunology in a game where players train immune cells to repel ever more sophisticated invaders. Multi Casualty Incident Response, developed in partnership with the Fire Department of New York, trains chiefs to manage complex events involving many deployed units. The educational games are currently being tested with their targeted audiences, which include biology classrooms around the country, museums and New York City fire chiefs.

FAS is also working to create a national education trust fund called the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust (DOIT). DOIT is aimed at harnessing the Internet as an educational tool and encouraging government and private investment in the development of Internet-based education.

FAS hosted a “Summit on Educational Games”[8] that explored the innovations in game technology that might be useful in educational applications. The resulting policy recommendations have attracted widespread interest in the Congress and legislation implementing them has been drafted.

FAS also hosted a workshop on the “virtual patient”[9] that explored the state of the art in systems for training medical personnel using computer-based tools.

Learning Federation 
The Learning Federation is a partnership of companies, universities, government agencies and private foundations to promote a national research plan that uses information technology to improve upon traditional approaches to teaching and learning.
Digital Promise 
This Digital Promise project will create a national educational trust fund, the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust (DO IT), to help transform education, workforce training, and lifelong learning.
Biomedical Computing Requirements 
This project analyzes the impact of advanced computers on biomedical systems and issues.
Digital Human 
This project creates and promotes a community of information and biological scientists working on biomedical research simulations.

Building Technologies Program

The Building Technologies Program combines the talents of engineers, energy efficiency specialists and other experts in the field of housing to develop new materials and design methods that can lead to safe, energy efficient, affordable homes in the U.S. and abroad. Plans are underway to construct model homes using these new technologies in the hurricane-plagued zones of Baton Rouge, LA, and Mobile County, AL; in a residential area of Houston, TX; and in an upscale, earthquake-prone neighborhood of Istanbul, Turkey. FAS will compare these homes with stick-built houses that use traditional construction methods and monitor the energy usage of each.

The The Building Technologies Program is working to advance innovation in building design and construction that can improve quality, affordability, energy efficiency and hazard protection while lowering construction and operating costs. Technical advances, including new composite materials and prefabricated components, can help meet these goal in ways that are beneficial to both builders and owners.

FAS collaborates with scientists and engineers that specialize in building materials, structural engineering, architectural design, indoor air quality and energy-efficiency to create safe and affordable housing in the U.S. and abroad.

FAS seeks to advance the current state of construction by evaluating, disseminating and supporting advanced building materials, technologies and systems, such as Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) with alternative facings. FAS has assembled an interdisciplinary team of experts many of whom have had years of experience in construction to develop lasting close links with the industry to help facilitate the adoption of new technologies in residential and commercial practice.

The Structural Insulated Panel (SIP) is one such technology that may more attention in the construction market. SIPs were first developed over 50 years ago by the Forest Products Laboratory, established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Starting in 1952, Alden B. Dow – the son of the founder of the DOW Chemical Company – began to design SIPs for residential construction. SIPs are composite building materials that consist of an insulating core such as Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) or Polyurethane with two structural facings on each side. While the most common facing material used in the industry is Oriented Strand Board (OSB) or wood facing, SIPs can also be manufactured with fiber-cement boards and metal skins.

See also

References

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