If, after the media dubbed Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (YT video, Wikipedia) as "Star Wars" (transcript) in 1983, you might quesiton his concerns triggered from another movie mere months later. But after watching WarGames, he was informed that "the problem is much worse than you think." WarGames was that accurate thanks in part to input in the script from an engineer named Willis Ware, who had concerns about network security (PDF) for decades before the movie. Reagan's fears lead to the first cybersecurity directive from any U.S. President and the first concerns about the NSA's potential role in "data base oversight" (Google books preview), as well as an attempt to regulate teenagers and teenaged technology (Gbp) that impacts US internet use to this day. And then there was the USSR computer program that nearly triggered WWIII. What a year. [more inside]
On October 13, 1972, the Technology Assessment Act was put into law as a bipartisan effort to promote scientific understanding for Congress members. The act created the nonpartisan Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), which released over 750 studies in its 24 years of operation. The OTA was defunded in 1995, part of Newt Gingrich's efforts to "dismantle Congressional institutions that employed people with the knowledge, training and experience to know a harebrained idea when they saw it." (Bruce Bartlett, NYT Economix blog). It was seen by some as "Reagan's Revenge" (Google books preview) for OTA's critical reports (Gbp) in 1985 (PDF) and 1988 (PDF) of the potential for Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI, aka "Star Wars"). Chris Mooney looked back on OTA in Requiem for an office (PDF), and both the Federation of American Scientists and Princeton University have OTA report archives online. [more inside]
Fusion Magazine and The International Journal of Fusion Energy Research were popular publications of the Fusion Energy Foundation, ostensibly an organization devoted to "foster and support research and development for fusion as a new energy source." [more inside]
1983: The Brink of Apocalypse -- In 1983 the NATO war exercise Able Archer almost started a nuclear war. Unknown to NATO, just a few months earlier a false alarm had already put the Soviet leadership on edge, and the exercise triggered preparations for a counter attack in the Soviet military. Only a few double agents on each side may have saved the world from nuclear armageddon. [more inside]
Malaria is one of the world’s most serious health problems. No single approach has yet to fully conquer either the disease or the disease vector, the mosquito. The most common electronic means of killing mosquitoes, the “bug zapper” is not particularly effective. Using lasers to kill mosquitoes has previously been thought of as completely ridiculous. Now the concept is being taken seriously.
One-billion slum dwellers. An interview with Jockin Arputham who helped set-up Shack/Slum Dwellers International.
Is the Missle Defense System dead? The rules have changed, they say, but many of us have used this argument against SDI all along. What happened on Sept. 11 demonstrated irrefutably that any enemy determined to inflict mass destruction upon America can do so without ballistic missiles.