Sophomore Seminars

Nuclear Weapons, Energy, Proliferation, and Terrorism

MS&E 93Q
Prerequisites: 
Recommended: A course in economics, engineering, or the physical sciences would be helpful, but is not required.

What are nuclear weapons, and what do they do? Why are they different from other weapons? What drives the proliferation of nuclear weapons? Why do countries want nuclear weapons? What are the prospects for eliminating them? What about Iran and North Korea? What are the risks of nuclear terrorism? What is a "dirty" bomb? What is radio-activity? What role does nuclear energy play? Will it help combat global climate change, and how will it affect nuclear proliferation? These and related questions will be discussed by the instructor, the students, and other presenters. Discussions will examine realistic options in the tradeoff between the benefits and risks of nuclear technology.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Siegfried Hecker

Siegfried Hecker is a senior fellow of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and professor (research) in the Department of Management Science and Engineering. He is also director emeritus at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he served as director from 1986- 1997, and senior fellow until July 2005. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in metallurgy from Case Western Reserve University. His current professional interests include plutonium research, cooperative nuclear threat reduction with the Russian nuclear complex, and global nonproliferation and counter terrorism. He is a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The Metallurgical Society, ASM International, and an Honorary Member of the American Ceramics Society. Among other awards, he received the Presidential Enrico Fermi Award, the Leo Szilard Prize, the Los Alamos National Laboratory Medal, the Department of Energy's E.O. Lawrence Award, the American Nuclear Society Seaborg Award, and the Eugene L. Grant Award for Excellence in Teaching.