Scientific Controversies
No. 7: Containment

Scientists pursue blue-sky ideas uncontained. When Einstein proposed his most famous equation E=mc^2, he did not foresee its application to nuclear power. When Niels Bohr struggled with the new quantum theory, he never imagined its application to nuclear weaponry. After Lise Meitner contributed to the discovery of nuclear fission, she later said, “I will have nothing to do with a bomb!” Yet each of them, if inadvertently, had something to do with the bomb. The need to contain stockpiles of nuclear weapons and radioactive waste seems indisputable. But what about the imagination and ideas that lead to their creation, can they be contained? Janna Levin invites her guests to discuss the implications and viability of containment.

With Guests

Peter Galison
Professor of the History of Science and of Physics at Harvard University, author, and filmmaker, whose most recent work is the documentary Containment.

Allison Macfarlane
Professor of Science and Technology Policy and Director of the Center for International Science and Technology Policy at George Washington University, former NRC Chairman, and author of the book Uncertainty Underground: Yucca Mountain and the Nations’s High-Level Nuclear Waste.