Physics may be the furthest thing from the minds of the presidential candidates right now, but a solid grasp of the science behind some of the latest headlines will be critical for the winner.
Physics has a history of intersecting with politics in ways both large and small, from the creation of the atomic bomb to nuclear meltdowns to terrorist methods. And now, with more specialized, high-tech issues to tackle than ever before, it is increasingly important that world leaders have an understanding of the underlying scientific concepts.
But that’s not necessarily the case, says UC Berkeley physicist Richard Muller, author of the book Physics for Future Presidents. For example, he argues that some terrorist threats, like dirty bombs, are overrated, while others, the low-tech stuff like natural gas bombs, receive little attention.
“I do not have a sense from the campaigns that the candidates really know this stuff,” Muller told Wired.com. “And I don’t expect them to. In the past, it’s been the secret knowledge of the scientists who say, ‘Pick me as your science adviser, and I’ll tell you what to do.”
But Muller wants to change that with his non-partisan take on issues like global warming, energy, nuclear weapons, and space. He demurred on who he wants to see elected, or thinks will be. All that matters to him is that whoever wins brings the right approach to their policy decisions.
“What you have to do is give the president a knowledge base, so they can make knowledge-based decisions.” Muller said. “I say those things that I hope will be heard.”
In this Q & A, Muller discusses dirty bombs, space robotics and clean coal.
[Read more at Wired]