The Program in History and Philosophy of Science presents:


"The Virtual Nuclear Weapons Laboratory"

By Hugh Gusterson


MIT
currently a Visiting Scholar at CISAC,
Stanford University

May 27, 1998, 4:30 pm

History Building, Room 303
Stanford University

The United States tested its last nuclear weapon in 1992 and signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996. American nuclear weapons designers have adapted to this new situation by developing an array of virtual nuclear weapons design technologies (from laser fusion to advanced computer simulations) that enable them to continue their art in the absence of nuclear testing. The capability of these new technologies is highly disputed. While antinuclear critics claim they enable the design of new nuclear weapons, conservatives and in-house laboratory critics argue that the virtual technologies will undermine the performance of even old, established weapons and thus endanger US security. At stake is the possibility of a virtual arms race. Arguing that simulation technologies are "hyper-constructible", the paper explores the connections between different interpretations of virtual weapons science and different constituencies' political ideologies.



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