Arms control work wins scientists Nobel Prize

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  • bioengineers can harness the organisms to consume waste at a fast enough rate, they might be able to remediate some of DOE's troublesome underground contaminant plumes. And unlike other biological remediation agents, Stevens says, they probably would not need to be fed.

    Elizabeth Wilson

    Arms control work wins scientists Nobel Prize Award of the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize to the Pugwash Conferences on Science & World Affairs and to its president, Joseph Rotblat, honors 38 years of influential arms control efforts by an international group of scientists.

    The Norwegian Nobel Committee stressed the group's "efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics, and in the longer run to eliminate such arms." But it also put Pugwash's activities in a larger contextemphasizing that they "are based on the recognition of the responsibility of scientists for their inventions."

    The committee noted it is now 50 years since the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and 40 years since issuance of "the Russell-Einstein Manifesto" that "laid the foundations for the Pugwash Conferences." The manifestowhich called on scientists to "assemble in conference to appraise the perils that have arisen as a result of the development of weapons of

    mass destruction, and to discuss a resolution"was signed by Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein, and nine other noted scientists, including Rotblat.

    The conferences take their name from the small fishing village of Pugwash, Nova Scotia, which in 1957 hosted the first meeting, attended by 22 scientists from 10 nations, including the U.S. and Soviet Union. This was followed by a series of meetings at sites around the world, with a growing number and diversity of participants. Annual conferences now draw 125 to 250 people, but the more frequent workshops and symposia on specific topics generally involve 20 to 50 participants.

    By mid-1995, there had been more than 200 Pugwash meetings with total attendance of more than 10,000. The organization is based in London, with offices in Rome and Geneva. The U.S. Pugwash Committee is based at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in Cambridge, Mass. There is also a Student Pugwash organization, based in Washington, D.C.

    Pugwash's initial focus was on nuclear arms, but activities have expanded to other international security issues, including chemical and biological warfare, trade in conventional weapons, and ethnic and regional conflict as well as nonmilitary security issues such as technology transfer; resource, energy, and environmental problems; and sustainable development.

    The Nobel committee notes that the conferences "have brought together scientists and decisionmakers to collab-

    Institute of Medicine elects members with chemical ties A professor of chemistry and several other scientists working in chemically related fields are among 55 new members just elected to the Institute of Medicine. IOMpart of the National Academy of Sciences complex, together with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Councilnow has a total active membership of 519. Election to the institute honors contributions to health and medicine or related fields, such as social and behavioral sciences, law, administration, and economics. The new members in chemically related areas are the following:

    investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and professor of chemistry and pharmacol

    ogy, University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine.

    Arthur L. Beaud investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and professor and acting chairman, department of molecular and human genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.

    Helen M. Blau, professor, department of molecular pharmacology, Stanford University School of Medicine.

    Les . Rothman, vice chairman, Sloan-Kettering Institute, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City.

    Judith S. Stem professor of nutrition and internal medicine, department of nutrition, College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, University of California, Davis.

    Rotblat: operating on a shoestnng

    orate across political divides on constructive proposals/' Indeed, notes John P. Holdren of the University of California, Berkeley, Pugwash meetings have contributed significantly to a series of nuclear arms control treaties, to the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972, and to the global Chemical Weapons Convention of 1992. Holdren chairs the international Pugwash executive committee and cochairs the U.S. Pugwash Committee, and he also serves on President Clinton's Committee of Advisers on Science & Technology.

    Pugwash was a unique, informal "back channel" for arms control talks during the Cold War, Holdren tells C&EN. Leading scientists from East and Westincluding government science advisersand political and military figures could "get together off the record, float trial balloons, and find a way around obstacles."

    Through the years, Rotblat has been "the most important figure in the Pugwash work," the Nobel committee notes. Now 86 and a British citizen, the Polish-born physicist worked on the Manhattan Project to develop an atomic bomb. But he left the project months before the first bomb hit Hiroshima because he objected to building the bomb once it became clear Nazi Germany would not develop such a weapon.

    Rotblat and Pugwash will get equal shares of the $1 million prize. The money is welcome, Holdren says, because Pugwash "operates on a shoestring," with an annual budget of about $400,000.

    Richard Seltzer

    OCTOBER 23,1995 C&EN 9

    Arms control work wins scientists Nobel Prize