Cranky Physicist

Robert Park, a Physicist at the University of Maryland, posts/emails on Fridays. Here’s his take on the plans to eliminated the testing requirements for missile defense:


In April 2000, the APS Council stated: “The United States should not make a deployment decision relative to the planned National Missile Defense system unless that system is shown through analysis and intercept tests to be effective against the types of offensive countermeasures that an attacker could reasonably be expected to deploy with its long-range missiles.” In fact, a law designed to prevent deployment of weapon systems that don’t work was passed in 1983 after Ronald Reagan announced his Strategic Defense Initiative. Now the Bush administration is proposing to exempt the Pentagon’s controversial missile defense from testing. The request is in the 2004 budget. I called my friend Puff Panegyric at the Missile Defense Agency. “You’ve got to admit the law makes sense,” I said. “Maybe it did in 1983,” Puff sneered, “but North Korea has made the world a more dangerous place. We don’t have the luxury of waiting until things work. There are leaders of some countries who would like nothing better than to start a war.” “I see your point Puff.”

I strongly recommend Park’s newsletter, which you can read or have emailed to you at


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