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A sarcastic look at the arms race

To the Editor:

On Wednesday, April 17, two distinguished MIT professors and the Indian ambassador to the US spoke here to mark the 40th anniversary of the first explosion of an atomic bomb. The two professors, Phillip Morrison and Victor Weisskopf were both part of the team that developed this first nuclear bomb. All three speakers talked of the evils of the nuclear bomb. They talked of the new dimension of horror that the bomb allowed. They urged nuclear freeze, nuclear disarmament and all agreed that conventional weaponry and conventional warfare were infinitely better.

To my way of thinking, this doesn't make much sense. Weapons are made to kill people. If my job is to build weapons, I want to build the most efficient weapon I can, i.e. the weapon that will kill the largest number of people at the lowest cost. The nuclear bomb wins hands down.

Another point, since the people I'm trying to kill are my enemy (the bad guys), I might also want to make them suffer before they die. In other words, another objective of the weapon builder might be to inflict the maximum pain at the lowest cost. In this case I might consider nerve gas or germ warfare. However, the choice is not clear cut since it has not been conclusively determined whether the suffering caused by radiation from a nuclear explosion is greater than that caused by chemical warfare. (In fact, a working definition and an accurate measure of suffering is badly needed.)

If this turned out to be the case, then based on this criterion of optimality my choice would again be the nuclear bomb. Of course other choices are available, for example a combination of germ warfare and nuclear missiles. We might, for instance, want to maximize suffering in and around Moscow, but only maximize killing efficiency in the rest of Russia.

I think you get the idea. There is room in this field for many bright young minds. So, if you have demonstrated ability in math and science and have a strong moral foundation, come, be all that you can be. Remember, if you don't do it, someone else will.

Erastus Njage G->