Physicists as Diplomats: US-China Scientific Exchanges from Arms Control to Climate Change
Presented by Professor Zuoyue Wang of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016
Reception: 5:30 p.m.
Talk: 6:30 p.m.
American Center for Physics
1 Physics Elipse
College Park, MD 20740
In the 1980s, American and Chinese physicists started to engage each other in a low key but serious manner in two momentous areas of contemporary science and politics: nuclear arms control and global climate change. Connections and leverages helped bring together prominent nuclear and atmospheric physicists such as Wolfgang Panofsky, T. D. Lee, and Thomas Malone, on the American side, and Zhu Guangya and Ye Duzheng, on the Chinese side. Together they carried out challenging but eventually fruitful discussions that paved way for formal policy-making. In this talk I would like to trace, based on newly available sources, the beginnings of these important and yet little-known transnational scientific interactions and address a number of issues of interest to both physicists and historians: the proper roles of scientists and experts in national policy and international diplomacy, the social and political values of transnational ethnic scientific networks, and the possibility of historical learning in policy-making as the world struggles to deal with the threats of both climate change and nuclear proliferation.