SEST-712 Nuclear Weapons Technology
Spring for 2017-2018
Devereaux, E
Nuclear Weapons Technology is a course in technological literacy, and should be thought of as a prerequisite or co-requisite for courses on nuclear force planning and strategy, arms control, and non-proliferation. There have been no intentional nuclear explosions above ground since 1980 (37 years go) although what happened at Chernobyl in 1987 remains an open question. Very few living persons have witnessed such an explosion personally, and any up-and-coming securities studies professionals under age 60 are not among them. Nuclear weapons have become an abstraction and, for those lacking a background in nuclear physics, a poorly understood one at best. Securities studies professionals undoubtedly will encounter experts in nuclear weapons technology on the job or in social gatherings who will act as if they are members of a closed secret society, especially if others in that setting are unfamiliar with the intimate historical details of “the bomb”. This course delves deeply into those details but does not expect students to have the physics or math background necessary to design a weapon. After taking this course, students will be able to hold their own in conversations with experts on nuclear weapons, and make useful, informed contributions to policies that involve the weapons. Please note that the instructor has never held a security clearance at any level and all of the highly detailed information about nuclear weapons presented in this course entirely comes from publicly available sources. The instructor cannot take responsibility for the effect that exposure to the extensive public materials may have on sleep patterns after completing the semester.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
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