MIT's Wiesner, Feld were figures in Pugwash


The American connections with the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, which won the Nobel Peace Prize today, include a number of Massachusetts figures.

The late Bernard Feld and the late Jerome B. Wiesner are the most prominent of a number of professors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who participated in Pugwash conferences. Other MIT professors and researchers involved in Pugwash included Jack Ruina, the late David Frisch, Kosta Tsipis, George W. Rathjens, Victor Weisskopf, Herman Feshbach and Carl Kaysen.

Feld, professor emeritus of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology until his death in 1992, began attending in 1958 and from 1974 to 1978 served as secretary general (the chief executive position) of the Pugwash Conferences.

Feld succeeded Professor Joseph Rotblat, today's Nobel laureate, who served more than 16 years as secretary general, the chief executive position of Pugwash. Feld also served from 1963 until 1973 as the head of the American involvement in Pugwash in his position with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, based in Cambridge, Mass., as chairman of the Committee on Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.

Dr. Wiesner, scientific advisor to President John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 to 1964, and later president of MIT, also was deeply involved in Pugwash, beginning in 1958. At the Pugwash conference in Moscow in 1960, Wiesner presented a proposal for limited deterrent force as a basis for a comprehensive disarmament system.

In his book, "Where Science and Politics Meet," Wiesner wrote about his work on disarmament in 1960, when he was a member of President Eisenhower's Science Advisory Committee Disarmament Panel and discussed the problems also at a weekly Harvard-MIT meeting. Writing of professional conferences. Wiesner said, "The most important and rewarding of these were the Pugwash meetings, where scientists from many countries explored the roles of science and scientists in coping with contemporary social problems. The quest for relief from dangers and waste of the arms race was our principal preoccupation."

Jack Ruina, professor emeritus at MIT and another veteran Pugwash member, said today that Wiesner used his Pugwash connection to gain entry to the USSR for quiet negotiations on disarmament issues.

Ruina made the initial and very controversial proposal for an ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) treaty at a Pugwash conference. Kosta Tsipis, recalling Ruina's proposal, said today that it created great controversy among scientists and world political figures, "but slowly we educated them."

The archives of MIT are a major resource of historical material on Pugwashthrough the records and correspondence files of Dr. Feld, Dr. Wiesner, andHerbert Scoville, the former deputy director of the CIA who later becamedeeply involved in disarmament.


Topics: Faculty, Global, Nobel Prizes

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