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Physics - Applied & Technical Physics | Physics of Societal Issues - Calculations on National Security, Environment, and Energy

Physics of Societal Issues

Calculations on National Security, Environment, and Energy

Hafemeister, David

Softcover reprint of hardcover 1st ed. 2007, XVIII, 488p. 111 illus..

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  • Offers tools for analyzing complex issues using informed estimates and simple calculations
  • The first equation-oriented book to deal with national security, the environment, and energy policy
  • Includes numerous problems to challenge readers and extend the discussion

Why this book on the Physics of Societal Issues?  The subdivisions of physics - nuclear physics, particle physics, condensed-matter physics, biophysics - have their textbooks, while the subdivision of physics and society lacks an equation-oriented text on the physics of arms, energy and the environment.  Physics of Societal Issues is intended for undergraduate and doctoral students who may work on applied topics, or who simply want to know why things are the way they are.  Decisions guiding policies on nuclear arms, energy and the environment often seem mysterious and contradictory.  What is the science behind the deployment of MIRVed ICBMs, the quest for space-based beam weapons, the fear of powerline EM fields, the wholesale acceptance of SUVs, the issues of climactic change, and the failure of the pre-embargo market to produce buildings and appliances that now save over 50 power plants?  Physics of Societal Issues is three "mini-texts" in one:

National Security (5 chapters):  Weapons, offense, defense, verification, nuclear proliferation

Environment (4 chapters):  Air/water, nuclear, climate change, EM fields/epidemiology

Energy (7 chapters):  Current energy situation, buildings, solar buildings, renewables, enhanced end-use, transport, economics

"Straightforward calculations and supporting analysis can significantly shape public policy. This insight is needed in Congress and the Executive Branch. Hafemeister, a former Congressional fellow with wide Washington experience, has written a book for physicists, chemists and engineers who want to learn science and policy on weapons, energy, and the environment. Scientists who want to make a difference will want this book."

Richard Scribner, a Founder and first Director, Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow Program, AAAS

"Hafemeister shows how much one can understand about nuclear weapons and missile issues through simple back-of-the-envelope calculations. He also provides compact explanations of the partially successful attempts that have been made over the past 60 years to control these weapons of mass destruction. Hopefully, Physics of Societal Issues will help interest a new generation of physicists in continuing this work."

Frank von Hippel, Professor, Princeton University, former Assistant Director, National Security, White House, OSTP

"Energy policy must be quantitative. People who don't calculate economic trade-offs often champion simplistic hardware. ‘The solution is more .... nuclear power, or electric cars, or photovoltaics, etc.’ Some simple physics will show that the true solution matches supply and demand as an ‘integrated resource plan.’ Physics of Societal Issues is a good place to begin this journey."

Arthur Rosenfeld, California Energy Commissioner, Professor-emeritus, University of California-Berkeley

"Political analysis of public policies that ignores technical reality is about as useful as technical analysis that ignores political reality. In this book, David Hafemeister demonstrates a solid grasp of both the technical and political realities that have shaped US arms control and defense policy for the past five decades. This is a rare treat."

Dean Wilkening, Science Director, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University


Content Level » Lower undergraduate

Keywords » Radio - Symbol - Transport - arms control - electromagnetic radiation - energy - environment - missile defenses - national security - nuclear proliferation - nuclear weapons - physics - pollution

Related subjects » Applied & Technical Physics - Complexity - Engineering - Physics - Policy, Economics, Management & Transport - Production & Process Engineering

Table of contents 

Part I: National Security - 1 - Nuclear Weapons / 2 - The Offense: Missiles and War Games / 3 - The Defense: ABM/SDI/BMD/NMD / 4 - Verification and Arms Control Treaties / 5 - Nuclear Proliferation Part II: Environment - 6 - Air and Water Pollution / 7 - Radioactive Pollution / 8 - Climate Change / 9 - EM-Fields and Epidemiology Part III: Energy 10 - The Energy Situation / 11 - Energy in Buildings / 12 - Solar Buildings / 13 - Renewable Energy / 14 - Enhanced-End-Use Efficiency / 15 - Transportation / 16 - Energy Economics Appendices: A. Nuclear Arms Chronology / B. Energy/Environment Chronology / C. Units / D. WWW Sites / E. Symbols / F. Glossary / G. Index

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