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New book tutors future presidents and public on science behind the headlines
Date:8/15/2008

Berkeley -- In the event of a standoff between the United States and Iran over uranium enrichment, would Barack Obama, if elected president, know enough about the physics of nuclear weapons to assess the threat?

In leading the nation toward reduced greenhouse gas emissions, would John McCain as president understand which technologies would best decrease America's carbon footprint?

If not, University of California, Berkeley, physicist Richard A. Muller has the answer: a new book, "Physics for Future Presidents" (Norton, 2008) that he's written as a primer for anyone aspiring to the Oval Office.

The book provides the scientific literacy would-be leaders need to challenge ill-informed, partisan advice on science-based issues such as terrorist threats, global warming, the value of manned exploration of space and the dangers of nuclear weapons. With book in hand, candidates and presidents will be able to publicly explain and defend their decisions rather than defer to their science advisors.

"It's hard to think of an issue these days that doesn't have a science or high tech angle to it," said Muller, a professor in UC Berkeley's physics department for 30 years and an experimental physicist and astrophysicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "My real goal is to make the dialogue more based in knowledge and fact, because I think that will cool down the rhetoric and help bring opposite sides of the political spectrum together to reach agreement."

A big reason such a book is needed is the current lack of scientists at the highest level of government to advise the president, said Muller, a former MacArthur "genius" Award winner who for 34 years was a member of the Jasons, a group of top-level scientists who advise the U.S. departments of defense and energy as well as NASA on technological issues.

"There used to be a science advisory committee that was in constant contact with the president and was expected to
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Contact: Robert Sanders
rsanders@berkeley.edu
510-643-6998
University of California - Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert

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