Q&A: Richard L. Garwin, Expert on Nuclear Weapons

Is North Korea getting ready to stage a second test?

4 min read

Richard L. Garwin is an IBM Fellow Emeritus and a fellow of the IEEE, the American Physical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He earned his doctorate in physics under Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago in 1949, played a key role in designing the first hydrogen bomb, at Los Alamos National Laboratories, and worked at IBM from 1952 to 1993. He has taught at Columbia University and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and he has advised the Pentagon and the government for 40 years. He served from 1993 to 2002 as chairman of the U.S. State Department’s nonproliferation advisory board and in 1998 as a member of the Rumsfeld commission on emergent ballistic missile threats.

IEEE Spectrum sounded Garwin out on his views about the presumed North Korean nuclear test of 9 October. Four days later the U.S. government detected radiation, and on Monday 16 October it confirmed that a nuclear test had indeed occurred. —William Sweet

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

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Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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