Letter to the Editor: Physicists don’t kill people, defense funding kills people


I am writing in response to Sonya Kousoum’s letter (“Physics should be used ethically,” Feb. 7). Kousoum claims, “Most physicists are just employed to build bigger and more powerful weapons.”

Although I’m convinced that this is a great exaggeration, I don’t actually have numbers to back up my opinion. Perhaps Kousoum will offer a response with some supporting data.

However, I do know that while the current administration has proposed a $5.5 billion increase to the federal research and development budget, a whopping $4 billion of that would go to the

Department of Defense.

In fact, according to Physics Today, “the entire increase would go to Pentagon weapons systems and homeland security programs.” The DOD would end up getting 52 percent of the total research and development budget, compared to 22 percent for the National Institute of Health and 9 percent for NASA.

Where the money goes, the research follows.

Kousoum’s mad-scientist paranoia is essentially baseless today, but if our country’s passion for war and weaponry continues, her fears might become justified in the future.

Regardless, I would remind her that few physics students draw their motivation from a desire to produce bad-ass weaponry.

If it does ever become true that the majority of physicists are working on weapons technology, then she can blame the politicians signing the budget proposals. In the words of Ice T, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”

Alison Hatt

Senior, Physics