Max Tegmark is professor of physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, co-founder of the Future of Life Institute, and scientific director of the Foundational Questions Institute. He is the author of over 200 publications and the books, “Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality” and “Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.” A native of Stockholm, Tegmark holds a B.A. in economics and a B.S. in physics from the Royal Institute of Technology. He also holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California – Berkeley.
With their capacity for indiscriminate destruction, nuclear weapons raise profound spiritual, moral and ethical concerns. In Today’s Conversation, Max Tegmark, professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, explains the real risks of nuclear proliferation and what needs to be done to avoid nuclear catastrophe.
In this podcast, NAE President Leith Anderson and Max Tegmark also discuss:
- What we know about the nuclear programs of other countries, including North Korea and Iran;
- What a “nuclear winter” is, as well as other implications of a nuclear incident;
- Whether reducing the number of nuclear weapons weakens nuclear deterrence; and
- Why Republican presidents have had more success in reducing U.S. nuclear weapons than Democratic presidents.
Read a Portion of the Transcript
Leith: You’ve mentioned a large number of arms, 7,000 each, for Russia and the United States. There are other nuclear powers — India and Pakistan, allegedly Israel, and now North Korea. So, what do you know about North Korea’s nuclear program, and what are the risks there?
Max: When we signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty many decades ago, the idea was that should prevent new countries from joining the nuclear club. But then India, Israel and Pakistan decided to go nuclear anyway and were never actually punished for it. And now North Korea says, “Ok, we want to be a nuclear state too.” They now have between 10 and 60 nuclear bombs and are trying to upgrade. The U.S. and Russia have about 7,000 each. All the other states — none of them have more than a few hundred each. My guess is that North Korea is aiming to get up to that level also — maybe having a couple hundred.
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Today’s Conversation is brought to you by National Marriage Week USA.