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New Mexico State University

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NMSU College of Arts and Sciences kicks off fall 2013 colloquium series

"Science and Society" is the theme of New Mexico State University's College of Arts and Sciences colloquium series. Now in its fifth year, the series will begin Monday, Oct. 14 with a lecture by History Professor Jon Hunner.

Hunner will give a talk, " A path not taken: J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Cold War," as the first of the series.

"The talk will look back at the choices our government made and explore alternatives to what was eventually decided," Hunner said. "There are still concerns about government secrecy."

Oppenheimer is known as the father of the atomic bomb because of his involvement in the Manhattan Project, which developed the first nuclear weapons. He was later stripped of his security clearance and advocated a more public debate about atomic weapons polices.

Because trillions of dollars have been spent on nuclear weapons since the first atomic bomb, Hunner explained, there should be discussions about governmental policies and the nuclear weapons stockpile.

"We live in a democracy that is based on exchange of information," he said. "Some things should remain in secrecy. There have been trillions of dollars spent ... and little public information about whether that's good use of our money. This is a study of what happened to Oppenheimer, a cautionary tale about what could happen to somebody who provides a valuable service to his country."

Hunner has authored several books, including two on atomic history - "Inventing Los Alamos: The Growth of an Atomic Community," and "J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Cold War, and the Atomic West."

"The purpose is to encourage discussion and dialogue among the faculty and also members of the community," said Heather Throop, biology professor and chair of the Arts and Sciences Colloquium Committee. "The lectures stimulate intellectual dialogue and help people make connections between different focus areas within the diverse College of Arts and Sciences."

The talk will be held from 4 to 5:15 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14, at the Elbert Walker and Carol Walker Room 107 in Science Hall. It is free and open to the public.
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