Bulletin of the American Physical Society
APS March Meeting 2018
Monday–Friday, March 5–9, 2018; Los Angeles, California
Session A16: History of Soviet Physics
8:00 AM–10:24 AM,
Monday, March 5, 2018
LACC Room: 305
Sponsoring Unit: FHP
Chair: Paul Cadden-Zimansky, Bard College
Abstract: A16.00003 : Secrets in Public: Soviet Physics and Cold War Knowledge Cultures
9:12 AM–9:48 AM
During the Cold War, Soviet scientists, physicists in particular, were constrained by strict state-imposed regulations on the kind of information they could share with others. The strictures on their behavior were driven by an understanding that physics research, especially in applied fields, had important military applications and thus were more sensitive. These regulations compelled Soviet physicists to adopt a special lexicon that disguised, obscured, or regulated many aspects of their lives: publication of their research, their place of employment, and even their professional identities. Such constraints were not, of course, unique to Soviet physicists but they helped cultivate a kind of rhetorical tension in which Soviet scientists were simultaneously called upon to represent their nation to the world but could not necessarily speak in detail about the nature of the research. Through a number of key examples, this paper looks at knowledge cultures—and the regulation of those cultures—within Soviet science, as part of a broader intervention into the relationship between science and secrecy in the Cold War.
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