WMU News

Nuclear arms treaty expert visits WMU

Sept. 13, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- What does seismology have to do with the global nuclear arms control debate?

Plenty, according to a Columbia University geophysicist who will be visiting Western Michigan University Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 25 and 26.

Dr. Paul Richards, the Mellon Professor of Natural Sciences at Columbia, uses seismological methods to study underground nuclear explosions and has explored the implications of these explosions in the scientific and political worlds.

"There were 2,000 such explosions--one a week for 40 years--until the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was signed in 1996," says Richards, who served as a member of the U.S. delegation to the 1994 Conference on Disarmament in Geneva where the treaty was negotiated. "The questions of how such explosions are detected, identified and located and how big they are have been important in the evaluation of present and prospective nuclear arms control treaties."

As part of his campus visit, which is sponsored by the WMU chapter of Phi Beta Kappa Honorary Society, Richards will visit classes and present a free public lecture. He will discuss "The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty -- Its History, Status and Prospects" at 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 25, in Room 1104 of Rood Hall.

An internationally known seismologist, Richards was instrumental in the 1996 discovery that the Earth's inner core has an eastward rotation. The Earth's core, which has a diameter of 1,500 miles and a mass greater than the moon, appears to be rotating once about every 500 years as part of the overall process that generates the Earth's magnetic field.

Richards has been a visiting physicist at the Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories and was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. He also was twice named a Foster Fellow/Scholar at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.

For more information, contact Emily Hauptmann, WMU assistant professor of political science, at (616) 387-5701 or <hauptmann@wmich.edu> until Sept 20; after Sept. 20, contact Dr. Ernst Breisach, professor emeritus of history, at (616) 387-4590 or <ernst.breisach@wmich.edu>.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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