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Level of enforced secrecy in nuclear physics

  1. a

    3 vote(s)
  2. b

    3 vote(s)
  3. c

    0 vote(s)
  4. d

    1 vote(s)
  5. e

    0 vote(s)
  6. f

    0 vote(s)
  1. Jul 19, 2007 #1
    This poll is purely to satisfy my curiousity

    "enforced secrecy" in this context means a legal obligation not to share information, such as having to sign an agreement.

    Which best describes your situation

    a) I never studied nuclear phyics
    b) I studied nuclear physics during a degree without encountering any enforced secrecy
    c) I studied nuclear phyics during a degree and encountered enforced secrecy
    d) I do research into nuclear physics without encountering enforced secrecy
    e) I do research into nulcear physics and encounter enforced secrecy
    f) I can't answer this question for legal reasons
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 23, 2007 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor


    Your choices above span a couple "universes" of possibilities.

    First, (f) is out - there is NOT a legal prohibition which would prohibit anyone from even
    answering the question.

    Answers (b) and (c) form the two possible responses for the case of someone studying
    nuclear physics. If you are studying nuclear physics; in a University, for example;
    then you will not encounter "enforced secrecy". You will be studying the basic physics;
    and the laws of physics are NOT classified in any way shape or form.

    If you are doing research; you may or may not have to contend with enforced secrecy
    depending on where you are doing this research. If you are doing research in the
    nuclear weapons design progams at either Los Alamos or Lawrence Livermore; then
    YES - there is enforced secrecy - what else would you expect?

    You would also encounter enforced secrecy if you were working on the design of naval
    nuclear reactors at either Knolls Atomic Power Lab or Bettis Atomic Power Lab. If you
    know the design of the reactor; you know how much power it can put out; and hence that
    helps you figure out how fast the reactor and turbine can propel the sub through the water.
    How fast a nuclear sub can travel is something the Navy wants to keep secret.

    The prohibition against revealing secret nuclear information is codified in a LAW - the
    Atomic Energy Act of 1954. You don't have to sign a document to be bound by this;
    EVERYBODY in the USA is bound by this law. Even if you decided to work independently
    on your own nuclear weapon design - this law has a concept called "born secret" -
    anything you come up with is classified at inception.

    However, if you are working for a reactor manufacturer or any business regarding the
    commercial use of nuclear power; you won't encounter prohibitions; except for the
    ordinary "trade secrets" that you might encouter at ANY business. If you work at
    Apple; you can't take the source code that runs the new iPhone with you if your leave
    and go to one of Apple's competitors.

    Dr. Gregory Greenman
  4. Jul 23, 2007 #3
    Thanks Morbius. This is probably everything I wanted to know.:smile:
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