Whose Shoe Fits Best? Dubious Physics and Power Politics in the TMD Footprint Controversy

TitleWhose Shoe Fits Best? Dubious Physics and Power Politics in the TMD Footprint Controversy
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsMitchell, GR
JournalScience, Technology & Human Values
Volume25
Issue1
Pagination52-86
Date Published01/2000
Publication Languageeng
AbstractApparent design breakthroughs in short-range missile defense systems such as Theater High-Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) have prompted questions about the legality of such systems under the 1972 Antiballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Prominent physicists have used computer “footprint” methodology to prove that if engineered to specifications, THAAD might exceed ABM Treaty performance limits banning highly effective missile defense systems. In response, missile defense officials commissioned Sparta, Inc. to conduct secret research casting doubt on the validity of such findings. The substantial diplomatic issues at stake and the interesting rhetorical dynamics involved in this dispute warrant close scholarly analysis. Attention to the iterative relationship between the interpenetrating spheres of public argument and scientific practice in this case yields novel insight about the processes in which technical knowledge of defense systems is forged and raises fresh issues for the “closure project” in science and technology controversy studies.
URLhttp://sth.sagepub.com/content/25/1/52.abstract
DOI10.1177/016224390002500103

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