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Whose shoe fits best? Dubious physics and power politics in the TMD footprint controversy

Mitchell, GR (2000) Whose shoe fits best? Dubious physics and power politics in the TMD footprint controversy. Science, Technology, and Human Values, 25 (1). 52 - 86. ISSN 0162-2439

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Apparent 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.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Mitchell, GRgordonm@pitt.eduGORDONM
Centers: University Centers > University Center for International Studies (UCIS)
Date: 2000
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Science, Technology, and Human Values
Volume: 25
Number: 1
Page Range: 52 - 86
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1177/016224390002500103
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
School of Medicine > Clinical and Translational Science
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0162-2439
Article Type: Research Article
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2012 20:30
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2021 19:08


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