Thursday, December 16, 2010

Brian Clegg

Brian Clegg holds a physics degree from Cambridge and has written regular columns, features, and reviews for numerous magazines. His books include Before the Big Bang, Ecologic, The Global Warming Survival Kit, and Upgrade Me. His book A Brief History of Infinity reached #1 on Amazon in Popular Science (General) and Popular Maths, staying at #1 for ten further weeks.

His new book is Armageddon Science: The Science of Mass Destruction.

From Clegg's Q & A with Katherine Don for Salon:

Bioterrorism versus cyberterrorism: Which is scarier?

Cyberterrorism. In the U.K., the government just completed a new assessment of the requirements of the military, and cyberterrorism was one of the top three threats. Cyberterrorism is relatively easy to accomplish, and relatively easy to do remotely, in terms of hacking into the Internet.

Bioterrorism is much easier than a terrorist nuclear attack, but it's not that easy. For the terrorists, the difficulty is in making a large impact. The anthrax attack after 9/11 had an effect, but it killed a very small number of people. It's actually quite difficult to deliver biological weapons that will infect people properly.

How concerned should we be about the dangers of nuclear terrorism?

I don't think it's the most dangerous possibility in the sense of all-out mass destruction. A nuclear terrorist event would be small compared to what a superpower can do, but I think it has a larger probability of actually happening. A dirty bomb, which is a regular bomb that spreads radioactive material, is the most likely scenario. An actual nuclear bomb would be very difficult for a terrorist organization to construct. Their best bet would be getting one from a nuclear nation.

The U.S. government convened the Committee on Medical Preparedness for a Terrorist Nuclear Event in July 2009. It almost seems like a throwback to the Cold War. What was it?

It's a committee put together by the Institute of Medicine at the government's request. The purpose is...[read on]
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Writers Read: Brian Clegg.

Coffee with a Canine: Brian Clegg and Goldie.

--Marshal Zeringue