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The Second Interdisciplinary Conference on Selected Effects of a General War was held at Princeton, New Jersey from 4-7 October 1967, under the auspices of the New York Academy of Sciences Interdisciplinary Communications Program, with the support of the Defense Atomic Support Agency. The first of this series of conferences was held from 18-21 January 1967 and dealt chiefly with the effects of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
This second conference was concerned mainly with the effects of fallout or other release of radioactive materials from subsequent tests or accidents involving nuclear weapons. The specific effects discussed extensively included the effects of the 1954 H-bomb test in the Pacific ocean which resulted in radioactive fallout contamination of Marshall Island natives and of the Japanese fishermen on the vessel Fukuryu Maru (Lucky Dragon); the ecological effects of bomb tests in the Pacific ocean test regions; and the effects of the "Spanish incident," which involved the accidental dropping of four nuclear weapons, without detonation but with release of radioactive material (plutonium) onto Spanish soil as a result of accidental destruction of an airborne bomber.
Representatives of many disciplines engaged in vigorous and freewheeling discussion and debate of all aspects of these incidents. The disciplines represented included, among others, physics, weapons technology, military science, ecology, epidemiology, radiation biology, toxicology, pathology, psychiatry, genetics, other biologic and medical specialties, and pertinent administrative and cultural specialties.
In addition to discussion of the physical characteristics and extent of the radioactive contamination, the radiation doses, the monitoring and decontamination procedures, the biological, medical, psychological and sociological effects of the radioactive contamination upon the people and locales immediately involved, the discussions extended to broader and farther reaching psychosocial aspects, i. e., to the chains
of circumstances and events leading from these localized incidents through the news media and diplomatic channels to the reactions of the more complex social structures, such as the economic, political, and diplomatic repercussions of national and international scope.
There was much discussion of possible reasons for differences in reaction to incidents of these kinds among different nations; the importance of seeking answers to such questions in the differences in culture, as well as in politics, was stressed.
On the basis of the discussion of the specific incidents and their consequences, the conferees roamed the whole field of psychosocial and biomedical implications of nuclear warfare in an attempt to project the consequences of nuclear warfare under a variety of conditions. with respect to magnitude of the warfare, anticipation of onset, preparedness, and civil and military defense policies. Interest was focussed upon policies and means which might help to prevent or to mitigate nuclear warfare, upon the nature, scope and consequences of nuclear warfare should it occur, and upon the problems of national recovery after nuclear warfare.
The participants of this conference included Dr. Frank FremontSmith, director of the New York Academy of Sciences Interdisciplinary Communications Program; the two co-chairmen of the conference, Dr. Austin M. Brues, and Dr. Arthur C. Upton; the discussion initiators for the five major subjects on the agenda, Dr. Charles L. Dunham (the 1954 thermonuclear test), Dr. Robert A. Conard (the effects of fallout on populations), Dr. Lauren R. Donaldson (ecological aspects of weapon testing), Dr. Wright H. Langham (the Spanish incident), and Dr. Merril Eisenbud (discussion of psychosocial reactions); and others listed on the following pages.