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Isis. 2002 Jun;93(2):229-68.

Nuclear democracy. Political engagement, pedagogical reform, and particle physics in postwar America.

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Program in Science, Technology, and Society, Department of Physics, Building E51-185, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


The influential Berkeley theoretical physicist Geoffrey Chew renounced the reigning approach to the study of subatomic particles in the early 1960s. The standard approach relied on a rigid division between elementary and composite particles. Partly on the basis of his new interpretation of Feynman diagrams, Chew called instead for a "nuclear democracy" that would erase this division, treating all nuclear particles on an equal footing. In developing his rival approach, which came to dominate studies of the strong nuclear force throughout the 1960s, Chew drew on intellectual resources culled from his own political activities and his attempts to reform how graduate students in physics would be trained.

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