Friday, May 22, 2009

Calling out the New York Times

As I learned at a conference that I was attending, the New York Times apparently ran an article recently attacking the reputation of famous physicist and Nobel prize winner Isidor Rabi. The article implied that Rabi was a traitor and had passed nuclear secrets on to the Israelis in order to help them construct their first nuclear bomb. (Although they have added a 'correction' to the article, the graphic still identifies Rabi as a 'leak' or source of information for the Israelis' nuclear program)

This may not be of real interest to a lot of people outside the physics, but to one person in particular, the speaker, it was an outrage. His displeasure stemmed from the fact that he knew Rabi personally and disagreed with the assertion entirely.

There's one thing that I've learned for certain, being a physicist is something like being in a family. Internal bickering may occur concerning this issue or that, but attacks, or perceived attacks from without the physics society are taken very seriously. And physicists tend to be very political.

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