This article from an "independent" student newspaper for the University of New Mexico, reports on a rather quirky tour for the UNM campus. The tour highlights all the various facilities and parts of the university that received money and does research sponsored by the US military.
The free tours are part of Disorientation Week, organized by the Demilitarization Collective, which aims to raise awareness about weapons research at UNM.
The tours have seven stops from the Bookstore to Scholes Hall and run all week until 4 p.m. with a final tour Saturday at noon.
The tour stops at on-campus ROTC organizations and nuclear, computer and electrical engineering departments at UNM.
That's fine and dandy. I have nothing against people exercising their rights to highlights these things, and even to voice their objection against anything involving military fundings. However, what gets me is the FALSE premise on which this whole thing is built upon.
"Public universities, in particular, have been incorporated into the military-industrial-academic complex," said Andrew Marcum, a Ph.D. student majoring in American Studies.
Marcum said the "military-industrial-academic complex" is an agreement between universities and the military in which funding is exchanged for research that can be used to make weapons.
Whoa! Back up a bit here, Mary! "Military-industrial-academic complex" automatically means "make weapons"?!!!!! What sick, twisted logic school did we graduated from?
The US military is interested in a HUGE amount of things and areas, the majority of them probably have nothing to do with "making weapons". Light-sensitive eyepiece, chemical sensors, remote sensing technologies, even materials science to make better electronics and tougher, lighter material! Many of these things are already being done for civilian research! One can easily argue that a research on the fundamental physics of superconductivity can ALSO be used by the military. Does that mean that this is weapons research? Baloney!
A project called "Consortium for Laser Cooling in Solids," led by professor Mansoor Sheik-Bahae, received $3.4 million in government funding.
Sheik-Bahae said the research deals with cryogenically freezing sensors with laser technology to increase their sensitivity and that it may not be related to weapons research.
Sheik-Bahae said the work done at UNM and at other universities is basic research and isn't geared toward weapons development.
"There's always this misconception that anything that the Department of Defense funds is weapons-related," he said. "No one that I know is doing weapons-related research, and we wouldn't like to do it."
And there's plenty of evidence to show that Prof. Sheik-Bahae is telling it like it is. If this is really a part of a "weapons research", I can tell you that it will be classified, and the LAST thing the military would allow is for research work on this to be published. A quick glance at the citation index show that Prof. Sheik-Bahae has published many papers on this "laser-cooling" topic recently (example:
B. Imangholi et al. Appl. Phys. Lett. 86, 081104 (2005)). The military would NEVER allow for such free and wide decimation of this info if it has any connection to weapons research.
Besides, why would they want to involve a state/public institution in any weapons research when they have Los Alamos lab a few miles away and Sandia lab just next door, both of which have a much more well-established military research complex and more secure facilities? It makes no sense!
I even wonder if the people organizing this tour even understood what all the research is about? I mean, do these people actually understood what "laser cooling in solids" actually is? Are they able to decipher and analyze the type of research work being done before they simply label them as weapons research? Having someone with major in "American Studies" to tell people that these are are used to "make weapons" makes as much sense as John McCain having an economist as the point man for all of his scientific/technological policy.
But in the end, it feels like this whole tour, and the whole protest, is simply based on ignorance and wild speculation.
"Last week, $150,000 went missing, and then it turned up again," Marcum said. "The administration got caught messing around with our money. We need as much transparency as possible."
Marcum said the lack of financial transparency could be a sign UNM is conducting weapons research and profiting from wartime activity.
I mean, really! I bet if the financial officer gets a hiccup, it is also a sign that UNM is conducting weapons research. What delusional reality do these people live in? This whole thing reeks the smell of rumor-mongering with very little solid evidence, and falls on the same level as "evidence" collected by tabloid journalism.
Now, one can also argue against me by saying "But ZapperZ, you are also basing your opinion on very flimsy sources. After all, all you have is the news report. How are you to know that you got the full information on what their position is, and what the evidence they have?"
That is very true. I based my view entirely on this news source, which isn't the best place to get accurate information. So I would be more than happy if someone from that organization, even that "American Studies" fella, contact me or leave a comment. I would love to hear what evidence they have that UNM is conducting in weapons research beyond just innuendo and wild speculation. I'd love to hear an expert in these various research areas to tell me that these research work can be used to "make weapons".