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The Jasons: The Secret History of Science's Postwar Elite.

THE JASONS: The Secret History of Science's Postwar Elite


The Jasons, as silly as the name might sound nowadays, was an elite and deadly serious group of scientists that advised the U.S. government on defense strategies during the Cold War and on other science topics. The academics were outed during the Vietnam War and briefly vilified. But since then, little about the nature of their classified work had been revealed to the public. Science writer Finkbeiner gives the first inside look at this illustrious but secretive group, named for the hero of the Greek tale Jason and the Argonauts. Among the group's ranks were such physics legends as Freeman Dyson and Murray Gell-Mann as well as numerous leaders from other scientific disciplines. These men and women met for a few weeks each year to develop scientifically sound ideas for various government agencies. Among their sponsors were the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the CIA, the Navy, NASA, and the Department of Energy. Finkbeiner examines moral dilemmas that Jasons members faced in helping the government develop nuclear bombs and battlefield technologies. She also reveals the groundbreaking discoveries that stemmed from these meetings, including electronic battlefield technologies for the Vietnam War, climate-research systems, and astronomy technology that has extended scientists' view into space. This book looks at the consequences of an unusual interplay of science and government. Penguin, 2006, 336 p., hardcover, $27.95.
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Publication:Science News
Article Type:Book review
Date:May 6, 2006
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