Science Seminars

Did Space Physics Contribute to the Downfall of the Soviet Union?

Speaker: Juan Roederer (LASP)
Date: Thursday, Sep 10, 2020
Time: 4:00 PM
Location: Zoom

Seminar Abstract:

Between 1958 and 2003, I visited the USSR/Russia 23 times on official missions related to international scientific cooperation sponsored by Committees and Asso-ciations of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), always hosted by the Soviet Academy of Sciences. This gave me an unparalleled real-time look “behind the curtain” of the mindboggling changes from Khrushchev to Putin. Based on a collage of well-illustrated personal anecdotes, I will discuss some lesser known yet crucial technological causes of the Soviet Union collapse, focusing in particular on why the space physics aspects of President Reagan’s quasi-bluff, the Strategic Defense Initiative, dealt a fatal blow to the Soviet military-technological establishment.