Jeremy Bernstein’s new book, A Bouquet of Numbers and Other Scientific Offerings, will be published in August.
 (May 2016).


The Trump Bomb

I recently offered to tutor Donald Trump on nuclear matters. To put things clearly, I went on his website and in the place where you could send comments, I began mine by saying that on these things he did not seem to know his ass from a wheel. I felt that as a person who seems to like straight talk he might appreciate my candor.


The Iran Deal: Myth and Reality

Arak heavy water nuclear facilities, Iran, January 15, 2011

Enough time has passed since the deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program that one can begin to make a rational assessment about how successful it has been at limiting Iran’s nuclear capacity and bringing its program under international oversight. My view is that the deal has been more successful than I expected, although there are flaws.

North Korea’s Mystery Bomb

A map of seismic waves from North Korea’s nuclear test, Korea Meteorological Administration, Seoul, South Korea, January 6, 2016

On January 6, North Korea detonated a nuclear device with a yield larger than that of any previous North Korean test, but the kind of bomb tested remains a mystery. Most likely, the bomb was a “boosted device.” This is a very serious matter because these weapons, while having an enhanced yield, can be made light enough to fit on rockets, which the North Koreans have in abundance.

Einstein: Right and Wrong

Among the cosmological phenomena that the theory of relativity successfully predicted was one that Einstein could never accept: the existence of black holes. In fact, in the late 1930s he wrote a paper that purported to show that black holes were impossible. A referee rejected this paper, concluding that it contained mistakes—something that at first made Einstein quite angry until he realized that the referee was right.

Which Iran Deal?

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, with a picture of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Tehran,  June 13, 2015

Listening to the American and Iranian presidents, One has the impression they are living in alternate universes. In Obama’s universe, Iran has agreed to stop work on centrifuges and vastly reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium. In Rouhani’s universe, being able to keep 6,000 centrifuges is a major victory, work on new centrifuges will proceed, and uranium will continue to be enriched.