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Rob Goldston, Alex Glaser and Boaz Barak named among Foreign Policy magazine’s 100 top global thinkers

Editors of Foreign Policy magazine have named fusion physicist Rob Goldston, a Princeton University professor of astrophysical sciences and former director of PPPL, to its list of  “100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2014.” The recognition, made Nov. 17 at a celebration in Washington, D.C., honored Goldston for his contributions to the field of nuclear arms control.

Founded in 1970, Foreign Policy magazine focuses on global affairs, current events and domestic and international affairs. It produces daily content on its website, ForeignPolicy.com and publishes six print issues annually.

Named with Goldston were Princeton physicist Alex Glaser and Boaz Barak of Microsoft Research New England. The researchers have designed a novel process called a “zero-knowledge protocol” for verifying that nuclear weapons to be dismantled or removed from deployment contain true warheads. Goldston and Glaser are developing a prototype system at PPPL that will test the idea by beaming neutrons at a non-nuclear test object.

The zero-knowledge concept, which would achieve verification without collecting any classified information that could lead to nuclear proliferation, aroused worldwide interest last June when Nature magazine published a paper by the researchers about the process. Reporting on the paper’s reception, Science magazine wrote that the piece was “setting the arms-control community abuzz.”

Goldston said he hoped the Foreign Policy recognition for an approach to arms control that carries no risk of spreading classified information “would help to encourage policy makers to keep pushing this agenda.” Glaser expressed a similar sentiment. “It is fantastic to see that new ideas in the area of nuclear arms control can get the attention of the broader policy community,” he said. While “real progress” has been made in reducing the global stockpile of nuclear weapons since the Cold War, he added, “much more needs to and can be done.”

U.S. Department of Energy
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.

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