Missile Defense Expert to Present General Public Lecture in Physics October 11

Former Manhattan resident and graduate of Manhattan High School Frederick K. Lamb will present the 2022 James R. Neff Lecture in Physics on Tuesday, October 11, at 4:30 p.m. in 103 Cardwell Hall at Kansas State University. The talk will also be streamed live online and the recording will remain thereafter. The lecture will not be of a technical level and is geared toward the general public.

Lamb’s talk “65 years after Sputnik: A critical juncture in humanity’s use of space” will discuss how near-Earth space has become increasingly valuable and how its use for civil (e.g., scientific), commercial, and military purposes has grown in recent years. If society does not manage threats posed by crowding, orbiting debris, and deliberate destructive actions, humanity will lose the use of space. Lamb will discuss approaches that would preserve our ability to continue to use space.

Lamb graduated from Manhattan High School in 1963. As a student, Lamb was vice-president of the student council, president of the National Forensics League, president of the science club, participated in dramatics, lettered in track, and was the first foreign exchange student to go abroad.

Lamb is Research Professor of Physics, Brand and Monica Fortner Chair of Theoretical Astrophysics emeritus, and a core faculty member in the Arms Control and Domestic & International Security Program at the University of Illinois. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS). His scientific research has focused on high-energy and relativistic astrophysics.

As an expert on space policy, ballistic missiles and missile defenses, and the technical aspects of nuclear test bans, Lamb has been a consultant to the Department of Defense, national laboratories, and Congressional committees.

The APS’s Panel on Public Affairs commissioned a report that examined whether current and proposed systems intended to defend the United States against nuclear-armed North Korean ICBMs are—or could be made—effective in preventing a successful ICBM attack by North Korea on the United States. (ICBMs are ballistic missiles with a range of more than 3,500 nautical miles.) The report, the work of a 13-member study group of physicists and engineers chaired by Lamb and released in February, notes that despite decades of effort, no missile defense system thus far developed has been shown to be effective against realistic ICBM threats. According to Lamb, “Having looked at the issue in detail, we have come to the conclusion that the current US missile defense system is unreliable and ineffective against even the small number of relatively unsophisticated nuclear-armed ICBMs that we considered, and that creating a reliable and effective defense remains a daunting challenge.”

Students, faculty and community members are encouraged to attend to hear about Dr. Lamb’s research. You can read more about the lecture here.

Refreshments will be served prior to the lecture at 4:00 p.m. in Room 119 of Cardwell Hall.

This lecture series is supported by an endowment from Dr. James R. Neff in honor of his parents – Everett & Florine Neff.