About John Downer
John Downer is Lecturer in Risk and Resilience in the department of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPIAS) at the University of Bristol, UK. He has a PhD in Science and Technology Studies from Cornell University, where he wrote about the reliability calculations that frame safety-critical technologies and infrastructures. Prior to Joining the faculty at Bristol he was a research fellow at the Centre for the Analysis of Risk and Regulation (CARR) at the London School of Economics, and then at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). His current research largely focuses on the knowledge-making, regulation and governance that frame nuclear energy.
Relevant as ever since the debate about whether or not to replace the Trident is ongoing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQtaKMU5L4w
Unfortunately, getting rid of the the Trident would mean losing one of the greatest artifacts of the Cold War: The Letter of Last Resort. Apparently there is a play by David Greig of the same name (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0210spc). It’s about the moment a new Prime Minister is asked to sign the letter.
“Are you saying that in the end it all rests on what I write on this piece paper now –
To write ‘retaliate’ is monstrous and irrational. To write ‘don’t retaliate’ renders the whole nuclear project valueless.