Al the plenary session held December 4, 1985 during the annual MRS Fall Meeting in Boston, Dr. Gerold Yonas was the keynote speaker. He was introduced to the packed ballroom by 1985 MRS President Elton N. Kauftnann.
Kaufmann: To introduce our plenary address this evening, I would like to make a few remarks on the context in which it is being presented. Iam sure you are all aware that materials research, as most fields of science, is a field where it is rare indeed that one can cleanly separate the technical aspects of a program from the social, economic, and political aspects. This evening's topic is certainly no exception. It involves the U.S. government's Strategic Defense Initiative, or SDI for short. It has broad technical and political implications and has raised highly contentious issues of both technical feasibility and political appropriateness. It is in every source of news available today. This evening we want to focus on those technical aspects of SDI which involve materials and which should therefore be of interest to this audience.
Recently, in Space Business News, John McTague, Acting Director of OSTP (Office of Science and Technology Policy), indicated that “the technology of Swords and the technology of Plowshares have much in common.” Of course the degree of commonality between the Swords and the Plowshares becomes greateras one goes to more fundamental research. In the same article Gerold Yonas indicated that “several aspects of SDI are likely to have enormous implications in the private sector with spinoffs directed into every part of the economy.” In addition to the technical materials aspect of the program those larger issues will certainly impact our lives. In that spirit we want to make this presentation so you can evaluate the program with a maximum amount of information. Of course, because this is a publicly controversial issue, I need to stress that the Society is not endorsing one particular view or another. But, we are strongly advocating the wide dissemination of information on a topic such as this.