Harold Lewis

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For other people named Harold Lewis, see Harold Lewis (disambiguation).

Harold ("Hal") Warren Lewis (born October 1, 1923[1] - May 26, 2011[2]) was an Emeritus Professor of Physics and former department chairman at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). In 2010, after 67 years of membership, Lewis resigned from the American Physical Society, writing in a letter about the "corruption" from "the money flood" of government grants.[3]

Career as a physicist[edit]

Lewis entered New York University in 1940 and graduated in physics. He earned a masters degree from the University of California, Berkeley from 1943 to 1944 before joining the Navy, where he served in World War II as an electronics technician.[1] After the war, he returned to the University of California, Berkeley, and earned his Ph.D. in Physics studying under J. Robert Oppenheimer. His focus was high energy physics (cosmic rays and elementary particles). He, along with the other theoretical physics professors at Berkeley, refused to sign the McCarthy era loyalty oath on principle, and in 1950 went to Princeton. Later, when offered reinstatement at Berkeley, he chose instead to accept a position at Bell Labs where he did research on superconducting materials. In 1956 he left Bell Labs to join the University of Wisconsin, Madison to work on solid state physics and plasmas. In 1964, he left to join the University of California, Santa Barbara as a full professor, and later chairman, in their growing physics department. He retired from UCSB in 1991.[2]

He wrote a text on the trade-offs between technological advances and risks,[4] and also authored a popular book on decision making.[5] In 1991 Harold Lewis won the Science Writing Award for his book 'Technological Risk'.[4][6]

Lewis was chairman of the JASON Defense Advisory Group from 1966 to 1973, when he worked on the issue of missile defense.[1] He was a long-term member of the Defense Science Board (DSB),[1] and chaired a 1985 DSB Task Force (with Stephen Schneider) on nuclear winter.[7] Lewis was active in the field of safety of nuclear power plants.[8] In 1975, he chaired a year-long study of light-water reactor safety for the American Physical Society (APS).[9] Lewis chaired the 1977-1979 Risk Assessment Review for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. [10]

Resignation from APS[edit]

Lewis was a fellow of the American Physical Society. In 2010, after 67 years of membership, Lewis resigned from the APS, citing "corruption" from "the money flood" of government grants. His letter characterizes the APS as having changed from an organization that seeks to further scientific knowledge, to an organization that suppresses science in its attempt to obtain further funding from government agencies. The majority of his letter details his criticism of the group's support for the "global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave", and further expresses his belief that the loss of that funding would be devastating to those organizations.[3][11] In his open letter to the APS president, Lewis declared the "global warming scam" as "the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist."[3][12]

Lewis's letter of resignation "vaulted [him] to celebrity status [among] conservative and contrarian Web sites and commentators."[13] The APS responded by disputing Lewis's accusations,[14] and defending its policy.[15]

In late 2010, Lewis joined the Academic Advisory Council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.[16]


His father was a textile salesman who immigrated from Russia[when?]; his mother was born in the United States. He had two older brothers. He met his future wife Mary at UC Berkeley. They had two children, and later moved to Santa Barbara, California in 1964.

Selected books[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Oral History Transcript--Harold Lewis at the Center for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics
  2. ^ a b University of California, Santa Barbara (June 2011). "Campus Notes 93106" 21 (8). Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Lewis: My Resignation From The American Physical Society, 08 October 2010, GWPF site (archived copy accessed 12/30/13)
  4. ^ a b H. W. Lewis, Technological Risk, W.W.Norton, 1992 ISBN 0-393-30829-4
  5. ^ H. W. Lewis, Why Flip a Coin: The Art and Science of Good Decisions, Wiley, 1997 ISBN 0-471-16597-2
  6. ^ AIP Science Writing Award winners
  7. ^ Lawrence Badash, 2009, A nuclear winter's tale: science and politics in the 1980s, p. 163. MIT Press, ISBN 0-262-01272-3
  8. ^ Lewis, HW (1983). "Nuclear power plant malfunctions: potential types of exposure and severity". Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 59 (10): 898–903. PMC 1911929. PMID 6582976. 
  9. ^ "Nuclear reactor safety—the APS submits its report". Physics Today. July 1975. doi:10.1063/1.306905. 
  10. ^ Lewis, H. W.; Budnitz, R. J.; Rowe, W. D.; Kouts, H. J. C.; von Hippel, F.; Loewenstein, W. B.; Zachariasen, F., (Oct 1979). "Risk Assessment Review Group Report to the U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission". IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science (IEEE) 26 (5): 4686–4690. doi:10.1109/tns.1979.4330198. ISSN 0018-9499. 
  11. ^ Phillips, Melanie, "Decency fights back", Spectator, 13 October 2010. Archived October 16, 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Web:http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100058265/us-physics-professor-global-warming-is-the-greatest-and-most-successful-pseudoscientific-fraud-i-have-seen-in-my-long-life/
  13. ^ Revkin, Andrew (October 15, 2010). "A Physicist’s Climate Complaints". New York Times. One week ago Lewis was vaulted to celebrity status by conservative and contrarian Web sites and commentators when he disseminated his letter of resignation ... 
  14. ^ "APS Comments on Harold Lewis’ Resignation of his Society Membership". APS. October 12, 2010. 
  15. ^ American Physical Society (November 18, 2007). "APS National Policy 07.1 CLIMATE CHANGE". 
  16. ^ Hal Lewis Joins The GWPF at GWPF site

External links[edit]