This earthquake expert dodged Russian surveillance to try to halt nuclear testing

At 5AM on a June morning in 1974, seismologist Lynn Sykes awoke to a phone call from the Department of Defense. The voice on the other end of the line asked Sykes to be ready to leave for Moscow that evening. The DoD needed his help to negotiate a treaty that would cap the size of the US and Russia’s underground nuclear explosions.

Sykes, now a professor emeritus at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, was invited because of his unusual expertise. Sure, he was an...

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