January 25, 2006: Whatever happened to...
Whatever happened to...
John Aristotle Phillips ’78?
In 1977, mechanical and aerospace engineering major John Aristotle Phillips ’78 used publicly available documents and textbooks to write his junior paper on how to design a suitcase-sized atomic bomb, in order to dramatize the need for tighter safeguards on nuclear fuels. There was a lot of fallout: Foreign governments tried to buy Phillips’ plans, the FBI sent an agent to campus as a precaution for his safety, he was discussed in presidential debates and on the Senate floor, and he wrote Mushroom: The Story of the A-Bomb Kid with his roommate, David Michaelis ’79, selling the story rights for a made-for-TV movie.
Phillips’ notoriety continued, albeit more locally, when he ran for Congress twice in Connecticut as a Democrat. He won in the primaries but was defeated both times in the general elections.
Today Phillips radiates success. With his brother and several Princeton alumni, he operates Aristotle International Inc. in San Francisco, where he lives. The company is a political technology consulting firm serving the needs of campaigns, political action committees, and grassroots organizations. In 2004, Aristotle consulted on the campaign of then-candidate Viktor Yushchenko, now president of Ukraine, earning the “International Campaign Team of the Year” award from the American Association of Political Consultants.