Episode 49, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and YouTube


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Richard Rhodes is a historian, a journalist, and is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Making of the Atomic Bomb. During our conversation, Richard talks about the technology and the people that led to the creation of the atomic bomb, the threat of nuclear war in modern times, nuclear winter, how nuclear weapons are influencing the war in Ukraine, and how we might mitigate the risk of a nuclear exchange.

Richard also talks about his book Scientist: E. O. Wilson: A Life in Nature. He details Ed Wilson's role in the history and science of evolution, sociobiology and the application of the evolutionary lens on human nature, the role of genes in human behavior, and his role in environmentalism and conservation.

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Time Stamps:

(00:00) Introduction
(02:19) Developing an interest in writing non-fiction books
(06:02) Shifting focus from fiction to non-fiction work
(10:30) What about The Making of the Atomic Bomb was new and revelatory?
(15:27) What from The Making of the Atomic Bomb is still not widely understood?
(21:21) The Manhattan Project and atomic technology
(29:29) Nuclear winter - can we continue to prevent nuclear war?
(36:50) Getting interested in E.O. Wilson
(43:28) Ed Wilson: his upbringing, discoveries, and achievements
(52:28) Sociobiology and Ed's dangerous ideas
(01:06:12) The attempt to cancel Ed Wilson
(01:12:12) Quotes from Ed Wilson and his place in the history of science
(01:17:23) How a difficult childhood shaped Ed Wilson
(01:23:02) Ed's enduring importance to the world, to science, to humanity
(01:28:48) Finding meaning and spirituality in life

Learn from Richard: