Monthly interviews on important moments in the history of science.
Galileo’s Dialogue: John Heilbron
Galileo’s discoveries, and the manner in which he presented them in his 1632 book Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, hurled his fate into the judgements of the Roman Inquisition. The Dialogue represented much more than a book on Copernican heliocentrism, and the fate of the book in the midst of the Inquisition placed Galileo in a precarious position. With us to decipher the controversy is John Heilbron, author of The Ghost of Galileo in a Forgotten Painting from the English Civil War.
H.M.S. Challenger: Doug Macdougall
The creation of a new discipline based upon a single scientific expedition is rare, but this is what resulted from the 1872-1876 expedition of H.M.S. Challenger. With us to explain the history and significance of the Challenger Expedition is Doug Macdougall. Doug is a fellow of the Meteoritical Society and the American Geophysical Union. We discuss his book Endless Novelties of Extraordinary Interest – The Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger and the Birth of Modern Oceanography, published by Yale University Press
Reproductive Health: Shanna Swan
In the early 1990s, scientists discovered that sperm counts had declined precipitously over the previous half century. With us to discuss human reproductive health, and how it has changed in part due to exposure to pollutants, is Shanna Swan. She is the author of the book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Health, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.
Falsifiability: Sean Carroll
The boundaries of science are clear, and can be demarcated by the concept of falsifiability. Or so we learn in our science classes. But with some areas of science, falsifiability is not the critical feature, and may be impossible on theoretical or empirical grounds. Worrying about falsifiability might even get in the way of interesting ideas. With us to discuss the history of problems in science and falsifiability is Sean Carroll, a leading physicist and science communicator.
Environmental Health: Linda Birnbaum
Human health and environmental health are inextricably linked. With us to gain a better understanding of the history of environmental health, especially the impact of pollutants on human health, is Linda Birnbaum. Linda served as Director of the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program from 2009-2019. She has published over 600 scientific articles, and is the recipient of numerous awards related to public health.
Dark Money: David Michaels
David Michaels is a professor of epidemiology at George Washington University, and previously served as the Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety and Health at the U.S. DoE and as the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. OSHA. David is the author of numerous articles, as well as the books Doubt is their Product: How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens your Health (2008), and The Triumph of Doubt – Dark Money and the Science of Deception (2020), both published by Oxford University Press.