Kernwissen: Nuclear Information and the Germans, 1939-1949

December 8, 2016, 6:00 - 8:00pm
Keynote Lecture at the GHI
Speaker: Michael Gordin (Princeton University)

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Michael Gordin is Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Princeton University, where he specializes in the history of modern science. In 2013-4, he served as the inaugural director of the Fung Global Fellows Program. He came to Princeton in 2003 after earning his A.B. (1996) and his Ph.D. (2001) from Harvard University, and serving a term at the Harvard Society of Fellows. In 2011, he was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and was named a Guggenheim Fellow. He has published on the history of science, Russian history, and the history of nuclear weapons. 

Professor Gordin is currently working on a project that explores the significance of Prague, often overlooked as a marginal and out-of-the-way city, in the history of science. In the summer of 1911, Albert Einstein began a professorship at the German University in the Bohemian capital; within a year and a half, he had returned to Zurich, where he was to continue the work on his theory of gravity, the General Theory of Relativity, which he had begun in earnest in Prague. Using this brief episode as an entry point, the project will trace historical connections both backward and forward in historical time, from Johannes Kepler in the early seventeenth century to Communist philosophers of physics during the Prague Spring, from Christian Doppler and Ernst Mach's ventures in acoustics to the fate of Czech-Jewish mathematicians in the Holocaust, from the foundation of Charles University in the fourteenth century to scientific debates between Russian and Czech chemists in the interwar First Republic.

This keynote lecture is part of the workshop "Restricting Knowledge: Channeling Security Information in Recent History," taking place at the GHI and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars December 8 - 9. The lecture will be preceded by a reception with refreshments from 6:00 to 6:30 pm.