AHDC 2020 KEYNOTE PRESENTATION
The Atomic Bomb and Visions of the New Post-War Order
"A new relationship of man to the universe" - that was what the U.S. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson thought the invention of the atomic bomb meant, several months before its use at Hiroshima. But what would that relationship look like, and who would define it? In his keynote address, Prof. Wellerstein discusses the emotions, calculations, actions, and reactions of the 1940s as countries imagined what a world in an atomic age would look like, vacillating between apocalyptic fears and utopian dreams. Whatever nearly everybody agreed on was that the world would never be the same — but nobody was sure about what "the new world" they were entering would actually be like.
Alex Wellerstein is an Assistant Professor and Director of Science and Technology Studies at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. His main area of research is the history of nuclear weapons. His book, Restricted Data: The History of Nuclear Secrecy in the United States, is in production with the University of Chicago Press and will be available in early 2021. He received his PhD in the History of Science from Harvard University in 2010, and a BA in History from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2002. He is also the creator of the NUKEMAP online nuclear weapons simulator, which has been used by over 30 million people since its creation, and alongside publications in academic journals, he has written for The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Harper's Magazine, The Atlantic, and appeared on numerous media, including C-SPAN, Fareed Zakariya's GPS, National Public Radio, Radiolab, and mostly recently, Connected on Netflix.
He has been a contributor to Reddit's /r/AskHistorians for 8 years, answering questions on all topics relating to nuclear history, and some in the history of science and technology more generally. He says that /r/AskHistorians is his favorite procrastination location, because it gives him an opportunity to practice writing for a general audience, and because sometimes the questions asked lead him to directions of inquiry that are not prevalent in academic discourse.