Engineering Spaces for the Biological Effects of Fission

A chapter I wrote has just been published in Nature Remade: Engineering Life, Envisioning Worlds from University of Chicago Press. The volume’s tireless editors Luis A. Campos, Michael R. Dietrich, Tiago Saraiva, and Christian C. Young put together a thoughtful book about the intersections between engineering and biology.

My chapter, the seventh in the volume, thinks about the roles that engineers and infrastructure played in framing the biology research program at the United State’s Pacific Proving Grounds in the 1940s and ’50s. I particularly look at how the construction of a laboratory, the Eniwetok Marine Biology Laboratory, played a roll in the aftermath of the 1954 Castle Bravo atomic disaster. Scientists working at the lab supported what would become the ill-fated repatriation of the Rongelapese to their home atoll, despite its having been contaminated by deadly radioactive fallout from Bravo.

The volume is the most recent contribution to the Convening Science: Discovery at the Marine Biological Laboratory series from Chicago. The volume grew out of the 2017 and 2018 Arizona State University History of Biology Seminars at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA.

You can also read the review of Nature Remade from Science.

The thermonuclear device detonated during Castle Bravo proved many times more powerful than US scientists expected.

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