Harvard’s Pellegrino University Professor Peter Galison will present “Wastelands and Wilderness” on Tuesday, Sept. 18 from 8-9 p.m. in Colton Chapel at Lafayette College.
This year’s Landis Lecturer, Galison’s talk is free and open to the public.
A science historian, physicist, author and filmmaker, Galison will discuss the ways societies grapple with managing radionuclide-filled lands thousands of years into the future. A John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow, Galison contends that removing parts of the earth in perpetuity, either for reasons of sanctification (so-called “wilderness”) or despoilment (“wastelands”), redefines a central feature of the human self—our relation to nature.
Galison is an historian and philosopher of science and technology, with specific expertise in the history of physics, experiments, and instruments. He has written and co-edited a number of influential books and published dozens of articles. He is currently finishing his next book, Building Crashing Thinking, about how technologies reform ideas of the self.
He has two doctorates from Harvard, one in physics and one in the history of science, with an appointment in both departments. He is also a documentary filmmaker, having made The Ultimate Weapon (about the making of the H-bomb) and Secrecy (about the tension between secrecy and knowledge), while currently at work on Nuclear Underground. He is also collaborating with the South African artist William Kentridge on an international exhibition called The Refusal of Time about the boundaries of art and science in coordination with the museum Le Laboratoire in Paris.
The John and Muriel Landis Lecture Series sponsors thought-provoking guests who speak to relevant themes in engineering and society. It is hosted by the Engineering Division through the Landis Endowment. The talk is also part of the Lafayette Forum on Technology and the Liberal Arts.