Episode 117: Albert Einstein – Separating Man from Myth

Host: Augusta Dell’Omo, Department of History
Guest: Alberto Martinez, Department of History

The subject of endless speculation, fascination, and laudatory writings, German physicist Albert Einstein captured the imaginations of millions after his discoveries transformed the field of physics. Hailed as a god, saint, a miracle, and even a canonized angel by his biographers and contemporaries alike, Einstein seems a figure worthy of his larger than life status. Not so fast says today’s guest, Dr. Alberto Martínez. We go deep into the personal life of Einstein, discussing his damaged relationships, intellectually incoherent views on pacifism and religion, and his own eccentric worldview.

Guest Dr. Martínez of the University of Texas at Austin joins us today to discuss who Einstein really was, and how science really is done – reminding us that Einstein was not Jesus Christ, not Harry Potter, but just a normal man.

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Episode 18: Eugenics

Host: Joan Neuberger, Department of History and Editor, Not Even Past
Guest: Philippa Levine, Professor; Mary Helen Thompson Centennial Professorship in the Humanities; Co-Director British Studies Program

Harry H. Laughlin, The Second International Exhibition of Eugenics held September 22 to October 22, 1921, in connection with the Second International Congress of Eugenics in the American Museum of Natural History, New York (Baltimore: William & Wilkins Co., 1923).

Early in the twentieth century, governments all over the world thought they had found a rational, efficient, and scientific solution to the related problems of poverty, crime, and hereditary illness.  Scientists hoped they might be able to help societies control the social problems that arose from these phenomena. All over the world, the science-turned-social-policy known as eugenics became a base-line around which social services and welfare legislation were organized.

Philippa Levine, co-editor of a newly published book on the history of eugenics, explains the appeal and wide-reaching effects of the eugenics movement, which at its best inspired access to pre-natal care, access to clean water, and the eradication of harmful diseases, but at its worst led to compulsory sterilization laws, and the horrific experiments of the Nazi death camps.

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