Robert R. Johnson, Michigan Tech University, “Romancing the Atom: Nuclear Infatuation from the Radium Girls to Fukushima”

DateApril 11, 2013
Time3:30 - 5:00 pm
LocationBaylor Science Building C105
DescriptionDr. Johnson's presentation will focus on his recent book (Praeger 2012) by the same title. This book presents a compelling account of atomic development over the last century that demonstrates how humans have repeatedly chosen to ignore the associated impacts for the sake of technological, scientific, military, and economic expediency.

The atom and its associated power have captivated the human consciousness for more than 100 years. From the production of glow-in-the-dark wristwatch faces to studies on the effects of radiation on the human body, there have been many shocking examples of our willingness to expose innocent victims to great harm in exchange for the perceived benefit.

In 1945, Albert Einstein said, "The release of atomic power has changed everything except our way of thinking … the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind." This statement seems more valid today than ever. Romancing the Atom: Nuclear Infatuation from the Radium Girls to Fukushima presents compelling moments that clearly depict the folly and shortsightedness of our "atomic mindset" and sheds light upon current issues of nuclear power, waste disposal, and weapons development.

The book consists of ten nonfiction historical vignettes, including the women radium dial painters of the 1920s, the expulsion of the Bikini Island residents to create a massive "petri dish" for post-World War II bomb and radiation testing, the government-subsidized uranium rush of the 1950s and its effects on Native American communities, and the secret radioactive material development facilities in residential neighborhoods. In addition, the book includes original interviews of prominent historians, writers, and private citizens involved with these poignant stories.
The presentation will include visual aids.
For more on the book, see

For more information, please contact the Department of Modern Foreign Languages, 710-3711.
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Publisherzzz (Old) Modern Languages & Cultures
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