Shyness, Tree Islands, Chemical Warfare
Constant Wonder - Radio Archive, Episode 317
- Dec 11, 2019 9:00 pm
- 1:39:48 mins
Episode Originally Aired on: October 10 2019 Shyness is Both Burden and Blessing Guest: Joe Moran, Professor, English and Cultural History, Liverpool John Moores University, and author, "Shrinking Violets: The Secret Life of Shyness" We have an awful habit in our modern society of turning differences into problems. Several years ago, a professor at Northwestern University named Christopher Lane wrote a book on the medicalization of shyness. Our guest today extolls the virtues of shyness and examines why shyness is criticized more in some cultures than others. Tree “Islands” Are a Cost-Effective Reforestation Alternative to Plantations Guest: Karen Holl, restoration ecologist, and Professor, Environmental Studies, University of California Santa Cruz A new study finds that planting tree “islands” is a cost-effective way to restore tropical forests. The practice harnesses nature's own processes--birds and bees and fungus all do their part. The Strategic Importance of Guano Islands Guest: Daniel Immerwahr, Associate Professor, History, Northwestern University, and author, "How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States" Guano Islands are just what they sound like--tiny rocks in the ocean covered with bird droppings. And nothing more. But nations fought over them, or at least diplomatically elbowed each other. Because they were worth enormous amounts--for fertilizer. Guano was a powerful natural source of nitrogen. This is the story of how America built its guano island empire. The Scientist Who Launched the Age of Chemical Warfare Guest: Dan Charles, author, "Master Mind: The Rise and Fall of Fritz Haber, the Nobel Laureate Who Launched the Age of Chemical Warfare" This segment is connected to Daniel Immerwahr's tale "How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States" by a fascinating and tragic personal story about the Immerwahr family. Fritz Haber finally figured out how to make nitrogen--and thereby rendered Guano Islands irrelevant. His wife, Clara Immerwahr, was also an accomplished chemist, but unlike her husband, also a passionate pacifist. Haber is also the man who invented Zyklon A, a poison gas used in the trenches in WWI. Zyklon A is the precursor to Zyklon B, which was used to kill Jews in the Nazi death camps in WWII, including, after they died, some of their relatives.