Annalee Newitz: Scatter, Adapt, and Remember

THU, APR 10, 2014 (48:51)

"Harvard Book Store welcomes science journalist and editor of io9.com Annalee Newitz and contributing editor for Vanity Fair Seth Mnookin for a discussion of Newitz's new-to-paperback book Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction.

As a species, Homo sapiens is at a crossroads. Study of our planet's turbulent past suggests that we are overdue for a catastrophic disaster, whether caused by nature or by human interference.

It's a frightening prospect, as each of the Earth's past major disasters'from meteor strikes to bombardment by cosmic radiation'resulted in a mass extinction, where more than 75 percent of the planet's species died out. But in Scatter, Adapt, and Remember, Annalee Newitz explains that although global disaster is all but inevitable, our chances of long-term species survival are better than ever. Life on Earth has come close to annihilation'humans have, more than once, narrowly avoided extinction just during the last million years'but every single time a few creatures survived, evolving to adapt to the harshest of conditions.

This speculative work of popular science focuses on humanity's long history of dodging the bullet, as well as on new threats that we may face in years to come. Most important, it explores how scientific breakthroughs today will help us avoid disasters tomorrow. From simulating tsunamis to studying central Turkey's ancient underground cities; from cultivating cyanobacteria for ""living cities"" to designing space elevators to make space colonies cost-effective; from using math to stop pandemics to studying the remarkable survival strategies of gray whales, scientists and researchers the world over are discovering the keys to long-term resilience and learning how humans can choose life over death."

+ BIO: Annalee Newitz

Annalee Newitz is a freelance writer and a contributing editor at Wired magazine. In 2004 and 2005, she was the policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Based on her doctoral research at Berkeley, her forthcoming book, Pretend We're Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture, is about capitalism and monster movies.

Formerly, Newitz was the culture editor at The San Francisco Bay Guardian. After being named a Knight Science Journalism Fellow, she spent the 2002-2003 academic year as a research fellow at MIT. Her work has appeared in magazines and papers such as Wired, Popular Science, Salon, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, and several academic journals and anthologies.

Newitz's writing focuses on pop culture and technology, from the politics of open source software to hacker subcultures. Her weekly syndicated column, Techsploitation, is about the ways that media mutates and reiterates the problems of everyday life. Newitz's next book will deal with the cultural impact of technology.

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