The Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology is pleased to present a Seminar Series talk by current UWaterloo graduate student Nathaniel Smith and McMaster University teaching Professor Matthew Jordan.
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Big Science At Small Scale: How The Manhattan Project Influenced Today's Nano Landscape
Twenty-first century science is a state-funded enterprise involving massive instruments, industrial-scale laboratories, hundred-author papers, and international collaboration. But Big Science is a recent phenomenon, originating in the military-industrial labs of World War II. Our talk will focus on the Manhattan Project, where the brightest scientific minds from around the world, fleeting persecution in fascist Europe, landed in America to build an epoch-making weapon. We will raise questions that are still of primary importance today: at what point did pure scientific research become a tool for military use? Did scientists have a voice in how their knowledge would be used, for good or for ill? What is the ethical responsibility of a scientist? Our talk will answer these questions in the context of the Manhattan Project, and draw parallels to current work in nanotechnology.
Matthew Jordan and Nathaniel Smith are both graduates of interdisciplinary science programs who believe that science is an incredible public good. Nathaniel researches the synthesis of carbon nanodots and aluminum oxide nanocrystals at Waterloo’s Department of Chemistry with Pavle Radovanovic. He is equally interested in energy systems, interfacial chemistry, and scientific education. Matthew is a university instructor and Rhodes Scholar. He has degrees in mathematical physics, psychology, and the history of science, and is currently teaching courses on the AI and the history of science at McMaster University. With the conviction that history is an integral part of any scientific education, Matthew and Nathaniel are currently producing a podcast on the history of Big Science, starting with the history of nuclear weapons.