Articles and appearances

This is a list of published articles, and some select media appearances, of mine. This is not my full C.V. (which you can find here if you want it). My work tends to straddle the divide between “general” and “scholarly” audiences, but I performed a rather rough cut here to keep things from getting too unwieldy. I have also included a selection of reviews and recent talks. I also occasionally do consulting for hire, which I have listed at the bottom. If you are interested in copies of any of these and cannot obtain them, send me an e-mail.

Jump to: General audience articles | Scholarly audience articles | Reviews | Recent talks and presentations | Selected media appearances | Consulting

General audience

The Hawaii alert was an accident. The dread it inspired wasn’t,” The Washington Post (16 January 2018).

What We Lost When We Lost Bert the Turtle,” Harper’s Magazine (December 2017).

Remembering the Chicago Pile,” New Yorker online (2 December 2017).

(with Avner Cohen), “If Trump wants to use nuclear weapons, whether it’s ‘legal’ won’t matter,” Washington Post (22 November 2017).

Remembering Laika, Space Dog and Soviet Hero,” New Yorker online (3 November 2017).

Building an H-Bomb in plain sight,” The Atlantic (5 September 2017).

No one can stop President Trump from using nuclear weapons. That’s by design.Washington Post (4 December 2016), B1.

The virtues of nuclear ignorance,New Yorker online (20 September 2016).

America at the atomic crossroads,New Yorker online (25 July 2016).

What presidents talk about when they talk about Hiroshima,” New Yorker online (27 May 2016).

The battles of Chernobyl,New Yorker online (26 April 2016).

The demon core and the strange death of Louis Slotin,New Yorker online (21 May 2016).

A hydrogen bomb by any other name,New Yorker online (8 January 2016).

The psychological power of nuclear weapons,Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 72, no. 5 (2016), 298-303.

Five ways that nuclear weapons could still be used,The Guardian (6 August 2015).

What options were there for the United States regarding the atomic bomb in 1945?,Aeon Ideas (31 July 2015).

Nagasaki: The Last Bomb,New Yorker online (7 August 2015).

The First Light of Trinity,New Yorker online (16 July 2015).

Interactive Map Shows Impact of WWII Firebombing of Japan, If It Had Happened on U.S. Soil,Slate: The Vault (13 March 2014).

We Don’t Need Another Manhattan Project,” Public Interest Report (Federation of American Scientists) 66, no. 4  (Fall 2013).

Bomb Appétit!” Lucky Peach no. 6 (Winter 2013), 144.

A Tale of Openness and Secrecy: The Philadelphia Story,Physics Today 65, no. 5 (2012), 47-53.

From Classified to Commonplace: The Trajectory of the Hydrogen Bomb ‘Secret,’Endeavour 32, no. 2 (June 2008): 47-52.

Inside the Atomic Patent Office,Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 64, no. 2 (May/June 2008): 26-31, 60-61.

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Scholarly audience

Comment: The epistemology of civility and the civility of epistemology,” Isis 108, no. 1 (March 2017), 140-142.

(with Hanna Rose Shell), “Technologist-Historian: Data Visualization Meets the Archive,” Technology and Culture 56, no. 1 (2015), 204-208.

So Long, Mom, I’m Off to Drop the Bomb: A Case Study in Public Usage of an Educational Tool,WMD Junction (3 May 2012).

States of Eugenics: Institutions and the Practices of Compulsory Sterilization in California,” in Sheila Jasanoff, ed., Reframing Rights: Bioconstitutionalism in the Genetic Age (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2011): 29-58.

“Die geheimen Patente – eine andere Sicht auf die Atombombe,” in Atombilder: Ikongraphien des Atoms in Wissenschaft und Öffentlichkeit des 20. Jahrhundertsts, ed. Jochen Hennig and Charlotte Bigg (Berlin: Wallstein Verlag, 2009): 159-167.

Patenting the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons, Intellectual Property, and Technological Control,Isis 99, no. 1 (March 2008): 57-87. Reprinted in David Kaiser and Sally Gregory Kohlstedt, eds., Science and the American Century: Perspectives on Science, Technology, and Medicine (Readings from Isis), (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013).

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Of chemistry and conflict [review of Jennet Conant’s Man of the Hour],” Nature 549, no. 7670 (September 2017), 28-29.

Review of John Krige, Sharing Knowledge, Shaping Europe, H-Diplo/ISSF Roundtable 9, no. 19 (July 2017), 11-14.

The many hats of a Cold War scientist [review of Joel Shurkin’s True Genius],” Nature Physics 13 (2017), 319.

Review of Sonja D. Schmid, Producing Power: The Pre-Chernobyl History of the Soviet Nuclear Industry, Isis 108, no. 1 (2017), 229-230.

Civilization VI and its Discontents: Review of Sid Meier’s Civilization VI (2016),” Endeavour 41, no. 1 (2017), 1-2.

Bomb’s away? [review of Dan Zak’s Almighty],” Science 353, no. 6299 (2016): 549.

The race that wasn’t [review of Graham Farmelo’s Churchill’s Bomb],” The Nonproliferation Review 22, no. 1 (2015): 93-97.

Cult of the machine [review of Michael Hiltzick’s Big Science],” Science 349, no. 6252 (2015): 1062-1063.

Physicist. Defector. Spy? [review of Frank Close’s Half-Life]” Science 347, no. 6224 (2015): 833.

Review of Brian Balmer, Secrecy and Science: A Historical Sociology of Biological and Chemical Warfare, Isis 104, no. 4 (December 2013), 863-864.

Article review of Sean Malloy, “‘A Very Pleasant Way to Die’: Radiation Effects and the Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb against Japan,” H-Diplo Article Reviews 371 (17 October 2012).

Heterodoxy and its Discontents,” review of Michael Gordin, The Pseudoscience Wars; Science 338 (12 October 2012), 194-195.

Nuclear Others [essay review of Gabrielle Hecht’s Being Nuclear],” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 42, no. 3 (2012), 235-245.

Contingencies of the Early Nuclear Arms Race [review of Michael Gordin’s Red Cloud at Dawn],” with S.S. Schweber, Metascience 20, no. 3 (2011): 443-465.

Review of J. Samuel Walker, The Road to Yucca Mountain; Isis 101, no. 4 (December 2010), 928-929.

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Recent talks and presentations


Panelist, “Friday the 13th: Re-Writing the Nuclear Horror Story,” WGA East (31 October 2017).

“Duck and Cover All Over Again.” Singularity University, California, July 2017.

“Remembering the Saved City: Kyoto, the Atomic Bomb, and the Nuclear Taboo.” Kyoto Museum for World Peace, Kyoto, Japan, August 2017.

“What Truman Knew (And Didn’t Know) About Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” Global Hiroshima Conference (sponsored by Princeton University and the Prefecture of Hiroshima), Hiroshima, Japan, August 2017.

“Civil Defense, Nuclear Fear, and Nuclear Salience: What We Lost When We Lost Bert the Turtle.” New Nuclear Imaginaries Workshop, Harvard Kennedy School, April 2017.

“Presidential Control of Nuclear Weapons: Then and Now.” Project on Managing the Atom Seminar Series, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, April 2017.

“Secrecy and the Control of Science and Technology: Lessons from History and Sociology.” Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford, February 2017.


“Nuclear Ships of States: Strategic Weapons and Redefinitions of Authority.” History of Science Society (HSS) Annual Meeting, Atlanta, Georgia, November 2016.

“Secrecy and the Bomb: From the Postwar to the Cold War,” Brown University, October 2016.

“The Nuclear Triad: A Very Brief History.” Invited talk, Timbie Forum 2016, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, July 2016.

“Maintaining the Bomb.” The Maintainers Conference, Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ, April 2016.


“Clean, Limitless, Classified: The Secret Histories of Laser Fusion.” Global Technology, Global Impacts Conference, American Institute of Physics, College Park, MD, March 2014. Invited talk, New York City History of Science Consortium, Columbia University, New York, NY, October 2014. l’Institut des Sciences de la Communication du CNRS (ISCC), Université Sorbonne, Paris, France, December 2015.

“Digital Exposure and Academic Expertise.” History of Science Society (HSS) Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, November 2015.

Panel participant, “Roundtable: H.O.T. Goes Pop! Histories of Technology in the Public Eye.” Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) Annual Meeting, Albuquerque, NM, October 2015.

Invited commentator on a performance of Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen, Central Square Theatre, Somerville, MA, October 2015.

“Kyoto and Kokura: What the Spared Targets of 1945 Tell Us About Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” Invited talk, “Nuclear Legacies: A Global Look at the 70th Anniversary of the Hiroshima Bombing,” Princeton University, September 2015.

“The Possibility of Much Bigger Bangs: U.S. Official Interest in ‘Very High Yield’ Nuclear Weapons, 1942-1963.” Reppy Institute Seminar, Cornell University, September 2015. Colloquilum, Department for the History of Science and Technology, Johns Hopkins University, September 2015. STS Fellows talk, Harvard Kennedy School, October 2015.

“Nuclear History 101: The Past, Present, and Future of the Bomb,” at the 6th Annual Generation Prague Conference, hosted by the US Department of State and George Washington University, at the State Department, Washington, DC, July 2015.

“The Manhattan Project: A Crucible for Innovation,” at Manhattan Project 70th Anniversary Symposium, hosted by the Atomic Heritage Foundation, at Carnegie Institute for Science, Washington, DC, June 2015.

“Addressing the data gap: What digital tools do archival historians need, and how can we get them?,” History of Data/Data in History invited conference, Heyman Center for the Humanities, Columbia University, April 2015.

“What would Happen if a Nuclear Weapon went off in New York?,” Department of History, Upper School, Horace Mann School, Bronx, NY, April 2015.

Colloquium, Pre-circulated paper: “Gagging the H-bomb,” Department of History, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, March  2015.

“Atomic Misconception: How the Debate over Kyoto Affected Truman’s Understanding of Hiroshima,” CAL Humanities Forum, Stevens Institute of Technology, March 2015.

“The Practices of Secrecy: A Phenomenological Approach to Information Control Regimes,” East Coast Sociological Society Annual Meeting, New York, NY, March 2015.

“Personalizing the Bomb,” at The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction, at The New York Academy of Medicine (included panel discussion with Noam Chomsky and Hugh Gusterson), March 2015.

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Selected media appearances

Kat Eschner, “How the Presidency Took Control of America’s Nuclear Arsenal,” (5 January 2018).

Geoff Brumfiel, “North Korea Designed A Nuke. So Did This Truck Driver,” NPR’s Morning Edition (26 December 2017).

(Interviewee) “Presidential Nuclear Authority,” Washington Journal, C-SPAN (19 November 2017).

John Horgan, “Nuclear Expert Considers Risks of Conflict with North Korea,” Scientific American (10 August 2017).

Sarah Vowell, “The Dangers of an Incurious President,New York Times (9 August 2017), A19.

Ralph Vartabedian and W.J. Hennigan, “Duck and cover 2.0: How North Korea is prompting new efforts to prepare for a nuclear attack,Los Angeles Times (25 July 2017).

Elisabeth Eaves, “NUKEMAP creator Alex Wellerstein puts nuclear risk on the radar,Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 73, no. 4 (July 2017).

Nukes,” NPR’s Radiolab (7 April 2017). (guest researcher and interviewee)

Joshua Brustein, “Congratulations, Your Genius Patent Is Now a Military Secret,Bloomberg (8 June 2016).

Armin Rosen, “A North Korean hydrogen-bomb test would be a game-changer,Business Insider (6 January 2016).

Scott Shane, “1950s U.S. Nuclear Target List Offers Chilling Insight,The New York Times (22 December 2015), A10.

The 27 Best Feeds to Follow in the World of Science,Wired (18 August 2015).

Mariko Oi, “The man who saved Kyoto from the atomic bomb,BBC World News (9 August 2015).

Herman Wong, “How the Hiroshima bombing is taught around the world,Washington Post (6 August 2015).

Geoff Brumfiel, “Why did the U.S. choose Hiroshima?NPR’s Morning Edition (6 August 2015).

Michal Meyer, “Telling Secrets,” Distillations (Fall 2015).

Ana Swanson, “What it would look like if the Hiroshima bomb hit your city,Washington Post Wonkblog (5 August 2015).

Interview with Robert Gast, “Ein Atomkrieg ist noch immer möglich,” Süddeustche Zeitung (24 July 2015).

Zündung der ersten Atombombe am (16.7.1945),” Westdeutscher Rundfunk’s ZeitZeichen (16 July 2015).

Destroyer of Worlds,” BBC Radio 4 (11 July 2015).

National Geographic Channel, American Genius, Episode 7, “Oppenheimer vs. Heisenberg,” (22 June 2015).

Jefferson Morley, “Getting to Know Alex Wellerstein,” Arms Control Today (May 2015).

John Moritz, “Does Philly author reveal nuclear-bomb secrets?Philadelphia Inquirer (6 April 2015).

Buttons Not Buttons,” NPR’s Radiolab (12 December 2014).

William J. Broad, “Dawn of Nuclear Arms, Declassified,” The New York Times (9 November 2014), D6.

Shirley Li, “The Future of Plutonium,” The Atlantic Magazine online (6 November 2014).

William J. Broad, “Transcripts Kept Secret for 60 Years Bolster Defense of Oppenheimer’s Loyalty,” The New York Times (11 October 2014), A16.

Documentary, “Mach Stem: The Nagasaki Bombing Intensified,” NHK World (4 October 2014):

Rob Garfield, “The Manhattan Project,” NPR’s On the Media (11 October 2013).

David Kestenbaum, “The Rush to Patent the Atomic Bomb,” NPR’s Morning Edition, (28 March 2008).

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2016-2018: Guest Curator, Intrepid Museum, New York, NY, for exhibit relating to the USS Growler submarine and the Regulus missile.

2014: Consultant for the television show “MANHATTAN,” Season 2, WGN America/Lionsgate.

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