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Ainissa Ramirez shows how materials were shaped by inventors, but also how those materials shaped culture, chronicling each invention and its consequences—intended and unintended. Filling in the gaps left by other books about technology, Ramirez showcases little-known inventors—particularly people of colour and women—who had a significant impact but whose accomplishments have been hidden by mythmaking, bias, and convention. Doing so, she shows us the power of telling inclusive stories about technology. She also shows that innovation is universal—whether it’s splicing beats with two turntables and a microphone or splicing genes with two test tubes and CRISPR.
In her new book The Alchemy of Us Ramirez tells the stories of the woman who sold time, the inventor who inspired Edison, and the hot-headed undertaker whose invention pointed the way to the computer. She describes, among other things, how our pursuit of precision in timepieces changed how we sleep; how the railroad helped commercialize Christmas; how the necessary brevity of the telegram influenced Hemingway’s writing style; and how a young chemist exposed the use of Polaroid’s cameras to create passbooks to track black citizens in apartheid South Africa. These fascinating and inspiring stories offer new perspectives on our relationships with technologies.
Ainissa Ramirez is a materials scientist and sought-after public speaker and science communicator. A Brown and Stanford graduate, she has worked as a research scientist at Bell Labs and held academic positions at Yale University and MIT. She has written for Time, Scientific American, the, American Scientist and Forbes, and makes regular appearances on PBS’s SciTech Now.
FOR FURTHER INFO: http://www.ainissaramirez.com/
** This talk will be held online using the Zoom application (available for PC, Mac, iOS and Android). A link to join the talk will be sent to ticketholders on the day of the event. **