UNM-LA Community Education Classes Target History of Science

Los Alamos Gatehouse in the early days of the laboratory. Courtesy/LANL

UNM-LA News:

UNM-Los Alamos Community Education will offer two classes in September focusing on the history and popularization of science in Los Alamos.

Heather McClenahan, executive director of the Los Alamos Historical Society, will lead a class in the “History of the Manhattan Project.” The class will cover the compelling story of the individuals, institutions and forces that came together in Los Alamos during the development of the atomic bomb. 

“This is a fascinating topic and a great class,” said UNM-LA Community Education Director Eva Artschwager. “McClenahan is an expert on the subject and brings the people and events of this episode in history to life.” 

The class begins at 4:30-6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12 runs for six weeks. As a special event, the class will hold its Sept. 19 meeting at the Los Alamos Historical Museum, where students will have the opportunity to meet the daughter of renowned mathematician and Manhattan Project member John von Neumann.

Doctoral candidate Aimee Slaughter will teach a second class, “Science and the Popular Imagination,” that will trace four captivating topics in the popularization of science, including science fiction, the radium craze, and the “public enthusiasm” these movements engendered. 

“We now take for granted that information about scientific discoveries becomes part of the popular understanding, but this process was just beginning in the early 20th century,” Artschwager said.

The course highlights the ways in which profound concepts in theoretical physics first crept into popular culture and provides insights into our current public understanding of science.

The class is 5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17 and runs for four weeks. For more information about this course, visit https://sites.google.com/site/histsciunmla/.

To register for either class, or for more information, call (505) 662-0346 or (505) 695 5797. Consult the UNM-LA Community Education website: http://losalamos.unm.edu/community-education/index.html for additional information and online registration.

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