Berkeley Lab

Series X with Alexis Madrigal

Usually, for Series X, we like to talk about things past and we invite renowned scientists to talk about their journey in science. But this time, we had a different kind of scientist  a journalist and it was our delight to welcome Alexis Madrigal.

He’s been editor at the Wired, The Atlantic and more recently at Fusion, where he led investigation at the border of technology and culture, but the broad definition of culture, trying to understand how communities (of gender, color) were affected. The most glaring illustration of this is the latest podcast series “Containers” (which we really encourage you to listen, where the impact of global trade is dissected looking at the port of Oakland.)

Thought the methods and means might be slightly different, scientist and journalist share a common goal: investigate a topic and reporting their finding (I once read from Alexis’ former colleague Ta-Nehisi Coates that he came to journalism, because it is a tool for seekers – and I guess it’s a similar sentiment that brought you to science.)

But sometimes, truth-seekers are under assault; techniques applied to climate-change whistleblower (just a theory, biased, and so on) are now applied to mainstream journals that are now called fake-news (in a strange reversal of the term, that is).

Fittingly, the event was held on Earth week, and Alexis was a visiting scholar at Berkeley, and wrote a book talking about the past history of renewable energies, “Powering the dream“, where we learn that changes in administration are not new, and there might be some lessons to learn from previous shifts. Alexis will help us to see the through recent events, and what we can learn from the past.