A Dominant Character: The Radical Science and Restless Politics of J.B.S. Haldane
Date: July 2020
Duration: 13 hours 53 minutes
A biography of J. B. S. Haldane, the brilliant and eccentric British scientist whose innovative predictions inspired Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.
J. B. S. Haldane's life was rich and strange, never short on genius or drama-from his boyhood apprenticeship to his scientist father, who first instilled in him a devotion to the scientific method; to his time in the trenches during the First World War, where he wrote his first scientific paper; to his numerous experiments on himself, including inhaling dangerous levels of carbon dioxide and drinking hydrochloric acid; to his clandestine research for the British Admiralty during the Second World War. He is best remembered as a geneticist who revolutionized our understanding of evolution, but his peers hailed him as a polymath.
He foresaw in vitro fertilization, peak oil, and the hydrogen fuel cell, and his contributions ranged over physiology, genetics, evolutionary biology, mathematics, and biostatistics. He was also a staunch Communist, which led him to Spain during the Civil War and sparked suspicions that he was spying for the Soviets. He wrote copiously on science and politics in newspapers and magazines, and he gave speeches in town halls and on the radio-all of which made him, in his day, as famous in Britain as Einstein.