CSPO Conversations Presents:
“The proper study of mankind is man,” Alexander Pope famously wrote in 1733. But award-winning journalist Lisa Margonelli’s new book, Underbug: An Obsessive Tale of Termites and Technology, tells us that the proper study of mankind might very well be termites.
On its face, Underbug is a marvelously engaging work of science journalism that shows how termites have captured the imagination and efforts of scientists and engineers in fields as diverse as genomics, ecosystem restoration, energy production, and robotics. But in telling this tale of what science is learning about termites, Margonelli is really pursuing deeper questions about science and humanity itself, to ask, “How do we know what we know?” and even “How do we know who we are?” Underbug is a wise, funny, disquieting, and hopeful portrayal of how humanity’s quest for knowledge about the world around us is also a mirror on our inner selves.
Join Lisa Margonelli and National Public Radio science reporter Richard Harris in a discussion of Underbug, followed by a book signing.
Formerly the director of the energy program at the New America Foundation, Lisa Margonelli is now deputy editor of Zócalo Public Square. Her previous book is Oil on the Brain: Petroleum's Long, Strange Trip to Your Tank. Lisa has won an Excellence in Journalism award from the Northern California Society of Professional Journalists and a Sundance Fellowship.
Richard Harris has reported on science for National Public Radio since 1986 and is the author of Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope, and Wastes Billions. He has received numerous awards for his reporting, which has taken him from Timbuktu to the South Pole, and from the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro to the Amazon rain forest.