“Jon Gertner takes readers to spots few journalists or even explorers have visited. The result is a gripping and important book.”—Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Sixth Extinction

In The Ice at the End of the World, Jon Gertner explains how Greenland has evolved from one of earth’s last frontiers to its largest scientific laboratory.

The history of Greenland’s ice begins with the explorers who arrived here at the turn of the twentieth century—first on foot, then on skis, then on crude, motorized sleds... their efforts eventually gave way to scientists who built lonely encampments out on the ice and began drilling—one mile, two miles down. Their aim was to pull up ice cores that could reveal the deepest mysteries of earth’s past, going back hundreds of thousands of years.

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In The Idea Factory, Jon Gertner traces the origins of some of the twentieth century’s most important inventions and delivers a riveting and heretofore untold chapter of American history.

The definitive history of America’s greatest incubator of innovation and the birthplace of some of the 20th century’s most influential technologies.

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Jon Gertner is a journalist and historian whose stories on science, technology, and nature have appeared in a host of national magazines. Since 2003 he has worked mainly as a feature writer for The New York Times Magazine. His first book, The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation, was a New York Times bestseller. A frequent lecturer on technology and science history, Gertner lives with his family in New Jersey.

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Other Writing

In Greenland’s Melting Ice, a Warning on Hard Climate Choices

Jun 27, 2019

Greenland is melting at an unprecedented rate, causing vast quantities of ice to disappear and global sea levels to rise. The fate of the ice sheet is not sealed, but unless CO2 emissions are sharply cut, the long-term existence of Greenland’s ice is in doubt.

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Yale Environment 360

Maybe We’re Not Doomed After All: We Have the brains to slow down climate change, but do we have the will?

Jun 11, 2019

As the effects of a warming climate intensify and a sense of impending catastrophe grows stronger, it’s becoming easier to give in to environmental despair. Having spent the past five years studying the Arctic and traveling around Greenland, I feel the pull as well. Glaciers and sea ice are melting at an alarming rate; temperatures are rising at a steady clip. To make matters worse, the Trump administration’s recent efforts to ignore a fact-based, scientific approach — rejecting, for instance, the use of computer projections to assess how a warming world might look after 2040 — leads me to worry that climate denialism is moving from the scientific fringes to the institutional center. Yet I also feel we’re in danger of losing sight of two crucial and encouraging aspects of our predicament.

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The New York Times Week in Review

IBM Review: Building Big Blue

Apr 30, 2019

IBM was originally a holding company cobbled together to please investors. Then Thomas Watson gave the firm a purpose and a sales-driven culture.

Great companies tend to have alluring stories to explain their origins: a charismatic founder, an innovative idea, or a product or technology that goes on to become part of the culture of America itself. IBM’s story isn’t like that. 

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Wall Street Journal
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