MIT Graduate Program in Science Writing
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In 18th century England, a raging war with France brought an ever-growing national debt and a seemingly endless need for more funds. As English Parliament began selling national debt with interest to its citizens, the South Sea Company created a plan that transformed that debt into shares of company stock. In his latest book Money for Nothing: The Scientists, Fraudsters, and Corrupt Politicians Who Reinvented Money, Panicked a Nation, and Made the World Rich, GPSW Professor of Science Writing Tom Levenson chronicles the financial boom the South Sea Company created and the inevitable bust that left everyone, from commoners to the Prince of Wales, floundering in its wake. Focusing on “the moment when the needs of war, discoveries of natural philosophy, and ambitions of investors collided,” the book showcases how the Scientific Revolution and how mathematics originally designed to apply to the motion of planets laid the foundation for one of the world’s most catastrophic financial upheavals. 

Levenson is the author of five additional books on science and the history of science: Ice Time: Climate Science and Life on Earth (1989), Measure for Measure: A Musical History of Science (1994), Einstein in Berlin (2003), Newton and the Counterfeiter (2009), and The Hunt for Vulcan: . . . And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe (2016). He has also produced, directed, written, and executive produced several science documentaries, most recently the “Back to the Beginning” episode of the PBS mini-series Origins, for which he received the 2005 National Academies Communication Award.

Money for Nothing hits shelves on June 16th and is now available for preorder.