APL Colloquium

October 9, 2020

Colloquium Topic: Taking Nazi Technology: Allied Exploitation of German Science after the Second World War

Following the Second World War, the Allied Powers attempted the largest-scale technology transfer effort in history, aiming to take “intellectual reparations” from occupied Germany. This book is a history of America, British, French, and Soviet cooperation and competition in controlling and exploiting German science and technology. Through this, it is a history of science, diplomacy, espionage, and changing attitudes towards technology in society.

Colloquium Speaker: Douglas M. O'Reagan

Douglas O'Reagan is a historian, writer, programmer, and economic consultant based in Boston, Massachusetts. As his undergraduate dual-majors in Physics (BS) and History (BA) from the University of Virginia attest, he has long been interested in both qualitative and quantiative research. His PhD in History from the University of California, Berkeley focused on the history of science and technology, and along the way he developed programming projects and quantitative research skills that advanced those skills.

As a historian, his research focuses on industrial science and technology in the context of the Cold War. He considers himself a historian of industry, technology, and national security. His first book, Taking Nazi Technology: Allied Exploitation of German Science after the Second World War (2019), is a comparative history of America, British, French, and Soviet programs to take German science and technology as a kind of "intellectual reparations" from the defeated nation. Someday he hopes to write books about the histories of industrial espionage, trade secrets, and how economics, business, and law have dealt with the difficult problem of tacit knowledge, or "know-how."

As a programmer, his most recent project is The Disrespect Index, a ranking metric for college basketball teams based on how frequently they beat the spread. Several years ago he teamed up with a top management studies / economics scholar on a tool that uses patent data to illustrate the social networks of who has co-invested a patent with whom, over time: The Patent Co-Inventor Social Network Tool. He also has older, deprecated projects like FamilyGiftLister, a site for families to register and reserve gifts off of each other's Christmas lists to avoid duplication or annoying logistics.