Shedding light on unknown scientists

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By Kirsten Laskey

Like many, the events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001 had a deep impact on Santa Fe writer and former diplomat Michael Morgan.

“After  9/11, I was concerned. Besides from the immediate clashes around the world, there was a clash of narratives. Part of the clashes were mistaken, based on misinformation,” Morgan said.

As a result, he wrote “Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers and Artists.” National Geographic published the book in 2007.

The purpose of the book was to correct misinformation. Morgan explained on one side of the world, there is a very stereotypical view of the Muslim world as being backward, violent and militant. On another side, there is a view that America does not listen or care about other cultures and histories.

Neither side, Morgan said, is right. Also, neither side seems to fully appreciate each other. The fact is, he said, both sides’ histories are intertwined and there is cross fertilization between the two.

The truth is, Morgan said, “The positive interactions out weigh the negative ones.”

He added, “I wrote the book so Americans would understand that while there are civil wars and terrorist acts, a town, like Los Alamos, couldn’t exist without the mathematical and scientific discoveries by unknown scientists in places like Persia, Arab countries, Northern Africa and India.”  He emphasizes the book is not based on any faith.

Los Alamos will be able to learn more about Morgan’s argument and his book during his presentation at 7 p.m. Thursday at Mesa Public Library. The presentation is part of the Authors Speak series.

Being a diplomat, Morgan said he has been doing research on this topic for several projects over the years. He also traveled. When Morgan decided to write “Lost History,” he researched further to fill in the gaps. He said he was amazed by the amount of materials that were available at the Library of Congress, UCLA and other places.

“Lost History” is Morgan’s fourth book. He has written several other nonfiction books that addressed WWII and President John F. Kennedy. He also wrote a novel.

Morgan explained he became interested in writing while attending college.

“I suppose when I was in university my most pleasurable experience was when I was reading good writing … and I made the decision that, ‘Boy, I would really love to do that … that’s were I put my energy,” he said.

Thursday will be the first time Morgan has shared his writings in the Authors Speak series and he is looking forward to the experience.

“I lived in Santa Fe for 15 years and I know Los Alamos as a community has a bunch of intelligent people and so I am looking forward to people in the audience with good ideas and good questions.”

He added, “Because Los Alamos is a science based town, I think they are the ideal audience to see how they work not only comes from America (but) from elsewhere. I think it’s a very good place to look at the universal nature of scientific discovery.”