Jon Gertner is a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine, where he writes features on science, innovation, and technology. His 2012 book The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation chronicles the exploits of a generation of scientists at the world’s greatest laboratory, was a national bestseller and went on to make several critics’ “best of” lists for the year. It also led Gertner to lecture companies and nonprofits around the country about the history of Bell Labs and the principles of innovation.
Gertner’s latest book, The Ice at the End of the World, chronicles 150 years of exploration and investigation on the Greenland ice sheet. The book was conceived as a story about ice and the process of scientific discovery; it aims to explain how the work in Greenland, aided by an evolving array of technological tools, has led us to a deepening understanding of our current climate crisis. The story of Greenland’s ice sheet—the world’s largest laboratory—includes hair-raising tales of adventure and frostbite; a cast of characters who suffered misery on an almost unimaginable level; and a number of scientists who perceived in the ice a method to decipher clues to the ancient and future earth. Not only an epic of nature, but the book is also a human and scientific saga as well.
In addition to lecturing on Bell Labs, Gertner often leads audiences through the history and science of climate change, arguing that the Arctic is the most important climate change story of our current era. Building on his book on Greenland and recent New York Times Magazine stories, he explains in captivating detail how science and technology have helped us understand climate change and how they might help us mitigate its future effects.
As temperatures rise around the world, the profound changes in Greenland and the Arctic may soon translate into threatened ecosystems and natural calamities—but also into increased geopolitical tensions and dramatic competition for economic development.
Prior to his time at The New York Times Magazine, Gertner served as an editor for Fast Company, Money, and The American Lawyer. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Wired, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. A graduate of Cornell University, Gertner lives in New Jersey with his wife and their two children.