Monday, August 17, 2009

Bill Streever

Bill Streever is a biologist who lives and works in Alaska. His new book is Cold: Adventures in the World’s Frozen Places.

He talked to Blake Wilson of the New York Times "Paper Cuts" blog about the book he's working on and other topics:

What are you working on?

Three things: promoting “Cold,” my day job as a biologist and a new book. The time required for promotional work surprises me, although maybe it shouldn’t. In any case, the effort involves a fair bit of writing (blogs and short pieces for various purposes), which keeps me sane, and I see this as a requirement that is likely to fade pretty quickly. We are at the height of the summer just now, and for a biologist working in Alaska, that means long hours and a certain amount of chaos. The two big focal points in my day job are wetland restoration projects and understanding the effects of underwater sounds on whales. This is an odd combination, I know, but it keeps me interested. Lastly, I’ve started work on a new book, tentatively called “Heat: A Natural and Unnatural History.” This is a really fun book to work on. The book is set mainly in Alaska, to juxtapose the hot with the cold. I wanted to start with extreme heat, so I flew to the arctic village of Point Hope and walked thirty-five miles each way to the Project Chariot site, where the federal government had planned to dig a harbor using hydrogen bombs back around 1960. Had the government been successful, a bit of land in remote Alaska would have become, for one brief instant, as hot as the surface of the sun. From there I drop down the temperature scale to look at the evolution of warm bloodedness and fever, chasing bowhead whales and visiting Inupiat village sites that were wiped out by influenza and measles. And so on through fires and volcanoes and, if things go as planned, back up to hydrogen bombs, to a bomb test site in the Aleutian Islands.
Read the rest of the Q & A.

Read an excerpt from Cold, and learn more about the book and author at Bill Streever's website.

The Page 99 Test: Cold.

--Marshal Zeringue