August 10, 2018

The world’s first full-size nuclear reactor. Credit: (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Taking care of business can mean a lot of different things. From activist CEOs to the science of war to clean energy companies, we’re diving into how business actually gets done.

First up, CEOs used to keep their mouths shut. They’d donate to campaigns and spend money lobbying, sure, but for the most part, they wouldn’t comment on politics. That’s definitely no longer the case. Patagonia, Starbucks, Apple… corporations and the people in charge of them are commenting on issues ranging from LGBT rights to federal land management. Nordstrom even took a stand on Ivanka Trump. And according to Duke University associate professor Aaron Chatterji, there are a lot of complicated reasons for that

(Of course, speaking out isn’t the only way rich CEOs are influencing politics. Here’s a segment we did about the Koch brothers’ impact on America.)

A split-second after a test of the atomic bomb, James Conant thought the world was going to end. It didn’t, of course, but the creation of the bomb was a transformational event. One that James Conant, a scientist and former President of Harvard, played a large role in. His granddaughter, author Jennet Conant, talks about his legacy, his leadership in The Manhattan Project, and what Conant, Robert Oppenheimer and others can teach us about using cutting-edge science to create weapons of war. 

And finally, the business of sustainable energy isn’t always that, well… sustainable. Jay Whitacre, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, would know. His clean energy startup, Aquion Energy, filed for bankruptcy last year, despite raising $200 million from investors. We talk with him about the challenges facing companies - and researchers - focused on sustainable energy. And he tells us why the future still looks bright, at least outside the US.

Starbucks, Aaron Chatterji, Jay Whitacre, Atom bomb, CEOs, Jennet Conant, James Conant, clean energy

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