About the Author

William J. BroadI played with matches as a kid and got pretty good at making fireballs. In school, I came to love biology. Studying the history of science in college widened my perspective. I learned that scientific inquiry results in more than insights, and as a young journalist in Washington, D.C., saw that principle in action. In 1978, a scientist showed me how his computer could talk to one in California. It was the federal project that gave birth to the global Internet, including the words you are now reading.

My books and awards reflect my decision to focus on exploring the social repercussions of science – threatening ones as well as the beneficial. My longtime goal has been to help avoid the bad and encourage the good.

Fraud caught my attention early and resulted in Betrayers of the Truth (1982), written with Nicholas Wade, both of us then at Science magazine. Our reporting helped bring about federal reforms. After joining The New York Times in 1983, I focused on the Reagan Administration’s drive for space weapons. Star Warriors (1985), Claiming the Heavens (1988), and Teller’s War (1992) revealed many dangers. Times colleagues and I won a Pulitzer Prize (1986) for our disclosures, which helped forestall plans to deploy weapons in space.

The explosion of the space shuttle Challenger prompted my Times colleagues and me to investigate what went wrong and led to another Pulitzer (1987). Our reports aided the program’s reconstruction. Later, the end of the cold war moved once-secret undersea technologies into civilian hands. I told of the trend in The Universe Below (1997). Its disclosures helped inspire new explorations.

The revelation that Saddam Hussein had produced enough microorganisms to kill everyone on the planet led to Germs (2001), written with Times colleagues Judith Miller and Stephen Engelberg. The book became a number-one Times bestseller during the 2001 terrorist attacks and the ensuing anthrax mailings that killed or sickened twenty-two Americans. It also became the basis for a PBS Nova on germ terrorism. In 2002, our documentary won an Emmy.

The global spread of nuclear arms loomed large after the cold war, and I wrote scores of articles on the threat with my Times colleague David E. Sanger. In 2005, we became Pulitzer finalists. We also shared a DuPont Award from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism for the documentary: “Nuclear Jihad: Can Terrorists Get the Bomb?”

My love of ancient Greece led to The Oracle (2006), a detective story. It followed a team that studied the Oracle of Delphi, an icon of antiquity who dispensed moral and spiritual advice to all petitioners. The scientists uncovered an inspiration of her practice – intoxicating vapors.

The Science of Yoga, my newest book, represents a change. Rather than tracking the social implications of science, it shows how a century and a half of careful research has been ignored. Millions of people do yoga. But few realize what science has learned about its risks and rewards. My hope is that the book will help practitioners avoid the bad and integrate the good.