In 1980, the possibilities of artificial insemination inspired a strange experiment, mixed with elitism, an overdose of eugenics, a smattering of racism and the barest dollop of science. In The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank, David Plotz reveals an idea straight from a science fiction novel: to collect the sperm of the world's leading scientific minds and create a generation of genius babies. The Genius Factory offers a fascinating glimpse into this very real, almost comically bizarre effort by a California millionaire to improve the American gene pool. Beyond simply examining the shaky science and equally shaky philosophy behind it all, Plotz explores the human impact, highlighted by interactions with a few of the donor fathers (none of whom were Nobel winners) and their offspring. Their stories range from the worst cases, where the impact on the child and adults was virtually unconsidered, to the best, where child, parents and donor found an unexpected bonus: not genius, but love. Howard Shirley is a son and a father.

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