Nuclear Barbarians

A podcast about nuclear, energy, and possibility.

About the show

Emmet Penney talks to experts, workers, journalists, and scholars from all over the world about nuclear energy, energy issues, culture, and society. Subscribe to the substack to get the newsletter and the podcast sent directly to your inbox:


  • Episode 71: Theological Origins of Modernity Pt. III

    June 19th, 2024  |  1 hr 1 min

    John and I return to Gillespie’s book to talk about Luther, Erasmus, and Descartes and to dig into the motivations behind the ideas that inspired the philosophies that brought about the scientific revolution.

  • Episode 70: The Theological Origins of Modernity Pt. II

    April 30th, 2024  |  1 hr 26 mins
  • Episode 69: The Theological Origins of Modernity Pt. I

    March 31st, 2024  |  1 hr 14 mins

    John returns for the first installment of another reading series. This time we’re tackling Michael Gillespie’s The Theological Origins of Modernity, a book that aims at getting to the root of some of the major questions we face today as products of both the Industrial Revolution and the Enlightenment.

  • Episode 68: Remix to Ignition ft. Rachael Zisk

    March 12th, 2024  |  48 mins 11 secs

    Rachael Zisk just launched a nuclear energy newsletter — Ignition — which is great. I brought her on to talk about her new venture, the challenges of covering highly technical topics, how the media landscape is changing, and more!

    Subscribe to Ignition.

    Subscribe to Payload.

  • Episode 67: The Machine in the Garden pt. V ft. John Goodson

    February 12th, 2024  |  1 hr 17 secs

    John and I finish up our discussion of the Machine in the Garden. We reflect on Leo Marx’s contribution—both its successes and failures. And we consider what opportunities there are to think about the American relationship with the Machine.

  • Episode 66: Juice: Power, Politics, and the Grid

    February 2nd, 2024  |  1 hr 4 secs

    Director Tyson Culver joined me to talk about his new docu-series with Robert Bryce —Juice: Power, Politics, and the Grid. We talk about what Tyson learned while making documentaries with Robert about the grid and what’s currently going around with America’s electricity sector. Check it out!

    You can watch it on YouTube here:

  • Episode 65: The Machine in the Garden Pt. IV ft. John Goodson

    January 26th, 2024  |  1 hr 9 mins

    John and I continue our series on Leo Marx’s The Machine in the Garden.

    In this episode, we talk about Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, and Hawthorne.

    We recorded this one a bit before Christmas last year.

  • Episode 64: Progress Toward What and For Whom? ft. Matthew B. Crawford

    January 15th, 2024  |  1 hr 14 mins

    Author and mechanic of joined me to talk about the nature of progress, or over designed world, the limits of laissez faire, safetyism, the current golden age of hotrodding, and so much more.

    Here are the pieces we discussed:

    Misanthropic Use of the Nudge by Matthew B. Crawford

    A $5,600 Taillight Repair? by Matthew B. Crawford

    For a way more thorough look into Chernobyl, which comes up towards the end, check out this thread from my friend which has tons of links to resources etc. if you want a way better explanation of what happened that what I give here.

  • Episode 63: Oil and Gas Execs for Nuclear ft. Doug Sandridge

    December 22nd, 2023  |  1 hr 1 min

    I got to sit down with Doug Sandridge, an oil and gas guy with decades of experience, to talk about his shocking new project: OIL AND GAS EXECS FOR NUCLEAR. This is the story of someone called to action to stand up for energy abundance for all—Doug’s a great guy and I loved chatting with him.

    Check out the declaration of Oil and Gas Execs for Nuclear.

    Read Doug’s op-ed for Grid Brief.

    Check out Doug’s Substack: ENERGY RUMINATIONS

  • Episode 62: The Valor of Valar Atomics ft. Isaiah Taylor

    December 8th, 2023  |  51 mins 48 secs

    Isaiah Taylor, the founder of Valar Atomics, joined me to talk about his new venture, how he wants to turn the nuclear energy over on its head, how his Christian faith and Midwestern roots inform his work, and much more.

  • Episode 61: The Machine in the Garden Pt. III ft. John Goodson

    November 30th, 2023  |  1 hr 5 mins

    John and I are back with our third installment of our reading series on The Machine in the Garden by Leo Marx.

    This chapter is all about “the machine” as a symbol in American life and letters. We talk about obscure figures like the Pennsylvanian manufacturer Tench Coxe, Thomas Carlyle’s “Signs of the Times,” the Newtonian reconciliation of art and nature, 19th century machine boosterism, and more!

  • Episode 60: Energy Cinema: Killers of the Flower Moon ft. Andrew Plimpton

    November 22nd, 2023  |  1 hr 11 mins

    Writer and film critic Andrew Plimpton returns to the pod to speak with me about Scorsese’s latest film, which centers around oil rights and a covert assault on the Osage tribe. We discuss the merits and demerits of this epically long film, Scorsese’s legacy, the American project, and more.

  • Episode 59: The Machine in the Garden Pt. II ft. John Goodson

    November 9th, 2023  |  1 hr 13 mins

    John and I continue our series on Leo Marx’s The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America.

    This chapter delves deep into the symbol of the garden—we dive into Marx’s reading of Jefferson, the nature of the pastoral ideal and how it evolved, the vision of Virginia, and more.

  • Episode 58: What's Up With South Africa's Grid? ft. Hugo Kruger

    November 2nd, 2023  |  49 mins 45 secs

    Hugo Kruger is a razor sharp engineer with a deep knowledge of energy systems. He came onto the show to talk to me about what’s going on with South Africa’s grid. I learned a ton from this episode—I hope you guys enjoy it!

    Check out Hugo’s work on Substack.

    Connect with him on LinkedIn.

  • Episode 57: The Machine in the Garden Pt. I Ft. John Goodson

    October 19th, 2023  |  1 hr 2 mins

    John Goodson, my old co-host from the ex.haust podcast, joined me in the first of our series on Leo Marx’s The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America. There are a few audio problems in this episode, for which we apologize. Thankfully, they’re brief.

    “Believing in America,” Leo Marx, Boston Review.

    The Elizabethan World Picture: A Study of the Idea of Order in the Age of Shakespeare, Donne and Milton by Eustace Tilyard

  • Episode 56: Our Neo-Pagan Moment ft. Spencer Klavan

    September 27th, 2023  |  57 mins 26 secs

    Spencer Klavan (author, podcaster, and editor) joined me to talk about that horrible Apple clean energy/Mother Nature video, neo-paganism as social and ideological force, quantum physics, epistemology, THE LORD, and more.

    Watch the Apple video here.

    “Mother Nature Returns,” Spencer Klavan, Rejoice Evermore

    “Where Wind Meets Matter,” Spencer Klavan, Claremont Review of Books

    Listen to Young Heretics, The Round Table, and The Close Read

    Buy Spencer’s book: How to Save the West: Ancient Wisdom for 5 Modern Crises