The Nobel Prize Sperm Bank

In 1980 rich businessman Robert Graham founded the Repository for Germinal Choice in Escondido, California with the hope that he might help create the next generation of Nobel Prize winners. He promised the seed of such winners to his would-be clients.

One of Graham’s first sperm donors was William Shockley, the Nobel prize winner who created the transistor and, like Graham, was an enthusiastic eugenicist.

Although the sperm bank fell short of Graham’s dream, it did produce 200 children, and offered women something they didn’t have before: a menu of genes to choose from.

Hear a discussion with editor David Plotz about the strange and telling history of the “Nobel Prize sperm bank” and the future of genetically-engineered kids.


David Plotz, deputy editor of the online magazine Slate.
His new book is “The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank.”

Jennifer Waddell, who is seven months pregnant with twins. She received both donor eggs and sperm.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Oct 6, 2015
Eric Baker, co-owner of the Mo Money Pawn Shop, poses for a photo at the shop Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Phoenix.  (AP)

American gun policy front and center in the 2016 campaigns after the shootings in Oregon. We’ll look at who stands where on guns.

Oct 6, 2015
In this Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, photo, Dorothy McIntosh Shuemake, mother of Alison Shuemake, browses a picture collage of her daughter at her home, in Middletown, Ohio. Alison Shuemake, 18, died Aug. 26, after a suspected heroin overdose. (AP)

American addiction. From prescription painkillers to heroin. The numbers are staggering. Why?

Oct 5, 2015
Singer-songwriter Sara Barielles on the cover of her new memoir, "Sounds Like Me." (Courtesy Simon & Schuster)

Singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles goes fully confessional in her new memoir, “Sounds Like Me.” She joins us.

Oct 5, 2015
The newest version of the Apple mobile iOS system allows ad-blocking software on mobile browsing for the first time. (Abdullah Syahbal / Flickr)

Are ad–blocking, bots, and mobile gutting economic viability of the internet? We’ll take a close look.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: October 2, 2015
Friday, Oct 2, 2015

We say hello again to our email address (since so many of you did this week) and goodbye to the Log Lady.

More »
Interview With Sen. Bernie Sanders: ‘Count Me As A Radical’
Thursday, Oct 1, 2015

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is making waves in the 2016 Presidential race, and he joined us today from the US Capitol to explain how his campaign message is connecting with voters around the country.

More »
Our Week In The Web: September 25, 2015
Friday, Sep 25, 2015

But seriously — where ARE our podcasts running off to? Plus, more Jewel.

More »