Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas podcast

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

Ever wanted to know how music affects your brain, what quantum mechanics really is, or how black holes work? Do you wonder why you get emotional each time you see a certain movie, or how on earth video games are designed? Then you’ve come to the right place. Each week, Sean Carroll will host conversations with some of the most interesting thinkers in the world. From neuroscientists and engineers to authors and television producers, Sean and his guests talk about the biggest ideas in science, philosophy, culture and much more.

Ever wanted to know how music affects your brain, what quantum mechanics really is, or how black holes work? Do you wonder why you get emotional each time you see a certain movie, or how on earth video games are designed? Then you’ve come to the right place. Each week, Sean Carroll will host conversations with some of the most interesting thinkers in the world. From neuroscientists and engineers to authors and television producers, Sean and his guests talk about the biggest ideas in science, philosophy, culture and much more.

 

#328

Listen Now: Wow in the World's Summer of Wow!

Wow in the World is the #1 science podcast for kids and their grown-ups. Hosts Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz share stories about the latest news in science, technology, and innovation. Stories that give kids hope, agency and make us all say "WOW"! New episodes come out every Monday. Listen to Wow in the World: [http://wondery.fm/wowintheworld] (http://wondery.fm/wowintheworld) . See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

11 Jun 2024

06 MINS

06:15

11 Jun 2024


#327

278 | Kieran Healy on the Technology of Ranking People

We claim to love all of our children, friends, and students equally. But perhaps deep down you assign a ranking to them, from favorite to not-so-favorite. Ranking and quantifying people is an irresistible human tendency, and modern technology has made it ubiquitous. In this episode I talk with sociologist Kieran Healy, who has co-authored (with [Marion Fourcade] (http://www.marionfourcade.org/) ) the new book [The Ordinal Society] (https://www.hup.harvard.edu/books/9780674971141) , about how our lives are measured and processed by the technological ecosystem around us. We discuss how this has changed how relate to ourselves and the wider world. Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/06/10/278-kieran-healy-on-the-technology-of-ranking-people/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/06/10/278-kieran-healy-on-the-technology-of-ranking-people/) Kieran Healy received his Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University. He is currently a professor of sociology at Duke University, and a member of the Kenan Institute for Ethics. As an undergraduate at University College Cork he won the Irish Times National Debating competition. He has a longstanding interest in [data visualization] (https://kieranhealy.org/publications/dataviz/) . --- [Web site] (https://kieranhealy.org/) --- [Duke web page] (https://sociology.duke.edu/kieran-healy) --- [Google Scholar publications] (https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=YWEuPuIAAAAJ&hl=en) --- [Wikipedia] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kieran_Healy) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

10 Jun 2024

1 HR 15 MINS

1:15:56

10 Jun 2024


#326

AMA | June 2024

Welcome to the June 2024 Ask Me Anything episode of Mindscape! These monthly excursions are funded by [Patreon supporters] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) (who are also the ones asking the questions). We take questions asked by Patreons, whittle them down to a more manageable number -- based primarily on whether I have anything interesting to say about them, not whether the questions themselves are good -- and sometimes group them together if they are about a similar topic. Enjoy! Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Blog post with show notes, questions, and transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/06/03/ama-jun-2024/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/06/03/ama-jun-2024/) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

03 Jun 2024

3 HR 58 MINS

3:58:45

03 Jun 2024


#325

277 | Cumrun Vafa on the Universe According to String Theory

String theory, the current leading candidate for a theory of quantum gravity as well as other particles and forces, doesn't connect directly to the world we see. It's possible that there is a large [landscape] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_theory_landscape) of possible states of theory, with the hope that one of them represents our universe. The existence of a landscape implies the existence of a corresponding [swampland] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swampland_(physics)) -- universes that arenotcompatible with string theory. I talk with Cumrun Vafa, a respected physicist and originator of the swampland program, about how we might use constraints on what kinds of physics are compatible with string theory to make predictions about cosmology and other experimental regimes. In the conversation we refer to a famous diagram representing different ten-dimensional string theories, as well as 11-dimensional M-theory, as different limits of an [underlying fundamental theory] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-theory) . Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/05/27/277-cumrun-vafa-on-the-universe-according-to-string-theory/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/05/27/277-cumrun-vafa-on-the-universe-according-to-string-theory/) Cumrun Vafa received his Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University. He is currently [Hollis Professor of Mathematicks] (https://www.colonialsociety.org/node/3073) and Natural Philosophy, and Chair of the Physics Department, at Harvard University. He has done fundamental work on the dynamics of superstrings, the entropy of black holes, F-theory, and other topics. Among his awards are the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, the Dirac Medal, and the Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. He is the author of the book [Puzzles to Unravel the Universe] (https://www.amazon.com/Puzzles-Unravel-Universe-Cumrun-Vafa-ebook/dp/B08D75KNDP/) . --- [Web site] (https://www.cumrunvafa.org/) --- [Harvard web page] (https://www.physics.harvard.edu/people/facpages/vafa) --- [Google Scholar publications] (https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=LJQ0k-AAAAAJ&hl=en) --- [Wikipedia] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumrun_Vafa) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

27 May 2024

1 HR 22 MINS

1:22:25

27 May 2024


#324

276 | Gavin Schmidt on Measuring, Predicting, and Protecting Our Climate

The Earth's climate keeps changing, largely due to the effects of human activity, and we haven't been doing enough to slow things down. Indeed, over the past year, global temperatures have been higher than ever, and higher than most climate models have predicted. Many of you have probably seen plots like [this] (https://berkeleyearth.org/march-2024-temperature-update/) . Today's guest, Gavin Schmidt, has been a leader in measuring the variations in Earth's climate, modeling its likely future trajectory, and working to get the word out. We talk about the current state of the art, and what to expect for the future. Support Mindscape onP [atreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/05/20/276-gavin-schmidt-on-measuring-predicting-and-protecting-our-climate/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/05/20/276-gavin-schmidt-on-measuring-predicting-and-protecting-our-climate/) Gavin Schmidt received his Ph.D. in applied mathematics from University College London. He is currently Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and an affiliate of the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University. His research involves both measuring and modeling climate variability. Among his awards are the inaugural Climate Communications Prize of the American Geophysical Union. He is a cofounder of the [RealClimate blog] (https://www.realclimate.org/) . --- [NASA web page] (https://www.giss.nasa.gov/staff/gschmidt/) --- [Columbia web page] (https://people.climate.columbia.edu/users/profile/gavin-schmidt) --- [Google Scholar publications] (https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=TKPXa3UAAAAJ&hl=en) --- [Wikipedia] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gavin_Schmidt) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

20 May 2024

1 HR 19 MINS

1:19:48

20 May 2024


#323

275 | Solo: Quantum Fields, Particles, Forces, and Symmetries

Publication week! Say hello to [Quanta and Fields] (https://www.amazon.com/Quanta-Fields-Biggest-Ideas-Universe/dp/0593186605/) , the second volume of the planned three-volume series [The Biggest Ideas in the Universe] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/biggestideas/) . This volume covers quantum physics generally, but focuses especially on the wonders of quantum field theory. To celebrate, this solo podcast talks about some of the big ideas that make QFT so compelling: how quantized fields produce particles, how gauge symmetries lead to forces of nature, and how those forces can manifest in different phases, including Higgs and confinement. Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/05/13/275-solo-quantum-fields-particles-forces-and-symmetries/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/05/13/275-solo-quantum-fields-particles-forces-and-symmetries/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

13 May 2024

2 HR 12 MINS

2:12:27

13 May 2024


#322

AMA | May 2024

Welcome to the May 2024 Ask Me Anything episode of Mindscape! These monthly excursions are funded by [Patreon supporters] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) (who are also the ones asking the questions). We take questions asked by Patreons, whittle them down to a more manageable number -- based primarily on whether I have anything interesting to say about them, not whether the questions themselves are good -- and sometimes group them together if they are about a similar topic. Enjoy! Blog post with questions and transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/05/06/ama-may-2024/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/05/06/ama-may-2024/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Here is the [memorial to Dan Dennett at Ars Technica] (https://arstechnica.com/science/2024/04/philosopher-daniel-dennett-dead-at-82/) . See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

06 May 2024

3 HR 35 MINS

3:35:08

06 May 2024


#321

274 | Gizem Gumuskaya on Building Robots from Human Cells

Modern biology is advancing by leaps and bounds, not only in understanding how organisms work, but in learning how to modify them in interesting ways. One exciting frontier is the study of tiny "robots" created from living molecules and cells, rather than metal and plastic. Gizem Gumuskaya, who works with previous guest [Michael Levin] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2021/02/01/132-michael-levin-on-growth-form-information-and-the-self/) , has created anthrobots, a new kind of structure made from living human cells. We talk about how that works, what they can do, and what future developments might bring. Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/04/29/274-gizem-gumuskaya-on-building-robots-from-human-cells/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/04/29/274-gizem-gumuskaya-on-building-robots-from-human-cells/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Gimez Gumuskaya received her Ph.D. from Tufts University and the Harvard Wyss Institute for Biologically-Inspired Engineering. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Tufts University. She previously received a dual master's degree in Architecture and Synthetic Biology from MIT. --- [Web site] (https://www.gizemgumuskaya.com/home) --- [Google scholar publications] (https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=9_717CsAAAAJ&hl=en) --- [Anthrobots web site] (https://www.anthrobots.info/) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

29 Apr 2024

1 HR 10 MINS

1:10:09

29 Apr 2024


#320

273 | Stefanos Geroulanos on the Invention of Prehistory

Humanity itself might be the hardest thing for scientists to study fairly and accurately. Not only do we come to the subject with certain inevitable preconceptions, but it's hard to resist the temptation to find scientific justifications for the stories we'd like to tell about ourselves. In his new book, [The Invention of Prehistory] (https://www.stefanos-geroulanos.com/#/prehistory/) , Stefanos Geroulanos looks at the ways that we have used -- and continue to use -- supposedly-scientific tales of prehistoric humanity to bolster whatever cultural, social, and political purposes we have at the moment. Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/04/22/273-stefanos-geroulanos-on-the-invention-of-prehistory/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/04/22/273-stefanos-geroulanos-on-the-invention-of-prehistory/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Stefanos Geroulanos received his Ph.D. in humanities from Johns Hopkins. He is currently director of the [Remarque Institute] (https://as.nyu.edu/remarque.html) and a professor of history at New York University. He is the author and editor of a number of books on European intellectual history. He serves as a Co-Executive Editor of theJournal of the History of Ideas. --- [Web site] (https://www.stefanos-geroulanos.com/) --- [NYU web page] (https://as.nyu.edu/faculty/stefanos-geroulanos.html) --- [Amazon author page] (https://www.amazon.com/stores/author/B003D1PMYW) --- [Google scholar publications] (https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=v23KE_4AAAAJ&hl=en) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

22 Apr 2024

1 HR 19 MINS

1:19:24

22 Apr 2024


#319

272 | Leslie Valiant on Learning and Educability in Computers and People

Science is enabled by the fact that the natural world exhibits predictability and regularity, at least to some extent. Scientists collect data about what happens in the world, then try to suggest "laws" that capture many phenomena in simple rules. A small irony is that, while we are looking for nice compact rules, there aren't really nice compact rules about how to go about doing that. Today's guest, Leslie Valiant, has been a pioneer in understanding how computers can and do learn things about the world. And in his new book, [The Importance of Being Educable] (https://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691230566/the-importance-of-being-educable) , he pinpoints this ability to learn new things as the crucial feature that distinguishes us as human beings. We talk about where that capability came from and what its role is as artificial intelligence becomes ever more prevalent. Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/04/15/272-leslie-valiant-on-learning-and-educability-in-computers-and-people/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/04/15/272-leslie-valiant-on-learning-and-educability-in-computers-and-people/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Leslie Valiant received his Ph.D. in computer science from Warwick University. He is currently the T. Jefferson Coolidge Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at Harvard University. He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Knuth Prize, and the Turing Award, and he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is the pioneer of "Probably Approximately Correct" learning, which he wrote about [in a book of the same name] (https://www.amazon.com/Probably-Approximately-Correct-Algorithms-Prospering/dp/0465032710) . See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

15 Apr 2024

1 HR 08 MINS

1:08:17

15 Apr 2024


#318

AMA | April 2024

Welcome to the April 2024 Ask Me Anything episode of Mindscape! These monthly excursions are funded by [Patreon supporters] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) (who are also the ones asking the questions). We take questions asked by Patreons, whittle them down to a more manageable number -- based primarily on whether I have anything interesting to say about them, not whether the questions themselves are good -- and sometimes group them together if they are about a similar topic. Enjoy! Blog post with questions and transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/04/08/ama-april-2024/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/04/08/ama-april-2024/) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

08 Apr 2024

3 HR 14 MINS

3:14:00

08 Apr 2024


#317

271 | Claudia de Rham on Modifying General Relativity

Einstein's theory of general relativity has been our best understanding of gravity for over a century, withstanding a variety of experimental challenges of ever-increasing precision. But we have to be open to the possibility that general relativity -- even at the classical level, aside from any questions of quantum gravity -- isn't the right theory of gravity. Such speculation is motivated by cosmology, where we have a good model of the universe but one with a number of loose ends. Claudia de Rham has been a leader in exploring how gravity could be modified in cosmologically interesting ways, and we discuss the current state of the art as well as future prospects. Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/04/01/271-claudia-de-rham-on-modifying-general-relativity/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/04/01/271-claudia-de-rham-on-modifying-general-relativity/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Claudia de Rham received her Ph.D. in physics from the University of Cambridge. She is currently a professor of physics and deputy department head at Imperial College, London. She is a Simons Foundation Investigator, winner of the Blavatnik Award, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her new book is [The Beauty of Falling: A Life in Pursuit of Gravity] (https://press.princeton.edu/books/ebook/9780691237497/the-beauty-of-falling) . --- [Imperial College web page] (https://www.imperial.ac.uk/people/c.de-rham) --- [Wikipedia] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claudia_de_Rham) --- [Publications at Inspire] (https://inspirehep.net/authors/1030566?ui-citation-summary=true) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

01 Apr 2024

1 HR 21 MINS

1:21:43

01 Apr 2024


#316

270 | Solo: The Coming Transition in How Humanity Lives

Technology is changing the world, in good and bad ways. Artificial intelligence, internet connectivity, biological engineering, and climate change are dramatically altering the parameters of human life. What can we say about how this will extend into the future? Will the pace of change level off, or smoothly continue, or hit a singularity in a finite time? In this informal solo episode, I think through what I believe will be some of the major forces shaping how human life will change over the decades to come, exploring the very real possibility that we will experience a dramatic phase transition into a new kind of equilibrium. Blog post with transcript and links to additional resources: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/03/25/270-solo-the-coming-transition-in-how-humanity-lives/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/03/25/270-solo-the-coming-transition-in-how-humanity-lives/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

25 Mar 2024

2 HR 09 MINS

2:09:22

25 Mar 2024


#315

269 | Sahar Heydari Fard on Complexity, Justice, and Social Dynamics

When it comes to social change, two questions immediately present themselves: What kind of change do we want to see happen? And, how do we bring it about? These questions are distinct but related; there's not much point in spending all of our time wanting change that won't possibly happen, or working for change that wouldn't actually be good. Addressing such issues lies at the intersection of philosophy, political science, and social dynamics. Sahar Heydari Fard looks at all of these issues through the lens of complex systems theory, to better understand how the world works and how it might be improved. Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/03/18/269-sahar-heydari-fard-on-complexity-justice-and-social-dynamics/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/03/18/269-sahar-heydari-fard-on-complexity-justice-and-social-dynamics/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Sahar Heydari Fard received a Masters in applied economics and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Cincinnati. She is currently an assistant professor in philosophy at the Ohio State University. Her research lies at the intersection of social and behavioral sciences, social and political philosophy, and ethics, using tools from complex systems theory. --- [Web site] (https://saharheydarifard.weebly.com/) --- [Ohio State web page] (https://philosophy.osu.edu/people/heydarifard.1) --- [PhilPeople profile] (https://philpeople.org/profiles/sahar-heydari-fard) --- [Google Scholar publications] (https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=LCcNC-cAAAAJ&view_op=list_works&sortby=pubdate) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

18 Mar 2024

1 HR 11 MINS

1:11:01

18 Mar 2024


#314

AMA | March 2024

Welcome to the March 2024 Ask Me Anything episode of Mindscape! These monthly excursions are funded by [Patreon supporters] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) (who are also the ones asking the questions). We take questions asked by Patreons, whittle them down to a more manageable number -- based primarily on whether I have anything interesting to say about them, not whether the questions themselves are good -- and sometimes group them together if they are about a similar topic. Big congrats this month to Ryan Funakoshi, winner of this year's [Mindscape Big Picture Scholarship] (https://bold.org/scholarships/mindscape/) ! And enormous, heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed. We're going to keep doing this in years to come. Blog post with questions and transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/03/11/ama-march-2024/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/03/11/ama-march-2024/) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

11 Mar 2024

3 HR 55 MINS

3:55:43

11 Mar 2024


#313

268 | Matt Strassler on Relativity, Fields, and the Language of Reality

In the 1860s, James Clerk Maxwell argued that light was a wave of electric and magnetic fields. But it took over four decades for physicists to put together the theory of special relativity, which correctly describes the symmetries underlying Maxwell's theory. The delay came in part from the difficulty in accepting that light was a wave, but not a waveinany underlying "aether." Today our most basic view of fundamental physics is found in quantum field theory, which posits that everything around us is a quantum version of a relativistic wave. I talk with physicist Matt Strassler about how we go from these interesting-but-intimidating concepts to the everyday world of tables, chairs, and ourselves. Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/03/04/267-matt-strassler-on-relativity-fields-and-the-language-of-reality/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/03/04/267-matt-strassler-on-relativity-fields-and-the-language-of-reality/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Matt Strassler received his Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University. He is currently a writer and a visiting researcher in physics at Harvard University. His research has ranged over a number of topics in theoretical high-energy physics, from the phenomenology of dark matter and the Higgs boson to dualities in gauge theory and string theory. He blogs at [Of Particular Significance] (https://profmattstrassler.com/) , and his new book is [Waves in an Impossible Sea: How Everyday Life Emerges from the Cosmic Ocean] (https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/matt-strassler/waves-in-an-impossible-sea/9781541603295/?lens=basic-books) . --- [Web site] (https://profmattstrassler.com/) --- [Google Scholar publications] (https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=19WGkFsAAAAJ&view_op=list_works) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

04 Mar 2024

1 HR 30 MINS

1:30:19

04 Mar 2024


#312

267 | Benjamin Breen on Margaret Mead, Psychedelics, and Utopia

The twentieth century was something, wasn't it? [Margaret Mead] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Mead) , as well as her onetime-husband [Gregory Bateson] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_Bateson) , managed to play roles in several of its key developments: social anthropology and its impact on sex & gender mores, psychedelic drugs and their potential use for therapeutic purposes, and the origin of cybernetics, to name a few. Benjamin Breen discusses this impactful trajectory in his new book, [Tripping on Utopia: Margaret Mead, the Cold War, and the Troubled Birth of Psychedelic Science] (https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/benjamin-breen/tripping-on-utopia/9781538722374/?lens=grand-central-publishing) . We talk about Mead and Bateson, the early development of psychedelic drugs, and how the possibility of a realistic utopia didn't always seem so far away. Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/02/26/267-benjamin-breen-on-margaret-mead-psychedelics-and-utopia/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/02/26/267-benjamin-breen-on-margaret-mead-psychedelics-and-utopia/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Benjamin Breen received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Texas at Austin. He is currently an associate professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Among his awards are the National Endowment for the Humanities Award for Faculty and the William H. Welch Medal of the American Association for the History of Medicine. He writes on Substack at [Res Obscura] (https://resobscura.substack.com/) . --- [Web site] (https://benjaminpbreen.com/) --- [UCSC web page] (https://humanities.ucsc.edu/academics/faculty/index.php?uid=bebreen) --- [Wikipedia] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Breen) --- [Amazon author page] (https://www.amazon.com/stores/Benjamin-Breen/author/B07ZJTGJSZ) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

26 Feb 2024

1 HR 13 MINS

1:13:11

26 Feb 2024


#311

266 | Christoph Adami on How Information Makes Sense of Biology

Evolution is sometimes described -- not precisely, but with some justification -- as being about the "survival of the fittest." But that idea doesn't work unless there is some way for one generation to pass downinformationabout how best to survive. We now know that such information is passed down in a variety of ways: through our inherited genome, through epigenetic factors, and of course through cultural transmission. Chris Adami suggests that we update Dobzhansky's maxim "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution" to "... except in the light of information." We talk about information theory as a subject in its own right, and how it helps us to understand organisms, evolution, and the origin of life. Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/02/19/266-christoph-adami-on-how-information-makes-sense-of-biology/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/02/19/266-christoph-adami-on-how-information-makes-sense-of-biology/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Christoph Adami received his Ph.D. in physics from Stony Brook University. He is currently professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics as well as Physics and Astronomy at Michigan State University. Among his awards are the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for Artificial Life. His new book is [The Evolution of Biological Information: How Evolution Creates Complexity, from Viruses to Brains] (https://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691241166/the-evolution-of-biological-information) . --- [Web site] (https://adami.natsci.msu.edu/) --- [Michigan State web page] (https://adamilab.msu.edu/chris-adami/) --- [Google Scholar publications] (https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=VXM7wUMAAAAJ&hl=en) --- [Wikipedia] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Adami) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

19 Feb 2024

1 HR 20 MINS

1:20:21

19 Feb 2024


#310

AMA | February 2024

Welcome to the February 2024 Ask Me Anything episode of Mindscape! These monthly excursions are funded by [Patreon supporters] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) (who are also the ones asking the questions). We take questions asked by Patreons, whittle them down to a more manageable number -- based primarily on whether I have anything interesting to say about them, not whether the questions themselves are good -- and sometimes group them together if they are about a similar topic. Enjoy! Blog post with questions and transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/02/12/ama-february-2024/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/02/12/ama-february-2024/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

12 Feb 2024

3 HR 24 MINS

3:24:37

12 Feb 2024


#309

265 | John Skrentny on How the Economy Mistreats STEM Workers

Universities and their students are constantly being encouraged to produce more graduates majoring in STEM fields -- science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. That's the kind of training that will get you a rewarding job, students are told, while at the policy level it is emphasized how STEM workers are needed to drive innovation and growth. In his new book [Wasted Education] (https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/W/bo206855230.html) , sociologist John Skrentny points out that the post-graduation trajectories of STEM graduates are more likely to involve being chewed up and spit out by the tech economy than to end up with stable long-term careers. We talk about why that's the case and what might be done about it. Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/02/05/265-john-skrentny-on-how-the-economy-mistreats-stem-workers/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/02/05/265-john-skrentny-on-how-the-economy-mistreats-stem-workers/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . John Skrentny received his Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University. He is currently Professor of Sociology at UC San Diego, and has previously served as the Co-Director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and Director of the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research. --- [Web site] (https://quote.ucsd.edu/jskrentny/) --- [UC San Diego web page] (https://sociology.ucsd.edu/people/faculty/faculty%20members/john-skrentny.html) --- [Google Scholar publications] (https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=2swRc94AAAAJ&view_op=list_works) --- [Amazon author page] (https://www.amazon.com/stores/John%20D.%20Skrentny/author/B001HD1B16) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

05 Feb 2024

1 HR 20 MINS

1:20:15

05 Feb 2024


#308

264 | Sabine Stanley on What's Inside Planets

The radius of the Earth is over 6,000 kilometers, but [the deepest] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kola_Superdeep_Borehole) we've ever dug below the surface is only about 12 km.Yet we have a quite reliable idea of the structure of the Earth's interior -- inner core, outer core, mantle, crust -- not to mention pretty good pictures of what's going on inside some other planets. How do we know those things, and what new things are we learning in the exoplanet era? I talk with astrophysicist and planetary scientist Sabine Stanley about how we use gravitation, seismology, magnetic fields, and other tools to learn what's happening inside planets. Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/01/29/264-sabine-stanley-on-whats-inside-planets/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/01/29/264-sabine-stanley-on-whats-inside-planets/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Sabine Stanley received a Ph.D. in geophysics from Harvard University. She is currently a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University. She has been awarded the William Gilbert Award from the American Geophysical Union. Her recent book is [What's Hidden Inside Planets?] (https://www.press.jhu.edu/books/title/12879/whats-hidden-inside-planets) --- [Website] (https://sabinestanley.com/) --- [Johns Hopkins web page] (https://eps.jhu.edu/directory/sabine-stanley/) --- [Publications from Google Scholar] (https://scholar.google.ca/citations?user=a98_x2AAAAAJ&hl=en) --- [Wikipedia] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabine_Stanley) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

29 Jan 2024

1 HR 12 MINS

1:12:29

29 Jan 2024


#307

263 | Chris Quigg on Symmetry and the Birth of the Standard Model

Einstein's theory of general relativity is distinguished by its singular simplicity and beauty. The Standard Model of Particle Physics, by contrast, is a bit of a mess. So many particles and interactions, each acting somewhat differently, with a bunch of seemingly random parameters. But lurking beneath the mess are a number of powerful and elegant ideas, many of them stemming from symmetries and how they are broken. I talk about some of these ideas with Chris Quigg, who with collaborator [Robert Cahn] (https://phyweb.lbl.gov/~rncahn/www/cahn.html) has written a new book on the development of the Standard Model: [Grace in All Simplicity] (https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Grace-in-All-Simplicity/Robert-N-Cahn/9781639364817) . Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/01/22/263-chris-quigg-on-symmetry-and-the-birth-of-the-standard-model/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/01/22/263-chris-quigg-on-symmetry-and-the-birth-of-the-standard-model/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Chris Quigg received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently Distinguished Scientist Emeritus at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Among his awards is the J.J. Sakurai Prize in theoretical particle physics from the American Physical Society. He is also the author of [Gauge Theories of the Strong, Weak, and Electromagnetic Interactions] (https://chrisquigg.com/gauge-theories/) . --- [Website] (https://chrisquigg.com/) --- [Publications] (https://inspirehep.net/authors/992527?ui-citation-summary=true) --- [Amazon author page] (https://www.amazon.com/stores/Chris-Quigg/author/B001KHN0RM) --- [Wikipedia] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Quigg) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

22 Jan 2024

1 HR 26 MINS

1:26:09

22 Jan 2024


#306

262 | Eric Schwitzgebel on the Weirdness of the World

Scientists and philosophers sometimes advocate pretty outrageous-sounding ideas about the fundamental nature of reality. (Arguably I have been guilty of this.) It shouldn't be surprising that reality, in regimes far away from our everyday experience, fails to conform to common sense. But it's also okay to maintain a bit of skepticism in the face of bizarre claims. Philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel wants us to face up to the weirdness of the world. He claims that there are no non-weird ways to explain some of the most important features of reality, from quantum mechanics to consciousness. Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/01/15/262-eric-schwitzgebel-on-the-weirdness-of-the-world/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/01/15/262-eric-schwitzgebel-on-the-weirdness-of-the-world/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Eric Schwitzgebel received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside. He is the author of several books, including the new [The Weirdness of the World] (https://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691215679/the-weirdness-of-the-world) . --- [UC Riverside web page] (http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~eschwitz/) --- [The Splintered Mind blog] (https://schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com/) --- [Google Scholar publications] (https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=SLyTDFEAAAAJ&hl=en) --- [PhilPeople profile] (https://philpeople.org/profiles/eric-schwitzgebel) --- [Wikipedia] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Schwitzgebel) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

15 Jan 2024

1 HR 20 MINS

1:20:09

15 Jan 2024


#305

261 | Sanjana Curtis on the Origins of the Elements

In mid-20th-century cosmology, there was a debate over the origin of the chemical elements. Some thought that they could be produced in the Big Bang, while others argued that they were made inside stars. The truth turns out to be a combination of both, with additional complications layered in. Some of the elements of the periodic table come all the way from the Big Bang, but others are made inside stars or in stellar explosions. But still others are made by cosmic rays or when neutron stars and black holes merge together. We talk to nuclear astrophysicist Sanjana Curtis about all the different ways that the universe is cleverly able to produce various elements. Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/01/08/261-sanjana-curtis-on-the-origins-of-the-elements/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/01/08/261-sanjana-curtis-on-the-origins-of-the-elements/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Sanjana Curtis received her Ph.D. in physics from North Carolina State University. She is currently a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research involves nuclear astrophysics, especially the production of heavier elements in supernova explosions and neutron-star/black-hole collisions. She is also active in science communication, including at her [TikTok channel] (https://www.tiktok.com/@sanjanacurtis) . --- [Website] (https://www.sanjana-curtis.com/) --- [Google Scholar publications] (https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C21&q=sanjana+curtis&btnG=) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

08 Jan 2024

1 HR 07 MINS

1:07:28

08 Jan 2024


#304

260 | Ricard Solé on the Space of Cognitions

Octopuses, artificial intelligence, and advanced alien civilizations: for many reasons, it's interesting to contemplate ways of thinking other than whatever it is we humans do. How should we think about the space of all possible cognitions? One aspect is simply the physics of the underlying substrate, the physical stuff that is actually doing the thinking. We are used to brains being solid -- squishy, perhaps, but consisting of units in an essentially fixed array. What about liquid brains, where the units can move around? Would an ant colony count? We talk with complexity theorist Ricard Solé about complexity, criticality, and cognition. Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/01/01/260-ricard-sole-on-the-space-of-cognitions/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/01/01/260-ricard-sole-on-the-space-of-cognitions/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Ricard Solé received his Ph.D. in physics from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. He is currently ICREA research professor at the Catalan Institute for research and Advanced Studies, currently working at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, where he is head of the Complex Systems Lab. He is also an External Professor of the Santa Fe Institute, Fellow of the European centre for Living Technology, external faculty at the Center for Evolution and Cancer at UCSF, and a member of the Vienna Complex Systems Hub. He is the [author of several technical books] (https://press.princeton.edu/our-authors/sole-ricard) . --- [Web site] (http://complex.upf.edu/ricard-sol%C3%A9) --- [Google Scholar publications] (https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=BqIjjUAAAAAJ&hl=en) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

01 Jan 2024

1 HR 10 MINS

1:10:00

01 Jan 2024


#303

Holiday Message: Reflections on Immortality

The final Mindscape podcast of each year is devoted to a short, reflective Holiday Message. This year the theme is Immortality: whether it's an attractive idea, and whether the laws of physics and cosmology would allow for it in principle. (Spoiler: they do not.) Mindscape will return as usual on January 1, 2024. Happy holidays everyone! Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2023/12/18/holiday-message-2023-reflections-on-immortality/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2023/12/18/holiday-message-2023-reflections-on-immortality/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Here are some of the stories and papers mentioned in the episode: --- [Borges, "The Immortal"] (https://matiane.wordpress.com/2019/10/11/immortal-by-jorge-luis-borges/) --- [Barnes,A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters] (https://bookshop.org/p/books/a-history-of-the-world-in-10-1-2-chapters-julian-barnes/6702782?ean=9780679731375) --- [The Good Place] (https://www.netflix.com/title/80113701) --- [Chiang,Stories of Your Life and Others] (https://bookshop.org/p/books/stories-of-your-life-and-others-lib-e-ted-chiang/16687839?ean=9781101972120) --- [Dyson, "Time Without End: Physics and Biology in an Open Universe"] (https://www.panspermia.org/revmodphys.51.447.pdf) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

18 Dec 2023

55 MINS

55:30

18 Dec 2023


#302

259 | Adam Frank on What Aliens Might Be Like

It wasn't that long ago that topics like the nature of consciousness, or the foundations of quantum mechanics, or prospects for extraterrestrial life were considered fringey and disreputable by much of the scientific community.In all these cases, the tide of opinion is gradually changing. Life on other worlds, in particular, has seen a remarkable growth in interest -- how life could start on other worlds, how we can detect it in the solar system and on exoplanets, and even thoughts about advanced alien civilizations. I talk with astrophysicist Adam Frank about some of those thoughts. We also give the inside scoop on what professional scientists think about UFOs. Blog post with transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2023/12/11/259-adam-frank-on-what-aliens-might-be-like/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2023/12/11/259-adam-frank-on-what-aliens-might-be-like/) Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . Adam Frank received a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Washington. He is currently the Helen F. and Fred H. Gowen Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Distinguished Scientist at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester. Among his awards are the National Honors Society Best Book in Science award, and the Carl Sagan Medal from the American Astronomical Society. His new book is [The Little Book of Aliens] (https://www.adamfrankscience.com/books/the-little-book-of-aliens) . --- [Web Site] (https://www.adamfrankscience.com/) --- [U Rochester web page] (https://www.pas.rochester.edu/people/faculty/frank_adam/index.html) --- [Wikipedia] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Frank) --- [Amazon author page] (https://www.amazon.com/stores/author/B001JS7N66) See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

11 Dec 2023

1 HR 18 MINS

1:18:30

11 Dec 2023


#301

AMA | December 2023

Welcome to the December 2023 Ask Me Anything episode of Mindscape! These monthly excursions are funded by [Patreon supporters] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) (who are also the ones asking the questions). We take questions asked by Patreons, whittle them down to a more manageable number -- based primarily on whether I have anything interesting to say about them, not whether the questions themselves are good -- and sometimes group them together if they are about a similar topic. Enjoy! Blog post with questions and transcript: [https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2023/12/04/ama-december-2023/] (https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2023/12/04/ama-december-2023/) Link to the article referenced about time travel in movies: [Ars Technica] (https://arstechnica.com/features/2023/11/the-ars-guide-to-time-travel-in-the-movies/) . There will be no AMA in January due to holiday break. [Mindscape Big Picture Scholarship] (https://bold.org/scholarships/mindscape/) . Support Mindscape on [Patreon] (https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll) . See Privacy Policy at [https://art19.com/privacy] (https://art19.com/privacy) and California Privacy Notice at [https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info] (https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info) . ... Read more

04 Dec 2023

3 HR 36 MINS

3:36:27

04 Dec 2023