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.

 

#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

8 hrs Ago

1 HR 13 MINS

1:13:11

8 hrs Ago


#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