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The Science of Everything Podcast

I discuss a variety of topics in both the natural and social sciences, exploring the many fascinating insights that the scientific method yields about the world around us.

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The best episodes ranked using user listens.

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Episode 106: Theories of Economic Growth and Development

In this fourth part of our series on economic growth and development, I outline the major theories of economic development developed over the past sixty years. I trace the development of such theories beginning with the Harrod-Domar theory, and proceeding through the Solow-Swan model, the Ramsey model, Romer's spillovers model, and endogenous growth theory, in each case discussing their key features, and analysing their strengths and weaknesses. The episode concludes with a brief survey of a range of more recent growth models focusing on modelling coordination failures and poverty traps, emphasising the work of Daron Acemoglu on economic institutions. The Recommended pre-listening is Episode 105: Economic Growth and Development Part III. If you enjoyed the podcast please consider supporting the show by making a paypal donation or becoming a patreon supporter. https://www.patreon.com/jamesfodor https://www.paypal.me/ScienceofEverything

1hr 10mins

31 May 2020

Rank #1

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Episode 98: Electromagnetic Radiation

An overview of the nature and properties of electromagnetic radiation, including a discussion of the electromagnetic spectrum, the nature of photons, the speed of light, near and far field radiation, and technological applications of electromagnetic radiation in AM and FM radiation and microwave ovens. Recommended pre-listening is Episode 61: Magnetism and Episode 57: Electric Current and Circuits.

48mins

27 Dec 2018

Rank #2

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Episode 43: Electric Forces and Fields

An overview of the basics of electric charges, electric fields, and electric potential energy. I also discuss how objects become charged, how charged particles interact via Coulomb’s Law, how electroscopes work, and how batteries generate voltage. Recommended prerequisites are Episode 9: Matter and Molecules, and Episode 17: Energy, Work, and Momentum.

52mins

30 Dec 2012

Rank #3

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Episode 14: Principles of Quantum Mechanics

An introduction to the key principles of quantum mechanics, beginning with an examination of the quantum-mechanical description of the behaviour of electrons around atomic nuclei. This is followed by an overview of some of the other major principles of quantum theory, including the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, the Pauli Exclusion Principle, quantum tunnelling and entanglement. The episode concludes with a discussion of alternative interpretations of these quantum phenomena. Recommended pre-listening is Episode 8: The Atom.

46mins

7 Feb 2011

Rank #4

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Episode 61: Magnetism

A discussion of the basic concepts of magnetism, including magnetic fields, magnetic poles, and electromagnets. I also discuss the ultimate subatomic source of magnetic force in the phenomenon of electric spin, and explain how this leads to the different types of magnetic materials: ferromagnets, paramagnets, and diamagnets. I conclude with some applications of electromagnetism, including electric generators and motors, transformers, and a brief discussion of Maxwell's equations. Recommended prelistening is Episode 43: Electric Forces and Fields. 

54mins

27 Apr 2014

Rank #5

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Episode 57: Electric Current and Circuits

We begin with a discussion of basic electrical phenomena such as current, voltage, resistance and power, before applying these ideas to the analysis of circuits, including series and parallel circuits. We then apply these concepts to understand a number of interesting phenomena, including light bulbs, lightning, and why electricity can be dangerous. Recommended pre-listening is Episode 43: Electric Forces and Fields.

56mins

30 Dec 2013

Rank #6

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Episode 83: Advanced Quantum Mechanics Part I

An examination of some more advanced concepts of quantum mechanics, focusing on describing Dirac's bra-ket formulation of quantum theory. I discuss the formulation of quantum mechanics in terms of vectors in Hilbert spaces, Hermitian operators as corresponding to observables, orthogonality of eigenstates, incompatible observables, and Schrodinger's equation. Recommeded pre-listening is Episode 14: Principles of Quantum Mechanics.

58mins

26 Jun 2017

Rank #7

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Episode 91: How Computers Work Part I - What is a Computer?

We begin our series discussing how computers work with an overview of the theory of computation, including a discussion of Turing machines and Turing completeness, and a brief history of early analog and digital computers. I also provide an introduction to the key components of a modern computer, and review the different levels in the hierarchy of computer organisation.

43mins

30 Dec 2017

Rank #8

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Episode 50: Science Myths and Misconceptions

In this special episode we examine a number of popular myths, misconceptions, and faulty understandings that are widely held about various scientific questions. Topics covered include misunderstandings about black holes, common misconceptions about genetics, physics mistakes perpetrated in films, popular myths about various animals, and a look at some of the misconceptions about psychology and the mind. If you enjoyed the podcast please consider supporting the show by making a paypal donation or becoming a patreon supporter. https://www.patreon.com/jamesfodor https://www.paypal.me/ScienceofEverything

55mins

9 Aug 2013

Rank #9

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Episode 85: Introduction to Quantum Field Theory

A discussion of some of the major conceptual aspects of Quantum Field Theory, including the concept of a quantum field, classical field theory, harmonic oscillators, second quantisation, interacting theories, and the relationship of QFT to other branches of physics. Recommended pre-listening is Episodes 83 and 84, Advanced Quantum Mechanics parts I and II.

1hr 5mins

29 Jul 2017

Rank #10

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Episode 34: DNA Structure and Function Part 1

In part 1 of this two-part episode, I discuss the double helix shape of DNA, the structure of nucleotides, base-paring between nitrogenous bases, the genetic code, codons, DNA reading frames, the one-gene one-polypeptide hypothesis, and the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology. This basic structural knowledge will provide the basis for a more detailed discussion of the processes of DNA replication, transcription and translation in part 2 of this topic. Recommended background knowledge of episodes 10 (The Cell) and 18 (Biochemistry Basics).

43mins

30 Jun 2012

Rank #11

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Episode 32: Light and Optics

A discussion of the nature of light and its interactions with matter, including a journey through the history of our understanding of light from Newton’s corpuscular theory through early wave theory and up to the modern wave-particle duality understanding. Following this is an analysis of the various ways light interacts with matter, including absorption, reflection, transmission, refraction, dispersion, and transparency.

46mins

14 Apr 2012

Rank #12

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Episode 97: Plant Structure and Function

An overview of the basic morphology and physiology of plants, including a discussion of the main types of plants, stems, roots, leaves, plant transport, meristems, plant nutrition, and plant sensory systems.

58mins

27 Jun 2018

Rank #13

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Episode 72: Introduction to the Immune System Part 1

An overview of the human immune system, beginning with some basic anatomy of the lymphatic system, and proceeding through a discussion of the distinction between the innate and adaptive immune systems, the role of skin and mucus membranes in providing barriers to pathogen entry, the inflammatory response, an overview of the different types of leukocytes, and an initial foray into the workings of the complement system. Recommended pre-listening is Episode 10: The Cell.

54mins

27 Feb 2015

Rank #14

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Episode 33: Disturbing Social Psychology Experiments

A discussion of three of the most chilling experiments in the field of social psychology: the Ash Conformity Experiment, the Stanford Prison Experiment, and the Milgram Obedience Experiment. In each case I discuss the motivation and setup of the experiment, outline the results, discuss replications and variations of the original experiment, and end with a look at the implications of the experiment for understanding the darker side of human nature.

50mins

22 Jun 2012

Rank #15

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Episode 18: Biochemistry Basics

An overview of biochemistry, covering the basic properties, structure and functions of nucleic acids, lipids, carbohydrates and proteins. Also includes a discussion of the nature of organic molecules and the importance of carbon in living organisms. Recommended pre-listening is Episode 15: Chemical Bonding.

45mins

20 Jun 2011

Rank #16

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Episode 8: The Atom

An examination of the atom, beginning with the origin of the concept in ancient Greece, and its subsequent development as a truly scientific idea in the 19th century. I explain the various important contributions made to the field by Thomson, Rutherford, Planck, Einstein and de Broglie, and the resultant evolution of our models of the atom. If you enjoyed the podcast please consider supporting the show by making a paypal donation or becoming a patreon supporter. https://www.patreon.com/jamesfodor https://www.paypal.me/ScienceofEverything

43mins

21 Nov 2010

Rank #17

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Episode 100: Unsolved Problems in Science

In this special celebratory 100th episode, I discuss six major unsolved problems in science: the P vs NP problem in computer science, the mystery of dark matter in physics, the existence of the island of stability in chemistry, the historical occurrence of a snowball Earth scenario from geology, the protein folding problem from biochemistry, and the origin of the Cambrian explosion in evolutionary biology. I also discuss some important ideas relating to the future of the podcast. If you enjoyed the podcast please consider supporting the show by making a paypal donation or becoming a patreon supporter. https://www.patreon.com/jamesfodor https://www.paypal.me/ScienceofEverything

1hr 22mins

18 Jan 2020

Rank #18

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Episode 77: Nuclear Physics and Radioactivity

An introduction to the physics of protons and neutrons in the atomic nucleus, with a focus on explaining the different modes of radioactivity, alpha, beta, and gamma decay, as well as different ways of measuring radiation and some of its biological effects. I also discuss some applications of radioactivity in radiometric dating, radiotherapy, nuclear power, and nuclear weapons. I conclude by discussing a few popular misconceptions about radioactivity. Recommending prelistening is Episode 8: History of the Atom.

1hr 1min

30 Jul 2016

Rank #19

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Episode 51: Acids and Bases

A discussion of acids and basis, including a definition and description of the concepts of acidity and basicity, a look at the relationship between the concepts of strength, concentration, and corrosivity, a discussion of weak acids and acid-base equilibria, and an explanation of pH and how buffer solutions act to stabalise pH levels in solution.

44mins

23 Nov 2013

Rank #20