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

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.

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45 | Leonard Susskind on Quantum Information, Quantum Gravity, and Holography

For decades now physicists have been struggling to reconcile two great ideas from a century ago: general relativity and quantum mechanics. We don’t yet know the final answer, but the journey has taken us to some amazing places. A leader in this quest has been Leonard Susskind, who has helped illuminate some of the most mind-blowing ideas in quantum gravity: the holographic principle, the string theory landscape, black-hole complementarity, and others. He has also become celebrated as a writer, speaker, and expositor of mind-blowing ideas. We talk about black holes, quantum mechanics, and the most exciting new directions in quantum gravity. Support Mindscape on Patreon or Paypal. Leonard Susskind received his Ph.D. in physics from Cornell University. He is currently the Felix Bloch Professor of Physics at Stanford University. He has made important contributions to numerous ideas in theoretical physics, including string theory, lattice gauge theory, dynamical symmetry breaking, the holographic principle, black hole complementarity, matrix theory, the cosmological multiverse, and quantum information. He is the author of several books, including a series of pedagogical physics texts called The Theoretical Minimum. Among his numerous awards are the J.J. Sakurai Prize and the Oskar Klein Medal. Web page Theoretical Minimum page Susskind Lectures on YouTube TED Talk about Richard Feynman Publications at Inspire Amazon author page WikipediaSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 13mins

6 May 2019

Rank #1

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Tara Smith on Coronavirus, Pandemics, and What We Can Do

This is a special episode of Mindscape, thrown together quickly. Many thanks to Tara Smith for joining me on short notice. Tara is an epidemiologist, and a great person to talk to about the novel coronavirus (and its associated disease, COVID-19) pandemic currently threatening the world. We talk about what viruses are, how they spread, and a lot of the science behind virology and pandemics. We also take a practical turn, talking about what measures (washing hands, social distancing, self-isolation) are useful at combating the spread of the virus, and which (wearing masks) are probably not. Then we look to the future, to ask what the endgame here is; Tara suggests that the kind of drastic measure we are currently putting up with might last a long time indeed.Tara Smith received her Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Toledo. She is currently Professor of Epidemiology at the Kent State University College of Public Health. She has researched and written extensively about diseases such as ebola and MRSA. She is an active science communicator, and writes regular columns for SELF magazine.Web siteKent State web pageGoogle Scholar publicationsWikipediaAmazon author pageTwitterSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 20mins

18 Mar 2020

Rank #2

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12 | Wynton Marsalis on Jazz, Time, and America

Jazz occupies a special place in the American cultural landscape. It's played in elegant concert halls and run-down bars, and can feature esoteric harmonic experimentation or good old-fashioned foot-stomping swing. Nobody embodies the scope of modern jazz better than Wynton Marsalis. As a trumpet player, bandleader, composer, educator, and ambassador for the music, he has worked tirelessly to keep jazz vibrant and alive. In this bouncy conversation, we talk about various kinds of music, how they might relate to physics, and some of the greater challenges facing the United States today. (This and the next few podcasts were recorded on the road with headset microphones, and the sound quality isn't quite as good, sorry about that.) Hailing from an accomplished New Orleans family, Wynton Marsalis was marked as a prodigy from a young age. He played locally before moving to New York and attend Julliard, and played and recorded with artists such as Art Blakey and Herbie Hancock. He has recorded numerous albums as a leader of small ensembles, big bands, and as a soloist with symphony orchestras. He is a multiple-time Grammy winner and the first to win in both jazz and classical categories in the same year, and in 1997 his oratorio Blood on the Fields was the first non-classical work to win the Pulitzer Prize for music. Marsalis founded and continues to lead Jazz at Lincoln Center, which is in residence at Lincoln Center along with such organizations as the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, and the New York City Ballet. He has won the National Medal of the Arts and the National Humanities Medal, along with numerous other awards and honorary degrees.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 1min

4 Sep 2018

Rank #3

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31 | Brian Greene on the Multiverse, Inflation, and the String Theory Landscape

String theory was originally proposed as a relatively modest attempt to explain some features of strongly-interacting particles, but before too long developed into an ambitious attempt to unite all the forces of nature into a single theory. The great thing about physics is that your theories don’t always go where you want them to, and string theory has had some twists and turns along the way. One major challenge facing the theory is the fact that there are many different ways to connect the deep principles of the theory to the specifics of a four-dimensional world; all of these may actually exist out there in the world, in the form of a cosmological multiverse. Brian Greene is an accomplished string theorist as well as one of the world’s most successful popularizers and advocates for science. We talk about string theory, its cosmological puzzles and promises, and what the future might hold. (For more general string theory background, check out Episode 18 with Clifford Johnson.) Support Mindscape on Patreon or Paypal. Brian Greene received his doctorate from Oxford University, and is currently a professor of Physics and Mathematics at Columbia University. His research includes foundational work on topology change, mirror symmetry, and the compactification of extra dimensions. He is the author of several best-selling books, including The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos, both of which were made into TV specials for NOVA. He and Tracy Day are co-founders of the World Science Festival. Web site Publications from InSpire Wikipedia page Amazon author page Twitter TV Documentaries TED talk on string theory World Science FestivalSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 11mins

28 Jan 2019

Rank #4

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124 | Solo: How Time Travel Could and Should Work

Time! It doesn’t stop, psychological effects of being under lockdown notwithstanding. How we experience time depends on our situation, but time itself just marches forward. Unless, of course, it’s possible to travel to the past, as countless science-fiction scenarios have depicted. But does that really make sense? Couldn’t we then change the past, even so dramatically that our own existence would never have happened? In this solo podcast I talk about both the physics and fiction of time travel. I point out that it might be allowed by the laws of physics, and explain how that would work, but that we really don’t know. And I try to make sense of some of the less-sensible depictions of cinematic time travel. Coming up with a logical theory that could account for Back to the Future isn’t easy, but podcasting isn’t for the squeamish.Support Mindscape on Patreon.But wait, there’s more! I was contacted by Janna Levin, who we fondly remember from Episode 27. Janna moonlights as Chair and Director of Sciences at Pioneer Works, an institution dedicated to bringing together creative people in art and science. Like the rest of us, they’ve been looking for ways to offer more online content in these pandemic times, so we thought about ways to collaborate. Here’s what they came up with: artist Azikiwe Mohammed has created an animated video backdrop to this podcast episode. The visuals are trippy, colorful, and inspired by (without trying to directly illustrate) what I talk about in the episode. You can check out a brief write-up at the Pioneer Works site, or view the video directly below.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHy1j4LiyGQSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

2hr 41mins

23 Nov 2020

Rank #5

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92 | Kevin Hand on Life Elsewhere in the Solar System

It’s hard doing science when you only have one data point, especially when that data point is subject to an enormous selection bias. That’s the situation faced by people studying the nature and prevalence of life in the universe. The only biosphere we know about is our own, and our knowing anything at all is predicated on its existence, so it’s unclear how much it can teach us about the bigger picture. That’s why it’s so important to search for life elsewhere. Today’s guest is Kevin Hand, a planetary scientist and astrobiologist who knows as much as anyone about the prospects for finding life right in our planetary backyard, on moons and planets in the Solar System. We talk about how life comes to be, and reasons why it might be lurking on Europa, Titan, or elsewhere.Support Mindscape on Patreon.Kevin Hand received his Ph.D. in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University. He is currently Deputy Chief Scientist for Solar System Exploration at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He has collaborated with director James Cameron, and is a frequent consultant on films, including acting as a science advisor to the movie Europa Report. His a cofounder of Cosmos Education, a non-profit organization devoted to science education in developing countries. His new book is Alien Oceans: The Search for Life in the Depths of Space.JPL web pageGoogle Scholar publicationsTalk on Ocean Worlds of the Outer Solar SystemWikipediaTwitterSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 56mins

13 Apr 2020

Rank #6

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25 | David Chalmers on Consciousness, the Hard Problem, and Living in a Simulation

The "Easy Problems" of consciousness have to do with how the brain takes in information, thinks about it, and turns it into action. The "Hard Problem," on the other hand, is the task of explaining our individual, subjective, first-person experiences of the world. What is it like to be me, rather than someone else? Everyone agrees that the Easy Problems are hard; some people think the Hard Problem is almost impossible, while others think it's pretty easy. Today's guest, David Chalmers, is arguably the leading philosopher of consciousness working today, and the one who coined the phrase "the Hard Problem," as well as proposing the philosophical zombie thought experiment. Recently he has been taking seriously the notion of panpsychism. We talk about these knotty issues (about which we deeply disagree), but also spend some time on the possibility that we live in a computer simulation. Would simulated lives be "real"? (There we agree -- yes they would.) David Chalmers got his Ph.D. from Indiana University working under Douglas Hoftstadter. He is currently University Professor of Philosophy and Neural Science at New York University and co-director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities, the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among his books are The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, The Character of Consciousness, and Constructing the World. He and David Bourget founded the PhilPapers project. Web site NYU Faculty page Wikipedia page PhilPapers page Amazon author page NYU Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness TED talk: How do you explain consciousness?See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 22mins

3 Dec 2018

Rank #7

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132 | Michael Levin on Growth, Form, Information, and the Self

As a semi-outsider, it’s fun for me to watch as a new era dawns in biology: one that adds ideas from physics, big data, computer science, and information theory to the usual biological toolkit. One of the big areas of study in this burgeoning field is the relationship between the basic bioinformatic building blocks (genes and proteins) to the macroscopic organism that eventually results. That relationship is not a simple one, as we’re discovering. Standard metaphors notwithstanding, an organism is not a machine based on genetic blueprints. I talk with biologist and information scientist Michael Levin about how information and physical constraints come together to make organisms and selves.Support Mindscape on Patreon.Michael Levin received his Ph.D. in genetics from Harvard University. He is currently Distinguished Professor and Vannevar Bush Chair in the Biology department at Tufts University, and serves as director of the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology. His work on left-right asymmetric body structures is on Nature’s list of 100 Milestones of Developmental Biology of the Century.Tufts web siteAllen Center web pageGoogle Scholar publicationsTwitterSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 21mins

1 Feb 2021

Rank #8

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55 | A Conversation with Rob Reid on Quantum Mechanics and Many Worlds

As you may have heard, I have a new book coming out in September, Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime. To celebrate, we're going to have more than the usual number of podcasts about quantum mechanics over the next couple of months. Today is an experimental flipped podcast, in which I'm being interviewed by Rob Reid. Rob is the host of the After On podcast, of which this is also an episode. We talk about quantum mechanics generally and my favorite Many-Worlds approach in particular, homing in on the motivation for believing in all those worlds and the potential puzzles that this perspective raises.Support Mindscape on Patreon.Rob Reid received his MBA from Harvard. He currently works as an author, entrepreneur, and podcaster. He was the founder of Listen.com, which was acquired in 2003 by RealNetworks. He has written nonfiction books about Harvard Business School and about the early days of the Web, as well as two novels. His most recent book is the science-fiction novel After On, which is also the name of his podcast.Web siteWikipediaAmazon author pageAfter On podcastTED talk on synthetic biologyTwitterSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 26mins

15 Jul 2019

Rank #9

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105 | Ann-Sophie Barwich on the Science and Philosophy of Smell

We gather empirical evidence about the nature of the world through our senses, and use that evidence to construct an image of the world in our minds. But not all senses are created equal; in practice, we tend to privilege vision, with hearing perhaps a close second. Ann-Sophie Barwich wants to argue that we should take smell more seriously, and that doing so will give us new insights into how the brain works. As a working philosopher and neuroscientist, she shares a wealth of fascinating information about how smell works, how it shapes the way we think, and what it all means for questions of free will and rationality.Support Mindscape on Patreon.Ann-Sophie Barwich received her Ph.D. in Philosophy at the Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences, University of Exeter. She is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and Cognitive Science Program at Indiana University Bloomington. She has previously been a Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience at The Center for Science & Society, Columbia University, and held a Research Fellowship at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research, Vienna. Her new book is Smellosophy: What the Nose Tells the Mind.Web siteIndiana University web pageGoogle Scholar publicationsBlog at Psychology TodayTalk on the Philosophy and History of OlfactionTwitterSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 17mins

13 Jul 2020

Rank #10

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70 | Katie Mack on How the Universe Will End

Cosmologists are always talking excitedly about the Big Bang and all the cool stuff that happened in the 14 billion years between then and now. But what about the future? We don't know for sure, but we know enough about the laws of physics to sketch out several plausible scenarios for what the future of our universe will hold. Katie Mack is a cosmologist who is writing a book about the end of the universe. We talk about the possibilities of a Big Crunch (and potential Big Bounce), a gentle cooling off where the universe gradually grows silent, and of course the prospect of a dramatic phase transition, otherwise known as the "bubble of quantum death." Which would make a great name for a band, I think we can all agree.Support Mindscape on Patreon.Katherine (Katie) Mack received her Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University. She is currently an Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University, where her research centers on theoretical cosmology, including dark matter and black holes. She is also a member of NCSU’s Leadership in Public Science Cluster. Her upcoming book, The End of Everything, will be published in 2020.Web siteNCSU web pageWikipediaGoogle Scholar publicationsTalk on Death of a UniverseTwitterSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 23mins

28 Oct 2019

Rank #11

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94 | Stuart Russell on Making Artificial Intelligence Compatible with Humans

Artificial intelligence has made great strides of late, in areas as diverse as playing Go and recognizing pictures of dogs. We still seem to be a ways away from AI that is “intelligent” in the human sense, but it might not be too long before we have to start thinking seriously about the “motivations” and “purposes” of artificial agents. Stuart Russell is a longtime expert in AI, and he takes extremely seriously the worry that these motivations and purposes may be dramatically at odds with our own. In his book Human Compatible, Russell suggests that the secret is to give up on building our own goals into computers, and rather programming them to figure out our goals by actually observing how humans behave.Support Mindscape on Patreon.Stuart Russell received his Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University. He is currently a Professor of Computer Science and the Smith-Zadeh Professor in Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as an Honorary Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford. He is a co-founder of the Center for Human-Compatible Artificial Intelligence at UC Berkeley. He is the author of several books, including (with Peter Norvig) the classic text Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. Among his numerous awards are the IJCAI Computers and Thought Award, the Blaise Pascal Chair in Paris, and the World Technology Award. His new book is Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control.Web pageGoogle Scholar publicationsWikipediaTalk on Provably Beneficial Artificial IntelligenceAmazon author pageSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 27mins

27 Apr 2020

Rank #12

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24 | Kip Thorne on Gravitational Waves, Time Travel, and Interstellar

I remember vividly hosting a colloquium speaker, about fifteen years ago, who talked about the LIGO gravitational-wave observatory, which had just started taking data. Comparing where they were to where they needed to get to in terms of sensitivity, the mumblings in the audience after the talk were clear: “They’ll never make it.” Of course we now know that they did, and the 2016 announcement of the detection of gravitational waves led to a 2017 Nobel Prize for Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne, and Barry Barish. So it’s a great pleasure to have Kip Thorne himself as a guest on the podcast. Kip tells us a bit about he LIGO story, and offers some strong opinions about the Nobel Prize. But he’s had a long and colorful career, so we also talk about whether it’s possible to travel backward in time through a wormhole, and what his future movie plans are in the wake of the success of Interstellar. Kip Thorne received his Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University, and is now the Richard Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics (Emeritus) at Caltech. Recognized as one of the world’s leading researchers in general relativity, he has done important work on gravitational waves, black holes, wormholes, and relativistic stars. His role in helping found and guide the LIGO experiment was recognized with the Nobel Prize in 2017. He is the author or co-author of numerous books, including a famously weighty textbook, Gravitation. He was executive producer of the 2014 film Interstellar, which was based on an initial concept by him and Lynda Obst. He’s been awarded too many prizes to list here, and has also been involved in a number of famous bets. Caltech page Wikipedia page Nobel Prize citation Nobel Lecture Amazon.com author page Internet Movie Database pageSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 19mins

26 Nov 2018

Rank #13

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63 | Solo -- Finding Gravity Within Quantum Mechanics

I suspect most loyal Mindscape listeners have been exposed to the fact that I’ve written a new book, Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime. As I release this episode on Monday 9 September 2019, the book will officially be released tomorrow, in print, e-book, and audio versions. To get in the mood, we’ve had several podcast episodes on quantum mechanics, but the “emergence of spacetime” aspect has been neglected. So today we have a solo podcast in which I explain a bit about the challenges of quantum gravity, how Many-Worlds provides the best framework for thinking about quantum gravity, and how entanglement could be the key to showing how a curved spacetime could emerge from a quantum wave function. All of this stuff is extremely speculative, but I’m excited about the central theme that we shouldn’t be trying to “quantize gravity,” but instead looking for gravity within quantum mechanics. The ideas here go pretty far, but hopefully they should be accessible to everyone.Support Mindscape on Patreon.The end of this episode includes a bonus, a short snippet from the audio book, read by yours truly. Audio excerpted courtesy Penguin Random House Audio. And here are links to some of the technical papers mentioned in the podcast.Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime“Thermodynamics of Space-Time: The Einstein Equation of State” (Jacobson)“Space from Hilbert Space: Recovering Geometry from Bulk Entanglement” (Cao, Carroll, and Michalakis)“Bulk Entanglement Gravity without a Boundary: Towards Finding Einstein’s Equation in Hilbert Space” (Cao and Carroll)“Mad-Dog Everettianism: Quantum Mechanics at Its Most Minimal” (Carroll and Singh)See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 50mins

9 Sep 2019

Rank #14

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120 | Jeremy England on Biology, Thermodynamics, and the Bible

Erwin Schrödinger’s famous book What Is Life? highlighted the connections between physics, and thermodynamics in particular, and the nature of living beings. But the exact connections between living organisms and the flow of heat and entropy remains a topic of ongoing research. Jeremy England is a leader in this field, deriving connections between thermodynamic relations and the processes of life. He is also an ordained rabbi who finds resonances between modern science and passages in the Hebrew Bible. We talk about it all, from entropy fluctuation theorems to how scientists should approach religion.Support Mindscape on Patreon.Jeremy England received his Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University. He is currently Senior Director in the Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning group at GlaxoSmithKline. He has been a Rhodes scholar, a Hertz fellow, and was named one of Forbes‘s “30 Under 30 Rising Stars of Science.” His new book is Every Life is on Fire: How Thermodynamics Explains the Origins of Living Things.Web siteGoogle Scholar publicationsTalk on Non-Equilibrium Statistical Mechanics and LifeAmazon author pageWikipediaTwitterSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 28mins

26 Oct 2020

Rank #15

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118 | Adam Riess on the Expansion of the Universe and a Crisis in Cosmology

Astronomers rocked the cosmological world with the 1998 discovery that the universe is accelerating. Well-deserved Nobel Prizes were awarded to Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt, and today’s guest Adam Riess. Adam has continued to push forward on investigating the structure and evolution of the universe. He’s been a leader in emphasizing a curious disagreement that threatens to grow into a crisis: incompatible values of the Hubble constant (expansion rate of the universe) obtained from the cosmic microwave background vs. direct measurements. We talk about where this “Hubble tension” comes from, and what it might mean for the universe.Support Mindscape on Patreon.Adam Riess received his Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard University. He is currently Bloomberg Distinguished Professor and Thomas J. Barber Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University and a Senior member of the Science Staff at the Space Telescope Science Institute. Among his many awards are the Helen B. Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society, the Sackler Prize, the Shaw Prize, the Gruber Cosmology Prize, the MacArthur Fellowship, the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, and the Nobel Prize.Johns Hopkins web pageSpace Telescope Science Institute web pageNobel LectureGoogle Scholar publicationsTalk on the expansion rate of the universeWikipediaSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 18mins

12 Oct 2020

Rank #16

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111 | Nick Bostrom on Anthropic Selection and Living in a Simulation

Human civilization is only a few thousand years old (depending on how we count). So if civilization will ultimately last for millions of years, it could be considered surprising that we’ve found ourselves so early in history. Should we therefore predict that human civilization will probably disappear within a few thousand years? This “Doomsday Argument” shares a family resemblance to ideas used by many professional cosmologists to judge whether a model of the universe is natural or not. Philosopher Nick Bostrom is the world’s expert on these kinds of anthropic arguments. We talk through them, leading to the biggest doozy of them all: the idea that our perceived reality might be a computer simulation being run by enormously more powerful beings.Support Mindscape on Patreon.Nick Bostrom received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the London School of Economics. He also has bachelor’s degrees in philosophy, mathematics, logic, and artificial intelligence from the University of Gothenburg, an M.A. in philosophy and physics from the University of Stockholm, and an M.Sc. in computational neuroscience from King’s College London. He is currently a Professor of Applied Ethics at the University of Oxford, Director of the Oxford Future of Humanity Institute, and Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology. He is the author of Anthropic Bias: Selection Effects in Science and Philosophy and Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies.Web siteOxford web pageWikipediaAmazon author pageTalk on the Simulation ArgumentSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 20mins

24 Aug 2020

Rank #17

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131 | Avi Loeb on Taking Aliens Seriously

The possible existence of technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilizations — not just alien microbes, but cultures as advanced (or much more) than our own — is one of the most provocative questions in modern science. So provocative that it’s difficult to talk about the idea in a rational, dispassionate way; there are those who loudly insist that the probability of advanced alien cultures existing is essentially one, even without direct evidence, and others are so exhausted by overblown claims in popular media that they want to squelch any such talk. Astronomer Avi Loeb thinks we should be taking this possibility seriously, so much so that he suggested that the recent interstellar interloper `Oumuamua might be a spaceship built by aliens. That got him in a lot of trouble. We talk about the trouble, about `Oumuamua, and the attitude scientists should take toward provocative ideas.Support Mindscape on Patreon.Abraham (Avi) Loeb received his Ph.D. in plasma physics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently the Frank B. Baird Jr. professor of science at Harvard University. He served as the Chair of Harvard’s Astronomy department from 2011-2020. He is Director of the Institute for Theory and Computation of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and Founding Director of Harvard’s Black Hole Initiative. He is chair of the Advisory Committee for the Breakthrough Starshot Initiative. His new book is Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth.Harvard Astronomy web pageCenter for Astrophysics web pageWikipediaSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 40mins

25 Jan 2021

Rank #18

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102 | Maria Konnikova on Poker, Psychology, and Reason

The best chess and Go players in the world aren’t human beings any more; they’re artificially-intelligent computer programs. But the best poker players are still humans. Poker is a laboratory for understanding how rationality works in real-world situations: it features stochastic events, incomplete information, Bayesian updating, game theory, reading other people, a battle between emotions and reason, and real-world stakes. Maria Konnikova started in psychology, turned to writing, and then took up professional-level poker, and has learned a lot along the way about the challenges of being rational. We talk about what games like poker can teach us about thinking and human psychology.Support Mindscape on Patreon.Maria Konnikova received her Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University. She is currently a contributing writer for The New Yorker. She is the author of two bestselling books, The Confidence Game and Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes. Among her awards are the 2019 Excellence in Science Journalism Award from the Society of Personality and Social Psychology. She is a successful tournament poker player and Ambassador for PokerStars. She is the host of The Grift podcast. Her new book is The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win.Web siteArticles at The New YorkerThe Grift podcastAmazon author pageTalk on How the Mind LearnsHendon Mob poker databaseWikipediaTwitterSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 20mins

22 Jun 2020

Rank #19

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135 | Shadi Bartsch on Plato, Vergil, Confucius, and Modernity

In our postmodern world, studying the classics of ancient Greece and Rome can seem quaint at best, downright repressive at worst. (We are talking about works by dead white men, after all.) Do we still have things to learn from classical philosophy, drama, and poetry? Shadi Bartsch offers a vigorous affirmative to this question in two new books coming from different directions. First, she has newly translated the Aeneid, Vergil’s epic poem about the founding myth of Rome, bringing its themes into conversation with the modern era. Second, in the upcoming Plato Goes to China, she explores how a non-Western society interprets classic works of Western philosophy, and what that tells us about each culture.Support Mindscape on Patreon.Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer received her Ph.D. in Classics from the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently the Helen A. Regenstein Distinguished Service Professor of Classics at the University of Chicago. Among her awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, and multiple teaching awards. She has served as the Editor-in-Chief of Classical Philology, and is the Founding Director of the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge. She is developing an upcoming podcast.Web siteUniversity of Chicago web pageWikipediaTwitterAmazon author pageWashington Post Op-EdSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.

1hr 20mins

22 Feb 2021

Rank #20