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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, ...
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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. Today's guest, Gavin Schmidt, has been…
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Publication week! Say hello to Quanta and Fields, the second volume of the planned three-volume series The Biggest Ideas in the Universe. 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 quan…
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Welcome to the May 2024 Ask Me Anything episode of Mindscape! These monthly excursions are funded by Patreon supporters (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 question…
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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, has created a…
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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, Stefanos Geroul…
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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 r…
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Welcome to the April 2024 Ask Me Anything episode of Mindscape! These monthly excursions are funded by Patreon supporters (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 questi…
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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…
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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 fini…
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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. Addre…
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Welcome to the March 2024 Ask Me Anything episode of Mindscape! These monthly excursions are funded by Patreon supporters (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 questi…
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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 …
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The twentieth century was something, wasn't it? Margaret Mead, as well as her onetime-husband 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 …
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