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

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

Science Podcasts

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.

Location:

United States

Description:

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.

Language:

English


Episodes

180 | Camilla Pang on Instructions for Being Human

1/17/2022
Being a human is tricky. There are any number of unwritten rules and social cues that we have to learn as we go, but that we ultimately learn to take for granted. Camilla Pang, who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at age eight, had a harder time than most, as she didn’t easily perceive the rules of etiquette and relationships that we need to deal with each other. But she ultimately figured them out, with the help of analogies and examples from different fields of science. We talk...

Duration:01:04:44

179 | David Reich on Genetics and Ancient Humanity

1/10/2022
Human beings like to divide themselves into groups, and then cooperate, socialize, and reproduce with members of their own group. But they’re not very absolutist about it; groups tend to gradually (or suddenly) intermingle, as people explore, intermarry, or conquer each other. David Reich has pioneered the use of genetic data in uncovering the history of ancient humanity: what groups existed where and when, and how they interacted. The result is a picture of churning populations in constant...

Duration:01:14:30

178 | Jody Azzouni on What Is and Isn't Real

1/3/2022
Are numbers real? What does that even mean? You can’t kick a number. But you can talk about numbers in useful ways, and we use numbers to talk about the real world. There’s surely a kind of reality there. On the other hand, Luke Skywalker isn’t a real person, but we talk about him all the time. Maybe we can talk about unreal things in useful ways. Jody Azzouni is one of the leading contemporary advocates of nominalism, the view that abstract objects are not “things,” they are merely labels...

Duration:01:18:01

Holiday Message 2021 | On Disciplines & Cocktails

12/20/2021
As each December comes to a close, we wrap up another year of podcasts with the Mindscape Holiday Message. Nothing too profound, just some thoughts that wouldn’t fit easily into a regular podcast. This year we’re talking about academic disciplines and cocktails. What do they have in common, you may ask? Listen and find out! Support Mindscape on Patreon. Mindscape will be dark on Monday December 27, and will resume regular programming on Monday January 3. Here are the two books I mentioned...

Duration:01:00:03

AMA | December 2021

12/15/2021
Welcome to the December 2021 Ask Me Anything episode of Mindscape! These monthly excursions are funded by Patreon supporters (who are also the ones asking the questions). I take the large number of questions asked by Patreons, whittle them down to a more manageable size — 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. Note that there will be no...

Duration:03:39:50

177 | Monika Schleier-Smith on Cold Atoms and Emergent Spacetime

12/13/2021
When it comes to thinking about quantum mechanics, there are levels. One level is shut-up-and-calculate: find a wave function, square it to get a probability. One level is foundational: dig deeply into the underlying ontology. But there’s a level in between, long neglected but recently coming to life. In this level you think about — or do experiments with — entangled quantum systems in the real world, putting entanglement to use. Monika Schleier-Smith is an experimental physicist...

Duration:01:14:35

176 | Joshua Greene on Morality, Psychology, and Trolley Problems

12/6/2021
We all know you can’t derive “ought” from “is.” But it’s equally clear that “is” — how the world actual works — is going to matter for “ought” — our moral choices in the world. And an important part of “is” is who we are as human beings. As products of a messy evolutionary history, we all have moral intuitions. What parts of the brain light up when we’re being consequentialist, or when we’re following rules? What is the relationship, if any, between those intuitions and a good moral...

Duration:01:29:46

175 | William Ratcliff on Multicellularity, Physics, and Evolution

11/29/2021
We’ve talked about the very origin of life, but certain transitions along its subsequent history were incredibly important. Perhaps none more so than the transition from unicellular to multicellular organisms, which made possible an incredible diversity of organisms and structures. Will Ratcliff studies the physics that constrains multicellular structures, examines the minute changes in certain yeast cells that allows them to become multicellular, and does long-term evolution experiments in...

Duration:01:31:11

174 | Tai-Danae Bradley on Algebra, Topology, Language, and Entropy

11/22/2021
Mathematics is often thought of as the pinnacle of crisp precision: the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle isn’t “roughly” the sum of the squares of the other two sides, it’s exactly that. But we live in a world of messy imprecision, and increasingly we need sophisticated techniques to quantify and deal with approximate statistical relations rather than perfect ones. Modern mathematicians have noticed, and are taking up the challenge. Tai-Danae Bradley is a mathematician who...

Duration:01:25:16

AMA | November 2021

11/17/2021
Welcome to the November 2021 Ask Me Anything episode of Mindscape! These monthly excursions are funded by Patreon supporters (who are also the ones asking the questions). I take the large number of questions asked by Patreons, whittle them down to a more manageable size — 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! See Privacy Policy at...

Duration:03:58:28

173 | Sylvia Earle on the Oceans, the Planet, and People

11/15/2021
It’s a well-worn cliché that oceans cover seventy percent of the surface of Earth, but we tend to give them secondary consideration when thinking about the environment. But climate change is wreaking havoc on the oceans, not to mention pollution and overfishing — 90% of the world’s marine fish stocks are fully exploited or depleted. Today’s guest, Sylvia Earle, is a well-known ocean scientist, a celebrated underwater explorer, and a tireless advocate for the world’s oceans. We talk about the...

Duration:01:15:57

Introducing: Operator

11/10/2021
During the 1-900 number craze of the Nineties, one company provided the vast majority of phone sex. American Telnet was an empire founded by the man who called himself “The Telephone Pimp.” He ran the company “like General Motors” and got filthy rich doing it. But for the (mostly) women who answered the calls and delivered fantasies 24-7, it was a different story. The powerful stigma against sex work was always lurking just beneath the surface, until it threatened to tear apart the whole...

Duration:00:05:48

172 | David Goyer on Televising the Fall of the Galactic Empire

11/8/2021
Science and storytelling have a long and tumultuous relationship. Scientists sometimes want stories to be just an advertisement for how awesome science is; storytellers sometimes want to use science for a few cheap thrills before abandoning it in the morning. But science is about ideas, and ideas can make for thrilling stories when done well. David Goyer is an accomplished screenwriter and director who has taken up a daunting task: adapting Isaac Asimov’s famous Foundation series for TV....

Duration:01:19:43

171 | Christopher Mims on Our Interconnected Industrial Ecology

11/1/2021
As the holidays approach, we are being reminded of the fragility of the global supply chain. But at the same time, the supply chain itself is a truly impressive and fascinating structure, made as it is from multiple components that must work together in synchrony. From building an item in a factory and shipping it worldwide to transporting it locally, processing it in a distribution center, and finally delivering it to an address, the system is simultaneously awe-inspiring and deeply...

Duration:01:28:25

170 | Priya Natarajan on Galaxies, Black Holes, and Cosmic Anomalies

10/25/2021
There is so much we don’t know about our universe. But our curiosity about the unknown shouldn’t blind us to the incredible progress we have made in cosmology over the last century. We know the universe is big, expanding, and accelerating. Modern cosmologists are using unprecedentedly precise datasets to uncover more details about the evolution and structure of galaxies and the distribution and nature of dark matter. Priya Natarajan is a cosmologist working at the interface of data, theory,...

Duration:01:28:38

169 | C. Thi Nguyen on Games, Art, Values, and Agency

10/18/2021
Games are everywhere, but why exactly do we play them? It seems counterintuitive, to artificially invent goals and obstacles just so we can struggle to achieve them. (And in some games, like Twister, the fun is in losing, even though you’re supposed to try to win.) C. Thi Nguyen is a philosopher who has developed a theory of games as an art form whose medium is agency. Within each game, we have defined goals, powers, and choices, and by playing different games we can experiment with...

Duration:01:26:17

AMA | October 2021

10/14/2021
Welcome to the October 2021 Ask Me Anything episode of Mindscape! These monthly excursions are funded by Patreon supporters (who are also the ones asking the questions). I take the large number of questions asked by Patreons, whittle them down to a more manageable size — 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...

Duration:02:59:09

168 | Anil Seth on Emergence, Information, and Consciousness

10/11/2021
Those of us who think that that the laws of physics underlying everyday life are completely known tend to also think that consciousness is an emergent phenomenon that must be compatible with those laws. To hold such a position in a principled way, it’s important to have a clear understanding of “emergence” and when it happens. Anil Seth is a leading researcher in the neuroscience of consciousness, who has also done foundational work (often in collaboration with Lionel Barnett) on what...

Duration:01:26:34

167 | Chiara Marletto on Constructor Theory, Physics, and Possibility

10/4/2021
Traditional physics works within the “Laplacian paradigm”: you give me the state of the universe (or some closed system), some equations of motion, then I use those equations to evolve the system through time. Constructor theory proposes an alternative paradigm: to think of physical systems in terms of counterfactuals — the set of rules governing what can and cannot happen. Originally proposed by David Deutsch, constructor theory has been developed by today’s guest, Chiara Marletto, and...

Duration:01:35:57

166 | Betül Kaçar on Paleogenomics and Ancient Life

9/27/2021
In the question to understand the biology of life, we are (so far) limited to what happened here on Earth. That includes the diversity of biological organisms today, but also its entire past history. Using modern genomic techniques, we can extrapolate backward to reconstruct the genomes of primitive organisms, both to learn about life’s early stages and to guide our ideas about life elsewhere. I talk with astrobiologist Betül Kaçar about paleogenomics and our prospects for finding (or...

Duration:01:15:51