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

158 | David Wallace on the Arrow of Time

8/2/2021
The arrow of time — all the ways in which the past differs from the future — is a fascinating subject because it connects everyday phenomena (memory, aging, cause and effect) to deep questions in physics and philosophy. At its heart is the fact that entropy increases over time, which in turn can be traced to special conditions in the early universe. David Wallace is one of the world’s leading philosophers working on the foundations of physics, including space and time as well as quantum...

Duration:01:48:57

157 | Elizabeth Strychalski on Synthetic Cells and the Rules of Biology

7/26/2021
Natural selection has done a pretty good job at creating a wide variety of living species, but we humans can’t help but wonder whether we could do better. Using existing genomes as a starting point, biologists are getting increasingly skilled at designing organisms of our own imagination. But to do that, we need a better understanding of what different genes in our DNA actually do. Elizabeth Strychalski and collaborators recently announced the construction of a synthetic microbial organism...

Duration:01:19:22

156 | Catherine D’Ignazio on Data, Objectivity, and Bias

7/19/2021
How can data be biased? Isn’t it supposed to be an objective reflection of the real world? We all know that these are somewhat naive rhetorical questions, since data can easily inherit bias from the people who collect and analyze it, just as an algorithm can make biased suggestions if it’s trained on biased datasets. A better question is, how do biases creep in, and what can we do about them? Catherine D’Ignazio is an MIT professor who has studied how biases creep into our data and...

Duration:01:30:51

155 | Stephen Wolfram on Computation, Hypergraphs, and Fundamental Physics

7/12/2021
It’s not easy, figuring out the fundamental laws of physics. It’s even harder when your chosen methodology is to essentially start from scratch, positing a simple underlying system and a simple set of rules for it, and hope that everything we know about the world somehow pops out. That’s the project being undertaken by Stephen Wolfram and his collaborators, who are working with a kind of discrete system called “hypergraphs.” We talk about what the basic ideas are, why one would choose this...

Duration:02:44:09

AMA | July 2021

7/9/2021
Welcome to the July 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:03:50:38

154 | Reza Aslan on Religion, Metaphor, and Meaning

7/5/2021
Religion is an important part of the lives of billions of people around the world, but what religious belief actually amounts to can vary considerably from person to person. Some believe in an anthropomorphic, judgmental God; others conceive of God as more transcendent and conceptual; some are animists who attribute spiritual essence to creatures and objects; and many more. I talk with writer and religious scholar Reza Aslan about his view of religion as a vocabulary constructed by human...

Duration:01:28:14

153 | John Preskill on Quantum Computers and What They’re Good For

6/28/2021
Depending on who you listen to, quantum computers are either the biggest technological change coming down the road or just another overhyped bubble. Today we’re talking with a good person to listen to: John Preskill, one of the leaders in modern quantum information science. We talk about what a quantum computer is and promising technologies for actually building them. John emphasizes that quantum computers are tailor-made for simulating the behavior of quantum systems like molecules and...

Duration:01:34:31

Introducing: One Hundred Percent with Marcus Lemonis

6/23/2021
One Hundred Percent with Marcus Lemonis is a little bit of a masterclass, a cocktail party and a Sunday drive all wrapped up into 30 minutes with an audience invited to listen in. Marcus values family, community, character and ethics and helps small business owners who need his guidance and investment. His process is very personal and provides valuable insight through his ability to identify both problems and solutions. For years he has transformed the trajectory of businesses and the lives...

Duration:00:05:21

152 | Charis Kubrin on Criminology, Incarceration, and Hip-Hop

6/21/2021
It’s all well and good to talk abstractly about morality and justice, but at some point you have to sit down and figure out what to do about people who break the rules. In our modern legal system, mostly that involves incarceration, especially for so-called “street crimes.” Here in the US, we’ve taken that strategy to extremes, leading the world in the number of incarcerated people per capita. How do we decide who goes to prison, and how should we decide? I talk with criminologist Charis...

Duration:01:21:18

151 | Jordan Ellenberg on the Mathematics of Political Boundaries

6/14/2021
Any system in which politicians represent geographical districts with boundaries chosen by the politicians themselves is vulnerable to gerrymandering: carving up districts to increase the amount of seats that a given party is expected to win. But even fairly-drawn boundaries can end up quite complex, so how do we know that a given map is unfairly skewed? Math comes to the rescue. We can ask whether the likely outcome of a given map is very unusual within the set of all possible reasonable...

Duration:01:25:05

AMA | June 2021

6/9/2021
Welcome to the June 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:03:19:37

150 | Simon DeDeo on How Explanations Work and Why They Sometimes Fail

6/7/2021
You observe a phenomenon, and come up with an explanation for it. That’s true for scientists, but also for literally every person. (Why won’t my car start? I bet it’s out of gas.) But there are literally an infinite number of possible explanations for every phenomenon we observe. How do we invent ones we think are promising, and then decide between them once invented? Simon DeDeo (in collaboration with Zachary Wojtowicz) has proposed a way to connect explanatory values (“simplicity,”...

Duration:01:34:57

149 | Lee Smolin on Time, Philosophy, and the Nature of Reality

5/31/2021
The challenge to a theoretical physicist pushing beyond our best current theories is that there are too many ways to go. What parts of the existing paradigm do you keep, which do you discard, and why make those choices? Among today’s theorists, Lee Smolin is unusually reflective about what principles should guide us in the construction of new theories. And he is happy to suggest radical revisions to well-established ideas, in areas from the nature of time to the workings of quantum...

Duration:01:31:30

148 | Henry Farrell on Democracy as a Problem-Solving Mechanism

5/24/2021
Democracy posits the radical idea that political power and legitimacy should ultimately be found in all of the people, rather than a small group of experts or for that matter arbitrarily-chosen hereditary dynasties. Nevertheless, a good case can be made that the bottom-up and experimental nature of democracy actually makes for better problem-solving in the political arena than other systems. Political theorist Henry Farrell (in collaboration with statistician Cosma Shalizi) has made exactly...

Duration:01:28:17

147 | Rachel Laudan on Cuisine, Culture, and Empire

5/17/2021
For as much as people talk about food, a good case can be made that we don’t give it the attention or respect it actually deserves. Food is central to human life, and how we go about the process of creating and consuming it — from agriculture to distribution to cooking to dining — touches the most mundane aspects of our daily routines as well as large-scale questions of geopolitics and culture. Rachel Laudan is a historian of science whose masterful book, Cuisine and Empire, traces the...

Duration:01:17:59

AMA | May 2021

5/12/2021
Welcome to the May 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:03:00:02

146 | Emily Riehl on Topology, Categories, and the Future of Mathematics

5/10/2021
“A way that math can make the world a better place is by making it a more interesting place to be a conscious being.” So says mathematician Emily Riehl near the start of this episode, and it’s a good summary of what’s to come. Emily works in realms of topology and category theory that are far away from practical applications, or even to some non-practical areas of theoretical physics. But they help us think about what is possible and how everything fits together, and what’s more interesting...

Duration:01:18:18

145 | Niall Ferguson on Histories, Networks, and Catastrophes

5/3/2021
The world has gone through a tough time with the COVID-19 pandemic. Every catastrophic event is unique, but there are certain commonalities to how such crises play out in our modern interconnected world. Historian Niall Ferguson wrote a book from a couple of years ago, The Square and the Tower, that considered how an interplay between networks and hierarchies has shaped the history of the world. This analysis is directly relevant to how we deal with large-scale catastrophes, which is the...

Duration:01:26:38

144 | Solo: Are We Moving Beyond the Standard Model?

4/26/2021
I’ve been a professional physicist since the 1980’s, and not once over the course of my career has a particle-physics experiment produced a completely surprising new result. We’ve discovered particles (top quark, Higgs boson) and even phenomena (neutrino masses), but nothing we hadn’t either predicted or could easily accommodate within the Standard Model of particle physics. That might have changed just this month, with possible confirmations of two “anomalies” in particle-physics...

Duration:01:12:31

143 | Julia Galef on Openness, Bias, and Rationality

4/19/2021
Mom, apple pie, and rationality — all things that are unquestionably good, right? But rationality, as much as we might value it, is easier to aspire to than to achieve. And there are more than a few hot takes on the market suggesting that we shouldn’t even want to be rational — that it’s inefficient or maladaptive. Julia Galef is here to both stand up for the value of being rational, and to explain how we can better achieve it. She distinguishes between the “soldier mindset,” where we...

Duration:01:32:59