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Episodes

Freeman Dyson with Neal Stephenson

5/21/2018
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While recognizing that quantum mechanics “demands serious attention,” Albert Einstein in 1926 admonished that the theory “does not bring us closer to the secrets of the Old One.” Aware that “there are deep mysteries that Nature intends to keep for herself,” 94-year-old theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson has chronicled the stories of those who were engaged in solving some of the most challenging quandaries of twentieth-century physics. To offer us a rare glimpse into scientific history,...

Duration:00:44:16

Edward Tenner with Wier Harman

5/14/2018
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One of the great promises of the Internet and big data revolutions is the idea that we can improve the processes and routines of our work and personal lives to get more done in less time than we ever have before. Technology has enabled a widespread increase of efficiency-enhancing algorithms, multitasking, a sharing economy, and life hacks, and has led our society to perform at higher levels and move at unprecedented speed. But Edward Tenner—distinguished scholar of the Smithsonian’s...

Duration:00:58:17

Barbara Ehrenreich with Ross Reynolds

5/7/2018
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How to live well, even joyously, while accepting our mortality is a vitally important philosophical challenge. Author and cellular immunologist Barbara Ehrenreich shared insight from her latest book Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer, and tackled the seemingly unsolvable problem of how we might better prepare ourselves for the end—while still reveling in the lives that remain to us. We tend to believe we have agency over our...

Duration:00:48:19

Christian Davenport with Alan Boyle

4/30/2018
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Nearly a half-century after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of billionaire entrepreneurs, jocularly referred to as the “Space Barons,” are pouring their fortunes into the resurrection of the American space program. Washington Post staff writer Christian Davenport brought to our stage the remarkable accounts of risk and high adventure by these four billionaires—Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Paul Allen—sharing excerpts collected in his book The Space Barons: Elon Musk,...

Duration:00:54:47

Chris Clearfield and András Tilcsik

4/16/2018
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A crash on the Washington, D.C. metro system. An accidental overdose in a state-of-the-art hospital. An overcooked holiday meal. At first glance, these disasters seem to have little in common. But surprising new research shows that all these events—and the myriad failures that dominate headlines every day—share similar causes. With insight from their book Meltdown: Why Our Systems Fail and What We Can Do About It, Chris Clearfield and András Tilcsik joined us for an enlightening discussion...

Duration:01:02:38

Michael Gazzaniga with Bill Radke

4/9/2018
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The problem of consciousness has gnawed at us for millennia. How do neurons turn into minds? How does physical “stuff”―atoms, molecules, chemicals, and cells―create the vivid and various worlds inside our heads? In the last century there have been massive breakthroughs that have rewritten the science of the brain, and yet the puzzles faced by the ancient Greeks still perplex scientists to this day. To help us solve these puzzles, neuroscience pioneer Michael S. Gazzaniga brings us the latest...

Duration:01:06:38

A.I. and Automation in the Workforce of Tomorrow

4/2/2018
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Machines and equipment are already making inroads into the labor market. These changes have been brought on by the drive for companies to be more efficient. Undoubtedly, these forces will continue and will reshape the frontier to determine what is possible for automated machines to manage in the workforce of the 21st century. Join this installment of the MIT Enterprise Forum, featuring experts in automation technology, software engineering, and human-centered design practices as they explore...

Duration:01:19:59

Leonard Mlodinow with Jane C. Hu

3/26/2018
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With rapid technological innovation leading the charge, today’s world is transforming itself at an extraordinary and unprecedented pace. We are confronted every day with new challenges as jobs become more multifaceted, information streams multiply, and myriad devices place increasing demands on our attention. Theoretical physicist Leonard Mlodinow joined us with insight from his book Elastic: Flexible Thinking in a Time of Change, drawing on cutting-edge research in neuroscience and...

Duration:00:45:20

Scott L. Montgomery

3/19/2018
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Global threats of climate change and rising air pollution have led many experts to believe that we must transition away from carbon energy and pursue alternative energy sources. Sustainability author Scott L. Montgomery argued that nuclear power is not an option for the future but an absolute necessity, and he joined us with realities and implications for the coming decades from his new book Seeing The Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century. Montgomery took the stage to...

Duration:01:10:41

ISB Panel: The Future of Health

3/12/2018
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Seattle’s Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) is revolutionizing science with a powerful approach to predict and prevent disease, and enable a sustainable environment. Join a panel of experts as they explore the cross-disciplinary and collaborative approach of systems biology and how it is applied in the exploration of new frontiers in biology and medicine. This moderated forum will provide a focused discussion on the advances in major areas that affect human health, at both an individual...

Duration:01:11:33

Sang-Hee Lee

3/5/2018
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What do we truly have in common with the Neanderthals? What can fossilized teeth tell us about the life expectancy of our ancient ancestors? How can simple geometric comparisons of fossils suggest a possible origin to our social nature? Korea’s first paleoanthropologist Sang-Hee Lee explored some of our greatest evolutionary questions from new and unexpected angles. She joined us with excerpts from her book Close Encounters with Humankind, and shareed fresh perspectives and surprising...

Duration:01:07:14

Nadine Burke Harris, MD with Kristin Leong

2/26/2018
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Renowned pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris, MD took our stage to discuss new research that illustrates a deep connection between toxic stress during childhood and the likelihood of lifelong illnesses. In her book, The Deepest Well, Burke Harris relates findings from her survey of more than 17,000 adult patients and illuminates us on an astonishing breakthrough: childhood stress changes our neural systems and lasts a lifetime. Town Hall’s own Kristin Leong moderated the conversation,...

Duration:00:50:19

Charles Mann

2/19/2018
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In forty years, some scientists project that Earth’s population will reach ten billion. Can our world support that many people? What kind of world will it be? According to Charles Mann’s newest book The Wizard and the Prophet, the experts answering these questions generally fall into two deeply divided groups—Wizards and Prophets. The Prophets, he explains, follow William Vogt, a founding ecologist and environmentalist who believed that if we use more than our planet has to give, our...

Duration:01:08:13

Maryn McKenna

2/12/2018
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We often take for granted the ubiquity of chicken in the American diet. Acclaimed journalist Maryn McKenna bypassed our familiarity with a fascinating history of chicken in her book Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Changed Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats. She took the stage to share her chronicle of how economic, political, and cultural forces converged to make America’s favorite meat a hidden danger. McKenna brought us on an extraordinary journey...

Duration:01:04:39

Ama Marston and Stephanie Marston

2/5/2018
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In turbulent times, we need a unique perspective to find the opportunities in adversity and to respond to challenges with action. Mother/daughter team Stephanie Marston and Ama Marston join us to illuminate this perspective with wisdom from their book Type R: Transformative Resilience for Thriving in a Turbulent World. They share details on a critical quality they call Transformative Resilience: the ability to “move away from a tendency to catastrophize” and pursue success despite facing...

Duration:00:56:59

Devin Briski with Robyn Schumacher

1/29/2018
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Beer has played a pivotal role throughout history—from influencing ancient Mesopotamian agriculture to bankrolling Britain’s imperialist conquests. Food and tech journalist Devin Briski chronicled the fascinating history of the world’s (arguably) most popular beverage in her book Beeronomics: How Beer Explains the World. Briski was joined onstage by Robyn Schumacher, Washington State’s first female cicerone (the beer equivalent of a sommelier). Together the two take us on a history of the...

Duration:00:59:11

Building the Blockchain Ecosystem

1/22/2018
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Credit card encryption chips fundamentally altered our perceptions of financial security—and according to the MIT Enterprise Forum, blockchain technology has the potential to do the same. From funding and regulations, to tangible technology rollouts—what’s practical today? Join us for a discussion of cryptocurrency and the future of digital economics! Innovation Forum programs delve into cool or disruptive technology or a venture of interest to our audience of entrepreneurs, investors,...

Duration:01:31:12

Jaron Lanier

12/18/2017
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Virtual Reality is at once a revolutionary tool for entertainment and a technology raising fundamental questions about the experience of being inside the human body. Jaron Lanier―interdisciplinary scientist and father of the term “virtual reality”―takes a look at what it means to be human at a moment of unprecedented technological possibility. His book Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality exposed VR’s ability to illuminate and amplify our understanding of...

Duration:01:17:55

Dr. John Vidale

12/11/2017
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As residents of the Pacific Northwest, we are all familiar with stories of Seattle’s vulnerability to seismic activity. And we certainly recall the haunting 2015 New Yorker article asserting that our region is long-overdue for “the big one.” To help contextualize these fears and delve into the science beneath the threat of earthquakes, Town Hall presents Dr. John Vidale—seismologist at UW’s College of the Environment and leader for several years of UW’s M9 Project. Dr. Vidale’s works lends...

Duration:01:13:39

Theo Gray

10/30/2017
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Are you aware that oxidation is beautiful? Yes, oxidation, particularly when it’s under the gaze of Theodore Gray. Photosynthesis is beautiful, too. And fermentation. With Reactions, Gray continues an exciting journey through our molecular and chemical world like no one ever has. In his new photographic masterwork, Reactions, following his bestselling books The Elements and Molecules, Gray demonstrates how molecules interact in ways that are essential to our very existence. With Gray, a...

Duration:00:50:23

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