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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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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 str…
 
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 relati…
 
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…
 
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, …
 
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 …
 
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…
 
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 local…
 
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…
 
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 wh…
 
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 …
 
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 leadin…
 
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 w…
 
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 stage…
 
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