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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 concept of the city is a crucial one for human civilization: people living in proximity, bringing in resources from outside, separated from the labors of subsistence so they can engage in the trade of goods and ideas. But we are still learning how cities grow and adapt to new conditions, as well as how we can best guide them to be livable as we…
 
Welcome to the May 2022 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 whet…
 
To say that event A causes event B is to not only make a claim about our actual world, but about other possible worlds — in worlds where A didn’t happen but everything else was the same, B would not have happened. This leads to an obvious difficulty if we want to infer causes from sets of data — we generally only have data about the actual world. H…
 
Evolution has equipped species with a variety of ways to travel through the air — flapping, gliding, floating, not to mention jumping really high. But it hasn’t invented jet engines. What are the different ways that heavier-than-air objects might be made to fly, and why does natural selection produce some of them but not others? Richard Dawkins has…
 
Humans are related to all other species here on Earth, but some are closer relatives than others. Primates, a group that includes apes, monkeys, lemurs, and others besides ourselves, are our closest relatives, and they exhibit a wide variety of behaviors that we can easily recognize. Frans de Waal is a leading primatologist and ethologist who has l…
 
Every time we make an important decision, it’s hard not to wonder how things would have turned out had we chosen differently. The set of all those hypothetical lives is a kind of “multiverse” — not one predicted by quantum mechanics or cosmology, but a space of possibilities that is ripe for contemplation. In their new movie Everything Everywhere A…
 
Welcome to the April 2022 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 wh…
 
Randomness and probability are central to modern physics. In statistical mechanics this is because we don’t know everything about the distribution of atoms and molecules in a fluid, so we consider a probability distribution over what they might be; in quantum mechanics it’s because the theory only lets us predict measurement outcomes probabilistica…
 
The future grows out of the present, but it manages to consistently surprise us. How can we get better at anticipating and preparing for what the future can be like? Jane McGonigal started out as a game designer, working on the kinds of games that represent miniature worlds with their own rules. This paradigm provides a useful way of thinking about…
 
Biological organisms are pretty good at healing themselves, but their abilities fall short in crucial ways. Planaria can be cut into pieces, and each piece will regrow into an entire organism; but for most advanced animals, loss of a limb becomes a permanent condition. But why should that necessarily be so, if an organism’s genome knows what it’s s…
 
All societies grant more power to some citizens, and there is always a temptation to use that power for the benefit of themselves rather than for the greater good. Power corrupts, we are told — but to what extent is that true? Would any of us, upon receiving great power, be tempted by corruption? Or are corruptible people drawn to accrue power? Bri…
 
Welcome to the March 2022 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 wh…
 
If extraterrestrial life is out there — not just microbial slime, but big, complex, macroscopic organisms — what will they be like? Movies have trained us to think that they won’t be that different at all; they’ll even drink and play music at the same cafes that humans frequent. A bit of imagination, however, makes us wonder whether they won’t be c…
 
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