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

Sean Carroll | Wondery

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.

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Episodes

272 | Leslie Valiant on Learning and Educability in Computers and People
Apr 15 2024
272 | Leslie Valiant on Learning and Educability in Computers and People
Science is enabled by the fact that the natural world exhibits predictability and regularity, at least to some extent. Scientists collect data about what happens in the world, then try to suggest "laws" that capture many phenomena in simple rules. A small irony is that, while we are looking for nice compact rules, there aren't really nice compact rules about how to go about doing that. Today's guest, Leslie Valiant, has been a pioneer in understanding how computers can and do learn things about the world. And in his new book, The Importance of Being Educable, he pinpoints this ability to learn new things as the crucial feature that distinguishes us as human beings. We talk about where that capability came from and what its role is as artificial intelligence becomes ever more prevalent.Blog post with transcript: https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/04/15/272-leslie-valiant-on-learning-and-educability-in-computers-and-people/Support Mindscape on Patreon.Leslie Valiant received his Ph.D. in computer science from Warwick University. He is currently the T. Jefferson Coolidge Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at Harvard University. He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Knuth Prize, and the Turing Award, and he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is the pioneer of "Probably Approximately Correct" learning, which he wrote about in a book of the same name.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
268 | Matt Strassler on Relativity, Fields, and the Language of Reality
Mar 4 2024
268 | Matt Strassler on Relativity, Fields, and the Language of Reality
In the 1860s, James Clerk Maxwell argued that light was a wave of electric and magnetic fields. But it took over four decades for physicists to put together the theory of special relativity, which correctly describes the symmetries underlying Maxwell's theory. The delay came in part from the difficulty in accepting that light was a wave, but not a wave in any underlying "aether." Today our most basic view of fundamental physics is found in quantum field theory, which posits that everything around us is a quantum version of a relativistic wave. I talk with physicist Matt Strassler about how we go from these interesting-but-intimidating concepts to the everyday world of tables, chairs, and ourselves.Blog post with transcript: https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/03/04/267-matt-strassler-on-relativity-fields-and-the-language-of-reality/Support Mindscape on Patreon.Matt Strassler received his Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University. He is currently a writer and a visiting researcher in physics at Harvard University. His research has ranged over a number of topics in theoretical high-energy physics, from the phenomenology of dark matter and the Higgs boson to dualities in gauge theory and string theory. He blogs at Of Particular Significance, and his new book is Waves in an Impossible Sea: How Everyday Life Emerges from the Cosmic Ocean.Web siteGoogle Scholar publicationsSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
266 | Christoph Adami on How Information Makes Sense of Biology
Feb 19 2024
266 | Christoph Adami on How Information Makes Sense of Biology
Evolution is sometimes described -- not precisely, but with some justification -- as being about the "survival of the fittest." But that idea doesn't work unless there is some way for one generation to pass down information about how best to survive. We now know that such information is passed down in a variety of ways: through our inherited genome, through epigenetic factors, and of course through cultural transmission. Chris Adami suggests that we update Dobzhansky's maxim "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution" to "... except in the light of information." We talk about information theory as a subject in its own right, and how it helps us to understand organisms, evolution, and the origin of life.Blog post with transcript: https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2024/02/19/266-christoph-adami-on-how-information-makes-sense-of-biology/Support Mindscape on Patreon.Christoph Adami received his Ph.D. in physics from Stony Brook University. He is currently professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics as well as Physics and Astronomy at Michigan State University. Among his awards are the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for Artificial Life. His new book is The Evolution of Biological Information: How Evolution Creates Complexity, from Viruses to Brains.Web siteMichigan State web pageGoogle Scholar publicationsWikipediaSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.