About Inquiring Minds
This week we talk to social psychologist and Stanford professor Brian Lowery about his new book Selfless: The Social Creation of “You”. In it, he proposes that what you think of as “you” is actually a social construct created by your relationships and affected by every interaction you have.
On the show this week we talk to Nita A. Farahany, distinguished professor of law and philosophy at Duke University and the founding director of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society, about her new book, "The Battle for Your Brain: Defending the Right to Think Freely in the Age of Neurotechnology." Many people choose to give up unprecedented levels of privacy in exchange for convenience. So why not give up your brain data too? Is it really that different? While the proposition may seem analogous, and despite how it’s often presented, says Farahany, what could get decoded from your brain is a very different thing. “Everybody has something to hide when it comes to what’s in their brain. Not in the sense of like, you’re thinking about committing some horrible crime. But it is the space where you work out everything. And if you don’t have that space to work out everything, suddenly what it means to be human is fundamentally different.” https://inquiring.show/episodes/400-the-perilous-combination-of-brain-wave-data-and-generative-ai
Last December, a team of scientists made history by creating a fusion reaction that—for the first time ever—gave off more energy that it took to start. It’s a groundbreaking milestone. We talked to two researchers who were part of that team—Sabrina Nagel and Matthias Hohenberger—about what exactly happened, why it’s been decades in the making, and why it’s such a big deal. This is everything you need to know about their team’s fusion breakthrough.
This week we talk to pioneering art & science researcher Susan Magsamen along with vice president of design for hardware products at Google, Ivy Ross, about their new book Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us. While sometimes considered opposites, art and science are unequivocally linked in ways we’re still figuring out. Not only does our way of thinking and living impact our art, but art also has an impact on how we think and live.
This week, with guest co-host Majel Connery, we talk to author and researcher Karen Bakker about her new book The Sounds of Life: How Digital Technology Is Bringing Us Closer to the Worlds of Animals and Plants. The book explores stories of nonhuman sound and the often overlooked impact our own sound has on the natural world. Plus, things like: What do plants hear? How likely is interspecies communication? Will we one day be able to talk to dolphins? More info on Majel Connery, our guest host this week, can be found on her website.
This week we talk to neuroscientist and author Patrick House about his new book Nineteen Ways of Looking at Consciousness. The book explores the complexity of consciousness and how it’s possible that it has thus far eluded explanation. To do so he examines one single study about consciousness nineteen different ways. It’s unorthodox, accessible, and remarkable.
This week we talk to cognitive neuroscientist and multi-platinum record producer Susan Rogers about her new book This Is What It Sounds Like: What the Music You Love Says About You. In this episode: The science behind how we perceive and process music and how it can affect our emotions and sense of self How our brains develop the ability to process sound and how formal music training can help us become "auditory athletes," or people who can analyze sound on a deeper level The concept of the "default mode network," a group of brain structures that are active when we are “in our own heads,” and how our favorite records can light up this network and create a private, emotional connection with us. Rogers talks about her time as Prince’s full-time recording engineer during which she worked on albums like Purple Rain. (!)
This week we talk to behavioral scientist Michael Slepian about secrets: keeping them, telling them, and the powerful ways in which they influence our lives. His new book is The Secret Life of Secrets: How Our Inner Worlds Shape Well-Being, Relationships, and Who We Are.
The show this week features an interview with science writer Maria Konnikova about her book The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time. We recorded this interview back when the book first came in out in 2016, but it is, perhaps depressingly, still as relevant as ever. While it hasn’t always involved pillow salesmen and crypto billionaires, there have always been people trying to con you. So there’s no better time than right now to brush up on all the ways people get conned, the psychology of why it works, and what you can do to avoid it.
This week we welcome back theoretical physicist and philosopher Sean Carroll to talk about how his most recent book, The Biggest Ideas in the Universe: Space, Time, and Motion, attempts to bridge the gap between how scientists talk about physics and how they usually go about explaining it to non-scientists. The goal is to help you understand what physicists are talking about—equations and all—without needing to know much more than some algebra.
This week: new research into using nanoparticles and programmable magnets to clean your teeth; a potentially breakthrough study on a drug for Alzheimer's disease featuring the first positive trial ever for a disease of aging; recapping NASA’s recent Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission; and a look into how much control you actually have over what Youtube decides to show you.
This week we talk to theoretical physicist and cosmologist Antonio Padilla about his new book Fantastic Numbers and Where to Find Them: A Cosmic Quest from Zero to Infinity. It’s a book about nine unusual numbers that, once understood, can help you grasp how the universe actually works—from black holes, to gravity, to the passing of time itself.