You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel?
Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting?
Each week, host Jason Gots surprises some of the world's brightest minds with ideas they're not at all prepared to discuss. Join us and special guests Neil Gaiman, Alan Alda, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Richard Dawkins, Maria Popova, Mary-Louise Parker, Neil deGrasse Tyson and many more...
NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality
Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.
- Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
- What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
- Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
This morning on the way to the school bus, my almost 11 year old son was explaining to me that if you shrunk an elephant down to the size of a mouse, it would shiver, then die, because of its slow mitochondria, due to something called the Rule of Squared Threes, which he also proceeded to explain. Then he explained something about neutron stars, claiming that they are essentially a giant atom, which I don't think is actually true. Then he started on another topic and I explained that this was all very wonderful but that I had learned all the science my brain could hold at 7:15 am.*
Sadly, my own journey as a scientist ended in high school biology, when I put the dissected tail of a fetal pig on a toothpick and said "Hors d'oeuvres?" to several classmates, which earned me an F for the project. But happily, there are people like my guest today, Astronomer Michelle Thaller, and my son Emre, who are excellent at explaining scientific wonders to dummkopfs like myself. Michelle is—let me take a deep breath here—the Assistant Director of Science for Communications at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. And her inspiring perspective on science and humanity—which she shares in her TV shows and her podcast Orbital Path—makes me wish that biology teacher had had a better sense of humor.
*Note: Emre learned much of this from this very interesting YouTube channel
Surprise conversation starter in this episode: Ingrid Fettell Lee on anti-minimalist architecture
Why does Faulkner use "inchoate" so much? Maybe because Benjamin Dreyer wasn't his copy editor. The author of DREYER'S ENGLISH is here to remind us that there's no absolute authority on the English language. Still, please avoid "onboarding".
- Hear! As we play "stump the host" with words everyone spells wrong.
- Marvel! With us at the exquisiteness of the word "twee"
- Absorb! Benjamin Dreyer's simple yet powerful advice about how to write better sentences.
Classicist Edith Hall reminds us that Aristotle's "virtue ethics" was a sophisticated, subtle approach to the pursuit of lifelong happiness a couple millennia before Oprah thought of inviting us to live our best life.
- "Aristotle invents empirical science, where you go out with your own senses and amass data and then infer scientific principles from it. He simply treats morality in the same way."
- How to find happiness, how to deal with loss, and how to build a democracy that works.
It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.
- It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
- Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
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