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What Adele Diamond is learning about the brain challenges basic assumptions in modern education. Her work is scientifically illustrating the educational power of things like play, sports, music, memorization, and reflection. What nourishes the human spirit, the whole person, it turns out, also hones our minds.
November 22, 2007
Varadaraja V. Raman
The Heart's Reason: Hinduism and Science
U.S. culture’s clash between religion and science is almost exclusively driven by Christian instincts and arguments. Hindu physicist V.V. Raman offers another view of religion, the universe, and the complementarity of the questions of science and faith.
A passionate translator of the beauty and relevance of scientific questions, Margaret Wertheim is also wise about the limits of science to tell the whole story of the human self. Her Institute for Figuring in Los Angeles reveals evocative, visceral connections between high mathematics, crochet and other folk arts, and our love of for the planet.
The light and smells in places like hospitals can often depress us. And, our favorite room at home keeps us sane. But why? Immunologist Esther Sternberg explains the scientific research revealing how physical spaces create stress and make us sick — and how good design can trigger our “brain’s internal pharmacies” and help heal us.
In a few breathtaking months, we’ve culturally moved from seeing Wall Street as an icon of thriving civil society to discussing its workings with book titles like House of Cards and Animal Spirits. As part of our ongoing Repossessing Virtue series, we look at what science is learning about trust, fair play, and empathy — and what these qualities have to do with human character and economics.
Her unconventional studies have long suggested what neuroscience is now revealing: Our experiences are formed by the words and ideas we attach to them. Naming something play rather than work — or exercise rather than labor — can mean the difference between delight and drudgery, fatigue or weight loss. What makes a vacation a vacation is not only a change of scenery, but the fact that we let go of the mindless everyday illusion that we are in control. Ellen Langer says mindfulness is achievable without meditation or yoga. She defines it as “the simple act of actively noticing things.”
August 29, 2013
Exoplanets and Love: Science That Connects Us to One Another
A mission scientist with NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, Natalie Batalha hunts for exoplanets — Earth-sized planets beyond our solar system that might harbor life. She speaks about unexpected connections between things like love and dark energy, science and gratitude, and how “exploring the heavens” brings the beauty of the cosmos and the exuberance of scientific discovery closer to us all.
September 23, 2004
Carl Feit, Anne Foerst, and Lindon Eaves
Science and Being
Many of history’s greatest scientists considered their work to be a religious endeavor, a direct search for God. Pioneers like Newton, Copernicus, and Galileo believed that their discoveries told humanity more about God’s nature than had been known. Beginning in the early 18th century, science and religion came to be at odds — the gap widening most famously with the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.
In recent years, a new dialogue has begun, driven by leading scientists across the world. Host Krista Tippett explores with three scientists, each of whom is working in a field that’s rapidly advancing our understanding of what it means to be human. From very different perspectives, they suggest that our most sophisticated 21st-century discoveries may be driving us back to questions of faith.
One of the values of science is to make us uncomfortable says Lawrence Krauss. The particle physicist explains why we should all care about dark energy and the Higgs Boson particle. Science literacy matters, and, more importantly, he suggests we should take joy in science — just as we cultivate enjoyment of arts we may not completely comprehend.
January 2, 2014
Marilynne Robinson + Marcelo Gleiser
The Mystery We Are
What do a fiction writer and an astrophysicist have in common? Marilynne Robinson and Marcelo Gleiser connect the dots between the cosmos, our minds, and all the ways we discover the story of where we came from.
Parallel realities and the deep structure of space-time sound like science fiction. These are matters of real scientific inquiry. Lord Martin Rees is an astrophysicist and self-professed atheist who paints a fascinating picture of how we might be changed by what we do not yet know.
September 24, 2015
Guy Consolmagno + George Coyne
Asteroids, Stars, and the Love of God
More than 30 objects on the moon are named after the Jesuits who mapped it. A Jesuit was one of the founders of modern astrophysics. And four Jesuits in history, including Ignatius of Loyola, have had asteroids named after them – Brother Guy Consolmagno and Father George Coyne being the two living men with this distinction. In a conversation filled with friendship and laughter, and in honor of the visit of Pope Francis to the U.S., we experience the spacious way they think about science, the universe, and the love of God.
Are we in the matrix? Physicist James Gates reveals why string theory stretches our imaginations about the nature of reality. Also, how failure makes us more complete, and imagination makes us more knowledgeable.
The Hubble Space Telescope, which turns 25 this year, has brought the beauty of the cosmos into our lives. Mario Livio works with discoveries it makes possible, studying things like dark energy, extrasolar planets, and white dwarf stars. He’s fascinated with the enduring mystery of mathematics, the language of science. He describes the cosmic puzzles that accompany our greatest scientific advances.
September 28, 2017
Dark Matter, Dinosaurs, and Extra Dimensions
“When it comes to the world around us,” Lisa Randall has written, “is there any choice but to explore?” As one of the most influential theoretical physicists working today, she’s interested in the interconnectedness between fields that have previously operated more autonomously: astronomy, biology, and paleontology. She’s pursuing a theory that “dark matter” might have created the cosmic event that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs — and hence humanity’s rise as a species. We learn what she’s discovering, as well as the human questions and takeaways her work throws into relief.