The acclaimed mathematician and author Steven Strogatz interviews some of the world’s leading scientists about their lives and work.
Amie Wilkinson Sees the Dynamic Chaos in Puff Pastry
Amie Wilkinson of the University of Chicago works in the rarefied area of mathematics called pure dynamics, studying how complex systems transform under the influence of simple rules. In this episode, she speaks with her fellow dynamicist, host Steven Strogatz, about the challenges of finding a place in mathematics as a woman, why groups can be understood as collections of moves, and what the recipe for puff pastry illustrates about chaos. Read more at https://www.quantamagazine.org/amie-wilkinson-sees-the-dynamic-chaos-in-puff-pastry-20210503/.
Emery Brown and the Truth About Anesthesia
Anesthetics transformed surgical medicine, but even a century and a half after their introduction, much of the science behind them is still not well understood, especially by the public. In this episode, the noted physician-scientist Emery Brown of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology talks with host Steven Strogatz about how anesthesia differs from sleep, what anesthesiologists should tell patients before surgery, and why recordings of brain waves should be collected from patients much more routinelyRead more at https://www.quantamagazine.org/emery-brown-and-the-truth-about-anesthesia-20210426/.
Melanie Mitchell Takes AI Research Back to Its Roots
Melanie Mitchell, a professor of complexity at the Santa Fe Institute and a professor of computer science at Portland State University, acknowledges the powerful accomplishments of “black box” deep learning neural networks. But she also thinks that artificial intelligence research would benefit most from getting back to its roots and exchanging more ideas with research into cognition in living brains. This week, she speaks with host Steven Strogatz about the challenges of building a general intelligence, why we should think about the road rage of self-driving cars, and why AIs might need good parents. Read more at https://www.quantamagazine.org/melanie-mitchell-takes-ai-research-back-to-its-roots-20210419/.
Trachette Jackson Fights Cancer With Math
The term “mathematical biology” might have been considered an oxymoron more than a few decades ago: How could mathematics enrich the largely descriptive disciplines of biology? But Trachette Jackson of the University of Michigan has become a pioneer in this area, bringing deep mathematical insights to cancer therapeutics. In this episode, Jackson tells host Steve Strogatz how a tumor resembles a box of pencils, and how she came to appreciate the usefulness of mathematics for piercing biological mysteries. Read more at https://www.quantamagazine.org/trachette-jackson-fights-cancer-with-math-20210412/. Production and original music by Story Mechanics.
Rediet Abebe on Using Algorithms for Social Justice
Can algorithms make society more equitable? Rediet Abebe, a computer scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, has shown that data-driven machine learning can help to optimize the results of social and economic strategies. In this week’s episode, host Steven Strogatz speaks with Abebe about how her Ethiopian upbringing helps her see discrimination in the U.S. in a different light, and why her research interests and here concerns with poverty, inclusion and diversity are inseparable. This episode was produced by Dana Bialek. Read more at https://www.quantamagazine.org/rediet-abebe-on-using-algorithms-for-social-justice-20210405/. Production and original music by Story Mechanics.
Federico Ardila on Math, Music and the Space of Possibilities
Federico Ardila, born in Colombia and now a professor mathematics at San Francisco State University, is an expert in the field of combinatorics, the study of all the possible configurations of finite systems. This week, Ardila talks with host Steven Strogatz about the importance of feelings in mathematics, the music of collaboration, imagining higher dimensional spaces, and the art and science of exploring “the space of possibilities.” This episode was produced by Dana Bialek. Read more at https://www.quantamagazine.org/federico-ardila-on-math-music-and-the-space-of-possibilities-20210329/. Production and original music by Story Mechanics.