92 episodes

The Origins Podcast features in-depth conversations with some of the most interesting people in the world about the issues that impact all of us in the 21st century. Host, theoretical physicist, lecturer, and author, Lawrence M. Krauss, will be joined by guests from a wide range of fields, including science, the arts, and journalism. The topics discussed on The Origins Podcast reflect the full range of the human experience - exploring science and culture in a way that seeks to entertain, educate, and inspire. lawrencekrauss.substack.com

lawrencekrauss.substack.com

The Origins Podcast with Lawrence Krauss Lawrence M. Krauss

    • Science
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

The Origins Podcast features in-depth conversations with some of the most interesting people in the world about the issues that impact all of us in the 21st century. Host, theoretical physicist, lecturer, and author, Lawrence M. Krauss, will be joined by guests from a wide range of fields, including science, the arts, and journalism. The topics discussed on The Origins Podcast reflect the full range of the human experience - exploring science and culture in a way that seeks to entertain, educate, and inspire. lawrencekrauss.substack.com

lawrencekrauss.substack.com

    Annie Jacobsen

    Annie Jacobsen

    Many of you will have been waiting for this podcast after my brief review of Annie Jacobsen’s new book Nuclear War: A Scenario on Critical Mass. I took advantage of our discussion to flesh out some of the harrowing details of her remarkable fictional account of a plausible 72 minutes which began with the launch of a single nuclear missile from North Korea and concludes effectively with the end of modern civilization on the planet. As I indicated in my review, as former Chair of the Board of Sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists for over a decade, the horrors of nuclear war were well-known to me, but the realization of how quickly a scenario such as Jacobsen envisages might actually play out was something I had never really imagined.
    Jacobsen is no stranger to thinking about defense issues and has penned numerous books on defense-related issues, including a history of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history. She is also a seasoned fiction writer for television, penning three episodes of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Her new book combines her interest in nuclear war related issues, and interviews with a host of military officials involved in nuclear war planning over the past five decades, with her skill in framing a tense dramatic narrative. The result is compelling.
    I know from experience that most people would rather avoid thinking about the threat of nuclear war. But it is only by confronting it directly that the public might have a possibility of at least slowing the military juggernaut, powered by a combination of a huge bureaucracy that works effectively to maintain its existence, and a cold war mentality the drives efforts to continue to grow and modernize our nuclear weapons establishment—all the while in spite of the fact that everyone who has seriously thought about nuclear war knows it is unwinnable. As Einstein, who helped found the Bulletin’s Board of Sponsors said over 60 years ago, with the creation of Nuclear Weapons “Everything has changed, save the way we think”. My hope is that discussions like this one may help us change even that.
    As always, an ad-free video version of this podcast is also available to paid Critical Mass subscribers. Your subscriptions support the non-profit Origins Project Foundation, which produces the podcast. The audio version is available free on the Critical Mass site and on all podcast sites, and the video version will also be available on the Origins Project YouTube.


    Get full access to Critical Mass at lawrencekrauss.substack.com/subscribe

    • 1 hr 29 min
    Mysteries of the Cosmos, From Dark Energy to the Big Bang: A State of the Universe report with Michael Turner

    Mysteries of the Cosmos, From Dark Energy to the Big Bang: A State of the Universe report with Michael Turner

    Michael Turner has been one of the leading pioneers in the emerging field of particle-astrophysics: the effort to understand the large scale properties of our universe by exploring the fundamental microphysics that ultimately governed the earliest moments of the big bang. It has been an area in which most of my own research has been focused, so it is not surprising that Michael I became on and off research collaborators starting about 40 years ago. In 1995 Michael and I published a paper arguing that 70% of the energy of the universe must reside in empty space if the data at the time were to be self-consistent. Three years later two groups confirmed our prediction, and were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2011 for that discovery. Michael later coined the term “dark energy” to describe this completely mysterious quantity.
    Michael is not only a leading scientist, he is also a leading expositor of astrophysics, having written one of the seminal books about the physics of the early universe, and he is frequently sought out by journalists to comment on current results, and by academic audiences for his popular lectures. He has a wry sense of humor, and over his more than 40 years of scientific research he has been involved in many of the key developments that have shaped astrophysics. He has also helped direct the national research effort itself, having been a deputy director of the National Science Foundation, and a former president of the American Physical Society.
    Mike and I sat down for a long overdue discussion of his own perspectives on the field. We discussed his personal history, motivations, and challenges as a young scientist, and then went on to discuss many of the key areas of progress in cosmology over the past 40 years, including some puzzles which remain today, and about which one often reads in the popular press. For anyone interested in cosmology, our discussion will shed a great deal of light on which problems are real, and which are not, and also give a new perspective for how far we have come over the last half century in unraveling many of the mysteries of the universe.
    As always, an ad-free video version of this podcast is also available to paid Critical Mass subscribers. Your subscriptions support the non-profit Origins Project Foundation, which produces the podcast. The audio version is available free on the Critical Mass site and on all podcast sites, and the video version will also be available on the Origins Project Youtube.


    Get full access to Critical Mass at lawrencekrauss.substack.com/subscribe

    • 1 hr 57 min
    Jeffrey Sachs: Economics, Conflict, and Real-World Diplomacy

    Jeffrey Sachs: Economics, Conflict, and Real-World Diplomacy

    Jeffrey Sachs was the youngest tenured professor in Harvard’s history when he was promoted only a few years after receiving his PhD. And for good reason. He is one of the most remarkable intellects I know. I have always been amazed and the breadth of his reading and knowledge, and when I give him one of my physics books, he reads it in a day, and comes back with great questions.
    Jeffrey has not been content to stay within the confines of academia, and for 17 years served as a senior advisor to the head of the UN, and has worked, sometimes controversially, with numerous governments to help them out of economic hardships. His interest in world affairs has caused him to write a great deal about power politics, global conflict, and diplomacy, and I wanted to sit down and talk to him about two conflicts about which he has written recently, Ukraine and Gaza.
    But first, we talked about his own career, his interest in economics, and also his thoughts about the UN, an agency which of late has dropped considerably in my own estimation.
    I agree strongly with Jeffrey that only diplomatic solutions to military conflicts have any hope of lasting, and that nationalist politics that sustain military adventurism inevitably only causes the people within both warring countries undue hardship. But how to extricate countries from the cycle of violence is a difficult challenge, and Jeffrey doesn’t mince words in that regard. I have to say that I agree with him wholeheartedly about Ukraine. Not as completely on the Middle East, though our disagreements are subtle. We both agree that a two state solution in the middle east is essential, and detest many policies of the current Israeli government, especially on the west bank (although no more than I think we both detest the policies of the terrorist lunatics governing Gaza, who seem intent on inflicting as much or more hardship on their own populace as any external government does, most often to score political points on the world scene) I am less sanguine about the likelihood that UN troops and Arab nations could or would realistically and fairly implement and police such a situation, but I sympathize with his views that the UN may be the last resort.
    I expect I may read some angry feedback about some of Jeffrey’s suggestions, but once again, reasoned discussion, especially about disagreements, is essential if we are to make progress, in science, and in the real world. As a result I feel particularly lucky to have people like Jeffrey to have such discussions with. I hope you are as stimulated and educated by the discussion as I always am when I talk to him.
    As always, an ad-free video version of this podcast is also available to paid Critical Mass subscribers. Your subscriptions support the non-profit Origins Project Foundation, which produces the podcast. The audio version is available free on the Critical Mass site and on all podcast sites, and the video version will also be available on the Origins Project Youtube.


    Get full access to Critical Mass at lawrencekrauss.substack.com/subscribe

    • 1 hr 22 min
    Mark Mattson: Building the Brain: Glutamate as Sculpture and Destroyer

    Mark Mattson: Building the Brain: Glutamate as Sculpture and Destroyer

    You’ve probably heard of Serotonin, or Dopamine. Those are the sexy neurotransmitters that get all the press. However, you have probably not heard of Glutamate. Which is a shame because it is probably the most important neurotransmitter in the brain, responsible in large part for its growth, and also its plasticity.
    Mark Mattson is a neuroscientist with a distinguished career as Director of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging. While initially interested in developmental biology in animals, Mattson’s work in endocrinology led him to become to study the effect of hormones on the brain. Eventually he began to focus on the role of the Glutamate in neuroplasticity and Alzheimers disease. He realized how essential that neurotransmitter was for understanding the very formation of the brain, the growth of neurons, and the formation of axons and dendrites, as well as its key role in brain functions including learning and memory .
    I first got to know Mark when we co-organized a workshop on Pattern Processing in the Human Brain, where we invited well known neuroscientists as well as computer scientists and AI researchers to come together to discuss areas of joint interest. The idea was to explore key features that may underlie consciousness, and also to explore how to ensure how to avoid the error-prone brain functioning such as one finds in Schizophrenia as AI systems are developed. The public event associated with the workshop was entitled Creativity and Madness, and involved a dialogue between me and actor Johnny Depp.
    Most recently, Mark has written a fascinating book, entitled Sculptor and Destroyer, to describe and explain the importance of Glutamate in brain formation and functioning. We had a fascinating discussion about that, and also how he became interested in the brain after initially planning to become a veterinarian. I hope you find the discussion as enlightening as I did.
    As always, an ad-free video version of this podcast is also available to paid Critical Mass subscribers. Your subscriptions support the non-profit Origins Project Foundation, which produces the podcast. The audio version is available free on the Critical Mass site and on all podcast sites, and the video version will also be available on the Origins Project Youtube.


    Get full access to Critical Mass at lawrencekrauss.substack.com/subscribe

    • 2 hrs 11 min
    Charles Duhigg: The Art and Science of Communication

    Charles Duhigg: The Art and Science of Communication

    I admit I was somewhat intimidated when the prospect of hosting Pulitzer-prizewinning journalist Charles Duhigg on the podcast was raised. What caused my angst was the subject matter we would discuss: Communication.
    Hosting this podcast has been a learning experience, in so many ways. Since listeners are very free with advice, especially when they don’t like the conversational aspect of the dialogues, and would prefer an interview format, I have often had to come face to face with my own failures of communication. Charles had just completed a book, Supercommunicators, which has since become a New York Times bestseller about the tools that so-called ‘supercommunicators’ use to bring out the best in conversations. It includes interviews with, and stories about, people from a wide varieties of occupations and experiences, from a former FRB recruiter, to two people on opposite sides of the current gun-control debate, and even to the creators of Big Bang Theory, about how they achieved their goals of communication.
    The techniques revealed in the book, and in our conversation, are remarkably illuminating. Perhaps the most important tool, which sounds remarkably simple, but nevertheless is often absent in conversations is to decide in advance what type of conversation one is about to be engaged in: practical, emotional, or social. Without this recognition, the ultimate success of any subsequent conversation is unlikely to be profound.
    In our subsequent podcast discussion, I wanted to engage in all three types of conversations, with some clarity in advance about where we were going, beginning as always with what took Charles to the starting point of his writing, and concluding with what the impact on his own personal life had been by all he had learned when researching the book. Thinking about the skills he discussed certainly had an impact on my own efforts during the podcast, and I hope will improve discussions on all future podcasts. You, the listeners, will be the judges of course.
    I hope you will enjoy and be enlightened by the ground we covered. As always, an ad-free video version of this podcast is also available to paid Critical Mass subscribers. Your subscriptions support the non-profit Origins Project Foundation, which produces the podcast. The audio version is available free on the Critical Mass site and on all podcast sites, and the video version will also be available on the Origins Project Youtube channel as well.


    Get full access to Critical Mass at lawrencekrauss.substack.com/subscribe

    • 1 hr 6 min
    From Quarks to Galaxies: A tour through the forefront of modern physics with Frank Wilczek

    From Quarks to Galaxies: A tour through the forefront of modern physics with Frank Wilczek

    I have had the privilege of working closely with Frank Wilczek for over 40 years, on and off, and we have written perhaps a dozen scientific papers together over that time. Our collaborations together were always a source of joy, and often of wonder, and I am pleased to say that a number of them had significant impact on our fields of study.
    While I have had the privilege of working with many talented scientists during my career, Frank is unique. He is one of the most broadly read, deep, and creative scientists I have known. To first approximation, he has read everything in science, and one of the characteristics of our own collaborations that has been so much fun is entering an entirely new field of study and learning how much is known about it, and how that knowledge might be used in new contexts.
    Frank is likely the most significant theoretical physicist of my generation, and along with Ed Witten, perhaps the intellectually most gifted. That he won the Nobel Prize for work performed as a graduate student with David Gross to develop the theory of one of the four known forces in nature is notable, but it just scratches the surface of his interests and accomplishments.
    While Frank and I have appeared onstage together on numerous occasions, I was waiting for the opportunity to sit down with him for an extended period to discuss his life in science, and the areas of study that reflect the most significant developments of recent times, and the outstanding challenges in our field. It was a pleasure to be able to do so for this podcast. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and that it inspires your interest in the world around us.
    As always, an ad-free video version of this podcast is also available to paid Critical Mass subscribers. Your subscriptions support the non-profit Origins Project Foundation, which produces the podcast. The audio version is available free on the Critical Mass site and on all podcast sites, and the video version will also be available on the Origins Project Youtube channel as well.


    Get full access to Critical Mass at lawrencekrauss.substack.com/subscribe

    • 3 hrs 55 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
2 Ratings

2 Ratings

Top Podcasts In Science

StarTalk Radio
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Ologies with Alie Ward
Alie Ward
Hidden Brain
Hidden Brain, Shankar Vedantam
Radiolab
WNYC Studios
Inner Cosmos with David Eagleman
iHeartPodcasts
NASA's Curious Universe
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

You Might Also Like

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas
Sean Carroll | Wondery
The Michael Shermer Show
Michael Shermer
Into the Impossible With Brian Keating
Big Bang Productions Inc.
Why This Universe?
Dan Hooper, Shalma Wegsman
Quanta Science Podcast
Quanta Magazine
Closer To Truth
Closer To Truth