49 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

    Jonathan Rauch: Free Thought, Democracy, and the Nature of Science

    Jonathan Rauch: Free Thought, Democracy, and the Nature of Science

    Jonathan Rauch was 30 years ahead of the curve. In his book Kindly Inquisitors, written in 1993, he described the very mechanisms by which ideology can undermine both the search for truth, and the democratic ideal of free thought—mechanisms which have now become endemic in our society. But more than that, in that book, and in The Constitution of Knowledge, written in 2021 he lays out more clearly than anyone I have ever read, the philosophical and sociological basis of science. The search for truth, and the proper functioning of democratic government both require the same social contract: the implicit acceptance that all ideas are subject to open attack, but that ultimately when the community as a whole has access to open debate and discussion, to the logical attacks and counter-attacks, social consensus can emerge about which ideas remain productive, and which are consigned to the dustbin of history. Science is therefore a social activity every bit as much as governance is. This does not mean that science is a social construct however. It is precisely the need for open debate, without no constraints on whose claims have merit based on authority, gender, race, or religion, that ensures that the search for truth moves in the right direction.

    It was a delight and revelation for me to learn, belatedly, about Jonathan’s writing, and to have a chance to discuss some of his ideas in depth in this podcast. He is a gentle, eloquent, and thoughtful soul, and I hope you find the discussion with him as enlightening as I did.

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    • 1 hr 43 min
    Alan Guth: Inflation of The Universe & More

    Alan Guth: Inflation of The Universe & More

    In 1979 Alan Guth, then a postdoc at Cornell, made what is perhaps the most important contribution to our theoretical understanding of the evolution of the Universe in the past half century. His realization that the early universe could have undergone a brief period of what he dubbed as “Inflation” provided the first and to date the only explanation of the large scale properties of the Universe compatible with observations, and based on well-defined, calculable, microphysical physics principles. Since that time, Inflation has become the paradigm of modern cosmology, and it made fundamental predictions about other observables in cosmology that have since been validated by observations of the Cosmo Microwave Background Radiation.

    I was particularly happy to have Alan on the podcast for a variety of reasons. First and foremost he is a remarkably clear and precise expositor of science. Second, his own history in the field provides, I think, a good object lesson for young scientists who might be struggling. Third, it was important that he provide a counterpoint to the discussion I previously had with Roger Penrose, who has presented his own alternative to Inflation that is much less well-defined at this time. Finally, Alan is a lovely human being, and both a friend, and in some sense a mentor to me (having served on my thesis examination committee when he first came to MIT, and having been a colleague and co-author with me on scientific papers).

    I hope you enjoy what I found to be a very enlightening discussion about science, and a revealing window into the thoughts of one of the most important cosmologists currently alive today.

    The audio version is free to all on this Critical Mass site. An ad-free video is available on Critical mass for paid subscribers only, a video version with advertisements is available separately on the Origins Project Foundation YouTube Channel.

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    • 2 hrs 29 min
    Dorian Abbot: From Climate and Exoplanets to DEI and Free Speech.

    Dorian Abbot: From Climate and Exoplanets to DEI and Free Speech.

    Dorian Abbot is an associate professor of geophysics at the University of Chicago, who uses mathematical and computational models to understand and explain fundamental problems in Earth and Planetary Sciences. His work on climate, and paleoclimate in particular is particularly important as we try and determine the likelihood that some exoplanets may be habitable. This is an area where may claims are made, most often on the basis of far too little solid evidence, so Dorian’s computer models have been particularly useful as we try and separate the wheat from the chaff in trying to determine if we are indeed alone in the Universe.

    He and I discussed the evolution of climate on Earth, and the important features that may determine habitability elsewhere in the cosmos. And then we turned to an issue that has made his name far more recognizable outside of the scientific community.

    Earlier this year, he was invited to give a named public lecture at MIT on climate, climate change, and exoplanet habitability. Previously, he and a colleague had written an unrelated op-ed piece in Newsweek that argued that “American universities are undergoing a profound transformation that threatens to derail their primary mission: “the production and dissemination of knowledge.” He laid the blame—as I and a number of my colleagues have independently also argued—on new "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion" bloated bureaucracies at US universities that are stifling free speech, open inquiry, and merit based promotion.

    As if to prove his point, under pressure from various social media complainants, MIT cancelled Abbot’s public lecture (which was later given online through a group at Princeton University). The subsequent uproar over the MIT cancellation has prompted many people to argue that it is time to rein in the current almost religious DEI proscriptions against open debate and discussion on these issues. Dorian and I discussed his experience, and ways to try and address this current problem with higher education.

    I found the discussion provocative and enlightening. I hope you will too.

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    • 1 hr 35 min
    Matt Ridley: The Origins of COVID-19

    Matt Ridley: The Origins of COVID-19

    (The Origins Podcast will appear every other Thursday.)

    Matt Ridley is a veteran journalist and science writer, with a training in genetics. He is also a Conservative member of the House of Lords in the UK. Matt and I were able to discuss his training, and his move from scientist to journalist, as well as the spectrum of his experiences in his various roles. We then moved on to the centerpiece of our dialogue: His newest book, Viral, written with geneticist Alina Chan. Together they produced what I view to be a masterpiece of science writing and detective work, exploring the origins of Covid-19. Our discussion, like the book, allowed us to illustrate a lot of the science related to the virus, and the current pandemic.

    There are numerous surprises. One of the most remarkable was the realization that much of the important detective work uncovering the possible origin of the pandemic came from self-trained internet sleuths who were able to uncover masters theses, as well as online registries that had either not been referenced in the professional literature, or incorrectly referenced.

    One comes away from the discussion with the realization that we still do not know for certain the origin of Covid-19, in spite of claims to the contrary. Recent, highly publicized scientific articles suggesting the Wuhan Seafood Market as the origin still have to deal with the fact that no direct evidence of the virus has yet to be uncovered from any of the animals at the market. At the same time, there is clear evidence that the Wuhan Virology Institute was working on Covid viruses, including viruses from bats that had caused Covid-like symptoms coming from a cave located far away in China.

    Neither Ridley nor Chan advocate any particular scenario for the current outbreak. But it is clear that open, transparent discussion of the available evidence is very important if the world is to understand better how this pandemic started, and how to possibly head off, or prepare for the next one.

    I found our discussion, and the book, incredibly informative, and Matt is a lucid and experienced explicator of both science, and social issues. I hope you enjoy the in-depth discussion we had in this, our most recent episode of The Origins Podcast.

    Note that all future ad-free video podcasts will be available to paid subscribers only. The audio version will always be free to all, and a video version on Youtube will also always be available.

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

    • 2 hrs 25 min
    The Origins Podcast: Roger Penrose

    The Origins Podcast: Roger Penrose

    Summary: Roger Penrose and I discussed his life and work in science, mathematics, art and beyond, including the work for which he won the Nobel Prize, and his recent highly controversial proposal regarding the beginning and end of the Universe.

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    Roger Penrose, who shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics, for his 1965 theoretical demonstration that black holes are an inevitable consequence of Einstein’s General Relativity, something that hadn’t been widely accepted at that time, is known to his colleagues as a remarkable mathematical physicist, whose way of picturing things has changed the way we now picture many things. His use of what are called conformal diagrams, now called Penrose diagrams, allow us to intuitively picture processes in curved space, particularly around black holes in ways we couldn’t do otherwise. He also developed something called Penrose tiles, fill a two dimensional plane in a way that was previously thought to be impossible. He both inspired, and was inspired by the famous Dutch artist M. C. Escher, in his ‘impossible’ drawings. Most recently Roger has proposed an alternative picture of the evolution of the Universe called Cyclic Conformal Cosmology, which connects the distant past of the Universe with the far future. It is controversial, and few others have accepted his picture at this time. He and I spent almost 3 hours discussing all of these things, and also his early inspirations as a young man, the nature of mathematics and physics, and much more. I am extremely happy to release this episode with Roger Penrose as the first Substack-hosted episode of The Origins Podcast with Lawrence Krauss. I hope you enjoy it, and all the future episodes to come.

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    • 2 hrs 50 min
    Ayaan Hirsi Ali

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali

    This episode features a very special guest, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has an incredible life story and track record of speaking out against oppression, fighting for freedom of expression, and fostering a deeper discussion around some of today's most important topics.
    Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali-born Dutch-American activist, feminist, author, scholar, and former politician. She received international attention as a critic of Islam and advocate for the rights and self-determination of Muslim women, actively opposing forced marriage, honor killing, child marriage, and female genital mutilation. She has founded an organization for the defense of women's rights, the AHA Foundation. Ayaan Hirsi Ali works for the Hoover Institution and the American Enterprise Institute.


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    • 2 hrs 21 min

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