6 episodes

"The Joy of Why" is a Quanta Magazine podcast about curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge. The acclaimed mathematician and author Steven Strogatz interviews leading researchers about the great scientific and mathematical questions of our time.

The Joy of Why Quanta Magazine

    • Science
    • 4.9 • 94 Ratings

"The Joy of Why" is a Quanta Magazine podcast about curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge. The acclaimed mathematician and author Steven Strogatz interviews leading researchers about the great scientific and mathematical questions of our time.

    Will the James Webb Space Telescope Reveal Another Earth?

    Will the James Webb Space Telescope Reveal Another Earth?

    With the December 2021 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, one of the most expensive and ambitious scientific initiatives ever attempted commenced operations. Now that the telescope has been successfully deployed in its unique position in space, its advanced instruments will be able to gather data on questions that scientists once could only dream of answering. Is there life on other planets? How do supermassive black holes mold the mass in their galaxies? JWST may soon be able to tell us. In this episode, host Steven Strogatz speaks to two researchers leading JWST's observations of our universe: Marcia Rieke, the principal investigator of the telescope's Near-Infrared Camera, and Nikole Lewis, an astrophysicist studying planets outside of our solar system. (For more on the JWST and the history of its construction and launch, read Natalie Wolchover's article, "The Webb Space Telescope Will Rewrite Cosmic History. If It Works," which was recently honored with a 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.)

    • 49 min
    Where Do Space, Time and Gravity Come From?

    Where Do Space, Time and Gravity Come From?

    Einstein's description of gravity as a curvature in space-time doesn't easily mesh with a universe made up of quantum wavefunctions. Theoretical physicist Sean Carroll (of the "Mindscape" podcast) tells Steven Strogatz about the mind-bending implications of the quest for quantum gravity.

    • 42 min
    Why Is Inflammation a Dangerous Necessity?

    Why Is Inflammation a Dangerous Necessity?

    We've heard a lot about the immune system during the COVID-19 pandemic, but of course our immune system fights off much more than the coronavirus. And while the immune system protects us brilliantly from countless pathogens every day, sometimes it can also attack our own bodies, causing harmful and even deadly inflammation. In this episode, host Steven Strogatz speaks with Shruti Naik, an immunologist and assistant professor of biological sciences at NYU's Langone Medical Center, to learn why the immune system works so well - and how that effectiveness can backfire.

    • 40 min
    Untangling Why Knots Are Important

    Untangling Why Knots Are Important

    Everyone knows what a knot is. But they have special significance in math and science because their properties can help unlock hidden secrets like the biochemistry of DNA or the geometry of three-dimensional spaces. In this episode, Steven Strogatz explores the mysteries of knots with the mathematicians Colin Adams and Lisa Piccirillo.

    • 44 min
    Why Do We Die Without Sleep?

    Why Do We Die Without Sleep?

    Why do we need sleep? In the search for answers, scientists have uncovered more thought-provoking mysteries central to what sleep is, how it evolved and the benefits that it provides. In this episode, the mathematician and science communicator Steven Strogatz speaks with Dragana Rogulja, an assistant professor of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School who recently discovered how sleep deprivation causes death in fruit flies, and Alex Keene, a neurogeneticist at Texas A and M University studying cave fish to understand sleep's evolutionary history.

    • 43 min
    Trailer: The Joy of Why

    Trailer: The Joy of Why

    An introduction to the new Quanta Magazine podcast The Joy of Why, in which noted mathematician and author Steven Strogatz talks with experts about some of the greatest scientific questions of all time.

    • 2 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
94 Ratings

94 Ratings

etherdog ,

Intellectually honest and stimulating!

Steve Strogatz has long been a great science communicator and this new podcast is reaching out to areas of science that are not just math (which is sufficiently interesting in itself).

Palunargar ,

Great podcast making complex science issues very access to Everyone

I enjoyed the podcast about the inflammatory body response as a necessity. Thanks!

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