Theoretical Physicist, Brian Greene
Our guest this week is Brian Greene, a string theorist and theoretical physicist with a lengthy resume. Known as a science popularizer, he is the author of four books including ‘The Fabric of the Cosmos’ and ‘The Elegant Universe’, both of which became PBS specials that he hosted. He is co-founder and current Board Chairman of the World Science Festival, co-founder of the new and free online series of science courses at World Science U.com and a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University. We will be discussing his work and how best to communicate science to the general public.
Science, Science Fiction, and the Future of Humanity w/ Christopher L. Bennett
Advances in technology have already allowed us to achieve remarkable things, from the internet to space travel to medical technology, all of which would likely have been considered “miracles” only a few centuries ago.
In many works of Science Fiction, and in Star Trek in particular, the future is depicted as one in which this trend continues; working together, we cooperatively solve our social problems and expand into deep space, achieving things that would seem incredible even today. In the biblical story of the Tower of Babel, even God was seemingly afraid of what humans can achieve together. Seeing them building a tower to heaven itself, He foiled the humans by complicating communications by making them all speak different languages. Besides being a rather silly explanation for the origins of language, this was a similar tactic as when God demanded the first humans not to eat from the tree of knowledge and remain ignorant subservient to Him.
Philosophically speaking, should we continue to build that tower and conquer the heavens? Or should we be doomed to ‘speak different languages’ and proceed no farther into the universe?
Science fiction author Christopher L. Bennett addresses some of these issues in his novels, Star Trek: Enterprise: Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel, which directly references the Tower of Babel story, and more recently, Only Superhuman, which deals with future technology granting us real superhuman powers. Bennett is an accomplished sci-fi novelist, having also written a number novels based on Marvel’s superhero universe as well as Star Trek. He will discuss with ETFF science fiction, technology, the future of humanity!
Physics Nobel Prize recipient, Dr. John Mather
This Saturday our guest is Dr. John Mather, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics for his precision measurement of the cosmic microwave background radiation, which further solidified the Big Bang theory. He is now a senior astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and senior project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope. Dr. Mather discusses his work, life, and the development of new technology that is certain to once again inform and enlighten scientists and the public on our fascinating and mysterious universe.
Lawrence M. Krauss on “The Unbelievers”
Where did the universe come from? Is an intelligent creator necessary to have set the Big Bang in motion? Theoretical physicist & cosmologist Lawrence Krauss doesn’t think so, and neither says the scientific evidence.
Krauss laid out that evidence last year in his book, “A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing”, demonstrating that it’s at least possible for a universe to arise spontaneously out of nothing. He’s also been giving talks and participating in debates, promoting science and unbelief, and this year he features with Richard Dawkins in a new documentary film called “The Unbelievers”, in which they travel the country promoting unbelief.
Krauss returns to the show to discuss science, religion, the universe from nothing, and why it’s important to talk about and debate these things. He will also discuss his new film, and much more. Krauss is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is a professor of physics at Arizona State University, where he also serves as Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration and director of the Origins Project. He is most well known for his contributions to cosmology, as he was one of the first physicists to suggest that most of the mass and energy of the universe resides in empty space, an idea now widely known as dark energy.
Climate Change, Revisited w/ Bill McKibben
Our guest this week is Bill McKibben, a widely recognized leading environmental author, journalist and activist. Mr. McKibben’s many books include New York Times Bestsellers The End of Nature and Earth, as well as Deep Economy, The Age of Missing Information, and his new book coming out this Tuesday, Sept 17th, Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist. He is also the founder of the grassroots climate campaign, 350.org. We will discuss his upcoming book, his history and experience in the climate change movement, and the steps human beings must take in order to preserve our very existence.
Science Denial in the 21st Century w/ Darryl Cunningham
Climate change and evolution are both crucially important scientific theories and both have been fully accepted by the scientific community. Why then is there so much doubt and controversy about both among the general public? When the first human being stepped onto the moon, that step was seen across the world on TV and has been verified many times by many sources. Why then are so many convinced it was nothing but a conspiracy?
Science, the scientific process, has proved itself again and again in more ways than can be counted. It has saved lives, enabled communication in ways never before thought possible, and given us an amazing understanding of the universe around us. So why is there so much doubt and denial of science?
We will discuss these issues and more with British cartoonist Darryl Cunningham, a respected science writer and author of the book How to Fake a Moon Landing: Exposing the Myths of Science Denial, in which Cunningham tackles a variety of science denial issues in comic book form. Cunningham has also written other graphic books, including Psychiatric Tales. He was the keynote speaker at the Graphic Medicine Conference in Leeds, England in 2011.
William Gardner on Handling Truth
Why is truth such a hard thing to handle? Why do different people assert different things to be true, with equal certainty? Dr. William Gardner discusses four kinds of truths, which he calls Rhetorica, Mystica, Logica, and Empirica… and why they don’t always get along.
Also, why is it important to distinguish one kind from another, and – most importantly – how can someone living in today’s sea of information navigate the riptides of truths? And does it matter to the way we see the universe and the human condition if we never get to the truth?
We will discuss these questions with Dr. William M. Gardner, author of Handling Truth: Navigating the Riptides of Rhetoric, Religion, Reason, and Research. Gardner received a Ph.D. in General Experimental Psychology from the University of Alabama; he spent a year studying language at the University of Wisconsin, and occasionally during his teaching career took courses in philosophy. His research topics included animal behavior, comparative learning, personality, childcare institutions, and academic honesty.
Post Hurricane Sandy Live Show!
After a month of airing re-run episodes of ETFF due to the critical effects of Hurricane Sandy on WBAI, we finally have a chance to produce a live program- So join us as we discuss traditional humanist concerns on the different ways to interpret life, death, and empathy between liberal religious venues and naturalistic humanism. Also we will talk briefly with Stuart Mason Dambrot on his website which brings cutting edge science to the public via the Internet.
“God and the Folly of Faith” w/ Dr. Victor Stenger
What can religious faith tell us about the universe? What can the scientific endeavor tell us about that same universe? Where do they agree, and where to they clash? How do we know what is real and what is imagined? What constitutes a good reason for believing in something, and how has believing for poor reasons affected our society?
Dr. Stenger is adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado and emeritus professor of physics at the University of Hawaii. His research career spanned the period of great progress in elementary particle physics that ultimately led to the current standard model. In his last project before retiring, he collaborated on the underground experiment in Japan that showed for the first time that the neutrino has mass. The Japanese leader of the project shared the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics for this discovery.
Dr. Stenger is author of many books including the NY Times bestseller, God: The Failed Hypothesis and The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning.
Astro-Physicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson
This Saturday, we speak with Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and director at the Frederick P. Rose Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. He has hosted NOVA Science Now on PBS, and will be hosting Cosmos (based on the original series by Carl Sagan), on FOX (produced by Seth MacFarlane). Frequent guest on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Real Time with Bill Maher and more, Tyson is considered to be one of the most effective science communicators of our time, recently testifying before the Senate to encourage a higher budget for NASA. He has written a number of books, including his most recent Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier. Join us for this enthusiastic, informative and personal interview!