Part of the ALMA array on the Chajnantor plateau of Chile points skyward to the Milky Way, our own galaxy. The center of our galaxy is visible as a yellowish bulge crossed by dark lanes, which are themselves huge clouds of interstellar dust.
Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 12:31 pm
Millions of people read their horoscopes every day. They hope to find some kind of answer in those lines, as if the cosmos and its alignments had something to say directly to each one of us. Wouldn't it be wonderful if, indeed, the cosmos spoke to us this way?
From Faith Middleton: More institutions of higher learning have shuttle busses to the nearest corporate high rises.
While it is understandable in a time of high unemployment to think about practical careers, it appears more people, including some entrepreneurial university administrators, think it's time to leave the “fluffy stuff” for hobby hour. That fluffy stuff would include literature, philosophy, languages, the arts and history—what we call the humanities. (Or, the stuff that hangs around long after we're dead.) Possibly the new rules of the road go something like this: read Michener before bed, and call it a day.
In 1965, the Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram, spread stamped and addressed but un-mailed letters around public locations in New Haven. Most of the letters were picked up and mailed by strangers who could not possibly derive any material reward for doing the right thing. The strangers also lived out their values based on the address.
This show originally aired on July 2nd, 2013. When considering what show we wanted to re-run, we found this recent article from the New York Times, As Interest Fades in the Humanities, Colleges Worry. The debate is still being discussed and on this show, it gets heated!
This deceptively simple question is the single most important problem facing science as we probe more deeply into the fundamentals of the universe. All of the mysteries physicists and cosmologists face—from the Big Bang to the future of the universe, from the puzzles of quantum physics to the unification of forces and particles—come down to the nature of time. The fact that time is real may seem obvious. You experience it passing every day when you watch clocks tick, bread toast, and children grow. But most physicists, from Newton to Einstein to today’s quantum theorists, have seen things differently. The scientific case for time being an illusion is formidable. That is why the consequences of adopting the view that time is real are revolutionary.
We're talking today about a word that can refer to the solid waste produced by male cattle. It can also refer to nonsensical talk not grounded in fact. In 1986, the American philosopher Harry Frankfurt published a scholarly analysis of this concept. In some ways it was a groundbreaking paper, but it also constituted a furtherance of an almost constant inquiry by thinking people.
If you want to think about the way our diminished interest in the humanities amounts to playing with fire, consider the present moment, which includes wind-driven deadly wildfires in Arizona and a tornado in Windsor and the recurrent suggestion that this is "the new normal."
The new normal is incredibly dangerous and getting worse. We have enormous amounts of scientific information that explains why some of this is happening, and what we should do to keep it from getting worse. But as a planet and a nation, we're not doing much. Why?
Facts change all the time. Smoking has gone from doctor recommended to deadly. We used to think the Earth was the center of the universe and that Pluto was a planet. For decades, we were convinced that the brontosaurus was a real dinosaur. In short, what we know about the world is constantly changing. But it turns out there’s an order to the state of knowledge, an explanation for how we know what we know. Samuel Arbesman is an expert in the field of scientometrics—literally the science of science, and he’ll join us to look at The Half-Life of Facts.
Hear from Jonathon Keats, a conceptual artist, experimental philosopher, and regular CMS contributor, whose latest project is an exhibit that tries to make art more consistent with the Copernican truth that Earth is a mediocre planet.
Plus, find out what the color beige has to do with the universe!
Leave your comments below, e-mail email@example.com or Tweet us @wnprcolin.