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Best James Fodor podcasts we could find (updated July 2020)
Best James Fodor podcasts we could find
Updated July 2020
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In this sixth and final part in our series on economic growth and development, I discuss in more detail some of the key institutions necessary for economic growth to begin, focusing on property rights, enforcement of contracts, and control of corruption. I review the importance of these institutions in the context of historical case studies of coun…
 
In this fifth part of our series on economic growth and development, I examine the major factors that have been advanced as explaining differences in growth outcomes between countries. I provide a summary of the arguments and evidence for and against the importance of culture, dependency, democracy, geography, education, and institutions in account…
 
In this fourth part of our series on economic growth and development, I outline the major theories of economic development developed over the past sixty years. I trace the development of such theories beginning with the Harrod-Domar theory, and proceeding through the Solow-Swan model, the Ramsey model, Romer's spillovers model, and endogenous growt…
 
Astrophysicist Mario Livio joins me to discuss his latest book 'Galileo and the Science Deniers', which chronicles the scientific discoveries of Galileo Galilei and how his advocacy of the heliocentric theory led him into confrontation with the Pope. Our conversation covers the significance of Galileo's discovers, the strengths and weaknesses of hi…
 
In this third part of the series on economic growth, I discuss the process of structural change as economies progress from underdeveloped to developed, beginning with an overview and historical analysis of Rostow's Stages of Growth model. I then discuss the structures of agricultural production around the world, focusing on barriers to adoption of …
 
In the second part of our series on economic growth and development, I provide a brief history of the world economy, beginning with the key features of premodern economies and the Malthusian trap. I then outline critical developments and points of debate in subsequent economic history, including the Great Divergence, the First and Second Industrial…
 
In this the first in an eight-part series covering the causes of economic growth and development, I provide an introduction to the key concepts of absolute and relative poverty, different theories of development, and how GDP is defined and measured. I also discuss the differences between rural and urban poverty, give an overview of the different le…
 
Continuing the discussion of photosynthesis from the previous episode, here I outline the importance of the oxygen evolving complex in oxidising water molecules, the importance of photosystem I in extracting additional energy, and the role of light-independent reactions of the Calvin cycle in carrying out carbon fixation. Recommended pre-listening …
 
An overview of photosynthesis, including the structure of chloroplasts, phototransduction of energy by chlorophyll, the macromolecular complexes of the thylakoid membrane. I also discuss the mechanisms of electron transfer along the electron transport chain, and the role of ATP synthase in generating ATP. Recommended pre-listening is Episode 75: Ce…
 
A special episode in which I discuss some of the ideas and principles behind the production of the show, sources I use for episodes, and my motivations for starting the podcast. I also talk about my own background and research interests, my thoughts about the relationship between science and philosophy, and some ideas for the future of the Science …
 
In this special celebratory 100th episode, I discuss six major unsolved problems in science: the P vs NP problem in computer science, the mystery of dark matter in physics, the existence of the island of stability in chemistry, the historical occurrence of a snowball Earth scenario from geology, the protein folding problem from biochemistry, and th…
 
A discussion of the method of reproduction of flowering plants, including an overview of the structure and function of the different components of the flower, pollination, double fertilisation, and seed formation, dispersal, and germination. I also discuss the different types of fruit and vegetables and how the different components of the plant rel…
 
An overview of the nature and properties of electromagnetic radiation, including a discussion of the electromagnetic spectrum, the nature of photons, the speed of light, near and far field radiation, and technological applications of electromagnetic radiation in AM and FM radiation and microwave ovens. Recommended pre-listening is Episode 61: Magne…
 
In this special episode I am joined by Jared Bauer, cofounder of Wisecrack, to discuss science and philosophy in movies and popular culture. We cover a range of topics including how science is portrayed in movies, how the film medium leads to science and history being presented in particular ways, and how movies and popular culture can be used as a…
 
In the final episode of our series on computers, I give an introduction to high-level programming languages, how they relate to assembly language and machine code, and how the compiler converts high level programs into a form that can be executed by the processor. I then outline some of the key components to high-level programming, such as data str…
 
In this the fifth episode of the series 'how computers work', I begin with a summary of some of the major methods of improving the performance of the central processing unit, including pipelining, cache memory, branch prediction, and parallel processing. Following a brief introduction to assembly langague and its relationship to the machine code, I…
 
In this fourth part in our series on computers, I begin with an overview of the von Neumann architecture used in most modern computers. This leads in a discussion of the structure and operation of the central processing unit, covering the instruction register, the program counter, main memory, the data and address buses, the ALU, and the control Un…
 
In this third part of the series on computers I begin with an overview of Boolean algebra, including a discussion of key logic functions such as NOT, AND, and OR, and also discuss how CMOS logic gates implementing these functions are fabricated from transistors. I then survey the wide variety of logic components used in electronic circuits, includi…
 
In this second episode in the series, I explain binary digital coding to motivate a discussion of the operation of transistors. Beginning with an examination of the properties of semiconductors and why they are useful for constructing transistors, I then examine how MOSFET transistors are constructed by combining pMOS and nMOS semiconductors.…
 
We begin our series discussing how computers work with an overview of the theory of computation, including a discussion of Turing machines and Turing completeness, and a brief history of early analog and digital computers. I also provide an introduction to the key components of a modern computer, and review the different levels in the hierarchy of …
 
An analysis of the major factors influencing climactic variation over Earth's surface, including a discussion of the effect of differential heating at different latitudes, the impact of continentality and sea breezes, the causes of monsoons, the coriolis effect, atmospheric circulation cells, the jet streams, and thermohaline circulation currents i…
 
An overview of the composition and layers of the Earth's atmosphere, including a discussion of the exosphere, thermosphere, mesosphere, stratosphere, and troposphere. I also discuss the ozone layer and ozone depletion, the Karman line which marks the boundary of space, and the ionosphere. Recommended pre-listening is Episode 42: Gases and Gas Laws.…
 
A discussion of the shape of the Earth and the difficulties and conventions involved in describing a three-dimensional surface on a two-dimensional map, including an overview of some of the major map projections and their various limitations. This leads in to an overview of Earth's axial tilt and variation in solar insolation by latitude as an expl…
 
An overview of some of the key geographic features of planet Earth, including a discussion of the concept and classification of continents, the major mountain ranges and major river basins around the planet. I also discuss the major world biomes, their major climactic and botanical features, and their relative locations across the Earth.…
 
An outline of the various lines of evidence in favour of the theory of evolution by natural selection, including a discussion of natural and artificial examples of natural selection in action, as well as a review of the evidence from the fossil record, comparative anatomy, biogeography, and molecular evidence. Recommended pre-listening is Episode 2…
 
A discussion of some of the major conceptual aspects of Quantum Field Theory, including the concept of a quantum field, classical field theory, harmonic oscillators, second quantisation, interacting theories, and the relationship of QFT to other branches of physics. Recommended pre-listening is Episodes 83 and 84, Advanced Quantum Mechanics parts I…
 
An examination of some more advanced concepts of quantum mechanics, focusing on describing Dirac's bra-ket formulation of quantum theory. I discuss the formulation of quantum mechanics in terms of vectors in Hilbert spaces, Hermitian operators as corresponding to observables, orthogonality of eigenstates, incompatible observables, and Schrodinger's…
 
Continuing the series on intelligence, in this episode I discuss the genetic and neurological correlated of intelligences, the efficacy of measures to increase intelligence, and the causes and consequences of the Flynn effect. Also includes an analysis of the heritability of intelligence and how to properly interpret heritabilty research. Recommend…
 
The first in a three part series on human intelligence, covering debates about the definition of intelligence, how intelligence is measured, factor analysis and the origin of the g factor, and interpretations of the g factor as corresponding to intelligence. Also includes an analysis of Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, and the cross-cult…
 
A concise introduction to key concepts of statistics, explained in as clear a manner as possible. Includes a discussion of key concepts of probability, types of statistical data, sampling methods, the difference between descriptive and inferential statistics, statistical significance, and p-values. I conclude with a brief look at three common stati…
 
An explanation of the process of human hearing, covering the structure and function of the outer, middle, and inner ears, with a focus on explaining how the hair cells of the cochlea transduce mechanical motion into electrical signals that are interpreted as sound. I also discuss the mechanisms of sound localisation, some of the causes of deafness,…
 
An introduction to the physics of protons and neutrons in the atomic nucleus, with a focus on explaining the different modes of radioactivity, alpha, beta, and gamma decay, as well as different ways of measuring radiation and some of its biological effects. I also discuss some applications of radioactivity in radiometric dating, radiotherapy, nucle…
 
An introduction to the economic concepts of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and unemployment, including a discussion of how these concepts are defined, how they are measured, their relevance to understanding economic activity, and some limitations of these concepts as they are currently employed. Recommended pre-listening is Episode 65: Inflation and …
 
A discussion of minerals, including their main properties such as crystal structure, habit, cleavage, lustre, and hardness, followed by a brief overview of some of the major mineral classes, with a focus on the various types of silicate minerals. I also discuss the rock cycle and the relationship between the three major types of rocks: igneous, sed…
 
Continuing on from the previous episode, I discuss the role of antibodies and antigens in mediating adaptive immunity, and follow with a discussion of the functions and roles of B-cells and T-cells. I conclude the episode with an overview of the many components of the immune system and a discussion of how they interact to protect the body from path…
 
An overview of the human immune system, beginning with some basic anatomy of the lymphatic system, and proceeding through a discussion of the distinction between the innate and adaptive immune systems, the role of skin and mucus membranes in providing barriers to pathogen entry, the inflammatory response, an overview of the different types of leuko…
 
A social scientific discussion and comparison of some of the major political ideologies in the world today, beginning with an overview of the origins, meaning, and limitations of the 'left-right' political spectrum, and continuing with an analysis of the historical origin and key beliefs of conservatism, liberalism, socialism, communism, anarchism,…
 
Continuing from Episode 69, I explore the diversity of the mammals, looking at all the mammalian orders and their major families. Special focus is given to primates and particularly hominids, which are discussed at the species level. If you enjoyed the podcast please consider supporting the show by making a paypal donation or becoming a patreon sup…
 
In this episode we explore the diversity of the animal kingdom. I first discuss the history of taxonomy and give an overview of some key concepts such as morphological similarity, phylogenetic analysis, systematics, cladistics, binomial classification, and the taxonomic hierarchy. Then follows an explanation of the diversity of and relationships be…
 
An overview of the structure and function of proteins. Beginning with a discussion of some key research methods for studying proteins, including column chromatography, electrophoresis, and x-ray crystallography, we then discuss the structure of proteins, with a focus on secondary structure, motifs, structural domains, and quaternary structure. The …
 
Concluding the brief exploration of language begun last time, this episode examines semantics, including the distinction between sense and reference and different types of utterances, pragmatics, including conversational maxims and implicatures, and sociolinguistics, including prestige dialects and speech acts. Recommended pre-listening is Episode …
 
In this first of a two-part episode, I discuss the phenomenon of language. Here we consider phonetics, how sounds are produced and articulated, phonology, how different sounds are distinguished from one another and treated across different languages, morphology, how sounds are combined into units of meaning called morphemes, and in turn how these a…
 
An introduction to the concept of money, including its uses, purpose, and a brief account of its history. I discuss the notion of money as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of value, and some of the properties that make particular goods useful as money. I also discuss various measures of the money supply, and briefly outline the …
 
A look at how we understand and think about semantic knowledge. I discuss semantic and propositional networks, the spreading activation model, present some evidence in favour of these models, and discuss the promising new approach of connectionism. I also examine how we classify objects into categories, looking at prototype and exemplar theories, f…
 
An overview of the structure and function of the nervous system, including a discussion of the autonomic and somatic divisions of the peripheral nervous system, the spinal cord, and the brain. I discuss the major regions and structures of the brain, including the brainstem, the cerebellum, the cerebral cortex, and various subcortical structures. I …
 
An overview of organic chemistry, beginning with a discussion of the nature of organic compounds, the history of vitalism and its influence on the development of organic chemistry, and what makes carbon so special. I then discuss some important concepts in organic chemistry, including IUPAC nomenclature, functional groups, aromaticity, fullerenes, …
 
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