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A podcast anthology of speculative fiction with music as a theme. Science fiction, fantasy, and slipstream tales include stories of a future world where music has been lost, office workers whose imbedded soundtracks direct their lives, the Martian superstar who doesn't want to play anymore, singers who can compel men to kill with the sound of their voices, and more. The eight episodes present short stories by Keyan Bowes, Ernest Hogan, Elaine Isaak, Lejon A. Johnson, Jack Mangan, Rick Novy, ...
 
Far-reaching conversations with a worldwide network of scientists and mathematicians, philosophers and artists developing new frameworks to explain our universe's deepest mysteries. Join host Michael Garfield at the Santa Fe Institute each week to learn about your world and the people who have dedicated their lives to exploring its emergent order: their stories, research, and insights…
 
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Now, maybe more than ever before, it is time to learn the art of skepticism. Amidst compounded complex crises, humankind must also navigate a swelling tidal wave of outright lies, clever misdirections, and well-meant but dangerous mistaken claims….in other words, bullshit. Why is the 21st Century such a hotbed of fake news? How can we structure our…
 
Is there life on Mars? Or Titan? What are we even looking for? Without a formal definition, inquiries into the stars just echo noise. But then, perhaps, the noise contains a signal… To find life elsewhere in the universe requires us to wager a defined biology, to come to terms with what it means to be alive. Looking out is looking in, to ask the ha…
 
One of the defining characteristics of complex systems science is the shift in emphasis from objects to relationships and processes. How is information related to matter and energy, and how do the distinct formulations of different scientific lineages braid together in a unifying pattern? This search for a more fundamental understanding drives dire…
 
Since the 1940s, scientists have puzzled over a curious finding: armed conflict data reveals that human battles obey a power-law distribution, like avalanches and epidemics. Just like the fractal surfaces of mountains and cauliflowers, the shape of violence looks the same at any level of magnification. Beyond the particulars of why we fight, this p…
 
The magnitude of interlocking “wicked problems” we humans face today is daunting…and made all the worse by the widening schisms in our public discourse, the growing prominence of hate speech and prejudicial violence. How can we collaborate at scale if it’s not even safe to act as citizens, to participate in a sufficiently diverse society, without b…
 
Each of us at some point in our lives will face traumatizing hardship — abuse or injury, lack or loss. And all of us must weather the planetwide effects of this pandemic, economic instability, systemic inequality, and social unrest…and find a way to live on with their consequences. Trauma isn’t evenly distributed. But it IS ubiquitous, and learning…
 
Cities define the modern world. They characterize the human era and its impacts on our planet. By bringing us together, these "social reactors" amplify the best in us: our creativity, efficiency, wealth, and communal ethos. But they also amplify our worst: the incidence of social crimes, the span of inequality, our vulnerability to epidemics. And b…
 
We’re living through a unique moment in history. The interlocking crises of a global pandemic, widespread unemployment, social unrest, and climate change, show us just how far human civilization has traveled along a path that leads to collapse. It is more crucial than ever to seek a deeper understanding of the systems that sustain us, and the thin …
 
Mathematical models of the world — be they in physics, economics, epidemiology — capture only details that researchers notice and deem salient. Rather than objective claims about reality, they encode (and thus enact) our blind spots. And the externalities created by those models — microscopic pathogens invisible to the naked eye, or differences in …
 
Humans, like any other organism, occupy a niche — a “Goldilocks Zone” for which our biology is suited, relatively to the extreme diversity of habitats on Earth. But to understand the natural habitat of human beings we would first have to perform a comprehensive survey of human settlements throughout history and prehistory, looking for patterns in t…
 
If COVID-19 has made anything obvious to everyone, it might be how the very small can force the transformation of the very large. Disrupt the right place in a network and exponential changes ripple outward: a virus causes a disease that leads to economic shocks and other social impacts that, in turn, re-open urban spaces to nonhuman animals and cha…
 
It takes effort to embrace complexity. Simple models, simple narratives seem easier up front, their consequences only obvious in retrospect. When we talk about COVID-19 transmission rates, we’re using averages that do not offer crucial insights into how those rates may vary. When we target complex ailments with silver-bullet pharmaceuticals, we don…
 
COVID-19 has delivered an extraordinary shock to our assumptions, be they in how we practice education, business, research, or governance. When we base forecasts on bad data, even solid logic gives us unreliable results. Centralized authority is good for organized coherent action but isn’t agile or fine-grained enough to deal with local variance an…
 
Our histories constrain what opportunities we notice and can take in life. The genes you have define the shape your body can grow into, in concert with environmental influences. But the cards you’re dealt don’t tell you how to play your hand; for that, you have to know which game you’re playing. Natural selection acts through the relationships betw…
 
For this special mini-series covering the COVID19 pandemic, we will bring you into conversation with the scientists studying the bigger picture of this crisis, so you can learn their cutting-edge approaches and what sense they make of our evolving global situation. This week’s guest is Caroline Buckee, formerly an SFI Omidyar Fellow, one of MIT Tec…
 
In several key respects, COVID-19 reveals how crucial timing is for human life. The lens of complex systems science helps us understand the central role of time in coordinating across scales, and how synchrony or misalignment leads to major consequences—whether it’s in how the metabolic differences between bats and humans can create an opportunity …
 
The coronavirus pandemic is in one sense a kind of prism: it reveals the many interlocking systems that, until disrupted, formed the mostly invisible backdrop of modern life, challenging the economy and our models of the world at the same time that it threatens individual and social health. The virus acts on, and invites new understanding through, …
 
“We should not have a strategy that involves killing a sizable percentage of the population. But, even if you were going to get over that ethical hurdle, [herd immunity for Covid-19] still isn't going to work.” - Sam Scarpino For this special mini-series covering the Covid-19 pandemic, we will bring you into conversation with the scientists studyin…
 
Chances are, if you are listening to this around the time it was released, you’re listening alone. Right now the human species is conducting one of the most sweeping synchronized experiments of all time: physical isolation, restricted travel, shuttered businesses, our social lives moved online. Many people wonder whether all of this is truly necess…
 
Pandemics like the current novel coronavirus disease outbreak provide a powerful incentive to study the dynamics of complex adaptive systems. They also make it obvious, as new information streams in and our forecasts change in real-time, how hard emergent behaviors are to model and predict. For this special mini-series covering the COVID-19 crisis,…
 
One feature common to nonlinear phenomena is how they challenge intuitions. Maybe nowhere is this more apparent than in studying the evolutionary process, and organisms in which not just genes but learned behaviors reproduce themselves provide a fountain of reliable surprises. Teasing out the intricate dynamics of gene-culture co-evolution is no ea…
 
Since the term was coined in 1956, artificial intelligence has been a kind of mirror that tells us more about our theories of intelligence, and our hopes and fears about technology, than about whether we can make computers think. AI requires us to formulate and specify: what do we mean by computation and cognition, intelligence and thought? It is a…
 
Over one hundred years ago, Sir Francis Galton asked 787 villagers to guess an ox’s weight. None of them got it right, but averaging the answers led to a near-perfect estimate. This is a textbook case of the so-called “wisdom of crowds,” in which we’re smarter as collectives than we are as individuals. But the story of why evolution sometimes favor…
 
Science is often seen as a pure, objective discipline — as if it all rests neatly on cause and effect. As if the universe acknowledges a difference between ideal categories like “biology” and “physics.” But lately, the authority of science has had to reckon with critiques that it is practiced by flawed human actors inside social institutions. How m…
 
Science has always been about improving human understanding of our universe…but scientists have not always prioritized accessibility of their hard-won results. The deeper research digs into specialized sub-fields and daunting data sets, the greater the divide a team must cross to help communicate their findings not just to the public, but to other …
 
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