The Synthesis of Science and Magic, with Jason Latimer - Ep #52


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By Mark Bayer. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Jason Latimer is the creator of Impossible Science, an academic platform that unites science and magic to inspire wonder in education. He is also the curator of the Fleet Science Center and co-host of SciJinks, a popular series on the Science Channel. Jason is a Grand Prix best overall World Champion of magic, having developed a thrilling style of magic that is as captivating as it is educational.

Education is one of the most important things in personal development, but it isn’t always the most fun or interesting. Magic, on the other hand, can be incredibly interesting, though not necessarily informative. When this week’s guest saw a magician as a child, it inspired a curiosity for science that has led to an exciting and successful career uniting these two seemingly distinct fields.

Jason earned his degree in mathematics and econometrics from the University of California Santa Barbara. While attending UCSB he also worked with other universities, doing research in Perceptual Psychology and Applied Physics. Jason’s professional work has earned him recognition and awards in physics and engineering.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of When Science Speaks

[2:48] How Jason came to love magic and how it relates to science

[9:58] Not knowing something is the key to learning

[13:01] What Jason is working on now

[19:31] Impossible Science is meant for all ages

[21:50] STEM topics should be taught as a tool

[24:15] The origin and etymology of the word “scientist”

[27:05] How to connect with Jason

Connect with Jason Latimer

Jason’s Website

Twitter for Jason

YouTube for Jason

The unknown is a good thing

It doesn’t feel good to be in the dark, and the unknown can be a frightening prospect. Gaining an understanding of the world, and acquiring scientific knowledge, can give a sense of control. The reverse of that is an almost limitless amount of things which we haven’t learned yet. The realization of that truth can be tough to swallow. So what is the best way to gain the strength to embrace our lack of knowledge and gain a sense of wonder?

Kids tend to go through a phase where they are always asking “why”. As Jason mentions in the episode, it is an honest and earnest question, and that spirit starts to diminish as we get older. Putting up an illusion of knowledge can be tempting, as it can provide a buffer of comfort when facing the vastness of the unknown. The alternative is to develop that sense of wonder and gain an appetite for learning.

Impossible Science is meant for all ages

Learning is certainly important for the young, but what is often overlooked is that we never stop learning - or at least we shouldn’t stop! Learning not only enriches our experience of the world around us, but it also is very good for our minds and bodies to help keep us young. So is there a targeted age group at Impossible Science that Jason is hoping to reach? Absolutely not!

As Jason mentions in the episode, Impossible Science is for everyone of all ages. When the experiments for the project were being designed, they engineered them to be accessible and enjoyable for all ages. There have been certain appearances, such as ComicCon, where they have had a more targeted age group, but Impossible Science is for everyone from, as Jason puts it in the episode, “5 to 105”.

Learn more about Jason Latimer and his work on Impossible Science in this week’s episode of When Science Speaks.

Connect With Mark and When Science Speaks

Subscribe to When Science Speaks on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher

59 episodes