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The Michael Shermer Show

A series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

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EPISODE # 164

Neil deGrasse Tyson — Cosmic Queries: StarTalk’s Guide to Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We’re Going

Cosmic Queries: StarTalk‘s Guide to Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We‘re Going (book cover)

In this thought-provoking conversation on life, the universe, and everything, Neil deGrasse Tyson tackles the world’s most important philosophical questions about the universe with wit, wisdom, and cutting-edge science. For science geeks, space and physics nerds, and all who want to understand their place in the universe, this enlightening new book offers a unique take on the mysteries and curiosities of the cosmos, building on rich material from his beloved StarTalk podcast, along with dozens of his most popular tweets on science.

Shermer and Tyson discuss:

  • known knowns: what we know about the universe and how we know it, such as how big it is and how it began,
  • known unknowns: what we know that we don’t know about the universe, such as dark energy and dark matter,
  • unknown unknowns: what we don’t even know that we don’t know about the universe,
  • Why is there something rather than nothing?
  • What if we had brains the size of Jupiter: would the universe be understood differently?
  • What was there before the Big Bang (or is this the wrong question)?
  • the origins of morality and the sense of right and wrong,
  • the hard problem of consciousness,
  • why some questions are one thought too many,
  • consensus science,
  • theories of everything from outsiders (and letters Neil receives),
  • panspermia and directed panspermia,
  • Fermi’s paradox: where are all the aliens?
  • Would ETI be bipedal primates (convergent evolution vs. life’s diversity)?
  • AI and the paperclip paradox,
  • How does the luminiferous aether differ from space-time (gravitational waves)?
  • What is gravity, anyway?
  • archeoastronomy and pre-scientific understanding of the cosmos,
  • Is the universe closed, flat, or open?
  • the multiverse: will it ever be a testable hypothesis?
  • the big rip and the end of the universe.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is the host of the popular podcast StarTalk Radio and Emmy award-winning National Geographic Channel shows StarTalk and Cosmos. He earned his BA in physics from Harvard and his Ph.D. in astrophysics from Columbia. The author of more than a dozen books, including the best-selling Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Tyson is the first Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children. Follow Neil deGrasse Tyson on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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This episode is sponsored by:

The Great Courses Plus (sponsor)

This episode was released on March 13, 2021.

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