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physics

Sabine Hossenfelder — Existential Physics: A Scientist’s Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions

What is time? Does the past still exist? How did the universe begin and how will it end? Do particles think? Was the universe made for us? Why doesn’t anyone ever get younger? Has physics ruled out free will? Will we ever have a theory of everything? To examine these ideas, Shermer speaks with Sabine Hossenfelder, a research fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, Germany. She has published more than eighty research articles about the foundations of physics, including quantum gravity, physics beyond the standard model, dark matter, and quantum foundations.

ESP Debate: Is Belief in ESP Irrational?

A three-part debate between Steven Pinker and Brian D. Josephson, initiated from a private email exchange in which Josephson challenged Pinker’s claims in a BBC radio program that there is no rational reason to believe in ESP. Here, Pinker first makes his case, followed by Josephson’s critique, and then Pinker’s response to that critique. As is our custom, we prefer to steel-man a position someone else holds, especially with a controversial subject like ESP, but better still is to have a proponent of it make the case for believing in it.

Richard Dawkins — Flights of Fancy: Defying Gravity by Design and Evolution

Michael Shermer speaks with Richard Dawkins about his new book Flights of Fancy: Defying Gravity by Design and Evolution. They also discuss: nationalism; Russian revanchism; the recent rise of authoritarianism and autocracies; U.S. acceptance of the theory of evolution surpassing 50%; E. O. Wilson; and more…

eSkeptic for November 23, 2021

In episode 229, Michael Shermer speaks with Fritjof Capra on Patterns of Connection. PLUS for the next 12 days, now through December 4, 2021, shop our biggest sale ever! Get 40% off digital subscriptions via pocketmags.com, and get 25% off everything at shop.skeptic.com including magazine print subscriptions and back issues!

Fritjof Capra on Patterns of Connection: Is there a Tao of physics? Is life a web? Is humanity at a turning point?

Michael Shermer and Fritjof Capra discuss: the making of a California holist • the influence of Werner Heisenberg’s Physics and Philosophy • 50 years of progress or regress • the 1960s counterculture and challenges to authority • metaphors in science: world as machine, world as alive • limitations of models and theories of reality • limitations of analogies between western physics and eastern mysticism • mind and consciousness • the Santiago theory of consciousness • what it means to be spiritual in an age of science, and more…

eSkeptic for July 13, 2021

From teleportation and space elevators to alien contact and interstellar travel, science fiction and fantasy writers have come up with some brilliant and innovative ideas. Yet how plausible are these ideas? In this lecture from our archives, recorded in February 2014 as part of The Skeptics Society’s Distinguished Science Lecture Series, professor of physics, Dr. Charles Adler, delves into the most extraordinary details in science fiction and fantasy.

Stephen Meyer on the Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries that Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe (and why Shermer remains skeptical)

In episode 185 of Michael Shermer’s podcast, Michael speaks with Stephen Meyer about his best selling book: Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries that Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe. Shermer responds to each of his claims and a stimulating and enlightening conversation ensues.

eSkeptic for May 29, 2021

In episode 185 of Michael Shermer’s podcast, Michael speaks with Stephen Meyer about his best selling book: Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries that Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe. Shermer responds to each of his claims and a stimulating and enlightening conversation ensues.

Leonard Mlodinow — Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics

In Science Salon podcast # 132, Michael Shermer speaks with Leonard Mlodinow about his new book in which he recounts, in a unique and deeply personal portrayal, nearly two decades as Stephen Hawking’s collaborator and friend.

Brian Greene — Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe

Until the End of Time is Brian Greene’s breathtaking new exploration of the cosmos and our quest to find meaning in the face of this vast expanse. Greene takes us on a journey from the big bang to the end of time, exploring how lasting structures formed, how life and mind emerged, and how we grapple with our existence through narrative, myth, religion, creative expression, science, the quest for truth, and a deep longing for the eternal.

eSkeptic for March 17, 2020

In Science Salon # 108 Michael Shermer speaks with Brian Greene about his book Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe. PLUS, during the Coronavirus outbreak, while many schools are closed, Shermer shares one of his Chapman University lectures, taught remotely, free for everyone to view.

eSkeptic for December 19, 2018

There have been many arguments for the existence of God. In this cover story from our just-released issue Skeptic magazine 23.4 (2018), Michael Shermer delves into the question that underlies all the arguments: Why is there something rather than nothing?

Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing?

There have been many arguments for the existence of God. In this cover story from our just-released issue Skeptic magazine 23.4 (2018), Michael Shermer delves into the question that underlies all the arguments: Why is there something rather than nothing?

eSkeptic for September 12, 2018

In Science Salon # 37, Michael Shermer and Neil deGrasse Tyson take a deep dive into the history of science and war, and the strange but productive alliances that have been formed over the centuries—particularly those between astrophysicists and politicians, governments, military, and corporations.

The Inevitability of Intelligent Life?

Nathan H. Lents reviews The Equations of Life: How Physics Shapes Evolution by Charles S. Cockell, and The Human Instinct: How We Evolved to Have Reason, Consciousness, and Free Will by Kenneth R. Miller.

eSkeptic for June 27, 2018

In Science Salon # 27, Dr. Michael Shermer talks with Charles S. Cockell, Professor of astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh and the director of the UK Centre for Astrobiology.

Dr. Charles S. Cockell — The Equations of Life: How Physics Shapes Evolution

Shermer and Cockell discuss: the origins of life on earth; the possibility of finding life on Mars and, if we did, would it have something like DNA, albeit with different base pairs?; Fermi’s paradox: if the laws of physics and evolution are so common throughout the universe, and there are so many earth-like planets in our galaxy alone (estimated to be in the billions), where is everyone?; humanity becoming an interplanetary species (possibly the first), and if so what type of governing system we should employ for, say, the first colonies on Mars.

Dr. Stephon Alexander — The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe

Physicist and jazz saxophonist Dr. Stephon Alexander revisits the ancient realm where music, physics, and the cosmos were one. Playing the saxophone and improvising with equations, Alexander uncovered the connection between the fundamental waves that make up sound and the fundamental waves that make up everything else.

Dr. Janna Levin — Gravitational Waves, Black Holes and the Nature of the Cosmos

In 2016, the National Science Foundation made a thrilling announcement: gravitational waves—first predicted by Einstein as part of his general theory of relativity in 1916—had been detected for the first time. Astrophysicist Dr. Janna Levin tells the epic story of the scientific campaign to record these waves — the holy grail of modern cosmology.

Fine-Tuning and the Multiverse

Photography by Ed Pastor, photo illustration by Pat Linse.

In this essay, as a follow-up to his book, The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed for Us (in which he showed that, based on our knowledge of this universe alone, divine fine-tuning claims are without merit), Victor J. Stenger brings the arguments up-to-date with a discussion of the eternal multiverse hypothesis. This article was published in Skeptic magazine issue 19.3 in 2014. Order this back issue.

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