Every week (for ten weeks) we will be releasing an audio podcast edited down from Alan Lightman’s extended conversations with the scientists, philosophers and theologians seen during the broadcast programs. Alan adds introductory and bridging material, and the podcasts also include music from series composer/performer Zoe Keating. Find them here or wherever you get your podcasts. Please listen, learn, respond and share!
Welcome to The SEARCHING Conversations
Alan Lightman introduces SEARCHING Conversations, a companion podcast to the three part series, SEARCHING: Our Quest for Meaning in the Age of Science.
Alan Lightman: “One of my longtime friends is Rebecca Goldstein. Like me, she’s a scientist and a novelist. She started studying physics at university, but switched to philosophy. One of the things she wrote really speaks to me: ‘Science tells us what is. Philosophy tells us what matters.
Rebecca Goldstein: ‘It’s a serious business… being human is a serious business.’
We spoke on an outdoor deck, high up in the Berkeley Hills in California, where she was spending several months.”
Robert Desimone is the Director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and the Doris and Don Berkey Professor of Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a leading expert in mapping how the brain organizes and prioritizes sensory information to inform our decision-making processes. As a self-described “reductionist” he believes that one day, with enough computing power, it will be possible to predict whether any two people will fall in love, and that Artificial Intelligences will become fully conscious.
Melissa Franklin was the first woman to chair the Physics department at Harvard. She’s an experimentalist who loves to build instruments and measure things, both wrists and ankles at dinner parties (!) and sub-atomic particles. She works on the giant ATLAS detector at CERN in Switzerland. She’s a very lively conversationalist and turned the tables on Alan a few times in this interview, including asking him if he’d “Push the Button?” You’ll hear how she got started in science, and why she thinks the best physicists are a little “wild,” sometimes behaving like “desperadoes.”