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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.
Man came silently into the world. As a matter of fact he trod so softly that, when we first catch sight of him as revealed by those indestructible stone instruments, we find him sprawling all over the old world from the Cape of Good Hope to Peking. Without doubt he already speaks and lives in groups; he already makes fire…. Thus, in the eyes of science, which at long range can only see things in bulk, the ‘first man’ is and can only be a crowd, and his infancy is made up of thousands and thousands of years….
- Teilhard de Chardin, in The Phenomenon of Man
Comments
"For the atheist, winning the evolution-creationism debate means exposing the logical fallacies and bad science of creationism’s meaning-conferring stories. But the victory rings a hollow note, since disabling the “How did we come into being?” question leaves no possibility of asking the more important question “Why are we here?”
The skeptic’s life is always an option, but not everyone who holds fast to AiG’s creation narratives is foolish. Most people prefer a life with meaning, however implausible the meaning-conferring story. Some will themselves to believe the unbelievable because doing so is conducive to a meaningful life.
Could it be that Mr. Ham knows that what he professes to believe is ridiculous and that his Creation Museum is a mockery of intelligent life in 2014? Perhaps. But in the end, is he worse off than the resolute evolutionist who accepts a short existence in a universe with no creator, no purpose?” —Peter Han
Read more of his commentary, "Science Versus The Bible: Reasons Why This Debate Will Never Be Settled."
"For the atheist, winning the evolution-creationism debate means exposing the logical fallacies and bad science of creationism’s meaning-conferring stories. But the victory rings a hollow note, since disabling the “How did we come into being?” question leaves no possibility of asking the more important question “Why are we here?”
The skeptic’s life is always an option, but not everyone who holds fast to AiG’s creation narratives is foolish. Most people prefer a life with meaning, however implausible the meaning-conferring story. Some will themselves to believe the unbelievable because doing so is conducive to a meaningful life.
Could it be that Mr. Ham knows that what he professes to believe is ridiculous and that his Creation Museum is a mockery of intelligent life in 2014? Perhaps. But in the end, is he worse off than the resolute evolutionist who accepts a short existence in a universe with no creator, no purpose?” —Peter Han
Read more of his commentary, "Science Versus The Bible: Reasons Why This Debate Will Never Be Settled."

"For the atheist, winning the evolution-creationism debate means exposing the logical fallacies and bad science of creationism’s meaning-conferring stories. But the victory rings a hollow note, since disabling the “How did we come into being?” question leaves no possibility of asking the more important question “Why are we here?”

The skeptic’s life is always an option, but not everyone who holds fast to AiG’s creation narratives is foolish. Most people prefer a life with meaning, however implausible the meaning-conferring story. Some will themselves to believe the unbelievable because doing so is conducive to a meaningful life.

Could it be that Mr. Ham knows that what he professes to believe is ridiculous and that his Creation Museum is a mockery of intelligent life in 2014? Perhaps. But in the end, is he worse off than the resolute evolutionist who accepts a short existence in a universe with no creator, no purpose?” Peter Han

Read more of his commentary, "Science Versus The Bible: Reasons Why This Debate Will Never Be Settled."

Comments
This illustration of the cosmic microwave background, heat remaining from the origin of the universe, confirms predictions of inflationary theory. The universe is expanding just as described by Einstein’s theory of gravity. As Dan Vergano writes in National Geographic:

"The strong gravitational wave findings support some of the simplest models of inflation and explain how the mass of the universe first escaped from subatomic size without falling in on itself in its very first moments.
That means that in its very first moments, the entire universe reached a size far, far larger than what is observable or will ever be observable to humanity (the “observable” universe is about 92 billion light-years across).”

Amazing. And all done with a big dish.
This illustration of the cosmic microwave background, heat remaining from the origin of the universe, confirms predictions of inflationary theory. The universe is expanding just as described by Einstein’s theory of gravity. As Dan Vergano writes in National Geographic:

"The strong gravitational wave findings support some of the simplest models of inflation and explain how the mass of the universe first escaped from subatomic size without falling in on itself in its very first moments.
That means that in its very first moments, the entire universe reached a size far, far larger than what is observable or will ever be observable to humanity (the “observable” universe is about 92 billion light-years across).”

Amazing. And all done with a big dish.

This illustration of the cosmic microwave background, heat remaining from the origin of the universe, confirms predictions of inflationary theory. The universe is expanding just as described by Einstein’s theory of gravity. As Dan Vergano writes in National Geographic:

"The strong gravitational wave findings support some of the simplest models of inflation and explain how the mass of the universe first escaped from subatomic size without falling in on itself in its very first moments.

That means that in its very first moments, the entire universe reached a size far, far larger than what is observable or will ever be observable to humanity (the “observable” universe is about 92 billion light-years across).”

Amazing. And all done with a big dish.

Comments
This symbol represents why I remain buoyed by the Internet. Knowledge and learning resurfaces in unexpected ways, and then catapults itself to our list of top blog posts after a two-year hiatus.
The string theorist S. James Gates wrote an article for Physics World titled "Symbols of Power: Adinkras and the Nature of Reality." Here he explains how research on a class of geometric symbols known as adinkras could lead to fresh insights into the theory of supersymmetry — and perhaps even the very nature of reality.
This symbol represents why I remain buoyed by the Internet. Knowledge and learning resurfaces in unexpected ways, and then catapults itself to our list of top blog posts after a two-year hiatus.
The string theorist S. James Gates wrote an article for Physics World titled "Symbols of Power: Adinkras and the Nature of Reality." Here he explains how research on a class of geometric symbols known as adinkras could lead to fresh insights into the theory of supersymmetry — and perhaps even the very nature of reality.

This symbol represents why I remain buoyed by the Internet. Knowledge and learning resurfaces in unexpected ways, and then catapults itself to our list of top blog posts after a two-year hiatus.

The string theorist S. James Gates wrote an article for Physics World titled "Symbols of Power: Adinkras and the Nature of Reality." Here he explains how research on a class of geometric symbols known as adinkras could lead to fresh insights into the theory of supersymmetry — and perhaps even the very nature of reality.

Comments

A thrilling, mind-bending view of the cosmos and of the human adventure of modern science. In a conversation ranging from free will to the meaning of the Higgs boson particle, Physicist Brian Greene suggests the deepest scientific realities are hidden from human senses and often defy our best intuition:

"To me, the question of whether there are three dimensions or 10 dimensions is so captivating that it does impact my desire to live. And again, I don’t mean that in some melodramatic sense. If tomorrow we established that there are three dimensions in space, I’m not going to sort of jump off the Empire State Building. But what I mean, is that these questions about the rock bottom structure of reality do inform my life. They are not esoteric scientific issues that I leave in the office when I go home at night."

Comments
So many interesting things to chew on here:
Married people are 10% happier than unmarried people, but having a child reduces happiness by one-quarter of 1% on average. Hmmm… doing the math (tapping finger on temple).
Happiness is maximized at, get this, 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Current outside temperature in Minneapolis is -11 degrees Fahrenheit. Do they even do studies measuring people’s happiness at negative temps?
If 94% of people in Iceland say they are happy and the warmest day of the year on average is 57 degrees Fahrenheit, does happiness decrease at the same rate when the temperature increases or decreases by one percentage point? 
I’m writing this up at 2am because I can’t sleep. Would my questions be stated with more positive words if I read this infographic at 2pm?
I’m way behind my 100 hours of service in the community. Time to get moving!
From the Tumblr desk of our executive editor trentgilliss.
So many interesting things to chew on here:
Married people are 10% happier than unmarried people, but having a child reduces happiness by one-quarter of 1% on average. Hmmm… doing the math (tapping finger on temple).
Happiness is maximized at, get this, 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Current outside temperature in Minneapolis is -11 degrees Fahrenheit. Do they even do studies measuring people’s happiness at negative temps?
If 94% of people in Iceland say they are happy and the warmest day of the year on average is 57 degrees Fahrenheit, does happiness decrease at the same rate when the temperature increases or decreases by one percentage point? 
I’m writing this up at 2am because I can’t sleep. Would my questions be stated with more positive words if I read this infographic at 2pm?
I’m way behind my 100 hours of service in the community. Time to get moving!
From the Tumblr desk of our executive editor trentgilliss.

So many interesting things to chew on here:

  • Married people are 10% happier than unmarried people, but having a child reduces happiness by one-quarter of 1% on average. Hmmm… doing the math (tapping finger on temple).
  • Happiness is maximized at, get this, 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Current outside temperature in Minneapolis is -11 degrees Fahrenheit. Do they even do studies measuring people’s happiness at negative temps?
  • If 94% of people in Iceland say they are happy and the warmest day of the year on average is 57 degrees Fahrenheit, does happiness decrease at the same rate when the temperature increases or decreases by one percentage point? 
  • I’m writing this up at 2am because I can’t sleep. Would my questions be stated with more positive words if I read this infographic at 2pm?
  • I’m way behind my 100 hours of service in the community. Time to get moving!

From the Tumblr desk of our executive editor trentgilliss.

Comments

It’s a constant theme these days: Where is technology taking us? Are we heading towards greatness, or just hyperconnected collapse? This challenge was foreseen a century ago by the Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

A world-renowned paleontologist, he helped verify fossil evidence of human evolution. As a French Jesuit priest and philosopher, he penned forbidden ideas that seemed mystical at the time but are now coming true — that humanity would develop capacities for collective, global intelligence; that a meaningful vision of the earth and the universe would have to include, as he put it, “the interior as well as the exterior of things; mind as well as matter.”

The coming stage of evolution, he said, won’t be driven by physical adaptation but by human consciousness, creativity, and spirit. It’s up to us. Some enlightening conversations about this man with Teilhard de Chardin biographer Ursula King, New York Times Dot Earth blogger Andrew Revkin, and evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson.

Read more and hear the unedited interviews for "Teilhard de Chardin’s ‘Planetary Mind’ and Our Spiritual Evolution" on the On Being website.

Comments

Some of the biggest philosophical and ethical questions of this century may be raised on scientific frontiers — as we gain a better understanding of the deep structure of space and time and the wilder “microworld.” Astrophysicist Martin Rees paints a fascinating picture of how we might be changed by what we do not yet know:

"If science teaches me anything, it teaches me that even simple things like an atom are fairly hard to understand. And that makes me skeptical of anyone who claims to have the last word or complete understanding of any deep aspect of reality."

Comments

"Where did the thought of the Higgs boson come from? Does this particle exist only in our mind? Can it be manipulated by our thoughts? Is it possible that matter isn’t so much a thing as it is a perspective? If so, could it be that by changing this perspective we might discover that our essential nature isn’t matter-based after all?
Maybe the most important thing we have learned with the discovery of the Higgs boson is that there are a lot more questions to be answered and a lot more discoveries to be made – discoveries of both cosmic proportion and, perhaps more importantly, spiritual dimension.”

Read Eric Nelson’s full commentary on how the Nobel Prize for the “God Particle” discovery prompts deeper questions about ourselves.
Photo by Rene Passet

"Where did the thought of the Higgs boson come from? Does this particle exist only in our mind? Can it be manipulated by our thoughts? Is it possible that matter isn’t so much a thing as it is a perspective? If so, could it be that by changing this perspective we might discover that our essential nature isn’t matter-based after all?
Maybe the most important thing we have learned with the discovery of the Higgs boson is that there are a lot more questions to be answered and a lot more discoveries to be made – discoveries of both cosmic proportion and, perhaps more importantly, spiritual dimension.”

Read Eric Nelson’s full commentary on how the Nobel Prize for the “God Particle” discovery prompts deeper questions about ourselves.
Photo by Rene Passet

"Where did the thought of the Higgs boson come from? Does this particle exist only in our mind? Can it be manipulated by our thoughts? Is it possible that matter isn’t so much a thing as it is a perspective? If so, could it be that by changing this perspective we might discover that our essential nature isn’t matter-based after all?

Maybe the most important thing we have learned with the discovery of the Higgs boson is that there are a lot more questions to be answered and a lot more discoveries to be made – discoveries of both cosmic proportion and, perhaps more importantly, spiritual dimension.”

Read Eric Nelson’s full commentary on how the Nobel Prize for the “God Particle” discovery prompts deeper questions about ourselves.

Photo by Rene Passet

Comments

You will not believe how the pediatric neuro-oncologist uses the venom from a scorpion’s sting to paint the malignant tumors in children’s brains and lymphatic systems. And, in the process, tap the human spirit.

"Inside the brain it is very difficult to tell the difference between normal brain and cancer. It’s all about millimeters. You’re a millimeter off, take a few grams of tissue that belong safely in the brain, then the patients wake up not as perfect as when they went into the surgery."

To solve this problem, Dr. Olson looked to the natural world. He found his answer in an unlikely candidate: the Israeli Deathstalker scorpion. which has the most powerful venom of any scorpion. The Deathstalker’s venom contains chlorotoxin, a peptide that attaches to certain brain cancer cells while leaving surrounding healthy cells untouched.

Pair this targeting peptide with a fluorescent dye (a beacon) and Dr. Olson came up with“tumor paint.” This method of lighting up cancer cells is 100,000 times more sensitive than an MRI in detecting cancer cells. And, more importantly, the tumor paint shows surgeons precisely what to cut out while leaving healthy cells in place.

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We’re fascinated with outer space, but there’s a place on earth that’s just as alien — and just as mysterious. It’s the bottom of the ocean, and Sylvia Earle has walked there:

"[I walked] on the bottom, two and a half hours, and I later spoke with an astronaut friend, Buzz Aldrin, and he said, ‘Well, that’s about as long as we had to walk on the moon, two and a half hours.’ But what they did not have on the moon, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong and those who came later, they didn’t have just this avalanche of life, this great diversity all around. Everywhere you looked, there were little fish with lights down the side. Of course, the corals themselves are alive. There were little burrows of creatures that were dwelling in the sediments on the sea floor. The water itself is like minestrone, except all the little bits are alive."

And that life of the ocean sustains all life on earth. Sylvia Earle takes us there with singular urgency and passion.

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I kind of think of this interview as a show for those of us on summer holiday. As you’re driving or hiking or sailing, geomorphologist David Montgomery helps you see the world around you differently — through the lens of geology. As I was driving through the Black Hills (Paha Sapa in Lakota) of South Dakota this past week, I looked at the canted rock formations differently. And I found a deeper appreciation for the push and pull between religion and science has shaped advances in geology from the beginning.

And, if you’re looking for some good dinner table conversation, you really ought to listen to David Montgomery talk about how Noah’s Flood might actually be rooted in an historical event — of the Mediterranean rising so high that it spilt over into the valley of the Black Sea. Or, my favorite line: plate tectonics is to geology what DNA is to biology.

Montgomery tells us how the evolution of landscapes and geological processes shape ecology and humanity, and , how we should read rocks for the stories they tell about who we are and where we came from:

"Geology really is, essentially, the scientific creation story. How did it really work? What can we tell from the nature of the universe around us that would inform us in our thinking about how we got to the place we are now? I think that really is central to our sort of view of ourselves as a species, our place in the universe, as well as sort of your personal relationship to the universe. What am I doing here?"

Comments
jtotheizzoe:

This 1944 infographic on electromagnetic radiation makes your chart of electromagnetic radiation invalid.
Courtesy of the fine folks at Lawrence Livermore, you can tour the 10,000 x 6,958 pixel version to your heart’s content. Do it. You can’t overdose on this kind of cool.
Best thing since the XKCD radiation dose infographic.
(via Gizmodo)
jtotheizzoe:

This 1944 infographic on electromagnetic radiation makes your chart of electromagnetic radiation invalid.
Courtesy of the fine folks at Lawrence Livermore, you can tour the 10,000 x 6,958 pixel version to your heart’s content. Do it. You can’t overdose on this kind of cool.
Best thing since the XKCD radiation dose infographic.
(via Gizmodo)

jtotheizzoe:

This 1944 infographic on electromagnetic radiation makes your chart of electromagnetic radiation invalid.

Courtesy of the fine folks at Lawrence Livermore, you can tour the 10,000 x 6,958 pixel version to your heart’s content. Do it. You can’t overdose on this kind of cool.

Best thing since the XKCD radiation dose infographic.

(via Gizmodo)

Comments
Download

Are we in the matrix? Physicist James Gates reveals why string theory stretches our imaginations about the nature of reality. Also, how failure makes us more complete, and imagination makes us more knowledgeable.

Comments
"Insight is not a matter of memory, of knowledge and time, which are all thought. Insight is the total absence of the whole movement of thought as time and remembrance. So there is direct perception. It is as though I have been going North for the last ten thousand years, and my brain is accustomed to going North, and somebody comes along and says, that will lead you nowhere, go East. When I turn round and go East the brain cells have changed. Because I have an insight that the North leads nowhere. I will put it differently. The whole movement of thought, which is limited, is acting throughout the world now. It is the most important action, we are driven by thought. But thought will not solve any of our problems, except the technological ones. If I see that, I have stopped going North. I think that with the ending of a certain direction, the ending of a movement that has been going on for thousands of years, there is at that moment an insight that brings about a change, a mutation, in the brain cell.” —Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986)
Sujata Krishna offered this passage from Questioning Krishnamurti after listening to our show with Rex Jung. During the interview, he described how the brain, with training, can actually change shape, beef up like a muscle that’s been trained:



"I think there are some strategies to cultivating creativity. It takes a lot of time to change the structure of your brain and there are several studies out there now. You know, the famous juggling study where they have novices who don’t know how to juggle. They image them, then they juggle for three months, they image them again and they see that literally a portion of their brain, a small chunk, but a portion of their brain is beefed up like a muscle in service of that concerted thing that they’re doing with their brain and that is the thing.
The important thing is they’re doing a very new thing in a concerted way. And their brain says, hey, if we’re going to be doing this thing in the environment over and over and over, I’m going to build tissue to do that so that we can do it easier and more efficiently. So if you’re going to be creative, pick one thing, get a lot of experience in that one thing, and do it over and over and over.”



Think about that. We can actually change the shape of our brains. Time to get to work. Putting that idea to work, methinks this magnified image of stained neurons is a fitting pairing.
Image by Mr. McGill / Flickr
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor
"Insight is not a matter of memory, of knowledge and time, which are all thought. Insight is the total absence of the whole movement of thought as time and remembrance. So there is direct perception. It is as though I have been going North for the last ten thousand years, and my brain is accustomed to going North, and somebody comes along and says, that will lead you nowhere, go East. When I turn round and go East the brain cells have changed. Because I have an insight that the North leads nowhere. I will put it differently. The whole movement of thought, which is limited, is acting throughout the world now. It is the most important action, we are driven by thought. But thought will not solve any of our problems, except the technological ones. If I see that, I have stopped going North. I think that with the ending of a certain direction, the ending of a movement that has been going on for thousands of years, there is at that moment an insight that brings about a change, a mutation, in the brain cell.” —Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986)
Sujata Krishna offered this passage from Questioning Krishnamurti after listening to our show with Rex Jung. During the interview, he described how the brain, with training, can actually change shape, beef up like a muscle that’s been trained:



"I think there are some strategies to cultivating creativity. It takes a lot of time to change the structure of your brain and there are several studies out there now. You know, the famous juggling study where they have novices who don’t know how to juggle. They image them, then they juggle for three months, they image them again and they see that literally a portion of their brain, a small chunk, but a portion of their brain is beefed up like a muscle in service of that concerted thing that they’re doing with their brain and that is the thing.
The important thing is they’re doing a very new thing in a concerted way. And their brain says, hey, if we’re going to be doing this thing in the environment over and over and over, I’m going to build tissue to do that so that we can do it easier and more efficiently. So if you’re going to be creative, pick one thing, get a lot of experience in that one thing, and do it over and over and over.”



Think about that. We can actually change the shape of our brains. Time to get to work. Putting that idea to work, methinks this magnified image of stained neurons is a fitting pairing.
Image by Mr. McGill / Flickr
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

"Insight is not a matter of memory, of knowledge and time, which are all thought. Insight is the total absence of the whole movement of thought as time and remembrance. So there is direct perception. It is as though I have been going North for the last ten thousand years, and my brain is accustomed to going North, and somebody comes along and says, that will lead you nowhere, go East. When I turn round and go East the brain cells have changed. Because I have an insight that the North leads nowhere.

I will put it differently. The whole movement of thought, which is limited, is acting throughout the world now. It is the most important action, we are driven by thought. But thought will not solve any of our problems, except the technological ones. If I see that, I have stopped going North. I think that with the ending of a certain direction, the ending of a movement that has been going on for thousands of years, there is at that moment an insight that brings about a change, a mutation, in the brain cell.” —Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986)

Sujata Krishna offered this passage from Questioning Krishnamurti after listening to our show with Rex Jung. During the interview, he described how the brain, with training, can actually change shape, beef up like a muscle that’s been trained:

"I think there are some strategies to cultivating creativity. It takes a lot of time to change the structure of your brain and there are several studies out there now. You know, the famous juggling study where they have novices who don’t know how to juggle. They image them, then they juggle for three months, they image them again and they see that literally a portion of their brain, a small chunk, but a portion of their brain is beefed up like a muscle in service of that concerted thing that they’re doing with their brain and that is the thing.

The important thing is they’re doing a very new thing in a concerted way. And their brain says, hey, if we’re going to be doing this thing in the environment over and over and over, I’m going to build tissue to do that so that we can do it easier and more efficiently. So if you’re going to be creative, pick one thing, get a lot of experience in that one thing, and do it over and over and over.”

Think about that. We can actually change the shape of our brains. Time to get to work. Putting that idea to work, methinks this magnified image of stained neurons is a fitting pairing.

Image by Mr. McGill / Flickr

~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Comments