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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.
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How do we prime our brains to take the meandering mental paths necessary for creativity? New techniques of brain imaging, neuroscientist Rex Jung says, are helping us gain a whole new view on the differences between intelligence, creativity, and personality.

"With intelligence, there’s the analogy I’ve used is there’s this superhighway in the brain that allows you to get from point A to point B. With creativity, it’s a slower, more meandering process where you want to take the side roads and even the dirt roads to get there."

One of our most popular interviews in which Dr. Jung unsettles some old assumptions — and suggests some new connections between creativity and family life, creativity and aging, and creativity and purpose.

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trentgilliss:

“It immediately looked right.”

It’s been 60 years since the double helix structure of DNA, the key to life itself, was first revealed to the world. The BBC’s “Science in Action” walks the listener along the journey of this discovery with some of the scientific giants of the time. The delight is still there in those voices. So wonderful.

Also clears up some of the debate over the credit of Crick and Watson. Their approaches to modeling and sense of beauty moved the idea forward… through actual base pairing cut-outs!

(h/t Krista Tippett)

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We had to cut quite a few stellar moments from Krista Tippett’s conversation with theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss for the radio show and podcast. He’s a devoted atheist who has some provocative things to say about religion, the Higgs field, our country’s literacy about science and how it should be talked about in the same way as we discuss film or the arts.

Our unedited interview with him allows for the fullest listening, and it’s definitely worth your time.

~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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We get a fair number of people asking us to include more overt atheists in our weekly public radio program and podcast. If you’re one of those listeners, this week’s conversation with theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss will be right up your alley.

He’s an energetic, witty thinker in the New Atheist movement who takes aim — fairly or unfairly — at religious believers. But, more importantly, his way of thinking about science as an integral part of our cultural formation and how many of us are let off the hook all-too-easily when we don’t know basic scientific principles.

His latest book is A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing. And if you’re at all a sci-fi fan, then The Physics of Star Trek is a great read for you.

~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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I fear the copious media coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court’s handling of same-sex marriage might drowned out a pivotal case the Court is hearing right now. At stake is who owns the stuff of which we are made.

As Nina Totenberg reports for NPR, Myriad Genetics and ACLU are arguing about the patentability of our own genetic material. As Christopher Hansen of the American Civil Liberties Union argues:

“A patent isn’t a reward for effort. A patent is a reward for invention. And Myriad didn’t invent anything. The gene exists in the body. All Myriad did is find it.”

But, it may not be as simple as that. Research companies want to be compensated for their efforts. They want to ensure that their work is protected  from other profiteers. But, to what extent? Can human genes themselves be patented, or the mechanisms behind them? What is the right of companies like Myriad Genetics to be rewarded for their efforts that contributes to better clinical care and our social good? What are the ethical and moral responsibilities of these companies to put patients first and not keep them from their own genetic information?

Big questions with huge decisions that will impact us and our children.

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Oftentimes, for many of us, our way into the world of science is through gazing at the night skies, through astronomy, through NASA. We’re drawn to space and frontiers only limited by our imaginations. Natalie Batalha, a mission scientist on NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, brings this same sense of childhood astonishment and wonder to us in our show, "On Exoplanets and Love."
This week’s sketchnotes by Doug Neill captures moments of her insights that, we hope, will lure you into listen and read. Quotations from Carl Sagan and rainbows in oil puddles are only the tip of the iceberg with this show. I encourage you to print it out, hang it on your door or in your office. Share with others. Listen and talk about what you see and what you heard.
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Oftentimes, for many of us, our way into the world of science is through gazing at the night skies, through astronomy, through NASA. We’re drawn to space and frontiers only limited by our imaginations. Natalie Batalha, a mission scientist on NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, brings this same sense of childhood astonishment and wonder to us in our show, "On Exoplanets and Love."

This week’s sketchnotes by Doug Neill captures moments of her insights that, we hope, will lure you into listen and read. Quotations from Carl Sagan and rainbows in oil puddles are only the tip of the iceberg with this show. I encourage you to print it out, hang it on your door or in your office. Share with others. Listen and talk about what you see and what you heard.

~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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Anonymous asked:
Can someone at On Being recommend a good book to start reading the works of Teilhard de Chardin? I was transfixed by this show! Thank you!

Most definitely! There are two books I’d definitely recommend reading.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: Writings SelectedThe first is Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: Writings Selected. It’s edited by the religious scholar Ursula King, who is a guest voice in our podcast on "Teilhard de Chardin’s ‘Planetary Mind’ and Our Spiritual Evolution."

This book is a good introduction to Teilhard’s spiritual thinking and biographical notes. Ms. King writes a beautiful summary at the beginning that gets at the heart of Teilhard de Chardin’s spirituality, which “creatively welds together science, religion, and mysticism in one unifying synthesis.”

Ms. King doesn’t just write about him and selectively quote from his writings. This is a good thing. She pulls healthy sections from some of his most notable works — including Writings in a Time of War, The Divine Milieu, Heart of Matter, and The Phenomenon of Man — which allow you to imbibe the sensibility of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in his own words. The translations are passionate and very readable, thank goodness, because we’ve come across other translations will make you feel like you’re eating week-old bread with nothing to wash it down.

The Jesuit and the Skull by Amir AczelI’d also recommend reading Amir Aczel’s The Jesuit and the Skull. Mr. Aczel is a superb storyteller and popularizer of great scientific minds and finds. For devotees of Teilhard, Mr. Aczel may not do enough, but his focus on the French Jesuit’s role in the discovery of Peking Man in 1929 gives the reader a sense of Teilhard as scientist who is trying to reconcile his religious beliefs with those of the Catholic Church.

Teilhard de Chardin’s struggle is at the heart of Aczel’s book. It’s an adventure story too, trotting the reader all over the globe, introducing us to countries and cultures of the day that speak to our own ongoing wrestling match about evolution.

Whereas, Ms. King’s compilation will force you to read slowly, think deeply, and savor Teilhard’s passionate langue and ideas, The Jesuit and the Skull lets you buzz through with a liveliness and vitality of a good summer vacation exploration.

Hope this helps!
Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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"The human is matter at its most incendiary stage."
~Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955)

Where is technology taking us? Are we heading towards greatness, or just hyper-connected collapse? This challenge was foreseen a century ago by Teilhard de Chardin.

A world-renowned paleontologist, he helped verify fossil evidence of human evolution. A 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 “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. Krista Tippett visits with Teilhard de Chardin’s biographer Ursula King, and we experience his ideas energizing New York Times Dot Earth blogger Andrew Revkin and evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson.

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The true struggle we are witnessing is not between believers and non-believers, but between two sorts of believers. Two ideals, two conceptions of the Divine, are confronting one another… A religion of the earth is being mobilized against the religion of heaven.
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—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, from Some Reflections on the Conversion of the World

Guess what show I’m working on right now…

(via trentgilliss)

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We’re huge fans of PopTech. Almost anything they do is worth watching. And to be able to watch it live…!

Tune in: PopTech Camden now streaming live!

We’re huge fans of PopTech. Almost anything they do is worth watching. And to be able to watch it live…!

Tune in: PopTech Camden now streaming live!

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The Higgs Boson (The “God Particle”) Explained in Comics

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Somehow, this Higgs Boson infatuation will get the better of me and I’ll just stop trying to understand the complexity of it all. Until that day comes, I’ll be watching great explainers like this one. The artist’s comic sketches and way quantum physics is animated get me closer… I think.

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Madness Redefined: Creativity, Intelligence and the Dark Side of the Mind (live video)

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

What’s the line between utter brilliance and incalculable madness? Maybe it’s not a line but a shifting spectrum. Live from the World Science Festival (8pm Eastern), leading researchers discuss new studies showing that people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia tend to possess higher creativity and intelligence.

We’ve got a producer on the ground scoping out the panelists — James FallonKay Redfield JamisonSusan McKeown, and Elyn Saks — as potential guests for On Being. Watch the live video stream and share your suggestions on whom you’d like to hear on our program.

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The Creator: A Film That Explores Alan Turing’s Enduring Question

by Susan Leem, associate producer

This week’s show with physicist Janna Levin spends a great deal of time discussing her novel about Alan Turing. Tonight, Ms. Levin is helping launch a short film about the legacy of the computer scientist and code breaker called The Creator, which makes its world premiere at the World Science Festival:

"[it] follows sentient computers from the future on a mystical odyssey to discover their creator: legendary computer scientist Alan Turing. Decades ago, Turing famously asked, ‘Can machines think?’ and ever since, the notion of computers exceeding human intelligence has transfixed researchers and popular culture alike."
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