124 | Solo: How Time Travel Could and Should Work
Play • 2 hr 42 min

Time! It doesn’t stop, psychological effects of being under lockdown notwithstanding. How we experience time depends on our situation, but time itself just marches forward. Unless, of course, it’s possible to travel to the past, as countless science-fiction scenarios have depicted. But does that really make sense? Couldn’t we then change the past, even so dramatically that our own existence would never have happened? In this solo podcast I talk about both the physics and fiction of time travel. I point out that it might be allowed by the laws of physics, and explain how that would work, but that we really don’t know. And I try to make sense of some of the less-sensible depictions of cinematic time travel. Coming up with a logical theory that could account for Back to the Future isn’t easy, but podcasting isn’t for the squeamish.

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But wait, there’s more! I was contacted by Janna Levin, who we fondly remember from Episode 27. Janna moonlights as Chair and Director of Sciences at Pioneer Works, an institution dedicated to bringing together creative people in art and science. Like the rest of us, they’ve been looking for ways to offer more online content in these pandemic times, so we thought about ways to collaborate. Here’s what they came up with: artist Azikiwe Mohammed has created an animated video backdrop to this podcast episode. The visuals are trippy, colorful, and inspired by (without trying to directly illustrate) what I talk about in the episode. You can check out a brief write-up at the Pioneer Works site, or view the video directly below.


Pitchfork Economics with Nick Hanauer
Pitchfork Economics with Nick Hanauer
Civic Ventures
The sounds of the new administration
Celebrate the end of inauguration week with this compilation of fun soundbites from past guests who are now serving in the Biden Administration! Featuring:  Jared Bernstein, from ‘What can a board game teach us about capitalism? https://pitchforkeconomics.com/episode/what-can-a-board-game-teach-us-about-capitalism/ Chris Lu, from ‘Whatever happened to overtime?’ https://pitchforkeconomics.com/episode/whatever-happened-to-overtime/ Felicia Wong, from ‘Why is getting out of poverty so hard?’ https://pitchforkeconomics.com/episode/why-is-getting-out-of-poverty-so-hard/  Lisa D. Cook, from ‘Economic Woman’: https://pitchforkeconomics.com/episode/economic-woman-with-katrine-marcal-lisa-d-cook-and-anna-gifty-opoku-agyeman/  Mehrsa Baradaran, from ‘The hidden costs of banking while poor’: https://pitchforkeconomics.com/episode/the-hidden-costs-of-banking-while-poor-with-mehrsa-baradaran-and-cate-blackford/ Ron Klain, from ‘Leadership failure made the U.S. pandemic worse’: https://pitchforkeconomics.com/episode/leadership-failure-made-the-u-s-pandemic-worse-with-ronald-klain/  Heather Boushey, from ‘Inequality and coronavirus’ and ‘Whatever happened to the middle class?  https://pitchforkeconomics.com/episode/inequality-and-coronavirus-with-heather-boushey-and-michelle-holder/ https://pitchforkeconomics.com/episode/whatever-happened-to-the-middle-class/  Joelle Gamble, from ‘How Econ 101 upholds racist systems’: https://pitchforkeconomics.com/episode/how-econ-101-upholds-racist-systems-with-joelle-gamble/  Bharat Ramamurti, from ‘The case for a True New Deal’: https://pitchforkeconomics.com/episode/the-case-for-a-true-new-deal-with-bharat-ramamurti/  Show us some love by leaving a rating or a review! RateThisPodcast.com/pitchforkeconomics  Website: http://pitchforkeconomics.com/ Twitter: @PitchforkEcon Instagram: @pitchforkeconomics Nick’s twitter: @NickHanauer
12 min
Science Friday
Science Friday
Science Friday and WNYC Studios
Orange Bat, Greenland Bacteria, COVID Anniversary, Alien Argument. Jan 22, 2021, Part 2
Orange Is The New Black—For Bats For a newly-described bat from West Africa, dubbed Myotis nimbaensis (mouse-eared bat from the Nimba Mountains), scientists are reaching for a different part of the color wheel. While Myotis does have some black on its body, the overwhelming majority of the bat’s fur is bright orange. A team of scientists from the American Museum of Natural History and Bat Conservation International stumbled on the new species while surveying populations of another endangered bat in the Nimba Mountains. It lives in abandoned mine tunnels in the northern part of the mountain range. As those aging tunnels are beginning to collapse, the researchers are working to build new bat-tunnels to help preserve the threatened species. Winifred Frick, chief scientist of Bat Conservation International, joins SciFri director Charles Bergquist to discuss the new species, and what’s being done to help protect it. Greenland’s Microbial Melt-Down The Greenland ice sheet covers nearly 700,000 square miles—three times the size of Texas. The ice sheet is estimated to have lost nearly 4 trillion tons of ice in the past three decades. A team of researchers recently investigated how the bacteria in the sediments on the ice sheet could be contributing to the melting of the ice. Their results were published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Producer Alexa Lim talks to glaciology Asa Rennermalm about how the mix of bacteria and sediments can darken the ice, impacting how the ice sheet melts. Life Of A Coronavirus Scientist During A Pandemic Unfortunately, we’ve arrived at a grim pandemic milestone: One full year of a global health crisis. The first COVID-19 cases were reported in December 2019 by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission. Last spring, we talked with three coronavirus researchers—Matthew Frieman, Andrea Pruijssers, and Lisa Gralinski—who discussed what the pandemic was like for them, including working in a BSL3 biosafety lab, and how their lives, and research, had been impacted. Ira checks back in with one of them, Matthew Frieman, to reflect on his experience in the last year, and what he expects for the coming year. Searching For Extraterrestrial Life Like ‘Sherlock Holmes’ Back in October 2017, our solar system received a strange visitor, unlike any seen before. Scientists couldn’t decide if it was an asteroid, a comet, or an ice chunk. To this day, it’s simply classified as an “interstellar object,” dubbed ‘Oumuamua.’ For his part, Harvard astrophysicist Ari Loeb is pretty sure what it is. It’s so hard to classify, he reasons, because it’s a byproduct of intelligent life outside our solar system. But how it found its way here is anyone’s guess. In his new book Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, Loeb wants you to take the possibility of aliens seriously. He joins Ira to talk about his theory, how an early love of philosophy shaped his views as an astrophysicist, and why searching for extraterrestrial life is a little like being Sherlock Holmes.
47 min
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