Archive for the 'science' Category

Human imagination has been rife with creatures that are part human and part animal ever since we started to express ourselves artistically as a species, and all the way to modern sci-fi stories. Centaurs, satyrs, the minotaur, mermaids, werewolves, Ganesha, and on and on. In this episode, Gil Kidron and Dr Rutger Vos review three movies that depict human-animal hybrids: Prometheus (2012), Splice (2009), and The Lobster (2015). With guest appearances from Ripley, The Beatles, a very expensive orca, Jeff Goldblum (but not in The Fly), Frankenstein, Leonard Nimoy, Napoleon Dynamite, and the chestburster from SpaceBalls.

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The writers of Westworld reference the book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, which proposes that humans until the about 12000 BCE experienced life believing their inner monologues were voices that instructed and admonished them. Evolutionary biologist Dr Rutger Vos and psychoanalyst Dr Noga Ariel-Galor discuss representations of consciousness in science and pop culture. Featuring guest appearances of Homeric heroes, Woody Allen, The prophets of the Bible, The Byrds, Noam Chomsky, Anna and Elza, Donald Rumsfeld, Debussy, Josh Wink, and Petra the African Gray.

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When you interact with someone else and you have to decide whether to cooperate with them or cheat them, the difference between the choices can sometimes be expressed in simple cost/benefit analyses. If we are generous with each other we might both reap the rewards. But maybe cheating is cheaper - unless you punish me for it. The mathematical analysis of these choices is called game theory. Extrapolate that to the Cold War. In this episode, Gil Kidron and Dr Rutger Vos explore four movies on this topic: A Beautiful Mind (2001) about the life and times of John Nash, one of the pioneers of game theory, and three Cold War nuclear stare-down movies, Dr Strangelove (1964) and Fail Safe (2000), and War Games (1983).

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Hollywood's disaster movie industry has created the sub-genre of biological apocalypse movies, which are now more relevant than ever. In this episode, Gil Kidron and Dr Rutger Vos talk about movies that depict scenarios that were once farfetched but are now mostly just exaggerated. In 12 Monkeys (1997) a deadly virus wipes out 5 billion people, 28 Days Later (2002) follows a "rage virus" that we gave to animals and then they infected us with is which led to a total breakdown of society, and Contagion (2011) famously depicts how the Chinese animal industry got us all into lockdown and social distancing.

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Both nature and computing are at certain levels digital. Code organized in discrete symbols (DNA bases, bits) can be understood, decoded, and manipulated. But do we understand these systems well enough to meddle with them? In this episode, Dr Rutger Vos explores this question in a review of three movies: The Imitation Game (2014), Jurassic Park (1993), and Independence Day (1996). And, how will our ability to manipulate these codes affect our fight against the coronavirus?

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Scientists from all over the world are working tirelessly on three fronts: 1. testing 2. treatment 3. vaccine. In this podcast, Dr Rutger Vos joins Gil Kidron and details where we're at now, how does it work and what is being done in order to get to the Holy Grail that will save humanity from the virus that has upended civilization and will win the Nobel prize.

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As the world changes so rapidly because of the spread of the Coronavirus, it is a time for us humans to take stock of the society we have created for ourselves and make decisions about the world we want to live in moving forward. After this historical ongoing event, some conventional wisdoms and ideological dogmas will have to be cast aside. Dr Rutger Vos joins Gil Kidron for a conversation about the world after the Corona pandemic.

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The jungle has long been a very attractive topic in movies and books, with its unstoppable nature teeming with mysterious and dramatic creatures and plants. In this episode, Dr. Rutger Vos joins Gil Kidron to talk about the jungle from a scientific perspective, as well as about how it is perceived in the human imagination. We explore the topic through five movies: Apocalypse Now (1979), Avatar (2009), Apocalypto (2006), Jungle Book (2016) and The Legend of Tarzan (2016). One fictional jungle and jungles in Latin America, India, Africa, and South East Asia. 

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The coronavirus 2019-nCov has been spreading out in the world and in the headlines. But what is a coronavirus anyway? Should we be worried? In this episode, Gil Kidron and Dr Rutger Vos (a biologist) discuss some of the basics of this thing that's going around (Is it alive? How is it structured?) and the search for some of the essential facts-on-the-ground (How fast does it spread? How lethal is it?). We also look at some of the social and political implications: the current events have led to very unfortunate outbreaks of another thing - racism against mainland Chinese people, who already have to undergo a very heavy-handed, dystopian government response.

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In an offhand remark, The Expanse claims that other forms of life are possible, such as forms based on silicon rather than carbon. How plausible is that? And what else would need to be in place? You'd need liquid water, for one. In fact, a whole bunch of things would need to fall exactly into place. Things that are on the one hand rare - but given the enormous numbers of stars and exoplanets would still occur many times. So where are all the aliens? In this podcast, Gil and Rutger talk about habitability and the origin of life. 

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