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October 9, 2020 20 min

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week we present something different: SFI’s InterPlanetary Project is excited to announce a new podcast, Alien Crash Site, in which we ask some of the most interesting people we know — scientists, artists, authors, and athletes — what strange technologies they might hope to find in a “Zone” like the alien visitation area from the Strugatsky brothers’ novel, Roadside Picnic (adapted to film as Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky). 

In this special teaser episode, we present clips from the first three episodes of Alien Crash Site, hosted by IPFest Director Caitlin McShea, with guests:

David Krakauer, SFI President, evolutionary biologist, and William H. Miller Professor of Complexity;

Kate Greene, former laser physicist turned science journalist, essayist, and human guinea pig on the HI SEAS Mars mission simulation;

and Ashton Eaton, two-time Olympic gold medalist decathlete now working with Intel to design human performance tracking technology.

Go deeper into the Zone after listening with the following papers, articles, and videos:

“The physical limits of communication or Why any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from noise” by Michael Lachmann et al.

“The Information Theory of Individuality” by David Krakauer et al.

"Agnostic Approaches to Extant Life Detection" by Natalie Grefenstette et al.

Complexity Episode 41: Agnostic Biosignature Detection with Natalie Grefenstette

Complexity Episode 2: The Origins of Life with David Krakauer, Sarah Maurer, and Chris Kempes

SFI’s InterPlanetary Project & Festival YouTube Playlist:

“Alien Nations: Why Life on Other Planets Will Resemble Ours” by Steve LeVine at OneZero on Medium

For show notes, research links, transcripts, and more, visit

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a donation at — and/or rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano

Interstitial music from “Martian Arts” by Michael Garfield.

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