Why This Universe?

Why This Universe?

The biggest ideas in physics, broken down. Join theoretical physicist Dan Hooper and co-host Shalma Wegsman as they answer your questions about dark matter, black holes, quantum mechanics, and more. Part of The University of Chicago Podcast Network.

Episodes

February 4, 2024 40 mins

Quantum computing makes big promises, but how does it work? What is the real state of quantum computing today? Special guest Henry Lamm answers our questions.

Our new merch is available here: https://www.shalmawegsman.com/why-this-universe

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Is the world around us real, or are we living in someone's computer program?

Our new merch is available here: https://www.shalmawegsman.com/why-this-universe

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We hear two physicists describe their lives collecting data in remote locations, from deep underground in an active mine and from the South Pole.

Our new merch is available here: https://www.shalmawegsman.com/why-this-universe

For ask-us-anything segments and other exclusives, join us for just $3 a month on Patreon: https://patreon.com/whythisuniverse

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December 18, 2023 24 mins

Learn how the geometry of space defies our intuition, and why it gave Einstein so much anxiety.

Our new merch is available here: https://www.shalmawegsman.com/why-this-universe

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Today we visit a turning point in the history of science: the discovery that the Earth is not at the center of the cosmos.

Our new merch is available here: https://www.shalmawegsman.com/why-this-universe

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Dan moderates a lively discussion on extraterrestrial life at the Chicago Humanities Festival.

Our new merch is available here: https://www.shalmawegsman.com/why-this-universe

For ask-us-anything segments and other exclusives, join us for just $3 a month on Patreon: https://patreon.com/whythisuniverse

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November 6, 2023 43 mins

Where does the musical octave come from? What makes a C note a C? Why do different instruments sound different? Special guest Tim Cohen comes on to answer these questions and more.
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October 23, 2023 20 mins

We tell the story of how the Universe developed large scale structure, starting from the Big Bang to today. It could have all turned out very differently, if not for some key players.

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Why This Universe hosts it's first ever live episode taping featuring guests Daniel Holz and Diana Powell. We discuss the possibility of intelligent life out in the Universe, the existential risks faced by humans on Earth, and the chance the intelligent life can persist in the Universe.

This conversation took place during the University of Chicago Podcast Network festival.

For access to ask-us-anything segmen...

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CORRECTION: We misspeak about the time of the event in the episode, we are really on at 3-4 pm CST! Apologies!

Why This Universe is going live on October 3rd in Chicago, IL!

RSVP for *free* here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ucpn-podcast-festival-tickets-717455076447?aff=ebdsoporgprofile

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While physicists overwhelmingly agree about the existence of dark matter, a select group of people aren't convinced. Instead, they believe we must be wrong about gravity, and claim we need a theory of modified gravity (MOND) instead. Recent press releases have claimed "smoking gun" evidence for this underdog theory, should we take them seriously?

Did you know this episode was inspired by a Patreon question? ...

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August 14, 2023 29 mins

Today we are debunking the recent paper that claims our universe is much older than previously thought.

For ask-us-anything segments and other exclusives, join us for just $3 a month on Patreon: https://patreon.com/whythisuniverse

For fun dinosaur facts and research, check out I Know Dino: The Big Dinosaur Podcast, on Apple or wherever you get your podcasts https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/i-know-dino-the-big...

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We are celebrating our 3 year anniversary with a throwback to one of our earliest episodes! Entanglement, wave-particle duality, and uncertainty - here's a breakdown of the weirdest and wildest things about quantum mechanics.

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Special guest Alan Lightman takes us through a fascinating discussion of consciousness, and tells us how he reconciles spirituality with his materialist views.
Todays episode is sponsored by the International Space Station. Join the ISS National Laboratory this August in Seattle at the 12th annual ISS Research and Development Conference. Visit ISSconference.org to register now.

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Shortly after the Big Bang, space was densely packed with enough stuff for sound to travel through it. What was producing sound in this era, and how can we hear it today?

Todays episode is sponsored by the International Space Station. Join the ISS National Laboratory this August in Seattle at the 12th annual ISS Research and Development Conference. Visit ISSconference.org to register now.

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Special guest Cari Cesarotti tells us why so many particle physicists are itching to build a whole new type of particle collider.

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May 8, 2023 30 mins

The Big Bang is well accepted today as the leading theory of how our universe evolved over time - but in today's episode, we talk through all the very wrong theories that came before it.
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Can consciousness be explained by physics, or does it appeal to something beyond materialism? Philosopher guest star David Chalmers talks to us about how we can think about consciousness from a philosophical and scientific perspective.

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A whirlwind of questions brings us to an odd conclusion: could reality be an illusion created by a quantum fluctuation of a brain? This is a rebroadcast of a past favorite.

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Astronomers' newest telescope, JWST, just discovered galaxies that formed earlier than previously thought possible. What does this discovery mean for our understanding of the early universe?

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