access to ideas


Podcast Profile: The Joy of Why

podcast imageTwitter: @QuantaMagazine@stevenstrogatz (@QuantaMagazine followed by 98 science writers)
Site: quantamagazine.org/tag/the-joy-of-why
17 episodes
2022 to present
Average episode: 37 minutes
Open in Apple PodcastsRSS

Categories: Interview-Style • Math • Multidisciplinary

Podcaster's summary: "The Joy of Why" is a Quanta Magazine podcast about curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge. The acclaimed mathematician and author Steven Strogatz interviews leading researchers about the great scientific and mathematical questions of our time.

Discover other podcasts.

List Updated: 2023-Mar-24 22:16 UTC. Episodes: 17. Feedback: @TrueSciPhi.

2023-Mar-22 • 50 minutes
Is There Math Beyond the Equal Sign?
Can mathematics handle things that are essentially the same without being exactly equal? Category theorist Eugenia Cheng and host Steven Strogatz discuss the power and pleasures of abstraction.
2023-Mar-08 • 45 minutes
Can We Program Our Cells?
Making living cells blink fluorescently like party lights may sound frivolous. But the demonstration that it’s possible could be a step toward someday programming our body’s immune cells to attack cancers more effectively and safely. That’s the promise of synthetic biology. While molecular biologists strip cells down to their component genes and molecules to see how they work, synthetic biologists tinker with cells to get them to perform new feats — and discover new secrets about how life works in the proce...
2023-Feb-22 • 44 minutes
How Will the Universe End?
“The Joy of Why” is a podcast about curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge from Quanta Magazine. The acclaimed mathematician and author Steven Strogatz interviews leading researchers about the great scientific and mathematical questions of our time.
2023-Feb-09 • 3 minutes
The Joy of Asking About Infinity, Jellyfish and the End of the Universe
As The Joy of Why podcast returns for a second season, producer Polly Stryker and host Steven Strogatz invite listeners to join them and their brilliant new guests on another voyage of discovery.
2022-Aug-24 • 45 minutes
Why and How Do We Dream?
Dreams are so personal, subjective and fleeting, they might seem impossible to study directly and with scientific objectivity. But in recent decades, laboratories around the world have developed sophisticated techniques for getting into the minds of people while they are dreaming. In the process, they are learning more about why we need these strange nightly experiences and how our brains generate them. In this episode, Steven Strogatz speaks with sleep researcher Antonio Zadra about how new experimental me...
2022-Aug-10 • 42 minutes
What Is Quantum Field Theory and Why Is It Incomplete?
Quantum field theory may be the most successful scientific theory of all time, predicting experimental results with stunning accuracy and advancing the study of higher dimensional mathematics. Yet, there’s also reason to believe that it is missing something. Steven Strogatz speaks with David Tong, a theoretical physicist at the University of Cambridge, to explore the open questions of this enigmatic theory. | “The Joy of Why” is a podcast from Quanta Magazine, an editorially independent publication support...
2022-Jul-27 • 38 minutes
Why Do We Get Old, and Can Aging Be Reversed?
Everybody gets older, but not everyone ages in the same way. For many people, late life includes a deterioration of health brought on by age-related disease. But that’s not true for everyone, and around the world, women typically live longer than men. Why is that? In this episode, Steven Strogatz speaks with Judith Campisi and Dena Dubal, two biomedical researchers who study the causes and outcomes of aging to understand how it works — and what scientists know about postponing or even reversing the aging pr...
2022-Jul-13 • 28 minutes
How Do Mathematicians Know Their Proofs Are Correct?
How can anyone say something with certainty about infinity? What can we really know about the mysterious prime numbers without knowing all of them? Just as scientists need data to assess their hypotheses, mathematicians need evidence to prove or disprove conjectures. But what counts as evidence in the intangible realm of number theory? In this episode, Steven Strogatz speaks with Melanie Matchett Wood, a professor of mathematics at Harvard University, to learn how probability and randomness can help establi...
2022-Jun-29 • 33 minutes
Can Computers Be Mathematicians?
How do you teach mathematics to an artificial intelligence? AI has already bested humans at various problem-solving tasks, including games like chess and Go. But before any task can be tackled by a machine, it must be reinterpreted as directions in language that computers can understand. For the last few years, researchers and amateurs all over the world have worked together to translate the essential axioms of mathematics into a programming language called Lean. Armed with this knowledge, theorem-proving ...
2022-Jun-15 • 42 minutes
What Is Life?
Scientists don’t really agree on a definition for life. We may recognize life instinctively most of the time, but any time we try to nail it down with set criteria, some stubborn counterexample spoils the effort. Still, can we really search for life on other worlds, or understand the earliest stages of life on this planet, if we don’t know what to look for? On this episode, Steven Strogatz speaks with Robert Hazen, a mineralogist, astrobiologist and senior staff scientist at the Carnegie Institution’s Earth...
2022-Jun-01 • 39 minutes
How Could Life Evolve From Cyanide?
How did life arise on Earth? It's one of the greatest and most ancient mysteries in all of science - and the clues to solving it are all around us. Steven Strogatz speaks with Jack Szostak, a Nobel Prize-winning biologist, and Betül Kaçar, a paleogeneticist and astrobiologist, to explore our best understanding of how we all got here.
2022-May-18 • 50 minutes
Will the James Webb Space Telescope Reveal Another Earth?
With the December 2021 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, one of the most expensive and ambitious scientific initiatives ever attempted commenced operations. Now that the telescope has been successfully deployed in its unique position in space, its advanced instruments will be able to gather data on questions that scientists once could only dream of answering. Is there life on other planets? How do supermassive black holes mold the mass in their galaxies? JWST may soon be able to tell us. In this epi...
2022-May-04 • 42 minutes
Where Do Space, Time and Gravity Come From?
Einstein's description of gravity as a curvature in space-time doesn't easily mesh with a universe made up of quantum wavefunctions. Theoretical physicist Sean Carroll (of the "Mindscape" podcast) tells Steven Strogatz about the mind-bending implications of the quest for quantum gravity.
2022-Apr-20 • 40 minutes
Why Is Inflammation a Dangerous Necessity?
We've heard a lot about the immune system during the COVID-19 pandemic, but of course our immune system fights off much more than the coronavirus. And while the immune system protects us brilliantly from countless pathogens every day, sometimes it can also attack our own bodies, causing harmful and even deadly inflammation. In this episode, host Steven Strogatz speaks with Shruti Naik, an immunologist and assistant professor of biological sciences at NYU's Langone Medical Center, to learn why the immune sys...
2022-Apr-06 • 44 minutes
Untangling Why Knots Are Important
Everyone knows what a knot is. But they have special significance in math and science because their properties can help unlock hidden secrets like the biochemistry of DNA or the geometry of three-dimensional spaces. In this episode, Steven Strogatz explores the mysteries of knots with the mathematicians Colin Adams and Lisa Piccirillo.
2022-Mar-23 • 44 minutes
Why Do We Die Without Sleep?
Why do we need sleep? In the search for answers, scientists have uncovered more thought-provoking mysteries central to what sleep is, how it evolved and the benefits that it provides. In this episode, the mathematician and science communicator Steven Strogatz speaks with Dragana Rogulja, an assistant professor of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School who recently discovered how sleep deprivation causes death in fruit flies, and Alex Keene, a neurogeneticist at Texas A and M University studying cave fish to...
2022-Mar-17 • 3 minutes
Trailer: The Joy of Why
An introduction to the new Quanta Magazine podcast The Joy of Why, in which noted mathematician and author Steven Strogatz talks with experts about some of the greatest scientific questions of all time.