Episodes
This week we talk to cognitive neuroscientist Chantel Prat about her new book The Neuroscience of You: How Every Brain is Different and How to Understand Yours. The book is the result of Prat’s decades of work on the biological basis of individual differences in cognition—what makes you you. Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/inquiringminds See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Published 08/10/22
Published 08/10/22
This week we talk to philosopher and animal ethicist David Peña-Guzmán about his new book When Animals Dream: The Hidden World of Animal Consciousness. David explores the idea that there really is a subjective world—a dream world—that lights up when animals sleep, what that actually looks like, and its moral implications. Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/inquiringminds See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Published 07/17/22
This week we’re joined by podcaster, journalist, and author David McRaney to discuss his latest book How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Belief, Opinion, and Persuasion. It’s a deep look at what we know about what it takes to change someone’s mind and why it’s more complicated than you might think. Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/inquiringminds See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Published 07/05/22
This week we welcome back James Beard award winning food science writer J. Kenji López-Alt. He talks about growing up around science, studying architecture at MIT, and how, strangely enough, both subjects pertain to cooking. Kenji is the author of the bestselling The Food Lab and the recently released The Wok: Recipes and Techniques. Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/inquiringminds See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Published 06/29/22
You might not be aware of it, but the UK is experiencing a wildlife crisis. Ecologist Derek Gow joins us this week to talk about what we ought to do about it and how he’s trying to rewild the country with his farm-turned-wildlife breeding center. Gow wrote the bestselling Bringing Back the Beaver and will soon release his latest book Birds, Beasts and Bedlam: Turning My Farm into an Ark for Lost Species. Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/inquiringminds See omnystudio.com/listener...
Published 06/01/22
On the show this week we’re joined by naturalist, author, and returning guest Sy Montgomery. Throughout her career, Montgomery has repeatedly shown an incredible ability to understand, befriend, and interact with animals. We last heard from her in episode #128 where she talked about her 2016 book The Soul of an Octopus, but she’s written about everything from tigers to snakes to hummingbirds. In this episode we explore her latest book, where she covers her perhaps most challenging animal yet,...
Published 05/24/22
On the show this week we’re joined by Brian Butterworth, emeritus professor of cognitive neuropsychology and author of the new book Can Fish Count? What Animals Reveal About Our Uniquely Mathematical Minds. He’s spent his career looking at the genetics and neuroscience of mathematical ability—and not just in humans.  Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/inquiringminds See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Published 05/17/22
How do you feel fear and be creative anyway? How is letting your mind wander key to coming up with, and following through on, creative ideas? Returning to the show this week is journalist Matt Richtel, winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for a series on distracted driving, and author of numerous books. His latest book, Inspired: Understanding Creativity: A Journey Through Art, Science, and the Soul, is devoted to a deeper understanding of creativity and he joins us this...
Published 05/03/22
How do you define how painful something is? On the show this week we welcome back physician, writer, and clinical researcher Haider Warraich to talk about his new book The Song of Our Scars: The Untold Story of Pain. Warraich explores the idea that far from being something objective and easily defined, pain is complex, misunderstood, and culturally influenced. The book delves into the history of pain and explains how our understanding of it has been “shaped not just by science but by politics...
Published 04/19/22
This week we’re joined by Benjamin Ehrlich, author of The Brain in Search of Itself: Santiago Ramón y Cajal and the Story of the Neuron. It’s a book about the discoveries and life of Spanish neuroscientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal, who has been called the ‘father of modern neuroscience.’  While today relatively unknown outside of his field, Cajal’s discoveries about the brain changed the field of neuroscience forever. In 1906 he won a Nobel Prize for his pioneering work on neurons, which he...
Published 04/04/22
This week, we examine a recent discovery that certain types of cancer cells may allow us to better understand how cells adapt to the intracellular environment (and explain what the intracellular environment is). Indre discusses how she and her students have recently been working on methods of measuring creativity. And we look at some new research focusing on the hunting method used by archerfish in order to study aspects of visual perception. Inquiring Minds website Support the show:...
Published 03/17/22
During the pandemic, one thing we’ve had a little more of--at least sometimes--is time. Time to panic and stress and worry, but also time to think and reflect. This week, in the spirit of reflection, we’re revisiting a conversation with theoretical physicist Sean Carroll recorded back in 2016. At the time he had just written a book called The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself, which explores questions about purpose and belief and meaning. Today, in 2022,...
Published 03/07/22
We can never know what it’s like for a bat to be a bat. Or even if there is something that it is like for a bat to be a bat. But if there is something, we would speculate that the bat has some kind of consciousness or sentience. That’s the argument Jackie Higgins makes in her new book Sentient: How Animals Illuminate the Wonder of Our Human Senses, in which she takes us on a deep dive into the sensory experience of many different animals, from fish to owls, to moles, to cheetahs. Jackie is a...
Published 02/25/22
One of the fascinating things about neuroscience is that it gives us something tangible to study in the biology of the brain that can tell us something about the mind, which is so intangible. But what if that approach leaves us missing a big piece of the puzzle? What if the mind actually extends far beyond the biology of the body? Today, Indre is joined by Annie Murphy Paul, an acclaimed science writer, who makes this claim in her new book The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the...
Published 02/17/22
More than a hundred million people watched the Netflix movie Don’t Look Up, which focused on our fear that something could crash into our planet from space and destroy it. But what if things that come from space don’t just have the potential to destroy life but also to create it? That’s Greg Brennecka’s argument, and he joins Indre on today’s episode to talk all about it. Greg is a staff scientist and cosmochemist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, whose research has appeared in...
Published 02/10/22
In this week’s episode, Indre revisits a topic that has been covered a couple of times on the podcast: addiction. This time, she’s joined by addiction physician and bioethicist Carl Erik Fisher, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University. Carl works at the intersection of law, ethics, and psychiatry and has had his own struggles with addiction, which he documents in his new book, The Urge: Our History of Addiction. He discusses this fascinating book and so much more in...
Published 01/28/22
In this last episode of 2021, Adam Bristol joins Indre to talk about the major highlights of 2021, one being the journey through COVID.  They map out the key episodes of Inquiring Minds throughout 2021, talk through their personal highlights, and recommend books to read. Recapping episodes touching on the history of quarantine, food and science, the interaction between nature and humans, and quantitative approaches to human dating, today’s episode wraps up 2021 in a neat bow, providing an...
Published 12/28/21
The holidays are a time for storytelling, and what better story to re-experience than the greatest one of all: the history of the universe and life on Earth. In today’s episode, Indre is joined by writer and editor Henry Gee to discuss this most epic of all stories and how it’s depicted in Henry’s new book, A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth. Henry is a senior editor at Nature and the author of several books, including Jacob’s Ladder, In Search of Deep Time, and The Accidental Species....
Published 12/20/21
In this episode, Emily Willingham joins Indre to talk about tailoring the brain, a subject on which she’s an expert and about which she writes extensively in her book The Tailored Brain: From Ketamine, to Keto, to Companionship, A User's Guide to Feeling Better and Thinking Smarter. Emily is a journalist, a science writer, the author of previous books, including Phallacy: Life Lessons from the Animal Penis, a coauthor of The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Resource for Your Child's First...
Published 12/13/21
In today's up to date episode, Adam Bristol is back to highlight three scientific papers that have caught his eye lately. The first two are about our evolutionary history of life on this planet, filling in some of the holes in the fossil record, and making some unexpected discoveries along the way. The third paper has us looking at potential biosecurity concerns in the distant future, which may actually arise earlier than expected given humans' exploration of planets. From the distant past to...
Published 11/25/21
In early 2020, experts predicted the development of the COVID-19 vaccine would take 12 to 18 months. Fast forward to today and there are at least five vaccines approved by the World Health Organization. Joining Indre today is Brendan Borrell, a health scientist and business journalist who’s written for The Atlantic, National Geographic, Wired, and The New York Times. He also happens to be the author of a new book, The First Shots: The Epic Rivalries and Heroic Science Behind the Race to the...
Published 11/15/21
The topic of cancer is one that has been addressed more than once before on Inquiring Minds, and today Indre visits it once again, this time looking at the impact that exercise can have on those undergoing cancer treatment. Joining her for this revelatory discussion is Dr. Kathryn Schmitz, whose many, many accomplishments include holding the position of Distinguished Professor of Public Health Sciences at Penn State’s College of Medicine and Penn State Cancer Institute, and as a past...
Published 11/02/21
Indre continues to pursue her fascination with the neural basis of consciousness in this week’s episode. In her never ending quest to understand how the biology of the brain gives rise to every experience we’ve ever had, ever will have, and everything in between, she has picked the brains of a number of experts in the field over the years. Today is no exception as she revisits this favorite topic by welcoming to the podcast Anil Seth, Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at...
Published 10/27/21
It seems like it’s been a couple months since the last ‘up to date’ segment of the podcast, so Adam Bristol is back to share just what exactly has been on his mind lately. From genetically modified mosquitoes to NASA knocking asteroids off course, it turns out there’s quite a lot occupying his thoughts. Not to be outdone, Indre counters with some protein-fuelled musical composition news of her own, so you know this is yet another wide ranging and thoroughly intriguing episode tailor made for...
Published 10/21/21