Why?

Why?

Author: Podmasters

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Have you ever wondered…Is the human race still evolving? Into what? Are we already receiving messages from aliens? Could an AI ever become our best friend – or even our lover?

Why? Takes you on an adventure to the edge of knowledge. We ask the questions that puzzle and perplex us, from the inner workings of the universe to the far reaches of our dreams.

WHY? – a brand new podcast that answers the big questions from the frontiers of science.

36 Episodes
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Everything goes extinct eventually. When will it be our turn? And will humans disappear because of shifting tectonic plates, catastrophic natural disasters, the earth being engulfed by the sun… or our own ruinous activities? Basically, how long have we got?  Dr. Henry Gee, senior editor at Nature and author of A Very Short History of Life on Earth, tells Olly Mann that it isn’t so much a question of if we will go extinct, but when and why.   • “My feeling is that humans will become extinct within the next 10,000 years or so.” – Dr. Henry Gee • “For most of human history, people have been living at a subsistence level. Populations of humans would become extinct quite regularly. Near-extinction is a feature of human evolution." – Dr. Henry Gee Buy A Very Short History of Life on Earth through our affiliate bookshop and you’ll help fund WHY? by earning us a small commission for every sale. Bookshop.org’s fees help support independent bookshops too. WHY? is written and presented by Olly Mann. Produced by Anne-Marie Luff and Eliza Davis Beard. Audio production by Jade Bailey. Managing editor: Jacob Jarvis. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. WHY? is a Podmasters Production. Instagram | Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
You can trust what’s in front of your eyes, right? Turns out… not really. Everything we see is processed through a filter of our prior expectations. Our brains fill the gaps in the data they receive to create a “reality” that we can understand. If everything we see and hear is just a construct, are we all living in our own hallucinations?  Anil Seth, Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex and author of Being You: A New Science of Consciousness, explains our world of illusions to Olly Mann.  • “There is a real world out there – but we experience it as a construction. We never experience things as they really are. We experience the world as WE are, not as IT is.” – Anil Seth • “We think our brains are ‘reading out’ the world but it is totally the other way around… The brain is continually making predictions about what is out there.” – Anil Seth Buy Being You: A New Science of Consciousness through our affiliate bookshop and you’ll help fund WHY? by earning us a small commission for every sale. Bookshop.org’s fees help support independent bookshops too. https://uk.bookshop.org/a/13277/9781399804516 WHY? is written and presented by Olly Mann. Produced by Anne-Marie Luff and Eliza Davis Beard. Audio production by Jade Bailey. Managing editor: Jacob Jarvis. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. WHY? is a Podmasters Production. Instagram | Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Music is a universal language, a connecting force during all of life’s highs and lows. But why does music make us emotional? From feelings of elation and melancholy, to unease and motivation - why and how does music play with not only our emotions, but our brains themselves? Catherine Loveday, Professor of Neuropsychology at the University of Westminster, joins Luke Turner to discuss the psychology of music, its impact on our memory and why our teenage music loves stay with us forever. • "Music is in masses of different areas of the brain, and when we look in brain scanners when people are improvising, performing, or listening to music we see huge amounts of activation” - Prof Catherine Loveday • “There is research that shows longer-term musical memories are robust, and are less likely to be impacted by conditions such as dementia than other memories” - Prof Catherine Loveday • "There is a theory that music was our communication tool from before we developed language” - Prof Catherine Loveday • "There is no consistency in what people choose as their favourite genre of music, everyone develops their own taste and love of particular types of music” - Prof Catherine Loveday WHY? is written and presented by Luke Turner. Produced by Jade Bailey. Managing editor: Jacob Jarvis. Group editor: Andrew Harrison. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. WHY? is a Podmasters production. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Your dog is really clever, right? You understand one another. Every pet owner thinks this. But can our pets really communicate with us beyond the basic demands for food, walks and play? How is its mind constructed? What’s going on inside that furry head? Dr Juliane Kaminski, Associate Professor in Comparative Psychology and director of the Dog Cognition Centre at the University of Portsmouth, tells Emma Kennedy how we’re only just beginning to understand how dogs see and understand the world they’re living in.  • “Dogs have a huge motivation to look into our eyes, to maintain eye contact, which is not a trivial thing, because in the wild, a wolf would perceive this as a threat.”- Dr Juliane Kaminski • “We’ve created a creature that understands us in ways that no other animal does. Dogs are really good at making sense of our communication.” - Dr Juliane Kaminski WHY? is written and presented by Emma Kennedy. Produced by Eliza Davis Beard. Audio production by Jade Bailey. Managing editor: Jacob Jarvis. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. WHY? is a Podmasters Production. Instagram | Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
They shine as brightly as a trillion stars, they’re powered by supermassive black holes… and until 2023 we had no idea how they came into existence. These are quasars, awesomely powerful cosmic objects at the centre of some of the most violent events in the universe. What exactly are quasars, and just how powerful can they be? Dr Vicky Fawcett, Research Associate in Astrophysics at Newcastle University, explains the power of the quasar to amazed space cadet Luke Turner.  •“A Quasar can be about a thousand times more powerful than the Milky Way Galaxy itself.” - Dr Vicky Fawcett  •“Quasar stands for quasi stellar radio source, because back in the 1960s when they were first discovered, they thought they were radio bright stars.” - Dr Vicky Fawcett •"The central point of a quasar is so bright that they outshine all the stars in the galaxy.” - Dr Vicky Fawcett WHY? is written and presented by Luke Turner. Produced by Anne-Marie Luff with Eliza Davis Beard. Audio production by Jade Bailey. Managing editor: Jacob Jarvis. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. WHY? is a Podmasters Production. Instagram | Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
If you could control your dreams, what would you do while you slept? Fly? Get romantic with some unattainable object of desire? Or embark on a fantasy odyssey with no equivalent in reality? Lucid dreams – where we know we’re dreaming and we can control what we do – come to many of us  at some point in our lives. But can we learn how to do it? And does lucid dreaming have real-world benefits beyond just being loads of fun?  Olly Mann talks to Mark Blagrove, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Sleep Lab at Swansea University, all about the science of lucid dreaming.  • “Lucid dreaming gives you something quite extraordinary to think about. It can increase your level of awe at what is possible in the world.” - Mark Blagrove • "People who frequently lucid dream have an ‘internal locus of control’, meaning that they feel in charge of their own life, as opposed to feeling that their life is under the control of chance.” - Mark Blagrove WHY? is written and presented by Olly Mann. Produced by Anne-Marie Luff and Eliza Davis Beard. Audio production by Jade Bailey. Managing editor: Jacob Jarvis. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. WHY? is a Podmasters Production. Instagram | Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
You’ve probably eaten something so spicy it hurt before. But, across the globe, people still love eating spicy food – despite the discomfort. Why? Bob Holmes, author of FLAVOR: The Science of Our Most Neglected Sense, tells Olly Mann what attracts us to this taste sensation.  Every Monday and Thursday WHY? takes you on a wild adventure to the edge of knowledge. Follow on your favourite app so you never miss an episode. WHY? is written and presented by Olly Mann Audio production by Jade Bailey. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. Exec Producer: Jacob Jarvis. Lead Producer: Anne-Marie Luff. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison.  WHY? is a Podmasters Production. Instagram | Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Without warning a 7.6 magnitude earthquake shook Japan on New Year’s Day, raising the sea floor above the water and causing devastating damage and death. Even with all humanity’s deep scientific knowledge and discoveries, we still cannot predict when an earthquake will strike. Why is that? What mysteries do the earth’s tectonic plates hold, and are we getting closer to solving them? Professor Tim Wright tells Emma Kennedy how scientists are working to relieve the seismic strain on the earth’s mantle – and new discoveries about the shifting world beneath our feet. Every Monday and Thursday WHY? takes you on a wild adventure to the edge of knowledge. Follow on your favourite app so you never miss an episode. WHY? is written and presented by Emma Kennedy. Audio production by Jade Bailey. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. Exec Producer: Jacob Jarvis. Lead Producer: Anne-Marie Luff. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison.  WHY? is a Podmasters Production. Instagram | Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Can I outrun a T.Rex?

Can I outrun a T.Rex?

2024-01-2928:391

If you’ve ever watched Jurassic Park, you’ve probably wondered how you’d fare against a dinosaur. If these prehistoric beasts did exist alongside us, would we really stand a chance?  Today on Why? Dr. David Hone separates dinosaur fact from fiction with Emma Kennedy, including the secrets held in dino-dandruff. Every Monday and Thursday WHY? takes you on a wild adventure to the edge of knowledge. Follow us on your favourite app so you never miss an episode. WHY? is written and presented by Emma Kennedy. Audio production by Jade Bailey. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. Exec Producer: Jacob Jarvis. Lead Producer: Anne-Marie Luff. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison.  WHY? is a Podmasters Production. Instagram | Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Can I trust my own eyes?

Can I trust my own eyes?

2024-01-2528:191

Your eyes are your window to the world – but is what they’re seeing actually happening?  When you’re driving at speed, being alert to the traffic around you will save your life. When a truck in front brakes sharply you have milliseconds to respond, but what if you’re seeing the past? Can your brain process the information it’s receiving quickly enough to avoid catastrophe? Or does it do something completely different and take a leap of faith to predict reality? Professor Hinze Hogendoorn tells Anna Machin how real-time perception is an illusion and how our brains compensate for living in the past. Every Monday and Thursday WHY? takes you on a wild adventure to the edge of knowledge. Follow on your favourite app so you never miss an episode. WHY? is written and presented by Anna Machin. Audio production by Jade Bailey. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. Exec Producer: Jacob Jarvis. Lead Producer: Anne-Marie Luff. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison.  WHY? is a Podmasters Production. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
If you could take a pill that would make you fall deeply in love with someone, would you do it? And if you could give someone a pill that would make them love you… would that be right? Therapists have been giving couples psychedelic drugs for over 50 years to help build emotional bridges – but can a mere chemical create something as complex as love, from nothing? Dr. Brian D.Earp tells Luke Turner how therapists could use serotonin-inducing drugs to reroute neural pathways, and why a chemically-based relationship would be ethically messy to say the least.  Every Monday and Thursday WHY? takes you on a wild adventure to the edge of knowledge. Follow on your favourite app so you never miss an episode. WHY? is written and presented by Luke Turner. Audio production by Jade Bailey. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. Exec Producer: Jacob Jarvis. Lead Producer: Anne-Marie Luff. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison.  WHY? is a Podmasters Production. Instagram | Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
The antibiotics that have saved humanity from extinction again and again are about to stop working. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are multiplying faster than science can keep up. It’s estimated that these pathogens will kill 10 million of us a year by 2050 if we don’t come up with effective treatment. Enter Dr Ana L. Santos of Rice University, Texas. Her team of microbiologists have developed microscopic robots which kill the bacteria that medicine can’t. She tells Olly Mann about their groundbreaking research into nanobiotics and how drilling nanobots could turn the tide in the fight against aggressive infections. Every Monday and Thursday WHY? takes you on a wild adventure to the edge of knowledge. Follow on your favourite app so you never miss an episode. WHY? is written and presented by Olly Mann. Audio production by Jade Bailey. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. Exec Producer: Jacob Jarvis. Lead Producer: Anne-Marie Luff. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison.  WHY? is a Podmasters Production. Instagram | Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Our brains process over 35,000 conscious decisions every day – and let’s face it, they can’t all be good choices. So why do we make bad decisions? Which part of our brain is in control when we decide what to do? How do we decide what’s risky but worth a try? How do we process all this vast information? And why do different people make wildly different choices when faced with the same situations? Professor Moran Cerf takes Luke Turner through the neuroscience of decision-making and the hidden mechanisms that drive our psychology and behaviour. Every Monday and Thursday WHY? takes you on a wild adventure to the edge of knowledge. Follow on your favourite app so you never miss an episode. WHY? is written and presented by Luke Turner. Audio production by Jade Bailey. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. Exec Producer: Jacob Jarvis. Lead Producer: Anne-Marie Luff. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison.  WHY? is a Podmasters Production. Instagram | Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Brain implants have moved from science fiction to science fact thanks to innovative research into treatments for neurological illnesses. But could you physically join your brain with an artificial intelligence? What would having a part-machine mind do to your thoughts and your sense of self? Who would be in control? And if a private company owned hardware in your brain, what happens when they want it back? Dr Frederic Gilbert of University of Tasmania talks to Luke Turner about the reality of the mind-machine interface.  Every Monday and Thursday WHY? takes you on a wild adventure to the edge of knowledge. Follow us on your favourite app so you never miss an episode. WHY? is written and presented by Luke Turner. Audio production by Jade Bailey. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. Exec Producer: Jacob Jarvis. Lead Producer: Anne-Marie Luff. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison.  WHY? is a Podmasters Production. Instagram | Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Are we still evolving?

Are we still evolving?

2024-01-0825:11

Our bodies are astonishing in all their beautiful, biological complexity – but do you ever wonder if this is as far as the human form can develop? Millions of years of evolution have created a four-limbed, bipedal mammal with opposable thumbs and a powerful, versatile brain. But have we stopped evolving? Are we still subject to natural selection in the unnatural, man-made world we’ve created? And which genetic mutations will thrive, ensuring the continued survival of our species? Evolutionary biologist Dr. Nicholas Longrich joins Anna Machin to predict how and why humans will evolve in the future… and whether we will eventually transform into an entirely new species. Every Monday and Thursday WHY? takes you on a wild adventure to the edge of knowledge. Follow on your favourite app so you never miss an episode. WHY? is written and presented by Anna Machin. Audio production by Jade Bailey. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. Exec Producer: Jacob Jarvis. Lead Producer: Anne-Marie Luff. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison.  WHY? is a Podmasters Production. Instagram | Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Every CSI fan knows that forensic analysis is crucial to criminal investigations. But it’s not just microscopic blood spatter or clothing fibres that can help nail a perpetrator. Botanical forensics – identifying how long a fungus has grown on a dead body, or which species of pollen a victim has inhaled – can blow a case wide open too. We’re stepping into True Crime territory today as Professor David Gibson, author of Planting Clues, shares gruesome details of incredible real life criminal cases where forensic botany has nailed the killer. Buy Planting Clues through our affiliate bookshop and you’ll help fund WHY? by earning us a small commission for every sale. Bookshop.org’s fees help support independent bookshops too. Every Monday and Thursday WHY? takes you on a wild adventure to the edge of knowledge. Follow on your favourite app so you never miss an episode. WHY? is written and presented by Emma Kennedy. Audio production by Jade Bailey. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. Exec Producer: Jacob Jarvis. Lead Producer: Anne-Marie Luff. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison. WHY? is a Podmasters Production. Instagram | Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Does your cat meow in Geordie? Does your dog have a Yorkshire accent? Is “animal linguistics” a thing? Incredibly, it is – and the science of animal “voices” is revealing a wealth of information about how wild and domestic creatures think and communicate.  Elodie Floriane Mandel-Briefer, Associate Professor of Animal Behaviour at the University of Copenhagen joins Emma Kennedy to explain the unique and startling world of animal linguistics… plus how dolphins give each other names… how we’re on the verge of translating what starlings sing about… and which accents Emma’s dogs have. Every Monday and Thursday WHY? takes you on an adventure to the edge of knowledge, asking the questions that puzzle and perplex us, from the inner workings of the universe to the far reaches of our dreams. Follow us on your favourite app so you never miss an episode. WHY? is written and presented by Emma Kennedy. Audio production by Jade Bailey. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. Exec Producer: Jacob Jarvis. Lead Producer: Anne-Marie Luff. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison. WHY? is a Podmasters Production. Instagram | Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
It’s the fantasy we revisit obsessively in movies and TV from Her to Humans to Blade Runner to, well, A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Could a thinking machine develop a personality sufficiently human-like that we could share a relationship with it? Could an A.I. become our friend or even our lover? We’re social animals, wired to understand the world through personal interactions. What does that mean when it comes to A.I.? Simple Chatbot apps can help people to cope with loneliness, but do the technical limitations mean it can only ever be a one-way relationship? Will Siri and Alexa ever evolve into something you want to share a pint and a laugh with? Dr Kate Devlin joins Luke Turner to share cutting-edge research on whether AI will ever be more than a digital diary to hold our innermost thoughts and feelings. Every Monday and Thursday WHY? takes you on a wild adventure to the edge of knowledge. Follow on your favourite app so you never miss an episode. WHY? is written and presented by Luke Turner. Audio production by Jade Bailey. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. Exec Producer: Jacob Jarvis. Lead Producer: Anne-Marie Luff. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison. WHY? is a Podmasters Production. Instagram | Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Dads will often say that fatherhood changes you – but did you realise those changes happen at a physical, biological level as well as in fathers’ perspectives and values? We often assume that biologically mens’ bodies are unaffected by the arrival of a child. But huge hormonal changes take place at the point of the child’s birth, and research shows that when fathers interact with their children incredible neural activations take place. How do these changes prepare children for the world? And what is fatherhood doing to men’s brains? Dr Pascal Vrticka discusses astonishing research into paternal neural synchrony with Anna Machin and find out how fatherhood changes you more than you could ever imagine. Every Monday and Thursday WHY? takes you on a wild adventure to the edge of knowledge. Follow on your favourite app so you never miss an episode. WHY? is written and presented by Anna Machin. Audio production by Jade Bailey. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. Exec Producer: Jacob Jarvis. Lead Producer: Anne-Marie Luff. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison. WHY? is a Podmasters Production. Instagram | Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Multiverse theory inspired movie blockbusters like Marvel’s Dr Strange and Everything Everywhere All At Once – but the “Many Worlds” theory of multiple realities isn’t just science fiction. If the science is right, could there be another version of me out there somewhere? The Cosmological Inflating Multiverse, for instance, says that ours is but one universe among billions and no scenario, no matter how bizarre, can be ruled out. Can we prove that the Multiverse is science fact? Theoretical Physicist Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder joins us again on Why? to explain new areas of research in quantum physics – and ask if the Multiverse is real. Every Monday and Thursday WHY? takes you on a wild adventure to the edge of knowledge. Follow on your favourite app so you never miss an episode. WHY? is written and presented by Luke Turner. Audio production by Jade Bailey. Artwork by James Parrett. Music by DJ Food. Exec Producer: Jacob Jarvis. Lead Producer: Anne-Marie Luff. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison. WHY? is a Podmasters Production. Instagram | Twitter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
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