The first minute of a roller coaster ride and the ninety-seventh minute in line at the DMV don’t seem to pass at quite the same rate. While our watches show time ticking forward at a uniform pace, the experience of time is anything but. Time is relative–not just in an Einsteinian way—but because the brain colors and shades the passage of time. Through an interdisciplinary discussion among some of the worlds leading researchers, explore the human experience of time, including the fascinating relationship between memory and reality, and the chemical and electrical impulses of the brain that drive the experience. This program is part of the Big Ideas series.
Throw a baseball and you can track its arc across the sky without disturbing it. Scientists don’t have that luxury with quantum particles. When no one is looking, a particle has near limitless potential: it can be nearly anywhere. But measure it, and the particle snaps to one position. This transition from the fuzzy quantum world to the sharp reality of common experience is as vital as it is controversial. How do objects shed their quantum weirdness when measured? Join a debate of current theories, including tales of infinite universes where anything and everything happens. This program is part of the Big Ideas series.
Are we alone in the universe? Scientists haven’t found aliens yet, but by scanning the sky they’ve shown that our galaxy harbors billions of planets, many of which likely have conditions similar to those on Earth. Which brings new questions into sharp relief: When searching for life beyond our home planet, how do we know what to look for? What human prejudices might cause us to overlook intelligent life forms very different from what we expect? Learn how scientists across disciplines—astronomers, chemists and microbiologists—are intensely studying the evolution of life on Earth to help identify life abroad, a research agenda with wide-reaching ramifications for science, philosophy, religion, and much more. This program is part of the Big Ideas series.
Imagine exploring the Amazon river to dig up a rare breed of leeches, or heading into space to repair the famed Hubble Space Telescope, or crawling through a tiny crevice in the Earth in search of remains of our earliest ancestors. Well, you don’t have to just imagine these spectacular feats. The World Science Festival has assembled the coolest group of scientists with the most interesting jobs on the planet, who’ll tell you first hand about these explorations and much more. Join us to start your own quest to find a Cool Job in science.
We are at the dawn of a revolution in neuroscience, with the potential to dramatically expand how the human mind interacts with the world. For the most part, brains still need bodies—vocal cords, hands, eyes—to turn thought into action, but rudimentary mind-to-machine links have already been developed. The science fiction dream of uploading new skills and memories directly to your mind, might not be far off. Drawing from neuroscience, biology, engineering, genetics, and psychology, we will explore the breakthroughs happening in brain-machine interaction today, and speculate about the enhanced human capabilities of tomorrow. This program is part of the Big Ideas series.
Counseling . . . therapy . . . self-control. The path to curing addiction has never been easy. Addiction short-circuits the brain’s reward system, releasing dopamine and other feel-good chemicals that keep you coming back for more. But through a steadily developing understanding of the brain, scientists foresee a future in which a simple medical procedure—even a shot or a pill—could defuse addiction’s power. Join leading researchers studying how addiction changes the very fabric of the brain, and what new insights could mean for addicts trying to win back their lives.
This program is part of “The Big, the Small, and the Complex,” a series exploring the latest developments in Astrophysics, Nanoscience, and Neuroscience—fields recognized by The Kavli Prize. Sponsored by The Kavli Foundation, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and the Royal Norwegian Consulate General.
Perhaps the most complicated code in the universe is the one sitting inside our cells, written in DNA. More than three billion letters make up the human genome, giving geneticists plenty to explore…and explore they have. But even as gene therapy, DNA analysis, and genetically modified organisms enter the mainstream—and inspire national debate—our capacity to manipulate life continues to deepen. How far should we go? Are there hidden downsides to rewriting our DNA? Can we hijack evolution and put an end to genetic diseases, or engineer the next generation to have advantageous traits? And who gets to decide?
In March, a major breakthrough in understanding the origin of universe took the scientific community–and the general public–by storm. A team lead by astronomer John Kovac, using a powerful telescope at the South Pole, reported evidence of ripples in the fabric of space time produced by the big bang, a long-sought prediction of our most refined approach to cosmology, the inflationary theory. Amidst the worldwide celebration, though, some have been quietly suggesting that the champagne has been uncorked prematurely. Join a singular conversation, among the world’s most respected pioneers in cosmological theory and observation, that will explore the state of the art in the ongoing quest to understand the beginning of the universe. This program is part of the Big Ideas series.
The prestigious biennial Kavli Prizes recognize scientists for major advances in three research areas: astrophysics, nanoscience and neuroscience—the big, the small and the complex. The 2014 winners, sharing a $1 million award in each field, will be announced live via satellite from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo. The opening conversation, in tribute to the extraordinary philanthropist, the late Fred Kavli, will feature Alan Alda, Brian Greene and Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel. Following the announcement of the winners, three renowned scientists—nanoscientist Paul Weiss , neuroscientist Ann Graybiel and astrophysicist Lord Martin Rees—will join ABC News’ chief health and medical editor Richard Besser for a discussion of the scientific achievements of the Kavli Laureates and provide commentary on the next wave of research and opportunities within these dynamic fields.
Algorithms are the unsung heroes of everything from fighting crime and searching the world’s information to selecting movies and even choosing mates. These complex digital decision-making mechanisms mine mountains of data to make predictions for, well, nearly anything. And analysts thus armed are revealing unexpected connections between widely disparate systems. Join an exploration of the surprising predictive power of math, and probe the theoretical limits of even the most promising computers of tomorrow. We’re tackling ever more complex problems-but are there some problems simply beyond the reach of machines? This program is part of the Big Ideas series.
How do you see colors, and do they look the same to everyone? It’s not an easy question. Most human eyes can see around 10 million different colors, but our eyes can’t see other spectra of light that many insects, birds, and fish can see. Some colors even look different when your brain compares them to other colors, something painters such as Monet and Matisse took advantage of. And some people, synesthetes, can invent colors to go along with words, numbers, or even music. In an action-packed hour, our audience and experts will delve into the world of color. It all leads up to a dazzling sound and light show, helping us see the colors a young synesthete has in her head when she rocks out on the electric violin. This program is in association with the Flame Challenge, an annual contest held by The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.
The deaf begin to hear. The blind begin to see. Once damaged hearts begin to pump blood. Forget “wearable tech”—we’ve entered a zone where deploying engineering and circuitry inside the human body can help erase disabilities and, more controversially, enhance human capacities beyond their evolutionary limits. Peek into a future where technology will have the capacity to make us stronger, faster and by some measures, better.