219 Jeremy Bailenson - Creating Empathy With Immersive Virtual Reality

We talk to the founding director of Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Jeremy Bailenson. Bailenson’s lab studies how virtual reality can affect empathy—how it makes you feel to virtually embody someone else. VR offers the ability to be in someone else’s shoes in a way that you can’t recreate in real life—and those immersive experiences, whether it be facing a day in the life of a person experiencing homelessness, or diving to the corals that are right now being bleached by climate change, have lingering effects on all of us.


Kishore tours the VHIL Lab on Tested

Kara Swisher interviews Jeremy

VR and Football

The Limits of Empathy


Philips Spark Podcast

Smart News


218 Adam Becker - The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics

“No theory in the history of science has been more misused and abused by cranks and charlatans—and misunderstood by people struggling in good faith with difficult ideas—than quantum mechanics.” - Sean Carroll

Even though quantum mechanics is nearly 100 years old, the theory is wildly misunderstood and misinterpreted. A deeper looker into the history reveals, maybe physicists are having the same problem as well.

We talk to astrophysicist Adam Becker about his new book What Is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics, a revealing look at the hidden figures who developed out quantum physics that is still being revealed today.


The Casino Demo (relates to Bell's work)

Adam on NPR

Follow Adam on Twitter


UChicago Lecture on the Future of AI

Philips Spark - a new podcast about the mind at work

217 Daniel Krawczyk - The Neuroscience of How We Think

We have a big announcement! After 217 episodes, we are striking out on our own. Thanks to Mother Jones for being our home for the past 5 years. Look for new segments and episodes as we expand creatively, while still bringing you in depth conversations with scientists.

This week, we talk to neuroscientist Daniel Krawczyk about his book Reasoning: The Neuroscience of How We Think.

Dan also studies traumatic brain injury in veterans, using virtual reality as a part of cognitive behavioral therapy. 


Dan's lab website

Dan's Ted Talk on reasoning

VR for Veterans


“Regulating Artificial Intelligence: How to Control the Unexplainable” - April 12 at UChicago

Warby Parker


Thanks to our sponsors this week for making the show possible!


214 John Donohue - What We Really Know About Gun Violence

We talk to Stanford law professor and economist John Donohue who for the better part of the last 20 years has been doing research into understanding gun violence. He has largely been focused on the link between concealed carry and increases in violent crime and the impact of denying convicted domestic abusers weapons. We talk about the latest mass shooting, what policy has the best chance of success, and potential upcoming court cases that will set precedent for decades to come.

Learn more:

John's Research on Concealed Carry

Vox article on Gun Violence

RAND Report on Gun Violence

213 Mark Jacobson - 100% Renewable Energy by 2050

We talk to Stanford professor of civil and environmental engineering Mark Jacobson about his research that shows it’s possible for the world to be using 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050. He breaks down the globes into constituent regions, each using a mix of wind, water, and solar to achieve the target.

While Mark was recently in the news for suing critics of his previous paper, we focused on the science in this new paper.


Mark's paper on 100% renewable energy

A roadmap to 100% renewables

Mark drops lawsuit against critics of his paper

Mark on Twitter

212 Hamilton Morris - The Broad Potential of Psychoactive Drugs

We talk to journalist and science writer Hamilton Morris about his Viceland docuseries “Hamilton's Pharmacopeia” and the history and science of psychoactive drugs. Part self experimentation, part scientific exploration - the docuseries follows numerous people and science history around drugs in a ways you wouldn't expect. 


Hamilton on Twitter

Guardian on the Pharmacopeia series

211 Alex Hutchinson - The Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance

On the eve of the Winter Olympics, we talk to Alex Hutchinson, author of Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance. Alex is a PhD physicist, who became obsessed with running in graduate school, leading him to become deeply curious about what sets elite athletes apart. 


Alex Hutchinson on Twitter
Alex's Blog for Outside Magazine on the science of endurance

210 Ayana Elizabeth Johnson - It's Time to Rethink Ocean Conservation

For many, ocean conservation brings up simple ideas like "Look but don't touch" or thoughts of overfishing in isolated areas. But there is much more to modern conservation, especially when it comes to urban environments. This week we have on Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson. She is a marine biologist, policy expert, and founder and president of Ocean Collectiv, a consulting firm for conservation solutions grounded in social justice. 


Ocean Collectiv

How to use the Ocean without using it up - Ayana's TED talk

Video on Ayana's research in the Caribbean