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When Johnny Depp is a fan of your work you know you’re doing something right.
Lawrence Krauss is a theoretical physicist who also happens to be something of a household name in the USA.
A founder of the Origins Project, which aims to create dialogue between the world’s most fascinating scientific and cultural figures, Lawrence’s interests cover everything from creativity to dark matter.
His conversation with Johnny Depp on Creativity And Madness is already a YouTube hit, and perfectly captures Lawrence’s dream of reuniting science and the cultural arts.
It also reflects something that runs through so much of what Lawrence speaks about here, and an issue that is dear to his heart: Science is a kind of art form in itself.
For Lawrence science is important not just as a source of knowledge, but as a reminder of our own insignificance. Like all great works of beautiful art, understanding our place in the universe automatically gives you a profound perspective in your own fragility.
Now, Lawrence says some controversial stuff here. If you are religious, or you have strong spiritual views, then be prepared to be challenged!
Lawrence is famous for his impatience with religion or even the idea of God.
He is not like the late Christopher Hitchens, who seemed to be on a moral battle against religious ideas. Lawrence simply sees faith as bad practice.
The advantage of science, he says, is that we can be wrong. A scientist is duty bound to constantly test his or her argument.
The worrying thing about a lot of established religious thinking is that believers assume the truth of their faith and work backwards from there.
Lawrence has no patience with this, and as an MIT trained engineer, I have to say the man has got a point!
It goes back to this humility thing. It is super-important to actively seek out the feeling of always being wrong, not just for the sake of truth, but as a matter of your own mental health.
We talk a lot here about getting out our comfort zones, and we usually mean physical practice.
Here, Lawrence is saying we have to do this in the field of human knowledge, and when we do that, we become better people in the process.
Lawrence is not the only evangelist for science out there, but he seems to be the one of the few, like Neil deGrasse Tyson, who can reach popular audiences and engage them in complex ideas.
This is a fascinating journey into the secrets of our universe and an incredibly important discussion about the role science plays in our everyday existence.
08:47 How Lawrence transitioned from Cambridge Massachusetts with a PhD in Physics, to the media business.
11.30 Sharing memories of MIT, in Boston, USA.
17:13 Dialoguing with Johnny Depp about creativity and madness.
20:45 Is science overcoming its PR problem?
21:44 The seduction of teaching.
23:13 Would you rather explain science or destroy religion – did Richard Dawkins answer?
26:42 Is there any religious person who has made Lawrence question his theory?
29:56 Progress and financial cost of big scientific experimentation
33:12 What does disco very of gravitational waves mean to us?
34:43 How can something start from nothing – the beginning of the universe?
38:20 The Higgs Discovery – how did it affect his thinking?
39:40 Are we a momentary side show of creation?
40:29 Why provoke religious argument?
42:00 Teaching children religion is child abuse.
42:29 The immorality of religion.
44:59 The importance of Christopher Hitchens.
48:58 What is the future of the universe?
50:20 Will religion be gone in a generation?
51:09 Difference between Islam and Judeo-Christian religions.
53:09 His safety, given inflammatory nature of his statements.
55:45 Religion versus common humanity.
58:09 Next projects – science; new book; media; new major movie; persuading Presidential candidates to talk about science; education.
1:00:04 What does Lawrence see as the best focus for his time?
1:00:28 Are we teaching children in the wrong way?
1:02:00 What Lawrence thinks about acting,
1:03:17 The staged fight of debating.
1:06:10 Kenneth’s view of psychedelics and the theory that the world as a linguistic construct.
1:11:10 Richard Feynman.
1:14:33 People of interest to talk to.
1:16:34 Scientists through history he would like to talk with.
1:05:49 The String Theory and Brian Green.
1:19:44 Advice to a young aspiring physicist.
1:20:19 Lawrence Krauss Success Secrets.
1:20:52 Who do you think of as successful?
1:22:02 Advice to his younger self.
1.25.12 Sexiness of Science.
People mentioned in this episode:
Hunter S. Thompson