The Illusion of Certainty: Risk, Probability, and Chance • 2015 World Science Festival

Category: Math
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Stuff happens. The weather forecast says it’s sunny, but you just got drenched. You got a flu shot—but you’re sick in bed with the flu. Your best friend from Boston met your other best friend from San Francisco. Coincidentally. What are the odds? Risk, probability, chance, coincidence—they play a significant role in the way we make decisions about health, education, relationships, and money. But where does this data come from and what does it really mean?

World Science Festival • 2014 - 2019 • 12 episodes •

Infinite Worlds A Journey through Parallel Universes

The multiverse hypothesis, suggesting that our universe is but one of perhaps infinitely many, speaks to the very nature of reality. Join physicist Brian Greene, cosmologists Alan Guth and Andrei Linde, and philosopher Nick Bostrom as they discuss and debate this controversial implication of forefront research and explore its potential for redefining the cosmic order. Moderated by Robert Krulwich and featuring an original musical interlude, inspired by parallel worlds, by DJ Spooky.

2015 • Astronomy

Quantum Reality: Space, Time, and Entanglement

Ninety years after the historic double-slit experiment, the quantum revolution shows no sign of slowing. Join a vibrant conversation with renowned leaders in theoretical physics, quantum computation, and philosophical foundations, focused on how quantum physics continues to impact understanding on issues profound and practical, from the edge of black holes and the fibers of spacetime to teleportation and the future of computers.

Physics

A Thin Sheet of Reality the Universe as a Hologram

What we touch. What we smell. What we feel. They’re all part of our reality. But what if life as we know it reflects only one side of the full story? Some of the world’s leading physicists think that this may be the case. They believe that our reality is a projection—sort of like a hologram—of laws and processes that exist on a thin surface surrounding us at the edge of the universe.

2014 • Physics

Beyond Beauty the Predictive Power of Symmetry

From a bee’s hexagonal honeycomb to the elliptical paths of planets, symmetry has long been recognized as a vital quality of nature. Einstein saw symmetry hidden in the fabric of space and time. The brilliant Emmy Noether proved that symmetry is the mathematical flower of deeply rooted physical law. And today’s theorists are pursuing an even more exotic symmetry that, mathematically speaking, could be nature’s final fundamental symmetry: supersymmetry.

2016 • Math

Engineering the Brain Deploying a New Neural Toolkit

A new generation of technology is revolutionizing neuroscience, allowing a closer study of the brain than had ever seemed possible. The techniques are hybrids of optics, genetics, and synthetic biology with the ability to manipulate brain activity, often in real time. Through direct stimulation of neural connections, some of these techniques hold the promise for the treatment of diseases like depression or schizophrenia.

2019 • Brain

Gravitational Waves: A New Era of Astronomy Begins

On September 14th, 2015, a ripple in the fabric of space, created by the violent collision of two distant black holes over a billion years ago, washed across the Earth. As it did, two laser-based detectors, 50 years in the making – one in Louisiana and the other in Washington State – momentarily twitched, confirming a century-old prediction by Albert Einstein and marking the opening of a new era in astronomy. Join some of the very scientists responsible for this most anticipated discovery of our age and see how gravitational waves will be used to explore the universe like never before.

2016 • Astronomy

Hidden Dimensions Exploring Hyperspace

Extra dimensions of space — the idea that we are immersed in hyperspace — may be key to explaining the fundamental nature of the universe. Relativity introduced time as the fourth dimension, and Einstein’s subsequent work envisioned more dimensions still — but ultimately hit a dead end. Modern research has advanced the subject in ways he couldn’t have imagined. John Hockenberry joins Brian Greene, Lawrence Krauss, and other leading thinkers on a visual tour through wondrous spatial realms that may lie beyond the ones we experience.

2015 • Physics

Neutrinos Matter and Antimatter the Yin Yang of the Big Bang

What happened to all of the universe's antimatter? Can a particle be its own anti-particle? And how do you build an experiment to find out? In this program, particle physicists reveal their hunt for a neutrino event so rare, it happens to a single atom at most once every 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years: far longer than the current age of the universe. If they find it, it could explain no less than the existence of our matter-filled universe.

2019 • Physics

How Music Affects Your Brain Notes on the Folds

Scientists are now finally discovering what thinkers, musicians, or even any of us with a Spotify account and a set of headphones could have told you on instinct: music lights up multiple corners of the brain, strengthening our neural networks, firing up memory and emotion, and showing us what it means to be human. In fact, music is as essential to being human as language and may even predate it. Can music also repair broken networks, restore memory, and strengthen the brain?

2019 • Music

Measure for Measure Quantum Physics and Reality

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. How do subatomic objects shed their quantum weirdness? Experts in the field of physics, including David Z. Albert, Sean Carroll, Sheldon Goldstein, Ruediger Schack, and moderator Brian Greene, discuss the history of quantum mechanics, current theories in the field, and possibilities for the future.

2014 • Physics

The Illusion of Certainty: Risk, Probability, and Chance

Stuff happens. The weather forecast says it’s sunny, but you just got drenched. You got a flu shot—but you’re sick in bed with the flu. Your best friend from Boston met your other best friend from San Francisco. Coincidentally. What are the odds? Risk, probability, chance, coincidence—they play a significant role in the way we make decisions about health, education, relationships, and money. But where does this data come from and what does it really mean?

2015 • Math

The Matter of Antimatter Answering the Cosmic Riddle of Existence

You exist. You shouldn’t. Stars and galaxies and planets exist. They shouldn’t. The nascent universe contained equal parts matter and antimatter that should have instantly obliterated each other, turning the Big Bang into the Big Fizzle. And yet, here we are: flesh, blood, stars, moons, sky. Why? Come join us as we dive deep down the rabbit hole of solving the mystery of the missing antimatter.

2018 • Physics

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The Secret Life of Chaos

Professor Jim Al-Khalili shows how chaos theory can answer a question that mankind has asked for millennia - how does a universe that starts off as dust end up with intelligent life? It's a mindbending, counterintuitive and for many people a troubling idea.

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Beyond Beauty the Predictive Power of Symmetry

From a bee’s hexagonal honeycomb to the elliptical paths of planets, symmetry has long been recognized as a vital quality of nature. Einstein saw symmetry hidden in the fabric of space and time. The brilliant Emmy Noether proved that symmetry is the mathematical flower of deeply rooted physical law. And today’s theorists are pursuing an even more exotic symmetry that, mathematically speaking, could be nature’s final fundamental symmetry: supersymmetry.

World Science Festival • 2016 • Math

Expanded Horizons

Hannah travels down the fastest zip wire in the world to learn more about Newton's ideas on gravity. His discoveries revealed the movement of the planets was regular and predictable. James Clerk Maxwell unified the ideas of electricity and magnetism, and explained what light was. As if that wasn't enough, he also predicted the existence of radio waves. His tools of the trade were nothing more than pure mathematics. All strong evidence for maths being discovered. But in the 19th century, maths is turned on its head when new types of geometry are invented. No longer is the kind of geometry we learned in school the final say on the subject. If maths is more like a game, albeit a complicated one, where we can change the rules, surely this points to maths being something we invent - a product of the human mind. To try and answer this question, Hannah travels to Halle in Germany on the trail of perhaps one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century, Georg Cantor. He showed that infinity, far from being infinitely big, actually comes in different sizes, some bigger than others. This increasingly weird world is feeling more and more like something we've invented. But if that's the case, why is maths so uncannily good at predicting the world around us? Invented or discovered, this question just got a lot harder to answer.

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To Infinity and Beyond

Professor Marcus du Sautoy concludes his investigation into the history of mathematics with a look at some of the great unsolved problems that confronted mathematicians in the 20th century. After exploring Georg Cantor's work on infinity and Henri Poincare's work on chaos theory, he sees how mathematics was itself thrown into chaos by the discoveries of Kurt Godel and Paul Cohen, before completing his journey by considering some unsolved problems of maths today, including the Riemann Hypothesis.

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How to Get Lucky

Kicking off the lectures with a mind-boggling stunt to prove how counterintuitive our gut instincts can be, Hannah launches into a lecture full of daring live experiments and surprising discoveries. From predicting the chance of snow at Christmas to dodging erupting volcanoes with Prof Chris Jackson, Hannah explores whether we really can predict the future. She meets the maths gurus behind Liverpool Football Club's winning streak to spill the beans on how analysing the numbers can give a team an edge in the Premier League, and reveals the tricks to perfecting your Christmas cracker pull to win the prize every time. Hannah also gathers tips from mind-performance coach Dr Michael Gervais, the 'secret weapon' crafting Olympic athletes' lucky mindsets, and the man responsible for Felix Baumgartner's jump from space, when 'first time lucky' meant life or death. Enrolling the help of maths comedian Matt Parker for the pinnacles of the lecture, the duo find order in unruly crowds, and whittle the audience down to the luckiest person in a series of challenges, before finally putting them to the test to prove whether they truly are one in a million. Using a host of maths tricks - from probability to game theory - Hannah discovers if we can in fact make our own luck, and ultimately shares the secrets to help us all lead luckier lives.

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Numbers

In this first episode, Marcus reveals how significant numbers apear throughout the natural world. They're part of a hidden mathematical world that contains the rules that govern everything on our planet and beyond.

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