BookLab (general)
From neurons to nanotech and from quarks to the cosmos, BookLab is the podcast that puts science books under the microscope! Join hosts Dan Falk and Amanda Gefter for a look at the latest in popular science writing: what’s new, what’s hot, and what you ought to be reading right now.

It’s one of the oldest and most vexing questions in science and philosophy: Do we have free will? In this episode of BookLab, we take a close look at two books by two scientists who have considered the question at length -- and have been led to two very different conclusions.

Direct download: BookLab_034.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:06pm EDT

The world around us seems incredibly diverse -- but what if beneath that diversity there was a unifying sameness? That’s the idea behind “monism” -- an ancient idea that physicist Heinrich Pas believes is due for a comeback. He explores the idea in his new book, The One.

And on the nightstand: Sounds Wild and Broken, by David George Haskell; and What We Owe the Future, by William MacAskill.

Direct download: BookLab_032.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:52pm EDT

Virtual reality has taken off in recent years. But what if the virtual worlds of VR are real -- just as real, perhaps, as the physical world we see around us? And... is it possible we’re living in a simulation right now? Philosopher David Chalmers probes these questions in his provocative new book, Reality+.

And on the nightstand: A new biography of physicist Freeman Dyson, called Well, Doc, You’re In, edited by David Kaiser; and As Gods, by Matthew Cobb.

Direct download: BookLab_031.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:01pm EDT

Featured book: Being You, by Anil Seth.

A lot has been written on the subject of consciousness, but few are positioned to tackle the problem better than neuroscientist Anil Seth, whose new book examines how we experience “life in the first person.”

And on the nightstand: The Monster’s Bones, by David K. Randall; and Quantum Legacies, by David Kaiser.

Direct download: BookLab_030.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:36am EDT

In this special episode of BookLab, we focus on COVID-19 by journalist Debora MacKenzie. Her book examines how this pandemic happened, how it might have been prevented – or at least mitigated – and what can be done to make sure a similar catastrophic public health crisis doesn’t happen again.
Direct download: BookLab_025.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:54pm EDT

Featured Book:  Our Mathematical Universe, by Max Tegmark.

How many universes are there, anyway?  Physicist Max Tegmark says there could be an infinite number of them, and he argues the case in his latest book.

And on the nightstand:  A Universe from Nothing, by Lawrence Krauss; and Me Myself and Why, by Jennifer Oullette.

Direct download: BookLab_001.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:19pm EDT