The Language Hoax

The language we speak shapes how we experience life, creating a world view based on its vocabulary and grammar…right? Not so, says John McWhorter. Drawing from the scientific literature, McWhorter explains how this widely-held belief is not only false, it leads to dangerous assumptions about cultures...

Emerging Diseases, Deadly Lessons

It has been more than two years since confirmation of the Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreak in West Africa. Now, with the end of the outbreak in sight, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from the experience. The global impact of that epidemic, and recent outbreaks of SARS and influenza,...

Smart Machines…and What They Can Still Learn from People

For nearly half a century, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been more science fiction than science: exciting, possible, but just out of reach. And despite significant advances, "strong AI" in many ways remains elusive. Best-selling author and entrepreneur Gary Marcus provides a cognitive scientist's...

The Urban Species: How Domesticated Humans Evolved

Modern humans are building megacities – and networks of megacities – at an unprecedented scale. Annalee Newitz compares today’s urbanization phenonmenon to that of the Neolithic period roughly 9,000 years ago, when humans first began living in sedentary communities. That shift prompted...

DNA, Love, and Gender

When it comes to human behavior, some traits are neither nature nor nurture, but something altogether different. That “something” is epigenetics, the science that helps to explain how the environment, including some social interactions, alter DNA. In this talk, Dr. Karissa Sanbonmatsu gives...

Touching a Nerve: The Self as Brain

What shapes our personalities? How do we account for near-death experiences? How do we make decisions? And what happens when we accept that everything we feel and think stems not from an immaterial spirit but from electrical and chemical activity in our brains? Neurophilosopher Churchland grounds the...

Questioning the Science of Gender Difference: A New Perspective

For decades, science has told us that biology defines gender differences. But what if the scientists – and popular culture – have got it wrong? Fine explores the literature, from studies in scientific journals to the latest assertions of Mars and Venus author John Gray, to challenge society’s attribution...

The Ecological Human

2015 Stanislaw Ulam Memorial Lecture Series - The Web of Life and the Ecological Human Lecture 2   Traditionally, most ecological research has studied ecosystems as separate from humans. In her second lecture, Dunne shows how humans fit into and impact ecosystems through their myriad interactions...

The Hidden Order of Complex Ecosystems - 2015 Ulam Lectures Part 1

   

The Hidden Order of Complex Ecosystems

2015 Stanislaw Ulam Memorial Lecture Series - The Web of Life and the Ecological Human Lecture 1   Dunne shares surprising findings from her research of food webs, the networks of who eats whom in nature. After revealing hidden ecological order, she explores the underlying forces that constrain...

The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew

Can science prove the existence of God? Is this universe we inhabit the only one? Can a religious experience be scientifically proven? Lightman ponders these timeless, unanswerable questions using his training as both a scientist and a novelist, always careful to include historical and contemporary perspectives....

Adaptive Intervention: Healing with Data

Why are treatments for chronic disease and addiction so often ineffective? Statistician Susan Murphy believes that generalized treatment approaches simply don’t take into account critical individual differences like patient response, risk, burden, adherence, and preference. By implementing a sequence...

Ties that Bind: The Goodness of Social Networks

Social networks have proven to be fertile ground for understanding human behavior. This fascinating exploration suggests that we’re much more motivated by social incentives that reward others than by economic self-interest alone. Pentland discusses how studying patterns of information exchange...

Eating our Words: What the Language of Food Says About Us

The words we use to talk about food offers surprising insights on history, economics, psychology, and even evolution. Daniel Jurafsky explores the relationship between food and language around the globe, from the origins of America’s national condiment as a Chinese fermented fish sauce to the reason...