Why This Universe?

By Dan Hooper, Shalma Wegsman

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Category: Physics

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Subscribers: 137
Reviews: 2

Andrew R
 May 1, 2022
As an interested non-scientist I love this podcast. It's hard science but explained so clearly that I can make sense of it. A great window into fascinating subjects

James W
 Dec 26, 2021
I was enjoying this podcast until they served up a side order of woke.

Description

The biggest ideas in physics, broken down. Join theoretical physicist Dan Hooper and co-host Shalma Wegsman as they answer your questions about dark matter, black holes, quantum mechanics, and more. Part of The University of Chicago Podcast Network.

Episode Date
59 - The End of Everything (Ft. Katie Mack)
2449

Special guest Katie Mack talks to us about how the universe might end.

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Jan 09, 2023
58 - The Risks of Science Populism
860

In today's different type of episode, we talk about the risks of a subtle kind of scientific misinformation.

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Dec 12, 2022
57 - String Theory Part 3: Duality
1442

This episode will hurt your brain, or your money back.

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Nov 21, 2022
56 - An Icy Neutrino Interruption
1735

We interrupt our regular episodes to cover the exciting new discovery that the IceCube Neutrino Observatory announced on November 3rd, 2022.

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Nov 07, 2022
55 - String Theory Part 2: The First Superstring Revolution
1689

We pick up the story of string theory and explore the explosion of interest it experienced in the mid 1980s.

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Oct 24, 2022
54 - String Theory Part 1: What Is It?
1525

Last time, we introduced the biggest open problem in theoretical physics - the problem of combining gravity with quantum mechanics. In this first part of a three-part series, we introduce the leading candidate for how to do that: String Theory.

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Oct 03, 2022
53 - Why We Need a Theory of Quantum Gravity
1694

Quantum mechanics and general relativity are two of the most successful theories of science ever, but they don't necessarily fit together. Learn why physicists are trying so hard to discover a quantum theory of gravity, and why it's been such a challenge.

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Sep 12, 2022
52 - The Large Hadron Collider and All Its Glory
1687

We pick up last episode's theme of particle colliders and dive into the most exciting one running today - the LHC. What is it, how does it work, and what new physics can it still reveal?

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Aug 22, 2022
51 - Why Physicists Love Smashing Particles Together
1426

For the past century, physicists have been building particle colliders as a way to learn about the fundamental laws of physics. Today we talk about why smashing particles together has proven to be such a powerful tool.

For ad-free episodes and other exclusives, join us for $3 a month on Patreon: https://patreon.com/whythisuniverse

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Aug 01, 2022
50 - The Black Hole At the Center of the Milky Way
1864

On May 12, 2022 astronomers revealed an image of the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Today we tell the story of what made this image possible.

Today's episode is sponsored by Wren. Sign up through https://www.wren.co/universe to make a difference in the climate crisis, and Wren will plant 10 extra trees in your name!

For ad-free episodes and other exclusives, join us for $3 a month on Patreon: https://patreon.com/whythisuniverse

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Jul 11, 2022
49 - When the Universe Changed in an Instant
1526

Just like water changing to ice when it freezes, there were times in the universe's early history when reality changed in almost an instant. Today we dive into these cosmological phase transitions, and speculate about the strange objects these types of instant changes can create.

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Jun 27, 2022
48 - A Wrong Picture Of Cosmology
1518

When cosmology was still an infant science, a daring physicist wrote a theory of the beginning of time.  We revisit this theory and see what value we can still glean from it today.

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May 23, 2022
13 - Does Quantum Mechanics Imply a Multiverse? (Rebroadcast)
2065

Today we explore different interpretations of quantum mechanics, from Copenhagen to the many-worlds hypothesis, in an attempt to uncover what quantum reality really is. This episode is a rebroadcast of one of our early favorites.

For ad-free episodes and other exclusives, join us for $3 a month on Patreon: https://patreon.com/whythisuniverse

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May 09, 2022
47 - Boltzmann Brains: Could Reality Be An Illusion?
1714

A whirlwind of questions brings us to an odd conclusion: could reality be an illusion created by a quantum fluctuation of a brain?

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Apr 25, 2022
46 - The Cosmic Rays Raining Down On Us
1519

Here on Earth, we are constantly being showered by particles from outer space called cosmic rays. What do we know about where these particles really come from?

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Apr 04, 2022
25 - Do Extra Dimensions Exist? (Rebroadcast)
1713

Today we are rebroadcasting an earlier episode all about extra dimensions - How many dimensions of space are there? Could there be extra dimensions that are hidden from view?

For ad-free episodes and other exclusives, join us for $3 a month on Patreon: https://patreon.com/whythisuniverse

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Mar 14, 2022
45 - The Wide World of Exoplanets (ft. Diana Powell)
2348

Special guest Dr. Diana Powell gives us the lay down on the field of exoplanet research, and on how these recent discoveries may shed light on the question of extraterrestrial life.

For ad-free episodes and other exclusives, join us for $3 a month on Patreon: https://patreon.com/whythisuniverse

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Feb 28, 2022
44 - Our Deepest Theory: Quantum Field Theory
1469

Today we attempt to break down the basics of quantum field theory - our deepest theory of physics yet.

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Feb 14, 2022
43 - Is Physics the Most Fundamental Subject?
1735

Some people like to claim that psychology is just applied biology, which is just applied chemistry, which is just applied physics, and so on. Is there any truth to this? Or is it just our egos getting the better of us?

For ad-free episodes and other exclusives, join us for $3 a month on Patreon: https://patreon.com/whythisuniverse

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Jan 31, 2022
42 - The Signal That Could Be the Dark Matter
2241

Dan shares one of the biggest stories of his career - his discovery of an excess of gamma rays at the center of the Milky Way. Is this a sign of dark matter, or is it something less mysterious?

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Jan 17, 2022
41 - The Hubble Tension: The Biggest Fight in Astronomy (ft. Wendy Freedman)
1434

When different groups of astronomers measure the expansion rate of space, they get different answers. Who's right? Or are they both right, and new physics is afoot?

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Jan 03, 2022
40 - How Will JWST Change Astronomy?
1192

Today we dive into the world's shiny new space telescope - JWST. Learn why are physicists and astronomers are so excited about it, and what new secrets of the universe it might reveal. Keep your eye out for its launch later this week!

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Dec 20, 2021
23 - Does Physics Allow for Free Will? (Rebroadcast)
1725

Can free will exist in a universe described by the laws of physics? Listen to this re-broadcast of one of our favorite episodes.

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Nov 29, 2021
39 - Why Do Science Communication? (ft. Daniel Whiteson and Jorge Cham)
1640

Daniel Whiteson and Jorge Cham talk to us about what science communication means to them.

Listen to their podcast, Daniel and Jorge Explain the Universe: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/105-daniel-and-jorge-explain-t-29862087/

Support WTU on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/whythisuniverse

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Nov 15, 2021
A Special Neutrino Update! (ft. Pedro Machado)
1030

Today we unpack the latest neutrino results from Fermilab's MicroBoone experiment. Special guest Pedro Machado helps us understand what they mean for the future of neutrino research.

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Nov 01, 2021
38 - The Nobel Prize's Greatest Misses
2085

In honor of Nobel prize season, we remember some people whose important work in the past has been overlooked by the Nobel committee.

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Oct 18, 2021
37 - How Neutrinos Might Be Hinting at Dark Matter
1462

The neutrino's non-zero mass is an anomaly, but one that leads to a promising new dark matter candidate - the sterile neutrino. Could this be it?

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Oct 04, 2021
36 - The Neutrino's Quantum Superpower
1262

Today we discuss neutrino oscillations - their ability to transform between different types – and the quantum mechanics that makes it possible.

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Sep 20, 2021
35 - The Chaos Underlying Everything (ft. David Grier)
1924

Learn about the chaotic motion that underlies even the most ordered structures, including life.

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Sep 06, 2021
34 - Should Beauty Guide Physicists?
1714

Some physics theories are admired for being beautiful, but does that mean they are more likely to be true? Or could chasing beauty lead us astray?

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Aug 23, 2021
33 - Our Love Affair With Supersymmetry
2050

Hear why supersymmetry was special enough to win over physicists hearts, and why faith in it might be dying out.

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Aug 09, 2021
32 - The Mystery of the Higgs Boson's Mass
1458

Today we explore one of the biggest and most frustrating open problems of particle physics - the hierarchy problem.

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Jul 26, 2021
31 - If You Give an Astronomer a Neutrino
1645

Learn how astronomers are using invisible particles to see what we've never seen before!

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Jul 12, 2021
30 - The Oldest Picture of the Universe
1943

Learn about the oldest light in the universe - the cosmic microwave background - and how it became a treasure trove of cosmological insight.

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Jun 28, 2021
29 - How the Big Bang Won the Debate About the Beginning of Time
1986

Hear what proved to physicists that the universe started with the Big Bang - and the one person who was never convinced.

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Jun 14, 2021
28 - How Emmy Noether Changed Physics Forever
1427

Learn how a profound mathematical theorem relating symmetries to conservation laws is deeply woven into the physics of the universe.

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May 31, 2021
12 - The Fight Between Modified Gravity and Dark Matter
1889

A rerun of one of our favorite episodes ever. Some physicists have considered the possibility that dark matter might not exist - and that instead, it's our theories of gravity which are wrong. Today we take a deep dive into these theories of modified gravity.

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May 10, 2021
3 - What in the World is Anti-Matter?
1001

A re-post of one of our favorite early episodes. Learn how special relativity and quantum mechanics come together to make an odd prediction about matter.

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Apr 26, 2021
27 - What Does the Muon g-2 Result Mean for Physics?
2058

Get our introduction to the measurement that might prove the Standard Model wrong!

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Apr 12, 2021
26 - Did Inflation Rip Apart the Early Universe?
1629

The Big Bang theory leaves us with some open questions, and the theory of inflation might have the answers.

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Mar 29, 2021
25 - Could Extra Dimensions Exist?
1660

How many dimensions of space are there? Could there be extra dimensions that are hidden from view?

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Mar 15, 2021
24 - Breaking Down the Standard Model
1729

Take a deep dive into (a contender) for the most successful theory of physics ever!

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Mar 01, 2021
23 - Does Physics Allow for Free Will?
1708

Can free will exist in a universe described by the laws of physics? 

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Feb 15, 2021
22 - The Particle That Might Do It All (Axions!)
1170

Today we talk about the theoretical particle at the forefront of current research. Learn how axions might explain not one but *two* open problems in physics!

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Feb 01, 2021
21 - The Quantum Mechanics of Black Holes
1759

Here's what happens when we introduce quantum mechanics to one of the weirdest objects in the universe. Hint - things get hairy.

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Jan 18, 2021
20 - Everything To Do About Black Holes
1785

Today we talk about black holes - from their early history to their role in the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics. 

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Jan 04, 2021
19 - Why Does Science Work?
1786

Does science get us closer to understanding what the universe is actually like, or is it just a useful tool to build technology with? Today we get philosophical and talk through this deep question!

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Dec 21, 2020
18 - Could a Hyper-Advanced Civilization Resist Dark Energy?
2239

If life in the universe survives into the far future, it will eventually come face to face with the accelerating expansion of the universe caused by dark energy. Could a hyper-advanced civilization find a way to fight it?

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Nov 30, 2020
The State of The Universe #81 - Dr. Daniel Whiteson - The Standard Model and Its Many Quirks!
6137

Today our feed is getting taken over by Brendan Drachler to bring you an episode of his show, The State of the Universe!

Science moves at an impossibly fast pace. It will leave you wondering, what is the state of the universe? Wonder no more! Learn from researchers working at the cutting edge of scientific advancement about everything from the robot takeover to the big bang only on The State of The Universe podcast.

Listen to the State of the Universe everywhere where podcasts are available. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-state-of-the-universe/id1429808898

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Nov 23, 2020
17 - Why Haven't We Met Aliens?
1501

Are there other intelligent civilizations out there, or are we alone here on Earth? And what have we done to try to find them?

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Nov 16, 2020
16 - Where Is Life in the Universe?
1573

What does it takes for a planet to support life? How different could extraterrestrial life be from what we see on Earth?

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Nov 02, 2020
15 - What are Grand Unified Theories?
1489

These theories aim to explain all of the fundamental forces (except gravity) in one neat package. How does it work?

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Oct 19, 2020
14 - Why Does Time Move in One Direction?
1577

What in the laws of physics differentiates between past and future? Is there a physical reason that time always moves forward? 

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Oct 12, 2020
13 - Does Quantum Mechanics Imply a Multiverse?
1807

Today we explore different interpretations of quantum mechanics, from Copenhagen to the many-worlds hypothesis, in an attempt to uncover what quantum reality really is.

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Oct 05, 2020
12 - Please Stop Emailing Dan About MOND
1838

Some physicists have considered the possibility that dark matter might not exist - and that instead, it's our theories of gravity which are wrong. Today we take a deep dive into these theories of modified gravity.

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Sep 28, 2020
11 - Discovery Alert! Let's Talk About Gravitational Waves
1603

You may have heard of the new gravitational wave discovery of September 2020. Here's everything you need to know to understand what this detection means for physics!

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Sep 21, 2020
10 - What is Dark Energy?
1683

Get introduced to one of the most mysterious characters in physics.

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Sep 14, 2020
9 - Is Space Expanding?
1376

Here's how a heated debate about whether our Milky Way galaxy is the entire universe led to the discovery of expanding space.

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Sep 07, 2020
8 - Is Space Flat or Curved?
1402

Learn how the geometry of space defies our intuition, and why it gave Einstein so much anxiety.

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Aug 31, 2020
7 - Could Black Holes Be the Dark Matter?
1411

Dark matter has eluded physicists for years - all we know is that it's some kind of matter that doesn't interact with light. Does that sound like a black hole to you?

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Aug 24, 2020
6 - Your Tour Through Quantum Weirdness
1757

Entanglement, wave-particle duality, and uncertainty - here's a breakdown of the weirdest and wildest things about quantum mechanics.

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Aug 17, 2020
5 - How Dan Lost a Bet With Dark Matter
1669

We revisit some of Dan's early predictions about dark matter, and talk about the biggest dark matter ideas and experiments of the last decade.

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Aug 10, 2020
4 - Where Did the Antimatter Go?
1566

Every time a particle of matter is made, a particle of antimatter is also made. So it seems like all matter ever created should have annihilated with antimatter, leaving behind an empty universe. But then... why is our universe filled with matter?

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Aug 03, 2020
3 - What in the World Is Antimatter?
931

Learn how special relativity and quantum mechanics come together to make an odd prediction about matter.

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Jul 26, 2020
2 - What's It Like to Discover Quantum Mechanics?
1944

Quantum mechanics revolutionized our understanding of the universe. But have you ever wondered how it was first discovered? What's it like to live through such a dramatic scientific moment? 

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Jul 20, 2020
0 - Welcome to Why This Universe!
289

Learn more about the co-hosts, what this podcast is all about, and why we are making it!

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Jul 13, 2020
1 - Why Are We So Sure About Dark Matter?
1247

Dark matter sounds as mysterious as it is - an invisible form of matter that permeates our universe that physicists have not yet been able to detect! And yet, most physicists are extremely confident that it exists. Learn why!

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Jul 13, 2020