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Revolutionizing Economics By Studying People In The Real World With John List


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Podcast: Big Brains
Episode: Revolutionizing Economics By Studying People In The Real World With John List
Pub date: 2019-08-12

If you’ve played Candy Crush, flown on United Airlines, or taken an Uber or Lyft, you’ve been in one of Prof. John List’s experiments without even knowing it. List has revolutionized economics research through his pioneering use of field experiments. A field experiment is conducted in the real world instead of in a lab, testing theories on people in their day-to-day lives.

List’s experiments have changed the world by equipping policymakers with real-world data to address issues like climate change, the gender pay gap, and why inner-city schools fail. But now, he’s warning of a crisis that’s threatening the impact of scientific research: Many studies that claim to tell us something about the world fall apart when you test them on a larger scale. It’s something he calls ‘the scale-up problem.’

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The Science of Conspiracy Theories And Political Polarization With Eric Oliver


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Podcast: Big Brains
Episode: The Science of Conspiracy Theories And Political Polarization With Eric Oliver
Episode pub date: 2019-05-20

The “birthers”, “Pizzagate”, anti-vaxxers. Since the election of Donald Trump, it’s seemed that belief in conspiracy theories is on the rise. At the same time, our polarization is worse than ever. People can hardly even maintain a conversation across political or cultural lines. Could the underlying force driving conspiracy theories also be the same one that’s dividing our country?

University of Chicago Political Science Professor Eric Oliver, who’s been studying conspiracy theories for over a decade, says his research shows how one basic tension explains both belief in conspiracy theories and our political divide. Deeper than red or blue, liberal or conservative, we’re actually divided by intuitionists and rationalists.

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Tiny Creatures, Big Discoveries With Nipam Patel


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Podcast: Big Brains
Episode: Tiny Creatures, Big Discoveries With Nipam Patel
Episode pub date: 2019-04-01

Since the late 1800s, if you were serious about studying biology you went to the Marine Biological Laboratory. The discoveries made there have led to world-changing applications in biology, medicine and neurology.

The newly appointed MBL director, Nipam Patel, knows a lot about studying organisms. As one of the world’s leading evolutionary and developmental biologists, his work has help us better understand why it matters to study a diversity of life.

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The Hidden Dangers of Artificial Intelligence with Ben Zhao


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Podcast: Big Brains
Episode: The Hidden Dangers of Artificial Intelligence with Ben Zhao
Episode pub date: 2019-03-18

The development of artificial intelligence has begun to feel inevitable and promising. But University of Chicago computer scientist, Ben Zhao, has spent much of his career testing how the security of these systems can break down.

Zhao’s study involving Yelp reviews generated by A.I. show how these system could be used to distort our perceptions of reality, especially in this era of fake news. And his latest investigation into “backdoors” demonstrates how they could be used to hack crucial systems in dangerous and even deadly ways.

Music used in this episode: BurrowBurrow, Lumber Down, House of Grendel, Tralaga, and Cicle DR Valga by Blue Dot Sessions

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From Sci-Fi to Reality, Quantum Technology with David Awschalom (Ep. 11)

Podcast: Big Brains
Episode: From Sci-Fi to Reality, Quantum Technology with David Awschalom (Ep. 11)
Episode pub date: 2018-10-15

David Awschalom is one of the world’s leading scientists studying the growing field of quantum engineering, turning what was once in the realm of science fiction into reality—which could offer revolutionary breakthroughs in communications, digital encryption, sensor technology and even medicine.

Studying the smallest elements in the universe is challenging on a number of levels, since quantum particles defy the laws of traditional physics.

“The behavior of these tiny pieces is unlike anything we see in our world,” Awschalom said. “If I pull a wagon, you know how it’s going to move. But at the atomic world, things don’t work that way. Wagons can go through walls; wagons can be entangled and share information that is hard to separate.”

On this episode of Big Brains, Awschalom shares how these unusual rules are leading to new technologies, why government and business are so interested in these breakthroughs, and how he’s helping to train a new generation of quantum engineers.

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The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from UChicago Podcast Network, which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.