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Big Brains

Science • Education • Society-and-culture

We tell the stories behind the pioneering research and pivotal breakthroughs reshaping our world. Change how you see the world. Produced out of The University of Chicago. Adweek's "Best Branded Podcast" of 2020.

Popular episodes

Best Of: Why Talking to Strangers Will Make You Happier With Nicholas Epley

Dec 2 • 25:27
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Most people say they’d want to read minds. But Prof. Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business says you already have that power: You just need to use it.

We took some time off to enjoy the holiday and our families. And, like many of you here in the vaccine phase of the pandemic, we really cherish...

Unlocking The Secrets Of Black Holes, With Andrea Ghez

Nov 18 • 29:04
If you know anything about black holes, it may come as a surprise to learn that there’s actually one lurking at the center of our galaxy. It was uncovered by UCLA astrophysicist Andrea Ghez, and in 2020 she won a Nobel Prize for this discovery. But how do you go about finding something that emits no light? How do you see the unseeable?

In this episode, Ghez explains how she...

Do Your Genes Determine Your Success In Life? With Kathryn Paige Harden

Nov 4 • 30:48
Experts say we’re living through a renaissance in genetics research. The Human Genome project has explained our most fundamental genetics, CRISPR gene editing can be used to shape genetic code, and companies like 23 & Me can trace your ancestry from a single saliva swab. But all this new genetic information has people asking: How much do genetics determine our outcomes in ...

How The UN Aims To Save Humanity, With Chris Williams And Luis Bettencourt

Oct 21 • 25:29
It feels like our world has never faced so many crisis all at the same time, and trying to solve them at once seems impossible. But, in 2015, the United Nations came together to develop a list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, a blueprint for addressing all of humanity’s problems—from poverty to climate change to peace and justice. And, amazingly, every UN nation signed...

Combating Our Global Water Crisis Using AI, with Junhong Chen

Oct 7 • 25:09
There are a lot of problems in our world today, but if our water systems aren’t working, everything else takes a backseat. From a lack of freshwater to droughts on the West Coast to contaminants like PFAS and lead in many of our homes, our water systems are in trouble. But one scientist sees a solution to our making our water system sustainable by using artificial intellig...

Revolutionizing Technology at the Nanoscale, with Paul Alivisatos

Sep 23 • 26:27
Sometimes, the biggest discoveries have to do with the smallest things. In this case, we’re talking nano. Specifically, nanocrystals. World-renowned chemist Paul Alivisatos has changed the field of nanoscience with these tiny crystals, but he’s also found ways to use them to create incredible new technologies in healthcare, energy, and electronic devices.

As if that weren’t...

The Science Behind Forming Better Habits, With Katy Milkman

Sep 9 • 27:53
Why is it so hard for us to form good habits—and so easy to form bad ones? Most people turn to the self-help section to find answers, but this is really a question for behavior science.

Katy Milkman is a professor at The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and co-directs the Behavior Change For Good Initiative with Angela Duckworth. Her best-selling...

The Secret Nazi Past and Billionaire Future of U.S. Space Innovation with Jordan Bimm

Aug 19 • 28:05

Most people think they know humanity’s history of space exploration, from Sputnik to NASA to our recent shift toward privatized space travel. But what if there was a lost history of our origins with space science that would make us rethink the whole narrative?...

How a Genetic Breakthrough Could Address Global Hunger

Aug 5 • 22:50

By 2050 humanity is going to have to produce 50% more food in order to feed a growing population. That’s a lot, especially given that we currently have trouble feeding the current global population, and that food production is already responsible for about a third of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change....

Introducing: Entitled

Jul 29 • 41:26

The University of Chicago Podcast Network is excited to announce the launch of a new show, it’s called "Entitled" and it’s about human rights. Co-hosted by lawyers and UChicago Law School Professors, Claudia Flores and Tom Ginsburg, Entitled explores the stories around why rights matter and what’s the matter with rights....

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