Think theoretical physics is irrelevant to your everyday life and way over your head? You’ll think differently after listening to this interview with Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist, poetic naturalist, and author.The meaning of life, the finitude of life, the choices we make and our experience of happiness and suffering all have a connection back to the scientific realm that will both fascinate and provoke thought in you.
This week we talk to Sean Carroll
Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. in 1993 from Harvard University. His research focuses on fundamental physics and cosmology, especially issues of dark matter, dark energy, spacetime symmetries, and the origin of the universe. Recently, Carroll has worked on the foundations of quantum mechanics, the arrow of time, and the emergence of complexity. Carroll is the author of The Particle at the End of the Universe and From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time,
In This Interview, Sean Carroll and I Discuss…
- The Wolf Parable
- His book, The Big Picture; On the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe Itself
- That who we become is a combination of the choices we make and what the Universe gives us
- The philosophy of Poetic Naturalism – 1 world, many ways of talking about it
- 3 Levels of Stories: Fundamental, Emergent, Comprehensive
- What it means to be real
- You can’t make “ought” out of “is”
- That facts and moral values are different things
- His perspective on life mattering – that it comes from within, that it’s not imposed on us from the outside
- The fact that we care is the origin of things mattering in this life and world
- Life is a process, it’s something that’s happening – always moving and changing – and that there’s always something else that we want
- How his book lays out the design for you to decide how to live your life and what kind of person you want to be
- The mistake of fetishizing happiness
- How you cannot separate happiness and suffering in life – especially a life well lived
- That our goal shouldn’t be to reach some state of happiness and stay there because life is a dynamic process and it doesn’t work like that
- The finitude of life
- The average human lives for three billion heartbeats
- That the difference between right and wrong is up to us to decide and that can be scary
- That the world – including us – is only really made up of 3 basic particles and 3 basic forces
- That the big bang isn’t necessarily the beginning of the universe but it’s as far back as we can go
- Physics books for the non-science people – look for books by either Brian Greene or Lisa Randall
- Life’s Ratchet by Peter Hoffman is another interesting book for a non-science person
Sean Carroll Links
A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says there are two wolves inside of us which are always at war with each other.
One of them is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred and fear.
The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?”
The grandfather quietly replies, the one you feed
The Tale of Two Wolves is often attributed to the Cherokee indians but there seems to be no real proof of this. It has also been attributed to evangelical preacher Billy Graham and Irish Playwright George Bernard Shaw. It appears no one knows for sure but this does not diminish the power of the parable.
This parable goes by many names including:
The Tale of Two Wolves
The Parable of the Two Wolves
Which Wolf Do You Feed
Which Wolf are You Feeding
Which Wolf Will You Feed
It also often features different animals, mainly two dogs.