Of Particular Significance

Wednesday: Sean Carroll & I Interviewed Again by Alan Boyle

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON 12/04/2013

Today, Wednesday December 4th, at 8 pm Eastern/5 pm Pacific time, Sean Carroll and I will be interviewed again by Alan Boyle on “Virtually Speaking Science”.   The link where you can listen in (in real time or at your leisure) is


What is “Virtually Speaking Science“?  It is an online radio program that presents, according to its website:

  • Informal conversations hosted by science writers Alan Boyle, Tom Levenson and Jennifer Ouellette, who explore the explore the often-volatile landscape of science, politics and policy, the history and economics of science, science deniers and its relationship to democracy, and the role of women in the sciences.

Sean Carroll is a Caltech physicist, astrophysicist, writer and speaker, blogger at Preposterous Universe, who recently completed an excellent and now prize-winning popular book (which I highly recommend) on the Higgs particle, entitled “The Particle at the End of the Universe“.  Our interviewer Alan Boyle is a noted science writer, author of the book “The Case for Pluto“, winner of many awards, and currently NBC News Digital’s science editor [at the blog  “Cosmic Log“].

Sean and I were interviewed in February by Alan on this program; here’s the link.  I was interviewed on Virtually Speaking Science once before, by Tom Levenson, about the Large Hadron Collider (here’s the link).  Also, my public talk “The Quest for the Higgs Particle” is posted in their website (here’s the link to the audio and to the slides).

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4 Responses

  1. Dear Matt,

    I’ve been a long-time fan of your site for quite some time, and have read nearly all of the articles on it. I am a neuroscientist by trade but am increasingly interested in physics lately. You’re probably asked this a lot, but because you’re such a good explainer I respect your opinion on the matter: I was wondering what your go-to book recommendations are in the “physics for a layman” category. Books I’ve liked have been Knowing: The Nature of Physical Law, The Road to Reality, and The Theoretical Minimum, the recent one by Susskind. Other good ones I’ve liked have been Leonard Krauss’s, and of course Feynman’s. Weinberg’s I’ve also enjoyed, and Edward Witten has some good popularized stuff too. Just wondering if you had any particular “desert island books for someone who doesn’t know much calculus or linear algebra.”

    A followup question. I have a college physics textbook. It’s about 1200 pages. Do you think I’d get more value out of that alongside with learning the math involved for most of the classical physics material in there (which comprises about half of the text) than most non-math treatments of physics? Your writing actually gives me hope that one can attain a (comparatively) deep understanding of principles without much specific mathematical knowledge. I guess, because I don’t know what I don’t know, I can never really realize just what I’m missing by not understanding graduate-level mathematical physics. Of course, when I’ve dialogued with mathematicians who’ve tried to explain to me in everyday language things like twistors, fibre bundles, Riemannian manifolds, it actually makes rather intuitive sense to me, I just don’t really understand what the symbols mean and how it’s all laid out in terms of equations that reference other concepts. Suppose this is a large issue, the whole “how much physics can you grasp without math” topic, so maybe you could riff on that for a second, although again, you’ve probably done it before.

    Thank you!

  2. Excuse me for the digression:
    The late great Nelson Mandela evoked the Equivalence Principle to unify South Africa

  3. Hi Professor, i can not listen to it as i am busy. Would there be a recording of it somewhere so i could download the talk and have a listen at a later date ?

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