In 1950, a physicist posed the question that has come to be known as the Fermi Paradox: given the high mathematical probability that other intelligent life forms exist elsewhere in the universe, why is there no evidence that they exist? In his blazingly original paper, “Radio Astronomy as Epistemology,” our guest, philosopher Anthony Weston, formulates a solution. What we take to be the silence of the universe, he writes, may teach us more about ourselves—and the challenges of receptivity to nonhuman minds in general—than about the prevalence of other life. The reason the universe appears to offer no evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence, Weston suggests, may be that we are paying the wrong kind of attention. We speak with Dr. Weston about self-fulfilling prophesies, the limits of animal intelligence tests, and how to cultivate what he calls “receptive listening.”
Aaron is thrilled to have theoretical physicist and best-selling author Brian Greene on the pod to discuss a host of subjects, including Brian’s works of dramatic writing, Light Falls, and Icarus at the Edge of Time. Aaron tries not to embarrass himself when he asks Brian about the big questions of the universe, like why there’s something rather than nothing, and the current thinking about the infinite universe. They discuss their favorite movies about science, and the similarities between Hollywood and Theoretical Physics (there are more than you’d think!).