All of us feel like we have a unified consciousness, a “self” that acts with a purpose that resides inside the head of this biological machine of our body. It is that little person inside our heads that makes us who we are. But recent startling findings in the neurosciences tell a very different story. Our brains function as a collection of decentralized complex systems and disunited processes that are integrated much like the programs on our PC. So how come we feel so single minded? Our very special guest tonight is DR. MICHAEL S. GAZZANIGA, Director of the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind; President of the Cognitive Neuroscience Institute and Founding Director of the MacArthur Foundation’s Law and Neuroscience Project. His new book WHO’S IN CHARGE? FREE WILL AND THE SCIENCE OF THE BRAIN is a wonderful review of the latest findings of neurology and details what these studies tell us about where the “I” is located physically in the brain and what consciousness may be.
Inquiry welcomes back PETER SULSKI, Artistic Director for the WORCESTER CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY and KRISTA BUCKLAND REISNER, Summer Festival
Why is a mouse on the floor a pest, but a mouse in a cute cage a pet? Why is it fine to feed white rats to boa constrictors, but people would shudder and scream if anyone tried to feed kittens to a snake? The way we think about animals defies logic. It’s emotionally complicated and differs dramatically depending on culture. Tonight’s guest is HAL HERZOG, one the world’s leading anthrozoologists, a scientist who studies how humans think about animals. His new book is titled SOME WE LOVE. SOME WE HATE. SOME WE EAT. WHY IT’S SO HARD TO THINK STRAIGHT ABOUT ANIMALS. Tonight we talk about if there are differences between “dog people” and “cat people”; if children who abuse animals grow up to be violent adults; what happens when vegans backslide, and why everyone seems to hate snakes. The answers will surprise you.
Tonight we welcome back writer, critic and long-time columnist and blogger for Vanity Fair JAMES WOLCOTT who continues his conversation about his book LUCKING OUT: MY LIFE GETTING DOWN AND DIRTY IN SEVENTIES NEW YORK. Tonight, James Wolcott discusses how long it took for him to be considered an established New York critic, the proliferation and mainstreaming of porn during that decade and finally his discovery and deep love of ballet.
Armed ONLY with a letter of introduction by Norman Mailer, JAMES WOLCOTT left college and headed for what he hoped would be a brilliant career as a critic in New York City in the early 1970s. As luck would have it, he managed to land an entry position at the Village Voice. Thus began a whirlwind decade for Wolcott as he was introduced into the heady world of the legendary writers who worked in the city during what he calls “the Feudal Age of film criticism”. He becomes one of Pauline Kael’s posse and a regular at CBGB’s and there witnesses the first performances of the likes of Patti Smith and the Ramones. And that’s only the beginning of his story. Today, James Wolcott is long-time columnist and blogger for Vanity Fair, and a well-known critic and fiction writer. Tune in tonight as James Wolcott talks about his salad days as recounted in his just published fabulous memoir LUCKING OUT: MY LIFE GETTING DOWN AND SEMI-DIRTY IN SEVENTIES NEW YORK.
Birds are important indicators of the health of an environment. Mass Audubon has just published an important summary of what is known about the health of bird populations in Massachusetts, what species are increasing, what species are declining and what habitats are endangered. Tonight on Inquiry, we welcome JOAN WALSH, Director of Bird Monitoring at Mass Audubon and one of the authors of STATE OF THE BIRDS 2011: DOCUMENTATING CHANGES IN MASSACHUSETTS BIRD LIFE. If you love natural history, are concerned about the future of open space in the state and especially if you enjoy birds, be sure to tune in. To obtain a PDF copy of this beautiful and important report, go to:
The relationship between art and architecture is a complex and at times an uneasy one. In the twentieth century a number of artists works have focused on commenting about our relationship to the physical structures in which we work and live. Tonight on Inquiry, we welcome back DINA DEITSCH, curator at the DECORDOVA SCULPTURE PARK AND MUSEUM. Tonight she talks about a current large and ambitious show at the museum titled TEMPORARY STRUCTURES, that involves built environments, performance art and video work that all comments of buildings, houses and museums. For more information , go to: http://www.decordova.org
Tonight on Inquiry we have a fascinating talk with writer BERND BRUNNER about the history and evolution of the aquarium. What started out as an attempt to bring a small bit of the wild and unknown ocean into the home eventually become a worldwide hobby and public entertainment. But are fish really meant to be “kept in a box?” Tune in to find out. Brunner’s beautiful and unique social natural history is titled THE OCEAN AT HOME: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE AQUARIUM.
Amazingly, there are a small set of numbers, values and constants that define the way our entire universe works and has evolved. Tonight on Inquiry we talk with a man who has written a wonderful book about these very important numbers: Professor of mathematics at California State University JAMES D. STEIN. His entertaining history of science and mathematics is COSMIC NUMBERS: THE NUMBERS THAT DEFINE OUR UNIVERSE. Tonight we talk about the value of Absolute Zero, the coldest anything in the universe can get, and what weird things happen to matter as it is brought to this ultimate “big chill”. We finish our conversation by discussing the Omega value, a number that may well determine the fate of the entire universe.
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