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Physical Attraction

Physical Attraction


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Physical Attraction is the show that explores topics in science, technology, and the future - from a physicist's perspective. From the birth of stars to the end of the world, from interviews with experts to meticulously-researched deep dives, we'll explore the topics that shape our world.
161 Episodes
This week, we have a guest on the show - economics and finance writer Frances Coppola. She's the author of a book, "Quantiative Easing for the People", which argues that central banks and governments should work in concert to ensure that their response to financial crises really helps the entire economy, rather than just inflating asset prices.   In the first part of our wide-ranging discussion, we demystify the economy and debunk some common misconceptions by asking some basic questions: what's a central bank, and what is its role in the economy? What is quantiative easing, and what was it intended to do? It was a really fascinating discussion and it does amaze me how much economics is almost taken for granted + not explained as par for the course in our education when these ideas and principles have the potential to affect our lives so much. I hope you enjoy.  
Hi all. This episode, we're interviewing Brynley Pearlstone, who hosts the Scicurious podcast, which focuses on LGBTQ scientists. We talk about his scientific work on gravitational waves, and about outreach in physics more generally. Enjoy!
In which I post cringe (unrelated prose and poetry) and lose subscriber to commemorate the 3rd anniversary of this show going on the air. 
In this episode, we discuss the progress that has been made towards directly detecting Dark Matter in the form of WIMPs, and the recent anomalies observed at the Xenon1T experiment. Enjoy!
In this slightly news-y episode, we pick up on last week's episode and talk about progress that governments have made in enacting green economic stimulus to follow the coronavirus, as well as the negative redistributive and climate impacts of quantiative easing.
I explore the possible impact that the COVID-19 pandemic will have on our efforts to deal with climate change.
Hey! This is a preview of something new that we're trying out - the Physical Attraction Book Club. We'll be discussing books at a semi-regular intervals on the Patreon, which you can find here: This is a preview to tease you all into being tantalised enough to subscribe. If you do subscribe (for $3 per bonus episode) then not only will you support the show and independent podcasters more generally, but you will also get access to the rest of this episode and the rest of the bonus episodes that are unlocked. The book is The Attention Merchants, by Tim Wu - a comprehensive history of how advertising has shaped our world and our culture, from the 1800s to 2018.
The first of two episodes on climate change and the coronavirus - parallels, similarities, and differences - in which we consider some of the similarities between "climate skeptics" and "COVID skeptics". Also, listener mail.
Well, the manifestation of a global catastrophic risk means that it's time for us to bring back the very first guest on this show, from back in 2017. Phil Torres is a scholar of existential risks - you can find him on Twitter @xriskology and his website at, and we are delighted to ask him back to the show to discuss the field of existential risks in the time of the coronavirus pandemic. In the second part of our interview, we discuss the field of existential risks more generally, Phil's recent work, and ramble about the concerns surrounding the utilitarian foundation of the philosophy.
Episode first aired in Feb 2018 which deals with cognitive biases surrounding how we conceive of the end-times. Sadly relevant today. Why are we so fascinated with the end of the world? How do we think about it? How do cognitive biases impact how we conceive of it? How can we account for existential risks to humanity? What is millenial thinking, and why do we fall into it?    
Well, the manifestation of a global catastrophic risk means that it's time for us to bring back the very first guest on this show, from back in 2017. Phil Torres is a scholar of existential risks - you can find him on Twitter @xriskology and his website at, and we are delighted to ask him back to the show to discuss the field of existential risks in the time of the coronavirus pandemic.
This week, we have a guest on the show - Kit Yates, who is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mathematical Sciences and co-director of the Centre for Mathematical Biology at the University of Bath, and who's written an excellent book "The Maths of Life and Death" on various applications of maths in biology, from epidemics to exponential growth. He's been interviewed extensively in the media lately to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, and we talked about that and the rest of his work, as well as the book, in this interview.  Remember you can find Kit's work at and you can find us as, contact form, twitter, patreon, tell others, rate and review, etc.
I'm excited today to say that we have a guest on the show - Gemma Milne, who has written a book, Smoke and Mirrors, about how technological hype distorts the future. I really enjoyed the book, which deals with nine areas of considerable hype in technology, and not only takes you through some of the fascinating near-term applications for these technologies but also grounds them in reality. It was a fascinating conversation that I'm glad to be able to present you with.  You can find more of her work on Twitter @gemmamilne or on her website at and you can listen to the newly relaunched Science:Disrupt podcast, which has a recent episode about science communication in the age of coronavirus, which is obviously extremely topical. As for us, you can find the show at where you'll find all of our past episodes and a contact form. You can send any questions, comments, concerns, episode ideas, people you'd like me to interview that way - it always makes my day to get communication from you guys so do send it over. You can follow us on the web @physicspod or the Facebook page, Physical Attraction. There's also a Patreon which I really need to use more which you can donate to, and a paypal link for one-off donations if you want to support what I do; we are and remain totally independent and solo, a passion project for me, and anything you can do to support us from telling your friends to listen to the show, to reviewing the show on various platforms, to sending us advice or encouragement, is all greatly appreciated. We have some more interviews in the pipeline for you that will be out soon. Our theme music is by melodysheep and used with kind permission. Until next time, then, take care.
For the pandemic masochists: => A brief discussion of treatments => Information surrounding past and future strategies to combat pandemics => Some information regarding contact-tracing apps, both in theory and in practice. [Too long; didn't listen - they probably won't be that useful.]
For the masochists who apparently can't get enough content about the coronavirus: => An interview with my friend who participated in the vaccine trials => Some discussion of the risk factors that are associated with deaths from COVID-19 => Updated discussion of "herd immunity" thresholds and the link between R0 and immunity fractions => Reports on serological testing that has taken place so far. 
N/B: This series of episodes was written before the coronavirus pandemic. I've decided the best thing to do is to present them as was and maybe have another episode reflecting on what the pandemic means for their conclusions later on. ====================================== We've outlined a nexus between catastrophic risks, inequality, and accelerating developments in technology in the future. Is there a way out of the mire? Part IV in a series on Technology, Inequality, and global catastrophic risks.
Given that we are in the midst of a series on technology, inequality, and global catastrophic risks inspired by Walter Scheidel's book on these subjects, and he's just written an op-ed on the topic, I thought I'd release the op-ed as a bonus. 
In this, the last of our short series of coronavirus updates, I will be telling you everything I've found out about the hunt for a coronavirus vaccine - when we can expect it to be ready, the testing that needs to be undergone, and some of the techniques that might be used. With thanks to Derek Lowe of Science Magazine whose blog post on this I used as a main source for many of the details.
In the latest coronavirus episode, we discuss research that has been done into the viable exit strategies from lockdown, including the idea of a contact-tracing app, and discuss some early estimates as to how effective this might be and what would be required to make it a success.
Some further updates in the latest therapy session/ramble: - Discussion of the various models that have been used to try to predict the impact of the coronavirus pandemic - Discussion of scientific uncertainty (and the importance of doing science anyway) - Concerns surrounding the politicisation of science... - And some discussion of drug trials for antiviral treatments for coronavirus.
Comments (2)

The Cennoxx

Thank you so much for your series about Fusion. I fully apreciate you work! Keep going!

Jul 6th


Dread it, Run from it, Reddit still arrives.

Feb 25th
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