Oliver Sacks wrote, “To live on a day-to-day basis is insufficient; we need to transcend, transport, escape; we need meaning, understanding, and explanation; we need to see over-all patterns in our lives.” Sacks, one of this project’s inspirations, understood the profound uses of storytelling to examine the “Big Questions:” to explore and interrogate the fundamental structures and science that undergird human and physical reality. His tenets of scientific rigor, insight, and deep empathy are core to our work placing science, scientific discovery, and scientists in conversation with philosophy and the ultimate purpose of science. At this critical moment, when the coronavirus outbreak has disrupted billions of lives and led to over 1 million deaths worldwide, we are all asking, what does it mean to be human, where do we come from, and why are we here? It is more essential than ever to use science as the basis for probing explorations about the roots of human and the universe’s origin and the world as we see it.
This proposal requests support for the reporting, production and distribution of 15 podcast episodes that will focus on scientific explorations, across disciplines such as biochemistry, biology, life sciences, neuroscience, physics, medical science, the philosophy of science, and more while grappling with the Big Questions. Harnessing the power of curiosity, project producers will guide listeners to the boundaries of science and philosophy during 40-60 minute episodes. Produced by a Peabody Award winning team, episodes will be distributed via national and international broadcast, podcast, a dynamic website, and multiple social media channels.
Through this work, the project aims to advance the public’s curiosity about the world around them, to stimulate discovery and dialogue and demonstrate how scientific insight can inspire deeper thinking about the Big Questions, revealing truths about what it means to be human.