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Searching for Order in the Universe

When things don’t go the way they’re supposed to — viruses, star systems, presidents, even fish — we’re often desperate to explain the chaos. In this episode, we search for order in the universe.

The Weird World Of Eels

Eels are philosophically and scientifically slippery — they’re still some of the most mysterious creatures on the planet. Journalist Patrik Svensson has been obsessed with them, and wound up writing a surprise bestseller — “The Book of Eels.”

We Call Them Fish. Evolution Says They’re Something Else.


Lulu Miller’s book “Why Fish Don’t Exist” — which examines ichthyologist David Starr Jordan — is a meditation on the shadow side of scientific classification, and the dangers of trying too hard to impose order on chaos.

The Original Algorithm Was Written In The Stars

Putting aside the question of whether there’s any validity to it, the ancient science of astrology has a lot in common with contemporary data science. In fact, data scientist Alexander Boxer calls astrology humanity’s very first set of algorithms.

Seeing The World With A Mathematician’s Eyes

Math of the universe

For centuries, people have considered mathematics the purest form of knowledge — and our best bet for deciphering the universe’s hidden order. Steve spoke with two people who love math: physicist James Gates and science writer Margaret Wertheim.

Further Reading:

Nautilus: Eels Don’t Have Sex Until the Last Year of Their LifeNYAS: The Mystery of Our Mathematical Universe

Original Air Date: August 08, 2020

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Episode Credits

  • Anne Strainchamps Host
  • Steve Paulson Producer
  • Shannon Henry Kleiber Producer
  • Charles Monroe-Kane Producer
  • Angelo Bautista Producer
  • Mark Riechers Producer
  • Joe Hardtke Technical Director
  • Sarah Hopefl Technical Director



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