We hear two stories of everyday life which are more easily understood if one knows some of the laws of physics, specifically the Mediocrity Principle and the Casimir Effect. Then particle physicist and Senior Editor David Kestenbaum explains why physicists hate it when non-scientists try to apply these laws and principles to their daily lives. (7 minutes)
In Los Angeles, Cris Beam reports on a family named the Paladinos that had a theory that explained their lives. And then, at some point, that theory came to seem inadequate. It didn't seem to match the data and evidence at hand. So they switched to a different theory. Cris Beam’s latest book is I Feel You: The Surprising Power of Extreme Empathy.
Jon Ronson tells the story of how his parents decided to commission a family portrait, and how things went awry because of the brilliant but troubled local artist they hired for the job. In the story, Jon circles in a reluctant orbit around his parents, and his parents are in a rather energetic orbit of their own. Jon’s new podcast series is Things Fell Apart: Eight Strange Tales from the Culture Wars. (13 minutes)