90 - Kate Greene on Humanizing Science & Cooking on Mars

Ep. 90

This week we chat with science writer (and former laser physicist) Kate Greene, whose writing explores everything from Big Data to boredom to brain scans, and whose fascinating and eclectic life is brightly punctuated by the four months she spent living inside a Mars base simulation on Hawaii.


We Discuss:

How she became a scientist, and then a science writer.

The importance of good teachers and mentorship and encouragement along a person’s developmental journey.

“Everything that I’ve done is the result of network effects.”

Her time as a guinea pig in a simulated Mars colony on Hawaii…

Why astronauts love hot sauce.

Knowing your purpose - feeling the intuitive hit that lets you know you’re on the right path.

Princeton Engineering Anomalies Lab and the scientific evidence for the influence of intention on the outcome of random events.

Kate’s fascination with brain scans.

“I often wonder, what the hell is my brain doing right now?”

Terence McKenna’s vision of posthuman, cephalopod skin telepathy…and Twitter as a form of that same ambient telepathy.

“Never in the history of humanity have we had such extensive communication prosthetics.”

How do science journalists and scientists alike keep up with the “info quake” of modern life?

Big data and AI – can we preserve and evolve critical thought and rigorous investigation when our research is done in collaboration with machine intelligences using logical processes we ourselves don’t understand?

“Science is so HUMAN. It’s performed by humans that have all of these biases and blind spots…the fact that there’s so much information points to the fact that there needs to be new ways to sift through it.”

“A lot of people think that AI is just going to replace people in a lot of ways, but I feel like it is going to be one of the most intimate symbiotic relationships that we have in the future. I mean, this technology will become as close to human as anything humanity’s ever created, and it’s not going to be able to do it on its own. It will be a symbiosis. We will be learning from each other and training each other.”

The problem science journalism has with reporting real science, not just sensationalist headlines based on science…and how social media has made it worse.

What you would miss about Earth if you moved to Mars.

“Earth is SO wonderful. And I don’t think I knew it – I kinda knew it, but I didn’t ACTUALLY know it – until I couldn’t be a part of it for four months.”

Cooking “on Mars” in a simulated colony on Mauna Loa.

Aromatherapy in space!

What Kate learned from teaching creative writing in a women’s prison.

“This is modern day slavery: there are more people incarcerated in the United States than in any other Western country, and it’s because it’s profitable. Something needs to change…one thing that you can do is realize that people in prisons are still part of your community, and that you still have a responsibility to them. To give what you can, to make sure that their lives are better, that all of our lives are better.”

Cory Doctorow’s short story “The Man Who Sold The Moon” in ASU’s Project Hieroglyph compilation.

The crossover between the Burning Man crowd and the space exploration crowd.

Other mentioned science journalists to follow:

Ed Yong


Kenneth Chang


Natalie Wolchover


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189 - Planet-scale Musical Chairs: 21st Century Human Geography with Parag Khanna

Ep. 189
This week on Future Fossils, we sync up with globe-trotting (Singapore-based) futurist Parag Khanna, author of several internationally best-selling books on the shifting landscape of human geography and technological evolution. My acquaintance with Parag dates back all the way to 2011 when I found his Hybrid Reality Institute, and started writing for his BigThink blog, thanks to the writing of Jason Silva — I knew this was a party I couldn’t miss, even though I was then, as now, deeply ambivalent about the contours of the futures he and his colleagues were making visible with their rigorous research. This spirit has defined my entire adult life: if you want to help steer something in a better direction, you might just have to get your hands down into the murk and engage with it deeply enough to be in the position to make a difference. So when his agent contacted me about interviewing him about his latest book, 2021’s Move: The Forces Uprooting Us, I knew it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. But let me be clear that Parag sees things very differently than I do, and I appreciate that about him: he has a keen sense of the risks and dangers of our times but emphasizes the opportunities because the facts are there to support it. If you move around as much as he does, and always has, you get a kind of synoptic view of the planet and the tension between individual destiny and collective momentum comes into a new tuning. This is a beast of a conversation. It was hell to edit. I’m glad it happened. Here you go!Complete, extensive show notes at Patreon.✨ Housekeeping:• Intro music is "You're In My Self-Portrait" from my 2012 album Golden Hour. Outro music is "City of Jewels" from my 2013 EP of the same name. For something completely different, check out my latest live album, recorded at Meow Wolf Santa Fe while opening for DeVotchKa.✨ Other Ways To Support The Work & Community:• My roughly-monthly newsletter at Substack• Venmo: @futurefossils• PayPal.me/michaelgarfield• ETH: FutureFossils.eth• BTC: 1At2LQbkQmgDugkchkP6QkDJCvJ5rv3Jm• NFTs: Rarible | Foundation | Voice | Hic Et Nunc | Mint Songs