Dec 14 2022
How sci-fi can make us smart (rerun)
Hey smarties! We’re on a break for the holidays and revisiting some favorite episodes from 2022. We want to say a big thank-you for being part of the “Make Me Smart” family this year — every voicemail, question and donation made a huge difference. None of us is as smart as all of us, and we couldn’t do this show without you. There’s still time to help Marketplace reach its end-of-year fundraising goal. If you can, please donate here. Thanks, happy holidays and we’ll see you in the new year.
On Make Me Smart, we often turn to economists, professors and policy wonks to make us smart about some big topics that need explaining. Today, we’re turning to a different kind of expert, sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson.
His latest book, “Termination Shock,” is about climate change, geoengineering and what happens when a billionaire decides to take matters into his own hands.
“I’m past trying to convince people that climate change is real. What I was more interested in was, for an audience that believes that climate change is real, what are some outcomes that we might see, in the near future, as different people in different countries begin to try to come to grips with that problem, because opinions differ as to what the right approach might be. And whenever you get differing opinions, you’ve got conflict, and whenever you’ve got conflict, you have the potential for a good story,” Stephenson said.
We’ll talk with Stephenson about how he thinks about big, complex issues like climate change and what this genre can teach us about the future and solving problems in the real world. Speaking of the future, Stephenson, who coined the word “metaverse” in 1992, weighs in on all the hullaballoo over the metaverse today.
In the News Fix, what’s behind all the news, or lack thereof, that we’re not getting from Tonga after this weekend’s volcano eruption? Also, you can get your free rapid COVID-19 test now.
Then, a listener drops some facts on the James Webb Space Telescope and what a former Google researcher was really wrong about.
Here’s everything we talked about today:
“‘Termination Shock,’ by Neal Stephenson: An Excerpt” from The New York Times
Neal Stephenson on “Termination Shock,” geoengineering, metaverse from CNBC
“Neal Stephenson Thinks Greed Might Be the Thing That Saves Us” from The New York Times
“Undersea cable fault could cut off Tonga from rest of the world for weeks” from Yahoo Finance
“California surpasses 7 million coronavirus cases” from The Los Angeles Times
U.S. stocks fall sharply as 10-year yield tops 1.80%, Goldman earnings disappoint from MarketWatch
“Mum admits to being mystery Netflix user who’s watched Bee Movie 357 times in a YEAR” from The Sun