41: Physics with Lorenzo Evans

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Hosted by
Will Jarvis

In this episode of Narratives, we talk with Physics autodidact Lorenzo Evans. You can find Lorenzo on twitter at https://twitter.com/ketrenzo

William Jarvis 0:04
Hey folks, I’m William Jarvis, along with my dad, Dr. David Jarvis. I host the podcast narratives. narratives is a project exploring the ways in which the world is better than it has been the ways it is worse in the past or making a better, more definite future. I hope you enjoy it.

William Jarvis 0:32
If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe. You can get on our mailing list, find show notes, transcripts, as well as videos at narrativespodcast.com. Thanks. So hey, Lorenzo, how are you doing today?

Lorenzo Evans 0:46
I’m fine. I’m fine. It’s a it’s a sunny day out in Oakland. And I’ll always say one of those.

William Jarvis 0:52
That’s great. Yeah, we’ve got really nice weather here too, which is nice. Your weather is generally nicer than ours is. But we were in that sweet spot in spring where it’s you know, it’s kind of California. So it’s really nice to be outside.

William Jarvis 1:06
So Lorenzo, can you go ahead and give us a short bio and just tell us what you’re about?

Lorenzo Evans 1:11
Yeah, yeah. So

Lorenzo Evans 1:13
let’s see, I spent the majority of my life as an audio engineer making music. And then I got curious about the, the way that the programs that you use to create music work. And so that led me into software development and studying the, the mathematical underpinnings of software languages is actually what made me realize that I was passionate about mathematics. And so once once I realized that I actually like was capable of that I was like, well, the, the the barrier to doing physics, which was mathematics is no longer there. And so I’m curious about a curious about going into that. And then a few months later, and in the, the inner intellect of I posted about my interest in it, and someone reached out to me, and they were like, Hey, you should read this, you should read this book called Lost in math by Sabina hossenfelder. And it’s a conceptual layout of modern physics. And that gave me the conceptual understanding that I could go and start piecing together with the mathematics. So you know, like, like,

Lorenzo Evans 2:17
something, for example, like, well, I don’t want to get too too deep into like, quantum mechanics. And we’ll meet maybe for later and Hilbert spaces in certain states and all like that. But I was able to go map the mathematics on to the concepts. And so that is led to me.

Lorenzo Evans 2:34
Yeah, wanting to be a theoretical physicist. That’s great. And I love that. So you went from I love how you kind of like kept digging, like the layers deeper and deeper and deeper. So you went from music to Okay, like, I saw, I’m making music that I’m making music with software tools, and like, well, like what’s behind the software tools? And then, you know, what’s behind the programming that makes software tools? What’s math? And then behind that, you know, is that something? You’ve always been interested in things like kind of digging, like that next layer? deeper? Yes, yes, that’s, that’s kind of how my mind works. Like, when I become interested in a thing, I always step back and think about that the thing that you’re interested in is actually composed of several other things. And understanding those things deeply will allow you to be will allow you a deeper understanding of the thing that you’re actually interested in. And so I always like to like, dig deep and see what’s going on under the hood. And you know, things usually get sanitized and cleaned up. But there’s usually a lot of like, interesting nuance and complexity, and some disagreements under under the hood. And that just helps you appreciate the appreciate the thing more. That’s great. I really like that. So it’s about kind of like, my first questions is, is about mathematics. Can you talk about it a little bit? You know, like, we all know what math is. But, you know,

William Jarvis 3:53
I think there’s a layer behind that. So what is math? And what makes it interesting?

Lorenzo Evans 4:00
Well, excuse me. Well, the interesting thing is that there’s actually no concrete definition of what mathematics is, and there are some some sort of, you know, circular answers that, you know, mathematics is what mathematicians do.

Lorenzo Evans 4:14
You know, I think there’s, there’s one.

Lorenzo Evans 4:20
One answer that I was i’d saw leafing through PDFs and whatnot, which is that mathematics is the study of formal patterns, patterns that can be spoken about rigorously and logically, but even even deeper than that, it’s it’s just in this goes to the, you know, Wagner’s unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics. There’s this,

Lorenzo Evans 4:44
this ability of this concept to map on to the physical world in our daily experiences, in a way that it is, is so applicable and accurate that

Lorenzo Evans 4:56
mathematics is is, you know, a just a bit. It’s a bit

Lorenzo Evans 5:00
Mysterious as Wagner says, and so I think

William Jarvis 5:03
I don’t I don’t know if there is a solid definition of what mathematics is. But as far as why it’s why it’s interesting, I think part of it for for me is that mathematics can translate into physical theories that can describe not only the world we experienced, but aspects of the world that we don’t experience. You know, if you think about mathematics that describe the gravitational pull of extremely large celestial objects, or the way that fundamental particles move and decay, there’s just, there’s just so much so much there. So that’s what I think that’s what makes it interesting for me. Okay, so maybe, like, just systematizing the world at some level is really interesting. Yeah. Got it. So, you know, it’s fascinating. So I remember, you know, I went to a few math competitions in school, and I remember taking math classes, I was never enamored with it at all. It always seemed like, you know, it’s just, like, completely abstracted away from reality. And I’m like, why, and I’m a very, like, practical driven person, I’m very interested in like, you know, how do we manipulate the world and, and it just seems so far away, it seems like, you kind of come full circle, right? So like, you approach it from the angle of K, like, you know, audio software, you know, the programming the math, so you’ve kind of gone like,

Lorenzo Evans 6:23
it’s just really interesting to me how you’ve kind of gone like the other direction, if that makes sense. It’s like you, you went from like, a practical element down back to the theoretical instead of like, we’re just going to go straight to the theoretical, which I think maybe that helped, like, motivation wise, you know, were you ever interested in math in school? Like, what did that look like? Oh, no, I deeply despised mathematics in school, I, I absolutely hated it. I disliked it so much that I almost came close to being quite quite mean to the math kids that didn’t enjoy it. And that’s, that’s just downstream from the educational experience I had, which I think improperly administered mathematics is this thing, where you can just shuffle numbers around via pencil pushing number Jackie, and then you

Lorenzo Evans 7:11
you just don’t appreciate

Lorenzo Evans 7:14
what it what it can, what it can be. And so once I was I was studying the mathematics that underlie programming languages, like lambda calculus, I realized, oh, there’s this whole other reality that exists under the concept of mathematics that is much, much richer and much more interesting and, and creative

Lorenzo Evans 7:37
than I think, is, is presented to,

Lorenzo Evans 7:40
to a lot of students and so I was I was not always enamored with math. No. That’s cool. I really like that.

William Jarvis 7:49
Do you have any, like recommendations like so if someone’s trying to teach a kid mathematics? And I know, I’ve read Marc Prensky is he’s really against, like, he’s all about this cause of empowerment. So like, you know, we want to help you solve your problems. How do we do that? Not, you know, go like, learn this one thing. You know, what would you recommend? If someone’s like a math teacher? What’s something practical they can do to try to make things more interesting?

Lorenzo Evans 8:18
Well, I cuz one of the one of the things that that pops to mind is, is I was reading

Lorenzo Evans 8:24
a biography of Grisha Perlman, he did some great work with the Pong car, you conjecture. And he, he came from a school in Russia, where the teachers abandoned the idea that children are effectively not intelligent enough to appreciate abstract concepts. And so they threw the children, right into topology. But if you, if you break that down, you’re you’re talking about sets of elements, groups of elements, and you can basically break down these high level things into bite sized concepts that kids can take can take with them. And then they have a taste of the much more perhaps, interesting mathematics and I think, exposing kids not just to, like, you know,

Lorenzo Evans 9:10
you know, the things like, you know, do rote memorization of your multiplication tables or things like that, you know, like, I think, giving kids a taste of the interesting things, and then giving them something to work towards. And in the process of working towards that they’ll even be able to appreciate you know, just the

Lorenzo Evans 9:32
you know, this appreciate doing like simple mathematics because you start to think about what like, What even is a number what what, you know, what really is this is this thing, you know, that we can talk about four things, but the platonic concept of four is not in our physical reality. And so I think, don’t hide the, the interesting stuff, you know, give them something beyond

Lorenzo Evans 9:58
you know, just another row.

Lorenzo Evans 10:00
Calculate calculations of elementary arithmetic. I think kids can handle more than that. And that’s a great way to, I think teach mathematics, Lorenzo, math music, which is another good example of a way to introduce people to math best what work for you? That’s what turns and turns most people on. I mean, who’s not turned on by music? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, music is is I, I’m actually I’m rather comfortable saying that music is inherently mathematical, you have ratios, you have frequency, you have wavelengths. And so if you, you can, you can take a kid who’s interested in music, who has no interest in mathematics and show them hey, when you’re playing music, you are also doing mathematics. And if the kid will, like, accept and be like, wow, that’s, that’s awesome. Or then they’ll, they’ll be like, No, I don’t, I don’t believe you. I don’t buy it. And then you have the opportunity to blow their minds by proving it to them. And so yeah, music is music is another great way to do so.

William Jarvis 10:57
That’s great. So my next question is, is, you know, is your independent study an end in itself? Or are there no other hard goals you’re pursuing as well, outside of that?

Lorenzo Evans 11:10
I do have I do have a hard, hard goal. And, you know, definitely hard goal of getting to the point where I could do theoretical theoretical physics. That is that is the end goal. But it is also it an end unto itself. I find mathematics to be enjoyable and relaxing and interesting. It gives me something something to think about. And I think that is

Lorenzo Evans 11:34
a perfect reason to study mathematics is you find it interesting without a particular goal. I think just increasing one’s numeracy will allow you to be more comfortable in the world more effective, make better decisions. And so I think there’s it is both an end in itself, and there’s also a concrete goal. That’s great. That’s great. And you mentioned Perlman did was that book, perfect rigor. Is that is that yes, yeah. That was that was the book by Masha Gessen. Awesome, yeah, I read it a few years ago. Did you have any? What you know, what were the big takeaways for you from that?

Lorenzo Evans 12:12
One of the, one of the big takeaways and one of the reasons that like I admire Perlman, as a mathematician, is his absolute sheer dedication to his to his craft, I’m uncompromising. Yeah, I really respect and admire that as a character trait. But I also one of the the other big takeaways was was that he was taught by very, very well skilled mathematicians, who took a unique approach to teaching the mathematics to their students, you know, there’s, there’s a story in, there’s a section in there about, you know, one of his teachers would take the classmates to go to go to go hiking, and they would have them listen to classical music and etc, etc. And I think this much more nuanced and unbounded type of teaching mathematics is, you know, it’s not going to make every student Perlman, but if you want more pearl mins, to teach more students like him, and then you know, you might find that, you know, the flower will grow once you you know, give the see the proper soil. Definitely, definitely, I, I read on your blog, you you were even reading scientific freedom. But Don Bradman’s, Erin,

William Jarvis 13:25
I don’t know how far you’ve gotten into it. But do you think there is something to this concept of like, kind of like Slack, so you’re giving researchers kind of free rein to go out, like, you know, go out and explore and find things versus kind of what we’ve got now, which is super objective driven, and like, kind of, I think, a cludes, kind of the free pursuit of knowledge, which is how I think, unfortunately, I think you can’t force the basic research very much. I think it’s kind of something where people have to follow, like, the Curiosity where it goes, and you get things like CRISPR and, and things like that, which, you know, you can’t like it would, it’s difficult to imagine someone planning, like how to discover CRISPR

Lorenzo Evans 14:05
Yeah, I think scientific freedom as a, as a concept is, is key to, you know, doing doing real real science and what, what comes to mind when I think about, like some of the reading I’ve done about, you know, like biographies of theoretical physicist Dirac. And in john, john Wheeler, one of the things that that steps out is that they that stands out is that they didn’t have you know, they didn’t, they weren’t being micromanaged. And so,

Lorenzo Evans 14:35
if there’s, what is the name of this we have a biography, John’s black holes and quantum foam. There’s a section in there where him and Niels Bohr just spent like several hours in a library trying to find a better word for nuclear fission than the inefficient because Niels Bohr didn’t like it because you know, you can’t say a nucleus fishes. And so that’s just you know, they’re these two great physicists were dead. Certainly, you know, being

Lorenzo Evans 15:00
well funded, and they were just, you know, goofing off. But the thing is,

Lorenzo Evans 15:04
you have to allow for that kind of freedom. And one of the one of the other things that stands out from the scientific freedom book is the story of Max Planck where he, he spent years just out in the wild doing science chasing things down trying to figure things out with no results. And then at the end of it, we get quantization. And we, we crack this whole new scientific frontier open. And when plonk was considering going into physics, you know, because he made that discovery late in his life, I believe, when he was going into physics, somebody actually told him like, yeah, don’t do physics, physics is going to be finished soon. And so that’s the I think that’s just an example of like, you know, just don’t box this thing in give people room to go and explore. And that’s how you actually get, you know, innovative discoveries. Right? Yeah, it’s it took something like Max Planck like 20 years to go with like thermodynamics, it’s almost unthinkable now for someone worked 10 years on the same problem. I do wonder, you know, to some extent, like the the idiosyncratic people have all gotten like, selected out of, you know, science and research, do you think it’s a real fact for people just to kind of get, you know, maybe the salesmen are the only people who become scientists, now, the people that can win grants, so you know, those are the people who become the scientist, it’s not someone who’s gonna sit there and like, think about, you know, and not to say that this doesn’t still happen. But it seems to happen much less frequently, that someone that’s, you know, very different, very idiosyncratic, is going to spend 20 years on the same problem thinking about it doesn’t seem to exist anymore. What do you think about that?

Lorenzo Evans 16:40
Yeah, I definitely think there’s something to the idea that, you know, the,

Lorenzo Evans 16:45
excuse me, the salesmen are certainly having a much better better go of it, the people who can write the proposals and present them to a grant committee or some something such that these people feel, you know, safe, that their money will not be wasted on weird tinkering, or that there will be some, you know, result that will probably immediately transferred to industry, which means somebodies bottom line, but I think that, that definitely that I mean, it doesn’t in sound interesting to me to do. And I certainly can imagine that the people who are like, Well, I have this weird idea that I want to follow, but I don’t really have the patience for all of the bureaucracy and the social games that come with like peer review where the people reviewing your work are also competing for the same source of funding that you are. So I think it certainly

Lorenzo Evans 17:38
drives a lot of people who would would like to explore and do science away from it because there’s an idiosyncratic nature. I think part of it is an extreme seriousness and low tolerance for like, Bs. Yeah, yeah. So people are just like, I don’t want to do that. And they go off and do something else and we lose scientists. Right? Yeah, I’ve worried you know, Anton, and I talked about this on our show a couple weeks ago. You know, we worry how much

William Jarvis 18:10
you know, someone sees that happening. It’s like, well, forget, forget academia, I’m gonna go work as a trader because at least I’m to make money. You know, I mean, like, at least I can go make money in an algorithmic hedge fund, you know, and that’s, you know, I’m going to Renaissance and make this huge amount of money and at least I have the money you know, I’m still not able to do what I want to but I’m not like shackled to this incredibly competitive very, this, you know, I even in like medicine, you know, I have friends who are medical standards. And it’s odd to me how the competition never seems to end. You know, it’s like, okay, like it’s competitive to get into the right college, it’s competitive to get right medical school, and those competitive get the right residency and this competitive get the right, you know, it fellowship and it’s just like, it’s never it seems to never end. And I wonder how much that just washes out people that aren’t completely committed to this idea of competition and, and winning these games, which you know, if someone’s really into give Socratic is not interested in at all. Yeah, I think that high level of competition strung out over the course of one’s education and one’s career gets in the way of, of collaboration. Because if you’re trying to compete at every level, then you’re you don’t necessarily want to help someone with their problem, because you might give them the key that helps them put together an idea and now you know, they’ve, they’ve got it and you’re still looking for a slot. And the same thing will happen with another person. And you and that’s one of the that’s another thing that stands out in my reading about, you know, the early history of quantum mechanics and deep theory. Well, in the, in the 20th century, a lot of these people, you know, Einstein Dirac and von Neumann were like in in Princeton, and they were like, they would you know, this is probably incorrect, contrived example, but like Einstein would would have a problem and we’ll know him and

Lorenzo Evans 20:00
In one moment didn’t quite speak a lot. They had political differences. But yeah, Einstein would go to somebody like David Grossman and say, Hey, like, I’ve got this special this relativity theory, but like the mathematics behind it are I don’t I don’t quite get it because, you know, he was a physicist primarily. So he’s like, Can you help me out perhaps with the mathematical rigor, but if, if, if Einstein and Grossman and, you know, are like Dirac and Heisenberg, they were competing, but they would also like, you know, help each other out and talk to each other? And so that if it’s one of those things, where like, if the Great’s did it, and they made all these great landmark achievements, and you know, perhaps we should not throw that baby out with the bathwater, right? It at least something to at least think about. So you mentioned quantum mechanics. Can you talk about quantum mechanics a little bit? And maybe the history as well, I, you know, I it’s subject I know that the only highest level,

Lorenzo Evans 20:59
your quantum quantum mechanics, it is it is interesting. So I guess, the if, and this is something I’m still learning, and there’s also, you know, there’s still conflict in the physics community about, you know, the, the interpretation of quantum mechanics, what it really means or says about the physical world, as opposed to being able to apply the theory to a problem and get some answer, but

Lorenzo Evans 21:24
quantum mechanics seems to be about what happens at the the smallest scales wherein you have uncertainty and things do not operate the way they they do in in the classical world. And a key part of this uncertainty comes from the wave particle duality, where particles also behave like waves. And you know, this is sort of an example of how superposition pops up. Because you know, a particle can be

Lorenzo Evans 21:53
a particle, the point mass can be specifically at one point in space. But if you have a wave throughout space, well, it doesn’t necessarily have a very specific position that you can point to, but remember that this wave is part of the behavior of a particle. And so that gives us that gives us some gives a superposition and we have the, because of these particles behave like waves, we have constructive and destructive interference, which is, which works in a way that is not at all like it does in the in the macro in the macroscopic world. And so that’s, I guess, let’s see, we got uncertainty, the interference. And of course, I almost forgot to start with the star of this show entanglement, which is a correlation between two physical objects or two properties of physical objects that is much stronger than anything that exists in the classical world. And so a really a sort of interesting example of this is that if, if you and a friend, I have you and a friend in a room, and I give one of you a salt packet and the other a pepper packet, and you know, these are the only two packets that I distributed amongst the two of you, one of you can walk outside the room, open your hand, and you see the pepper packet and instantly without communicating with your friend, you understand that they have salt packet. And if your friend opens up their hand, they understand that they have the salt packet and thus you have the pepper packet. And so this is this is

Lorenzo Evans 23:18
that’s ay ay ay ay, ay example. But if this exists in the in the physical world with two, you know, two fundamental particles, you can you can exhibit this and one of the key issues with it is that this information transfers, so to speak, this, this thing, it takes place, instantaneous instantaneously, which is obviously faster than the speed of light, which is not supposed to be you’re not supposed to be able to supersede that. And so it’s it’s just, it’s completely quirky, strange, integrative property. But as Richard Fineman said, and I’m paraphrasing, you know, nature works in an absurd ways. If you want to understand nature, you have to accept this absurdity. And, yeah, it’s, it’s fascinating.

Unknown Speaker 24:02
The other thing I read trying to get ready to talk to you, Lorenzo is that if you through the mail sent will one packet you sent me the other packet, and I took my packet and I flew out to see you all the way across the country. And we both opened our packets that we would know immediately what the other one was. And that’s a great example of how entanglement works at very large distances. Yes, that’s a great, yeah. So I guess what I’m taking away is really weird things happen when things get really small.

William Jarvis 24:35
Very, is that a fair? Yeah, that’s, that’s a that’s an extremely fair one. Gotcha. That’s fascinating. So the big, you know, technology people have been talking about related quantum mechanics is quantum computing this idea that, you know, we can do, you know, have it the much more processing power and do some really interesting things with that.

Unknown Speaker 24:58
Do you have

William Jarvis 25:00
You know, how close is that to being operational reality? I don’t know if you have any, any bearing or read much about that, but I’m just curious.

Lorenzo Evans 25:08
So you’re quite I mean, I guess quantum computers exists, you know, like IBM has 17 qubit quantum computer and you can use, you know, the properties of interference entanglement and superposition in order to do computation, like you said that we can’t do classically where like, you know, the spin of an electron being up or down, it can be treated as a bit where up is one and down to zero. But it’s, it’s I know, there’s certainly a lot of hype growing around quantum computing. And I get I think that’s from, you know, the people’s assumption that, you know, in five years, we will have something akin to a commercial quantum computer. And I think that’s, that’s a tad bit

Lorenzo Evans 25:54
eager, just because we’re dealing with like nature, at the fundamental level, and we don’t have really any say on when nature decides to give us a new, a new secret nature does that as she pleases. And so we’re currently in this in this area where

Lorenzo Evans 26:10
we can we can do computation on these quantum

Lorenzo Evans 26:15
these quantum bits, but the system is is noisy, which is a particular problem because these, the states of these, these quantum bits are very, very fragile, and they easily interact with ambient electromagnetic fields, just things that exist in physical reality that don’t have maybe visual corollaries. Even though magnetic fields can have physical effects, as you can see, with the, with the shavings of iron around around some magnet on on a table. And so I think we will probably in, you know, the next five years to see sort of, not not to be disrespectful, but maybe like 10%, improvements in quantum computing, where they will be able to use them to better analyze physical systems at the quantum level, but I think, you know, not like,

Lorenzo Evans 27:11
what is the term nisc, noisy, intermediate scale quantum computing, I think we’re still maybe 10 to 15

Lorenzo Evans 27:20
years away from like, having clean, entirely fault tolerant quantum computers that it might be longer than that. And I this, this just stems from the fact that like, this is a an application of quantum mechanics. And this is it’s tricky. It’s, you know, it’s not exactly forgiving. And, you know, it just, it takes a lot of resources. But

William Jarvis 27:43
yeah, that’s, that’s what I’ve got for that. Yeah, that’s interesting. It does seem like not that it’s, this is impossible, but it seems hard, like when we’re still trying to figure out how everything works to build like practical applications on top of, although that’s not necessarily pretty rough, because it makes things at work, work, but I’m understanding but that’s, that’s quite interesting.

William Jarvis 28:06
I want to talk to a little bit about time, can you talk about time for a minute, I know, you’ve written some blog posts on that, and I’m just curious, some thoughts about time that people might misunderstand or not, not readily think about?

Lorenzo Evans 28:19
Yeah, um, so what, what’s what’s interesting, I think, time is one of the frontiers of physics that will let you know maybe the, the last standing because it’s, it’s, it’s so integral to our experience, that it’s hard for us to sort of step out of it and observe, observe it, which is we’re usually so beholden to it and time has, probably,

Lorenzo Evans 28:49
in terms of like, in physics, a physical system, time stops, reverses or advances the action, but it doesn’t do a whole lot more than that. And that’s, you know, partially because we don’t entirely understand it where time is, is.

Lorenzo Evans 29:07
It does not, like classical mechanics will tell you things are reversible, however, time just seems to only work in one way. And that’s just, that’s a big mystery. And that’s tied up with entropy, entropy and thermodynamics, and

Lorenzo Evans 29:22
especially also at the elbow of the quantum scale, time even even gets gets even weirder, where there’s this, physicists have to sort of superimpose a time on top of the, the quantum scale and, you know, they call it a quasi classical time, because, you know, you can think about it classically, but you have to, you know, factor in the fact that quantum mechanics is not a classical theory. And so there are some assumptions. You can’t, you can’t make about it and Yeah, it is. It is absolutely is absolutely.

Lorenzo Evans 29:56
A very strange and an interesting thing. So, I would definitely say

Lorenzo Evans 30:00
I come away from this with the understanding that time is like stealing about a very, very large mystery. And it’s a very important,

William Jarvis 30:10
very important mystery to excellent, no, that’s really interesting. Just even like thing, it’s like, there’s still areas that are very fundamental reality we just don’t we don’t understand very much about which is, it’s just cool. It’s cool to know, it’s the sense that like,

William Jarvis 30:25
you know, there’s there’s many more things for us to go out there and try and understand, do you have a sense that that

William Jarvis 30:31
a lot of people think, you know, progress has slowed since like the 70s in technology. And in one of the explanations for that is like, the low hanging fruit has been picked. So all the easy things, we’ve grabbed all those? Do you have a sense that that is fair? Do you think that’s a fair assessment? Or do you think there’s still plenty of things out there to be discovered?

Lorenzo Evans 30:53
I’m, I’m sort of I’m in a superposition of both answers I say, I do think progress has has slowed on them since the 70s. And this is sort of

Lorenzo Evans 31:05
this is just an idea that I’ve heard from a lot of people that that you watch.

Lorenzo Evans 31:12
The

Lorenzo Evans 31:14
No, like the game be community schneidman burger, Jordan Hall, Eric Weinstein,

Lorenzo Evans 31:22
these are these are people that have been have mentioned this before, I do think progress has slowed, but I don’t think it’s because all of the low hanging fruit have been, has been, you know, picked. I think the, this is a, you know, an interesting metaphor that I’m gonna, you know, paraphrase and borrow from Eric Weinstein is that we’re in an orchard and we’ve plucked off the low hanging fruit, perhaps from this one tree, but we’re so focused on this tree that we don’t realize that we are in it, we’re in an orchard. And so I do think, you know, for instance, the, you know, like, the dogma in academia about what, you know, how physics should be done, what the theories that people should be studying and working towards our and even in, even in, you know, other areas of science, I think the, the, the lack of scientific freedom is the reason, partially for, I think, the lack of progress, if people you know, could get, you know, like freedom and funding without all of the, you know, intricacies and niceties that have to come along with it, I think we would, we would certainly see some new discoveries. And there’s, for instance, like CERN, CERN was slamming particles together a couple of weeks back, and there was an odd interaction between two

Lorenzo Evans 32:39
non particle interactions. And so if you check out the the lepto, Quark, le PTO, qu AR K, that’s something that happened at CERN. And it was like, well, we don’t, we don’t have the physics to describe this. And then there’s also

Lorenzo Evans 32:56
so there, particles come in partially the Standard Model three generations. And so the electron has three generations, the electron and then the Tao, the Tao on or the tau particle is a bit bigger than the muon is the biggest and they just recently observed some odd behavior with the with the muon, that might very well indicate Additionally, new physics outside of the standard model. But the interesting thing about the lepto Quark thing is that electrons are leptons. And so there’s these two sort of different things that just happened recently in new physics that involve you know, the same thing to some degree, but we don’t have explanations for either of it. And so I think there’s I think there’s still plenty of you know, low or even even mid hanging fruit that we could we could get to but I don’t think we you know, exhausted everything but you know, the star at the top of the Christmas tree, I think there’s there’s still much more to be found. exit survey, we’re just getting

William Jarvis 33:58
back and we’re looking, we’re just not looking in the right place.

William Jarvis 34:05
So I want to move on a little bit and are you down for a round of overrated and underrated?

William Jarvis 34:12
Yeah, I’m definitely down for that. Now for that go off. So just I’ll throw a term out and tell me if it’s overrated or underrated and why. So the first one is lamda. School overrated, underrated.

Lorenzo Evans 34:23
Oh, that’s a that’s a that’s a difficult one. I think I’m actually going to take the politically correct answer and say that’s equally equally rated because I didn’t, I didn’t complete the program in the sense of going off to be a software engineer I got diverted by by other things. But if I don’t think if it wasn’t for that, that program, they encouraged you to dig and explore and learn as much as you can and want to and so that’s how I found myself studying mathematics. And so I think that’s,

Lorenzo Evans 34:52
you know, that going there was was very key in in me getting here but also just in terms of

Lorenzo Evans 35:00
New, I think new ways of doing education, new ways of assessing what people are capable of, you know, lambda removes a lot of the assumptions that you have about whether or not a person from such and such background is capable of doing, doing certain things. And so I definitely, I think, I think I got

Lorenzo Evans 35:24
there’s, there’s a lot of

Lorenzo Evans 35:27
good things going on there. And I suspect that as time goes on, we will see, not only manda sort of expand and grow, but we will see a lot of places sort of mock the model and sort of take that a lot of places have already sort of extended that and sort of bar the is a theme. So yeah, I can’t say anything bad about new educational institutions we need. We need quite a few of those. Right? Yeah, I’m definitely with you. It was a it was surreal to me. I’ve hired a couple of lamda engineers and

William Jarvis 35:58
that excellent. Yeah, they I think they’ve all been really excellent. And the one thing I will say is, I went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. And I guarantee you, there’s no one at UNC Chapel Hill, that would keep calling me and try to beat down the door to try to get me a job somewhere. And I had people you know, that the recruiter, you know, she’s calling me every day, she’s emailing me. And I’m like, Man, you know, they that the power of incentives is incredible. Yeah, yeah, they serve. And that’s, that’s if there’s anything that I think separates them from other institutions and gives them an edge is that they have aligned the incentives in a way such that people are people who work at the school, the career coaches, the teachers, they are incentivized to sort of

Lorenzo Evans 36:44
do whatever they can to help the student as opposed to, you know, the traditional university system, you’d like to pay for the classes, buddy, if you

William Jarvis 36:55
become, you know, I think the funniest thing to me is they sent me an email like, yeah, you come back to career coaching once, you know after you’ve graduated, right, it’s just, it’s hilarious, right? It’s, it’s, yeah, it’s completely different. Oh, that’s good. That’s good. So Don, Braden, overrated, underrated,

Lorenzo Evans 37:13
underrated in, in, in my opinion. And this, this comes from, you know, reading, reading his book and think his his ideas such as the a patron prize of the venture University, and then just recently, he

Lorenzo Evans 37:30
and of the founder of the inner intellect, and Anton hosted a, a talk with him. And he was explaining, like, he’s had these ideas about how we could do new research into education for 30 years. And he’s been going around trying to get universities, billionaires, companies with millions and billions of dollars to just put together a program like this. And the thing about it is, is he has experience doing this at BP, where I believe BP put forward was it was a number of million millions of dollars, somewhere between 20 and 40. But they got over a billion back and so the return on investment is quite obviously there but like he has not been able to get a large number of people to take him up on this offer, which to me seemed which to me indicates that his his perspective experience are being underrated by quite a large number of people. Definitely, yeah, we talked to Don on the podcast a couple months ago, and you know, he’s 84 and he’s super sharp and you know, really kind guy and I was left with the same impression, man, it feels like this $20 bill just left on the sidewalk. People just keep walking past. Like, man, somebody picked that up. Patrick Collinson. If you’re listening man, pick that up. Yeah, please do go spend it. Exactly.

Unknown Speaker 38:46
Inner intellect overrated underrated? What is it?

Lorenzo Evans 38:50
The listeners now? Definitely underrated because i don’t i don’t think that it’s even it’s it’s still so much.

Lorenzo Evans 39:01
It’s going to be in like 15 years it’s going to be a lot more than I think people really realize but it’s it’s a it’s an interesting thing where there’s it’s a community of intelligent, passionate, open minded, warm hearted people who are just willing to you know, just talk to other people about some of anything’s sort of open their open their minds to things and work together and collaborate on interesting things, new ideas and just a new way to have like intellectual conversation without some of the some of the perhaps ivory tower stigma that’s typically attached to the term

Lorenzo Evans 39:45
intellectual and so

Lorenzo Evans 39:48
yeah, no, it’s it’s like that’s, that’s the community where I met a guy who was in India, by the way, so like, we’re like 13 and a half hours apart, but he’s like, hey, let’s read the book, read this book together. So we we may

Lorenzo Evans 40:00
That happened. And so it’s a great place for hybridization and synchronicity and a lot of a lot of things are going to come out of it. I think that’s really cool. I think it’s gonna be big. Even bigger than it is now. Fineman, overrated, underrated.

Lorenzo Evans 40:17
Yes. And so what were I think,

Lorenzo Evans 40:24
I think

Lorenzo Evans 40:26
which which one of these don’t want to want to tackle tackle for it. So I find it always gets presented as this sort of every man individual, like the sort of like normal guy casually was conversing with Dirac about quantum electrodynamics while being, you know, and also being advised by, you know, john Wheeler, you know, just you know, casually Yeah, so I think given Sunday, yeah. Yeah. So I think he’s, he’s underrated in that sense that, like, I think he was, like, fiercely, fiercely intelligent, you know, and so I think he was underrated in in in that sense. But I think, you know,

Lorenzo Evans 41:05
that’s the same sense in which he, you know, might be overrated because, you know, he wasn’t just this insanely brilliant physicist who, you know, helped solve.

Lorenzo Evans 41:18
So, a problem in quantum electrodynamics. And, I mean, he worked with plenty of the greats. And so, but, you know, he was, he was, you know, an enjoyable person to talk to, it seems he had a sense of humor, he was doing pranks on people at Los Alamos while they were, you know, working on the atomic bomb. And so he’s, he’s this he’s this interesting, interesting character who’s almost like, polarized just by both aspects of his of his personality. So I think five minutes both overrated and underrated. And I think that’s, that’s a good place to be though, you know, like, you can

William Jarvis 41:56
definitely, yeah, it’s definitely good. Good to be both in certain circumstances. depends where you are.

William Jarvis 42:02
Lorenzo, I really want to thank you for coming on. I’ve got two last questions for you. The first is, you know, do you have any parting shots, you have anything that you’d like to leave with the listeners that that might be valuable? And then where can people find you?

Lorenzo Evans 42:16
Anything that i would i would like to leave with the listeners? Well, most, most certainly, if there’s anybody who is turned away from mathematics, and physics is something that they they can’t do or aren’t smart enough to do, I would really suggest that they, at least, you know, check out I mean, part of this is you want to have some, you know, understanding like maybe trigonometry and algebra, but even I don’t have that entirely, you know, entirely stitched up. I think if, for instance, I really got a lot from Leonard SAS kinds lectures and the associated books and then jakobs fichte. In Burke, he’s got to know not students

Lorenzo Evans 43:00
know what it’s no nonsense quantum mechanics, electrodynamics, I think, if, if if you’re if you feel like you don’t have what it takes, I would suggest that you try again with certain materials because there’s really this thing about you know, like weed out classes in college if you don’t immediately display aptitude. You don’t have what it takes, but I I literally, like truly I don’t use the term despise lightly like I just in you know, I was a musician. So I was a creative, you know, like, poetry and lyrics. Like, that wasn’t my thing. And so like, now, here I am, you know, reading a textbook, because the proper, the proper materials, I think, will illuminate a lot of just the darkness that people find themselves stabbing and stabbing around. And so, give it a second a second try. And

Lorenzo Evans 43:54
as far as where you can find me You can find me on Twitter at ket Renzo k e t, r, e n, zero. And if you’re one of these people who has that, that feeling like just shoot me a DM and we can try and put together some materials or just something, something small enough for you for you to see that like, Oh, I can understand this piece. But then Alright, so maybe I can understand this piece. And then maybe we go on to a bigger piece. And that’s how it starts. Well, Lorenza. I really liked that. I really liked that because I think

William Jarvis 44:27
it’s weird. I think, American society, maybe the West in general, I don’t know. But we’ve gotten really bad about talking people out of their good ideas. You know, it’s like, Oh, don’t do that. Don’t do that, you know, void that, you know, I my favorite. So I mentioned Marc Prensky. He came up with the term digital native. And I was talking to him on the podcast and he said, you know, kids will come to them, and they’ll say, and he’ll ask him, what, what do you want to be? And they’ll say, Well, I want to play the NBA. And he said, most people, most teachers just go well don’t do that. Go to

William Jarvis 45:00
Something else. But he says, you know, kids will often say they want to play in the NBA. Because they want maybe it’s not that they want to play in the NBA, maybe they don’t want play back be a basketball player, maybe they want a lot of money, or maybe they want to be famous, or they want something else. And they teachers often don’t ask the next question like, okay, like, well, what are you trying to get out of that? Right? Because maybe you’re just trying to be a basketball player. And maybe it’s not the basketball skill. That’s not for you. But oftentimes, there’s like something else. And kids just or even just people in general don’t have good words to put around, like what they actually want. But yeah, I really liked that. Because,

William Jarvis 45:35
yeah, I think we should be we should be the less reticent to kind of try and talk people out of what they want to do.

William Jarvis 45:41
And I can’t beat them down with a hammer. And it’s just like, that seems like a bad idea.

Lorenzo Evans 45:45
Definitely, we tried too much to make people fit in to this this mold, and there’s no, there’s no mold that works for everybody. And thus, all modes are useless. Well, I should I shouldn’t say that’s the word for some people, you know, but by and large, I think we should, you know, give people you know, some the benefit of the doubt like you said, slavery why why do you want to be an NBA NBA player? What do you want from it? What team would you play for? laughing? What’s your what’s what do you think you’re good at? What do you you know, explore, explore the idea that the child has, and then you will help them get a much greater understanding of what they actually desire. And that’s, that’s really good. That’s good teaching. That’s that’s good to do. Definitely. That’s cool. Well, Lorenzo, thanks so much for coming on. Really appreciate it. No problem. No problem anytime. Thanks for your time, Lauren. So quite well done quite well.

William Jarvis 46:41
Well, that’s our show for today. I’m Bill Jarvis, and I’m Will’s dad. Join us next week for more narratives.

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