Is time an illusion? (Deathloop)

Physics says no, time is real. But that doesn’t mean strange things can’t happen to the human brain when it tries to understand the passage of time. We speak to philosopher of time Professor Craig Callender about the nature of the universe’s big ticking clock, why physicists disagree about it, and how you can categorise time travel stories as “consistent” or “inconsistent”. Deathloop is… well, it’s surprisingly simple next to Einstein’s theories. We’ve got games journalist Nic Reuben to talk about the game and what makes its Groundhog Day styled time loop (not to mention its shooting) so compelling.

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What would alien life look like? (Mass Effect)

Look outside at earth’s life. Trees, birds, flowers, buses. Truly, it is a bounty of the universe. But could other planets host life? And if so, what would it look like? I don’t know, I’m just a podcast man. But one person who might know is Laura Rodriguez, astrobiologist at NASA. This episode we talk to her about the possibility of organic matter on other worlds, and how far it’ll probably be from the alien spacefriends of the Mass Effect trilogy. Also joining us to talk about said spacefriends is Imogen Beckhelling, noted Krogan liker and lore knower of the Mass Effect galaxy. So much knowledge this month! Come on in.

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How do mediums speak to the dead? (The Medium)

Spoiler: they don’t. Unless they are the tortured protagonist of The Medium, a new horror game from the makers of Layers of Fear. She talks to the dead all the time, shifting between our world and a decaying spirit realm as she is pursued by a malevolent presence with a gurgling voice. Do “real” mediums have such problems with spirits? And how do television mediums and psychic performers correctly intuit so much about their audience members? We spoke to expert fact-checker Susan Gerbic to discover the psychological tricks mediums use to fool their audience, and how she goes about performing a “sting” on a phony psychic.

With guest co-host Edwin Evans-Thirlwell.

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Why do we crave ‘likes’? (Death Stranding)

With guest host Matthew Castle!

In post-apocalyptic hiking simulator Death Stranding, there is a weird holographic internet floating around in the air. See a nice bridge? Hit that ‘like’ button. You can even make a helpful structure other players will ‘like’ in return – a watchtower, a shelter, a strange mushroom. But why do we crave ‘likes’ in the first place? In this episode, we speak to neuroscientist Dr Ofir Turel about what happens to our brains when we spend a lot of time on Twitter, Facebook, and maybe even the weird world of Death Stranding.

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What happens when humanity disappears? (The Last of Us Part 2)

With guest host Paula Deming!

The world has collapsed in grim action game The Last of Us Part 2. Humanity is barely getting by, whereas all the plants and animals we previously pushed to the brink of extinction have rebounded, reclaiming the planet as their own. But is this how Earth would really look without the pressures of humankind? We ask environmental writer Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us, what happens to our cities, our art, and our pets when we kick the collective bucket.

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