Professor Brian Keating
4 min readMay 19, 2020


Eric Weinstein and the Soul of Physics

It was quite an experience to have Eric Weinstein on the INTO THE IMPOSSIBLE podcast.

In part one of our extensive conversation, we cover his Geometric Unity theory and the value of scientific theories in general.

As a mathematician and an economist, Eric is uniquely suited to understanding how ideas have contributed to human civilization — and what we’re losing out on when academia throttles them. His perspective that, “[Professors] need the freedom of a billionaire without the wealth of one,” is a spin on something Ralph Gomory, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, told him:

“The bargain was always that you weren’t going to get super rich as a professor, but you would have the freedom that came from your job. And that’s how we got great people. When we lost freedom, we stopped being able to compete effectively for the top people.”

Having Eric on the show challenged me to consider my approach to the interview. Though an expert in experimental physics, it is beneficial to be reminded about the contributions of theoretical study. His allegory that the tailor who sews on the last button of a coat shouldn’t get all the credit is powerful. Think of the creative spark, the person who sketches, then finds practical materials, the engineers who bring instruments into the equation, and all the other pieces of the puzzle.

In this interview, Eric says, “The scientific method is actually the radio edit of great science” and that is really striking. It is important to remember that the unedited version exists, even if it doesn’t make it through all the noise very often.

Eric is podcast host himself. The Portal is full of insightful content and interviews with other top minds. I recommend watching his brilliantly timed episode presenting his Geometric Unity theory. The powerpoint slides towards the end are especially fascinating. His intention behind posting it to coincide with April Fool’s Day is noteworthy and courageous.

The idea that scientists could share their doubt on this one day a year and have an out, to wave it off as an April Fool’s joke, is both intriguing and slightly depressing. We should be skeptics and we should be free to question popular theories, even encouraged to do so. I immediately thought of The Purge movies, where one day a year crime goes unpunished. The parallel between skepticism and killing sprees is one I’ve never confronted before.

I was reminded throughout the conversation of my recent interview with Stephen Wolfram on INTO THE IMPOSSIBLE. Both men think big and I would love to moderate a discussion between the two of them- maybe I can make that happen in a future episode!

I lost track of how many times Eric reminded the audience that he is “not a physicist.” I can appreciate his insistence but our level of conversation belies the idea that some have about his knowledge base. He even went so far as to describe himself as an “internet personality.” Backing up his popularity on that front, his most recent interview on The Joe Rogan Experience garnered 6.1 million views! Here’s hoping some of that “internet personality” cred rubs off on INTO THE IMPOSSIBLE!

Eric gave generously of his time and I appreciate the invigorating conversation we had. Check back for part 2 of our conversation in a few weeks!

Find Eric Weinstein on the web and Twitter @EricRWeinstein

Watch Weinstein’s “April Fool’s” episode of The Portal, where he explains his theory of Geometric Unity.

Watch Weinstein’s latest interview on The Joe Rogan Experience.

Watch Weinstein’s discussion about the future of academia on Lex Fridman’s Artificial Intelligence Podcast.

Read Jim Watson’s article, “Succeeding in Science: Some Rules of Thumb,” that Weintein mentioned in this interview.

Read Paul Dirac’s 1963 article in Scientific American that we discussed in this episode.

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Eric Weinstein has a Ph.D. from Harvard in mathematical physics. He is the managing director of Thiel Capital. Weinstein hosts the podcast The Portal.

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Professor Brian Keating

Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor at UC San Diego. Host of The INTO THE IMPOSSIBLE Podcast Authored: Losing the Nobel Prize & Think like a Nobel Prize Winner