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A Video Podcast Exploring the Meaning of Life

This season the team will journey from observatories at the top of the world to atom-smashing laboratories exploring the tiniest building blocks of life and everywhere in between.


Trailer for Dispatches from The Well

What is our purpose? How do we find meaning in the universe? There are no easy answers to these questions.

But that's what we set out to explore on our new video podcast Dispatches from The Well. Throughout the first season, the team will journey from observatories at the top of the world to atom-smashing laboratories exploring the tiniest building blocks of life and everywhere in between. And because this isn’t a conventional show about science — we are sitting down with a fascinating mix of scientists, philosophers, artists, musicians, and more.

The first season is packed to the brim with insights from luminaries ranging from conservationist Jane Goodall, physicist and philosopher Sean Carroll, neuroscientist Christoph Koch, Fermilab's Deputy Director for Science and Technology Bonnie Fleming, ALMA Observatory Director Sean Dougherty, Nobel Laureate Sir Roger Penrose, and comedian Fred Armisen — just to name a few.

Throughout the season we'll talk about humanity's eternal search for meaning and purpose in our vast, miraculously complicated, rapidly expanding and incomparably mysterious cosmos.

The show is part of Big Think's ongoing partnership with The John Templeton Foundation on a joint publication called The Well which sets out to explore some of the world's biggest questions through interviews and essays with the world's most foremost experts.

I had the opportunity to collaborate with a bunch of talented creatives for this show, but some of the core team that deserves special recognition include:

Kmele Foster - Host
Jason Mojica - Director
Trace Crutchfield - Producer
Dustin Oakley - Cinematographer
Lise Lavallee - Editor
Brandon Cotter - Editor

Creatively, this was a fun experiment to intentionally blur the lines between a video series and a podcast. As more and more podcasters adopt video to draft on the better discovery algorithms that video platforms provide and as more podcast platforms begin to support video, we're going to see more and more podcasts blur this line. But it's much harder to do that with narrative podcasts that aren't simply a handful of people sitting in one room for an hour. So we set out to try and build something that could be visually interesting if you're watching on your phone or on the TV but would also work in your car or at the gym.


Finding meaning in the darkest sky on earth
Dispatches podcast host Kmele Foster is on a journey to understand humanity’s role in the cosmos. His first stop? The Atacama Plateau in Northern Chile, home to the darkest deserts and largest telescopes on earth.


Finding the secret of human existence in an atom-smasher
Our host Kmele went inside Fermilab, America’s premiere particle accelerator facility, to find out how the smallest particles in the universe can teach us about its biggest mysteries.


A playground for geniuses: Inside the Santa Fe Institute
The Santa Fe Institute is a cradle of modern research. Our host Kmele meets some of the brilliant minds who work there.


Stories: How humanity makes its meaning
Are we the stories we tell? Kmele sat down with legendary conservationist Jane Goodall, actor Terry Crews and psychologist Dan McAdams to discuss how humanity makes its meaning.


Consciousness: Not just a problem for philosophers
Consciousness isn’t just a problem for philosophers. On this episode of Dispatches, Kmele sat down with scientists, a mathematician, a spiritual leader, and an entrepreneur, all trying to get to the heart of “the feeling of life itself.”


3 rebellious creators tell us the meaning of life
Filmmaker Godfrey Reggio, rock icon Steve Albini, and comedian Fred Armisen told Kmele how they make sense of the world — and leave their mark on it.


How should we be thinking about the future?
Kmele talked with a planetary scientist, a physicist, and a futurist, to understand how visionaries across disciplines are thinking about the future of our planet and humankind.