How the Human Brain Processes Wonder

Recently, Steve moderated a panel of experts on the subject of wonder — how we experience it in our minds, and how it affects how we seek further understanding of the universe. Social psychologist Michelle Shiota, writer Caspar Henderson, and astrophysicist Alex Filippenko unpack the emerging science behind the emotions of awe and wonder, including their role in our ongoing quest for understanding and knowledge.

Here's how the academy described the conversation, along with video from the talk:

Walking up to the edge of the Grand Canyon, many people are struck by the incredible scale and complexity of the phenomenon before them. Other feels a similar sense of awe looking up into a star-filled night. Awe is a feeling that can capture imagination and inspire those who experience it. But what shifts when awe changes to a sense of wonder? What happens when we're not only moved by what we see, but also moved to ask questions about it—what geological phenomena led to the creation of the Grand Canyon; what causes meteor showers to paint streaks of light across the sky?