How can you unlock creativity and imagination to inspire, teach, and lead? What mental models do the world’s most accomplished scientists use to supercharge their creativity and strengthen their most precious collaborations? In this mesmerizing collection of interviews, with some of the brightest minds, you’ll discover that achieving greatness doesn’t require genius. Instead, dedication to a simple set of principles, habits, and tools can boost your creativity, stoke your imagination, and unlock your full potential for out of this universe success. Within the pages of Into the Impossible, Brian Keating provides distilled wisdom from nine Nobel laureates, compressed into concentrated, actionable data you can use.

Welcome to the Author Hour podcast. I’m your host, Benji Block, and I’m thrilled to be joined today by Brian Keating. He has just released a brand-new book titled, Into the Impossible: Think Like a Nobel Prize Winner. Glad to have you joining us today, Brian.

Brian Keating: It’s truly my pleasure to be here.

Benji Block: For listeners that may be brand new to you and your work, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

Brian Keating: I am a professional cosmologist, which means I study hair and nails— no, I don’t do that. I study the origin and the evolution of the universe with a team of over 300 people, operating one of the world’s largest telescopes under construction in the high desert of Atacama, Chile, at 17,000 feet. When I’m not doing that, I am the Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor of Physics at UC San Diego and also the co-director of the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, where I launched the Into the Impossible Podcast about three years ago, and it’s led me in directions no cosmologist could have ever forecasted. I’m so excited to have produced a book about my exploits in one particular sector of my conversations on that podcast.

Benji Block: Incredible. It sounds like you’re not too busy.

Brian Keating: Throw in some kids, some graduate students, and, yeah, it’s a pretty full life.

Benji Block: That’s amazing. What set you on the mission to write this book and why was now the right time?

Brian Keating: Sadly, the event that initiated and precipitated the release of this book— the genesis of this book— was the passing of an eminent scientist by the name of Freeman Dyson, who was a scientist, never got a Ph.D., but he was one of the world’s greatest scientists and arguably contributed more to our understanding of quantum mechanics than almost any other person in the 1900s, up until he passed away in the last year, in 2020.

He was my first guest on the Into the Impossible Podcast, which is part of the Clarke Center, Arthur C. Clarke center at UC San Diego. I started to realize that some of my guests, in particular, the ones who have won Nobel Prizes— I’ve interviewed 10 Nobel Prize winners so far— they were getting on in years. The youngest one of which is over 70 years old and the average age for the winner is something like 80.

It’s pretty unlikely that I’m going to have tons and tons of opportunities. When Freeman passed away I took it upon myself to start a mission to preserve— not only in audio and visual form, which I’m already doing— but in the written form because books are, as Carl Sagan said, books are magic. They allow people to hear in their heads the voice of a long-dead individual to influence them with their wisdom, not just their knowledge. I thought that was incredibly important.

I want to do that for this [book]. I interview billionaires and military leaders and authors but I have also interviewed these nine Nobel laureates and I wanted to codify their wisdom, not just their knowledge, in written form, that anyone could access in any order, scientist or not. It’s not a science book, it’s written about the harder things to gather in life, which is, as I say, wisdom, not knowledge.

Benji Block: Yeah, you do say that. You say that this isn’t a physics book, that the pages are not for aspiring Nobel Prize winners, mathematicians, or any fellow. You say geeks, dweebs, or nerds. When you sat down to work on this project, who did you have in mind? Who is the ideal reader?

Brian Keating: I think it could be anybody. It could be a young person just starting out their journey in school, in high school, in college. It could be a scientist like me. It could be a car salesman working in Omaha. That was my avatar. I was like, what if somebody in Omaha who sells cars or refrigerators or something like that— how can he or she benefit from the wisdom of these Nobel Prize winners? I started to think about some of the real classifications that we think. When we think about scientists, it’s kind of out of reach, we can’t do it.

Actually, most of what makes a successful scientist is their ability to collaborate, to share, to lead, to follow, to be humble, to suppress their ego and these traits are applicable to anybody. The avatar, the niche audience is really, like I said, this kind of generic car salesperson in the middle of the country who just wants to know how to overcome some limitations that all of us feel at one time or another. I think that’s the essence, that’s the ideal audience.

Again, I did talk about this – look, I’m such a nerd, I cannot suppress the urge to talk a little bit about the science but there’s not an equation in there, I don’t even think E=mc2 is in there. From my perspective, what I wanted to do is to humanize these scientists and show that, just as they’re human, just because they won the Nobel Prize, they’re human beings. They have the same challenges, that you have and you can overcome e them and kind of shortcut, hack your way up the ladder of success by following their wisdom traits, not just what they learned about.

Curiosity: The Scientific Approach to Life

Benji Block: That’s great. You have this tagline of sorts for the book, “Lessons from Laureates to stoke curiosity, spur collaboration, and ignite imagination in your life and career.” Now, did you begin the interview process with intention to highlight curiosity, collaboration, and imagination? Or did you watch those topics kind of bubble to the surface and develop organically?

Brian Keating: It’s often said that scientists are very much like children, that we are curious, we’re inquisitive, we’re imaginative, we’re creative. To that, I add, we are. Just like children, we’re jealous, we’re petty, we don’t play well with others, we want to kick our ball and go home, we squabble.

Benji Block: Sound very human.

Brian Keating: Yeah, exactly. You got to take— there’s no blessing that comes without a curse. It’s a double-edged sword that’s a cliché for a reason. I started to think, “Well, these are the scientists that have achieved the highest possible heights in all of science. What can an ordinary person learn from it?” Well, they can learn, maybe not the condensed matter theoretical physics, that’s not even easy for me to learn as I point out but, on the other hand, they can learn, how do they work with teams, how do they work with these jealous, credit-seeking, arrogant, immature, petty collaborators. How do you work with it? Because there’s just no way around it. 

By dent of their achievement in science, they must have had to overcome even more exceptional challenges. I don’t think anything good comes without struggle, resistance, etcetera. I didn’t set out to do that, I just realized that the most prolific exemplars of the highest achievement in science would make great role models for everything that’s nonscientific in the book and that involves collaboration, imagination, curiosity, and kind of dulling one of the sides of the sword blade so that it only cuts on one side, namely the good side of scientist’s personalities.

Benji Block: How did you set out to order a book like this? Because it’s in an interesting format and I’m sure you had to decide, how am I going to distill these long-form interviews with these nine laureates? Explain a little bit of how the book is broken up and why you decided to do it that way?

Brian Keating: I meant it as sort of a choose-your-own-adventure. You didn’t necessarily have to read it in order. Beyond the introduction— the forward, rather, and my introduction— I think the rest of the book is relatively capable of being taken at a self-pace. I actually wanted to have a— if you think that they should turn left at Madagascar, turn to page 84. It’s a thin book, it’s only 115 pages or so but I wanted to condense the deepest nuggets of the interviews that I had. Some of these interviews lasted two hours and got very deep on the technical side. I knew for sure what I didn’t want to do is just transcribe it, put some punctuation, take out the “um’s” and “ah’s” and just staple it together and publish a book.

I wanted to make it highly concentrated nuggets of wisdom that could be applicable to anybody. For that reason, there are themes that come up. There’s a theme of mentorship that comes up a lot where laureates were mentored by their parents or by other eminent scientists. There are notions of herd mentality and when to listen to the herd and when to go against the herd. And what most resonantly with me is this notion of the imposter syndrome, which I couldn’t believe that any really – eminent scientist would suffer from.

I certainly suffered from it but I didn’t think as someone who won the Nobel Prize could suffer from it and, especially so, I didn’t think that they would suffer from it after they won the Nobel Prize, as many of them confess to me. That really kind of set things in motion, this notion that you have to be an Einstein and, even if you are an Einstein, you still feel unworthy of this title of Nobel Prize winner because Albert Einstein is kind of the person that we think about, the avatar of a scientist, of a Nobel Prize winner.

In that sense, it is incredibly kind of fortuitous that these people were generous of their spirit. You know, there’s an old cliché. How do you know a scientist is outgoing? Because he looks at your shoes when he talks to you. Eye contact is not one of the – 

These nine gentlemen— unfortunately, I did try to get the two living female laureates to come on and, for one reason or another, they were unable to come on this podcast and therefore, didn’t make it into the book. I’m going to keep trying, it won’t stop me, but— these nine gentlemen exhibit this trait of collegiality, of lack of guile, of collaboration. And that’s a lesson that – as they say, my avatar, the car salesman and preverbal car salesman in Omaha— can learn from and take to heart and apply with the imprimatur, with the permission of a Nobel Prize winner behind it.

Benji Block: When some of these men admit to this imposter syndrome, even after receiving this high level of achievement, did they have any tips, any takeaways for how to approach that imposter syndrome? Were there any surprising findings when you got to discuss that?

Brian Keating: Yeah, I think the one that most translates to actionable advice is that you have to kind of be wrong. In other words, there’s a certain number of— whether it’s lightbulb filaments that didn’t work for Thomas Edison. Or, I heard an interview with James Dyson, I think the guy invented the Dyson vacuum cleaner. [He had] 10,000 different, they call them wrong experiments or failed experiments but every single one led Edison to the lightbulb that eventually came out and nothing comes out perfectly.

I don’t understand how any success comes without failure. In other words, you have to have a sort of a quota. It’s like in life, one of my friends thinks you have to get so may flat tires in your life. When you get one, just kind of go on with it. There might be difficult people at work, people you just don’t get along with. Hopefully, there aren’t too many of them, hopefully, it’s not in your family but there’s some quota, we all get it. We can’t choose ourselves in that way completely, despite what the forward author, James Altucher of this book, who also inspired me to write it, along with Barry Barish who wrote the forward with him and winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in physics.

These people really taught me that the way to think about it is that every experiment is a success, everything you put yourself out to. Even if you think you fail. Even if you think you’re not good enough, it’s really just a magnification of insecurity, which upon overcoming, will then make you stronger. Because it’s like anything beneficial, there’s some resistance. Whether it’s having children, going to college. If it were easy, everybody would do it, right?

In this case, it wasn’t easy to get to where they got and I think that they suffered from the inadequacy that is associated with this term, imposter syndrome, but they overcome it and they get stronger for doing so.

Scientists Are Human Too

Benji Block: These men span different areas of specific interests but you feel like you saw some common denominators and you speak of certain soft skills. Talk about that a little, and then also, did you see any specific differences, whether it was in demeanor or guiding principles that surprised you?

Brian Keating: Definitely, there’s this commonality where you have the imposter syndrome, which kind of stems from a belief of insecurity. There’s the opposite of it which also comes from insecurity, and that’s arrogance. Someone’s like, really arrogant and that also, oftentimes, comes from a thin-skinned, narcissistic personality, where you have a notion that you’re superior but actually, in the back of your head, you’re doing that bluster and bravado because you’re insecure.

It was surprising to me that people that they might war and spar against, and there’s always a challenge, not like anybody just walks into Stockholm, Sweden, and gets their Nobel Prize. Lord knows I’ve tried. But the point being, if you have a notion of humility without being humiliated, that balance is always tough to strike. I think, for these individuals, scientists, they struggled and they could see, on one hand, with the clarity of 20/20 hindsight that they were on the right track.

Even if it was obscure and hidden by the— as I call it, the war of fog, this notion that you don’t really know where the endpoint is. If you did, it wouldn’t be called scientific research, it would just be called documentation. From the perspective of looking at science as an infinite game, a game where there’s no winners, no losers, but there are steps along the way, the soft skills are where there are winners and losers. It’s like, a bunch of chess games put together, which are finite gains, there’s zero-sum games, but they all put together, they make an infinite game which is understanding science.

Nobody ever will know all of science, like “I’ve mastered science!” Try to visit every website on the Internet, it’s never going to happen. Try to listen to every podcast, there’s 200 new ones a day. Try to read every book, better than I. There’s millions published every year.

My perspective being, you have to have confidence but also, question yourself at every step. Am I right? Is there a way I could be wrong? Is there a way that my sworn enemy could actually hold the key to improving upon my pet theory, my pet experiment, and make it better so that it stands the test of time?

Benji Block: Yeah, I think we have a lot to learn from scientists when it comes to curiosity. In fact, one of the takeaways from your interview with Adam Reece, I want to highlight here. “It was that true success is reserved for those curious enough to ask challenging questions and bold enough to attempt to answer them.” Speak to those outside of science and how might you encourage someone to step into challenging questions and bold answers.

Brian Keating: Well, I think a lot of the challenge reluctancy— kind of the hero’s journey of literature and you can find in all different types of literature, from the Bible to Star Wars, almost every human endeavor— is really typified by a reluctancy to heed the call that comes in the beginning of time for that particular individual. 

To really have this strength of character, to know that I’m on the right track or maybe I should listen a little bit more carefully to the nagging, still, thin voice inside my head that says, “Look over here, don’t do things.” Look, I don’t know a single one of these scientists that’s like, multibillionaire, super-rich. I always point out, Einstein died almost poor. Not quite poor but here’s like the richest guy, the guy that invented the transistor, the laser, all these people, all these Nobel Prize-winning inventions.

They still had their lacunae, they still had their gaps in what their skill set was. I’m not saying you should put this up at the highest level of equating a Nobel Prize and being a failure because you’re not a millionaire. I’m just saying, there are different ways to ask yourself and approach yourself inquisitively. What am I doing, why am I doing it, what’s the purpose, what’s my animating impulse? Then, being true to yourself, as the Oracle of Delphi would say, is the true path to knowledge and, in a sense, the common thread between these laureates was an ambivalence about winning it. 

In other words, it was like not a letdown and, of course, because they can’t say simultaneously they don’t care about it and they are not worthy of it, right? You can’t have those two emotions but, on the other hand, the theme that runs through it is a theme that was echoed by a late professor at my home Institution, UC San Diego— and that was a Nobel Prize winner, only the second woman ever to win a Nobel Prize in physics, Maria Goeppert— who said doing the work was more fun that winning the prize. 

I think that scientists have a beautiful nature. Again, like children, that we’d sort of do it for free. I actually see the Nobel Prize in my previous book, losing the Nobel Prize is almost a hindrance or it is kind of detrimental to science because it turns it into like the Oscars and we scientists look down on popular culture in some sense. Although, I don’t think it’s fair. But on the same token, if you turn it into this sport, this glamorous thing, it kind of does maybe cheapen the currency of the actual discoveries themselves. 

For that reason, I think the best ones will be not ambivalent. Of course, it is important, but then they all get back to work. Many of the chapter subjects in Think like a Nobel Prize Winner, the day that they won the Nobel Prize, they found out that they won, they just went back to teaching and doing research in their lab or in their group. I think that’s a brilliant thing to take heed of. 

Benji Block: Now, was starting the podcast for you a way of encouraging yourself to step into challenging questions and bold answers? 

Brian Keating: Yeah, for me I misspent my youth if you can believe it. When I was in high school I was very interested in science, I got my first telescope. I always tell parents, any parents out there listening, go out there and buy a telescope for any kid in your life. One day I will start my own Keating brand telescope company because I have probably sold more telescopes than Isaac Newton, but the point being that you can basically point at anywhere in the sky and just be fascinated by it. 

Just don’t look at the sun, okay? Please, please. Do me that one favor, not without a solar filter but look at anything else and don’t spy on your neighbors, as I used to do, but – 

Benji Block: Good disclaimers. 

Brian Keating: Yeah, that’s right. You know, doctors have to give disclaimers and people that are stock traders, astronomers, have to give their disclaimers too— because it inspired me to become an astronomer. But after getting into college, — and I strove to get into SAT scores and did great— I did okay. I got into a good college, Case Western in Cleveland, Ohio, but then I was there I was like, “I want to go to graduate school. So, I got to do a good job on my grades and do the GREs and get into a good graduate school.” 

Why getting a good grade? Because I want to get a good post-doc, which is kind of the minor leagues of being a professor in academia to some approximation. Then, you want to get a professor job. Then, you want to get tenure. Then, you want to get a full professorship. Then, you want to – it was always in this rat race of not appreciating where I was in the moment, living for the future, and perhaps not valuing the brilliant education that I was getting, despite my best efforts to avoid it. 

I didn’t get to appreciate the reading, the intellects of the past. You know when you are in college, you’re, A. some of the most uninformed people about current events but you also don’t really get to read a lot of the classics and the literature and you’re just taught stuff. In science, we just teach our students, here’s a theory, here is an equation, as if it is a nice tidy thing wrapped in a bow that just comes from on high and it is not like that at all. It is a struggle.

For me, I wanted to resuscitate my academic career. I also think, as someone who is supported by the public from NASA, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, I’ve always had these obligations I felt morally— I need to give back to the people who paid my salary, which as a public university professor, is the taxpayer. I do the podcast as a service, it’s become the biggest one I think in the whole University of California system. 

I got a lot of people on YouTube, Dr. Brian Keating, that follow it as well and I give out free zero cost information. I call it the university I wish existed when I was a kid that you could go to in your pajamas and you will have zero student loans to pay off. That, to me, is my new mission and this book is part of communicating for people that want to take away from it and that they can access in random order with the distilled nuggets of it. That’s what Think like a Nobel Prize Winner is all about. 

Scientific Advancement Is Not a Singular Achievement, It Is a Collective Effort

Benji Block: One of the other takeaways that I’d love to highlight is a takeaway from your interview with Carl Wieman. He says, in summary, that “Remember that struggle is progress, that fortune favors the prepared mind.” I absolutely love that line, “fortune favors the prepared mind.” You go on to say that, often, we have this notion that you have to literally wait for genius to strike but in reality, you can open the door to genius by relentlessly preparing. 

Maybe we wouldn’t think of it this way but thought is in fact work and thinking is, in fact, some level of progress. Would you say think time and preparing your mind is often undervalued in science? 

Brian Keating: Yeah, I do think that that is kind of what we’re caught up in this, again, that parable or maybe the fallacy or the trope of the genius. That there are people out there that are just born with it, they have some unfair advantage, they have some unearned luck, and certainly all these Nobel Prize winners, to a person, say, for sure, luck plays a huge role. But nothing that relies on luck can be considered to be earned. I think there is a conflation of those two phenomena for which you know in some cases is not fully deserved. 

I do feel that the preparation is really unmodified in the last thousand years since the first universities opened up in Bologna, Italy, and in Egypt in the year 1080. It’s just amazing. It’s like some stage with a small piece of rock scraping on a bigger flat, black piece of rock and we call that education. Basically, nothing has changed in a thousand years. I think with all of the advents of digital communication, of publication, of disintermediation that we have available to us for the first time, these gatekeepers are dissolving. 

Credentialism is sort of on the wayside, at least in science. From my perspective, I think it is an incredibly exciting moment, where we can actually delve into, with deep thinking and deep work that’s necessary, and enjoy that work. And if you don’t enjoy the work, it might not be for you, and there’s no shame in that. But if it is something that you do deserve, to be able to do it without really paying heed to like what consequences— just for a lack of a better word— that you are doing it for the joy of it. 

That people do tennis and they don’t expect to make the US Open or the fallacy that you have to win a Nobel Prize to be a good scientist— which I was subjected to at all stages of my career. You know, this incessant beat that the Nobel Prize is the sine qua non of what it means to be a scientist, overcoming that by the humanization of meeting these laureates, and not only recognizing that they’re just ordinary people with struggles, foibles, prejudices, biases, et cetera and that we can do better collectively as a species. 

For me, I want this to be kind of like the campfire conversation. There is no primitive ancestor that knew how to do everything from a snare, some game, to a net, to catch a fish, to build a fire, to make a stone knife. It relied on a collective hive mind. I want to put them all together so that we could all benefit from their collective intellects and then outdo them. That’s our job, to outdo every single one of these men. 

Benji Block: One area that I found fascinating was this idea of creativity because science at first may not be thought of as creative, but creativity surfaces so many times throughout this book. What might creativity look like in a scientific environment? 

Brian Keating: Creativity in science is as important a part of the collective connective tissue of science as it is in art. It is just different because, in art, art is fundamentally subjective. I might not think Jackson Pollock can do better than my three-year-old but you know enough people do that it’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars. But science, there is no truth for Brian and truth for somebody else. It’s objective reality or not.

There is some challenge now that we’ve reached— our technology has so far outstripped what we were capable of predicting in theoretical terms that part of science is stagnating because we can’t really outdo the tests that we have already accomplished. We accomplished so much technologically speaking. We went from, in less than 50 years, from the very first transistor to my grandmother dancing on TikTok, on an app, right? 

Not to mention the moon landing and everything— all of that happened in a very short span and all of that thanks to physics and the question of whether or not our minds are creative enough to think of new tests that will then inspire new experiments to verify or falsify those tests. It is very invigorating but, just like art, you don’t know where the future lies. If you’re a classical artist, you can make the most beautiful sculpture of David, Moses, whatever, but you don’t necessarily know what the underlying reality of the universe is like. 

I think from my perspective, it could be even more creative because it is creativity with a boundary condition that has to agree with our observations of reality, unlike art. It is incredibly challenging when done right and I am hoping it will inspire some people to engage in this creative, improvisational, and collaborative process that we call science. 

Benji Block: That’s great. Is there a story, anecdote, or lesson that came up as you were interviewing that has stuck with you or comes to mind often? 

Brian Keating: I think it was one of the nascent conversations that really inspired the book, besides the passing of Freeman Dyson, was my conversation with Nobel laureate, Barry Barish, who won the Nobel Prize with his two colleagues for detection of the most faint, tenuous, feeble emanations from the collision of two of the most massive, enormous, gigantic objects in the universe called black holes. This occurred not here and now, but literally in a galaxy far, far away, a long time ago. 

That was the inspiral collision of two binary black holes and the reverberations took place in 2015. They were detected by the most sensitive experiment ever built and they detected this process, this collision that occurred one billion two hundred million years ago. It is just unbelievable to think about, that human beings can measure that. It’s like the highest accomplishment of humanity’s tech knowledge. 

Now, when you look at that, you think that this guy must be incredibly cocky, arrogant, self-assured, but he told me that he suffers from the imposter syndrome, and he used the present tense. Like, “What are you talking about Barry? You won the Nobel Prize.” He goes, “The Nobel Prize made it worse.” I said, “How the heck could that possibly be? There are more people on the space station any given year than win the Nobel Prize.” 

He said, “No, it made it worse because when you win your Nobel Prize,—” again, not something I have personal familiarity with but— when you win it, you go to Sweden. You go to Stockholm. You pick up a check for some portion of a million dollars, either a full million, half a million, or a third, or a quarter of a million. You pick up that money, and then you also get this 24-carat chunk of gold medal with a graven image of Alfred Nobel, the patron saint of the Nobel Prize, or the founding father of it if you like.

He also had to sign a logbook that said, to testify, “I received my money and my medal,” so that no one could ever come back and say, “Where’s my gold medal?” When he signed that book, he is a curious individual. In fact, his forward to my book is called ‘Curiosity Killed the Cat but Not the Scientist’, meaning that we should encourage curiosity, not give it the pejorative of being dangerous like it was for that poor apocryphal cat.

Barry told me, he looked in the logbook, and he went back and he saw Richard Feynman, an eminent scientist of the 20th century. He went back, he saw Marie Curie, and then he saw Albert Einstein, and he just stopped and he said, “The hair stood up on my neck.” He said, “I am not worthy. I am just not worthy.” I said, “Barry, I have to tell you. It is wonderful that you do that,” he’s a humble, wonderful mensch of a human being, but, guess what? “Albert Einstein had his imposter syndrome moments too.” 

He said, “What are you talking about?” I said, “Albert Einstein famously said that Isaac Newton contributed more to science and not just science but to western civilization than any human being in history or the present.” He felt inadequate in front of Albert Einstein, and I said, “Well, let me tell you one more thing. Guess what? Isaac Newton too felt the imposter syndrome.” He said, “What are you talking about?” I said, “He felt inadequate compared to not a scientist but holy and un-irredeemably inadequate before Jesus Christ Almighty.” 

He felt he never lived up to Him. In fact, he said his greatest accomplishment was dying a virgin like his hero, Jesus Christ— this is Isaac Newton but, yeah, he still felt inadequate. So, this is a powerful lesson. You can look at your heroes but don’t be paralyzed by them. They are human beings, just like you, maybe Jesus Christ— we can talk about religion some other time. Maybe that doesn’t apply there, but the scientists at least, they are just as human as you are, or I, and they have the same peccadillos, foibles, insecurities, and even one that might afflict many of us including myself, and that is the imposter syndrome. 

I am hoping that this book, by portraying these human beings as human beings will help to demystify the notion that you have to be Albert Einstein to be a scientist because ultimately, that damages science most of all. It will prevent and impede scientists from getting into it. Why would I get into something— No kid would start playing baseball if they felt they had to be— here in San Diego, we have Fernando Tetis Jr., it’s just never going to be. Why should my kid start playing? 

No, we never think like that in sports so why do we think like that in science? My goal is to demystify scientists and humanize them and I hope I have done that. 

Benji Block: Well, I think readers that pick up Into the Impossible are going to feel that that was your desire. They pick it up, they read it front to back, and then they set it down. What is the main feeling you want readers to feel? 

Brian Keating: Well, I’d be lying if I felt I didn’t want them to get a taste of the excitement and the curiosity and the imagination of science and how we can benefit from thinking scientifically. The only chapter that I wrote without any interview is about the scientific method and how do you actually do science, and demystifying the fact that there is no one right way to “do science.” From my perspective, what I wanted to do is make sure that we understand that science can be done in many different ways by a diverse spectrum of people from different places, different abilities, and that all can contribute. 

Even if you don’t all win Nobel Prizes or seek the highest stature, we can still achieve great things as a species. If we not only overcome our limiting beliefs, like the imposter syndrome, but we use them as guides to thrive and overcome them but also to outdo them and use them, turning the tables on them to our advantage, not as a hindrance. 

Benji Block: Brian, for those that want to connect with you further maybe online, what is the best way for people to reach out? 

Brian Keating: I have a website,, and I have web pages for my book where you have supplemental information. I have my podcast, Into the Impossible, wherever podcasts are sold. My YouTube channel, Dr. Brian Keating, and on social media, I am Dr. Brian Keating in all of those different venues. I love hearing from my audience, so please subscribe to the mailing list and join the multiverse of minds that I am attempting to connect together in this distributed free university of the future. 

I really think that books like this and resources like podcasts and YouTube are going to be the way that future scientists get into this infinite game of science. 

Benji Block: Well, congratulations on the book. Thank you for making these scientists and their findings so approachable and easy to learn from, and thanks for being on Author Hour today. 

Brian Keating: It’s truly my pleasure, my honor. Thank you so much.