To know without knowing how you know to have a feeling as clear and sharp as a thought; to sense with uncanny confidence, without any obvious reason or prompt. Intuition is a kind of stealth insight, sneaking up on you when you least expect it, telling you what ingredient to add to a recipe, or a painting; it can sniff out dangers or opportunities, distinguish liars from friends, help scientists uncover deep laws of nature. But what does it really mean to understand something ”in your bones,” or “in your gut?”

Physicists rely on intuition to a surprising extent, and so for our next Categorically Not!, we’ re delighted to have physicist Joe Polchinski of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, a new member of the National academy of Sciences. Joe will engage in a conversation with K.C. Cole about how he intuits meaning from math, which was, in essence, how he “discovered” higher dimensional membrane-like objects that may well be the building blocks of the universe. Just how the brain does this is a subject for neuroscience, of course, and so USC neurologist Antonio Damasio will tell us something about what goes on inside our heads when we “intuit” things. Antonio is the author of several wonderful books on the relationship between cognition and emotion, including “The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness” and “Decarte’s Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain”. From an arts perspective, USC filmmaker Jed Dannenbaum will talk about how, in artful movies, the communication between filmmakers behind the camera, actors in front of it, and audiences in the theatre relies primarily on an intuitive sensing of subtle visual and aural cues that we process at the nonconscious level. Jed is the co-author of Creative Filmmaking From the Inside Out, and will teach a new course next fall for non-filmmakers on the creative mind.

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