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Radiolab

Radiolab

Radiolab is one of the most beloved podcasts and public radio shows in the world. The show is known for its deep-dive journalism and innovative sound design. Created in 2002 by host Jad Abumrad, the program began as an exploration of scientific inquiry. Over the years it has evolved to become a platform for long-form journalism and storytelling. Radiolab is co-hosted by Lulu Miller and Latif Nasser.

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Episodes

The Ceremony

In November of 2016, journalist Morgen Peck showed up at her friend Molly Webster's apartment in Brooklyn, told her to take her battery out of her phone, and began to tell her about The Ceremony, a moment last fall when a group of, well, let's just call them wizards, came together in an undisclosed location to launch a new currency. It's an undertaking that involves some of the most elaborate security and cryptography ever done (so we've been told). And math. Lots of math. It was all going great until, in the middle of it, something started to behave a little...strangely.

Reported by Molly Webster. Produced by Matt Kielty and Molly Webster. Denver Ceremony station recordings were created by media maker Nathaniel Kramer, with help from Daniel Cooper. 

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.

2021-02-26
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Red Herring

It was the early 80s, the height of the Cold War, when something strange began happening off the coast of Sweden. The navy reported a mysterious sound deep below the surface of the ocean. Again, and again, and again they would hear it near their secret military bases, in their harbors, and up and down the Swedish coastline. 

After thorough analysis the navy was certain. The sound was an invasion into their waters, an act of war, the opening salvos of a possible nuclear annihilation. 

Or was it? 

Today, Annie McEwen pulls us down into a deep-sea mystery, one of international intrigue that asks you to consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe, your deepest beliefs could be as solid as...air.

This episode was reported by Annie McEwen and produced by Annie McEwen, Matt Kielty, and Sarah Qari, with sound design by Jeremy Bloom. 

Special thanks to Bosse Lindquist.

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.   

2021-02-19
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Facebook's Supreme Court

Since its inception, the perennial thorn in Facebook?s side has been content moderation. That is, deciding what you and I are allowed to post on the site and what we?re not. Missteps by Facebook in this area have fueled everything from a genocide in Myanmar to viral disinformation surrounding politics and the coronavirus. However, just this past year, conceding their failings, Facebook shifted its approach. They erected an independent body of twenty jurors that will make the final call on many of Facebook?s thorniest decisions. This body has been called: Facebook?s Supreme Court.

So today, in collaboration with the New Yorker magazine and the New Yorker Radio Hour, we explore how this body came to be, what power it really has and how the consequences of its decisions will be nothing short of life or death.

This episode was reported and produced by Simon Adler.

To hear more about the court's origin, their rulings so far, and their upcoming docket, check out David Remnick and reporter Kate Klonick?s conversation in the New Yorker Radio Hour podcast feed.

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

 

2021-02-12
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Smile My Ass

Candid Camera is one of the most original ? and one of the most mischievous ? TV shows of all time.  Admirers hailed its creator Allen Funt as a poet of the everyday. Critics denounced him as a Peeping Tom.  Funt sought to capture people at their most unguarded, their most spontaneous, their most natural.  And he did. But as the show succeeded, it started to change the way we thought not only of reality television, but also of reality itself.  Looking back at the show now, a half century later, it?s hard NOT to see so many of our preoccupations ? privacy, propriety, publicity, authenticity ? through a funhouse mirror, darkly.

This episode was reported by Latif Nasser and produced by Matt Kielty. 

Special Thanks to: Bertram van Munster, Fred Nadis, Alexa Conway, the Eastern Airlines Employee Association and Eastern Airlines Radio, Rebecca Lemov, Anna McCarthy, Jill Lepore, Cullie Bogacki Willis III, Barbara Titus and the Funt family. 

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

2021-01-29
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Post Reports: Four Hours of Insurrection

We?re all still processing what happened on January 6th. Despite the hours and hours of video circulating online, we still didn?t feel like we had a visceral, on-the-ground sense of what happened that day. Until we heard the piece we?re featuring today. The Washington Post?s daily podcast Post Reports built a minute-by-minute replay of that day, from the rally, to the invasion, to the aftermath, told through the voices of people who were in the building that day -- reporters, photojournalists, Congresspeople, police officers and more. It?s some of the most visceral reporting we?ve heard anywhere on this historic moment. Listen to their full episode here.

 

2021-01-16
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More Money Less Problems

Back in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was just beginning and the shelter-in-place orders brought the economy to a screeching halt, a quirky-but-clever idea to save the economy made its way up to some of the highest levels of government. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib proposed an ambitious relief bill to keep the country?s metaphorical lights on: recurring payments to people to help them stay afloat during the crisis. And the way Congress would pay for it? By minting two platinum $1 trillion coins. (You read that right). 

In this episode, we take a jaunt through the evolution of our currency, from the gold-backed bills of the 19th century, to the most powerful computer at the Federal Reserve. And we chase an idea that torpedoes what we thought was a fundamental law of economics. Can we actually just print more money? 

This episode was reported by Becca Bressler and was produced by Becca Bressler and Simon Adler.

Special thanks to Carlos Mucha, Warren Mosler, David Cay Johnston, Alex Goldmark, Bryant Urstadt, and Amanda Aronczyk. 

To learn more about these ideas check out: 

Stephanie Kelton's book The Deficit Myth

Jacob Goldstein's book Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing and the Planet Money podcast

Betsey Stevenson's podcast Think Like an Economist 

This website for more about #MintTheCoin

And for a fun quick read, check out this WIRED article about the surprising origin of the trillion dollar coin.

 

2021-01-15
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Sight Unseen

As the attacks were unfolding on the Capitol, a steady stream of images poured onto our screens. Photo editor Kainaz Amaria tells us what she was looking for--and seeing--that afternoon. And she runs into a dilemma we've talked about before. In December of 2009, photojournalist Lynsey Addario, in was embedded with a medevac team in Afghanistan. After days of waiting, one night they got the call - a marine was gravely wounded. What happened next happens all the time. But this time it was captured, picture by picture, in excruciating detail. Horrible, difficult, and at times strikingly beautiful, those photos raise some questions: Who should see them, who gets to decide who should see them, and what can pictures like that do, to those of us far away from the horrors of war and those of us who are all too close to it?

Episode Notes:

To hear Kainaz Amaria talk more about the filter, check out: 

this post on ethical questions to consider around the sharing of images of police brutality and her interview on On The Media about the double-standard in many U.S. newsrooms when it comes to posting graphic images. 

Special thanks to Chris Hughes and Helium Records for the use of Shift Part IV from the album Shift

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

2021-01-13
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A Note from Radiolab

In the past few weeks, there have been a lot of conversations about the tolerance of harassment and bad behavior in our industry and in particular of a person who worked on our show five years ago, Andy Mills.

The Radiolab team wants to say to the people who were hurt, to anyone who has ever felt unwelcome at our show, and to the industry we helped shape: we are listening. We hate that this happened and we apologize to those we failed. At the time, show leadership initiated a response from WNYC to address Andy?s behavior, but it didn?t happen fast enough and it didn?t do enough.

We can?t change the past, but we can promise you that we are all holding this show, and each other, accountable for making sure that no person has to experience anything like that again.

We believe the best journalism demands an open, inclusive process and the widest possible range of perspectives and experiences. As individuals, we promise to put our full hearts to finding and nurturing stories that embrace that range of perspectives and experiences. Listeners: We hope that you?ll hear this commitment in our work ahead, and that you will let us know if you do not.

And to our fellow journalists: We love making this show, and we love the community of radio and podcast producers who make it possible for us to exist. Nineteen people work here right now. But over the past 19 years, hundreds of you have contributed stories, ideas, questions, criticism, notes or your ears as listeners. We are grateful to you. 

 

Team Radiolab:

Jad Abumrad, Simon Adler, Jeremy Bloom, Becca Bressler, Rachael Cusick, David Gebel, Dylan Keefe, Matt Kielty, Suzie Lechtenberg, Tobin Low, Annie McEwen, Lulu Miller, Latif Nasser, Sarah Qari, Sarah Sandbach, Arianne Wack, Pat Walters, Molly Webster, Soren Wheeler 

2021-01-07
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A Terrible Covid Christmas Special

This year was the worst. And as our staff tried to figure out what to do for our last episode of 2020, co-host Latif Nasser thought, what if we stare straight into the darkness ? and make a damn Christmas special about it.

Latif begins with a story about Santa, and a back-room deal he made with the Trump administration to jump to the front of the vaccine line, a tale that travels from an absurd quid-pro-quo to a deep question: who really is an essential worker? 

From there, we take a whistle-stop tour through the numbers that scientists say you need to know as you wind your way (or preferably, don?t wind your way) through our COVID-infested world. Producer Sarah Qari brings us her version of the Christmas classic nobody ever dreamt they?d want to hear: The Twelve Numbers of COVID.

You can check out Martin Bazant?s COVID ?calculator? here.

This episode was reported by Latif Nasser and Sarah Qari, and was produced by Matt Kielty, Sarah Qari, and Pat Walters.

Special thanks to Anna Weggel and Brant Miller, Catherine, Rohan, and Finn Munro, Noam Osband, Amber D?Souza, Chris Zangmeister, John Volckens, Joshua Santarpia, Laurel Bristow, Michael Mina,  Mohammad Sajadi, James V. Grimaldi, Stephanie Armour, Joshuah Bearman, Brendan Nyhan

And for more on the proposed Santa vaccine deal, see Julie Wernau and her colleagues' reporting at the Wall Street Journal here.

Original art for this episode by Zara Stasi. Check out her work at:  www.goodforthebees.com

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

2020-12-23
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The Ashes on the Lawn

A global pandemic. An afflicted, angry group. A seemingly indifferent government. Reporter Tracie Hunte wanted to understand this moment of pain and confusion by looking back 30 years, and she found a complicated answer to a simple question: When nothing seems to work, how do you make change?

This episode was reported by Tracie Hunte, and produced by Annie McEwen and Tobin Low. Fact-checking by Diane Kelly. 

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

2020-12-18
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Enemy of Mankind

Should the U.S. Supreme Court be the court of the world? In the 18th century, two feuding Frenchmen inspired a one-sentence law that helped launch American human rights litigation into the 20th century. The Alien Tort Statute allowed a Paraguayan woman to find justice for a terrible crime committed in her homeland. But as America reached further and further out into the world, the court was forced to confront the contradictions in our country?s ideology: sympathy vs. sovereignty. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Jesner v. Arab Bank, a case that could reshape the way America responds to human rights abuses abroad. Does the A.T.S. secure human rights or is it a dangerous overreach?

Additional music for this episode by Nicolas Carter.

Special thanks to William J. Aceves, William Baude, Diego Calles, Alana Casanova-Burgess, William Dodge, Susan Farbstein, Jeffery Fisher, Joanne Freeman, Julian Ku, Nicholas Rosenkranz, Susan Simpson, Emily Vinson, Benjamin Wittes and Jamison York. Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr., who appears in this episode, passed away in October 2016.

Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell.

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

2020-12-11
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The Great Vaccinator

Until now, the fastest vaccine ever made - for mumps - took four years. And while our current effort to develop a covid-19 vaccine involves thousands of people working around the clock, the mumps vaccine was developed almost exclusively by one person: Maurice Hilleman. Hilleman cranked out more than 40 other vaccines over the course of his career, including 8 of the 14 routinely given to children. He arguably saved more lives than any other single person. And through his work, Hilleman embodied the instincts, drive, and guts it takes to marshall the human body?s defenses against a disease. But through him we also see the struggle and the costs of these monumental scientific efforts.

This episode was reported by Matt Kielty and Heather Radke, and produced by Matt Kielty.

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

2020-12-03
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Dispatch 13: Challenge Trials

What if someone asked you to get infected with the COVID-19 virus, deliberately, in order to speed up the development of a vaccine? Would you do it? Would you risk your life to save others?

For months, dozens of companies have been racing to create coronavirus vaccines. Finally, three have done it. But according to the experts, we?re not out of the woods yet; we?ll need several vaccines to satisfy the global demand. One way to speed up the development process is a controversial technique called a human challenge trial, in which human subjects are intentionally infected with the virus. Senior correspondent Molly Webster gets the lowdown from Public News Service reporter Laura Rosbrow-Telem and then tracks down some of the tens of thousands of people who have volunteered to participate in a challenge trial.

Special thanks to Jonathan Miller.

This episode was reported by Molly Webster and Laura Rosbrow-Telem and produced by Molly Webster and Pat Walters.

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

2020-11-25
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Deception

Lies, liars, and lie catchers. This hour of Radiolab asks if it's possible for anyone to lead a life without deception.

We consult a cast of characters, from pathological liars to lying snakes to drunken psychiatrists, to try and understand the strange power of lying to yourself and others.

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

2020-11-19
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Breaking Benford

In the days after the US Presidential election was called for Joe Biden, many supporters of Donald Trump are crying foul.  Voter fraud. And a key piece of evidence? A century-old quirk of math called Benford?s Law.  We at Radiolab know Benford?s Law well, and have covered it before.  In this political dispatch, Latif and Soren Sherlock their way through the precinct numbers to see if these claims hold up. Spoiler: they don?t. But the reason why is more interesting than you?d expect.

This episode was reported by Latif Nasser. 

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

Links: 

Walter Mebane, ?Inappropriate Applications of Benford?s Law Regularities to Some Data from the 2020 Presidential Election in the United States?

2020-11-13
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Bloc Party

In the 1996 election, Bill Clinton had a problem. The women who came out in droves for him in ?92, split their vote in the ?94 midterms, handing over control of the House and the Senate to the Republican Party. As his team stared ahead at his re-election bid, they knew they had to win those women back. So, after a major polling effort to determine who exactly their undecided ladies were, Clinton turned his focus toward the most important swing vote in the election: the soccer moms. 

The soccer mom ushered in a new era of political campaigning, an era of slicing and dicing the electorate, engineering the (predominately white) voting bloc characters that campaigns have chased after. Security Moms. Nascar Dads. Joe Six Pack. Walmart Moms. 

But what about everyone else? What about the surprisingly swingable corners of this country without a soccer mom in sight?  Inspired by this exceedingly cool interactive map from Politico, we set out on a mission to make an audio-map of our own. We asked pollsters, reporters and political operatives in swing states: what slice of your population is up for grabs? A slice that no one talks about? In this episode, we crawl inside the places that might hold our country?s future in its hands, all the while asking: are these slices even real? Are there people inside them that might swing this election? 

This episode was reported and produced by Becca Bressler, Tobin Low, Sarah Qari, Tracie Hunte, Pat Walters and Matt Kielty, with help from Jonny Moens.

Special thanks to Darren Samuelsohn, Josh Cochran, Elizabeth Ralph, and the Politico team for the original reporting and map that inspired this episode. 

Also thanks to: Elissa Schneider, Wisam Naoum, Martin Manna, Ashourina Slewo, Eli Newman, Zoe Clark, Erin Roselio, Jess Kamm Broomell, Will Doran, John Zogby, Matt Dickinson, Tom Jensen, Ross Grogg, Joel Andrus, Jonathan Tilove, Steve Contorno, Heaven Hale, Jeff Shapiro, Nicole Cobler, Marie Albiges, Matt Dole, Robin Goist, Katie Paris, Julie Womack, Matt Dole, Jackie Borchardt, Jessica Locklear, Twinkle Patel, Bobby Das, Dharmesh Ahir,  Nimesh Dhinubhai, Jay Desai, Rishi Bagga, and Sanjeev Joshipura.

Christina Greer?s book is Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream, and Corey Fields book is Black Elephants in the Room: The Unexpected Politics of African American.

Original art for this episode by Zara Stasi. Check out her work at:  www.goodforthebees.com

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

2020-11-02
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How to Win Friends and Influence Baboons

Baboon troops. We all know they?re hierarchical. There?s the big brutish alpha male who rules with a hairy iron fist, and then there?s everybody else. Which is what Meg Crofoot thought too, before she used GPS collars to track the movements of a troop of baboons for a whole month. What she and her team learned from this data gave them a whole new understanding of baboon troop dynamics, and, moment to moment, who really has the power. 

This episode was reported and produced by Annie McEwen.

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

2020-10-31
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What If?

There?s plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he?d do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa?s Transition Integrity Project doesn?t give us any predictions, and it isn?t a referendum on Trump. Instead, it?s a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution.

This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music.

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

You can read The Transition Integrity Project?s report here.

2020-10-23
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Kittens Kick The Giggly Blue Robot All Summer

With the recent passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there's been a lot of debate about how much power the Supreme Court should really have.

We tend to think of the Supreme Court justices as all-powerful guardians of the constitution, issuing momentous rulings from on high. They seem at once powerful, and unknowable; all lacy collars and black robes.

But they haven?t always been so, you know, supreme. On this episode of More Perfect, we go all the way back to the case that, in a lot of ways, is the beginning of the court we know today.

Also: we listen back to a mnemonic device (and song) that we created back in 2016 to help people remember the names of the justices. Listen, create a new one, and share with us!

The key links:

- Akhil Reed Amar's forthcoming book, The Constitution Today: Timeless Lessons for the Issues of Our Era
- Linda Monk's book, The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution

The key voices:

- Linda Monk, author and constitutional scholar
- Akhil Reed Amar, Sterling Professor of Law at Yale
- Ari J. Savitzky, lawyer at WilmerHale

The key cases:

- 1803: Marbury v. Madison
- 1832: Worcester v. Georgia
- 1954: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1)
- 1955: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (2)

Additional music for this episode by Podington Bear.

Special thanks to Dylan Keefe and Mitch Boyer for their work on the above video.

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

 

2020-10-08
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No Special Duty

What are the police for? Producer B.A. Parker started wondering this back in June, as Black Lives Matter protests and calls to ?defund the police? ramped up. The question led her to a wild story of a stabbing on a New York City subway train, and the realization that, according to the law, the police don?t always have to protect us. Producer Sarah Qari joins Parker to dig into the legal background, which takes her all the way up to the Supreme Court... and then all the way back down to on-duty officers themselves.

This episode contains strong language and graphic violence.

Reported and produced by B.A. Parker and Sarah Qari, and produced by Matt Kielty and Pat Walters.

Special thanks to April Hayes and Katia Maguire for their documentary Home Truth about Jessica Gonzales, Cracked.com for sending us down this rabbit hole, Caroline Bettinger-López, Geoff Grimwood, Christy Lopez, Anthony Herron, Mike Wells, and Keith Taylor.

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

 

2020-10-02
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Insomnia Line

Coronasomnia is a not-so-surprising side-effect of the global pandemic. More and more of us are having trouble falling asleep. We wanted to find a way to get inside that nighttime world, to see why people are awake and what they are thinking about.

So what?d Radiolab decide to do? 

Open up the phone lines and talk to you.

We created an insomnia hotline and on this week?s experimental episode, we stayed up all night, taking hundreds of calls, spilling secrets, and at long last, watching the sunrise peek through.  

This episode was produced by Lulu Miller with Rachael Cusick, Tracie Hunte, Tobin Low, Sarah Qari, Molly Webster, Pat Walters, Shima Oliaee, and Jonny Moens.

Want more Radiolab in your life? Sign up for our newsletter! We share our latest favorites: articles, tv shows, funny Youtube videos, chocolate chip cookie recipes, and more.

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

 

2020-09-25
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More Perfect: Sex Appeal

We lost a legend. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18th, 2020. She was 87. In honor of her passing we are re-airing the More Perfect episode dedicated to one of her cases, because it offers a unique portrait of how one person can make change in the world. 

 This is the story of how Ginsburg, as a young lawyer at the ACLU, convinced an all-male Supreme Court to take discrimination against women seriously - using a case on discrimination against men. 

This episode was reported by Julia Longoria.

Special thanks to Stephen Wiesenfeld, Alison Keith, and Bob Darcy.

Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate

2020-09-19
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Falling

There are so many ways to fall?in love, asleep, even flat on your face. This hour, Radiolab dives into stories of great falls. 

We jump into a black hole, take a trip over Niagara Falls, upend some myths about falling cats, and plunge into our favorite songs about falling.

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

2020-09-17
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Bringing Gamma Back, Again

Today, we return to the lab of neuroscientist Li-Huei Tsai, which brought us one of our favorite stories from four years ago - about the power of flashing lights on an Alzheimer?s-addled (mouse) brain. In this update, Li-Huei tells us about her team?s latest research, which now includes flashing sound, and ways in which light and sound together might retrieve lost memories. This new science is not a cure, and is far from a treatment, but it?s a finding so ? simple, you won?t be able to shake it. Come join us for a lab visit, where we?ll meet some mice, stare at some light, and come face-to-face with the mystery of memory. We can promise you: by the end, you?ll never think the same way about Christmas lights again. Or jingle bells.

This update was reported by Molly Webster, and produced by Rachael Cusick. The original episode was produced by Annie McEwen, Matt Kielty, and Molly Webster, with help from Simon Adler. 

Special thanks to Ed Boyden, Cognito Therapeutics, Brad Dickerson, Karen Duff, Zaven Khachaturian, Michael Lutz, Kevin M. Spencer, and Peter Uhlhaas.

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

Molly's note about the image:

Those neon green things in the image are microglia, the brain?s immune cells, or, as we describe them in our episode, the janitor cells of the brain. Straight from MIT?s research files, this image shows microglia who have gotten light stimulation therapy (one can only hope in the flicker room). You can see their many, super-long tentacles, which would be used to feel out anything that didn?t belong in the brain. And then they?d eat it!

Further reading: 

Li-Huei and co?s gamma sound and light paper: Multi-sensory Gamma Stimulation Ameliorates Alzheimer?s-Associated Pathology and Improves Cognition

 

2020-09-11
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Fungus Amungus

Six years ago, a new infection began popping up in four different hospitals on three different continents, all around the same time. It wasn?t a bacteria, or a virus. It was ... a killer fungus. No one knew where it came from, or why. Today, the story of an ancient showdown between fungus and mammals that started when dinosaurs disappeared from the earth. Back then, the battle swung in our favor (spoiler alert!) and we?ve been hanging onto that win ever since. But one scientist suggests that the rise of this new infectious fungus indicates our edge is slipping, degree by increasing degree.

This episode was reported by Molly Webster, and produced by Molly and Bethel Habte, with production help from Tad Davis. Special thanks to Julie Parsonnet and Aviv Bergman. 

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  

Further Fungus Reading:

NYTimes feature on the mysterious rise of Candida auris. 

 Arturo's paper: ?On the emergence of Candida auris, Climate Change, Azoles, Swamps, and Birds?, by Arturo Casadevall, et al.

?On the Origins of a Species: What Might Explain the Rise of Candida auris??, a report from the CDC.

 
2020-09-04
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Translation

How close can words get you to the truth and feel and force of life? That's the question poking at our ribs this hour, as we wonder how it is that the right words can have the wrong meanings, and why sometimes the best translations lead us to an understanding that's way deeper than language. This episode, a bunch of stories that play out in the middle space between one reality and another ? where poetry, insult comedy, 911 calls, and even our own bodies work to close the gap.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  

Special thanks for the music of Brian Carpenter's Ghost Train Orchestra

2020-08-27
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Lebanon, USA

This is a story of a road trip. After a particularly traumatic Valentine's Day, Fadi Boukaram was surfing google maps and noticed that there was a town called Lebanon... in Oregon. Being Lebanese himself, he wondered, how many Lebanons exist in the US? The answer: 47. Thus began his journey to visit them all and find an America he'd never expected, and the homeland he'd been searching for all along.

This episode was made in collaboration with Kerning Cultures, a podcast that tells stories from the Middle East and North Africa.  The original "Lebanon USA" story was reported by Alex Atack with editorial support from Bella Ibrahim, Dana Ballout, Zeina Dowidar, and Hebah Fisher. Original sound design by Alex Atack. 

The new update of the story was produced and reported by Shima Oliaee. 

We had original music by Thomas Koner and Jad Atoui.

Be sure to check out Kerning Cultures at their website www.kerningcultures.com, instagram @kerningcultures, or twitter @kerningcultures. You can read more about Fadi?s trips and see his photographs at lebanonusa.com or on his Instagram at @lebanonusa.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate

Editor's Note: In an earlier version of this episode, we inaccurately described a grain elevator. We have updated the audio to reflect the correction.

---

If you would like to donate to Beirut at this time, we have links here (from NYT):

The Lebanese Red Cross dispatches every ambulance from North Lebanon, Bekaa, and South Lebanon to Beirut to treat the wounded and help in search-and-rescue operations. You can make a contribution here

The United Nations? World Food Program provides food to people displaced or made homeless after the blast. Lebanon imports nearly 85% of its food, and the port of Beirut, the epicenter of the explosion, played a central role in that supply chain. With the port now severely damaged, food prices are likely to be beyond the reach of many. You can donate here.

The NGO Humanity and Inclusion has 100 workers in Lebanon, including physical therapists, psychologists and social workers. They are focusing on post-surgical therapy in Beirut following the explosion. You can make a contribution here.

International Medical Corps is deploying medical units and will provide mental health care to those affected in Lebanon. The humanitarian aid organization also provides health services to Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and vulnerable Lebanese. You can donate here.

Islamic Relief, which specializes in food aid and emergency response, is helping to put a supply chain in place for emergency aid in Beirut. You can donate here.

Save the Children have launched a Lebanon?s children relief fund, to which you can donate here.

UNICEF, the United Nations agency specializing in aid to children, is providing medical and vaccine supplies in Beirut, and supplying drinking water to rescue workers at the Beirut port. Its on-the-ground team is also counseling children traumatized by the blast. You can donate here.

Impact Lebanon, a nonprofit organization, has set up a crowdfunding campaign to help organizations on the ground, and is helping to share information about people still missing after the explosion. The group had raised over $3 million as of Wednesday and donated the first $100,000 to the Lebanese Red Cross.

The health care organization Project HOPE is bringing medical supplies and protective gear to Beirut and assisting the authorities on the ground. A donation page is available here.

Over 300,000 people in Beirut were displaced from their homes by the explosion. Baytna Baytak, a charity that provided free housing to health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic, is now raising funds with Impact Lebanon to shelter those who have been displaced.

For those in Beirut, here is a list of urgent blood needs. Several social media accounts have also been set up to help locate victims.

 

2020-08-21
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The Wubi Effect

When we think of China today, we think of a technological superpower. From Huawei and 5G to TikTok and viral social media, China is stride for stride with the United States in the world of computing. However, China?s technological renaissance almost didn?t happen. And for one very basic reason: The Chinese language, with its 70,000 plus characters, couldn?t fit on a keyboard. 

Today, we tell the story of Professor Wang Yongmin, a hard headed computer programmer who solved this puzzle and laid the foundation for the China we know today.

This episode was reported and produced by Simon Adler with reporting assistance from Yang Yang.

Special thanks to Martin Howard. You can view his renowned collection of typewriters at: antiquetypewriters.com

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate

2020-08-14
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Uncounted

First things first: our very own Latif Nasser has an exciting new show on Netflix. He talks to Jad about the hidden forces of the world that connect us all.

Then, with an eye on the upcoming election, we take a look back: at two pieces from More Perfect Season 3 about Constitutional amendments that determine who gets to vote.

Former Radiolab producer Julia Longoria takes us to Washington, D.C. The capital is at the heart of our democracy, but it?s not a state, and it wasn?t until the 23rd Amendment that its people got the right to vote for president. But that still left DC without full representation in Congress; D.C. sends a "non-voting delegate" to the House. Julia profiles that delegate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and her unique approach to fighting for power in a virtually powerless role.

Second, Radiolab producer Sarah Qari looks at a current fight to lower the US voting age to 16 that harkens back to the fight for the 26th Amendment in the 1960s. Eighteen-year-olds at the time argued that if they were old enough to be drafted to fight in the War, they were old enough to have a voice in our democracy. But what about today, when even younger Americans are finding themselves at the center of national political debates? Does it mean we should lower the voting age even further?

Music in this episode by Carling & Will

This episode was reported and produced by Julia Longoria and Sarah Qari.

Check out Latif Nasser?s new Netflix show Connected here.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate

2020-08-07
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Invisible Allies

As scientists have been scrambling to find new and better ways to treat covid-19, they?ve come across some unexpected allies. Invisible and primordial, these protectors have been with us all along. And they just might help us to better weather this viral storm.

To kick things off, we travel through time from a homeless shelter to a military hospital, pondering the pandemic-fighting power of the sun. And then, we dive deep into the periodic table to look at how a simple element might actually be a microbe?s biggest foe.

This episode was reported by Simon Adler and Molly Webster, and produced by Annie McEwen, Pat Walters, Simon Adler, and Molly Webster, with production help from Tad Davis.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate

2020-07-31
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Baby Blue Blood Drive

Horseshoe crabs are not much to look at.  But beneath their unassuming catcher?s-mitt shell, they harbor a half-billion-year-old secret: a superpower that helped them outlive the dinosaurs and survive all the Earth?s mass extinctions.  And what is that secret superpower? Their blood. Their baby blue blood.  And it?s so miraculous that for decades, it hasn?t just been saving their butts, it?s been saving ours too.

But that all might be about to change.  

Follow us as we follow these ancient critters - from a raunchy beach orgy to a marine blood drive to the most secluded waterslide - and learn a thing or two from them about how much we depend on nature and how much it depends on us.

 

BONUS: If you want to know more about how miraculous horseshoe crabs are, here's a bunch of our favorite reads:

Alexis Madrigal, "The Blood Harvest" in The Atlantic, and Sarah Zhang's recent follow up in The Atlantic, "The Last Days of the Blue Blood Harvest" 

Deborah Cramer, The Narrow Edge

Deborah Cramer, "Inside the Biomedical Revolution to Save Horseshoe Crabs" in Audubon Magazine 

Richard Fortey, Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms

Ian Frazier, "Blue Bloods"  in The New Yorker 

Lulu Miller's short story, "Me and Jane"  in Catapult Magazine

Jerry Gault, "The Most Noble Fishing There Is"  in Charles River's Eureka Magazine

or check out Glenn Gauvry's horseshoe crab research database

 

This episode was reported by Latif Nasser with help from Damiano Marchetti and Lulu Miller, and was produced by Annie McEwen and Matt Kielty with help from Liza Yeager.

Special thanks to Arlene Shaner at the NY Academy of Medicine, Tim Wisniewski at the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives at Johns Hopkins University, Jennifer Walton at the library of the Marine Biological Lab of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Glenn Gauvry at the Ecological Research and Development Group.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate

2020-07-24
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Dispatches from 1918

It?s hard to imagine what the world will look like when COVID-19 has passed. So in this episode, we look back to the years after 1918, at the political, artistic, and viral aftermath of the flu pandemic that killed between 50 and 100 million people and left our world permanently transformed.

This episode was reported and produced by Rachael Cusick, Tad Davis, Tracie Hunte, Matt Kielty, Latif Nasser, Sarah Qari, Pat Walters, Molly Webster, with production assistance from Tad Davis and Bethel Habte.

Special thanks to the Radio Diaries podcast for letting us use an excerpt of their interview with Harry Mills. You can find the original episode here. For more on Egon Schiele?s life, check out the Leopold Museum?s biography, by Verena Gamper.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  

2020-07-17
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The Flag and the Fury

How do you actually make change in the world? For 126 years, Mississippi has had the Confederate battle flag on their state flag, and they were the last state in the nation where that emblem remained ?officially? flying.  A few days ago, that flag came down. A few days before that, it coming down would have seemed impossible. We dive into the story behind this de-flagging: a journey involving a clash of histories, designs, families, and even cheerleading. 

This episode was reported and produced by Shima Oliaee, with production assistance from Annie McEwen and Bethel Habte. 

It was a collaboration between OSM Audio and Radiolab. You can check out upcoming releases from OSM at: https://www.osmaudio.com/

To read or listen to Kiese Laymon's memoir Heavy: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Heavy/Kiese-Laymon/9781501125669.

To visit the Hospitality Flag website: https://declaremississippi.com/.

2020-07-13
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The Third. A TED Talk.

Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years.

Here's how TED described it:

How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.

Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.

2020-06-25
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Post No Evil Redux

Today we revisit our story on Facebook and its rulebook, looking at what?s changed in the past two years and exploring how these rules will impact the 2020 Presidential Election. 

Back in 2008 Facebook began writing a document. It was a constitution of sorts, laying out what could and what couldn?t be posted on the site. Back then, the rules were simple, outlawing nudity and gore. Today, they?re anything but. 

How do you define hate speech? Where?s the line between a joke and an attack? How much butt is too much butt? Facebook has answered these questions. And from these answers they?ve written a rulebook that all 2.2 billion of us are expected to follow. Today, we explore that rulebook. We dive into its details and untangle its logic. All the while wondering what does this mean for the future of free speech?

This episode was reported by Simon Adler with help from Tracie Hunte and was produced by Simon Adler with help from Bethel Habte.

Special thanks to Sarah Roberts, Jeffrey Rosen, Carolyn Glanville, Ruchika Budhraja, Brian Dogan, Ellen Silver, James Mitchell, Guy Rosen, Mike Masnick, and our voice actor Michael Chernus.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate

2020-06-19
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The Liberation of RNA

In June of 2019, Brandon Ogbunu got on stage and told a story for The Story Collider, a podcast and live storytelling show. Starting when he was a senior in college being shook down by a couple cops, Brandon tells us about navigating his ups and downs of a career in science, his startling connection to scientific racism, and his battle against biology's central dogma. 

Brandon?s story was recorded by The Story Collider as part of the 2019 Evolution Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island. You can find the full episode and learn more about The Story Collider here.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  

2020-06-13
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Graham

If former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin?s case for the death of George Floyd goes to trial, there will be this one, controversial legal principle looming over the proceedings: The reasonable officer.

In this episode, we explore the origin of the reasonable officer standard, with the case that sent two Charlotte lawyers on a quest for true objectivity, and changed the face of policing in the US.

This episode was produced by Matt Kielty with help from Kelly Prime and Annie McEwen.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  

2020-06-07
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Nina

Producer Tracie Hunte stumbled into a duet between Nina Simone and the sounds of protest outside her apartment. Then she discovered a performance by Nina on April 7, 1968 - three days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tracie talks about what Nina?s music, born during another time when our country was facing questions that seemed to have no answer, meant then and why it still resonates today.

 Listen to Nina's brother, Samuel Waymon, talk about that April 7th concert here.

2020-06-06
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Dispatch 6: Strange Times

Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It?s a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies.

This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  

2020-05-29
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Speedy Beet

There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit.

Big thanks to the folks at Brooklyn Philharmonic: Conductor Alan Pierson, Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola.

And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate

2020-05-22
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Octomom

In 2007, Bruce Robison?s robot submarine stumbled across an octopus settling in to brood her eggs. It seemed like a small moment. But as he went back to visit her, month after month, what began as a simple act of motherhood became a heroic feat that has never been equaled by any known species on Earth. 

This episode was reported and produced by Annie McEwen. 

Special thanks to Kim Fulton-Bennett and Rob Sherlock at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. And thanks to the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra for the use of their piece, ?Concerto for Bassoon & Chamber Orchestra: II. Beautiful.? 

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  

If you need more ocean in your life, check out the incredible Monterey Bay Aquarium live cams (especially the jellies!): www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams

 Here?s a pic of Octomom sitting on her eggs, Nov. 1, 2007.  

(© 2007 MBARI)

 

2020-05-15
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Why Fish Don't Exist

Our old friend Lulu Miller ? former Radiolab producer, co-creator of Invisibilia ? has been obsessed by the chaos that rules the universe since long before it showed up as a global pandemic, and a few weeks ago, she published a book about it. It?s called Why Fish Don?t Exist. It?s part scientific adventure story, part philosophical manifesto, part chest-ripped-open memoir. Jad called her up to talk about how an obscure 19th century ichthyologist with a checkered past helped her find meaning in the world, and what she means when she says fish aren?t real.

You can buy Lulu's book Why Fish Don?t Exist here.

This episode was produced by Pat Walters. 

Special thanks to Pan?American.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  

2020-05-13
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David and Dominique

David Gebel and Dominique Crisden have a couple of things in common: they both live in New York, they?re both gay, and they?re both HIV-positive. But David is in his 60s, and has been living with the disease since moving to New York in the ?80s. Dominique, on the other hand, is only in his early 30s. From our friends at WNYC's ?Nancy?, this episode features a very special conversation between David and Dominique about the similarities and differences in their experiences living with HIV.

Special thanks to Krishna Stone at Gay Men's Health Crisis, an HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and advocacy organization in New York. 

This episode was produced by Tobin Low, Kathy Tu and Matt Collette. Music in this episode by Jeremy Bloom and Alex Overington. Theme by Alexander Overington.

Note: A version of this episode first ran on May 7, 2017.

Support our work. Become a Nancy member today at Nancypodcast.org/donate.    

2020-05-08
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Dispatch 5: Don't Stop Believin'

Covid-19 has put emergency room doctors on the frontlines treating an illness that is still perplexing and unknown. Jad tracks one ER doctor in NYC as the doctor puzzles through clues, doing research of his own, trying desperately to save patients' lives. 

This episode was produced by Jad Abumrad and Suzie Lechtenberg.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  

2020-05-06
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Atomic Artifacts

Back in the 1950s, facing the threat of nuclear annihilation, federal officials sat down and pondered what American life would actually look like after an atomic attack. They faced a slew of practical questions like: Who would count the dead and where would they build the refugee camps? But they faced a more spiritual question as well. If Washington DC were hit, every object in the the National Archives would be eviscerated in a moment. Terrified by this reality, they set out to save some of America?s most precious stuff. 

Today, we look back at the items our Cold War era planners sought to save and we ask the question: In the year 2020, what objects would we preserve now? 

This episode was reported and produced by Simon Adler with editing from Pat Walters and reporting assistance from Tad Davis. 

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  

2020-04-24
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The Cataclysm Sentence

One day in 1961, the famous physicist Richard Feynman stepped in front of a Caltech lecture hall and posed this question to a group of undergraduate students: ?If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence was passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words?? Now, Feynman had an answer to his own question - a good one. But his question got the entire team at Radiolab wondering, what did his sentence leave out? So we posed Feynman?s cataclysm question to some of our favorite writers, artists, historians, futurists - all kinds of great thinkers. We asked them, ?What?s the one sentence you would want to pass on to the next generation that would contain the most information in the fewest words?? What came back was an explosive collage of what it means to be alive right here and now, and what we want to say before we go.

Featuring:

Richard Feynman, physicist (The Pleasure of Finding Things Out)

Caitlin Doughty, mortician (Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs)

Esperanza Spalding, musician (12 Little Spells)

Cord Jefferson, writer (Watchmen)

Merrill Garbus, musician (I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life)

Jenny Odell, writer (How to do Nothing)

Maria Popova, writer (Brainpickings)

Alison Gopnik, developmental psychologist (The Gardener and the Carpenter)

Rebecca Sugar, animator (Steven Universe)

Nicholson Baker, writer (Substitute)

James Gleick, writer (Time Travel)

Lady Pink, artist (too many amazing works to pick just one)

Jenny Hollwell, writer (Everything Lovely, Effortless, Safe)

Jaron Lanier, futurist (Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now)

Missy Mazzoli, composer (Proving Up)

This episode was produced by Matt Kielty and Rachael Cusick, with help from Jeremy Bloom, Zakiya Gibbons, and the entire Radiolab staff. 

 

Special Thanks to:

Ella Frances Sanders, and her book, "Eating the Sun", for inspiring this whole episode.

Caltech for letting us use original audio of The Feynman Lectures on Physics. The entirety of the lectures are available to read for free online at www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu.

 

All the musicians who helped make the Primordial Chord, including:

Siavash Kamkar, from Iran 

Koosha Pashangpour, from Iran

Curtis MacDonald, from Canada

Meade Bernard, from US

Barnaby Rea, from UK

Liav Kerbel, from Belgium

Sam Crittenden, from US

Saskia Lankhoorn, from Netherlands

Bryan Harris, from US

Amelia Watkins, from Canada

Claire James, from US

Ilario Morciano, from Italy

Matthias Kowalczyk, from Germany

Solmaz Badri, from Iran

 

All the wonderful people we interviewed for sentences but weren?t able to fit in this episode, including: Daniel Abrahm, Julia Alvarez, Aimee Bender, Sandra Cisneros, Stanley Chen, Lewis Dartnell, Ann Druyan, Rose Eveleth, Ty Frank, Julia Galef, Ross Gay, Gary Green, Cesar Harada, Dolores Huerta, Robin Hunicke, Brittany Kamai, Priya Krishna, Ken Liu, Carmen Maria Machado, James Martin, Judith Matloff, Ryan McMahon, Hasan Minhaj, Lorrie Moore, Priya Natarajan, Larry Owens, Sunni Patterson, Amy Pearl, Alison Roman, Domee Shi, Will Shortz, Sam Stein, Sohaib Sultan, Kara Swisher, Jill Tarter, Olive Watkins, Reggie Watts, Deborah Waxman, Alex Wellerstein, Caveh Zahedi.



2020-04-18
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Dispatch 4: Six Feet

Since the onset of the pandemic, we exist in a constant state of calculation, trying to define our own personal bubble. We?ve all been given a simple rule: maintain six feet of distance between yourself and others. But why six? Producer Sarah Qari uncovers the answer, and talks to some scientists who now say six might not be the right number after all. 

This episode was reported and produced by Sarah Qari and Pat Walters.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  

2020-04-11
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Space

One of the most consistent questions we get at the show is from parents who want to know which episodes are kid-friendly and which aren?t. So today, we're releasing a separate feed, Radiolab for Kids. To kick it off, we're rerunning an all-time favorite episode: Space.

In the 60?s, space exploration was an American obsession. This hour, we chart the path from romance to increasing cynicism.

We begin with Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan, with a story about the Voyager expedition, true love, and a golden record that travels through space. And astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson explains the Coepernican Principle, and just how insignificant we are.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  

 

 

2020-04-06
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Dispatch 3: Shared Immunity

More than a million people have caught Covid-19, and tens of thousands have died. But thousands more have survived and recovered. A week or so ago (aka, what feels like ten years in corona time) producer Molly Webster learned that many of those survivors possess a kind of superpower: antibodies trained to fight the virus. Not only that, they might be able to pass this power on to the people who are sick with corona, and still in the fight. Today we have the story of an experimental treatment that?s popping up all over the country: convalescent plasma transfusion, a century-old procedure that some say may become one of our best weapons against this devastating, new disease.

 

If you have recovered from Covid-19 and want to donate plasma, national and local donation registries are gearing up to collect blood. 

To sign up with the American Red Cross, a national organization that works in local communities, head here

To find out more about the The National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project, which we spoke about in our episode, including information on clinical trials or plasma donation projects in your community, go here.

 And if you are in the greater New York City area, and want to donate convalescent plasma, head over to the New York Blood Center to sign up. Or, register with specific NYC hospitals here.

 

If you are sick with Covid-19, and are interested in participating in a clinical trial, or are looking for a plasma donor match, check in with your local hospital, university, or blood center for more; you can also find more information on trials at The National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project.

And lastly, Tatiana Prowell?s tweet that tipped us off is here.

This episode was reported by Molly Webster and produced by Pat Walters. Special thanks to Drs. Evan Bloch and Tim Byun, as well as the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. 

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  

2020-04-03
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Dispatch 2: Every Day is Ignaz Semmelweis Day

It began with a tweet: ?EVERY DAY IS IGNAZ SEMMELWEIS DAY.? Carl Zimmer ? tweet author, acclaimed science writer and friend of the show ? tells the story of a mysterious, deadly illness that struck 19th century Vienna, and the ill-fated hero who uncovered its cure ? and gave us our best weapon (so far) against the current global pandemic.


This episode was reported and produced with help from Bethel Habte and Latif Nasser.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate

2020-04-01
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