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Radiolab

Radiolab

Radiolab is on a curiosity bender. We ask deep questions and use investigative journalism to get the answers. A given episode might whirl you through science, legal history, and into the home of someone halfway across the world. The show is known for innovative sound design, smashing information into music. It is hosted by Lulu Miller and Latif Nasser.

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Episodes

Infinities

In August 2018, Boen Wang was at a work retreat for a new job. Surrounded by mosquitoes and swampland in a tiny campsite in West Virginia, Boen?s mind underwent a sudden, dramatic transformation that would have profound consequences?for his work, his colleagues, and himself.

Special thanks to Grace Gilbert for voice acting and episode art, and to Professors Erin Anderson and Maggie Jones for editorial support. 

Episode credits:

Reported and produced by Boen Wang
Original Music provided by Alex Zhang Hungtai
Fact-checking by Diane Kelly
Edited by Pat Walters

Our newsletter comes out every Wednesday. It includes short essays, recommendations, and details about other ways to interact with the show. Sign up (https://radiolab.org/newsletter)!

Radiolab is supported by listeners like you. Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab (https://members.radiolab.org/) today.

Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @radiolab, and share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected].

2022-08-12
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Escape

This episode originally aired in 2012.

An all-star lineup of producers ? Pat Walters, Lynn Levy, and Sean Cole ? bring you stories about traps, getaways, perpetual cycles, and staggering breakthroughs. 

We kick things off with a true escape artist ? a man who?s broken out of jail more times than anyone alive. Why does he keep running... and will he ever stop? Next, the ingeniously simple question that led Isaac Newton to an enormous intellectual breakthrough: why doesn?t the moon fall out of the sky? In the wake of Newton's new idea, we find ourselves in a strange space at the edge of the solar system, about to cross a boundary beyond which we know nothing. Finally, we hear the story of a blind kid who freed himself from an unhappy childhood by climbing into the telephone system, and bending it to his will.

Now sit back, relax and enjoy what we hope will prove to be a welcomed Escape.

Episode Credits:

Reported and produced by Pat Walters, Lynn Levy, and Sean Cole

2022-08-05
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The Humpback and the Killer

Killer whales ? orcas ? eat all sorts of animals, including humpback calves. But one day, biologists saw a group of humpback whales trying to stop some killer whales from eating? a seal. And then it happened again. And again. It turns out, all across the oceans, humpback whales are swimming around stopping killer whales from hunting all kinds of animals ? from seals to gray whales to sunfish. And of course while many scientists explain this behavior as the result of blind instincts that are ultimately selfish, much of the world celebrates humpbacks as superhero vigilantes of the sea. But when Annie McEwen dug into what was really going on between humpbacks and killer whales, she found a set of stories that refused to fit in either of those two ways of seeing the world.

Special thanks to Eric J. Gleske and Brendan Brucker at Media Services, Oregon State University as well as Colleen Talty at Monterey Bay Whale Watch and California Killer Whale Project. Special thanks also to Doug McKnight and Giuliana Mayo.

Episode Credits:
Reported and produced by Annie McEwen
Original music and sound design by Annie McEwen
Mixing help from Arianne Wack
Fact-checking by Diane Kelly
Edited by Becca Bressler

Our newsletter comes out every Wednesday. It includes short essays, recommendations, and details about other ways to interact with the show. Sign up (https://radiolab.org/newsletter)!

Radiolab is supported by listeners like you. Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab (https://members.radiolab.org/) today.

Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @radiolab, and share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected]

CITATIONS:

Videos:
Alisa Schulman-Janiger took this video (https://zpr.io/5mYNTWpxs5GV) of the humpbacks defending the gray whale calf?s carcass from the killer whales.

Articles:
Read Robert Pitman?s (et al) paper (https://zpr.io/iU9shuNW9tAj) about the humpbacks saving the seal and a review of the 115 interactions they collected between humpbacks and killer whales.

Books:
The World in the Whale (https://zpr.io/2BHBermJJfKj). If you are interested in whales, you are going to love this book.

 

2022-07-29
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You v. You

This episode, originally aired more than a decade ago, attempts to answer one question: how do you win against your worst impulses?

Zelda Gamson tried for decades to stop smoking, but the part of her that wanted to quit couldn?t beat the part of her that refused to let go. Adam Davidson, a co-founder of the NPR podcast Planet Money, talked to one of the greatest negotiators of all time, Nobel Prize-winning Economist Thomas Schelling, whose tactical skills saw him through high-stakes conflicts during the Cold War but fell apart when he tried them on himself in his battle to quit smoking. And a baby Pat Walters complicates things ? in a good way ? with the story of two brothers, Dennis and Kai Woo, who forged a deal with each other that wound up determining both of their futures.

Our newsletter comes out every Wednesday. It includes short essays, recommendations, and details about other ways to interact with the show. Sign up (https://radiolab.org/newsletter)!

Radiolab is supported by listeners like you. Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab (https://members.radiolab.org/) today.

Follow our show on InstagramTwitter and Facebook @radiolab, and share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected].

 

2022-07-22
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The Gatekeeper

This week, Reporter Peter Smith and Senior Producer Matt Kielty tell the story of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that set the standard for scientific expertise in a courtroom, i.e., whether an expert can testify in a lawsuit. They also tell the story of the Daubert family ? yes, the Dauberts of ?Daubert v Merrell Dow? ? whose win before the nine justices translated into a deeper loss.

Special thanks to Leah Litman, Rachel Rebouche, Jennifer Mnookin, David Savitz, Brooke Borel, and Tom Zeller Jr.

Credits: Reporting by Peter Andrey Smith. Produced by Matt Kielty. Reporting and production assistance from Sarah Qari. Fact-checking by Natalie A. Middleton. Editing by Pat Walters. Sound Design by Matt Kielty. Mixing help from Arianne Wack.

Citations: If you're interested in reading more from Peter Smith, check out his work over at Undark.org

Our newsletter comes out every Wednesday. It includes short essays, recommendations, and details about other ways to interact with the show. Sign up (https://radiolab.org/newsletter)!

Radiolab is supported by listeners like you. Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab (https://members.radiolab.org/) today.

Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @radiolab, and share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected].

And, by the way, Radiolab is looking for a remote intern! If you happen to be a creative, science-obsessed nerd who is interested in learning how to make longform radio? Apply before July 20, 2022! We would LOVE to work with you. You can find more info at wnyc.org/careers.

2022-07-15
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Baby Blue Blood Drive

This is an episode that first aired in 2018 and then again in the thick of the pandemic in 2020. Why? Because though Horseshoe crabs are not much to look at, beneath their unassuming catcher?s-mitt shell, they harbor a half-billion-year-old secret: a superpower that helped them outlive the dinosaurs, survive all the Earth?s mass extinctions, and was essential in the development of the COVID vaccines.  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.

Radiolab is supported by listeners like you. Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab (https://members.radiolab.org/) today.

Our newsletter comes out every Wednesday. It includes short essays, recommendations, and details about special events. Sign up (https://radiolab.org/newsletter)!

Follow our show on InstagramTwitter and Facebook @radiolab, and share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected]

And, by the way, Radiolab is looking for a remote intern! If you happen to be a creative, science-obsessed nerd who is interested in learning how to make longform radio? Apply! We would LOVE to work with you.  You can find more info at wnyc.org/careers.

Citations:

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

2022-07-08
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My Thymus, Myself

Today, we go to a spot that may be one of the most philosophical places in the universe: the thymus, an organ that knows what is you, and what is not you. Its mood may be existential, but its role is practical ? the thymus is the biological training ground where the body learns to protect itself from outside invaders (think: bacteria, coronaviruses). But this training is not the humdrum bit of science you might expect. It?s a magical shadowland with dire consequences. 

Then, we?ll leave the thymus to visit a team of doctors who are using this organ that protects you as a way to protect someone? else. Their work could change everything.

Special Thanks: 

One thousand thanks to Hannah Meyer, Salomé Carcy, Josh Torres, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for showing us a real-life (mouse) thymus for this episode. Special thanks also go to Diane Mathis and Kate Webb.

Further reading:

Wanna do a little light reading? Here?s the immunology textbook Jenni Punt and Sharon Stranford helped write, including a whole section on that funny little thing called AIRE! Kuby Immunology 

The science paper that first described what happens inside the thymus as an, ?immunological self shadow?.

Radiolab is supported by listeners like you. Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab (https://members.radiolab.org/) today.

Our newsletter comes out every Wednesday. It includes short essays, recommendations, and details about special events. Sign up (https://radiolab.org/newsletter)!

Follow our show on InstagramTwitter and Facebook @radiolab, and share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected]

And, by the way, Radiolab is looking for a remote intern! If you happen to be a creative, science-obsessed nerd who is interested in learning how to make longform radio? Apply! We would LOVE to work with you.  You can find more info at wnyc.org/careers.

2022-07-01
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Galápagos

As our co-Hosts Lulu Miller and Latif Nasser are out this week, we are re-sharing the perfect episode to start the summer season!

This one, which first aired in 2014, tells the strange story of a small group of islands that keeps us wondering: will our most sacred natural landscapes inevitably get swallowed up by humans? How far are we willing to go to stop that from happening?

This hour is about the Galápagos archipelago, which inspired Darwin?s theory of evolution and natural selection. Nearly 200 years later, the Galápagos are undergoing rapid changes that continue to pose ? and perhaps answer ? critical questions about the fragility and resilience of life on Earth.

Episode Credits:

Reported and produced by Tim Howard.

Radiolab is supported by listeners like you. Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab (https://members.radiolab.org/) today.

Our newsletter comes out every Wednesday. It includes short essays, recommendations, and details about special events. Sign up (https://radiolab.org/newsletter)!

Follow our show on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @radiolab, and share your thoughts with us by emailing [email protected]

 

2022-06-24
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No Special Duty

Since the massacre that took the lives of 19 schoolchildren in Uvalde, Texas, people across the world began to ask versions of one question: why did police wait outside the door instead of protecting the kids?

It's not the first time this question has come up. Two years ago, as she watched police respond to the protests that followed the death of George Floyd, Producer B.A. Parker wondered: what are police for? With the help of our Producer Sarah Qari, she found that the United States? Supreme Court had given this a most consequential and bewildering answer.

We decided to re-air this episode to shed light on how a case from 2005 upended our assumptions about the role police are meant to play in our lives.

Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab (https://members.radiolab.org/) today.    

Radiolab is on YouTube! (https://zpr.io/MTSFMLXQWDkE) Catch up with new episodes and hear classics from our archive. Plus, find other cool things we did in the past ? like miniseries, music videos, short films and animations, behind-the-scenes features, Radiolab live shows, and more. Take a look, explore and subscribe!

2022-06-17
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Neanderthal's Revenge

A few months ago, co-Host Latif Nasser, who was otherwise healthy, saw blood in his poop. It was the start of a medical journey that made him not only question what was going on in his body, but also dig into the secret genetic story of how we became human. Curled up in a hospital bathroom, Latif tries to sort out whether his ordeal is the result of a long-lost sibling knifing him in the gut or, on the contrary, a long-forgotten kindness shared between two human-ish travelers. 

Special thanks to Azra Premiji, Avir Mitra, Suzanne Lehrer, David Reich, Sriram Sankararaman, Ainara Sistiaga, Carl Zimmer, Carly Mensch, Nihal Kaur, Charlotte Hsu and Bert Gambini at the University at Buffalo Media Relations, and Latif's GI Doctor Florence Damilola Odufalu and her entire team, as well as all the staff at LA County-USC Medical Center and Keck USC hospitals who looked after Latif during his hospitalization.

Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab today.    

Radiolab is on YouTube! Catch up with new episodes and hear classics from our archive. Plus, find other cool things we did in the past ? like miniseries, music videos, short films and animations, behind-the-scenes features, Radiolab live shows, and more. Take a look, explore and subscribe!

Editorial Note: This podcast was amended after initial release to change the way we refer to those afflicted by addiction. 

2022-06-10
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Origin Stories

We?re all in a tizzy here at Radiolab on account of our 20-year anniversary. And, as one does upon passing a milestone, we?ve been looking back in all kinds of ways. Two weeks ago, we went out over the airwaves, ?Live on your FM dial,? a callback to our origins as a radio show. We revamped our logo and redid our website (get your Freq on, people!). More recently, Lulu's and Latif?s first stories came up in a meeting. They weren?t always the intrepid hosts of our collective journey in wonder. Soren Wheeler, our editor, thought it would be fun to highlight those firsts for you. 

So here they are, baby Latif and Lulu, doing their darndest to make audio magic.

Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab today.    

Radiolab is on YouTube! Catch up with new episodes and hear classics from our archive. Plus, find other cool things we did in the past ? like miniseries, music videos, short films and animations, behind-the-scenes features, Radiolab live shows, and more. Take a look, explore and subscribe!

 

2022-06-03
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Radiolab After Dark

Back in 2002, Jad Abumrad started Radiolab as a live radio show. He DJ?d out into the ether and 20 years later we do the same. To commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the show, the Radiolab team went old school and took over WNYC Radio, live on the FM band. We answered the phones, played some wonderfully weird audio, including one piece where Kurt Vonnegut?yes, that Kurt Vonnegut?interviews the dead, took part in some games and tomfoolery, and did everything we could to have and to share in our good time.

2022-05-27
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La Mancha Screwjob

All the world?s a stage. Or, sometimes it feels that way, especially these days. In this episode, originally aired in 2015, we push through the fourth wall, pierce the spandex-ed heart of professional wrestling, and travel 400 years into the past to unmask our obsession with authenticity and our desire to walk the line between reality and fantasy.

Thanks to Nick Hakim for the use of his song "The Light". 

Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab today.    

Radiolab is on YouTube! Catch up with new episodes and hear classics from our archive. Plus, find other cool things we did in the past ? like miniseries, music videos, short films and animations, behind-the-scenes features, Radiolab live shows, and more. Take a look, explore and subscribe!

 

2022-05-20
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Frailmales

This week, we bring you two stories about little guys trying to do big big things.

First, self-proclaimed animal grinch producer Becca Bressler introduces us to perhaps the one creature that has warmed her heart: a cricket. And more specifically, a male cricket. This is a tale about a tiny Romeo insect trying to find a mate, and the ingenious lengths he?ll go to have his beckoning heard.

The hero of our story

 

And second, producer Annie McEwen journeys through perhaps the zaniest game of football that has ever been played. When a ragtag group of players take on the top team, will it be an underdog tale for the ages or an absolute disaster?

Special thanks to Stephen Spann and Joshua Baxter at the Doris and Harry Vice University Library at Cumberland University as well as Alison Reynolds at Georgia Tech Library. Thanks also to Rick Bell, and to Scott Larson who wrote a book all about this game called Cumberland: The True Story of the Highest Scoring Football Game in History. And finally, thanks so much to our tape syncer Ambriehl Crutchfield for her help with this episode. 

If you?re still interested in learning more about this epic football game, be sure to check out this brilliant and hilarious video by sportswriter Jon Bois.

Lastly, don't forget to check out Death Sex and Money. We recommend episode titled Hard, which is deep dive into our relationship with erectile dysfunction, and the drugs developed to treat it.  

Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab today.    

Radiolab is on YouTube! Catch up with new episodes and hear classics from our archive. Plus, find other cool things we did in the past ? like miniseries, music videos, short films and animations, behind-the-scenes features, Radiolab live shows, and more. Take a look, explore and subscribe!

DOWNLOAD BRAILLE READY FILE HERE (https://zpr.io/YPQjmqjec5g7)

2022-05-13
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Debatable

In competitive debate future presidents, supreme court justices, and titans of industry pummel each other with logic and rhetoric. 

Unclasp your briefcase. It?s time for a showdown. Looking back on an episode originally aired in 2016, we take a good long look at the world of competitive college debate. 

This is Ryan Wash's story. He's a queer, Black, first-generation college student from Kansas City, Missouri who joined the debate team at Emporia State University on a whim. When he started going up against fast-talking, well-funded, ?name-brand? teams, from places like Northwestern and Harvard, it was clear he wasn?t in Kansas anymore. So Ryan became the vanguard of a movement that made everything about debate debatable. In the end, he made himself a home in a strange and hostile land. Whether he was able to change what counts as rigorous academic argument ? well, that?s still up for debate.

Special thanks to Will Baker, Myra Milam, John Dellamore, Sam Mauer, Tiffany Dillard Knox, Mary Mudd, Darren "Chief" Elliot, Jodee Hobbs, Rashad Evans and Luke Hill. 

Special thanks also to Torgeir Kinne Solsvik for use of the song h-lydisk / B Lydian from the album Geirr Tveitt Piano Works and Songs

Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab today.    

Radiolab is on YouTube! Catch up with new episodes and hear classics from our archive. Plus, find other cool things we did in the past ? like miniseries, music videos, short films and animations, behind-the-scenes features, Radiolab live shows, and more. Take a look, explore and subscribe!
2022-05-06
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Hello, My Name Is

As a species, we?re obsessed with names. They?re one of the first labels we get as kids. We name and rename absolutely everything around us. And these names carry our histories, they can open and close our eyes to the world around us, and they drag the weight of expectation and even irony along with them. This week on Radiolab, we?ve got six stories all about names. Horse names, the names of diseases, names for the beginning, and names for the end. Listen to ?Hello, My Name Is? on Radiolab, wherever you find podcasts. 

Special thanks to Jim Wright, author of ?The Real James Bond?, Tad Davis, Cole delCharco, Peter Frick-Wright, Alexa Rose Miller, Katherine De La Cruz, and Fahima Haque.

Members of The Lab, watch for an audio extra on your exclusive feeds, a poem written and read by Mary Szybist, whom Molly Webster interviewed for her story in this episode about endlings. It is titled ?We Think We Do Not Have Medieval Eyes.? If you are not yet a member and would like to listen to it, you can join here.

Radiolab is on YouTube! Catch up with new episodes and hear classics from our archive. Plus, find other cool things we did in the past ? like miniseries, music videos, short films and animations, behind-the-scenes features, Radiolab live shows, and more. Take a look, explore and subscribe!

DOWNLOAD BRAILLE READY FILE HERE (https://zpr.io/BmPeeLvvRDrD)


Citations:

The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Warhorse: Cavalry in Ancient Warfare by Philip Sidnell

Check out ArtsPractica.com, a site focused on medical uncertainty. Alexa Rose Miller.

2022-04-29
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The Other Latif: Cuba-ish

Almost exactly twenty years ago, detainee 244 got transferred to Guantanamo Bay. Captured by American forces at the battle Tora Bora five months previous, Abdul Latif Nasser was shaved, hooded, shackled, diapered, and flown halfway across the world.

The Radiolab special series, The Other Latif, kicked off when one of our hosts, Latif Nasser, made a bizarre and shocking discovery. He shares his name with detainee 244. A man the U.S. government paints a terrifying picture of as Al-Qaeda?s top explosives expert, and one of the most important advisors to Osama bin Laden. Nasser?s lawyer claims, on the other hand, that he was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and that he was never even in Al-Qaeda. This clash launched our Latif into a years-long investigation, picking apart evidence, attempting to separate fact from fiction, and trying to uncover what the man with whom he shares a name actually did or didn?t do. Along the way, Radiolab?s Latif reflects on American values and his own religious past, and wonders how a fellow nerdy, suburban Muslim kid, may have gone down such a strikingly different path.

Episode 5: Cuba-ish 

To mark the solemn occasion of the other Latif's transfer to, "the legal equivalent of outer space," we thought we'd replay Cuba-ish, the fifth episode of our special series which first aired back in 2020. In this episode, our Latif heads to Guantanamo Bay to try to speak to his namesake. Before he gets there, he dives deep, seeking the answer to what seems like a simple question: why Cuba? Why in the world did the United States pick this sleepy military base in the Caribbean to house ?the worst of the worst??  

Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab today.    

Radiolab is on YouTube! Catch up with new episodes and hear classics from our archive. Plus, find other cool things we did in the past ? like miniseries, music videos, short films and animations, behind-the-scenes features, Radiolab live shows, and more. Take a look, explore and subscribe!

 

2022-04-22
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NULL

A one-word magical spell. Several years back, that?s exactly what Joseph Tartaro thought he?d discovered. It was a spell that, if used properly, promised to make one?s problems disappear. And so he crossed his fingers, uttered the word and cast the enchantment on himself. The result, however, was anything but magical.

Unbeknownst to Joseph, by unleashing this spell, he?d earned a lifetime membership into a cursed community. A clan made up of folks who, through no fault of their own, had become nameless and invisible. Today, the story of these unfortunate souls, the dark digital arts that took so much from them and the wizardry needed to give them new life.

Special thanks to Sarah Chasins, Tony Hoare, Brian Kernighan and to Patrick McKenzie for writing that wonderful list of assumptions programmers believe about names. And also to all the folks who spoke to us and emailed us with stories of their own ?problematic? names.

DOWNLOAD BRAILLE READY FILE HERE

Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab today.    

Radiolab is on YouTube! Catch up with new episodes and hear classics from our archive. Plus, find other cool things we did in the past ? like miniseries, music videos, short films and animations, behind-the-scenes features, Radiolab live shows, and more. Take a look, explore and subscribe!

2022-04-15
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In the Dust of This Planet

Horror, fashion, and the end of the world ? In this episode, first aired in 2014, but maybe even more relevant today, things get weird as we explore the undercurrents of thought that link nihilists, beard-stroking philosophers, Jay-Z, and True Detective.

Today on Radiolab, a puzzle. Jad?s brother-in-law wrote a book called 'In The Dust of This Planet'.

It?s an academic treatise about the horror humanity feels as we realize that we are nothing but a speck in the universe. For a few years nobody read it. But then ?

It seemed to show up on True Detective.

 

Then in a fashion magazine.

 

And then on Jay-Z's back. How? 

We talk nihilism with Eugene Thacker & Simon Critchley, leather jackets with June Ambrose, climate change with David Victor, and hope with the father of Transcendental Black Metal - Hunter Hunt Hendrix of the band Liturgy.

Also, check out WNYC Studio's On the Media episode Staring into the Abyss, in it Brooke Gladstone and Jad Abumrad continue their discussion of nihilism and its place in history.

You can find Eugene Thacker's 'In The Dust Of the Planet' at Zero Books

Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab today.    

Radiolab is on YouTube! Catch up with new episodes and hear classics from our archive. Plus, find other cool things we did in the past ? like miniseries, music videos, short films and animations, behind-the-scenes features, Radiolab live shows, and more. Take a look, explore and subscribe!

2022-04-08
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Inheritance

Once a kid is born, their genetic fate is pretty much sealed. Or is it? In this episode, originally aired in 2012, we put nature and nurture on a collision course and discover how outside forces can find a way inside us, and change not just our hearts and minds, but the basic biological blueprint that we pass on to future generations.

Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab today.    

Radiolab is on YouTube! Catch up with new episodes and hear classics from our archive. Plus, find other cool things we did in the past ? like miniseries, music videos, short films and animations, behind-the-scenes features, Radiolab live shows, and more. Take a look, explore and subscribe!

2022-04-01
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The Right Stuff

Since the beginning of the space program, we?ve always expected astronauts to be fully abled athletic overachievers who are one-part science-geek, two-parts triathlete ? a mix the writer Tom Wolfe famously called ?the right stuff.?

But what if, this whole time, we?ve had it all wrong?

In this episode, reporter Andrew Leland joins a blind linguistics professor named Sheri Wells-Jensen and a crew of eleven other disabled people on a mission to prove that disabled people have what it takes to go to space. And not only that, but that they may have an edge over non-disabled people. We follow the Mission AstroAccess crew members to Long Beach, California, where they hop on an airplane to take an electrifying flight that simulates zero-gravity ? a method used by NASA to train astronauts ? and afterwards learn that the biggest challenges to a future where space is accessible to all people may not be where they expected to find them. And our reporter Andrew, who is legally blind himself, confronts some unexpected conclusions of his own.

This episode was reported by Andrew Leland and produced by Maria Paz Gutierrez, Matt Kielty and Pat Walters. Jeremy Bloom contributed music and sound design. Production sound recording by Dan McCoy.

Special thanks to William Pomerantz, Sheyna Gifford, Jim Vanderploeg, Tim Bailey, and Bill Barry

Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab today.    

Radiolab is on YouTube! Catch up with new episodes and hear classics from our archive. Plus, find other cool things we did in the past ? like miniseries, music videos, short films and animations, behind-the-scenes features, Radiolab live shows, and more. Take a look, explore and subscribe!

DOWNLOAD BRAILLE READY FILE HERE (https://zpr.io/vWtJYGLn6UXm)

 

Citations in this episode

Multimedia:
Sheri Wells-Jensen?s SETI Institute presentation
Learn more about Mission AstroAccess
Other work by Andrew Leland

Articles:
Sheri Wells-Jensen?s, ?The Case for Disabled Astronauts,? Scientific American

2022-03-25
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Stress

Stress can give your body a boost - raising adrenaline levels, pumping blood to the muscles, heightening our senses. And those sudden superpowers can be a boon when you?re running from a lion. But repeatedly dipping into that well can make you sick, even kill you. Since it feels like there?s been an extra bit of stress going around lately, we decided to replay this episode, originally aired back in 2005, which takes a long hard look at the body's system for getting out of trouble. And how in our modern, hyper-connected world, that system misfires and takes us from the frying pan, right into another, albeit entirely different, frying pan.

Stanford University neurologist (and part-time "baboonologist") Dr. Robert Sapolsky takes us through what happens on our insides when we stand in the wrong line at the supermarket, and offers a few coping strategies: gnawing on wood, beating the crap out of somebody, and having friends. Plus: the story of a singer who lost her voice, and an author stuck in a body that never grew up.

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2022-03-18
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The Helen Keller Exorcism

Fantasy writer Elsa Sjunneson has been haunted by Helen Keller for nearly her entire life. Like Helen, Elsa is Deafblind, and growing up she was constantly compared to her. But for a million different reasons she hated that, because she felt different from her in a million different ways. Then, a year ago, an online conspiracy theory claiming Helen was a fraud exploded on TikTok, and suddenly Elsa found herself drawing her sword and jumping to Helen?s defense, setting off a chain of events that would bring her closer to the disability icon than she ever dreamt. For over a year, Elsa, Lulu and the Radiolab team dug through primary sources, talked to experts, even visited Helen?s birthplace Ivy Green, and discovered the real story of Helen Keller is far more complicated, mysterious and confounding than the simple myth of a young Deafblind girl rescued by her teacher Annie Sullivan. It?s a story of ghosts, surprises, a few tears, a bit of romance, some hard conversations, and a possibly psychic dog.

This episode was reported by Elsa Sjunneson and Lulu Miller. It was produced by Sindhu Gnanasambandan and Rachel Cusick, with help from Sarah Qari, Tanya Chawla, and Carolyn McClusker. Jeremy Bloom contributed music and sound design. Additional Mixing by Arianne Wack.

Special thanks to Georgina Kleege, Julia Bascom, Desiree Kocis, Peter C. Kunze, Andrew Leland, Sara Luterman, Alexander Richey, Will Healy, Nate Jones, Nate Peereboom, and Pamela Sabaugh (who was our voice of Helen Keller).

ASL TRANSCRIPTION

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DOWNLOAD BRAILLE READY FILE HERE (https://zpr.io/s23JtuYxyrNA)

Citations in this episode

Books:
Elsa Sjunneson, Being Seen
Kim Nielsen, The Radical Lives of Helen Keller
Georgina Kleege, Blind Rage: Letters to Helen Keller
Katie Booth, The Invention of Miracles: language, power, and Alexander Graham Bell?s quest to end deafness
Haben Girma, Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law

Articles:
Susan Crutchfield, ?Play[ing] her part correctly: Helen Keller as Vaudevillian Freak,? Disability Studies Quarterly.
Desiree Kocis, ?Did Helen Keller Fly A Plane?? (she did), Plane & Pilot Magazine.
Peter C. Kunze, ?What We Talk about When We Talk about Helen Keller,? Children?s Literature Association Quarterly
The archives of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

2022-03-11
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Life in a Barrel

This week, we flip the Disney story of life on its head thanks to a barrel of seawater, a 1970s era computer, and underwater geysers. It?s the chaos of life.

Latif, Lulu, and our Senior Producer Matt Kielty were all sitting on their own little stories until they got thrown into the studio, and had their cherished beliefs about the shape of life put on a collision course. From an accidental study of sea creatures, to the ambitions of Stephen J Gould, to an undercooked theory that captured the world?s imagination, we undo the seeming order of the living world and try to make some music out of the wreckage. (Bonus: Learn how Francis Crick really thought life got started on this planet).

This episode was reported by Latif Nasser, Matt Kielty, Heather Radke, Lulu Miller and Candice Wang. It was produced by Matt Kielty and Simon Adler. Sound and music from Matt Kielty, Simon Adler, and Jeremy Bloom, and dialogue mix by Arianne Wack.

Special thanks to Alan and Alida Goffinski for giving our chaos musical life in the song at the end of the episode.

Radiolab is on YouTube! Catch up with new episodes and hear classics from our archive. Plus, find other cool things we did in the past ? like miniseries, music videos, short films and animations, behind-the-scenes features, Radiolab live shows, and more. Take a look, explore and subscribe!

Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab today. 

Citations in this episode

Scientific Papers:
Elisa Beninca, Reinhard Heerkloss, et al, ?Chaos in a long-term experiment with a plankton community? Nature (2008)
Hendrik Schubert, Reinhard Heerkloss, et al, ?Chaos theory discloses triggers and drivers of plankton dynamics in a stable environment? Scientific Reports (2019)

Books:
Nick Lane, The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life
Francis Crick, Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature
Stephen Jay Gould: Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin, and The Mismeasure of Man
David M. Raup, Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck?
David Sepkoski, Rereading the Fossil Record: The Growth of Paleobiology as an Evolutionary Discipline

 

2022-03-04
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Speed

We live our lives at human speed, we experience and interact with the world on a human time scale. In this episode, which first aired in its entirety in the winter of 2013, we put ourselves through the paces. We examine a material that exists between two states of matter, take a ride on the death-defying roller coaster that is the stock market, open up our internal clocks of thought, and achieve mastery over the fastest thing in the universe.

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2022-02-25
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The Wordless Place

This week, we turn to an expert who tromps the wilds of wordlessness. Lulu?s young son. In this essay, originally published for The Paris Review under the title ?The Eleventh Word,? Lulu explores what is lost with the gaining of language. And how, in a very odd way, a fear of confusion and the unknown may begin with the advent of words. The Radiolab sound team brings this piece to life with original music, and at one point the words melt right out of the air.

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2022-02-18
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Hello

It's hard to start a conversation with a stranger?especially when that stranger is, well, different. He doesn't share your customs, celebrate your holidays, watch your TV shows, or even speak your language. Plus he has a blowhole.

In this episode, which originally aired in the summer of 2014, we try to make contact with some of the strangest strangers on our little planet: dolphins. Producer Lynn Levy eavesdrops on some human-dolphin conversations, from a studio apartment in the Virgin Islands to a research vessel in the Bermuda Triangle.

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2022-02-11
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Forests on Forests

For much of history, tree canopies were pretty much completely ignored by science. It was as if researchers said collectively, "It's just going to be empty up there, and we've got our hands full studying the trees down here! So why bother?!"

But then, around the mid-1980s, a few ecologists around the world got curious and started making their way up into the treetops using any means necessary (ropes, cranes, hot air dirigibles) to document all they could find. It didn't take long for them to realize not only was the forest canopy not empty, it was absolutely filled to the brim with life. You've heard of treehouses? How about tree gardens?! 

This week we journey up into the sky and discover Forests above the forest. We learn about the secret powers of these sky gardens from ecologist Korena Mafune, and we follow Nalini Nadkarni as she makes a ground-breaking discovery that changes how we understand what trees are capable of. 

P.S. This episode is a layer cake of arboreal surprises (including the reappearance of a certain retired host). 

A few visual tre(e)ats: 

We first learned about the magical world of the canopy from this beautiful video from Michael Werner, Joe Hanson, and the PBS Overview team. It features Korena Mafune?s research up in the treetops, as well as the people who have dedicated their lives to saving what?s left of the old growth forests. We highly recommend checking it out! 

And, if you?re hankering to go climb a tree after this episode, you might enjoy browsing Hallie Bateman?s wonderfully illustrated guide to the best climbing trees in NYC for a little inspiration.

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2022-02-04
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The First Radiolab

Jad started Radiolab roughly 20 years ago. And now he is stepping aside from hosting and producing the show to replenish, to think, to rock in his chair and be with his kids and wife, and maybe make some music. The news has been all over twitter and there?s a letter from Jad and our hosts Latif and Lulu on the website. But in this episode, Jad talks through his decision to leave and the future of the show with Lulu and Latif. And then, as a parting gift, we play him the very first episode of Radiolab (?The Radio Lab? as he called it then). He tells us about biking the CDs over the Brooklyn bridge just before the show was supposed to air, reading the news and weather between segments, and then we just sit back together and listen to where it all began.

Jad, for those of us who have been radically changed by the thing you put out into the world, we are both sad to lose you in our ears and endlessly grateful for what you?ve given us.

2022-01-28
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News and Gratitude

 

   

 

 

 

2022-01-26
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The 11th: A Letter From George

Last week, Lulu heard an interview that trapped her in her car. She decided to play it for Latif.

The interview ? originally from a podcast called The Relentless Picnic, but presented by one of Lulu?s current podcast faves, The 11th ? is part of an episode of mini pep talks designed to help us all get through this cold, dark, second-pandemic-winter-in-a-row. But the segment that Lulu brings Latif is about someone trying to get through something arguably much more difficult, something a pep talk can?t solve, but that a couple friends ? and one very generous stranger ? might be able to help make a little more bearable.

The episode of The 11th this comes from is ?I?m Here to Pep You Up.? The Relentless Picnic is currently running a series of episodes called CABIN, an audio exploration of isolation, which you can listen to here. The organization where Matt volunteers as a counselor is called SUDEP. The Lu Olkowski story Lulu recommends at the end of the episode is ?Grandpa,? and the lobster story Latif recommends is ?The Luckiest Lobster.?

Special Thanks:

Eric Mennel, senior producer at The 11th, and host of the podcast Stay Away from Matthew Magill.

Lu Olkowski, voracious listener, super reporter, and host of the podcast Love Me.

Radiolab is on YouTube! Catch up with new episodes and hear classics from our archive. Plus, find other cool things we did in the past ? like miniseries, music videos, short films and animations, behind-the-scenes features, Radiolab live shows, and more. Take a look, explore and subscribe!

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

2022-01-21
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Darkode

It would seem that hackers today can do just about anything they want - from turning on the cellphone in your pocket to holding your life's work hostage. Cyber criminals today have more sophisticated tools, have learned to work collaboratively around the world and have found innovative ways to remain deep undercover in the internet's shadows. This episode, we shine a light into those shadows to see the world from the perspectives of both cybercrime victims and perpetrators.

First we meet mother-daughter duo Alina and Inna Simone, who tell us about being held hostage by criminals who have burrowed into their lives from half a world away. Along the way we learn about the legally sticky spot that unwitting accomplices like Will Wheeler find themselves in.

Then reporter and author Joseph Menn tells us about the surprisingly lucrative professional hacker structure in places throughout the former Soviet Union. Finally, the co-creator of one of the most notorious online marketplaces to ever exist speaks to us and NPR cyber-crime expert Dina Temple-Raston about how a young suburban Boy Scout can turn into a world renowned black hat hacker.

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2022-01-14
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Worst. Year. Ever.

What was the worst year to be alive on planet Earth?  

We make the case for 536 AD, which set off a cascade of catastrophes that is almost too horrible to imagine. A supervolcano. The disappearance of shadows. A failure of bread. Plague rats. Using evidence painstakingly gathered around the world - from Mongolian tree rings to Greenlandic ice cores to Mayan artifacts - we paint a portrait of what scientists and historians think went wrong, and what we think it felt like to be there in real time. (Spoiler: not so hot.)  We hear a hymn for the dead from the ancient kingdom of Axum, the closest we can get to the sound of grief from a millennium and a half ago.

The horrors of 536 make us wonder about the parallels and perpendiculars with our own time: does it make you feel any better knowing that your suffering is part of a global crisis? Or does it just make things worse?"

Thanks to reporter Ann Gibbons whose Science article "Eruption made 536 ?the worst year to be alive" got us interested in the first place. 

In case you want to learn more about 536, here are some other sources: 

Timothy P. Newfield, ?The Climate Downturn of 536-50? in the Palgrave Handbook on Climate History

Dallas Abbott et al., ?What caused terrestrial dust loading and climate downturns between A.D. 533 and 540??

Joel Gunn and Alesio Ciarini (editors), ?The A.D. 536 Crisis: A 21st Century Perspective?

Antti Arjava, ?The Mystery Cloud of 536 CE in the Mediterranean Sources? 

And for more on the composer Yared, watch Meklit Hadero?s TED talk ?The Unexpected Beauty of Everyday Sounds?

Credits: This episode was reported by Latif Nasser and Lulu Miller, and produced by Simon Adler.  With sound and music from Simon Adler and Jeremy Bloom.

Special Thanks: Thanks to Joel Gunn, Dallas Abbott, Mathias Nordvig, Emma Rigby, Robert Dull, Daniel Yacob, Kay Shelemey, Jacke Phillips, Meklit Hadero, and Joan Aruz.

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Radiolab is on YouTube! Catch up with new episodes and hear classics from our archive. Plus, find other cool things we did in the past ? like miniseries, music videos, short films and animations, behind-the-scenes features, Radiolab live shows, and more. Take a look, explore and subscribe!

2022-01-07
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Flop Off

This past year was a flop. From questionable blockbuster reboots to supply chain shenanigans to worst of all, omnipresent COVID variants. But, in a last ditch effort to flip the flop, we at Radiolab have dredged up the most mortifying, most cringeworthy, most gravity-defying flops we could find. From flops at a community pool to flops at the White House, from a flop that derails a career to flops that give NBA players a sneaky edge, from flops that?ll send you seeking medical advice to THE flopped flop that in a way enabled us all. Take a break from all the disappointment and flop around with us.

Special Thanks to: Kaitlin Murphy, Dana Stevens, David Novak, Pablo Pinero Stillman

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

2021-12-31
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Vanishing Words

When Alana Casanova-Burgess set out to make a podcast series about Puerto Rico, she struggled with what to call it. Until one word came to mind, a word that captures a certain essence of life in Puerto Rico, but eludes easy translation into English. We talk to Alana about her series, and that particular word, then turn to an old story about treating words as signals of something happening just beneath the surface. 

Agatha Christie's clever detective novels may reveal more about the inner workings of the human mind than she intended. According to Dr. Ian Lancashire at the University of Toronto, the Queen of Crime left behind hidden clues to the real-life mysteries of human aging in her writing. Meanwhile, Dr. Kelvin Lim and Dr. Serguei Pakhomov from the University of Minnesota add to the intrigue with the story of an unexpected find in a convent archive that could someday help pinpoint very early warning signs for Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Sister Alberta Sheridan, a 94-year-old Nun Study participant, reads an essay she wrote more than 70 years ago.

La Brega update was produced by Maria Paz Gutierrez

2021-12-17
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Return of Alpha Gal

Tuck your napkin under your chin.  We?re about to serve up a tale of love, loss, and lamb chops - with a side of genetic modification.

Several years ago we told a story about Amy Pearl. For as long as she could remember, Amy loved meat in all its glorious cuts and marbled flavors. And then one day, for seemingly no reason, her body wouldn?t tolerate it.  No steaks. No brisket. No weenies. It made no sense: why couldn?t she eat something that she had routinely enjoyed for decades? 

It turned out Amy was not alone. And the answer to her mysterious allergy involved maps, a dancing lone star tick, and a very particular sugar called Alpha Gal. 

In this update, we discover that our troubles with Alpha Gal go way beyond food. We go to NYU Langone Health hospital to see the second ever transplant of a kidney from a pig into a human, talk to some people at Revivicor, the company that bred the pig in question, and go back to Amy to find out what she thinks about this brave new world.

The original episode was reported by Latif Nasser, and produced by Annie McEwen and Matt Kielty. Sound design and scoring from Dylan Keefe, Annie McEwen, and Matt Kielty. Mix by Dylan Keefe with Arianne Wack.

The update was reported and produced by Sarah Qari. It was sound designed, scored, and mixed by Jeremy Bloom. 

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2021-12-10
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Animal Minds

In this hour of Radiolab, stories of cross-species communication.

When we gaze into the eyes of a wild animal, or even a beloved pet, can we ever really know what they might be thinking? Is it naive to assume they're experiencing something close to human emotions? Or is it ridiculous to assume that they AREN'T feeling something like that? We get the story of a rescued whale that may have found a way to say thanks, ask whether dogs feel guilt, and wonder if a successful predator may have fallen in love with a photographer.

2021-11-26
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Mixtape: Help?

In tape five, three stories: first, a tale of how the cassette tape supercharged the self-help industry. Second, cassettes filled with history make an epic journey across Africa with a group of Lost Boys. And finally, Simon meets up with fellow Radiolabber David Gebel to dig through an old box of mixtapes and rediscover the unique power of these bygone love letters.

Mixtape was reported, produced, scored and sound designed by me, Simon Adler, with music throughout by me. Unending reporting and production assistance was provided by Eli Cohen.

Special Thanks to: Shad Helmstetter, Vic Conan, Glenna Salisbury, Jerry Rosen, Richard Petty, Sharon Arkin, Angela Impey, William Mulwill for sharing his cassettes with me, and to the British library for sharing some of their recordings from their South Sudan collection, which is housed at the British Library Sound Archive.

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2021-11-19
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Mixtape: Cassetternet

In 1983, Simon Goodwin had a strange thought. Would it be possible to broadcast computer software over the radio? If so, could listeners record it off the air and onto a cassette tape? This experiment and dozens of others in the early 80s created a series of cassette fueled, analog internets. They copied and moved information like never before, upended power structures and created a poisonous social network that brought down a regime. 

In tape four of Mixtape, we examine how these early internet came about, and how the societal and cultural impacts of these analog information networks can still be felt today.

Mixtape is reported, produced, scored and sound designed by Simon Adler with original music throughout by Simon. Top tier reporting and production assistance was provided by Eli Cohen.

Special thanks to: Alex Sayf Cummings, Martin Maly, Piotr Gawrysiak, Joe Tozer, James Gleick, Jason Rezaian, Gholam Khiabany and Mo Jazi. And to Arash Aziz for helping us every step of the way with our story about Khomeini. And Simon Goodwin for making us that secret code. And to Micah Loewinger to tipping me off to these software radio broadcasts. 

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2021-11-12
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Mixtape: The Wandering Soul

As the Vietnam war dragged on, the US military began desperately searching for any vulnerability in their North Vietnamese enemy. In 1964, they found it. It was an old Vietnamese folktale involving a ghost, eternal damnation and fear - a tailor made weaponizable myth. And so, armed with tape recorders and microphones, the military set out to win the war by bringing this ghost story to life.

Today, the story of these efforts and their ghosts that still haunt us today. 

Mixtape is reported, produced, scored and sound designed by Simon Adler with original music throughout by Simon. Indispensable reporting and production assistance was provided by Eli Cohen.

This episode was produced by Annie McEwen, with original music by Annie. Original reporting was contributed by Trung Dung Vo and Nguy?n Vân Hà.

Special thanks to: Allison Boccia, Jared Tracy and Herb Friedman. And to Mathew Campbell for introducing me to the Wandering Soul tape to begin with. And to Erik Villard for all his help pulling those tapes and voices for us. 

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2021-11-05
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Mixtape: Jack and Bing

In 1946 Bing Crosby was the king of media. He was the movie star, the pop star and his radio show was reaching a third of American living rooms each week.  But then, it all started to fall apart. His ratings were plummeting and his fans were fleeing. Bing however, was not going down without a fight. 

Today, the story of how Bing Crosby and some stolen Nazi technology won his audience back, changed media forever and accidentally broke reality along the way. 

Mixtape is reported, produced, scored and sound designed by Simon Adler with original music throughout by Simon Adler. Invaluable reporting and production assistance was provided by Eli Cohen.

Special thanks to: Michele Hilmes, Pete Hammer, Rich Flores, Mara Mills, Jonathan Sterne, Claudia Mewes. Though their voices weren?t in the piece, input certainly was.

And to Mary Crosby and Robert Bader, for opening up Bing?s archive for us, and enabling us to fill this episode with so much of Bing?s music.


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2021-10-29
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Mixtape: Dakou

Through the 1980s, the vast majority of people in China had never heard western music, save for John Denver, the Carpenters, and a few other artists included on the hand-picked list of songs sanctioned by the Communist Party. But in the late 90s, a mysterious man named Professor Ye made a discovery at a plastic recycling center in Heping.

In episode 1 of Mixtape, we talk to Chinese historians, music critics, and the musicians who took the damaged plastic scraps of western music, changed the musical landscape of China, and reimagined rock and roll in ways we never could?ve imagined.

 

Mixtape is reported, produced, scored and sound designed by Simon Adler with original music throughout by Simon. Invaluable reporting and production assistance was provided by Eli Cohen. Additional reporting by Noriko Ishigaki, Rebecca Kanthor and our amazing anonymous Chinese reporter. 

 

Special thanks to: Paul de Gay, Juliette Kristensen, Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, Nick Lyons, Michael Bull, Jiro Ishikawa, Hayley Zhao, Megan Smalley and Deanne Totto.

This episode would not have happened without each and every one of them.

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2021-10-22
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Of Bombs and Butterflies

Ecologist Nick Haddad was sitting in his new office at North Carolina State University when the phone rang. On the other end of the line was... The U.S. Army. The Army folks told him, ?Look, there?s this endangered butterfly on our base at Fort Bragg, and it?s the only place in the world that it exists. But it?s about to go extinct. And we need your help to save it.? 

Nick had never even heard of the butterfly. In fact, he barely knew much about butterflies in general. Nonetheless, he said yes to Uncle Sam. ?How hard could it be?? he wondered. Turns out, pretty hard. He'd have to trick beavers, dodge bombs, and rethink the fundamental nature of life and death in order to rescue this butterfly before it disappeared forever.

**CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Army moved a beaver; in truth, they killed it.  We also overstated the current tally of St Francis Satyrs off range; they are around 200, not 800. The audio has been adjusted to reflect these changes.**

This episode was reported by Latif Nasser, and produced by Rachael Cusick. Original music by Jeremy Bloom. Mixing by Arianne Wack.

Special thanks to: Snooki Puli, Cita Escalano, Jeffrey Glassberg, Margot Williams, Mark Romyn, Elizabeth Long, Laura Verhegge, the Public Affairs and Endangered Species Branches at Fort Bragg.

Want to learn more? you can ...
... read Nick Haddad?s book The Last Butterflies: A Scientist?s Quest to Save a Rare and Vanishing Creature
... take a peek at Thomas Kral?s original 1989 paper about the Saint Francis Satyr
... visit Fort Bragg's webpage about the Saint Francis Satyr
 

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2021-10-15
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Oliver Sipple

One morning, Oliver Sipple went out for a walk. A couple hours later, to his own surprise, he saved the life of the President of the United States. But in the days that followed, Sipple?s split-second act of heroism turned into a rationale for making his personal life into political opportunity. What happens next makes us wonder what a moment, or a movement, or a whole society can demand of one person. And how much is too much? 

Through newly unearthed archival tape, we hear Sipple himself grapple with some of the most vexing topics of his day and ours - privacy, identity, the freedom of the press - not to mention the bonds of family and friendship. 

Reported by Latif Nasser and Tracie Hunte. Produced by Matt Kielty, Annie McEwen, Latif Nasser and Tracie Hunte.

Special thanks to Jerry Pritikin, Michael Yamashita, Stan Smith, Duffy Jennings; Ann Dolan, Megan Filly and Ginale Harris at the Superior Court of San Francisco; Leah Gracik, Karyn Hunt, Jesse Hamlin, The San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive, Mike Amico, Jennifer Vanasco and Joey Plaster.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.

Episode originally published 09/21/2017

2021-10-01
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HEAVY METAL

Today we have a story about the sometimes obvious but sometimes sneaky effects of the way that we humans rearrange the elemental stuff around us. Reporter Avir Mitra and science journalist Lydia Denworth bring us a story about how one man?s relentless pursuit of a deep truth about the Earth led to an obsession that really changed the very air we breathe.

This episode was reported by Avir Mitra, and produced by Matt Kielty, Becca Bressler, Rachael Cusick, and Maria Paz Gutiérrez.

Special thanks to Cliff Davidson, Paul M. Sutter, Denton Ebel, and Sam Kean. 

Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab today.    

Radiolab is on YouTube! Catch up with new episodes and hear classics from our archive. Plus, find other cool things we did in the past ? like miniseries, music videos, short films and animations, behind-the-scenes features, Radiolab live shows, and more. Take a look, explore and subscribe!

 

2021-09-24
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In the Running

Diane Van Deren is one of the best ultra-runners in the world, and it all started with a seizure. In this short, Diane tells us how her disability gave rise to an extraordinary ability.

For Diane Van Deren, a charming mother of three, daily life is a struggle. But as soon as she steps outdoors, she's capable of amazing feats. She can run for days on end with no sleep, covering hundreds of miles in extreme conditions. Reporter Mark Phillips heads to Colorado to get to know Diane, and to try to figure out what makes her so unstoppable.

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

 

 

2021-09-17
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60 Words, 20 Years

It has now been 20 years since September 11th, 2001. So we?re bringing you a Peabody Award-winning story from our archives about one sentence, written in the hours after the attacks, that has led to the longest war in U.S. history. We examine how just 60 words of legal language have blurred the line between war and peace.

In the hours after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a lawyer sat down in front of a computer and started writing a legal justification for taking action against those responsible. The language that he drafted and that President George W. Bush signed into law - called the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) -  has at its heart one single sentence, 60 words long. Over the last decade, those 60 words have become the legal foundation for the "war on terror."

In this collaboration with BuzzFeed, reporter Gregory Johnsen tells us the story of how this has come to be one of the most important, confusing, troubling sentences of the last two decades. We go into the meetings that took place in the chaotic days just after 9/11, speak with Congresswoman Barbara Lee and former Congressman Ron Dellums about the vote on the AUMF. We hear from former White House and State Department lawyers John Bellinger & Harold Koh. We learn how this legal language unleashed Guantanamo, Navy Seal raids and drone strikes. And we speak with journalist Daniel Klaidman, legal expert Benjamin Wittes and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine about how these words came to be interpreted, and what they mean for the future of war and peace.

Finally, we check back in with Congresswoman Lee, and talk to Yale law professor and national security expert Oona Hathaway, about how to move on from the original sixty words.

Original episode produced by Matt Kielty and Kelsey Padgett with original music by Dylan Keefe. Update reported and produced by Sarah Qari and Soren Wheeler.

Special thanks to Brian Finucane.

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2021-09-10
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The Unsilencing

Multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, even psoriasis ? these are diseases in which the body begins to attack itself, and they all have one thing in common: they affect women more than men. Most autoimmune disorders do. And not just by a little bit, often by a lot; in some cases, as much as sixteen times more. But why? On today?s episode, we talk to scientists trying to answer that question. We go back 100 million years, to when our placenta first evolved and consider how it might have shaped our immune system. We dive deep into the genome, to stare at one of the most famous chromosomes: the X. And we also try to unravel a mystery ? why is it that for some females, autoimmune disorders seemingly disappear during pregnancy?

This episode was reported by Molly Webster, and produced by Sindhu Gnanasambandan and Molly Webster. The Gonads theme song was written, performed, and produced by Majel Connery and Alex Overington. 

Looking for something else to listen to? We suggest pairing ?The Unsilencing? with ?Everybody?s Got One,? an episode about an unknown super-organ that nobody on the planet would be here without: the placenta.

Want to learn more? You can ?
...check out a Montserrat Anguera XX study,
...read Melissa Wilson?s placental, pregnancy hypothesis,
?and get a primer on Rhonda Voskuhl?s estriol & Multiple Sclerosis work.

 

Support Radiolab by becoming a member of The Lab today.

2021-08-26
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Everybody?s Got One

We all think we know the story of pregnancy. Sperm meets egg, followed by nine months of nurturing, nesting, and quiet incubation. But this story isn?t the nursery rhyme we think it is. In a way, it?s a struggle, almost like a tiny war. And right on the front lines of that battle is another major player on the stage of pregnancy that not a single person on the planet would be here without. An entirely new organ: the placenta.

In this episode we take you on a journey through the 270-day life of this weird, squishy, gelatinous orb, and discover that it is so much more than an organ. It?s a foreign invader. A piece of meat. A friend and parent. And it?s perhaps the most essential piece in the survival of our kind.

This episode was reported by Heather Radke and Becca Bressler, and produced by Becca Bressler and Pat Walters, with help from Matt Kielty and Maria Paz Gutierrez. Additional reporting by Molly Webster.

Special thanks to Diana Bianchi, Julia Katz, Sam Behjati, Celia Bardwell-Jones, Mathilde Cohen, Hannah Ingraham, Pip Lipkin, and Molly Fassler.

 

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

 

For cool new research on the placenta:

Check out Harvey?s latest paper published with Julia Katz.

Sam Behjati's latest paper on the placenta as a "genetic dumping ground". 

2021-08-20
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Gonads: Dutee

In 2014, India?s Dutee Chand was a rising female track and field star, crushing national records. But then, that summer, something unexpected happened: she failed a gender test. And was banned from the sport. Before she knew it, Dutee was thrown into the middle of a controversy that started long before her, and continues on today: how to separate males and females in sport. First aired in 2018, Dutee and the story of female athletes in sport are back in the spotlight this week, at the Tokyo Olympics. Join us for an update on Dutee?s second Olympic games, and the continued role testosterone has in shaping who is on the track, and who is off. 

This story was originally released as part of Gonads, a six-part series on the parts of us that make more of us. It is a companion piece to Gonads, episode 5: Dana.

This update was reported by Molly Webster, with reporting and producing by Sarah Qari.

"Dutee" was reported by Molly Webster, with co-reporting and translation by Sarah Qari. It was produced by Pat Walters, with production help from Jad Abumrad and Rachael Cusick. The Gonads theme was written, performed, and produced by Majel Connery and Alex Overington.

Special thanks to Geertje Mak, Maayan Sudai, Andrea Dunaif, Bhrikuti Rai, Joe Osmundson, and Payoshni Mitra. Plus, former Olympic runner Madeleine Pape, who is currently studying regulations around female, transgender, and intersex individuals in sport.

Radiolab is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. And the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate

2021-08-06
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