Radiolab

27 Jan. 2023

You know the drill — all it takes is one sperm, one egg, and blammo — you’ve got yourself a baby. Right? Well, in this 2015 episode, conception takes on a new form — it’s the sperm and the egg, plus: two wombs, four countries, and money. Lots of money. 

This is the story of an Israeli couple, two men, who go to another continent to get themselves a baby — three, in fact — by hiring surrogates to carry the children for them. As we follow them on their journey, an earth-shaking revelation shifts our focus from them to the surrogate mothers. Unfolding in real time, as countries around the world considered bans on surrogacy, this episode looked at a relationship that manages to feel deeply affecting and deeply uncomfortable at the same time. 

“Birthstory” is a collaboration with the brilliant radio show and podcast Israel Story, created to tell stories for, and about, Israel. Go check ‘em out! (https://zpr.io/rX3DazcJiUUG) 

Israel Story's five English-language seasons were produced in partnership with Tablet Magazine (https://zpr.io/HxYET7psAbPh) and we highly recommend you listen to all of their work at (https://zpr.io/HD3LSqq25LEx

This episode was produced and reported by Molly Webster.

Special thanks go to: Israel Story, and their producers Maya Kosover, and Yochai Maital; reporters Nilanjana Bhowmick in India and Bhrikuti Rai in Nepal plus the International Reporting Project (https://zpr.io/KxN7etFiqWHL); Doron Mamet, Dr Nayana Patel, and Vicki Ferrara; with translation help from Aya Keefe, Karthik Ravindra, Turna Ray, Tom Wasserman, Pradeep Thapa, and Adhikaar (https://zpr.io/MDyadskgwZtH), an organization in Ridgewood, Queens advocating for the Nepali-speaking community. 

Audio Extra:

Tal and Air had a chance to meet each surrogate once - just after the deliveries, after all the paperwork was sorted out, and before any one left Nepal. As Amir says, they wanted to say "a big thank you." These meetings between intended parents, surrogate, and new babies are a traditional part of the surrogacy process in India and Nepal, and we heard reports from the surrogates that they also look forward to them. These moments do not stigmatize, reveal the identity of, or endanger the surrogates. Tal and Amir provided the audio for this web extra.

EPISODE CREDITS: Reported by - Molly Websterwith help from - Maya Kosover, Yochai Maital, Bhrikuti Rai

20 Jan. 2023

In the weeks following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a young doctor in Germany sees that abortion pills are urgently needed in Ukraine. And she wants to help. But getting the drugs into the country means going through Poland, which has some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe. So, she gets creative. What unfolds is a high-stakes, covert-operation run by a group of strangers. With everyone deciding: who to trust? In collaboration with NPR’s Rough Translation, we find out what happened. Part 1 of 2 episodes.Special thanks to Wojciech Oleksiak, Katy Lee, Maria Hlazunova, Valeria Fokina, Sara Furxhi, Noel King, Robert Krulwich and Sana Krasikov, and our homies over at Rough Translation. Thanks also to Micah Loewinger and Laura Griffin. Illustrations came from Oksana Drachkovska. 

And thank you to the many sources and experts we interviewed who asked to remain anonymous.

Episode Credits:Guest hosted by - Greg Warner and Molly WebsterReported by - Katz LasloProduced by - Daniel Girma and Tessa PaoliMixer - Gilly Moonwith mixing help from - Jeremy BloomFact-checking by - Marisa Robertson-Textorand Edited by - Brenna Farrell

CITATIONS:

Videos

Podcasts

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 radiolab@wnyc.org.

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

 

13 Jan. 2023

In this episode, first aired in 2011, we talk about the meaning of a good game — whether it's a pro football playoff, or a family showdown on the kitchen table. And how some games can make you feel, at least for a little while, like your whole life hangs in the balance. This hour of Radiolab, Jad and Robert wonder why we get so invested in something so trivial. What is it about games that make them feel so pivotal?

We hear how a recurring dream about football turned into a real-life lesson for Stephen Dubner, we watch a chessboard turn into a playground where by-the-book moves give way to totally unpredictable possibilities, and we talk to Dan Engber, a one time senior editor at Slate, now at The Atlantic, and a bunch of scientists about why betting on a longshot is so much fun. And finally, we talk to Malcolm Gladwell about why he loves the overdog.

CITATIONS:

Videos - 

The Immaculate Reception (https://zpr.io/izhV3Sm88SWF) by Franco Harris on December 23, 1972. Harris was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fullback at the time.

Books - 

Stephen J. Dubner’s book, Confessions of a Hero Worshipper (https://zpr.io/iQUwfF8vGArj)

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 radiolab@wnyc.org

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

6 Jan. 2023

For a special New Year’s treat, we take a tour through the history of the universe with the help of… poets. Our guide is Maria Popova, who writes the popular blog The Marginalian (formerly Brain Pickings), and the poetry is from her project, “The Universe in Verse” — an annual event where poets read poems about science, space, and the natural world.

Special thanks to all of our poets, musicians, and performers: Marie Howe, Tracy K. Smith, Rebecca Elson, Joan As Police Woman, Patti Smith, Gautam Srikishan, Zoe Keating, and Emily Dickinson.

EPISODE CREDITS:

Reported by - Lulu Millerwith help from - Maria PopovaProduced by - Sindhu Gnanasambandanwith mixing help from - Jeremy BloomFact-checking by - Natalie A. Middletonand Edited by  - Pat Walters

FURTHER READING AND RESEARCH:To dig deeper on this one, we recommendBooks: - Tracy K Smith’s “Life On Mars” (https://zpr.io/weTzGTbZyVDT)- Marie Howe’s “The Kingdom Of Ordinary Times” (https://zpr.io/Tj9cWTsQxHG3)- Rebecca Elson’s “A Responsiblity To Awe” (https://zpr.io/PLR3KL8SfuPR)- Patti Smith’s “Just Kids” (https://zpr.io/zM47P5KqqKZx)Music:- Joan As Policewoman (https://joanaspolicewoman.com/)- Gautam Srikishan (https://www.floatingfast.com/)- Zoe Keating (https://www.zoekeating.com/)

Internet:- The Marginalian blog post (https://zpr.io/abTuDFH9pfwu) about Vera Rubin- Check out photos of Emily Dickinson’s Herbarium (https://zpr.io/XkgTscKBfem6), a book of 424 flowers she picked and pressed and identified while studying the wild botany of Massachusetts.Tracy K. Smith, “My God, It’s Full of Stars” from Such Color: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2011 by Tracy K. Smith. Read by the author and used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.Fun fact: This episode was inspired by the fact that many Navy ships record the first log entry of the New Year in verse! To see some of this year's poems and learn about the history of the tradition, check out this post by the Naval History and Heritage Command. And, if you want to read a bit from Lulu's interview with sailor poet Lt. Ian McConnaughey, subscribe to our newsletter.

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 radiolab@wnyc.org.

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

30 Dec. 2022

This episode —first released in 2009 and then again in 2015, with an update — asks, what is “normal”? Maybe it exists, maybe not. We examine peace-loving baboons with Stanford neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky, talk to Stu Rasmussen, whose preferred pronouns were he/him (https://zpr.io/nUdsZawNmhwt), and his neighbors in Silverton, Oregon about how a town chooses its community over outsider opinions. And lastly, we speak with an evolutionary anthropologist, Duke University’s own Brian Hare, and an evolutionary biologist Tecumseh Fitch, then at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, now at the University of Vienna, Austria, about foxes who love to snuggle.And what we find is that normal — maybe the only normal — is change.

EPISODE CREDITS Reported by - Aaron CohenProduced by - Soren Wheelerwith help from - Annie McEwenCITATIONSArticles -Stu Rasmussen’s NYT Obituary (https://zpr.io/nUdsZawNmhwt).

Theater - Andrew Russel’s “Stu for Silverton” (https://zpr.io/Jn5JP276pwhj) the play based on Stu Rasmussen’s life. 

 

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 radiolab@wnyc.org

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

23 Dec. 2022

At any given moment, nearly 500,000 people are crammed together in a metal tube, hurtling through the air. In this episode, we look at the strange human experiment that is flying together.

Special thanks to Natalie Compton, Julia Longoria, Mike Arnot, and everyone at Gate Gourmet.EPISODE CREDITS: 

Reported by - Matt Kielty, Simon Adler and Rachael CusickProduced by - Matt Kielty, Simon Adler and Rachael CusickWith Production help from - Sindhu GnanasambandanOriginal music and sound design contributed by - Jeremy Bloomand mixing help from - Arianne WackFact-checking by - Natalie A. MiddletonEdited by  - Pat Walters

CITATIONS: 

Videos

Lou Boyer, the animal-flying pilot from our episode, has a great plane-forward Instagram account (https://www.instagram.com/loub747/). As well as a whole YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/@loub747/videos) dedicated to snakes and planes. (Luckily, not both at the same time.)

Books

Richard Foss's Food in the Air and Space: The Surprising History of Food and Drink in the Skies (https://zpr.io/KZyTPJkSENVq)

Michael Heller's and James Salzman's Mine: How the Hidden Rules of Ownership Control our Lives (https://www.minethebook.com/)CHECK OUT:The Death, Sex and Money series Estrangement (https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/deathsexmoney/projects/estrangement)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 radiolab@wnyc.org.

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

 

16 Dec. 2022

This episode, first aired in 2017, has Reporter Tracie Hunte and Editor Soren Wheeler exploring a hidden power in the U.S. Court System that is either the cornerstone of our democracy or a trapdoor to anarchy.

Should a juror be able to ignore the law? From a Quaker prayer meeting in the streets of London to riots in the streets of Los Angeles, we trace the history of a quiet act of rebellion and struggle with how much power “We the People” should really have.Special thanks to Darryl K. Brown, professor of law at the University of Virginia, Andrew Leipold, professor of law at the University of Illinois, at Urbana-Champaign, Nancy King, professor of law at Vanderbilt University, Buzz Scherr law professor at University of New Hampshire, Eric Verlo and attorneys David Lane, Mark Sisto, David Kallman and Paul Grant. Episode Credits:Reported by Tracie HunteProduced by Matt Kielty

Citations:Media: You can hear the whole On the Media series, The Divided Dial, and many of their other great work by following this link(https://zpr.io/hbkfxQDKdHz8). 

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 radiolab@wnyc.org

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

 

9 Dec. 2022

After graduating from high school, without a clear plan for what to do next, Laura Andrews started asking herself a lot of questions. A spiral of big philosophical thoughts that led her to sit down and write to us with a question that was… oddly mathematical.  What is the most average size thing, if you take into account everything in the universe. So, along with mathematician Steven Strogatz, we decided to see if we could sit down and, in a friendly throwdown of guesstimates and quick calculations, rough out an answer. 

Special thanks to all the listeners who sent in their responses to this question.

Episode Credits:Reported by - Soren Wheeler and Alex NeasonProduced by - Annie McEwenwith mixing help from - Arianne WackFact-checking by - Natalie A. Middletonand Edited by  - Alex Neason

Citations:

BooksYou can find links to many books by Steven Strogatz here: https://www.stevenstrogatz.com/all-books

MediaAnd the podcast he does for Quanta Magazine, The Joy of Why, here: https://www.quantamagazine.org/tag/the-joy-of-why/

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 radiolab@wnyc.org.

 

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

2 Dec. 2022

A global pandemic. Thousands dying. A passive government. An afflicted group fueled by grief and anger. In this episode, first aired in 2020, Reporter Tracie Hunte wanted to understand this moment of pain and confusion. As she looked back three decades, she found a complicated answer to a simple question: when nothing seems to work, how do you make change?

Special thanks to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Episode Credits:

Reported by Tracie HuntProduced by Matt Kielty

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 radiolab@wnyc.org

 

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

 

25 Nov. 2022

When U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren was asked at the end of his career, “What was the most important case of your tenure?”, there were a lot of answers he could have given. He had presided over some of the most important decisions in the court’s history — cases that dealt with segregation in schools, the right to an attorney, the right to remain silent, just to name a few. But his answer was a surprise: he said “Baker v. Carr,” a 1962 redistricting case. 

On this 2016 episode, part of our series More Perfect, we talk about why this case was so important. Important enough that it pushed one Supreme Court justice to a nervous breakdown, brought a boiling feud to a head, gave another justice a stroke, and changed the course of the Supreme Court — and the nation — forever.This episode is the one of the few times you can hear the voice of our Executive Producer Suzie Lechtenberg. After years of leading the team, Suzie will leave WNYC to start her new adventure. Suzie: re-publishing this episode is our way of saying thank you for all you’ve done — for the show and for each of us. Team Radiolab wishes you nothing but success and so much happiness in the next stage of your career.

Episode Credits:Reported by Suzie LechtenbergProduced by Suzie Lechtenberg

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 radiolab@wnyc.org.

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

18 Nov. 2022

Mel Blanc was known as “the man of 1,000 voices,” but, to hear his son tell it, the actual number was closer to 1,500. Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Tweety, Barney Rubble, Woody Woodpecker, Sylvester, Foghorn Leghorn — all Mel. These characters made him one of the most beloved men in the United States.

In this episode from 2012, Mel Blanc’s son Noel tells Producer Sean Cole how his father’s entire body would transform to bring life to these characters. But on a fateful day of 1961, after a crash left Mel in a lengthy coma, it was the characters who brought life to him.Episode Credits:Reported by Sean Cole

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 radiolab@wnyc.org

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

11 Nov. 2022

Why do we have a butt? Well, it’s not just for the convenience of a portable seat cushion. This week, we have a conversation with our Contributing Editor Heather Radke, who has spent the last several years going deep on one of our most noticeable surface features. She’s been working on a book called Butts, a Backstory and in this episode, she tells us about a fascinating history she uncovered that takes us from a eugenicist’s attempt in the late 1930s to concretize the most average human, to the rise of the garment industry, and the pain and shame we often feel today when we go looking for a pair of pants that actually fit.

Special thanks to Alexandra Primiani and Jordan Rodman

Episode Credits:Reported by Heather RadkeProduced by Matt KieltyOriginal music and sound design contributed by Matt Kielty and Jeremy BloomMixing by Jeremy BloomFact-checking by Emily Krieger

Citations:You can Pre-order Heather’s book “Butts: A Backstory” here (https://zpr.io/QVFVLTTW9vpN)

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 radiolab@wnyc.org.

 

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

4 Nov. 2022

This hour, we dive into the messy mystery in the middle of us. What's going on down there? And what can the rumblings deep in our bellies tell us about ourselves? 

We join author Mary Roach and reach inside a live cow's stomach. Talk with writer Frederick Kaufman about our first peek into the wonderful world of human digestion that came about thanks to a hunting accident. And explore with show regular, science writer, and fellow water drinker, Carl Zimmer, about the trillions of microscopic creatures that keep us regulated, physically, but also, maybe, emotionally and spiritually.

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 radiolab@wnyc.org.

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

28 Oct. 2022

Meteorologists are as common as the clouds these days. Rolling onto the airwaves at morning, noon and night they tell us what to wear and where to plan our picnics. They’re local celebrities with an outsized influence. But in the 1940s, there was really only one of them: Irving P. Krick. He was suave and dapper, with the charm of a sunbeam and the boldness of a thunderclap. He was a salesman who turned the weather into a product.

Today, listen to the story of Krick and his descendants, a crew of profit prophets who have found fame and fortune staring at the sky and seeing the future. We follow them from the bloody beaches of World War II to the climate changed coasts of today, exploring their impact and predicting what they’ll mean in our wackier weather world. 

Special Thanks:Special thanks to Xandra Clark, Homa Sarabi, Santi Dharmawan, Francisco Alvarez, Maureen O’Leary and everyone at NOAA, Shimon Elkabetz, Jack Neff, Joe Pennington, Brad Colman, Morgan Yarker, Megan Walker, Eric Bramford, Jay Cohen and Irving Krick Jr for supplying us with tons of great archival footage and audio. 

Episode Credits:

Reported by Simon Adler and Annie McEwenProduced by Annie McEwen and Simon AdlerSound & Music by Simon Adler and Annie McEwen and Jeremy BloomMixing help from Arianne WackFact-checking by Diane KellyEdited by Soren Wheeler

Citations:

Books: 

If you’re curious to know more about the history of weather forecasting, go check out Kris Harper’s book Weather by the Numbers.

Video:

We also asked Illustrator and Animator Sophia Twigt to make a little video explaining how the U.S. government agency NOAA collects and treats weather data to make weather forecasts. Here it is, narrated by Simon Adler. We hope you enjoy it:

 

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 radiolab@wnyc.org.

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

21 Oct. 2022

In this episode, first aired in 2014, we examine three very different kinds of black boxes — spaces where we know what’s going in, we know what’s coming out, but can’t see what happens in that in-between space.

From the darkest parts of metamorphosis to a sixty-year-old secret among magicians, and the nature of consciousness itself, we shine some light on three questions. But for each, we contend with an answerless space, leaving just enough room for the mystery and magic… always wondering what’s inside the Black Box.

Episode credits:Reported by Tim Howard and Molly WebsterProduced by Tim Howard and Molly WebsterCitations:Radio Show: ABC's Keep Them Guessing (https://tinyurl.com/9r9zmftr)

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 radiolab@wnyc.org.

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

14 Oct. 2022

When the Dobbs decision went down, ER doctor Avir Mitra started to prepare for the worst — botched, at-home abortions that would land pregnant people in the emergency room. To prepare himself and his colleagues for the patients they might see, and to think through how best to treat them, Avir asked Laura MacIsaac, one of New York City’s leading gynecologists and abortion experts, to come talk to his ER department. But what Dr. MacIsaac had to say in her lecture wasn’t what Avir expected: she didn’t talk about how we’re going back in time and the horrors of self-harm as a means to an abortion. Instead, she painted a picture of progress — how in the last 40 years, through private practice and clinical trials all around the world, the process and science of providing and having an abortion has changed dramatically, mostly because of two types of pills: misoprostol and mifepristone. On this episode, Avir and Senior Correspondent Molly Webster visit Dr. MacIsaac to hear more, and also learn about a new study that indicates the process of abortion is on the precipice of even further change. 

Special thanks to Mariana Prandini Assis and Pam Belluck.

Episode Credits:Reported by Avir Mitra and Molly WebsterProduced by Sarah QariMixing help from Arianne WackFact-checking by Diane KellyEdited 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 radiolab@wnyc.org.

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

7 Oct. 2022

It all started when the rockstar David Byrne did a Freaky-Friday-like body-swap with a Barbie Doll. That’s what inspired him — along with his collaborator Mala Gaonkar — to transform a 15,000 square-foot warehouse in Denver, Colorado into a brainy funhouse known as the Theater of the Mind.

This episode, co-Host Latif Nasser moderates a live conversation between Byrne and Neuroscientist Thalia Wheatley at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. The trio talk about how we don’t see what we think we see, don’t hear what we think we hear, and don’t know what we think we know, but also how all that… might actually be a good thing.

Special thanks to Charlie Miller and everyone else at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Emily Simoness and everyone else at the Arbutus Foundation, Boen Wang, and Heather Radke.

 

Episode Credits:

Produced by Suzie Lechtenberg

 

CITATIONS

Theater of the mind website: https://theateroftheminddenver.com/

 

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 radiolab@wnyc.org.

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

 

30 Sep. 2022

When people are dying and you can only save some, how do you choose? Maybe you save the youngest. Or the sickest. Maybe you even just put all the names in a hat and pick at random. Would your answer change if a sick person was right in front of you?

In this episode, first aired back in 2016, we follow New York Times reporter Sheri Fink as she searches for the answer. In a warzone, a hurricane, a church basement, and an earthquake, the question remains the same. What happens, what should happen, when humans are forced to play God?

Very special thanks to Lilly Sullivan. 

Special thanks also to: Pat Walters and Jim McCutcheon and Todd Menesses from WWL in New Orleans, the researchers for the allocation of scarce resources project in Maryland - Dr. Lee Daugherty Biddison from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Howie Gwon from the Johns Hopkins Medicine Office of Emergency Management, Alan Regenberg of the Berman Institute of Bioethics and Dr. Eric Toner of the UPMC Center for Health Security.

Episode Credits:

Reported by - Reported by Sheri Fink.Produced by - Produced by Simon Adler and Annie McEwen.

Citations:

Articles:You can find more about the work going on in Maryland at: www.nytimes.com/triageBooks: The book that inspired this episode about what transpired at Memorial Hospital during Hurricane Katrina, Sheri Fink’s exhaustively reported Five Days at Memorial, now a series on Apple TV+.

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 radiolab@wnyc.org.

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

 

23 Sep. 2022

Lulu Miller, intrepid host and fearless mother of two, went off on her own and put together a little something for kids. All kids: hers, yours, and the one still living inside us all. 

Radiolab for Kids Presents: Terrestrials

And it’s spellbinding. So much so, that we wanted to put this audio goodness in front of as many ears as possible. 

Which is why we’re running the first episode of that series here for you today. 

It’s called The Mastermind. In it, Sy Montgomery, an author and naturalist, shares the story of a color-changing creature many people assumed to be brainless who outsmarts his human captors. If you want a SPOILER of what the creature is, read on: It’s an octopus. We hear the story of one particularly devious octopus who lost a limb, was captured by humans, and then managed to make an escape from its aquarium tank—back into the ocean! The tale of “Inky” the octopus calls into question who we think of as intelligent (and kissable) in the animal kingdom.

Learn about the storytellers, listen to music, and dig deeper into the stories you hear on Terrestrials with activities you can do at home or in the classroom on our website, Terrestrialspodcast.org 

Find MORE original Terrestrials fun on Youtube.And badger us on Social Media: @radiolab and #TerrestrialsPodcast

And if your little ones or you want to hear more of Team Terrestrials amazing work on this series, please search for Radiolab for Kids Presents: The Mastermind, wherever you get podcasts or subscribe here

Terrestrials is a production of WNYC Studios, created by Lulu Miller. This episode is produced by Ana González, Alan Goffinski and Lulu Miller. Original Music by Alan Goffinski. Help from Suzie Lechtenberg, Sarah Sandbach, Natalia Ramirez, and Sarita Bhatt. Fact-checking by Diane Kelley. Sound design by Mira Burt-Wintonick with additional engineering by Joe Plourde. Our storyteller this week is Sy Montgomery. Transcription by Caleb Codding.

Our advisors are Theanne Griffith, Aliyah Elijah, Dominique Shabazz, John Green, Liza Steinberg-Demby, Tara Welty, and Alice Wong.

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.

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

 

16 Sep. 2022

For many of us, quicksand was once a real fear — it held a vise grip on our imaginations, from childish sandbox games to grown-up anxieties about venturing into unknown lands. But these days, quicksand can't even scare an 8-year-old. In this short, we try to find out why. 

Then-Producer Soren Wheeler introduces us to Dan Engber, writer and columnist for Slate, now with The Atlantic. Dan became obsessed with quicksand after happening upon a strange fact: kids are no longer afraid of it. In this episode, Dan recounts for Soren and Robert Krulwich the story of his obsession. He immersed himself in research, compiled mountains of data, met with quicksand fetishists and, in the end, formulated a theory about why the terror of his childhood seems to have lost its menacing allure. Then Carlton Cuse, who at the time we first aired this episode was best-known as the writer and executive producer of Lost, helps us think about whether giant pits of hero-swallowing mud might one day creep back into the spotlight.And, as this episode first aired in 2013, we can see if we were right.

 

Episode Credits:Reported and produced by Soren Wheeler

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 radiolab@wnyc.org.

 

 

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

 

9 Sep. 2022

Two scientists realize that the very same AI technology they have developed to discover medicines for rare diseases can also discover the most potent chemical weapons known to humankind. Inadvertently opening the Pandora’s Box of WMDs. What should they do now?

Special thanks to, Xander Davies, Timnit Gebru, Jessica Fjeld, Bert Gambini and Charlotte HsuEpisode Credits:

Reported by Latif NasserProduced by Matt KieltyOriginal music and sound design contributed by Matt KieltyMixing help from Arianne WackFact-checking by Emily KriegerCITATIONS:Articles:Read the Sean and Fabio’s paper here. Get Yan Liu’s book Healing with Poisons: Potent Medicines in Medieval China here. Yan is now Assistant Professor of History at the University at Buffalo.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 radiolab@wnyc.org.

 

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

2 Sep. 2022

In the fall of 2004, Jeanna Giese checked into the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin with a set of puzzling symptoms... and her condition was deteriorating fast. By the time Dr. Rodney Willoughby saw her, he only knew one thing for sure: if Jeanna's disturbing breakdown turned out to be rabies, she was doomed to die.

What happened next seemed like a medical impossibility. In this episode, originally aired in 2013, Producer Tim Howard tells Jeanna's story and talks to authors Monica Murphy and Bill Wasik, and scientists Amy Gilbert and Sergio Recuenco, while trying to unravel the mystery of an unusual patient and the doctor who dared to take on certain death.

Episode credits:

Reported and produced by Tim Howard

CITATIONS:

Articles:"Undead: The Rabies Virus Remains a Medical Mystery," Wired article by Monica Murphy and Bill Wasik

"Bats Incredible: The Mystery of Rabies Survivorship Deepens," Wired article by Monica Murphy and Bill Wasik

"Study Detects Rabies Immune Response in Amazon Populations," the CDC's page on Amy Gilbert and Sergio Recuenco's work (inc. photos from Peru)

"Selection Criteria for Milwaukee Protocol," when to try the Milwaukee Protocol

Books:Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus, by Bill Wasik and Monica MurphyOur 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 radiolab@wnyc.org.

 

 

26 Aug. 2022

A pizzeria owner in Kansas realizes that DoorDash is hijacking his pizzas. A Lyft driver conquers the streets of San Francisco until he unwittingly puts his family in danger. A Shipt shopper in Denton, Texas tries to crack the code of the delivery app that is slashing his pay. This week, Host Latif Nasser, Producer Becca Bressler, and Philosophy Professor Barry Lam dive into the ins and outs of a new and growing part of our world: the gig economy. Special thanks to, Julie Wernau, Drew Ambrogi, David Condos, David Pickerell, Cory Doctorow, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Coby McDonald, Bret Jaspers, Peter Haden, Bill Pollock, Tanya Chawla, and Mateo Schimpf.

Episode Credits:

Reported by Becca Bressler, Latif Nasser, and Barry LamProduced by Becca Bressler, Eli Cohen, and Sindhu Gnanasambandan.Original music and sound design contributed by Jeremy Bloom and Becca Bressler.Mixing help from Arianne Wack Fact-checking by Natalie Middleton Edited by Pat Walters

CITATIONSArticles:Subscribe to Ranjan Roy's newsletter, Margins, here.

Jeffrey’s story was originally reported by Lauren Smiley for WIRED. Check out her piece for an even more in-depth look at his life as a gig driver.

Audio:Check out Barry Lam’s podcast Hi-Phi Nation, a show about philosophy that turns stories into ideas. 

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 radiolab@wnyc.org.

 

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

 

19 Aug. 2022

Learn a new language faster than ever! Leave doubt in the dust! Be a better sniper! Could you do all that and more with just a zap to the noggin? Maybe.

Back in the early 2010s, Sally Adee, then an editor at New Scientist Magazine, went to a DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) conference and heard about a way to speed up learning with something called trans-cranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). A couple of years later, Sally found herself wielding an M4 assault rifle to pick off simulated enemy combatants with a battery wired to her temple. But that got then-producer Soren Wheeler thinking about this burgeoning world of electroceuticals, and if real, what limits will it reach.

For this episode, first aired back in 2014, we brought in Michael Weisend, then a neuroscientist at Wright State Research Institute, to tell us how it works (Bonus: you get to hear Jad get his brain zapped). And sat down with Peter Reiner and Nick Fitz, then at the University of British Columbia, to help us think through the consequences of a world where anyone with 20 dollars and access to a circuit board and a soldering iron, can make their own brain zapper. And then checked-in again to hear about the unexpected after-effects a day of super-charged sniper training can have on one mild-mannered science journalist.

Episode credits:

Reported by Sally Adee and Soren WheelerOriginal music by Brian Carpenter's Ghost Train Orchestra

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 radiolab@wnyc.org.

 

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

 

12 Aug. 2022

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 WangOriginal Music provided by Alex Zhang HungtaiFact-checking by Diane KellyEdited 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 radiolab@wnyc.org.

 

Leadership support for Radiolab’s science programming is provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the John Templeton Foundation. Foundational support for Radiolab was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

 

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