Radiolab

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Synopsis

Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.Radiolab is heard around the country on more than 500 member stations. Check your local station for airtimes.Embed the Radiolab widget on your blog or website.Radiolab is supported, in part, by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org.All press inquiries may be directed to Jennifer Houlihan Roussel at (646) 829-4497.

Episodes

  • Infinities

    12/08/2022 Duration: 41min

    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.

  • Escape

    05/08/2022 Duration: 01h07min

    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

  • The Humpback and the Killer

    29/07/2022 Duration: 35min

    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. Epi

  • You v. You

    22/07/2022 Duration: 26min

    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. Suppor

  • The Gatekeeper

    15/07/2022 Duration: 48min

    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/news

  • Baby Blue Blood Drive

    08/07/2022 Duration: 51min

    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

  • My Thymus, Myself

    01/07/2022 Duration: 28min

    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 sectio

  • Galápagos

    24/06/2022 Duration: 01h04min

    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. 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

  • No Special Duty

    17/06/2022 Duration: 46min

    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 ani

  • Neanderthal's Revenge

    10/06/2022 Duration: 26min

    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, Latif's GI Doctor Florence Damilola Odufalu and her entire team, and 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 mini

  • Origin Stories

    03/06/2022 Duration: 43min

    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!  

  • Radiolab After Dark

    27/05/2022 Duration: 58min

    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.

  • La Mancha Screwjob

    20/05/2022 Duration: 57min

    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!  

  • Frailmales

    13/05/2022 Duration: 35min

    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

  • Debatable

    06/05/2022 Duration: 01h40s

    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 "Chi

  • Hello, My Name Is

    29/04/2022 Duration: 01h11min

    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 i

  • The Other Latif: Cuba-ish

    22/04/2022 Duration: 01h04min

    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

  • NULL

    15/04/2022 Duration: 19min

    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.  

  • In the Dust of This Planet

    08/04/2022 Duration: 28min

    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

  • Inheritance

    01/04/2022 Duration: 01h04min

    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!

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