Overheard at National Geographic
Overheard at National Geographic
National Geographic
Come dive into one of the curiously delightful conversations overheard at National Geographic’s headquarters, as we follow explorers, photographers, and scientists to the edges of our big, weird, beautiful world. Hosted by Peter Gwin and Amy Briggs.
The Real-Life MacGyver in Nat Geo’s Basement
In the basement of National Geographic’s headquarters, there’s a lab holding a secret tech weapon: Tom O’Brien. As Nat Geo’s photo engineer, O’Brien adapts new technologies to capture sights and sounds previously never seen or heard before. O’Brien leads us on a tour of his lab as he designs and builds an underwater camera and shows us some of his favorite gadgets—including a camera lens that flew over Machu Picchu in a blimp, a remote camera he designed for the film Free Solo and a piece of gear known simply as the "funky bird train." For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard Want more? See photographs mentioned in this episode, including wolves captured by a gnaw-proof camera, sage grouse as seen by the funky bird train, and a cheetah running in super slow motion. Want to see what goes on in Nat Geo’s photo engineering lab? Follow Tom O’Brien on Instagram @mechanicalphoto. And learn more about Tom’s predecessor, Kenji Yamaguchi, who held the job for more than 30 years. Also explore: On World Oceans Day, learn more about Jacques Cousteau, who pioneered scuba gear, brought the oceans to life, and jolted people into environmental activism.    And hear more about beavers and how they shape the world on a previous Overheard episode, “March of the Beaver.” If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/explore to subscribe today.
Jun 8
30 min
Giraffes on a Boat
It sounds like the start of a bad joke: How do you move eight giraffes—including a newborn calf—off an island in Africa’s Western Rift Valley? Answer: It isn’t easy, and it involves a boat, blindfolds, and earmuffs. We follow conservationist David O’Connor on an epic (and awkward) journey to save these endangered animals. For more information about this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Want more? To learn more about David O’Connor’s conservation work, check out his organization, Save Giraffes Now.  You can also read up on how scientists are trying to prevent giraffes from going extinct.  Subscribers can also see what the “giraft” looked like and read more about the giraffe rescue from Lake Baringo.  If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/explore to subscribe today.
Jun 1
26 min
How Cicadas Become Flying Saltshakers of Death
After 17 years underground, so-called Brood X cicadas get a fleeting moment in the sun and commence their deafening buzz. But periodical cicadas can’t escape a silent killer: a fungus that eats them from the inside and forces them into a rabid mania. Follow National Geographic Explorer Matt Kasson as he tracks these “flying saltshakers of death,” and hear why scientists say cicadas should be respected, not feared—even if they do raise a ruckus in your backyard. For more information about this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want more?
 Trillions of cicadas appearing at once is a good thing, we promise. Learn more about how periodical cicadas do it. And see photos of annual cicadas from the National Geographic Photo Ark. Also, bring Brood X to your taste buds with recipes for cocktails, cupcakes, and other buggy treats. Also explore: Read on about the weird world of zombie cicadas. And track cicada emergences near you with Cicada Safari or other smartphone apps. If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/explore to subscribe today.
May 25
22 min
A Reckoning in Tulsa
A Reckoning in Tulsa A century ago, Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood was a vibrant Black community. One spring night in 1921 changed all that: a white mob rioted, murdering as many as 300 Black residents and destroying their family homes and thriving businesses. Archaeologists are working to uncover one of the worst—and virtually unknown—incidents of racial violence in American history, as efforts to locate the victims' unmarked graves continue.  For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want more? For more on the Tulsa Race Massacre, check out the cover story on the anniversary from writer Deneen Brown in the upcoming June issue of National Geographic. You can also find the Race Card, a project from journalist Michele Norris, to capture people’s thoughts on race in just six words. And poet Elizabeth Alexander will reflect on what it means to be Black and free in a country that undermines Black freedom. And for subscribers: Check out Tucker Toole’s piece on how Greenwood was destroyed by the Tulsa Race Massacre, in the May/June issue of National Geographic History magazine.  And soon, you’ll also be able read a personal essay Tucker wrote about his ancestor J.B. Stradford on our website. Also explore: And check out Scott Ellsworth’s new book on the Tulsa Race Massacre called, The Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice. Finally, stay tuned this summer for National Geographic’s documentary, Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer, which chronicles white supremacist terrorism and race riots that took place across the country in 1919, shortly before the Tulsa Race Massacre.  If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/explore to subscribe today.
May 18
29 min
Camping on Sea Ice with Whale Hunters
Every spring Inupiaq hunters camp on the sea ice north of the Arctic Circle, in hopes of capturing a bowhead whale to share with their village. But as global warming accelerates ice melt, it threatens the tribe’s 4,000-year-old tradition. National Geographic photographer Kiliii Yuyan recounts the five years he spent documenting these whale hunters, including one harrowing experience when the sea ice groaned—and then collapsed underneath them. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want more? Learn more about bowhead whales and hear their recordings of their wild sounds. And take a look at our in-depth coverage on the challenges facing polar bears in the Arctic. To see Kiliii’s stunning photography and short film about the Inupiaq people and their whale hunting traditions, Nat Geo subscribers can check them out in an online story, titled “Meet the Bowhead Whale Hunters of Northern Alaska.”  You can also follow Kiliii on Instagram where you can see amazing portraits he’s taken of native people, wildlife and kayaks that he built himself.  If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/explore to subscribe today.
May 11
28 min
The Battle for the Soul of Artificial Intelligence
With every breakthrough, computer scientists are pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence (AI). We see it in everything from predictive text to facial recognition to mapping disease incidence. But increasingly machines show many of the same biases as humans, particularly with communities of color and vulnerable populations. In this episode, we learn how leading technologists are disrupting their own inventions to create a more humane AI.   For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.   Want more? In 2020 widespread use of medical masks has created a new niche—face-mask recognition. The technology would help local governments enforce mask mandates, but is it worth it? Thanks to evolution, human faces are much more variable than other body parts. In the words of one researcher, “It's like evolving a name tag.” Most people have difficulty accurately recognizing strangers. But a few individuals—called super-recognizers—excel at the task. London police have employed some of these people to help find criminal suspects.   And for subscribers:  Artificial intelligence and robotics have been improving rapidly. Our cover story from September 2020 explores the latest robotic technology from around the world.  In 1976 Isaac Asimov wrote an article for National Geographic predicting how humans might live in 2026.   Also explore:  Take a look at the documentary Coded Bias, featuring AI researcher Joy Buolamwini. The film explores Joy’s research on racial bias in facial recognition AI. Read the NIST report, co-authored by Patrick Grother and discussed in this episode. If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/explore to subscribe today.
May 4
26 min
Treat Your Brain: Season 6 of Overheard
Dive with killer whales to observe their surprising cultures. Venture into the world of artificial intelligence to see how scientists are teaching machines to recognize human diversity. Visit Nat Geo’s legendary tech lab where engineers have dreamed up super cameras to hunt for the Loch Ness monster, float above Machu Picchu and swim with Jacques Cousteau. Join us for curiously delightful conversations overheard at National Geographic headquarters. Hosted by Peter Gwin and Amy Briggs. If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/explore to subscribe today.
Apr 26
2 min
Bonus episode: The Secret Culture of Killer Whales
Scientists are discovering that killer whales, among the most social and intelligent of marine animals, have unique family structures and behaviors, passed from one generation to the next. National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry traveled the globe to document killer whale pods—where he found that diving with these special creatures can lead to strange and wonderful situations.  For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want more? All four episodes of the Disney+ original series, Secrets of the Whales, from National Geographic, streams Earth Day, April 22 on Disney+. Join National Geographic’s Earth Day Eve celebration on Wednesday, April 21st at 8:30 pm EST, with a star-studded lineup of environmentally conscious musical artists, including Willie Nelson, Maggie Rogers, Yo-Yo Ma, Ziggy Marley, streamed on  NatGeo’s YouTube and NatGeo.com/EarthDayEve Also explore: Learn about orca behavior in our magazine piece, including orca greeting ceremonies and dialects. And read about Brian Skerry’s 10,000 hours underwater and find out why orca whales do poorly in captivity. If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/explore to subscribe today.
Apr 13
28 min
The Secret of Musical Genius
Mozart wowed audiences as a child. The Beatles blew away Ed Sullivan. Beyonce hypnotized Super Bowl crowds. The world has been enthralled by those we call musical geniuses. But what defines a musical genius? And how does society recognize it? We probe these questions as we examine the life and career of Aretha Franklin, a transformational figure in American music, and the rise of a young prodigy, Keedron Bryant. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want more? Watch the Genius: Aretha, a series about Aretha’s life, now streaming on Hulu. And check out the magazine piece about her and this journey through the career of the Queen of Soul.  Immerse yourself in the genius of Aretha Franklin and her music with this playlist https://lnk.to/ArethaGenius!NGE. Available on Spotify and Apple Music. And of course, check out the song that made Keedron viral and the opera performance that cemented Aretha’s genius. If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/explore to subscribe today.
Mar 23
31 min
Legends of Kingfishers, Otters, and Red-Tailed Hawks
Photographer Charlie Hamilton James chronicles his days ditching high school to hide out by the river near his home in Bristol, England, to snap photos of brilliantly plumed kingfishers dive-bombing for fish—“delinquent behavior” that somehow led to a job making films for the BBC and eventually to National Geographic. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want more? You can see some of Charlie’s stunning photos of vultures in this story about vulture poisoning in Kenya.  Check out Charlie’s photographs of kingfisher’s in this article from the magazine “Blaze of Blue.” Also explore: Look through Charlie’s lens to get a glimpse into the lives of indigenous peoples of the Amazon. Charlie’s also photographed the urban animals that live alongside us: rats. If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/explore to subscribe today.
Mar 16
24 min
Load more