Today, Lulu and Latif talk about some of their favorite episodes from Radiolab’s past that hold new power today. Lulu points to an episode from 2008: Imagine that you're a composer. Imagine getting the commission to write a song that will allow family members to face the death of a loved one. Well, composer David Lang had to do just that when a hospital in Garches, France, asked him to write music for their morgue, or 'Salle Des Departs.' What do you do? This piece was produced by Jocelyn Gonzales. And Latif talks about an episode Jad made in 2009. Here’s how we described it back then: Jad--a brand new father--wonders what's going on inside the head of his baby Amil. (And don't worry, you don't need kids to enjoy this podcast.) The questions here are big: what is it like to be so brand new to the world? None of us have memories from this time, so how could we possibly ever know? Is it just chaos? Or, is there something more, some understanding from the very beginning? Jad found a development psychologist named Charles Fernyhough to explore some of his questions. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
While most of us hear a wall of white noise, squeaks, and squawks....David Rothenberg hears a symphony. He's trained his ear to listen for the music of animals, and he's always looking for chances to join in, with everything from lonely birds to giant whales to swarming cicadas. In this podcast, David explains his urge to connect and sing along, and helps break down the mysterious life cycle and mating rituals of the periodical cicadas into something we can all relate to. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
Love it or hate it, the freedom to say obnoxious and subversive things is the quintessence of what makes America America. But our say-almost-anything approach to free speech is actually relatively recent, and you can trace it back to one guy: a Supreme Court justice named Oliver Wendell Holmes. Even weirder, you can trace it back to one seemingly ordinary 8-month period in Holmes’s life when he seems to have done a logical U-turn on what should be say-able. Why he changed his mind during those 8 months is one of the greatest mysteries in the history of the Supreme Court. (Spoiler: the answer involves anarchists, a house of truth, and a cry for help from a dear friend.) Join us as we investigate why he changed his mind, how that made the country change its mind, and whether it’s now time to change our minds again. This episode was reported by Latif Nasser and was produced by Sarah Qari. Special thanks to Jenny Lawton, Soren Shade, Kelsey Padgett, Mahyad Tousi and Soroush Vosughi. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate. further reading: Thomas Healy’s book The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes CHanged His Mind - And Changed the History of Free Speech In America (the inspiration for this episode) plus his latest book Soul City: Race, Equality and the Lost Dream of an American Utopia. The Science article that Sinan Aral wrote in 2018, along with Soroush Vosughi and Deb Roy: “The Spread of True and False News Online” Sinan Aral’s recent book The Hype Machine: How Social Media Disrupts Our Elections, Our Economy and our Health - And How We Must Adapt Zeynep Tufekci’s newsletter “The Insight” plus her book Twitter and Teargas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest Nabiha Syed’s news website The Markup Trailer for “The Magnificent Yankee,” a 1950 biopic of Oliver Wendell Holmes Anthony Lewis, Freedom for the Thought that We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment
Scientists took about 300 years to lay out the Periodic Table into neat rows and columns. In one hour, we’re going to mess it all up. This episode, we enlist journalists, poets, musicians, and even a physicist to help us tell stories of matter that matters. You’ll never look at that chart the same way again. Special thanks to Emotive Fruition for organizing poetry performances and to the mighty Sylvan Esso for composing 'Jaime's Song', both inspired by this episode. Thanks also to Sam Kean, Chris Howk, Brian Fields and to Paul Dresher and Ned Rothenberg for the use of their song "Untold Story:The Edge of Sleep". Check out Jaime Lowe's book Mental: Lithium, Love and Losing My Mind Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
1 hr 13 min
As we hit the one year mark since the first U.S. state (California) issued a stay-at-home order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we put out a call to see if any of you would take us to your secret escape spot and record audio there. And you astounded us with what you brought in. In this soundrich, kaleidoscopic episode, we journey around the planet and then, quite literally, beyond it. Listen only if you want a boatload of fresh air, fields of wildflowers, stars, birds, frogs, and a riveting tale involving Isaac Newton and a calm beyond any calm you knew could exist. This episode was produced by Matt Kielty and Lulu Miller, with production support from Jonny Moens and Suzie Lechtenberg. Special thanks to: Lynn Levy, who went on to host the space-a-licious series, The Habitat, and edit (among other things) the powerful and beautiful new podcast Resistance. Merav Opher, an astronomy professor at BU, who now directs the SHIELD DRIVE Science Center which is studying the data collected by the Voyagers at the edge of the heavens, or--err, the “heliosphere” as the scientists call it. Edward Dolnick, The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World Ann Druyan, one of the creators of the 1977 Golden Album traveling on the Voyager probe, has recently released a new series on National Geographic, “Cosmos: Possible Worlds” A.J. Dungo, who submitted a postcard while surfing, is author of the mesmerizing graphic novel, In Waves, a memoir about surfing and grief. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
Last summer, at a hospital in England, a man in his 70s being treated for complications with cancer tested positive for covid-19. He had lymphoma, and the disease plus his drugs weakened his immune system, making him particularly susceptible to the virus. He wasn’t too bad off, considering, and was sent home. That was Day 1. This is the story of what the doctors witnessed, over the course of his illness: the evolution of covid-19 inside his body. Before their eyes, they get a hint of what might be to come in the pandemic. This episode was reported by Molly Webster. Special thanks to Ravindra Gupta, Jonathan Li. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate. Want to learn more about some of the covid case studies? Here are a couple papers to get you started:The “U.K. Paper”, co-authored by Ravi Gupta, one of our sources for the episode: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03291-y A case study out of Boston, co-authored by Dr. Jonathan Li, one of our sources for the episode: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2031364 For more on immune suppression and covid-19, check out this amazing Scientific American article: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/covid-variants-may-arise-in-people-with-compromised-immune-systems/
In November of 2016, journalist Morgen Peck showed up at her friend Molly Webster's apartment in Brooklyn, told her to take her battery out of her phone, and began to tell her about The Ceremony, a moment last fall when a group of, well, let's just call them wizards, came together in an undisclosed location to launch a new currency. It's an undertaking that involves some of the most elaborate security and cryptography ever done (so we've been told). And math. Lots of math. It was all going great until, in the middle of it, something started to behave a little...strangely. Reported by Molly Webster. Produced by Matt Kielty and Molly Webster. Denver Ceremony station recordings were created by media maker Nathaniel Kramer, with help from Daniel Cooper. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
It was the early 80s, the height of the Cold War, when something strange began happening off the coast of Sweden. The navy reported a mysterious sound deep below the surface of the ocean. Again, and again, and again they would hear it near their secret military bases, in their harbors, and up and down the Swedish coastline. After thorough analysis the navy was certain. The sound was an invasion into their waters, an act of war, the opening salvos of a possible nuclear annihilation. Or was it? Today, Annie McEwen pulls us down into a deep-sea mystery, one of international intrigue that asks you to consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe, your deepest beliefs could be as solid as...air. This episode was reported by Annie McEwen and produced by Annie McEwen, Matt Kielty, and Sarah Qari, with sound design by Jeremy Bloom. Special thanks to Bosse Lindquist. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
Since its inception, the perennial thorn in Facebook’s side has been content moderation. That is, deciding what you and I are allowed to post on the site and what we’re not. Missteps by Facebook in this area have fueled everything from a genocide in Myanmar to viral disinformation surrounding politics and the coronavirus. However, just this past year, conceding their failings, Facebook shifted its approach. They erected an independent body of twenty jurors that will make the final call on many of Facebook’s thorniest decisions. This body has been called: Facebook’s Supreme Court. So today, in collaboration with the New Yorker magazine and the New Yorker Radio Hour, we explore how this body came to be, what power it really has and how the consequences of its decisions will be nothing short of life or death. This episode was reported and produced by Simon Adler. To hear more about the court's origin, their rulings so far, and their upcoming docket, check out David Remnick and reporter Kate Klonick’s conversation in the New Yorker Radio Hour podcast feed. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
Candid Camera is one of the most original – and one of the most mischievous – TV shows of all time. Admirers hailed its creator Allen Funt as a poet of the everyday. Critics denounced him as a Peeping Tom. Funt sought to capture people at their most unguarded, their most spontaneous, their most natural. And he did. But as the show succeeded, it started to change the way we thought not only of reality television, but also of reality itself. Looking back at the show now, a half century later, it’s hard NOT to see so many of our preoccupations – privacy, propriety, publicity, authenticity – through a funhouse mirror, darkly. This episode was reported by Latif Nasser and produced by Matt Kielty. Special Thanks to: Bertram van Munster, Fred Nadis, Alexa Conway, the Eastern Airlines Employee Association and Eastern Airlines Radio, Rebecca Lemov, Anna McCarthy, Jill Lepore, Cullie Bogacki Willis III, Barbara Titus and the Funt family. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.