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September 27, 2019
We eat eels in sushi, stews, and pasta. Eels eat anything. Also they can survive outside of water for hours and live for up to 80 years. But this slippery snake of the sea harbors an even deeper mystery, one that has tormented the minds of Aristotle and Sigmund Freud and apparently the entire country of Italy: Where do they come from? We travel from the estuaries of New York to the darkest part of the ocean in search of the limits of human knowledge. This episode was produced by Matt Kielty and Becca Bressler.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  And check out Lucy Cooke's book The Truth about Animals!
September 18, 2019
In the early 60s, Robert Axelrod was a math major messing around with refrigerator-sized computers. Then a dramatic global crisis made him wonder about the space between a rock and a hard place, and whether being good may be a good strategy. With help from Andrew Zolli and Steve Strogatz, we tackle the prisoner’s dilemma, a classic thought experiment, and learn about a simple strategy to navigate the waters of cooperation and betrayal. Then Axelrod, along with Stanley Weintraub, takes us back to the trenches of World War I, to the winter of 1914, and an unlikely Christmas party along the Western Front.    
September 17, 2019
In the early 60s, Robert Axelrod was a math major messing around with refrigerator-sized computers. Then a dramatic global crisis made him wonder about the space between a rock and a hard place, and whether being good may be a good strategy. With help from Andrew Zolli and Steve Strogatz, we tackle the prisoner’s dilemma, a classic thought experiment, and learn about a simple strategy to navigate the waters of cooperation and betrayal. Then Axelrod, along with Stanley Weintraub, takes us back to the trenches of World War I, to the winter of 1914, and an unlikely Christmas party along the Western Front.    
September 5, 2019
More often than not, a fight is just a fight... Someone wins, someone loses. But this hour, we have a series of face-offs that shine a light on the human condition, the benefit of coming at something from a different side, and the price of being right. Special thanks to Mark Dresser for the use of his music.  
August 28, 2019
Nate DiMeo was preoccupied with the past, and how we relate to it, from a very young age. For the last decade or so he's been scratching this itch with The Memory Palace, a podcast he created. He does things very differently than we do, but his show has captured the hearts of Radiolab staffers, past and present, time and time again.  So we decided to get Nate into the studio to share a few of his episodes with us and talk to us about how and why he does what he does. He brought us stories about the Morse Code, the draft lottery, and then he hit us with a brand new episode about a bull on trial, that bounces off a story we did pretty recently. More history on scrub bulls. Follow @thememorypalace on Twitter. This episode was produced with help from Bethel Habte.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
August 23, 2019
In an online world, that story about you lives forever. The tipsy photograph of you at the college football game? It’s up there. That news article about the political rally you were marching at? It’s up there. A DUI? That’s there, too. But what if ... it wasn’t. In Cleveland, Ohio, a group of journalists are trying out an experiment that has the potential to turn things upside down: they are unpublishing content they’ve already published. Photographs, names, entire articles. Every month or so, they get together to decide what content stays, and what content goes. On today’s episode, reporter Molly Webster goes inside the room where the decisions are being made, listening case-by-case as editors decide who, or what, gets to be deleted. It’s a story about time and memory; mistakes and second chances; and society as we know it. This episode was reported by Molly Webster, and produced by Molly Webster and Bethel Habte.  Special thanks to Kathy English, David Erdos, Ed Haber, Brewster Kahle, Imani Leonard, Ruth Samuel, Jane Kamensky and all the people who helped shape this story. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  To learn more about Cleveland.com’s “right to be forgotten experiment,” check out the very first column Molly read about the project.
August 9, 2019
On the inaugural episode of More Perfect, we explore three little words embedded in the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: “cruel and unusual.” America has long wrestled with this concept in the context of our strongest punishment, the death penalty. A majority of “we the people” (61 percent, to be exact) are in favor of having it, but inside the Supreme Court, opinions have evolved over time in surprising ways. And outside of the court, the debate drove one woman in the UK to take on the U.S. death penalty system from Europe. It also caused states to resuscitate old methods used for executing prisoners on death row. And perhaps more than anything, it forced a conversation on what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Special thanks to Claire Phillips, Nina Perry, Stephanie Jenkins, Ralph Dellapiana, Byrd Pinkerton, Elisabeth Semel, Christina Spaulding, and The Marshall Project Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  Also! We’re working on collecting some audience feedback so we can do a better job of getting our show out to all of you, interacting with you, and reaching new people. We’d love to hear from you. Go to www.radiolab.org/survey to participate.
July 30, 2019
This episode begins with a rant. This rant, in particular, comes from Dan Engber - a science writer who loves animals but despises animal intelligence research. Dan told us that so much of the way we study animals involves tests that we think show a human is smart ... not the animals we intend to study.  Dan’s rant got us thinking: What is the smartest animal in the world? And if we threw out our human intelligence rubric, is there a fair way to figure it out? Obviously, there is. And it’s a live game show, judged by Jad, Robert … and a dog. For the last episode of G, Radiolab’s miniseries on intelligence, we’re sharing that game show with you. It was recorded as a live show back in May 2019 at the Greene Space in New York City. We invited two science writers, Dan Engber and Laurel Braitman, and two comedians, Tracy Clayton and Jordan Mendoza, to compete against one another to find the world’s smartest animal. What resulted were a series of funny, delightful stories about unexpectedly smart animals and a shift in the way we think about intelligence across all the animals - including us. Check out the video of our live event here!  This episode was produced by Rachael Cusick and Pat Walters, with help from Nora Keller and Suzie Lechtenberg. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris and Dorie Chevlin. Special thanks to Bill Berloni and Macy (the dog) and everyone at The Greene Space. Radiolab’s “G” is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
July 26, 2019
This past fall, a scientist named Steve Hsu made headlines with a provocative announcement. He would start selling a genetic intelligence test to couples doing IVF: a sophisticated prediction tool, built on big data and machine learning, designed to help couples select the best embryo in their batch. We wondered, how does that work? What can the test really say? And do we want to live in a world where certain people can decide how smart their babies will be? This episode was produced by Simon Adler, with help from Rachael Cusick and Pat Walters. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris. Engineering help from Jeremy Bloom. Special thanks to Catherine Bliss. Radiolab’s “G” is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
July 17, 2019
When a law student named Mark Bold came across a Supreme Court decision from the 1920s that allowed for the forced sterilization of people deemed “unfit,” he was shocked to discover that it had never been overturned. His law professors told him the case, Buck v Bell, was nothing to worry about, that the ruling was in a kind of legal limbo and could never be used against people. But he didn’t buy it. In this episode we follow Mark on a journey to one of the darkest consequences of humanity’s attempts to measure the human mind and put people in boxes, following him through history, science fiction and a version of eugenics that’s still very much alive today, and watch as he crusades to restore a dash of moral order to the universe. This episode was produced by Matt Kielty, Lulu Miller and Pat Walters.  You can pre-order Lulu Miller’s new book Why Fish Don’t Exist here. Special thanks to Sara Luterman, Lynn Rainville, Alex Minna Stern, Steve Silberman and Lydia X.Z. Brown. Radiolab’s “G” is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
June 28, 2019
Albert Einstein asked that when he died, his body be cremated and his ashes be scattered in a secret location. He didn’t want his grave, or his body, becoming a shrine to his genius. When he passed away in the early morning hours of April, 18, 1955, his family knew his wishes. There was only one problem: the pathologist who did the autopsy had different plans. In the third episode of “G”, Radiolab’s miniseries on intelligence, we go on one of the strangest scavenger hunts for genius the world has ever seen. We follow Einstein’s stolen brain from that Princeton autopsy table, to a cider box in Wichita, Kansas, to labs all across the country. And eventually, beyond the brain itself entirely. All the while wondering, where exactly is the genius of a man who changed the way we view the world?    This episode was reported by Rachael Cusick and Pat Walters, and produced by Bethel Habte, Rachael Cusick, and Pat Walters. Music by Alex Overington and Jad Abumrad.  Special thanks to: Elanor Taylor, Claudia Kalb, Dustin O’Halloran, Tim Huson, The Einstein Papers Project, and all the physics for (us) dummies Youtube videos that accomplished the near-impossible feat of helping us understand relativity. Radiolab’s “G” is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
June 14, 2019
In the first episode of G, Radiolab’s miniseries on intelligence, we went back to the 1970s to meet a group of Black parents who put the IQ test on trial. The lawsuit, Larry P v Riles, ended with a ban on IQ tests for all Black students in the state of California, a ban that’s still in place today. This week, we meet the families in California dealing with that ban forty years later. Families the ban was designed to protect, but who now say it discriminates against their children. How much have IQ tests changed since the 70s? And can they be used for good? We talk to the people responsible for designing the most widely used modern IQ test, and along the way, we find out that at the very same moment the IQ test was being put on trial in California, on the other side of the country, it was being used to solve one of the biggest public health problems of the 20th century. This episode was reported and produced by Pat Walters, Rachael Cusick and Jad Abumrad, with production help from Bethel Habte. Music by Alex Overington. Fact-checking by Diane Kelly. Special thanks to Lee Romney, Chenjerai Kumanyika, Moira Gunn and Tech Nation, and Lee Rosevere for his song All the Answers. Radiolab’s “G” is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
June 7, 2019
Are some ideas so dangerous we shouldn’t even talk about them? That question brought Radiolab’s senior editor, Pat Walters, to a subject that at first he thought was long gone: the measuring of human intelligence with IQ tests. Turns out, the tests are all around us. In the workplace. The criminal justice system. Even the NFL. And they’re massive in schools. More than a million US children are IQ tested every year. We begin Radiolab Presents: “G” with a sentence that stopped us all in our tracks: In the state of California, it is off-limits to administer an IQ test to a child if he or she is Black. That’s because of a little-known case called Larry P v Riles that in the 1970s … put the IQ test itself on trial. With the help of reporter Lee Romney, we investigate how that lawsuit came to be, where IQ tests came from, and what happened to one little boy who got caught in the crossfire. This episode was reported and produced by Lee Romney, Rachael Cusick and Pat Walters. Music by Alex Overington. Fact-checking by Diane Kelly. Special thanks to Elie Mistal, Chenjerai Kumanyika, Amanda Stern, Nora Lyons, Ki Sung, Public Advocates, Michelle Wilson, Peter Fernandez, John Schaefer. Lee Romney’s reporting was supported in part by USC’s Center for Health Journalism. Radiolab’s “G” is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
June 4, 2019
 How a sunken nuclear submarine, a crazy billionaire, and a mechanical claw gave birth to a phrase that has hounded journalists and lawyers for 40 years and embodies the tension between the public’s desire for transparency and the government’s need to keep secrets.  
May 24, 2019
On a Tuesday afternoon back in the summer of 2017, Scotty Hatton and Scottie Wightman both made a decision to help someone in need. They both paid a price for their actions that day, which have led to a legal, moral, and scientific puzzle about how we balance accountability and forgiveness.  In this episode, we go to Bath County, Kentucky, where, as one health official put it, opioids have created “a hole the size of Kentucky.” We talk to the people on all sides of this story about stemming the tide of overdoses, we wrestle with the science of poison and fear, and we try to figure out when the drive to protect and help those around us should rise above the law. This story was reported by Peter Andrey Smith with Matt Kielty, and produced by Matt Kielty. Special thanks to Earl Willis, Bobby Ratliff, Ronnie Goldie, Megan Fisher, Alan Caudill, Nick Jones, Dan Wermerling, Terry Bunn, Robin Thompson and the staff at KIPRC, Charles Landon, Charles P Gore, Jim McCarthy, Ann Marie Farina, Dr. Jeremy Faust and Dr. Ed Boyer, Justin Brower, Kathy Robinson, Zoe Renfro, John Bucknell, Chris Moraff, Jeremiah Laster, Tommy Kane, Jim McCarthy, Sarah Wakeman, and Al Tompkins.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.      CDC recommendations on helping people who overdose: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pdf/patients/Preventing-an-Opioid-Overdose-Tip-Card-a.pdf Find out where to get naloxone: https://prevent-protect.org/        
May 8, 2019
Back in 2003 Belgium was holding a national election. One of their first where the votes would be cast and counted on computers. Thousands of hours of preparation went into making it unhackable. And when the day of the vote came, everything seemed to have gone well. That was, until a cosmic chain of events caused a single bit to flip and called the outcome into question. Today on Radiolab, we travel from a voting booth in Brussels to the driver's seat of a runaway car in the Carolinas, exploring the massive effects tiny bits of stardust can have on us unwitting humans. This episode was reported and produced by Simon Adler and Annie McEwen.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  And check out our accompanying short video Bit Flip: the tale of a Belgian election and a cosmic ray that got in the way. This video was produced by Simon Adler with illustration from Kelly Gallagher.
May 3, 2019
Using high-powered ballistics experiments, fancy computer algorithms, and good old-fashioned ancient geology, scientists have woven together a theory about the extinction of the dinosaurs that is so precise, so hot, so instantaneous, as to seem unimaginable. Today, we bring you this story, first published on Radiolab in 2013, plus an update: a spot on planet Earth, newly discovered, that - if it holds true - has the potential to tell us about the first three hours after the dinos died. This update was reported by Molly Webster and was produced with help from Audrey Quinn.  We teamed up with some amazing collaborators for Apocalyptical, the Radiolab live show that this episode is based on. Find out more about these wildly talented folks: comedians Reggie Watts, Patton Oswalt, Simon Amstell, Ophira Eisenberg and Kurt Braunohler; musicians On Fillmore and Noveller, and Erth Visual & Physical Inc. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.    To learn more about the North Dakota site - known as Tanis, for all you Indiana Jones fans - check out the recent paper. Make sure you spend time digging into those supplemental materials, it contains all the juice ! And, go watch Apocalyptical; to dinosaurs and beyond!    
April 25, 2019
This week we’re going back to a favorite episode from 2015. During World War II, something happened that nobody ever talks about. This is a tale of mysterious balloons, cowboy sheriffs, and young children caught up in the winds of war. And silence, the terror of silence. Reporters Peter Lang-Stanton and Nick Farago tell us the story of a seemingly ridiculous, almost whimsical series of attacks on the US between November of 1944 and May of 1945. With the help of writer Ross Coen, geologist Elisa Bergslien, and professor Mike Sweeney, we uncover a national secret that led to tragedy in a sleepy logging town in south central Oregon.  Check out pictures of the ghostly balloons here.  Special thanks to Annie Patzke, Leda and Wayne Hunter, and Ilana Sol. Special thanks also for the use of their music to Jeff Taylor, David Wingo for the use of "Opening" and "Doghouse" - from the Take Shelter soundtrack, Justin Walter's "Mind Shapes" from his album Lullabies and Nightmares, and Michael Manning for the use of "Save".   Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
April 19, 2019
In 1903 the US Supreme Court refused to say that Isabel González was a citizen of the United States. Then again, they said, she wasn’t a exactly an immigrant either. And they said that the US territory of Puerto Rico, Isabel’s home, was “foreign to the United States in a domestic sense.” Since then, the US has cleared up at least some of the confusion about US territories and the status of people born in them. But, more than a hundred years later, there is still a US territory that has been left in limbo: American Samoa. It is the only place on earth that is US soil, but people who are born there are not automatically US citizens. When we visit American Samoa, we discover that there are some pretty surprising reasons why many American Samoans prefer it that way.   This episode was reported and produced by Julia Longoria. Special thanks to John Wasko. Check out Sam Erman's book Almost Citizens and Doug Mack's book The Not Quite States of America. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
March 29, 2019
When Nancy Holten was 8 years old her mom put her in a moving van. She fell asleep, woke up in Switzerland, and she's been there ever since. Nancy is big into animal rights, crystals, and various forms of natural and holistic healing. She’s also a viral sensation: the Dutch woman apparently so annoying, her Swiss town denied her citizenship. In this episode we go to the little village of Gipf-Oberfrick to meet Nancy, talk with the town, and ask the question: what does it mean and what does it take to belong to a place? This episode was reported by Kelly Prime and was produced by Kelly Prime and Annie McEwen.  Special thanks to reporter Anna Mayumi Kerber, the tireless fixer and translator for this story. Thanks also to Dominik Hangartner and to the very talented yodelers Ai Dineen and Gregory Corbino. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  A tasty note from Latif: Towards the end of the story, I casually mentioned a place called Greg's Poutine in Toronto.  Turns out, it's actually called Smoke's Poutinerie. (Confused it with Greg's Ice Cream.) Go. It's delicious. 
March 21, 2019
This week Jad and Radiolab alum Tim Howard revisit a favorite episode from 2012. Because moments of total, world-shaking bliss are not easy to come by. Maybe that's what makes them feel so life-altering when they strike. And so worth chasing. This hour: stories of striving, grasping, tripping, and falling for happiness, perfection, and ideals.   With Alexander Gamme, Arika Okrent, Richard Sproat, and Ken Libbrecht. This update was produced with help from Audrey Quinn. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
March 8, 2019
Part 2: Last year, we ran a pair of episodes that explored the greatest mysteries in our listeners’ lives - the big ones, little ones, and the ones in between. This year, we’re back on the hunt, tracking down answers to the big little questions swirling around our own heads. Today, we take a look at a strange human emotion, and investigate the mysteries lurking behind the trees, sounds, and furry friends in our lives.  This episode was reported by Tracie Hunte, Pat Walters, Molly Webster, Arianne Wack, Carter Hodge, Sarah Qari and Annie McEwen, and was produced by Matt Kielty, Tracie Hunte, Pat Walters, Molly Webster, Arianne Wack, Sarah Qari, Annie McEwen, and Simon Adler.  Special thanks to Yiyun Huang, lab manager at Yale's Canine Cognition Center. Check out Code Switch's "Dog Show!" Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
March 1, 2019
Last year, we ran a pair of episodes that explored the greatest mysteries in our listeners’ lives - the big ones, little ones, and the ones in between. This year, we’re back on the hunt, tracking down answers to the big little questions swirling around our own heads. We reached out to some of our favorite people and asked them to come along with us as we journeyed back in time, to outer space, and inside our very own bodies. This episode was reported by Rachael Cusick, Simon Adler, Becca Bressler, and Annie McEwen and was produced by Rachael Cusick, Simon Adler, Matt Kielty, Becca Bressler, and Annie McEwen. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.   
February 22, 2019
Our lives are filled with loops that hurt us, heal us, make us laugh, and, sometimes, leave us wanting more. This hour, Radiolab revisits the strange things that emerge when something happens, then happens again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and… well, again. In this episode of Radiolab, Jad and Robert try to explain an inexplicable comedy act, listen to a loop that literally dies in your ear, and they learn about a loop that sent a shudder up the collective spine of mathematicians everywhere. Finally, they talk to a woman who got to watch herself think the thought that she was watching herself think the thought that she was watching herself think the thought that ... you get the point. With Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunohler,  Alex Bellos, Steven Strogatz, Janna Levin, and Melanie Thernstrom. Plus mind-bending musical accompaniment from Laguardia Arts High School singers Nathaniel Sabat, Julian Soto, Eli Greenhoe, Kelly Efthimiu, Julia Egan, and Ruby Froom. You can find the video Christine Campbell made of her mom Mary Sue here. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
February 8, 2019
When a female animal is checking out her prospects, natural selection would dictate that she pay attention to how healthy, or strong, or fit he is. But when it comes to finding a mate, some animals seem to be engaged in a very different game. What if a female were looking for something else - something that has nothing to do with fitness? Something...beautiful? Today we explore a different way of looking at evolution and what it may mean for the course of science. This episode was reported by Robert Krulwich and Bethel Habte and was produced by Bethel Habte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
January 23, 2019
With Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the news and on the big screen recently, we decided to play the More Perfect show about her from back in November of 2017. This is the story of how Ginsburg, as a young lawyer at the ACLU, convinced an all-male Supreme Court to take discrimination against women seriously - using a case on discrimination against men.  This episode was reported by Julia Longoria. Special thanks to Stephen Wiesenfeld, Alison Keith, and Bob Darcy. Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
January 16, 2019
John Scott was the professional hockey player that every fan loved to hate.  A tough guy. A brawler. A goon. But when an impish pundit named Puck Daddy called on fans to vote for Scott to play alongside the world’s greatest players in the NHL All-Star Game, Scott found himself facing off against fans, commentators, and the powers that be.  Was this the realization of Scott’s childhood dreams? Or a nightmarish prank gone too far? Today on Radiolab, a goof on a goon turns into a parable of the agony and the ecstasy of the internet, and democracy in the age of Boaty McBoatface. This episode was reported by Latif Nasser and was produced by Matt Kielty. Special thanks to Larry Lynch and Morgan Springer. Check out John Scott's "Dropping the Gloves" podcast and his book "A Guy Like Me". Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.   
December 28, 2018
The question we get more than any other here at Radiolab is “Where do all those stories come from?”  Today, for the first time ever, we divulge our secret recipe for story-finding.  Veteran Radiolab story scout Latif Nasser takes our newest producer Rachael Cusick along for what he calls “the world’s biggest scavenger hunt.”  Together, they’ll make you want to bake some cookies and find some true stories.  But we can’t find, much less tell, true stories without you. Find it in yourself to donate and help us make another year of this possible. It's a choice only you can make. Radiolab.org/support   Here are story-finding resources mentioned in this episode: The World's Biggest Scavenger Hunt: Latif's Transom post on story scouting Google Alerts: Set up your own! Wikipedia Random Article: Play wiki roulette by clicking "random article" in the far-left column WorldCat: to find where a book exists in a library near you ArchiveGrid: to search libraries' special collections and oral histories Trade Publications: Search for trade magazines by industry Cusick Cookies: Rachael's cookie recipe...you're welcome.    
December 27, 2018
As legend goes, in 1562, King Philip II needed a miracle. So he commissioned one from a highly-skilled clockmaker. In this short, a king's deal with God leads to an intricate mechanical creation, and Jad heads to the Smithsonian to investigate.  When the 17-year-old crown prince of Spain, Don Carlos, fell down a set of stairs in 1562, he threw his whole country into a state of uncertainty about the future. Especially his father, King Philip II, who despite being the most powerful man in the world, was helpless in the face of his heir's terrible head wound. When none of the leading remedies of the day--bleeding, blistering, purging, or drilling--helped, the king enlisted the help of a relic...the corpse of a local holy man who had died 100 years earlier. Then, Philip II promised that if God saved his son, he'd repay him with a miracle of his own. Elizabeth King, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, describes how--according to legend--Philip II held up his end of the bargain with the help of a renowned clockmaker and an intricate invention. Jad and Latif head to the Smithsonian to meet curator Carlene E. Stephens who shows them the inner workings of a nearly 450-year-old monkbot.  This episode was reported by Latif Nasser.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
December 21, 2018
How do you fix a word that’s broken? A word we need when we bump into someone on the street, or break someone’s heart. In our increasingly disconnected secular world, “sorry” has been stretched and twisted, and in some cases weaponized. But it’s also one of the only ways we have to piece together a sense of shared values and beliefs. Through today's sea of sorry-not-sorries, empty apologies, and just straight up non-apologies, we wonder what it looks like to make amends. The program at Stanford that Leilani went through (and now works for) was a joint creation between Stanford and Lee Taft. Find out more here: www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/patient-family-resources/pearl This episode was reported by Annie McEwen and was produced by Annie McEwen and Simon Adler.  Special thanks to Mark Bressler, Nancy Kielty, and Patty Walters.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
November 28, 2018
Today on Radiolab, we're playing the fourth and final episode of a series Jad worked on called UnErased: The history of conversion therapy in America. Imagine... You’re openly gay. Then, you become the leader of the largest ex-gay organization and, under your leadership, many lives are destroyed. You leave that organization, come out as gay - again - and find love. Do you deserve to be happy? This is a story of identity, making amends and John Smid’s reckoning with his life.  UnErased is a series with Focus Features, Stitcher and Limina House in conjunction with the feature film, BOY ERASED. Special thanks go out to the folks at Anonymous Content for their support of UnErased.  If you want to hear the whole series, you can find UnErased in all the usual podcast places.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.     
November 22, 2018
Today on Radiolab, we're playing part of a series that Jad worked on called UnErased: The history of conversion therapy in America. The episode we're playing today, the third in the series, is one of the rarest stories of all: a man who publicly experiences a profound change of heart. This is a profile of one of the gods of psychotherapy, who through a reckoning with his own work (oddly enough in the pages of Playboy magazine), becomes the first domino to fall in science’s ultimate disowning of the “gay cure.” UnErased is a series with Focus Features, Stitcher and Limina House in conjunction with the feature film, BOY ERASED. Special thanks go out to the folks at Anonymous Content for their support of UnErased.  If you want to hear the whole series, you can find UnErased in all the usual podcast places.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
November 5, 2018
Democracy is on the ropes.  In the United States and abroad, citizens of democracies are feeling increasingly alienated, disaffected, and powerless.  Some are even asking themselves a question that feels almost too dangerous to say out loud: is democracy fundamentally broken?   Today on Radiolab, just a day before the American midterm elections, we ask a different question: how do we fix it?  We scrutinize one proposed tweak to the way we vote that could make politics in this country more representative, more moderate, and most shocking of all, more civil.  Could this one surprisingly do-able mathematical fix really turn political campaigning from a rude bloodsport to a campfire singalong? And even if we could do that, would we want to? This episode was reported by Latif Nasser, Simon Adler, Sarah Qari, Suzie Lechtenberg and Tracie Hunte, and was produced by Simon Adler, Matt Kielty, Sarah Qari, and Suzie Lechtenberg. Special thanks to Rob Richie (and everyone else at Fairvote), Don Saari, Diana Leygerman, Caroline Tolbert, Bobby Agee, Edward Still, Jim Blacksher, Allen Caton, Nikolas Bowie, John Hale, and Anna Luhrmann and the rest of the team at the Varieties of Democracy Institute in Sweden. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  oh...and GO VOTE!
October 30, 2018
It's been 80 years to the day since Orson Welles' infamous radio drama "The War of the Worlds" echoed far and wide over the airwaves. So we want to bring you back to our very first live hour, where we take a deep dive into what was one of the most controversial moments in broadcasting history. "The War of the Worlds," a radio play about Martians invading New Jersey, caused panic when it originally aired, and it's continued to fool people since--from Santiago, Chile to Buffalo, New York to a particularly disastrous evening in Quito, Ecuador. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
October 26, 2018
In the final episode of our “In The No” series, we sat down with several different groups of college-age women to talk about their sexual experiences. And we found that despite colleges now being steeped in conversations about consent, there was another conversation in intimate moments that just wasn't happening. In search of a script, we dive into the details of BDSM negotiations and are left wondering if all of this talk about consent is ignoring a larger problem. Further reading: "It's all about the Journey": Skepticism and Spirituality in the BDSM Subculture, by Julie Fennell Screw Consent, by Joe Fischel   This episode was reported by Becca Bressler and Shima Oliaee, and was produced by Bethel Habte. Special thanks to Ray Matienzo, Janet Hardy, Jay Wiseman, Peter Tupper, Susan Wright, and Dominus Eros of Pagan's Paradise.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
October 19, 2018
In the year since accusations of sexual assault were first brought against Harvey Weinstein, our news has been flooded with stories of sexual misconduct, indicting very visible figures in our public life. Most of these cases have involved unequivocal breaches of consent, some of which have been criminal. But what have also emerged are conversations surrounding more difficult situations to parse – ones that exist in a much grayer space. When we started our own reporting through this gray zone, we stumbled into a challenging conversation that we can’t stop thinking about. In this second episode of ‘In the No’, radio-maker Kaitlin Prest joins us for a conversation with Hanna Stotland, an educational consultant who specializes in crisis management. Her clients include students who have been expelled from school for sexual misconduct. In the aftermath, Hanna helps them reapply to school. While Hanna shares some of her more nuanced and confusing cases, we wrestle with questions of culpability, generational divides, and the utility of fear in changing our culture. Advisory: This episode contains some graphic language and descriptions of very sensitive sexual situations, including discussions of sexual assault, consent and accountability, which may be very difficult for people to listen to. Visit The National Sexual Assault Hotline at online.rainn.org for resources and support.  This episode was reported with help from Becca Bressler and Shima Oliaee, and produced with help from Rachael Cusick.  Special thanks to Ben Burke and Jackson Prince. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
October 11, 2018
In 2017, radio-maker Kaitlin Prest released a mini-series called "No" about her personal struggle to understand and communicate about sexual consent. That show, which dives into the experience, moment by moment, of navigating sexual intimacy, struck a chord with many of us. It's gorgeous, deeply personal, and incredibly thoughtful. And it seemed to presage a much larger conversation that is happening all around us in this moment. And so we decided to embark, with Kaitlin, on our own exploration of this topic. Over the next three episodes, we'll wander into rooms full of college students, hear from academics and activists, and sit in on classes about BDSM. But to start things off, we are going to share with you the story that started it all. Today, meet Kaitlin (if you haven't already).  In The No Part 1 is a collaboration with Kaitlin Prest. It was produced with help from Becca Bressler. The "No" series, from The Heart was created by writer/director Kaitlin Prest, editors Sharon Mashihi and Mitra Kaboli, assistant producer Ariel Hahn and associate producer Phoebe Wang, associate sound designer Shani Aviram. Special thanks to actor Tommy Schell. Check out Kaitlin's new show, The Shadows. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
September 28, 2018
Today, a challenge: bear with us. We decided to shake things up at the show so we threw our staff a curveball, Walter Matthau-style. In two weeks time we told our producers to pitch, report, and produce stories about breaking news….or bears. What emerged was a sort of love letter for our honey-loving friends and a discovery that they embody so much more than we could have imagined: a town’s symbol for hope, a celebrity, a foe, and a clue to future ways we’ll deal with our changing environment.  This episode was reported and produced by Simon Adler, Molly Webster, Bethel Habte, Pat Walters, Matt Kielty, Rachael Cusick, Annie McEwen and Latif Nasser. Special thanks to Wendy Card, Marlene Zuk, Karyn Rode, Barbara Nielsen and Steven Amstrup at Polar Bears International, Jimmy Thomson, Adam Kudlak, Greg Durner, Todd Atwood, and Dawn Curtis and the Environment and Natural Resources Department of Northwest Territories. And thanks to composer Anthony Plog for allowing us to use the Fourth Movement of his "Fantasy Movement," "Very Fast and Manic," performed by Eufonix Quartet off of their album Nuclear Breakfast, available from Potenza Music.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
September 21, 2018
Today, a fast moving, sidestepping, gene-swapping free-for-all that would’ve made Darwin’s head spin. David Quammen tells us about a shocking way that life can evolve - infective heredity. To figure it all out we go back to the earliest versions of life, and we revisit an earlier version of Radiolab. After reckoning with a scientific icon, we find ourselves in a tangle of genes that sheds new light on peppered moths, drug-resistant bugs, and a key moment in the evolution of life when mammals went a little viral. Check out David Quammen's book The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life  This episode was produced by Soren Wheeler.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
September 19, 2018
More Perfect is back with something totally new and exciting. They just dropped an ALBUM. 27: The Most Perfect Album is like a Constitutional mix-tape, a Schoolhouse Rock for the 21st century. The album features original tracks by artists like Dolly Parton, Kash Doll, and Devendra Banhart: 27+ songs inspired by the 27 Amendments. Alongside the album they'll be releasing short stories deep-diving into each amendment's history and resonance. In this episode, we preview a few songs and dive into the poetic dream behind the First Amendment. The whole album, plus the first episode of More Perfect Season 3 is out now. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
August 29, 2018
Horseshoe crabs are not much to look at.  But beneath their unassuming catcher’s-mitt shell, they harbor a half-billion-year-old secret: a superpower that helped them outlive the dinosaurs and survive all the Earth’s mass extinctions.  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. This episode was reported by Latif Nasser with help from Damiano Marchetti and Lulu Miller, and was produced by Annie McEwen and Matt Kielty with help from Liza Yeager. Special thanks to Arlene Shaner at the NY Academy of Medicine, Tim Wisniewski at the Alan Mason Cheney Medical Archives at Johns Hopkins University, Jennifer Walton at the library of the Marine Biological Lab, and Glenn Gauvry at the Ecological Research and Development Group. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
August 17, 2018
Back in 2008 Facebook began writing a document. It was a constitution of sorts, laying out what could and what couldn’t be posted on the site. Back then, the rules were simple, outlawing nudity and gore. Today, they’re anything but.  How do you define hate speech? Where’s the line between a joke and an attack? How much butt is too much butt? Facebook has answered these questions. And from these answers they’ve written a rulebook that all 2.2 billion of us are expected to follow. Today, we explore that rulebook. We dive into its details and untangle its logic. All the while wondering what does this mean for the future of free speech? This episode was reported by Simon Adler with help from Tracie Hunte and was produced by Simon Adler with help from Bethel Habte. Special thanks to Sarah Roberts, Jeffrey Rosen, Carolyn Glanville, Ruchika Budhraja, Brian Dogan, Ellen Silver, James Mitchell, Guy Rosen, and our voice actor Michael Chernus. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
July 28, 2018
With all of the black-and-white moralizing in our world today, we decided to bring back an old show about the little bit of bad that's in all of us...and the little bit of really, really bad that's in some of us.   Cruelty, violence, badness... in this episode we begin with a chilling statistic: 91% of men, and 84% of women, have fantasized about killing someone. We take a look at one particular fantasy lurking behind these numbers, and wonder what this shadow world might tell us about ourselves and our neighbors. Then, we reconsider what Stanley Milgram's famous experiment really revealed about human nature (it's both better and worse than we thought). Next, we meet a man who scrambles our notions of good and evil: chemist Fritz Haber, who won a Nobel Prize in 1918...around the same time officials in the US were calling him a war criminal. And we end with the story of a man who chased one of the most prolific serial killers in US history, then got a chance to ask him the question that had haunted him for years: why? This episode was produced with help from Carter Hodge. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
July 27, 2018
In this episode, an edited down version of a Radiolab Presents: Gonads Live show, host Molly Webster brings together a cast of storytellers, educators, artists, and comedians to grapple with sex ed in unexpected and thoughtful ways.  "Sex Ed" is an edited recording of a live event hosted by Radiolab at the Skirball Center in New York City on May 16, 2018. Radiolab Team Gonads is Molly Webster, Pat Walters, and Rachael Cusick, with Jad Abumrad. Live music, including the sex ed questions, and the Gonads theme song, were written, performed, and produced by Majel Connery and Alex Overington.  Radiolab is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. And the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
July 22, 2018
When Dana Zzyym applied for their first passport back in 2014, they were handed a pretty straightforward application. Name, place of birth, photo ID -- the usual. But one question on the application stopped Dana in their tracks: male or female? Dana, technically, wasn’t either. In this episode, we follow the story of Dana Zzyym, Navy veteran and activist, which starts long before they scribble the word "intersex” on their passport application. Along the way, we see what happens when our inner biological realities bump into the outside world, and the power of words to shape us. This episode is a companion piece to Gonads, Episode 4, Dutee. "Dana" was reported by Molly Webster, and co-produced with Jad Abumrad. It had production help from Rachael Cusick, and editing by Pat Walters. Wordplay categories were written, performed, and produced by Majel Connery and Alex Overington.  Special thanks to Paula Stone Williams, Gerry Callahan, Lambda Legal, Kathy Tu, Matt Collette, Arianne Wack, Carter Hodge, and Liza Yeager. Radiolab is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. And the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
July 22, 2018
In 2014, India’s Dutee Chand was a rising female track and field star, crushing national records. But then, that summer, something unexpected happened: she failed a gender test. And was banned from the sport. Before she knew it, Dutee was thrown into the middle of a controversy that started long before her, and continues on today: how to separate males and females in sport. This story is a companion piece to Gonads, Episode 5, Dana.  "Dutee" was reported by Molly Webster, with co-reporting and translation by Sarah Qari. It was produced by Pat Walters, with production help from Jad Abumrad and Rachael Cusick. The Gonads theme was written, performed, and produced by Majel Connery and Alex Overington. Special thanks to Geertje Mak, Maayan Sudai, Andrea Dunaif, Bhrikuti Rai, Joe Osmundson, and Payoshni Mitra. Plus, former Olympic runner Madeleine Pape, who is currently studying regulations around female, transgender, and intersex individuals in sport. Radiolab is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. And the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
June 30, 2018
A lot of us understand biological sex with a pretty fateful underpinning: if you’re born with XX chromosomes, you’re female; if you’re born with XY chromosomes, you’re male. But it turns out, our relationship to the opposite sex is more complicated than we think. And if you caught this show on-air, and would like to listen to the full version of our Sex Ed Live Show, you can check it out here.  This episode was reported by Molly Webster, and produced by Matt Kielty. With scoring, original composition and mixing by Matt Kielty and Alex Overington. Additional production by Rachael Cusick, and editing by Pat Walters. The “Ballad of Daniel Webster” and “Gonads” was written, performed and produced by Majel Connery and Alex Overington. Special thanks to Erica Todd, Andrew Sinclair, Robin Lovell-Badge, and Sarah S. Richardson. Plus, a big thank you to the musicians who gave us permission to use their work in this episode—composer Erik Friedlander, for "Frail as a Breeze, Part II," and musician Sam Prekop, whose work "A Geometric," from his album The Republic, is out on Thrill Jockey. Radiolab is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. And the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org.  
June 23, 2018
At 28 years old, Annie Dauer was living a full life. She had a job she loved as a highschool PE teacher, a big family who lived nearby, and a serious boyfriend. Then, cancer struck. Annie would come to find out she had Stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It was so aggressive, there was a real chance she might die. Her oncologists wanted her to start treatment immediately. Like, end-of-the-week immediately. But before Annie started treatment, she walked out of the doctor’s office and crossed the street to see a fertility doctor doing an experimental procedure that sounded like science fiction: ovary freezing. Further ReadingA medical case report on Annie’s frozen ovariesWhat’s primordial germ cells got to do with it? This episode was reported by Molly Webster, and produced by Pat Walters. With original music and scoring by Dylan Keefe and Alex Overington. The Gonads theme was written, performed, and produced by Majel Connery and Alex Overington. Additional production by Rachael Cusick, and editing by Jad Abumrad. Radiolab is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. And the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
June 15, 2018
At two weeks old, the human embryo has only just begun its months-long journey to become a baby. The embryo is tiny, still invisible to the naked eye. But inside it, an epic struggle plays out, as a nomadic band of cells marches toward a mysterious destiny, with the future of humanity resting on their microscopic shoulders. If you happened to have caught this show on air, you can find the second half of our broadcast version here.  This episode was reported by Molly Webster, and produced by Jad Abumrad. With scoring and original composition by Alex Overington and Dylan Keefe. Additional production by Rachael Cusick, and editing by Pat Walters. The “Ballad of the Fish” and “Gonads” was composed and sung by Majel Connery, and produced by Alex Overington. Special thanks to Ruth Lehmann and Dagmar Wilhelm. Radiolab is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. And the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
June 8, 2018
We originally posted this episode in 2015, and it inspired producer Molly Webster to take a deep dive into the wild and mysterious world of human reproduction. Starting next week, she’ll be taking over the Radiolab podcast feed for a month to present a series of mind-bending stories that make us rethink the ways we make more of us. You know the drill - all it takes is one sperm, one egg, and blammo - you got yourself a baby. Right? Well, in this episode, conception takes on a new form - it’s the sperm and the egg, plus: two wombs, four countries, and money. Lots of money.  At first, this is the story of an Israeli couple, two guys, 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 consider bans on surrogacy, this episode looks at a relationship that manages to feel deeply affecting, and deeply uncomfortable, all 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!  Israel Story's five English-language seasons were produced in partnership with Tablet Magazine and we highly recommend you listen to all of their work at  http://www.tabletmag.com/tag/israel-story 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; Doron Mamet, Dr Nayana Patel, and Vicki Ferrara; with translation help from Aya Keefe, Karthik Ravindra, Turna Ray, Tom Wasserman, Pradeep Thapa, and Adhikaar, an organization in Ridgewood, Queens advocating for the Nepali-speaking community.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
June 1, 2018
When reporter Brenna Farrell was a new mom, her son gave her and her husband a scare -- prompting them to call Poison Control. For Brenna, the experience was so odd, and oddly comforting, that she decided to dive into the birth story of this invisible network of poison experts, and try to understand the evolving relationship we humans have with our poisonous planet. As we learn about how poison control has changed over the years, we end up wondering what a place devoted to data and human connection can tell us about ourselves in this cultural moment of anxiety and information-overload. Call the national Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 or text POISON to 797979 to save the number in your phone. This episode was reported by Brenna Farrell and was produced by Annie McEwen. Special thanks to Wendy Blair Stephan, Whitney Pennington, Richard Dart, Marian Moser Jones, and Nathalie Wheaton. Thanks also to Lewis Goldfrank, Robert Hoffman, Steven Marcus, Toby Litovitz, James O'Donnell, and Joseph Botticelli.   Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
May 22, 2018
This week, we're throwing it back to an old favorite: a story about obsession, creativity, and a strange symmetry between a biologist and a composer that revolves around one famously repetitive piece of music. Anne Adams was a brilliant biologist. But when her son Alex was in a bad car accident, she decided to stay home to help him recover. And then, rather suddenly, she decided to quit science altogether and become a full-time artist. After that, her husband Robert Adams tells us, she just painted and painted and painted. First houses and buildings, then a series of paintings involving strawberries, and then ... "Bolero." At some point, Anne became obsessed with Maurice Ravel's famous composition and decided to put an elaborate visual rendition of the song to canvas. She called it "Unraveling Bolero." But at the time, she had no idea that both she and Ravel would themselves unravel shortly after their experiences with this odd piece of music. Arbie Orenstein tells us what happened to Ravel after he wrote "Bolero," and neurologist Bruce Miller helps us understand how, for both Anne and Ravel, "Bolero" might have been the first symptom of a deadly disease.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. Read more: Unravelling Bolero: progressive aphasia, transmodal creativity and the right posterior neocortex Arbie Orenstein's Ravel: Man and Musician
May 18, 2018
Seven years ago chatbots - those robotic texting machines - were a mere curiosity. They were noticeably robotic and at their most malicious seemed only capable of scamming men looking for love online. Today, the chatbot landscape is wildly different. From election interference to spreading hate, chatbots have become online weapons. And so, we decided to reinvestigate the role these robotic bits of code play in our lives and the effects they’re having on us. We begin with a little theater. In our live show “Robert or Robot?” Jad and Robert test 100 people to see if they can spot a bot. We then take a brief detour to revisit the humanity of the Furby, and finish in a virtual house where the line between technology and humanity becomes blurrier than ever before. This episode was reported and produced by Simon Adler. Our live event was produced by Simon Adler and Suzie Lechtenberg. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. Note from the Managing Editor: In the original version of our “More or Less Human” podcast, our introduction of neuroscientist Mavi Sanchez-Vives began with mention of her husband, Mel Slater. We’ve edited that introduction because it was a mistake to introduce her first as someone’s wife. Dr. Sanchez-Vives is an exceptional scientist and we’re sorry that the original introduction distracted from or diminished her work.   On a personal note, I failed to take due note of this while editing the piece, and in doing so, I flubbed what’s known as the Finkbeiner Test (all the more embarrassing given that Ann Finkebeiner is a mentor and one of my favorite science journalists). In addition to being a mistake, this is also a reminder to all of us at Radiolab that we need to be more aware of our blind spots. We should’ve done better, and we will do better.  - Soren Wheeler 
April 26, 2018
Astronauts at the International Space Station can make one request to talk to an earthling of their choice. For some reason, Astronaut Mark Vande Hei chose us. A couple weeks ago, we were able to video chat with Mark and peer over his shoulder through the Cupola, an observatory room in the ISS. Traveling at 17,000 miles an hour, we zoomed from the Rockies to the East Coast in minutes. And from where Mark sits, the total darkness of space isn’t very far away.  Talking to Mark brought us back to 2012, when we spoke to another astronaut, Dave Wolf. When we were putting together our live show In the Dark, Jad and Robert called up Dave Wolf to ask him if he had any stories about darkness. And boy, did he. Dave told us two stories that  became the finale of our show. Back in late 1997, Dave Wolf was on his first spacewalk, to perform work on the Mir. Dave wasn't alone -- with him was veteran Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Solovyev.  Out in blackness of space, the contrast between light and dark is almost unimaginably extreme -- every 45 minutes, you plunge between absolute darkness on the night-side of Earth, and blazing light as the sun screams into view. Dave and Anatoly were tethered to the spacecraft, traveling 5 miles per second. That's 16 times faster than we travel on Earth's surface as it rotates -- so as they orbited, they experienced 16 nights and 16 days for every Earth day. Dave's description of his first spacewalk was all we could've asked for, and more. But what happened next ... well, it's just one of those stories that you always hope an astronaut will tell. Dave and Anatoly were ready to call it a job and head back into the Mir when something went wrong with the airlock. They couldn't get it to re-pressurize. In other words, they were locked out. After hours of trying to fix the airlock, they were running out of the resources that kept them alive in their space suits and facing a grisly death. So, they unhooked their tethers, and tried one last desperate move. In the end, they made it through, and Dave went on to perform dozens more spacewalks in the years to come, but he never again experienced anything like those harrowing minutes trying to improvise his way back into the Mir. After that terrifying tale, Dave told us about another moment he and Anatoly shared, floating high above Earth, staring out into the universe ... a moment so beautiful, and peaceful, we decided to use the audience recreate it, as best we could, for the final act of our live show. This episode was produced by Matt Kielty and Soren Wheeler.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
April 20, 2018
Border Trilogy While scouring the Sonoran Desert for objects left behind by migrants crossing into the United States, anthropologist Jason De León happened upon something he didn't expect to get left behind: a human arm, stripped of flesh. This macabre discovery sent him reeling, needing to know what exactly happened to the body, and how many migrants die that way in the wilderness. In researching border-crosser deaths in the Arizona desert, he noticed something surprising. Sometime in the late-1990s, the number of migrant deaths shot up dramatically and have stayed high since. Jason traced this increase to a Border Patrol policy still in effect, called “Prevention Through Deterrence.” Over three episodes, Radiolab will investigate this policy, its surprising origins, and the people whose lives were changed forever because of it.   Part 3: What Remains  The third episode in our Border Trilogy follows anthropologist Jason De León after he makes a grisly discovery in Arivaca, Arizona. In the middle of carrying out his pig experiments with his students, Jason finds the body of a 30-year-old female migrant. With the help of the medical examiner and some local humanitarian groups, Jason discovers her identity. Her name was Maricela. Jason then connects with her family, including her brother-in-law, who survived his own harrowing journey through Central America and the Arizona desert. With the human cost of Prevention Through Deterrence weighing on our minds, we try to parse what drives migrants like Maricela to cross through such deadly terrain, and what, if anything, could deter them. This episode was reported by Latif Nasser and Tracie Hunte and was produced by Matt Kielty and Tracie Hunte.  Special thanks to Carlo Albán, Sandra Lopez-Monsalve, Chava Gourarie, Lynn M. Morgan, Mike Wells and Tom Barry. Jason de Leon's latest work is a global participatory art project called Hostile Terrain 94, which will be exhibited at over 70 different locations around the world in 2020.  Read more about it here.   Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.   CORRECTION: An earlier version of this episode incorrectly stated that a person's gender can be identified from bone remains. We've adjusted the audio to say that a person's sex can be identified from bone remains. 
April 6, 2018
Border Trilogy  While scouring the Sonoran Desert for objects left behind by migrants crossing into the United States, anthropologist Jason De León happened upon something he didn't expect to get left behind: a human arm, stripped of flesh. This macabre discovery sent him reeling, needing to know what exactly happened to the body, and how many migrants die that way in the wilderness.  In researching border-crosser deaths in the Arizona desert, he noticed something surprising. Sometime in the late-1990s, the number of migrant deaths shot up dramatically and have stayed high since. Jason traced this increase to a Border Patrol policy still in effect, called “Prevention Through Deterrence.” Over three episodes, Radiolab will investigate this policy, its surprising origins, and the people whose lives were changed forever because of it.   Part 2: Hold the Line After the showdown in court with Bowie High School, Border Patrol brings in a fresh face to head its dysfunctional El Paso Sector: Silvestre Reyes. The first Mexican-American to ever hold the position, Reyes knows something needs to change and has an idea how to do it. One Saturday night at midnight, with the element of surprise on his side, Reyes unveils ... Operation Blockade. It wins widespread support for the Border Patrol in El Paso, but sparks major protests across the Rio Grande. Soon after, he gets a phone call that catapults his little experiment onto the national stage, where it works so well that it diverts migrant crossing patterns along the entire U.S.-Mexico Border. Years later, in the Arizona desert, anthropologist Jason de León realizes that in order to accurately gauge how many migrants die crossing the desert, he must first understand how human bodies decompose in such an extreme environment. He sets up a macabre experiment, and what he finds is more drastic than anything he could have expected. This episode was reported by Latif Nasser and Tracie Hunte, and was produced by Matt Kielty, Bethel Habte and Latif Nasser. Special thanks to Sherrie Kossoudji at the University of Michigan, Lynn M. Morgan, Cheryl Howard, Andrew Hansen, William Sabol, Donald B. White, Daniel Martinez, Michelle Mittelstadt at the Migration Policy Institute, Former Executive Assistant to the El Paso Mayor Mark Smith, Retired Assistant Border Patrol Sector Chief Clyde Benzenhoefer, Paul Anderson, Eric Robledo, Maggie Southard Gladstone and Kate Hall. Jason de Leon's latest work is a global participatory art project called Hostile Terrain 94, which will be exhibited at over 70 different locations around the world in 2020.  Read more about it here.   Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.   CORRECTION: An earlier version of this piece incorrectly stated that Silvestre Reyes's brother died in a car accident in 1968; it was actually his father who died in the accident.  We also omitted a detail about the 1997 GAO report that we quote, namely that it predicted that as deaths in the mountains and deserts might rise, deaths in other areas might also fall. The audio has been adjusted accordingly.  
March 23, 2018
Border Trilogy While scouring the Sonoran Desert for objects left behind by migrants crossing into the United States, anthropologist Jason De León happened upon something he didn't expect to get left behind: a human arm, stripped of flesh. This macabre discovery sent him reeling, needing to know what exactly happened to the body, and how many migrants die that way in the wilderness. In researching border-crosser deaths in the Arizona desert, he noticed something surprising. Sometime in the late-1990s, the number of migrant deaths shot up dramatically and have stayed high since. Jason traced this increase to a Border Patrol policy still in effect, called “Prevention Through Deterrence.” Over three episodes, Radiolab will investigate this policy, its surprising origins, and the people whose lives were changed forever because of it.   Part 1: Hole in the Fence: We begin one afternoon in May 1992, when a student named Albert stumbled in late for history class at Bowie High School in El Paso, Texas. His excuse: Border Patrol. Soon more stories of students getting stopped and harassed by Border Patrol started pouring in. So begins the unlikely story of how a handful of Mexican-American high schoolers in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country stood up to what is today the country’s largest federal law enforcement agency. They had no way of knowing at the time, but what would follow was a chain of events that would drastically change the US-Mexico border. This episode was reported by Latif Nasser and Tracie Hunte and was produced by Matt Kielty, Bethel Habte, Tracie Hunte and Latif Nasser.  Special thanks to Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, Estela Reyes López, Barbara Hines, Lynn M. Morgan, Mallory Falk, Francesca Begos and Nancy Wiese from Hachette Book Group, Professor Michael Olivas at the University of Houston Law Center, and Josiah McC. Heyman, Ph.D, Director, Center for Interamerican and Border Studies and Professor of Anthropology. Jason de Leon's latest work is a global participatory art project called Hostile Terrain 94, which will be exhibited at over 70 different locations around the world in 2020.  Read more about it here.   Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
March 15, 2018
One of our most popular episodes of all time was our Colors episode, where we introduced you to a sea creature that could see a rainbow far beyond what humans can experience. Peacock mantis shrimps are as extraordinary as they are strange and boast what may well be the most complicated visual system in the world. They each have 16 photoreceptors compared to our measly three. But recently researchers in Australia put the mantis shrimps’ eyes to the test only to discover that sure, they can SEE lots of colors, but that doesn't mean they can tell them apart. In fact, when two colors are close together - like yellow and yellow-y green - they can’t seem to tell them apart at all.   MORE ON COLORS: There was a time -- between the flickery black-and-white films of yore and the hi-def color-corrected movies we watch today -- when color was in flux. Check out this blog post on how colors made it to the big screen from our director of research, Latif Nasser.  Our original episode was produced by Tim Howard and Pat Walters. This update was produced by Amanda Aronczyk. Special thanks to Chris Martin of Creative Aquarium Nation, Phil Weissman, David Gebel and Kate Hinds for lending us their colorful garments. Also thanks to Michael Kerschner, Elisa Nikoloulias and the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus, as well as Chase Culpon and The Greene Space team. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
February 23, 2018
The shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018, reignited an increasingly familiar debate about guns in this country. Today, we’re re-releasing a More Perfect episode that aired just after the Las Vegas shooting last year that attempts to make sense of our country’s fraught relationship with the Second Amendment. For nearly 200 years of our nation’s history, the Second Amendment was an all-but-forgotten rule about the importance of militias. But in the 1960s and 70s, a movement emerged — led by Black Panthers and a recently-repositioned NRA — that insisted owning a firearm was the right of each and every American. So began a constitutional debate that only the Supreme Court could solve. That didn’t happen until 2008, when a Washington, D.C. security guard named Dick Heller made a compelling case.
February 20, 2018
We don’t do breaking news. But when Robert Mueller released his indictment a few days ago, alleging that 13 Russian nationals colluded to disrupt the 2016 elections, we had a lot of questions. Who are these Russian individuals sowing discord? And who are these Americans that were manipulated?? Join us as we follow a trail of likes and tweets that takes us from a Troll Factory to a Cheesecake Factory. This episode was produced by Simon Adler and Annie McEwen with reporting help from Becca Bressler and Charles Maynes.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
February 14, 2018
Do you really need a brain to sense the world around you? To remember? Or even learn? Well, it depends on who you ask. Jad and Robert, they are split on this one. Today, Robert drags Jad along on a parade for the surprising feats of brainless plants. Along with a home-inspection duo, a science writer, and some enterprising scientists at Princeton University, we dig into the work of evolutionary ecologist Monica Gagliano, who turns our brain-centered worldview on its head through a series of clever experiments that show plants doing things we never would've imagined. Can Robert get Jad to join the march? This episode was produced by Annie McEwen.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
February 4, 2018
In anticipation of Super Bowl LII (Go Eagles), we're revisiting an old episode about the surprising history of how the game came to be. It's the end of the 19th century -- the Civil War is over, and the frontier is dead. And young college men are anxious. What great struggle will test their character? Then along comes a new craze: football. A brutally violent game where young men can show a stadium full of fans just what they're made of. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Penn -- the sons of the most powerful men in the country are literally knocking themselves out to win these gladiatorial battles. And then the most American team of all, with the most to prove, gets in the game and owns it. The Carlisle Indian School, formed in 1879 to assimilate the children and grandchildren of the men who fought the final Plains Wars against the fathers and grandfathers of the Ivy Leaguers, starts challenging the best teams in the country. On the football field, Carlisle had a chance for a fair fight with high stakes -- a chance to earn respect, a chance to be winners, and a chance to go forward in a changing world that was destroying theirs.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
January 31, 2018
An unassuming string of 16 words tucked into the Constitution grants Congress extensive power to make laws that impact the entire nation. The Commerce Clause has allowed Congress to intervene in all kinds of situations — from penalizing one man for growing too much wheat on his farm, to enforcing the end of racial segregation nationwide. That is, if the federal government can make an economic case for it. This seemingly all-powerful tool has the potential to unite the 50 states into one nation and protect the civil liberties of all. But it also challenges us to consider: when we make everything about money, what does it cost us?
January 23, 2018
How do you pay proper tribute to a legend that many people haven’t heard of? We began asking ourselves this question last week when the visionary radio producer Joe Frank passed away, after a long struggle with colon cancer.  Joe Frank was the radio producer’s radio producer.  He told stories that were thrillingly weird, deeply mischievous (and sometimes head-spinningly confusing!). He had a big impact on us at Radiolab.  For Jad, his Joe Frank moment happened in 2002, while sitting at a mixing console in an AM radio studio waiting to read the weather.  Joe Frank's Peabody Award-winning series "Rent-A-Family” came on the air. Time stood still. We’ve since learned that many of our peers have had similar Joe Frank moments. In this episode, we commemorate one of the greats with Brooke Gladstone from On the Media and Ira Glass from This American Life.  This episode was produced by Jad Abumrad with help from Kelly Prime and Sarah Qari.  A very special thanks to Michal Story. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
January 9, 2018
What are people thinking when they risk their lives for someone else? Are they making complicated calculations of risk or diving in without a second thought? Is heroism an act of sympathy or empathy?   A few years ago, we spoke with Walter F. Rutkowski about how the Carnegie Hero Fund selects its heroes, an honor the fund bestows upon ordinary people who have done extraordinary acts. When some of these heroes were asked what they were thinking when they leapt into action, they replied: they didn’t think about it, they just went in. Neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky says there is a certain kind of empathy that leads to action. But feeling the pain of another person deeply is not necessarily what makes a hero.   Our original episode was reported and produced by Lynn Levy and Tim Howard. This update was produced by Amanda Aronczyk. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
December 29, 2017
Take a stroll through where Radiolab is made and meet some of the people who have created your favorite episodes. Help make another year of curiosity possible. Radiolab.org/support
December 22, 2017
We're back with Part 2! When we dumped out our bucket of questions, there was a lot of spillover. Like, A LOT of spillover. So today, we’re chasing down answers to some bigger, little questions.   This episode was reported and produced by Annie McEwen, Bethel Habte, Latif Nasser, Matt Kielty, Simon Adler and Tracie Hunte. Special thanks to Stephen Brady and Staff Sergeant Erica Picariello in the US Air Force's 21st Space Wing. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
December 20, 2017
Here at the show, we get a lot of questions. Like, A LOT of questions. Tiny questions, big questions, short questions, long questions. Weird questions. Poop questions. We get them all. And over the years, as more and more of these questions arrived in our inbox, what happened was, guiltily, we put them off to the side, in a bucket of sorts, where they just sat around, unanswered. But now, we’re dumping the bucket out. Today, our producers pick up a few of the questions that spilled out of that bucket, and venture out into the great unknown to find answers to some of life's greatest mysteries: coincidences; miracles; life; death; fate; will; and, of course, poop. This episode was reported and produced by Rachael Cusick, Tracie Hunte and Matt Kielty.  Special thanks to Blake Nguyen, Sarah Murphy and the New York Public Library.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
December 5, 2017
When we started reporting a fantastic, surreal story about one very cold night, more than 70 years ago, in northern Russia, we had no idea we'd end up thinking about cosmology. Or dropping toy horses in test tubes of water. Or talking about bacteria. Or arguing, for a year. Walter Murch (aka, the Godfather of The Godfather), joined by a team of scientists, leads us on what felt like the magical mystery tour of super cool science. This piece was produced by Molly Webster and Matt Kielty with help from Amanda Aronczyk.  It originally aired in March of 2014. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
November 30, 2017
This story comes from the second season of Radiolab's spin-off podcast, More Perfect. To hear more, subscribe here. On a fall afternoon in 1984, Dethorne Graham ran into a convenience store for a bottle of orange juice. Minutes later he was unconscious, injured, and in police handcuffs. In this episode, we explore a case that sent two Charlotte lawyers on a quest for true objectivity, and changed the face of policing in the US.     The key voices: Dethorne Graham Jr., son of Dethorne Graham, appellant in Graham v. Connor Edward G. (Woody) Connette, lawyer who represented Graham in the lower courts Gerald Beaver, lawyer who represented Graham at the Supreme Court Kelly McEvers, host of Embedded and All Things Considered    The key case: 1989: Graham v. Connor   Additional production for this episode by Dylan Keefe and Derek John; additional music by Matt Kielty and Nicolas Carter. Special thanks to Cynthia Lee, Frank B. Aycock III, Josh Rosenkrantz, Leonard Feldman, and Ben Montgomery. Leadership support for More Perfect is provided by The Joyce Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation. Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell.
November 23, 2017
Back in 1995, Claude Steele published a study that showed that negative stereotypes could have a detrimental effect on students' academic performance. But the big surprise was that he could make that effect disappear with just a few simple changes in language. We were completely enamoured with this research when we first heard about it, but in the current roil of replications and self-examination in the field of social psychology, we have to wonder whether we can still cling to the hopes of our earlier selves, or if we might have to grow up just a little bit. This piece was produced by Simon Adler and Amanda Aronczyk and reported by Dan Engber and Amanda Aronczyk.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
November 10, 2017
You never know what might happen when you sign up to donate bone marrow. You might save a life… or you might be magically transported across a cultural chasm and find yourself starring in a modern adaptation of the greatest story ever told. One day, without thinking much of it, Jennell Jenney swabbed her cheek and signed up to be a donor.  Across the country, Jim Munroe desperately needed a miracle, a one-in-eight-million connection that would save him. It proved to be a match made in marrow, a bit of magic in the world that hadn’t been there before.  But when Jennell and Jim had a heart-to-heart in his suburban Dallas backyard, they realized they had contradictory ideas about where that magic came from. Today, an allegory for how to walk through the world in a way that lets you be deeply different, but totally together.  This piece was reported by Latif Nasser.  It was produced by Annie McEwen, with help from Bethel Habte and Alex Overington. Special thanks to Dr. Matthew J. Matasar, Dr. John Hill, Stephen Spellman at CIBMTR, St. Cloud State University’s Cru Chapter, and Mandy Naglich.   Join Be The Match's bone marrow registry here.  
October 27, 2017
There’s nothing quite like the sound of someone thinking out loud, struggling to find words and ideas to match what’s in their head. Today, we are allowed to dip into the unfiltered thoughts of Oliver Sacks, one of our heroes, in the last months of his life.  Oliver died in 2015, but before he passed he and his partner Bill Hayes, in an effort to preserve some of Oliver’s thoughts on his work and his life, bought a little tape recorder. Over a year and half after Oliver’s death, Bill dug up the recorder and turned it on. Through snippets of conversation with Bill, and in moments Oliver recorded whispering to himself as he wrote, we get a peek inside the head, and the life, of one of the greatest science essayists of all time. The passages read in this piece all come from Oliver’s recently released, posthumous book, The River of Consciousness.  Special thanks to Billy Hayes for letting us use Oliver’s tapes, you can check out his work at http://www.billhayes.com/    
October 13, 2017
Today, while the divisions between different groups in this country feel more and more insurmountable, we zero in on a particular neighborhood to see if one man can draw people together in a potentially history-making election.  Khader El-Yateem is a Palestinian American running for office in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, one of the most divided, and most conservative neighborhoods in New York City. To win, he'll need to convince a wildly diverse population that he can speak for all of them, and he'll need to pull one particular group of people, Arab American Muslims, out of the shadows and into the political process. And to make things just a bit more interesting, El-Yateem is a Lutheran minister. This story was reported and produced by Simon Adler, with help from Bethel Habte, Annie McEwen, and Sarah Qari.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
October 2, 2017
This story comes from the second season of Radiolab's spin-off podcast, More Perfect. To hear more, subscribe here. What happens when the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, seems to get it wrong? Korematsu v. United States is a case that’s been widely denounced and discredited, but it still remains on the books. This is the case that upheld President Franklin Roosevelt’s internment of American citizens during World War II based solely on their Japanese heritage, for the sake of national security. In this episode, we follow Fred Korematsu’s path to the Supreme Court, and we ask the question: if you can’t get justice in the Supreme Court, can you find it someplace else?  The key voices: Fred Korematsu, plaintiff in Korematsu v. United States who resisted evacuation orders during World War II. Karen Korematsu, Fred’s daughter, Founder & Executive Director of Fred T. Korematsu Institute Ernest Besig, ACLU lawyer who helped Fred Korematsu bring his case Lorraine Bannai, Professor at Seattle University School of Law and friend of Fred's family Richard Posner, recently retired Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit  The key cases: 1944: Korematsu v. United States  The key links: Fred T. Korematsu Institute Densho Archives Additional music for this episode by The Flamingos, Lulu, Paul Lansky and Austin Vaughn.  Special thanks to the Densho Archives for use of archival tape of Fred Korematsu and Ernest Besig.  Leadership support for More Perfect is provided by The Joyce Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation. Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell.
September 26, 2017
Most of us would sacrifice one person to save five. It’s a pretty straightforward bit of moral math. But if we have to actually kill that person ourselves, the math gets fuzzy. That’s the lesson of the classic Trolley Problem, a moral puzzle that fried our brains in an episode we did about 11 years ago. Luckily, the Trolley Problem has always been little more than a thought experiment, mostly confined to conversations at a certain kind of cocktail party. That is until now. New technologies are forcing that moral quandry out of our philosophy departments and onto our streets. So today we revisit the Trolley Problem and wonder how a two-ton hunk of speeding metal will make moral calculations about life and death that we can’t even figure out ourselves. This story was reported and produced by Amanda Aronczyk and Bethel Habte. Thanks to Iyad Rahwan, Edmond Awad and Sydney Levine from the Moral Machine group at MIT. Also thanks to Fiery Cushman, Matthew DeBord, Sertac Karaman, Martine Powers, Xin Xiang, and Roborace for all of their help. Thanks to the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism students who collected the vox: Chelsea Donohue, Ivan Flores, David Gentile, Maite Hernandez, Claudia Irizarry-Aponte, Comice Johnson, Richard Loria, Nivian Malik, Avery Miles, Alexandra Semenova, Kalah Siegel, Mark Suleymanov, Andee Tagle, Shaydanay Urbani, Isvett Verde and Reece Williams. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  
September 22, 2017
One morning, Oliver Sipple went out for a walk. A couple hours later, to his own surprise, he saved the life of the President of the United States. But in the days that followed, Sipple’s split-second act of heroism turned into a rationale for making his personal life into political opportunity. What happens next makes us wonder what a moment, or a movement, or a whole society can demand of one person. And how much is too much?  Through newly unearthed archival tape, we hear Sipple himself grapple with some of the most vexing topics of his day and ours - privacy, identity, the freedom of the press - not to mention the bonds of family and friendship.  Reported by Latif Nasser and Tracie Hunte. Produced by Matt Kielty, Annie McEwen, Latif Nasser and Tracie Hunte. Special thanks to Jerry Pritikin, Michael Yamashita, Stan Smith, Duffy Jennings; Ann Dolan, Megan Filly and Ginale Harris at the Superior Court of San Francisco; Leah Gracik, Karyn Hunt, Jesse Hamlin, The San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive, Mike Amico, Jennifer Vanasco and Joey Plaster. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
September 12, 2017
This week, we are presenting a story from NPR foreign correspondent Gregory Warner and his new globe-trotting podcast Rough Translation. Mohammed was having the best six months of his life - working a job he loved, making mixtapes for his sweetheart - when the communist Somali regime perp-walked him out of his own home, and sentenced him to a lifetime of solitary confinement.  With only concrete walls and cockroaches to keep him company, Mohammed felt miserable, alone, despondent.  But then one day, eight months into his sentence, he heard a whisper, a whisper that would open up a portal to - of all places and times - 19th century Russia, and that would teach him how to live and love again.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
August 23, 2017
Today we take a quick look up at a hole in the sky and follow an old story as it travels beyond the reach of the sun.
July 28, 2017
Today, two new technological tricks that together could invade our most deeply held beliefs and rewrite the rules of credibility. Also, we release something terrible into the world. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
July 14, 2017
Today, paranoia sets in: we head to The Ceremony, the top-secret, three-day launch of a new currency, wizards and math included. Halfway through, something strange happens.   Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
June 27, 2017
A new tussle over an old story, and some long-held beliefs, with neurologist and author Robert Sapolsky. Four years ago, we did a story about a man with a starling obsession that made us question our ideas of responsibility and justice. We thought we’d found some solid ground, but today Dr. Sapolsky shows up and takes us down a rather disturbing rabbit hole.  Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.      
June 15, 2017
What happens when doing what you want to do means giving up who you really are?  We travel to Venice, Italy with reporters Kristen Clark and David Conrad, where they meet gondolier Alex Hai. On the winding canals in the hidden parts of Venice, we learn about the nearly 1000-year old tradition of the Venetian Gondolier, and how the global media created a 20-year battle between that tradition and a supposed feminist icon.  Reported by David Conrad and Kristen Clark. Produced by Annie McEwen and Molly Webster. Special thanks to Alexis Ungerer, Summer, Alex Hai, Kevin Gotkin, Silvia Del Fabbro, Sandro Mariot, Aldo Rosso and Marta Vannucci, The Longest Shortest Time (Hillary Frank, Peter Clowney and Abigail Keel), Tim Howard, Nick Adams/GLAAD, Valentina Powers, Florence Ursino, Ann Marie Somma, Alex Overington, Jeremy Bloom and the people of Little Italy.  Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can find Alex Hai's website here, where you can check out the photographs discussed in the piece.   
May 26, 2017
15 years ago the very first episode of Radiolab, fittingly called "Firsts," hit the airwaves. It was a 3-hour long collection of documentaries and musings produced by a solitary sleep-deprived producer named Jad Abumrad. Things have changed a bit since then.   Today, with help from our long time Executive Producer Ellen Horne, we celebrate our 15th birthday by surprising Jad and Robert in the studio and forcing them to look back on a time when “Radiolab” was just that: a lab for experimenting with radio.    Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
May 12, 2017
Today, a hidden power 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 LA, we trace the history of a quiet act of rebellion and struggle with how much power “we the people” should really have. Produced by Matt Kielty and Tracie Hunte 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.  Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.   
April 26, 2017
Back when Robert was kid, he had a chance encounter with then President John F. Kennedy. The interaction began with a hello and ended with a handshake. And like many of us who have touched greatness, 14 year old Robert was left wondering if maybe some of Kennedy would stay with him.  Now, 50 years later, Robert still finds himself pondering that encounter and question. And so with the help of brand new science and Neil Degrasse Tyson, he sets out to satisfy this curiosity once and for all.  Produced by Simon Adler with help from Only Human: Amanda Aronczyk, Kenny Malone, Jillian Weinberger and Elaine Chen. Neil deGrasse Tyson's newest book is called "Astrophysics for People in A Hurry."     Radiolab needs your help! Please visit wnyc.podcastingsurvey.com and tell us a little about you and the podcasts you love in a 5-minute, anonymous survey. We really appreciate your help - knowing more about you helps us make more of the shows you enjoy. Thank you from all of us at Radiolab!  *** As of Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017 we've run out of kits. Thanks so much to uBiome for generously donating over 13,000 free kits, and thanks to everyone for participating. ***  FAQ: Who is uBiome? uBiome is a California-based biotech company started in 2012 that sequences the DNA of the microbes that live on and in you. Do I have to pay for my results? No, as long as you use the code for Radiolab/Only Human listeners, the sequencing results are free! uBiome otherwise charges $89 to have a skin sample analyzed. Am I going to find out if I’m sick? This uBiome information isn’t for diagnosing any health condition. How long will it take to get my results? It can take from 3-6 weeks from when uBiome receives your sample to sequence, process and compile the material. So please send those samples back to the uBiome labs soon, so we can report back to you about the Radiolab/Only Human group.    What is uBiome going to do with my microbiome info? uBiome scientists are going to share aggregate level analysis with Radiolab and Only Human so we can give general results about our group’s skin microbiome. Aside from that, what uBiome does with your results generally depends on whether you choose to be included in research or share your information. uBiome is HIPAA-compliant, and their practices are reviewed by an independent committee for ethical research (an IRB). For more information, see uBiome’s summary of its privacy practices (just 6 pages in regular-sized font). Will I be able to get my raw data? Yes! Once your results are in, you’ll be able to download it as a CSV, JSON or FASTQ file. Will they take my DNA and clone me? If by “me”, you mean the human you, then no, uBiome isn’t going to clone, let alone even sequence human DNA. More questions? Email onlyhuman@wnyc.org. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.   
April 19, 2017
With all the recent talk about HBO's upcoming film, we decided it would be good time to re-run our story of one woman's medically miraculous cancer cells, and how Henrietta Lacks changed modern science and, eventually, her family's understanding of itself. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    
April 7, 2017
President Richard Nixon once boasted that at any moment he could pick up a telephone and - in 20 minutes - kill 60 million people.  Such is the power of the US President over the nation’s nuclear arsenal.  But what if you were the military officer on the receiving end of that phone call? Could you refuse the order? This episode, we profile one Air Force Major who asked that question back in the 1970s and learn how the very act of asking it was so dangerous it derailed his career. We also pick up the question ourselves and pose it to veterans both high and low on the nuclear chain of command. Their responses reveal once and for all whether there are any legal checks and balances between us and a phone call for Armageddon. Reported by Latif Nasser. Produced by Annie McEwen and Simon Adler with production help from Arianne Wack.  Special thanks to: Elaine Scarry, Sam Kean, Ron Rosenbaum, Lisa Perry, Ryan Furtkamp, Robin Perry, Thom Woodroofe, Doreen de Brum, Jackie Conley, Sean Malloy, Ray Peter, Jack D’Annibale, Ryan Pettigrew at the Nixon Presidential Library and Samuel Rushay at the Truman Presidential Library. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.   
March 24, 2017
A couple years ago, Ben Montgomery, reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, started emailing every police station in Florida. He was asking for any documents created - from 2009 to 2014 - when an officer discharged his weapon in the line of duty. He ended up with a six foot tall stack of reports, pictures, and press clippings cataloging the death or injury of 828 people by Florida police.  In part 2 of Shots Fired, Jad and Robert talk to Ben about how communication breakdowns too often lead to violence and our reporter Matt Kielty sits with one man who found himself at the center of a police visit gone horribly wrong. Produced and reported by Matt Kielty. For the full presentation of Ben Montgomery's reporting please visit the Tampa Bay Times' 'Why Do Cops Shoot?" We can't recommend it highly enough.  Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    
March 17, 2017
A couple years ago, Ben Montgomery, reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, started emailing every police station in Florida. He was asking for any documents created - from 2009 to 2014 - when an officer discharged his weapon in the line of duty. He ended up with a six foot tall stack of reports, pictures, and press clippings cataloging the death or injury of 828 people by Florida police.  Jad and Robert talk to Ben about what he found, crunch some numbers, and then our reporter Matt Kielty takes a couple files off Ben's desk and brings us the stories inside them - from a network of grief to a Daytona police chief. And next week, we bring you another, very different story of a police encounter gone wrong. Produced and reported by Matt Kielty For the full presentation of Ben Montgomery's reporting please visit the Tampa Bay Times' 'Why Do Cops Shoot?" We can't recommend it highly enough.  Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that in reporter Ben Montgomery's six years of Florida data there were, on average, 130 people shot and killed each year. Police offers did indeed shoot 130 people per year, on average, but only half of those shootings were fatal. The audio has been adjusted to reflect this fact. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.   
February 24, 2017
It's been almost two years since we learned about CRISPR, a ninja-assassin-meets-DNA-editing-tool that has been billed as one of the most powerful, and potentially controversial, technologies ever discovered by scientists. In this episode, we catch up on what's been happening (it's a lot), and learn about CRISPR's potential to not only change human evolution, but every organism on the entire planet. Out drinking with a few biologists, Jad finds out about something called CRISPR. No, it’s not a robot or the latest dating app, it’s a method for genetic manipulation that is rewriting the way we change DNA. Scientists say they’ll someday be able to use CRISPR to fight cancer and maybe even bring animals back from the dead. Or, pretty much do whatever you want. Jad and Robert delve into how CRISPR does what it does, and consider whether we should be worried about a future full of flying pigs, or the simple fact that scientists have now used CRISPR to tweak the genes of human embryos. This episode was reported and produced by Molly Webster and Soren Wheeler. Special thanks to Jacob S. Sherkow. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     
February 10, 2017
We thought we knew the story of Bernie Madoff.  How he masterminded the biggest Ponzi scheme in history, leaving behind scores of distraught investors and a $65 billion black hole.  But we had never heard the story from Madoff himself. This week, reporter Steve Fishman and former Radiolabber Ellen Horne visit our studio to play us snippets from their extraordinary Audible series Ponzi Supernova, which features exclusive footage of the man who bamboozled the world.  After years of investigative reporting – including interviews with dozens of FBI and SEC agents, investors, traders, and attorneys – the pair scrutinize Madoff’s account to understand exactly why he did it, how he managed to pull it off, and how culpable he actually was. Was he a puppetmaster or a puppet? And if the latter, who else is to blame for the biggest financial fraud in history? You can hear the entire series on iTunes or for free on Audible Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    
January 27, 2017
Back in 1911, a box with a dead raccoon in it showed up in Washington D.C., at the office of Gerrit S. Miller. After pulling it out and inspecting it, he realized this raccoon was from the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe, and unlike anything he’d ever seen before.  He christened it Procyon minor and in doing so changed the history of Guadeloupe forever.   Today we travel from the storage rooms of the Smithsonian to the sandy beaches of Guadeloupe, chasing the tale of this trash can tipping critter. All the while trying to uncover what it means to be special.  Produced and reported by Simon Adler. Special thanks to Sally Stainier and Allie Pinel for all their help translating in Guadeloupe and New York respectively.  Thanks to Bernie Beelmeon, Paola Dvihally, Hervé Magnin, Guillaume Aricique, Laurence Baptiste-Salomon, David Xavier-Albert, Florian Kirchner, Matt Chew, and everyone at the ONCFS.    Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    
January 18, 2017
We love to share great radio, even if we didn’t make it. Today, On the Media’s Brooke Gladstone tells Jad and Robert about a mammoth project they launched to take a critical look at the tales we tell ourselves when we talk about poverty. In a 5-part series called "Busted: America’s Poverty Myths,” On the Media picked apart numerous oft-repeated narratives about what it's like to be poor in America. From Ben Franklin to a brutal eviction, Brooke gives us just a little taste of what she learned and shares a couple stories of the struggle to get ahead, or even just get by. Go check out the full series, it’s well worth it. You can hear all 5 episodes of Busted here or subscribe to On the Media in iTunes (or wherever you get your podcasts) to listen to this series or all their other great work. "Busted: America’s Poverty Myths" was produced by Meara Sharma and Eve Claxton and edited by Katya Rogers. They produced the series in collaboration with WNET’s Chasing the Dream; poverty and opportunity in America. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.           
December 30, 2016
No matter what sport you play, the object of the game is to win. And that’s hard enough to do. But we found a match where four top athletes had to do the opposite in one of the most high profile matches of their careers. Thanks to a quirk in the tournament rules, their best shot at winning was … to lose.  This episode, we scrutinize the most paradoxical and upside down badminton match of all time, a match that dumbfounded spectators, officials, and even the players themselves. And it got us to wondering …  what would sports look like if everyone played to lose? Reported by Latif Nasser. Produced by Matt Kielty and Annie McEwen and Latif Nasser. Special thanks to Aparna Nancherla, Mark Phelan, Yuni Kartika, Greysia Polii, Joy Le Li, Mikyoung Kim, Stan Bischof, Vincent Liew, Kota Morikowa, Christ de Roij and Haeryun Kang. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
December 16, 2016
It’s the end of the year, and the entire Radiolab team is starting to take stock and come up for air. We're excited about how much ground we've covered - stories about college debaters and figure skaters, meat allergies and salmon-eating trees, deathwatch beetles mating and Kpop stars dating - we're excited for what 2017 holds, and grateful because you have made all these things possible with your support.  But before 2016 comes to an end, we wanted to do something a little different. We wanted to swivel our attention back to you, our listeners, reconnect with some old friends to see how they are doing, and thank everyone for what they've shared with us. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    
December 8, 2016
Today, a startling new discovery: prodding the brain with light, a group of scientists got an unexpected surprise -- they were able to turn back on a part of the brain that had been shut down by Alzheimer’s disease. This new science is not a cure, and is far from a treatment, but it’s a finding so … simple, you won’t be able to shake it. Come join us for a lab visit, where we’ll meet some mice, stare at some light, and come face-to-face with the mystery of memory. We can promise you: by the end, you’ll never think the same way about Christmas lights again. This piece was reported by Molly Webster. It was produced by Annie McEwen, Matt Kielty, and Molly Webster, with help from Simon Adler. Special thanks to Ed Boyden, Cognito Therapeutics, Brad Dickerson, Karen Duff, Zaven Khachaturian, Michael Lutz, Kevin M. Spencer, and Peter Uhlhaas. Producer's note about the image: Those neon green things in the image are microglia, the brain’s immune cells, or, as we describe them in our episode, the janitor cells of the brain. Straight from MIT’s research files, this image shows microglia who have gotten light stimulation therapy (one can only hope in the flicker room). You can see their many, super-long tentacles, which would be used to feel out anything that didn’t belong in the brain. And then they’d eat it! Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    
November 22, 2016
At the trial of James Batson in 1982, the prosecution eliminated all the black jurors from the jury pool. Batson objected, setting off a complicated discussion about jury selection that would make its way all the way up to the Supreme Court. On this episode of More Perfect, the Supreme Court ruling that was supposed to prevent race-based jury selection, but may have only made the problem worse. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.      
November 7, 2016
Come election season, it's easy to get cynical. Why cast a ballot if your single measly vote can't possibly change anything? In our first-ever election special, we set off to find a single vote that made a difference. We venture from the biggest election on the planet - where polling officials must brave a lion-inhabited forest to collect the vote of an ascetic temple priest - to the smallest election on the planet - where there are no polling officials, only kitty cats wearing nametags. Along the way, we meet a too-trusting advice columnist, a Texan Emperor, and a passive-aggressive mom who helped change American democracy forever.  Reported by Latif Nasser with help from Tracie Hunte. Produced by Simon Adler, Tracie Hunte, Matt Kielty, Annie McEwen and Latif Nasser.  Special thanks to The Plymouth Fife and Drum Corps and their director Jim Predhomme. Special thanks also to Professors Timothy Harris, Krista Kesselring, Charles Somerwine, Jim Lehring, Isabel DiVanna, Sara Bronin, Wanda Sobieski, Paula F. Casey, Andrea Mansker, and Jenny Diamond Cheng. Thanks to the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound. And thanks as well to Cindy Horswell, Robin Melvin, Ken Herman, Laura Harrington and Mel Marvin.  Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.   
October 27, 2016
Tuck your napkin under your chin.  We’re about to serve up a tale of love, loss, and lamb chops.  For as long as she can remember, Amy Pearl has loved meat in all its glorious cuts and marbled flavors. And then one day, for seemingly no reason, her body wouldn’t tolerate it.  No steaks. No brisket. No weenies.  It made no sense to her or to her doctor: why couldn’t she eat something that she had routinely enjoyed for decades? Something our evolutionary forebears have eaten since time immemorial? The answer involves mysterious maps, interpretive dance, and a collision of three different species. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
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