Radiolab

Radiolab, with Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, is a radio show and podcast weaving stories and science into sound and music-rich documentaries.


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November 9, 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.

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, post-humous 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 12, 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:

 The key links:

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, 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 Izizarry-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. 

August 25, 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.

August 10, 2017

Today, a third story of folks relentlessly searching for the truth.  But this time, the truth seekers are an unlikely bunch… internet trolls. 

August 3, 2017

The stories of a few folks ready to fight the future of fakery. 

July 27, 2017

Today, two new technological tricks that together could invade our past selves and rewrite the rules of credibility. Also, we release something terrible into the world.

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. 

June 15, 2017

What happens when doing what you want to do means giving up who you really are? 

May 25, 2017

We celebrate our 15th birthday by surprising Jad and Robert with a look back at when “Radiolab” was just that: a lab for experimenting with radio.   

May 12, 2017

Today, a hidden power that is either the cornerstone of our democracy or a trapdoor to anarchy.

April 26, 2017

Neil Degrasse Tyson and some new microbiome science help answer the question – when we touch greatness how much of it stays with us? 

April 18, 2017

One woman’s medically miraculous cancer cells, and how Henrietta Lacks changed modern science and, eventually, her family’s understanding of itself.

April 7, 2017

A look up and down the US nuclear chain of command to find out who gets to authorize their use and who can stand in the way of Armageddon. 

March 24, 2017

We again join Ben Montgomery, reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, as he looks at data on every person killed or injured by Florida police over six years. 

March 17, 2017

We join Ben Montgomery, a reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, as he looks at every person killed or injured by Florida police over six years. 

February 24, 2017

In 2012, scientists had a realization: hidden inside one of the world’s smallest organisms, was one of the world’s most powerful tools.

January 27, 2017

Today we travel from the storage rooms of the Smithsonian to the sandy beaches of Guadeloupe, chasing the tale of one trash can tipping raccoon. 

December 30, 2016

This episode we look at a high profile sporting event where, thanks to a quirk in the tournament rules, the best shot at winning was … to lose. 

December 16, 2016

This episode we 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.

December 8, 2016

A new discovery: prodding the brain with light, a group of scientists were able to turn back on a part of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease. 

November 7, 2016

In our first-ever election special, we set off to find a single vote that made a difference.

October 27, 2016

Tuck your napkin under your chin.  We’re about to serve up a tale of love, loss, and lamb chops. 

October 12, 2016

In 2014 the town of Seneca, Nebraska was so deeply divided that they weighed their own self-destruction.  

September 23, 2016

In a recent breakthrough, researchers grew human embryos longer than ever before, witnessing a mysterious part of human development, and crashing into a decades-old ethical dilemma. 

September 12, 2016

Ross McNutt has a superpower — he can zoom in on everyday life, then rewind and fast-forward to solve crimes in a shutter-flash. But should he?

August 29, 2016

In today’s episode, we meet a young woman from Texas, born and raised, who can’t prove that she exists.

August 21, 2016

When people are dying and you can only save some, how do you choose? What happens, what should happen, when humans are forced to play god?

July 30, 2016

Forests feel like a place of great stillness but dig deeper and there’s a hidden world beneath your feet as busy and complicated as a city. 

July 12, 2016

David Weinberg was stuck. Until he started recording every waking minute of his life. 

June 3, 2016

How far should lawyers go to provide the best defense to the worst people?

May 24, 2016

From the producers of Radiolab, More Perfect dives into the rarefied world of the Supreme Court. Season one starts June 2, 2016.

May 9, 2016

Today’s story is a mystery, shockingly hot, and vanishingly tiny.

April 21, 2016

This week, we lace up our skates and tell a story about loving a sport that doesn’t love you back, and being judged in front of the world according to rules you don’t understand. 

April 6, 2016

There’s a black hole in the middle of the history of life: how did we go from tiny bags of chemicals to the vast menagerie of creatures we see around us? 

March 23, 2016

An update on Juniper French, a tiny baby, born at 23 Weeks and 6 days — roughly halfway to full term. And a whole universe of medical and moral questions.

March 11, 2016

How an outsider became the vanguard of a movement that made everything about debate debatable.

February 24, 2016

In the U.S., paparazzi are pretty much synonymous with invasion of privacy. But today we travel to a place where the prying press create something more like a prison break. 

February 12, 2016

This Valentine’s Day, a mysterious tap tap tapping leads us into a world of sex, death, and head-banging.

January 29, 2016

Roosevelt, Kennedy, Eisenhower … they all got a pass. But today we peer back at the moment when poking into the private lives of political figures became standard practice.

January 7, 2016

On this podcast, we present a story from an amazing, staff favorite podcast, Reply All.

December 28, 2015

Radiolab wraps 2015 with a series of special episodes. 

December 22, 2015

Radiolab wraps 2015 with a series of special episodes. 

December 18, 2015

Addiction … and the pills that just might set those that suffer from it free. 

December 1, 2015

Today we discover the rules of war, negotiation, and conflict resolution in a most unlikely place – deep in the heart and soul of that tasty frozen treat we all scream for.

November 22, 2015

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. 

November 2, 2015

In the war on devilish microbes, our weapons are starting to fail us. What if the only way forward is backward?

October 19, 2015

In this hour of Radiolab: reframing our ideas about normalcy. Three stories where choice challenges destiny. 

October 6, 2015

As Candid Camera succeeded, it started to change the way we thought not only of reality television, but also of reality itself.

September 21, 2015

We shine a light into the dark corners of the internet to see the world from the perspective of both cyber crime victims and perpetrators.

September 7, 2015

When shooting and killing an endangered species might be the best way to save it. This episode contains strong language.

August 30, 2015

When Dr. Sacks announced a few months ago that he had terminal cancer and wouldn’t do any more interviews, we asked him if he’d talk with us one last time. This is that conversation.

August 23, 2015

Scientists took about 300 years to lay out the Periodic Table into neat rows and columns. In one hour, we’re going to mess it all up.  

July 30, 2015

The definition of life is in flux, complexity is overrated, and humans are shrinking.

July 16, 2015

How a donation leads Sarah and Ross Gray to places we rarely get a chance to see. 

July 3, 2015

This is the story of a few documents that tumbled out of the secret archives of the biggest empire the world has ever known, offering a glimpse of histories waiting to be rewritten.

June 18, 2015

Ross McNutt has a superpower — he can zoom in on everyday life, then rewind and fast-forward to solve crimes in a shutter-flash. But should he?

June 6, 2015

In 2012, scientists had a realization: hidden inside one of the world’s smallest organisms, was one of the world’s most powerful tools.

May 22, 2015

The incredible, little-known story of the Nazi prisoners of war kept on American soil during World War II.

April 28, 2015

Photojournalist Lynsey Addario captured something that happens all the time but few of us get to see, a soldier fatally wounded on the battlefield. 

April 9, 2015

Producer Briana Breen and the podcast Love + Radio bring us a story about a very eventful year in the life of an accidental voyeur.

March 24, 2015

The story of how punk rock’s arrival in Cuba allowed a small band of outsiders to sentence themselves to death and set themselves free.

March 10, 2015

During World War II, something happened that nobody ever talks about. A tale of mysterious balloons, children caught up in the winds of war. And the terror of silence.

February 24, 2015

This episode we pierce the spandex-ed heart of professional wrestling, and travel 400 years into the past to walk the line between reality and fantasy.

February 9, 2015

How a tiny group of social engineers are making our online relationships kindler and gentler, whether we like it or not. 

January 29, 2015

The most popular sport in the US is savage, creative, brutal & balletic. Love it or loathe it, it’s a touchstone of the American identity.  

January 9, 2015

The lines between boy and girl can be blurry but NPR’s Invisibilia introduces us to someone with a very new idea of how blurry they can be.

December 23, 2014

We’ve gathered a handful of stories that show how every time we think we’ve settled on a price for something, it slips out of our grasp. 

December 12, 2014

A quartet of buttons that may just leave you stuck, rich, ugly, or dead. Confused? Push the button marked “Play”.

November 29, 2014

After a public tragedy, a reporter looks at the space between the stories of the people who experienced it and the official narrative. 

November 13, 2014

The greatest mysteries have a shadowy figure at the center, Patient Zero. We hunt for Patient Zeroes from all over the map.      

October 30, 2014

How a group of paranormal investigators made one man realize what it really means for a house, or a man, to be haunted.

October 20, 2014

How the right words can have the wrong meanings, and the best translations lead us to an understanding that’s way deeper than language. 

October 3, 2014

What’s the soundtrack for the end of the world? We go looking for an answer.

September 18, 2014

Ron and Cornelia Suskind had two healthy young sons, thriving careers and a brand new home when their youngest, Owen, started to disappear. 

September 8, 2014

Horror, fashion, and the end of the world … the undercurrents of thought that link nihilists, philosophers, Jay-Z and True Detective.

August 21, 2014

It’s tough to make small talk with a stranger—especially when that stranger doesn’t speak your language. (And he has a blowhole.)

August 7, 2014

For Robert’s birthday we celebrate with some classic Krulwich and a peek into the spirit and sensibility that, in many ways, drives our show.

July 24, 2014

Today, a lady with a bird in her backyard upends our whole sense of what we may have to give up to keep a wild creature wild.

July 17, 2014

Today, the strange story of a small group of islands that raise a big question: is it inevitable that even our most sacred natural landscapes will eventually get swallowed up by humans? And just how far are we willing to go to stop that from happening?

We are dedicating a whole hour to the Galapagos archipelago, the place that inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection. 179 years later, the Galapagos are undergoing rapid changes that continue to pose — and possibly answer — critical questions about the fragility and resilience of life on Earth.

June 26, 2014

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

June 13, 2014

A plum-sized lump of metal takes us from the French Revolution to an underground bunker in Maryland as we try to weigh the way we weigh the world around us.

May 30, 2014

This hour we investigate the objects around us, their power to move us, and whether it’s better to look back or move on, hold on tight or just let go.

May 15, 2014

Today, the story of one little thing that has radically changed what we know about humanity’s humble beginnings and the kinds of creatures that were out to get us way back when.


Wits University Professor Lee Berger and Dr. Chris Stringer from London’s Natural History Museum explain how a child’s skull, found in an ancient cave, eventually helped answer one of our oldest questions: Where do we come from? Then Lee takes us on a journey to answer a somewhat smaller question: how did that child die? Along the way, we visit Dr. Bernhard Zipfel at Wits University in Johannesburg to actually hold the skull itself.


We wanted to give you a chance to hold the skull, too. So we did a little experiment: we made a 3D scan of it. If you visit our page on Thingiverse, you’ll see the results. Anyone with access to a 3D printer can print their own copy of the skull. (We printed a bunch, with help from our friends at MakerBot—there’s even a purple one with sparkles.)


We also collaborated with the folks at Mmuseumm, a tiny (really tiny, it’s in an elevator shaft) museum in Manhattan. You can visit them to see the 3D printed skull, along with the other wonderful things in their collection: mosquitoes swatted mid-bite, toothpaste tubes from around the world, and much more.


Thanks to JP Brown, Emily Graslie and Robert Martin at the Field Museum in Chicago for scanning the skull. Thanks to Curtis Schmitt and shootdigital for refining the scan. Thanks to Bre Pettis and Jenifer Howard at MakerBot for guiding us through the world of 3D printing.


 

May 2, 2014

It’s hard to think of anything more rational, more logical and impersonal than a number. But what if we’re all, universally, also deeply attuned to how numbers … feel? Why 2 is warm, 7 is strong and 11 is downright mystical.

 

 

April 18, 2014

How one sentence — just 60 words written in the hours after the September 11 attacks — became the legal foundation for the “war on terror.”

April 1, 2014

From boom bap to EDM, we look at the line between hip-hop and not, and meet a defender of the genre that makes you question… who’s in and who’s out.

March 25, 2014

They buzz. They bite. And they have killed more people than cancer, war, or heart disease. Here’s the question: If you could wipe mosquitoes off the face of the planet, would you?

March 13, 2014

What do frozen horses and a scorching universe have in common? That’s what we wanted to know.

February 25, 2014

From the stage to the cage, a series of showdowns that leave us wondering about the price of being right … or coming from the left.

February 12, 2014

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.  


 

January 28, 2014

You order some stuff on the Internet and it shows up three hours later. How could all the things that need to happen to make that happen happen so fast?

 

January 17, 2014

This hour, we examine three very different kinds of black boxes—those peculiar spaces where it’s clear what’s going in, we know what’s coming out, but what happens in-between is a mystery.

December 30, 2013

At the start of this new year we crack open some fossils, peer back into ancient seas, and look up at lunar skies to find that a year is not quite as fixed as we thought it was.

 

December 9, 2013

In this new live stage performance, Radiolab turns its gaze to the topic of endings, both blazingly fast and agonizingly slow.

December 9, 2013

A preview of Radiolab’s live show Apocalyptical: dinosaurs, death, destruction… plus cinematic live scoring and comedic mayhem from Reggie Watts and Kurt Braunohler. Feast your eyes on more video — including a cut of the full show! — at radiolab.org/live.

November 19, 2013

Scientists’ obsession with one particular man – and with the tiny scraps of evidence left in the wake of his death – gives us a surprisingly intimate peek into the life of someone who should’ve been lost to the ages.

November 1, 2013

Legions of athletes, sports gurus, and scientists have tried to figure out why Kenyans dominate long-distance running. In this short, we stumble across a surprising, and sort of terrifying, explanation.

October 22, 2013

When we first released Famous Tumors, Rebecca Skloot’s book about the life and legacy of Henrietta Lacks (and her famous cells) had just hit the shelves. Since then, some interesting things have happened to both Henrietta’s cells and her family. So, 4 years later, we have a newly updated show!

October 10, 2013

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

September 24, 2013

You may not give a second thought (or backward glance) to what the toilet whisks away after you do your business. But we got wondering — where would we wind up if we thought of flushing as the start, and not the end, of a journey? In this short, we head out to trace the trail of sludge…from Manhattan, to wherever poop leads us.

September 12, 2013

We’ve all felt it, that irresistible urge to point the finger. But why do we need blame and how is new technology complicating accountability? 

August 29, 2013

In this short, Jad puts on his music hat and shares his love of Dawn of Midi, a band that he recently started using on the show.

August 13, 2013

What do you do in the face of a monstrous disease with a 100% fatality rate? In this short, a Milwaukee doctor tries to knock death incarnate off its throne.

July 9, 2013

One of our favorite human beings turns 80 this week. To celebrate, Robert asks Oliver Sacks to look back on his career, and explain how thousands of worms and a motorbike accident led to a brilliant writing career.

July 2, 2013

The complex racial history of two towns in Ohio leads members of the same family to disagree strongly about whether they’re black or white.

June 27, 2013

This fall, we’re hitting the road with our brand-new live show. We’re stopping in 20 cities across the US (plus 1 stop in Canada), and we have some exciting news about the special musical guests who are joining us for the tour. Listen to a quick sneak peek, and grab your tix now.

June 13, 2013

The desire to trace your way back to the very beginning, to understand everything — whether it’s the mysteries of love or the mechanics of the universe — is deeply human. It might also be deeply flawed.

May 30, 2013

This is the story of a three-year-old girl and the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl is a legal battle that has entangled a biological father, a heart-broken couple, and the tragic history of Native American children taken from their families.

May 20, 2013

If you’ve ever wondered how the podcast comes together, or what it’s like to work at Radiolab, here’s a peek into our process.

May 14, 2013

Every 17 years, a deafening sex orchestra hits the East Coast — billions and billions of cicadas crawl out of the ground, sing their hearts out, then mate and die. In this short, Jad and Robert talk to a man who gets inside that noise to dissect its meaning and musical components.

April 16, 2013

What if the moon were just a jump away? In this short, a beautiful answer to that question from Italo Calvino, read live by Liev Schreiber. 

April 2, 2013

Improv comedy puts uncertainty on center stage — performers usually start by asking the audience for a prompt, then they make up the details as they go. But two actors in Chicago are taking this idea to its absolute limit, and finding ways to navigate the unknown.

March 26, 2013

Stories about walking the tightrope between doubt and certainty.

 

March 19, 2013

This spring, parts of the East Coast will turn squishy and crunchy — the return of the 17-year cicadas means surfaces in certain locations (in patches from VA to CT) will once again be coated in bugs buzzing at 7 kilohertz. In their honor, we’re rebroadcasting one of our favorite episodes: Emergence.

March 5, 2013

In the 1970s, choking became national news: thousands were choking to death, leading to more accidental deaths than guns. Nobody knew what to do. Until a man named Henry Heimlich came along with a big idea.

February 19, 2013

There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit.

February 5, 2013

The inhumanly fast world of high-speed trading, an excruciatingly slow experiment, and a physicist plays Zeus.

January 15, 2013

We turn to doctors to save our lives — to heal us, repair us, and keep us healthy. But when it comes to the critical question of what to do when death is at hand, there seems to be a gap between what we want doctors to do for us, and what doctors want done for themselves.

December 31, 2012

Is reality an ethereal, mathematical poem… or is it made up of solid, physical stuff? In this short, we kick rocks, slap tables, and argue about the nature of the universe with Jim Holt.

December 17, 2012

Stories of striving, grasping, tripping, and falling for happiness, perfection, and Bliss.

December 3, 2012

In this short, costumed scientists create a carefully choreographed childhood for a flock of whooping cranes to save them from extinction. It’s the ultimate feel-good story, but it also raises some troubling questions about what it takes to get a species back to being wild.

November 6, 2012

Mel Blanc was known as “the man of 1,000 voices,” but the actual number may have been closer to 1,500. Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Tweety, Barney Rubble — all Mel. His characters made him one of the most beloved men in America. And in 1961, when a car crash left him in a coma, these characters may have saved him.

October 22, 2012

John and Zoltan are both blind, but they deal with the world in completely different ways — one paints vivid pictures in his mind, while the other refuses to picture anything at all. In this short, they argue about the truth of a world they can’t see.

October 8, 2012

200 miles above Earth’s surface, astronaut Dave Wolf — rocketing through the blackness of Earth’s shadow at 5 miles a second — floated out of the Mir Space Station on his very first spacewalk. In this short, he describes the extremes of light and dark in space, relives a heart-pounding close call, and shares one of the most tranquil moments of his life.

September 24, 2012

Getting a firm hold on the truth is never as simple as nailing down the facts of a situation. This hour, we go after a series of seemingly simple facts — facts that offer surprising insight, facts that inspire deeply different stories, and facts that, in the end, might not matter at all.

September 10, 2012

“Hey kids,” said physicist Tadashi Tokieda, “Wanna see a magic trick?” He pulled out a Slinky and did something that amazed the kids, & their dad Steve Strogatz. Steve, along with Neil deGrasse Tyson, explains what the gravity-defying Slinky trick reveals about the nature of all things great and small (including us).

August 28, 2012

Pain is a fundamental part of life, and often a very lonely part. Doctors want to understand their patients’ pain, and we all want to understand the suffering of our friends, relatives, or spouses. But pinning down another person’s hurt is a slippery business. 

August 20, 2012

Celebrate the 35th anniversary of the launch of Voyager 2 (it rocketed off Earth on 8/20/77 carrying a copy of the Golden Record), and tip your hat to the Mars rover Curiosity as it kicks off its third week on the red planet, with a rebroadcast of one our favorite episodes: Space.

July 30, 2012

From a suburban sidewalk in southern California, Jad and Robert witness the carnage of a gruesome turf war. Though the tiny warriors doing battle clock in at just a fraction of an inch, they have evolved a surprising, successful, and rather unsettling strategy of ironclad loyalty, absolute intolerance, and brutal violence.

July 16, 2012

In early August of 1945, Tsutomu Yamaguchi had a run of the worst luck imaginable. A double blast of radiation left his future, and the future of his descendants, in doubt. In this short: an utterly amazing survival story that spans … well, 4 billion years when you get down to it.

July 2, 2012

Turning ideas into radio is one of the most exciting, frustrating, rewarding, and insanely fun things there is. Which got us thinking–why not ask you to join in on the fun? So we teamed up with Indaba for our first-ever remix competition. And now we get to play the winners.

 

June 18, 2012

In this podcast, a story about obsession, creativity, and a strange symmetry between a biologist and a composer that revolves around one famously repetitive piece of music.

June 4, 2012

While working on The Bad Show, producer Pat Walters ran across some recordings that spooked him–partly because they seemed like they had to be a big joke … and partly because, at the same time, they sounded so deadly serious. In this short, Jad & Robert try to decide how to feel.

May 21, 2012

Radiolab rips the rainbow a new one.

May 14, 2012

Just before the curtain went up on our live show in Los Angeles, Jad and Robert carved out a little stage time for a sneak peek at next week’s Colors episode.

April 30, 2012

Mother’s day is nigh. Sort of. Anyway, without knowing it, you might have already given your mom a pretty lasting gift. But whether it helps or hurts her, or both, is still an open question. In this Radiolab short, Robert updates us on the science of fetal cells — one of the first topics he covered as an NPR science correspondent.

April 16, 2012

In this short, we go looking for the devil, and find ourselves tangled in a web of details surrounding one of the most haunting figures in music–a legendary guitarist whose shadowy life spawned a legend so powerful, it’s still being repeated…even by fans who don’t believe a word of it.

April 2, 2012

A look at the messy mystery in our middles, and what the rumblings deep in our bellies can tell us about ourselves.

March 19, 2012

Alan Turing’s mental leaps about machines and computers were some of the most innovative ideas of the 20th century. But the world wasn’t kind to him. In this short, Robert wonders h…

March 5, 2012

Every day, every moment, an epic battle is raging across the globe. It’s happening in the ocean. And the evidence is both highly visible and totally hidden, depending on your perspective. In this short, the tale of an arms race involving trillions of sea creatures–and why their struggle is vital to our survival.

February 20, 2012

Stories about traps and getaways … about getting stuck, and breaking free.

February 6, 2012

Sometimes being a good scientist requires putting aside your emotions. But what happens when objectivity isn’t enough to make sense of a seemingly senseless act of violence? In this short, Jad and Robert talk to an entomologist about the risks, and the rewards, of trying to see the world through someone else’s eyes. 

January 23, 2012

In today’s short, a man confronts a bully, and frees himself from a recurring nightmare that’s terrorized him for more than 20 years.

January 9, 2012

We wrestle with the dark side of human nature, and ask whether it’s something we can ever really understand, or fully escape.

December 26, 2011

In this podcast short, a strange twist of legal taxonomy causes a dispute over whether X-MEN action figures are toys or dolls and sparks a court case about what it means to be human.

December 12, 2011

Roman Mars loves to spotlight the seams and joints that make up the world around us. He’s the host of an irresistible podcast called 99% Invisible–a series of tiny radio stories that provoke enormous questions. Roman joins Jad and Robert to play a few favorites, and to chat about the hidden language of design that shapes our lives–from sound effects to stuff that’s more … concrete.

November 29, 2011

Near the end of the 19th century, a mysterious young woman with a beguiling smile turned up in Paris. She became a huge sensation. She also happened to be dead. You’d probably recognize her face yourself. You might have even touched it.

November 15, 2011

We hunt for Patient Zeroes from all over the map.

October 31, 2011

Carl Zimmer is one of our go-to guys when we need help untangling a complicated scientific idea. But in this short, he unravels something much more personal.

October 18, 2011

Kohn Ashmore’s voice is arresting. It stopped his friend Andy Mills in his tracks the first time they met. But in this short about the power of friendship and familiarity, Andy explains that Kohn’s voice isn’t the most striking thing about him at all.

October 4, 2011

The surprising ways that loops steer… and sometimes derail… our lives.

September 20, 2011

For most of human history, flight was an impossible dream. In this short, the dizzying rise and fall of a pilot whose aeronautic feats changed aviation forever and turned chancy stunts into acrobatic mastery.

September 6, 2011

Writer Ian Frazier made a startling discovery several years ago in eastern Siberia: no one he met there had ever heard of tic tac toe. In this short, Jad and Robert wonder how a game that seems carved into childhood DNA could be completely unknown in some parts of the world.

August 23, 2011

Winners, losers, underdogs — what can games tell us about who we really are?

August 9, 2011

The basal ganglia is a core part of the brain, deep inside your skull, that helps control movement. Unless something upsets the chain of command. In this short, Jad and Robert meet a young researcher who was studying what happens when the basal ganglia gets short-circuited in mice…until one fateful day, when things got really, really weird.

July 26, 2011

In this short, a neurologist issues a dare to a ragtime piano player and a famous conductor. When the two men face off in an fMRI machine, the challenge is so unimaginably difficult that one man instantly gives up. But the other achieves a musical feat that ought to be impossible.

July 11, 2011

We’re celebrating summer with a classic episode of Radiolab–full of mystery, intrigue…and a goat standing on a cow. We haven’t actually tried listening to it around a campfire, but we’re betting it would totally work. See you in two weeks with a new short!

June 27, 2011

In this short, Jad presents the electrifying sounds of three mind-bending musical acts: Brooklyn duo Buke & Gass, drummer Glenn Kotche of Wilco, and the one-and-only Reggie Watts. Their performances were recorded live at our Curious Sounds concert earlier this month in NYC.

June 14, 2011

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. 

May 17, 2011

In this short, a family dog disappears into the woods…and the mystery of what happened to him raises a big question about what it means to be wild.

May 3, 2011

In this short, Jonathan Schooler tells us about a discovery that launched his career and led to a puzzle that has haunted him ever since.

April 18, 2011

Is the world full of deep symmetries and ordered pairs? Or do we live in a lopsided universe? This striking video by Everynone plays with our yearning for balance, and reveals how beautiful imperfect matches can be. The video was inspired by our episode Desperately Seeking Symmetry.

April 5, 2011

Diane Van Deren is one of the best ultra-runners in the world, and it all started with a seizure. In this short, Diane tells us how her disability gave rise to an extraordinary ability.

March 22, 2011

Richard Holmes went to Cambridge University intending to study the lives of poets. Until a dueling mathematician, and a dinner conversation composed entirely of gestures, changed his mind.

March 8, 2011

What do you do when your own worst enemy is…you?

February 22, 2011

In today’s short, we get to know a man who struggles, and mostly fails, to contain his violent outbursts…until he meets a bird who can keep him in check.

February 8, 2011

This week on the podcast, football! No, it’s not a Super Bowl recap. Jad and Robert present a piece from across the pond–a piece about soccer they fell in love with when they heard it at the Third Coast festival in Chicago.

December 28, 2010

In this new short, a tree full of blood-sucking bats lends a startling twist to our understanding of altruism and natural selection.

December 14, 2010

If natural selection boils down to survival of the fittest, how do you explain why one creature might stick its neck out for another?

November 30, 2010

A mysterious case of the topsy turvies and a return to the question of what felines feel when they fall.

November 2, 2010

One tidy mathematical formula may hold the key to how cities work. We take to the streets to test the numbers, & ask what really makes cities tick.

October 19, 2010

In today’s podcast, we get a tantalizing taste of words in the wild, from the jungles to the prairie.

October 4, 2010

In this podcast, Jad and Robert throw some physics at a bible story. We find out just how many trumpeters you’d actually need to blow down the walls of Jericho.

September 20, 2010

We plunge into a black hole, take a trip over Niagara Falls, and upend some myths about falling cats.

September 7, 2010

In this podcast, Jad talks to Charles Fernyhough about the connection between thought and the voice in your head. How did it get there? And what’s happening when people hear someone else’s voice in their head?

August 24, 2010

The strange, subjective nature of time — from a sped-up spin through childhood, to a really, really slowed-down Beethoven symphony. 

August 9, 2010

Words have the power to shape the way we think and feel. In this stunning video (made to accompany our Words episode), filmmakers Will Hoffman and Daniel Mercadante bandy visual wordp…