Radiolab

Podcast Favorites Radiolab

: Radiolab Website

: Podcast

: 26 episodes

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

Vanishing Words

Vanishing Words

: Website

: Dec 17th, 2021

When Alana Casanova-Burgess set out to make a podcast series about Puerto Rico, she struggled with what to call it. Until one word came to mind, a word that captures a certain essence of life in Puerto Rico, but eludes easy translation into English. We talk to Alana about her series, and that particular word, then turn to an old story about treating words as signals of something happening just beneath the surface. 

Agatha Christie's clever detective novels may reveal more about the inner workings of the human mind than she intended. According to Dr. Ian Lancashire at the University of Toronto, the Queen of Crime left behind hidden clues to the real-life mysteries of human aging in her writing. Meanwhile, Dr. Kelvin Lim and Dr. Serguei Pakhomov from the University of Minnesota add to the intrigue with the story of an unexpected find in a convent archive that could someday help pinpoint very early warning signs for Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Sister Alberta Sheridan, a 94-year-old Nun Study participant, reads an essay she wrote more than 70 years ago.

La Brega update was produced by Maria Paz Gutierrez

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Mixtape: Help?

Mixtape: Help?

: Website

: Nov 19th, 2021

In tape five, three stories: first, a tale of how the cassette tape supercharged the self-help industry. Second, cassettes filled with history make an epic journey across Africa with a group of Lost Boys. And finally, Simon meets up with fellow Radiolabber David Gebel to dig through an old box of mixtapes and rediscover the unique power of these bygone love letters. Mixtape was reported, produced, scored and sound designed by me, Simon Adler, with music throughout by me. Unending reporting and production assistance was provided by Eli Cohen. Special Thanks to: Shad Helmstetter, Vic Conan, Glenna Salisbury, Jerry Rosen, Richard Petty, Sharon Arkin, William Mulwill for sharing his cassettes with me, and to the British library for sharing some of their recordings from their South Sudan collection, which is housed at the British Library Sound Archive. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
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Oliver Sipple

Oliver Sipple

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: Oct 1st, 2021

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. Episode originally published 09/21/2017
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HEAVY METAL

HEAVY METAL

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: Sep 24th, 2021

Today we have a story about the sometimes obvious but sometimes sneaky effects of the way that we humans rearrange the elemental stuff around us. Reporter Avir Mitra and science journalist Lydia Denworth bring us a story about how one man’s relentless pursuit of a deep truth about the Earth led to an obsession that really changed the very air we breathe. This episode was reported by Avir Mitra, and produced by Matt Kielty, Becca Bressler, Rachael Cusick, and Maria Paz Gutiérrez. Special thanks to Cliff Davidson, Paul M. Sutter, Denton Ebel, and Sam Kean. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
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The Dirty Drug and the Ice Cream Tub

The Dirty Drug and the Ice Cream Tub

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: May 21st, 2021

This episode, a tale of a wonder drug that will make you wonder about way more than just drugs.   Doctor-reporter Avir Mitra follows the epic and fantastical journey of a molecule dug out of a distant patch of dirt that would go on to make billions of dollars, prolong millions of lives, and teach us something fundamental we didn’t know about ourselves. Along the way, he meets a geriatric mouse named Ike, an immigrant dad who’s a little bit cool sometimes, a prophetic dream that prompts a thousand-mile journey, an ice cream container that may or may not be an accessory to international drug smuggling, and - most important of all - an obscure protein that’s calling the shots in every one of your cells RIGHT NOW. This episode was reported by Avir Mitra and was produced by Sarah Qari, Pat Walters, Suzie Lechtenberg, with help from Carin Leong and Rachael Cusick. Special thanks to Richard Miller, Stuart Schreiber, Joanne Van Tilburg, and Bethany Halford. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.  
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Facebook's Supreme Court

Facebook's Supreme Court

: Website

: Feb 12th, 2021

Since its inception, the perennial thorn in Facebook’s side has been content moderation. That is, deciding what you and I are allowed to post on the site and what we’re not. Missteps by Facebook in this area have fueled everything from a genocide in Myanmar to viral disinformation surrounding politics and the coronavirus. However, just this past year, conceding their failings, Facebook shifted its approach. They erected an independent body of twenty jurors that will make the final call on many of Facebook’s thorniest decisions. This body has been called: Facebook’s Supreme Court. So today, in collaboration with the New Yorker magazine and the New Yorker Radio Hour, we explore how this body came to be, what power it really has and how the consequences of its decisions will be nothing short of life or death. This episode was reported and produced by Simon Adler. To hear more about the court's origin, their rulings so far, and their upcoming docket, check out David Remnick and reporter Kate Klonick’s conversation in the New Yorker Radio Hour podcast feed. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
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Deception

Deception

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: Nov 19th, 2020

Lies, liars, and lie catchers. This hour of Radiolab asks if it's possible for anyone to lead a life without deception.
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The Wubi Effect

The Wubi Effect

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: Aug 14th, 2020

When we think of China today, we think of a technological superpower. From Huweai and 5G to TikTok and viral social media, China is stride for stride with the United States in the world of computing. However, China’s technological renaissance almost didn’t happen. And for one very basic reason: The Chinese language, with its 70,000 plus characters, couldn’t fit on a keyboard.  Today, we tell the story of Professor Wang Yongmin, a hard headed computer programmer who solved this puzzle and laid the foundation for the China we know today. This episode was reported and produced by Simon Adler with reporting assistance from Yang Yang. Special thanks to Martin Howard. You can view his renowned collection of typewriters at: antiquetypewriters.com Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
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Dispatches from 1918

Dispatches from 1918

: Website

: Jul 17th, 2020

It’s hard to imagine what the world will look like when COVID-19 has passed. So in this episode, we look back to the years after 1918, at the political, artistic, and viral aftermath of the flu pandemic that killed between 50 and 100 million people and left our world permanently transformed. This episode was reported and produced by Rachael Cusick, Tad Davis, Tracie Hunte, Matt Kielty, Latif Nasser, Sarah Qari, Pat Walters, Molly Webster, with production assistance from Tad Davis and Bethel Habte. Special thanks to the Radio Diaries podcast for letting us use an excerpt of their interview with Harry Mills. You can find the original episode here. For more on Egon Schiele’s life, check out the Leopold Museum’s biography, by Verena Gamper. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  
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The Flag and the Fury

The Flag and the Fury

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: Jul 12th, 2020

How do you actually make change in the world? For 126 years, Mississippi has had the Confederate battle flag on their state flag, and they were the last state in the nation where that emblem remained “officially” flying.  A few days ago, that flag came down. A few days before that, it coming down would have seemed impossible. We dive into the story behind this de-flagging: a journey involving a clash of histories, designs, families, and even cheerleading. This show is a collaboration with OSM Audio. Kiese Laymon's memoir Heavy is here. And the Hospitality Flag webpage is here.
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Right to be Forgotten

Right to be Forgotten

: Website

: Aug 23rd, 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, 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.
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Radiolab

Radiolab Scavenger Hunt

: Website

: Dec 28th, 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.
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Radiolab

War of the Worlds

: Website

: Oct 30th, 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.
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Unraveling Bolero

Unraveling Bolero

: Website

: May 22nd, 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
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Radiolab

Null and Void

: Website

: May 23rd, 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
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Radiolab

Presents: Ponzi Supernova

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: Feb 9th, 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?
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Radiolab

The Buried Bodies Case

: Website

: Jun 3rd, 2016

In 1973, a massive manhunt in New York's Adirondack Mountains ended when police captured a man named Robert Garrow. And that's when this story really gets started. This episode we consider a string of barbaric crimes by a hated man, and the attorney who, when called to defend him, also wound up defending a core principle of our legal system. When Frank Armani learned his client's most gruesome secrets, he made a morally startling decision that stunned the world and goes to the heart of what it means to be a defense attorney - how far should lawyers go to provide the best defense to the worst people?
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Radiolab

Debatable

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: Mar 11th, 2016

Unclasp your briefcase. It's time for a showdown. In competitive debate future presidents, supreme court justices, and titans of industry pummel each other with logic and rhetoric. But a couple years ago Ryan Wash, a queer, Black, first-generation college student from Kansas City, Kansas joined the debate team at Emporia State University. When he started going up against fast-talking, well-funded, "name-brand" teams, it was clear he wasn't in Kansas anymore. So Ryan became the vanguard of a movement that made everything about debate debatable. In the end, he made himself a home in a strange and hostile land. Whether he was able to change what counts as rigorous academic argument ... well, that's still up for debate.
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Radiolab

The Fix

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: Dec 18th, 2015

This episode we take a sober look at the throbbing, aching, craving desire states that return people (again and again) to the object of their addiction ... and the pills that just might set them free. Reporter Amy O'Leary was fed up with her boyfriend's hard-drinking, when she discovered a French doctor's memoir titled The End of My Addiction. The fix that he proposed seemed too good to be true. But her phone call with the doctor left her, and us, even more intrigued. Could this malady - so often seen as moral and spiritual - really be beaten back with a pill? We talk to addiction researcher Dr. Anna Rose Childress, medical psychologist Dr. Mark Willenbring, journalist Gabrielle Glaser, The National Institute of Health's Nora Volkow, and scores of people dealing with substance abuse as we try to figure out whether we're in the midst of a sea change in how we think about addiction.
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Smile My Ass

Smile My Ass

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: Oct 6th, 2015

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

Elements

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: Aug 23rd, 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. This episode, we enlist journalists, poets, musicians, and even a physicist to help us tell stories of matter that matters. You'll never look at that chart the same way again. Special thanks to Emotive Fruition for organizing poetry performances and to the mighty Sylvan Esso for composing "Jaime's Song", both inspired by this episode. Thanks also to Sam Kean, Chris Howk and Brian Fields.
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Radiolab

Mau Mau

: Website

: Jul 3rd, 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. Just down the road from a pub in rural Hanslope Park, England is a massive building - the secret archives of the biggest empire the world has ever known. This is the story of a few documents that tumbled out and offered a glimpse of histories waiting to be rewritten. When professor Caroline Elkins came across a stray document left by the British colonial government in Nairobi, Kenya, she opened the door to a new reckoning with the history of one of Britain's colonial crown jewels, and the fearsome group of rebels known as the Mau Mau. We talk to historians, archivists, journalists and send our producer Jamie York to visit the Mau Mau. As the new history of Kenya is concealed and revealed, document by document, we wonder what else lies in wait among the miles of records hidden away in Hanslope Park.
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Radiolab

Sight Unseen

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: Apr 28th, 2015

In December of 2009, photojournalist Lynsey Addario was embedded with a medevac team in Afghanistan. After days of waiting, late one night they got the call - a marine was gravely wounded. What happened next happens all the time. But this time it was captured, picture by picture, in excruciating detail. Horrible, difficult, and at times strikingly beautiful, those photos raise some questions: Who should see them, who gets to decide who should see them, and what can pictures like that do, to those of us far away from the horrors war and those of us who are all too close to it. Special thanks to Chris Hughes and Helium Records for the use of Shift Part IV.

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Radiolab

Blame

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: Sep 12th, 2013

We-ve all felt it, that irresistible urge to point the finger. But new technologies are complicating age-old moral conundrums about accountability. This hour, we ask what blame does for us - why do we need it, when isn't it enough, and what happens when we try to push past it with forgiveness and mercy?
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Radiolab

Blood

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: Jul 31st, 2013

From medicine to the movies, the horrifying to the holy, and history to the present day -- we're kinda obsessed with blood. This hour, we consider the power and magic of the red liquid that runs through our veins.
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Radiolab

Million Dollar Microsecond

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: Feb 5th, 2013

Picture the scrum of the stock exchange - the flurry of buying and selling, the split-second decisions that make and break fortunes. Then take out all the humans and accelerate everything until you literally can't keep up.
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