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Author: WNYC Studios

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A two-time Peabody Award-winner, Radiolab is an investigation told through sounds and stories, and centered around one big idea. In the Radiolab world, information sounds like music and science and culture collide. Hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, the show is designed for listeners who demand skepticism, but appreciate wonder.

WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including On the Media, Snap Judgment, Death, Sex & Money, Nancy and Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin.

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284 Episodes
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More Perfect: Sex Appeal

More Perfect: Sex Appeal

2020-09-1954:51160

We lost a legend. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18th, 2020. She was 87. In honor of her passing we are re-airing the More Perfect episode dedicated to one of her cases, because it offers a unique portrait of how one person can make change in the world.   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. 
Falling

Falling

2020-09-1758:1525

There are so many ways to fall—in love, asleep, even flat on your face. This hour, Radiolab dives into stories of great falls.  We jump into a black hole, take a trip over Niagara Falls, upend some myths about falling cats, and plunge into our favorite songs about falling. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    
Today, we return to the lab of neuroscientist Li-Huei Tsai, which brought us one of our favorite stories from four years ago - about the power of flashing lights on an Alzheimer’s-addled (mouse) brain. In this update, Li-Huei tells us about her team’s latest research, which now includes flashing sound, and ways in which light and sound together might retrieve lost memories. 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. Or jingle bells. This update was reported by Molly Webster, and produced by Rachael Cusick. The original episode 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. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     Molly'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! Further reading:  Li-Huei and co’s gamma sound and light paper: Multi-sensory Gamma Stimulation Ameliorates Alzheimer’s-Associated Pathology and Improves Cognition  
Fungus Amungus

Fungus Amungus

2020-09-0432:1649

Six years ago, a new infection began popping up in four different hospitals on three different continents, all around the same time. It wasn’t a bacteria, or a virus. It was ... a killer fungus. No one knew where it came from, or why. Today, the story of an ancient showdown between fungus and mammals that started when dinosaurs disappeared from the earth. Back then, the battle swung in our favor (spoiler alert!) and we’ve been hanging onto that win ever since. But one scientist suggests that the rise of this new infectious fungus indicates our edge is slipping, degree by increasing degree. This episode was reported by Molly Webster, and produced by Molly and Bethel Habte, with production help from Tad Davis. Special thanks to Julie Parsonnet and Aviv Bergman.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.   Further Fungus Reading: NYTimes feature on the mysterious rise of Candida auris.   Arturo's paper: “On the emergence of Candida auris, Climate Change, Azoles, Swamps, and Birds”, by Arturo Casadevall, et al. “On the Origins of a Species: What Might Explain the Rise of Candida auris?”, a report from the CDC.  
Translation

Translation

2020-08-2701:05:3059

How close can words get you to the truth and feel and force of life? That's the question poking at our ribs this hour, as we wonder how it is that the right words can have the wrong meanings, and why sometimes the best translations lead us to an understanding that's way deeper than language. This episode, a bunch of stories that play out in the middle space between one reality and another — where poetry, insult comedy, 911 calls, and even our own bodies work to close the gap. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.   Special thanks for the music of Brian Carpenter's Ghost Train Orchestra
Lebanon, USA

Lebanon, USA

2020-08-2142:5127

This is a story of a road trip. After a particularly traumatic Valentine's Day, Fadi Boukaram was surfing google maps and noticed that there was a town called Lebanon... in Oregon. Being Lebanese himself, he wondered, how many Lebanons exist in the US? The answer: 47. Thus began his journey to visit them all and find an America he'd never expected, and the homeland he'd been searching for all along. This episode was made in collaboration with Kerning Cultures, a podcast that tells stories from the Middle East and North Africa.  The original "Lebanon USA" story was reported by Alex Atack with editorial support from Bella Ibrahim, Dana Ballout, Zeina Dowidar, and Hebah Fisher. Original sound design by Alex Atack.  Editor's Note: In an earlier version of this episode, we inaccurately described a grain elevator. We have updated the audio to reflect the correction. The new update of the story was produced and reported by Shima Oliaee.  We had original music by Thomas Koner and Jad Atoui. Be sure to check out Kerning Cultures at their website www.kerningcultures.com, instagram @kerningcultures, or twitter @kerningcultures. You can read more about Fadi’s trips and see his photographs at lebanonusa.com or on his Instagram at @lebanonusa. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  --- If you would like to donate to Beirut at this time, we have links here (from NYT): The Lebanese Red Cross dispatches every ambulance from North Lebanon, Bekaa, and South Lebanon to Beirut to treat the wounded and help in search-and-rescue operations. You can make a contribution here.  The United Nations’ World Food Program provides food to people displaced or made homeless after the blast. Lebanon imports nearly 85% of its food, and the port of Beirut, the epicenter of the explosion, played a central role in that supply chain. With the port now severely damaged, food prices are likely to be beyond the reach of many. You can donate here. The NGO Humanity and Inclusion has 100 workers in Lebanon, including physical therapists, psychologists and social workers. They are focusing on post-surgical therapy in Beirut following the explosion. You can make a contribution here. International Medical Corps is deploying medical units and will provide mental health care to those affected in Lebanon. The humanitarian aid organization also provides health services to Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and vulnerable Lebanese. You can donate here. Islamic Relief, which specializes in food aid and emergency response, is helping to put a supply chain in place for emergency aid in Beirut. You can donate here. Save the Children have launched a Lebanon’s children relief fund, to which you can donate here. UNICEF, the United Nations agency specializing in aid to children, is providing medical and vaccine supplies in Beirut, and supplying drinking water to rescue workers at the Beirut port. Its on-the-ground team is also counseling children traumatized by the blast. You can donate here. Impact Lebanon, a nonprofit organization, has set up a crowdfunding campaign to help organizations on the ground, and is helping to share information about people still missing after the explosion. The group had raised over $3 million as of Wednesday and donated the first $100,000 to the Lebanese Red Cross. The health care organization Project HOPE is bringing medical supplies and protective gear to Beirut and assisting the authorities on the ground. A donation page is available here. Over 300,000 people in Beirut were displaced from their homes by the explosion. Baytna Baytak, a charity that provided free housing to health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic, is now raising funds with Impact Lebanon to shelter those who have been displaced. For those in Beirut, here is a list of urgent blood needs. Several social media accounts have also been set up to help locate victims.  
The Wubi Effect

The Wubi Effect

2020-08-1455:5076

When we think of China today, we think of a technological superpower. From Huawei 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. 
Uncounted

Uncounted

2020-08-0751:1529

First things first: our very own Latif Nasser has an exciting new show on Netflix. He talks to Jad about the hidden forces of the world that connect us all. Then, with an eye on the upcoming election, we take a look back: at two pieces from More Perfect Season 3 about Constitutional amendments that determine who gets to vote. Former Radiolab producer Julia Longoria takes us to Washington, D.C. The capital is at the heart of our democracy, but it’s not a state, and it wasn’t until the 23rd Amendment that its people got the right to vote for president. But that still left DC without full representation in Congress; D.C. sends a "non-voting delegate" to the House. Julia profiles that delegate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and her unique approach to fighting for power in a virtually powerless role. Second, Radiolab producer Sarah Qari looks at a current fight to lower the US voting age to 16 that harkens back to the fight for the 26th Amendment in the 1960s. Eighteen-year-olds at the time argued that if they were old enough to be drafted to fight in the War, they were old enough to have a voice in our democracy. But what about today, when even younger Americans are finding themselves at the center of national political debates? Does it mean we should lower the voting age even further? Music in this episode by Carling & Will This episode was reported and produced by Julia Longoria and Sarah Qari. Check out Latif Nasser’s new Netflix show Connected here. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
Invisible Allies

Invisible Allies

2020-07-3142:5361

As scientists have been scrambling to find new and better ways to treat covid-19, they’ve come across some unexpected allies. Invisible and primordial, these protectors have been with us all along. And they just might help us to better weather this viral storm. To kick things off, we travel through time from a homeless shelter to a military hospital, pondering the pandemic-fighting power of the sun. And then, we dive deep into the periodic table to look at how a simple element might actually be a microbe’s biggest foe. This episode was reported by Simon Adler and Molly Webster, and produced by Annie McEwen, Pat Walters, Simon Adler, and Molly Webster, with production help from Tad Davis. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
Baby Blue Blood Drive

Baby Blue Blood Drive

2020-07-2401:07:21103

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.   BONUS: If you want to know more about how miraculous horseshoe crabs are, here's a bunch of our favorite reads: Alexis Madrigal, "The Blood Harvest" in The Atlantic, and Sarah Zhang's recent follow up in The Atlantic, "The Last Days of the Blue Blood Harvest"  Deborah Cramer, The Narrow Edge Deborah Cramer, "Inside the Biomedical Revolution to Save Horseshoe Crabs" in Audubon Magazine  Richard Fortey, Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms Ian Frazier, "Blue Bloods"  in The New Yorker  Lulu Miller's short story, "Me and Jane"  in Catapult Magazine Jerry Gault, "The Most Noble Fishing There Is"  in Charles River's Eureka Magazine or check out Glenn Gauvry's horseshoe crab research database   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 Chesney Medical Archives at Johns Hopkins University, Jennifer Walton at the library of the Marine Biological Lab of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Glenn Gauvry at the Ecological Research and Development Group. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
Dispatches from 1918

Dispatches from 1918

2020-07-1701:11:5474

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.  
The Flag and the Fury

The Flag and the Fury

2020-07-1201:14:5645

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 episode was reported and produced by Shima Oliaee, with production assistance from Annie McEwen and Bethel Habte.  It was a collaboration between OSM Audio and Radiolab. You can check out upcoming releases from OSM at: https://www.osmaudio.com/ To read or listen to Kiese Laymon's memoir Heavy: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Heavy/Kiese-Laymon/9781501125669. To visit the Hospitality Flag website: https://declaremississippi.com/.
The Third. A TED Talk.

The Third. A TED Talk.

2020-06-2518:3824

Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.
Post No Evil Redux

Post No Evil Redux

2020-06-1901:12:0746

Today we revisit our story on Facebook and its rulebook, looking at what’s changed in the past two years and exploring how these rules will impact the 2020 Presidential Election.  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, Mike Masnick, and our voice actor Michael Chernus. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
The Liberation of RNA

The Liberation of RNA

2020-06-1328:1736

In June of 2019, Brandon Ogbunu got on stage and told a story for The Story Collider, a podcast and live storytelling show. Starting when he was a senior in college being shook down by a couple cops, Brandon tells us about navigating his ups and downs of a career in science, his startling connection to scientific racism, and his battle against biology's central dogma.  Brandon’s story was recorded by The Story Collider as part of the 2019 Evolution Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island. You can find the full episode and learn more about The Story Collider here. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  
Graham

Graham

2020-06-0701:01:1651

If former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s case for the death of George Floyd goes to trial, there will be this one, controversial legal principle looming over the proceedings: The reasonable officer. In this episode, we explore the origin of the reasonable officer standard, with the case that sent two Charlotte lawyers on a quest for true objectivity, and changed the face of policing in the US. This episode was produced by Matt Kielty with help from Kelly Prime and Annie McEwen. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  
Nina

Nina

2020-06-06--:--34

Producer Tracie Hunte stumbled into a duet between Nina Simone and the sounds of protest outside her apartment. Then she discovered a performance by Nina on April 7, 1968 - three days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tracie talks about what Nina’s music, born during another time when our country was facing questions that seemed to have no answer, meant then and why it still resonates today.  Listen to Nina's brother, Samuel Waymon, talk about that April 7th concert here.
Dispatch 6: Strange Times

Dispatch 6: Strange Times

2020-05-2934:5445

Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It’s a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  
Speedy Beet

Speedy Beet

2020-05-2224:1841

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. Big thanks to the folks at Brooklyn Philharmonic: Conductor Alan Pierson, Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
Octomom

Octomom

2020-05-1534:0170

In 2007, Bruce Robison’s robot submarine stumbled across an octopus settling in to brood her eggs. It seemed like a small moment. But as he went back to visit her, month after month, what began as a simple act of motherhood became a heroic feat that has never been equaled by any known species on Earth.  This episode was reported and produced by Annie McEwen.  Special thanks to Kim Fulton-Bennett and Rob Sherlock at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. And thanks to the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra for the use of their piece, “Concerto for Bassoon & Chamber Orchestra: II. Beautiful.”  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.   If you need more ocean in your life, check out the incredible Monterey Bay Aquarium live cams (especially the jellies!): www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams  Here’s a pic of Octomom sitting on her eggs, Nov. 1, 2007.   (© 2007 MBARI)  
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Comments (887)

Olga Shadura

Listening to Serita and Simone story was like "I'm not crying, you're crying!". Great episode, loved it!

Sep 21st
Reply

boson96

SJWs ruin everything.

Sep 20th
Reply

Pætrïck Lėő Dåvīd

what a beautiful show about a core presence in American identity. she is in every fiber of American being. let that sink in while the Bench awaits her successor.

Sep 19th
Reply

SPYDOR

Another repeat episode, originally played 4th Feb 2015.

Sep 18th
Reply

David

I can't stand being talked to like a five year old. Except that's not fair, because I don't condescend to five year olds anywhere near as much as this podcast does. Im tired of the hosts pretending like they don't know anything, like what a neuron is. Who is this podcast for? What kind of person is interested in brain frequencies but needs an analogy to introduce, define, and explain what neurons are to them? I don't get it. I listen to hundreds of podcasts. None of them do this. Bizarre.

Sep 16th
Reply (1)

Paul Madrid

I wonder what would happen if they also tried the other senses 🤔

Sep 16th
Reply

Andy Edwards

seems to me officers should be held to the same standard as ordinary civilians as far as whether shooting in self-defense is justified

Sep 11th
Reply

Andy Edwards

couldn't there be a requirement that officers actually see the weapon right after it's withdrawn from the pocket to be allowed to shoot, rather than merely reaching for an unknown object being an immediate enough threat to justify shooting?

Sep 11th
Reply

Sarah Smith

Very interesting! I love the topics that radiolab covers.

Sep 7th
Reply

Mahmoud Nashaat

Loved it

Sep 6th
Reply

Scott Sanett

Shouldn't a fever, which is a natural defense, still be able to fend them off?

Sep 6th
Reply

Healing Law

Paul Stamets has been talking about how new species of fungi can pop up in multiple places because the earth is covered in a network of microscopic fungi.

Sep 5th
Reply

Nada

I guess Fungi aren’t fun anymore...

Sep 5th
Reply

Dongsong Tian

❤️

Sep 2nd
Reply

Trichia Marie Magro

you know the year is getting to you when your crying over trees.

Aug 27th
Reply

Rachel Kuhn

I would have to argue that you can get music from the Atomic Theory. If you can get to the point to create complex machines, such as steam engines, there is a rythum. Music is math and math is in everything, as bad as I am at it, I cannot deny its existence is in everything; including the Atomic Theory.

Aug 24th
Reply

Christopher Donaghue

pinyin typing on a cellphone, what I do every day, is actually probably more efficient than typing out English.

Aug 23rd
Reply

Richard Kairis

Ms Longoria appears to arrive at her interview with Congresswomen Norton with such pre-conceived ideas about the Congresswoman's restriction on voting that she does not hear what the Congresswoman is saying. No, Ms Norton does not have a vote in committee or on the house floor, but there is so much more involved in the process of creating policy and legislation. The concept appeared to go right of my Longoria's head.

Aug 18th
Reply

Edward Piper

wasn't the layout of the typewriter designer to slow down typists so the heads dont crash together..? Seems a little tinfoil hat-ish

Aug 17th
Reply

BC

I only know how to type in pinyin and now I'm a little salty

Aug 16th
Reply
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