10.14.15: Drinking in America, Wingsuit Racing, & Dinosaur Colors

Oct 14, 2015

From the pilgrims landing on Plymouth Rock because they ran out of beer to the temperance movement, America’s relationship with alcohol is complicated and often contentious. Today, we’ll explore America’s history through the bottom of the bottle. Then, our collective image of dinosaurs has undergone a massive transformation in recent years. Instead of herds of lizard-like grayish brown creatures, fossil recovery has revealed not only the presence of feathers for some, but also clues to what color dinosaurs actually were. 

Listen to the full show. 

Drinking in America

America’s history with alcohol veers between two poles: the social and the secret; temperance and intemperance; addiction and recovery. Susan Cheever follows those cycles in a new book called Drinking in America.

Wingsuit Racing

For people with more extreme tastes, the sport of wingsuit racing is gaining ground. Looking like Batman, or giant flying squirrels, wingsuit enthusiasts fly thousands of feet in the air at speeds up to 200 miles-per-hour.  Alex Davies covers transportation at Wired, where he wrote about a national wingsuit competition and profiled an aspiring champion.

An Ocean Away

Some of the most arduous exploits are painfully slow, and take years to accomplish.  Mark Bramhill has the story of one such adventurer – a woman named Sarah Outen, who knows what it’s like to cross an ocean, row by row by row.

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org

A quick update on Sarah’s journey: In early October, after 140 days on the Atlantic Ocean, the tail end of hurricane Joaquin forced Sarah to curtail her trip. Sadly, her second row boat, Happy Socks was left behind.  

After spending some time recuperating in Montreal, Sarah says she’s not going to attempt another crossing – and is instead preparing to wrap up the last bit of her journey, a bike ride from the coast of England, to her home in London.

What Color Were Dinosaurs?

Caitlin Colleary is a Paleontology Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech where she is studying the preservation and degradation of biomolecules. She’s also lead author on a recent study exploring “diagenetically altered melanin in exceptionally preserved fossils” - or, what color dinosaurs really were.