3.24.14: Democracy of Germs, Permafrost Virus, Darth Vader Courthouse & Josh Ritter
Today on Word of Mouth we're exploring the macro influences of the micro world. Then 99 Percent Invisible brings us a story about a menacing courthouse. (Perhaps a phantom menacing courthouse?) Finally, a conversation with Josh Ritter, whose album The Beast in its Tracks was recently released.
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Democracy of Germs
- A group of evolutionary biologists propose that such avoidance is extremely significant. In fact, they theorize that cultures across the world have been largely shaped by the struggle to avoid disease. Here with more is Ethan Watters. His article, “The Germ Theory of Democracy, Dictatorship, and All Your Most Cherished Beliefs” was published in Pacific Standard.
- We've got a list of famous folks who happen to be germaphobes right here.
- The recently discovered pithovirus has been sealed in the Siberian permafrost for more than 30 thousand years. While this, and many other giant viruses are considered harmless to humans, others unearthed by rapidly thawing ice may not be so benign. Here with more is John Timmer, senior science editor at Ars Technica, who wrote about the discovery of the giant pithovirus for Ars Technica.
99 Percent Invisible: "The Darth Vader Family Courthouse"
- You’d think architects would try to soften the imposing nature of the courtroom, maybe make it a little more welcoming – or at least aspire to the Greco-Roman designs we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in towns and cities across America. Roman Mars’ 99 Percent Invisible brings us this story of one family courthouse that looks like it was designed by George Lucas’ fictional “galactic empire”.
- A singer-songwriter puts a surprisingly optimistic spin on his own divorce – Josh Ritter talks with us about his latest, and perhaps most personal album, The Beast in its Tracks.