Radiolab

Saturdays at noon, Mondays at 7 pm
Jad Abumrad

Radiolab is a show about curiosity, blending the boundaries between science, philosophy, and human experience.

Visit the official Radiolab website here.

Composer ID: 
5182ad01e1c8493049eeb9ee|5182acf6e1c8493049eeb9c0

Podcasts

  • Thursday, July 17, 2014 5:58pm

    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.

  • Thursday, June 26, 2014 3:17pm

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

    Sally Adee, an editor at New Scientist, was at a conference for DARPA - The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - when she heard about a way to speed up learning with something called trans-cranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). A couple years later, Sally found herself weilding an M4 assualt rifle, picking off enemy combatants with a battery wired to her temple. Of course, it was a simulation, but Sally's sniper skills made producer Soren Wheeler wonder what we should think of the world of brain stimulation. 

    In the last couple years, tDCS has been all over the news. Researchers claim that juicing the brain with just 2 milliamps (think 9-volt battery) can help with everything from learning languages, to quitting smoking, to overcoming depression. We bring Michael Weisend, neuroscientist at Wright State Research Institute, into the studio to tell us how it works (Bonus: you get to hear Jad get his brain zapped). Peter Reiner and Nick Fitz of the University of British Columbia help us think through the consequences of a world where anyone with 20 dollars and access to Radioshack can make their own brain zapper. And finally, Sally tells us about the unexpected after-effects of a day of super-charged sniper training and makes us wonder about world where you can order up a state of mind.

  • Friday, June 13, 2014 4:00pm

    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.

  • Friday, May 30, 2014 1:20pm

    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.

  • Thursday, May 15, 2014 3:58pm

    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.


     

Radiolab - August 3
2:25 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Colors

Our world is saturated in color, from the softest hues to the most lurid, violent stains. But it's hard to put your finger on how something so intangible can have such a visceral punch. This hour, we ask how the pigments around us color our thoughts, and wonder how much of what we see is on the outside... and how much is created in our heads. From Sir Isaac Newton sticking a needle in his eye, to a sea creature that sees a rainbow far beyond what humans can experience.

Radiolab - July 27
2:24 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

After Life

What happens at the moment when we slip from life...to the other side? Is it a moment? If it is, when exactly does it happen? And what happens afterward? It's an episode full of questions that don't have easy answers. Radiolab stares down the very moment of passing, and speculates about what may lay beyond.

Radiolab - July 20
2:22 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Stochasticity

Stochasticity (a wonderfully slippery and smarty-pants word for "randomness"), may be at the very foundation of our lives. To understand just how big a role it plays, we look at chance and patterns in sports, lottery tickets, and even the cells in our own body. And we meet two girls named Laura, whose unlikely meeting seems to defy pure chance.

Radiolab - July 13
2:20 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Lucy

Chimps. Bonobos. Humans. We're all great apes, but that doesn’t mean we're one happy family. This hour of Radiolab: stories of trying to live together. A chimp named Lucy teaches us the ups and downs of growing up human, and a visit to The Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa highlights some of the basics of bonobo culture (be careful, they bite).

Radiolab - June 29
11:26 am
Tue April 24, 2012

When Brains Attack!

In this episode of Radiolab, strange stories of brains that lead their owners astray, knock them off balance, and, sometimes, propel them to do amazing things. We hear from a kid whose voice was disguised from himself, relive a surreal day in the life of a young researcher who was hijacked by her own brain, and try to keep up with an ultra-athlete who, after suffering terrible seizures, gained extraordinary abilities through removing a chunk of her brain.

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Radiolab - June 22
11:24 am
Tue April 24, 2012

Guts

This hour, we dive into the messy mystery in the middle of us. What's going on down there? We stick our hand in a cow stomach, get a window into our core through the story of a human science experiment, listen in on the surprising back-and-forth between our gut and our brain, and talk to a man who kind of went out of his mind when a medical procedure left him (for a little while) gutless.

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Radiolab - June 15
11:22 am
Tue April 24, 2012

Escape

The walls are closing in, you've got no way out... and then, suddenly, you escape! This hour, stories about traps, getaways, perpetual cycles, and staggering breakthroughs. We meet a man who's broken out of jail more times than anyone alive, travel to the edge of the solar system ... to a boundary beyond which we know nothing, and we hear the story of a blind kid who freed himself from an unhappy childhood by climbing into the telephone system, and bending it to his will.

For more information, visit http://www.radiolab.org/.

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Radiolab - June 8
11:20 am
Tue April 24, 2012

The Bad Show

Cruelty, violence, badness... This episode of Radiolab, we wrestle with the dark side of human nature, and ask whether it's something we can ever really understand, or fully escape. We encounter a man who scrambles our notions of good and evil, turn to one of the most famous (and misunderstood) psychology experiments ever, talk to a man who chased one of the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history, then got a chance to ask him the question that had haunted him for years: why?

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Radiolab - June 1
11:16 am
Tue April 24, 2012

Patient Zero

The greatest mysteries all have a shadowy figure at the center -- someone who sets things in motion and holds the key to how the rest of the story unfolds. In epidemiology, this central character is known as Patient Zero -- the case at the heart of an outbreak. This hour, Radiolab hunts for Patient Zeroes from all over the map, from the origins of a blues legend to the history of the high five, to a race to halt the spread of a deadly disease.

For more information, visit http://www.radiolab.org/.

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Radiolab - May 18
11:03 am
Tue April 24, 2012

Loops

So much of life is organized by cycles -- seasons, biological rhythms, even our ideas of consciousness. In this episode, Radiolab looks at some of the surprising ways that loops steer our lives, and asks what happens when we disturb them.

For information, visit http://www.radiolab.org/.

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