national geographic

Logan Shannon / NHPR

The recent disintegration and crash of a Virgin Galactic suborbital space plane raised questions about the safety and viability of space tourism. On today’s show we consider another issue for commercial spaceflight….the psychological effects of leaving earth.

Then, we can all remember our favorite sports movies – but what about our favorite sports-based books? Bill Littlefield of NPR’s Only a Game talks about his favorite sportswriters, and reads from his new collection of athletics inspired poetry. 

Plus, a conversation with America’s only water sommelier. That’s right, water sommelier.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

National Geographic: The Covers

Dec 1, 2014
Courtesy of National Geographic

The cover of National Geographic magazine is iconic: you can pick the magazine out on the rack from just a glimpse of that particular shade of yellow. A yellow border so iconic that it acts as National Geographic's print and media logo. Inside that yellow frame is often a photographic glimpse into another world, another person's life and those photographs are what makes Nat Geo the icon it is today.

heipei via flickr Creative Commons

From the Afghan girl with startling green eyes to the ghostly wreckage of the Titanic, there’s just something about the iconic covers of National Geographic that burns into our collective memory. On today’s show: we get an insider’s view of the cover selection process.

Then, from microscopic lenses to compact cameras, the digital age has upped the ante for nature photographers and opened the door for whole new levels of disruption and manipulation. We’ll ponder the ethics of wildlife photography.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Is Sochi Safe?

Jan 21, 2014
©Thomas Dworzak National Geographic

While landing the 2014 Winter Olympic games was a crowning political achievement for Russian President Vladimir Putin, preparations for the Sochi games have not been so triumphant. With just three weeks until opening ceremonies, security officials are actively chasing down members of a terrorist group that has publicly threatened to disrupt the games. The seaside resort town of Sochi and neighboring sites of Olympic events have a long history of anti-government friction. Only a day’s drive from Chechnya, the region borders recently disputed territory with Georgia and was the site of an alleged genocide perpetrated by Russian Tsars in the 19th century. Our guest is writer Brett Forrest, he examined the landscape and geopolitics of the upcoming 2014 games in the January issue of National Geographic magazine.

© Carsten Peter Courtesy: National Geographic

Veteran storm chaser Tim Samaras was one of 14 people killed when tornadoes ripped through El Reno Oklahoma last Friday. Tim, his son Paul Samaras and their colleague, Carl Young, perished while trying to document the storm. Tornadoes weren’t the only elusive weather phenomenon Tim was chasing. Last summer, we spoke to him about a more painstaking quest…he spent six years and traveled tens of thousands of miles to try and capture a lightning strike in super-slow motion using a six-foot-tall, 1600 pound,  cold war-era camera, an endeavor profiled by National Geographic Magazine.

Photo Credit © Carsten Peter

Produced with Emma Ruddock

©Tyrone Turner/National Geographic

We begin with a story that defies credibility: descendants of escaped slaves still thriving in the Brazilian forest. Of the five million Africans brought to the Portuguese colony of Brazil,  thousands escaped into the dense rainforest to live freely in isolated communities – called quilombos – where many of their descendants still live.