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Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience. Radiolab is heard around the country on more than 500 member stations. Check your local station for airtimes. Embed the Radiolab widget on your blog or website. Radiolab is supported, in part, by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org. All press inquiries may be directed to Jennifer Houlihan Roussel at (646) 829-4497.
Updated: 44 min 55 sec ago

How to Be a Hero

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 6:09pm

What are people thinking when they risk their lives for someone else? Are they making complicated calculations of risk or diving in without a second thought? Is heroism an act of sympathy or empathy?  

A few years ago, we spoke with Walter F. Rutkowski about how the Carnegie Hero Fund selects its heroes, an honor the fund bestows upon ordinary people who have done extraordinary acts.

When some of these heroes were asked what they were thinking when they leapt into action, they replied: they didn’t think about it, they just went in.

Neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky says there is a certain kind of empathy that leads to action. But feeling the pain of another person deeply is not necessarily what makes a hero.  

Our original episode was reported and produced by Lynn Levy and Tim Howard. This update was produced by Amanda Aronczyk.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.

Categories: Syndicated

Inside Radiolab (Video)

Fri, 12/29/2017 - 6:00pm

Take a stroll through where Radiolab is made and meet some of the people who have created your favorite episodes.

Help make another year of curiosity possible. Radiolab.org/support

Categories: Syndicated

Bigger Little Questions

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 3:59am

When we dumped out our bucket of questions, there was a lot of spillover. Like, A LOT of spillover. So today, we’re back for round two. This time with some bigger, little questions.  

This episode was reported and produced by Annie McEwen, Bethel Habte, Latif Nasser, Matt Kielty, Simon Adler, and Tracie Hunte.

Special thanks to Stephen Brady and Staff Sergeant Erica Picariello in the US Air Force's 21st Space Wing.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.

Categories: Syndicated

Big Little Questions

Wed, 12/20/2017 - 3:12am

Here at the show, we get a lot of questions. Like, A LOT of questions. Tiny questions, big questions, short questions, long questions. Weird questions. Poop questions. We get them all.

And over the years, as more and more of these questions arrived in our inbox, what happened was, guiltily, we put them off to the side, in a bucket of sorts, where they just sat around, unanswered. But now we’re dumping the bucket out.

Today, our producers pick up a question that spilled out of that bucket, and venture out into the great unknown to find answers to some of life's greatest mysteries: coincidences; miracles; life; death; fate; will; and, of course, poop.

This piece was reported and produced by Rachael Cusick, Tracie Hunte, and Matt Kielty. 

Special thanks to Blake Nguyen, Sarah Murphy, and the New York Public Library. 

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.

Categories: Syndicated

Super Cool

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 6:12pm

When we started reporting a fantastic, surreal story about one very cold night, more than 70 years ago, in northern Russia, we had no idea we'd end up thinking about cosmology. Or dropping toy horses in test tubes of water. Or talking about bacteria. Or arguing, for a year. Walter Murch (aka, the Godfather of The Godfather), joined by a team of scientists, leads us on what felt like the magical mystery tour of super cool science.

This piece was produced by Molly Webster and Matt Kielty with help from Amanda Aronczyk.  It originally aired in March of 2014.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.

Categories: Syndicated

Radiolab Presents: More Perfect - Mr. Graham and the Reasonable Man

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 3:41am

This story comes from the second season of Radiolab's spin-off podcast, More Perfect. To hear more, subscribe here.

On a fall afternoon in 1984, Dethorne Graham ran into a convenience store for a bottle of orange juice. Minutes later he was unconscious, injured, and in police handcuffs. In this episode, we explore a case that sent two Charlotte lawyers on a quest for true objectivity, and changed the face of policing in the US.

 

 

The key voices:

    Dethorne Graham Jr., son of Dethorne Graham, appellant in Graham v. Connor Edward G. (Woody) Connette, lawyer who represented Graham in the lower courts Gerald Beaver, lawyer who represented Graham at the Supreme Court Kelly McEvers, host of Embedded and All Things Considered

 

 The key case:

 

Additional production for this episode by Dylan Keefe and Derek John; additional music by Matt Kielty and Nicolas Carter.

Special thanks to Cynthia Lee, Frank B. Aycock III, Josh Rosenkrantz, Leonard Feldman, and Ben Montgomery.

Leadership support for More Perfect is provided by The Joyce Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation.

Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell.

Categories: Syndicated

Stereothreat

Thu, 11/23/2017 - 6:00pm

Back in 1995, Claude Steele published a study that showed that negative stereotypes could have a detrimental effect on students' academic performance. But the big surprise was that he could make that effect disappear with just a few simple changes in language. We were completely enamoured with this research when we first heard about it, but in the current roil of replications and self-examination in the field of social psychology, we have to wonder whether we can still cling to the hopes or our earlier selves, or if we might have to grow up just a little bit.

This piece was produced by Simon Adler and Amanda Aronczyk and reported by Dan Engber and Amanda Aronczyk.

 Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.

Categories: Syndicated

Match Made in Marrow

Thu, 11/09/2017 - 9:25pm

You never know what might happen when you sign up to donate bone marrow. You might save a life… or you might be magically transported across a cultural chasm and find yourself starring in a modern adaptation of the greatest story ever told.

One day, without thinking much of it, Jennell Jenney swabbed her cheek and signed up to be a donor.  Across the country, Jim Munroe desperately needed a miracle, a one-in-eight-million connection that would save him. It proved to be a match made in marrow, a bit of magic in the world that hadn’t been there before.  But when Jennell and Jim had a heart-to-heart in his suburban Dallas backyard, they realized they had contradictory ideas about where that magic came from. Today, an allegory for how to walk through the world in a way that lets you be deeply different, but totally together.

 

This piece was reported by Latif Nasser.  It was produced by Annie McEwen, with help from Bethel Habte and Alex Overington.

Special thanks to Dr. Matthew J. Matasar, Dr. John Hill, Stephen Spellman at CIBMTR, St. Cloud State University’s Cru Chapter, and Mandy Naglich.

Categories: Syndicated

Oliver Sacks: A Journey From Where to Where

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 12:09am

There’s nothing quite like the sound of someone thinking out loud, struggling to find words and ideas to match what’s in their head. Today, we are allowed to dip into the unfiltered thoughts of Oliver Sacks, one of our heroes, in the last months of his life. 

Oliver died in 2015, but before he passed he and his partner Bill Hayes, in an effort to preserve some of Oliver’s thoughts on his work and his life, bought a little tape recorder. Over a year and half after Oliver’s death, Bill dug up the recorder and turned it on. Through snippets of conversation with Bill, and in moments Oliver recorded whispering to himself as he wrote, we get a peek inside the head, and the life, of one of the greatest science essayists of all time.

The passages read in this piece all come from Oliver’s recently released, post-humous book, The River of Consciousness

Special thanks to Billy Hayes for letting us use Oliver’s tapes, you can check out his work at http://www.billhayes.com/

 

 

Categories: Syndicated

Father K

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 10:59pm

Today, while the divisions between different groups in this country feel more and more insurmountable, we zero in on a particular neighborhood to see if one man can draw people together in a potentially history-making election. 

Khader El-Yateem is a Palestinian American running for office in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, one of the most divided, and most conservative neighborhoods in New York City. To win, he'll need to convince a wildly diverse population that he can speak for all of them, and he'll need to pull one particular group of people, Arab American muslims, out of the shadows and into the political process. And to make things just a bit more interesting, El-Yateem is a Lutheran minister.

This story was reported and produced by Simon Adler, with help from Bethel Habte, Annie McEwen, and Sarah Qari.

 Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.

Categories: Syndicated

Radiolab Presents: More Perfect - American Pendulum I

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 12:11am

This story comes from the second season of Radiolab's spin-off podcast, More Perfect. To hear more, subscribe here.

What happens when the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, seems to get it wrong? Korematsu v. United States is a case that’s been widely denounced and discredited, but it still remains on the books. This is the case that upheld President Franklin Roosevelt’s internment of American citizens during World War II based solely on their Japanese heritage, for the sake of national security. In this episode, we follow Fred Korematsu’s path to the Supreme Court, and we ask the question: if you can’t get justice in the Supreme Court, can you find it someplace else?

 The key voices:

    Fred Korematsu, plaintiff in Korematsu v. United States who resisted evacuation orders during World War II. Karen Korematsu, Fred’s daughter, Founder & Executive Director of Fred T. Korematsu Institute Ernest Besig, ACLU lawyer who helped Fred Korematsu bring his case Lorraine Bannai, Professor at Seattle University School of Law and friend of Fred's family Richard Posner, recently retired Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit

 The key cases:

 The key links:

Additional music for this episode by The Flamingos, Lulu, Paul Lansky and Austin Vaughn.

 Special thanks to the Densho Archives for use of archival tape of Fred Korematsu and Ernest Besig.

 Leadership support for More Perfect is provided by The Joyce Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation.

Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell.

Categories: Syndicated