First, we crack open some fossils, peer back into ancient seas, and look up at lunar skies to find that a year is not quite as fixed as we thought it was. Then, a deafening sex orchestra hits the East Coast — billions and billions of cicadas crawl out of the ground, sing their hearts out, then mate and die. And we end 200 miles above Earth’s surface, where astronaut Dave Wolf — rocketing through the blackness of Earth’s shadow at 5 miles a second — floated out of the Mir Space Station on his very first spacewalk.Go to podcast
Kurt Andersen and historian Simon Schama survey the art and imagination behind maps. Spanish author Arturo Pérez-Reverte talks about the mysterious maps and sunken treasure in his new novel The Nautical Chart, artist Andra McCartney maps her world with sound, and a 16th-century cartographer slaps a name on that weird new continent over to the left. Plus, we look back at the golden age of the violin.Go to podcast
In this episode, we steer our way through a series of stories about getting lost, and ask how our brains, and our hearts, help us find our way back home.
After hearing about a little girl who gets lost in front of her own house, Jad and Robert wonder how we find our way in the world. We meet a woman who has spent her entire life getting lost, and find out how our brains make maps of the world around us. We go to a military base in New Jersey to learn about some amazing feats of navigational wizardry, and are introduced to a group of people in Australia with impeccable orientation. Finally, we turn to a very different kind of lost and found: a love story about running into a terrifying, and unexpected, fork in the road.Go to podcast
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.Go to podcast
In the 60’s, space exploration was an American obsession. This hour, we chart the path from romance to increasing cynicism.We begin with Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan, with a story about the Voyager expedition, true love, and a golden record that travels through space. And astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson explains the Coepernican Principle, and just how insignificant we are.Go to podcast
Our world is saturated in color, from soft hues to violent stains. How does something so intangible pack such a visceral punch? This hour, in the name of science and poetry, Jad and Robert tear the rainbow to pieces.
To what extent is color a physical thing in the physical world, and to what extent is it created in our minds? We start with Sir Isaac Newton, who was so eager to solve this very mystery, he stuck a knife in his eye to pinpoint the answer. Then, we meet a sea creature that sees a rainbow way beyond anything humans can experience, and we track down a woman who we’re pretty sure can see thousands (maybe even millions) more colors than the rest of us. And we end with an age-old question, that, it turns out, never even occurred to most humans until very recently: why is the sky blue?Go to podcast