Radiolab

Sunday 7 p.m.
Jad Abumrad & Robert Krulwich
Robert Krulwich

Radiolab is an experiential investigation that explores themes and ideas through a patchwork of people, sounds, and stories. In each episode, Radiolab experiments with sound and style allowing science to fuse with culture, and information to sound like music.

Hosted by Jad Abumrad with co-host Robert Krulwich, Radiolab is designed for listeners who demand skepticism but appreciate wonder; who are curious about the world, but also want to be moved and surprised.

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Audio Archive

  • Thursday, July 17, 2014 3:58pm

    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 1:17pm

    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 2:00pm

    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 11:20am

    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 1:58pm

    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.


     

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10:12am

Wed October 24, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

When You're Almost Extinct, Your Price Goes Up

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 10:35 am

Illustration by NPR

When a species gets rare, its market value rises. The higher its price, the more it's hunted. The more it's hunted, the rarer it gets. Not a happy cycle, and this keeps happening ...

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11:16am

Tue October 23, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

See No Evil, Say No Evil. But As for Hearing? Hmmm

Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 1:07 pm

Dorit Hockman Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge

These are baby bats — embryos actually. They remind me of those See No Evil, Say No Evil, Hear No Evil monkey pictures I saw growing up, but these little guys are much, much cuter. And, of course, being bats, the hearing thing doesn't apply. Bats don't hear with our kind of ears, so of course, there's no covering-ears-up picture. That wouldn't make bat sense.

This photograph was taken by Dorit Hockman of Cambridge University. It's the 20th place winner in the Nikon Small World 2012 Photomicrography Competition.

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10:33am

Mon October 22, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

How Human Beings Almost Vanished From Earth In 70,000 B.C.

Robert Krulwich NPR

Add all of us up, all 7 billion human beings on earth, and clumped together we weigh roughly 750 billion pounds. That, says Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, is more than 100 times the biomass of any large animal that's ever walked the Earth. And we're still multiplying. Most demographers say we will hit 9 billion before we peak, and what happens then?

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6:43am

Mon October 15, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Be Nice To The Moon. Stop Writing On It

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 10:09 am

Kathy Lynch via Panoramio

Dot

Dash

Dot

Dash

This is the moon as Morse code.

Beautiful, yes, but not right. The moon isn't a dot. It's too elegant, too pale, too ghostly to be a bit of "information." It's got moods, changes, and on certain nights it's got a man on it, with eyes and a mouth, and yet some people treat the moon as if it's something you can write on.

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9:18am

Fri October 12, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Sun Goes Down. Up Comes A Mystery

Originally published on Fri October 12, 2012 9:53 am

minutephysics YouTube

Here's a question you probably didn't know was a question: Why is the sky dark at night?

My daughter asked me this about 10 years ago. We were looking up at the night sky, and she said, "There's lots of stars up there." And I said, "Yes."

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