People often-times ask me what my favorite show is and I answer “RadioLab”, to which they typically respond with “Your favorite show is on the Radio?” followed with “What’s RadioLab”.
Here are some of my favorite RadioLab episodes:
CRISPR : Hidden inside some of the world’s smallest organisms is one of the most powerful tools scientists have ever stumbled across. It’s a defense system that has existed in bacteria for millions of years and it may some day let us change the course of human evolution.
9-Volt Nirvana: 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.
Speedy Beet: There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit.
Mutant Rights: In this podcast short, a strange twist of legal taxonomy causes a dispute over whether X-MEN action figures are toys or dolls and sparks a court case about what it means to be human.
A Clock Work Miracle: In 1562, King Philip II needed a miracle. So he commissioned one from a highly-skilled clockmaker. In this short, a king’s deal with God leads to an intricate mechanical creation, and Jad heads to the Smithsonian to investigate.
FULL LENGTH (~1Hr)
Limits: How much can you jam into a human brain? How far can you push yourself past feelings of exhaustion? We test physical endurance with a bike race that makes the Tour de France look like child’s play, and mental capacity with a mind-stretching memory competition. And we ask if robots — for better or worse — may be forging beyond the limits of human understanding.
Emergence: We take a look at the bottom-up logic of cities, Google, and even our very own brains… with fire-flyologists, ant experts, neurologists, a mathematician, and an economist.
Placebo Effect: Could the best medicine be no medicine at all? We take stock of the pharmacy in our brains, consider the symbolic power of the doctor coat, and visit the tent of a self-proclaimed faith healer.
Numbers: Whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em, chances are you rely on numbers every day of your life. Where do they come from, and what do they really do for us? This hour: stories of how numbers confuse us, connect us, and even reveal secrets about us.
Choice: Logic and emotion aren’t the only forces that guide our decisions. This hour of Radiolab, we turn up the volume on the voices in our heads, and try to make sense of the babble. Forget free will, some important decisions could come down to a steaming cup of coffee.
War of the Worlds: We take a deep dive into one of the most controversial moments in broadcasting history: Orson Welles’ 1938 radio play about Martians invading New Jersey. “The War of the Worlds” caused panic when it originally aired, and it’s continued to fool people since — from Santiago, Chile to Buffalo, New York to a particularly disastrous evening in Quito, Ecuador.
Morality: Where does our sense of right and wrong come from? We watch chimps at a primate research center sharing blackberries, observe 3-year-olds fighting over toys, and tour Eastern State Penitentiary — the country’s first penitentiary. Plus, a story of land grabbing, indentured servitude, and slumlording in the fourth grade.
Sleep: Every creature on the planet sleeps — from giant humpback whales to teeny fruit flies. What does it do for us, and what happens when we go without? We take a peek at iguanas sleeping with one eye open, get in bed with a pair of sleep-deprived new parents, and eavesdrop on the uneasy dreams of rats.