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39 minutes | 11 days ago
Post Reports: Four Hours of Insurrection
We’re all still processing what happened on January 6th. Despite the hours and hours of video circulating online, we still didn’t feel like we had a visceral, on-the-ground sense of what happened that day. Until we heard the piece we’re featuring today. The Washington Post’s daily podcast Post Reports built a minute-by-minute replay of that day, from the rally, to the invasion, to the aftermath, told through the voices of people who were in the building that day -- reporters, photojournalists, Congresspeople, police officers and more. It’s some of the most visceral reporting we’ve heard anywhere on this historic moment. Listen to their full episode here.
29 minutes | 12 days ago
More Money Less Problems
Back in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was just beginning and the shelter-in-place orders brought the economy to a screeching halt, a quirky-but-clever idea to save the economy made its way up to some of the highest levels of government. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib proposed an ambitious relief bill to keep the country’s metaphorical lights on: recurring payments to people to help them stay afloat during the crisis. And the way Congress would pay for it? By minting two platinum $1 trillion coins. (You read that right). In this episode, we take a jaunt through the evolution of our currency, from the gold-backed bills of the 19th century, to the most powerful computer at the Federal Reserve. And we chase an idea that torpedoes what we thought was a fundamental law of economics. Can we actually just print more money? This episode was reported by Becca Bressler and was produced by Becca Bressler and Simon Adler. Special thanks to Carlos Mucha, Warren Mosler, David Cay Johnston, Alex Goldmark, Bryant Urstadt, and Amanda Aronczyk. To learn more about these ideas check out: Stephanie Kelton's book The Deficit Myth Jacob Goldstein's book Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing and the Planet Money podcast Betsey Stevenson's podcast Think Like an Economist This website for more about #MintTheCoin And for a fun quick read, check out this WIRED article about the surprising origin of the trillion dollar coin.
30 minutes | 14 days ago
As the attacks were unfolding on the Capitol, a steady stream of images poured onto our screens. Photo editor Kainaz Amaria tells us what she was looking for--and seeing--that afternoon. And she runs into a dilemma we've talked about before. In December of 2009, photojournalist Lynsey Addario, in was embedded with a medevac team in Afghanistan. After days of waiting, one night they got the call - a marine was gravely wounded. What happened next happens all the time. But this time it was captured, picture by picture, in excruciating detail. Horrible, difficult, and at times strikingly beautiful, those photos raise some questions: Who should see them, who gets to decide who should see them, and what can pictures like that do, to those of us far away from the horrors of war and those of us who are all too close to it? Episode Notes: To hear Kainaz Amaria talk more about the filter, check out: this post on ethical questions to consider around the sharing of images of police brutality and her interview on On The Media about the double-standard in many U.S. newsrooms when it comes to posting graphic images. Special thanks to Chris Hughes and Helium Records for the use of Shift Part IV from the album Shift Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
54 minutes | a month ago
A Terrible Covid Christmas Special
This year was the worst. And as our staff tried to figure out what to do for our last episode of 2020, co-host Latif Nasser thought, what if we stare straight into the darkness … and make a damn Christmas special about it. Latif begins with a story about Santa, and a back-room deal he made with the Trump administration to jump to the front of the vaccine line, a tale that travels from an absurd quid-pro-quo to a deep question: who really is an essential worker? From there, we take a whistle-stop tour through the numbers that scientists say you need to know as you wind your way (or preferably, don’t wind your way) through our COVID-infested world. Producer Sarah Qari brings us her version of the Christmas classic nobody ever dreamt they’d want to hear: The Twelve Numbers of COVID. You can check out Martin Bazant’s COVID “calculator” here. This episode was reported by Latif Nasser and Sarah Qari, and was produced by Matt Kielty, Sarah Qari, and Pat Walters. Special thanks to Anna Weggel and Brant Miller, Catherine, Rohan, and Finn Munro, Noam Osband, Amber D’Souza, Chris Zangmeister, John Volckens, Joshua Santarpia, Laurel Bristow, Michael Mina, Mohammad Sajadi, James V. Grimaldi, Stephanie Armour, Joshuah Bearman, Brendan Nyhan And for more on the proposed Santa vaccine deal, see Julie Wernau and her colleagues' reporting at the Wall Street Journal here. Original art for this episode by Zara Stasi. Check out her work at: www.goodforthebees.com. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
54 minutes | a month ago
The Ashes on the Lawn
A global pandemic. An afflicted, angry group. A seemingly indifferent government. Reporter Tracie Hunte wanted to understand this moment of pain and confusion by looking back 30 years, and she found a complicated answer to a simple question: When nothing seems to work, how do you make change? This episode was reported by Tracie Hunte, and produced by Annie McEwen and Tobin Low. Fact-checking by Diane Kelly. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
60 minutes | 2 months ago
Enemy of Mankind
Should the U.S. Supreme Court be the court of the world? In the 18th century, two feuding Frenchmen inspired a one-sentence law that helped launch American human rights litigation into the 20th century. The Alien Tort Statute allowed a Paraguayan woman to find justice for a terrible crime committed in her homeland. But as America reached further and further out into the world, the court was forced to confront the contradictions in our country’s ideology: sympathy vs. sovereignty. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Jesner v. Arab Bank, a case that could reshape the way America responds to human rights abuses abroad. Does the A.T.S. secure human rights or is it a dangerous overreach? Additional music for this episode by Nicolas Carter. Special thanks to William J. Aceves, William Baude, Diego Calles, Alana Casanova-Burgess, William Dodge, Susan Farbstein, Jeffery Fisher, Joanne Freeman, Julian Ku, Nicholas Rosenkranz, Susan Simpson, Emily Vinson, Benjamin Wittes and Jamison York. Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr., who appears in this episode, passed away in October 2016. Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
44 minutes | 2 months ago
The Great Vaccinator
Until now, the fastest vaccine ever made - for mumps - took four years. And while our current effort to develop a covid-19 vaccine involves thousands of people working around the clock, the mumps vaccine was developed almost exclusively by one person: Maurice Hilleman. Hilleman cranked out more than 40 other vaccines over the course of his career, including 8 of the 14 routinely given to children. He arguably saved more lives than any other single person. And through his work, Hilleman embodied the instincts, drive, and guts it takes to marshall the human body’s defenses against a disease. But through him we also see the struggle and the costs of these monumental scientific efforts. This episode was reported by Matt Kielty and Heather Radke, and produced by Matt Kielty. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
28 minutes | 2 months ago
Dispatch 13: Challenge Trials
What if someone asked you to get infected with the COVID-19 virus, deliberately, in order to speed up the development of a vaccine? Would you do it? Would you risk your life to save others? For months, dozens of companies have been racing to create coronavirus vaccines. Finally, three have done it. But according to the experts, we’re not out of the woods yet; we’ll need several vaccines to satisfy the global demand. One way to speed up the development process is a controversial technique called a human challenge trial, in which human subjects are intentionally infected with the virus. Senior correspondent Molly Webster gets the lowdown from Public News Service reporter Laura Rosbrow-Telem and then tracks down some of the tens of thousands of people who have volunteered to participate in a challenge trial. Special thanks to Jonathan Miller. This episode was reported by Molly Webster and Laura Rosbrow-Telem and produced by Molly Webster and Pat Walters. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
59 minutes | 2 months ago
Lies, liars, and lie catchers. This hour of Radiolab asks if it's possible for anyone to lead a life without deception.
31 minutes | 2 months ago
In the days after the US Presidential election was called for Joe Biden, many supporters of Donald Trump are crying foul. Voter fraud. And a key piece of evidence? A century-old quirk of math called Benford’s Law. We at Radiolab know Benford’s Law well, and have covered it before. In this political dispatch, Latif and Soren Sherlock their way through the precinct numbers to see if these claims hold up. Spoiler: they don’t. But the reason why is more interesting than you’d expect. This episode was reported by Latif Nasser. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate. Links: Walter Mebane, “Inappropriate Applications of Benford’s Law Regularities to Some Data from the 2020 Presidential Election in the United States”
51 minutes | 3 months ago
In the 1996 election, Bill Clinton had a problem. The women who came out in droves for him in ‘92, split their vote in the ‘94 midterms, handing over control of the House and the Senate to the Republican Party. As his team stared ahead at his re-election bid, they knew they had to win those women back. So, after a major polling effort to determine who exactly their undecided ladies were, Clinton turned his focus toward the most important swing vote in the election: the soccer moms. The soccer mom ushered in a new era of political campaigning, an era of slicing and dicing the electorate, engineering the (predominately white) voting bloc characters that campaigns have chased after. Security Moms. Nascar Dads. Joe Six Pack. Walmart Moms. But what about everyone else? What about the surprisingly swingable corners of this country without a soccer mom in sight? Inspired by this exceedingly cool interactive map from Politico, we set out on a mission to make an audio-map of our own. We asked pollsters, reporters and political operatives in swing states: what slice of your population is up for grabs? A slice that no one talks about? In this episode, we crawl inside the places that might hold our country’s future in its hands, all the while asking: are these slices even real? Are there people inside them that might swing this election? This episode was reported and produced by Becca Bressler, Tobin Low, Sarah Qari, Tracie Hunte, Pat Walters and Matt Kielty, with help from Jonny Moens. Special thanks to Darren Samuelsohn, Josh Cochran, Elizabeth Ralph, and the Politico team for the original reporting and map that inspired this episode. Also thanks to: Elissa Schneider, Wisam Naoum, Martin Manna, Ashourina Slewo, Eli Newman, Zoe Clark, Erin Roselio, Jess Kamm Broomell, Will Doran, John Zogby, Matt Dickinson, Tom Jensen, Ross Grogg, Joel Andrus, Jonathan Tilove, Steve Contorno, Heaven Hale, Jeff Shapiro, Nicole Cobler, Marie Albiges, Matt Dole, Robin Goist, Katie Paris, Julie Womack, Matt Dole, Jackie Borchardt, Jessica Locklear, Twinkle Patel, Bobby Das, Dharmesh Ahir, Nimesh Dhinubhai, Jay Desai, Rishi Bagga, and Sanjeev Joshipura. Christina Greer’s book is Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream, and Corey Fields book is Black Elephants in the Room: The Unexpected Politics of African American. Original art for this episode by Zara Stasi. Check out her work at: www.goodforthebees.com. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
31 minutes | 3 months ago
How to Win Friends and Influence Baboons
Baboon troops. We all know they’re hierarchical. There’s the big brutish alpha male who rules with a hairy iron fist, and then there’s everybody else. Which is what Meg Crofoot thought too, before she used GPS collars to track the movements of a troop of baboons for a whole month. What she and her team learned from this data gave them a whole new understanding of baboon troop dynamics, and, moment to moment, who really has the power. This episode was reported and produced by Annie McEwen. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
43 minutes | 3 months ago
There’s plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he’d do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa’s Transition Integrity Project doesn’t give us any predictions, and it isn’t a referendum on Trump. Instead, it’s a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate. You can read The Transition Integrity Project’s report here.
42 minutes | 4 months ago
Kittens Kick The Giggly Blue Robot All Summer
With the recent passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there's been a lot of debate about how much power the Supreme Court should really have. We think of the Supreme Court justices as all-powerful beings, issuing momentous rulings from on high. But they haven’t always been so, you know, supreme. On this episode, we go all the way back to the case that, in a lot of ways, started it all. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
47 minutes | 4 months ago
No Special Duty
What are the police for? Producer B.A. Parker started wondering this back in June, as Black Lives Matter protests and calls to “defund the police” ramped up. The question led her to a wild story of a stabbing on a New York City subway train, and the realization that, according to the law, the police don’t always have to protect us. Producer Sarah Qari joins Parker to dig into the legal background, which takes her all the way up to the Supreme Court... and then all the way back down to on-duty officers themselves. This episode contains strong language and graphic violence. Reported and produced by B.A. Parker and Sarah Qari, and produced by Matt Kielty and Pat Walters. Special thanks to April Hayes and Katia Maguire for their documentary Home Truth about Jessica Gonzales, Cracked.com for sending us down this rabbit hole, Caroline Bettinger-López, Geoff Grimwood, Christy Lopez, Anthony Herron, Mike Wells, and Keith Taylor. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
38 minutes | 4 months ago
Coronasomnia is a not-so-surprising side-effect of the global pandemic. More and more of us are having trouble falling asleep. We wanted to find a way to get inside that nighttime world, to see why people are awake and what they are thinking about. So what’d Radiolab decide to do? Open up the phone lines and talk to you. We created an insomnia hotline and on this week’s experimental episode, we stayed up all night, taking hundreds of calls, spilling secrets, and at long last, watching the sunrise peek through. This episode was produced by Lulu Miller with Rachael Cusick, Tracie Hunte, Tobin Low, Sarah Qari, Molly Webster, Pat Walters, Shima Oliaee, and Jonny Moens. Want more Radiolab in your life? Sign up for our newsletter! We share our latest favorites: articles, tv shows, funny Youtube videos, chocolate chip cookie recipes, and more. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
54 minutes | 4 months ago
More Perfect: Sex Appeal
We lost a legend. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18th, 2020. She was 87. In honor of her passing we are re-airing the More Perfect episode dedicated to one of her cases, because it offers a unique portrait of how one person can make change in the world. This is the story of how Ginsburg, as a young lawyer at the ACLU, convinced an all-male Supreme Court to take discrimination against women seriously - using a case on discrimination against men. This episode was reported by Julia Longoria. Special thanks to Stephen Wiesenfeld, Alison Keith, and Bob Darcy. Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
59 minutes | 4 months ago
There are so many ways to fall—in love, asleep, even flat on your face. This hour, Radiolab dives into stories of great falls. We jump into a black hole, take a trip over Niagara Falls, upend some myths about falling cats, and plunge into our favorite songs about falling. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.
26 minutes | 5 months ago
Bringing Gamma Back, Again
Today, we return to the lab of neuroscientist Li-Huei Tsai, which brought us one of our favorite stories from four years ago - about the power of flashing lights on an Alzheimer’s-addled (mouse) brain. In this update, Li-Huei tells us about her team’s latest research, which now includes flashing sound, and ways in which light and sound together might retrieve lost memories. This new science is not a cure, and is far from a treatment, but it’s a finding so … simple, you won’t be able to shake it. Come join us for a lab visit, where we’ll meet some mice, stare at some light, and come face-to-face with the mystery of memory. We can promise you: by the end, you’ll never think the same way about Christmas lights again. Or jingle bells. This update was reported by Molly Webster, and produced by Rachael Cusick. The original episode was produced by Annie McEwen, Matt Kielty, and Molly Webster, with help from Simon Adler. Special thanks to Ed Boyden, Cognito Therapeutics, Brad Dickerson, Karen Duff, Zaven Khachaturian, Michael Lutz, Kevin M. Spencer, and Peter Uhlhaas. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate. Molly's note about the image: Those neon green things in the image are microglia, the brain’s immune cells, or, as we describe them in our episode, the janitor cells of the brain. Straight from MIT’s research files, this image shows microglia who have gotten light stimulation therapy (one can only hope in the flicker room). You can see their many, super-long tentacles, which would be used to feel out anything that didn’t belong in the brain. And then they’d eat it! Further reading: Li-Huei and co’s gamma sound and light paper: Multi-sensory Gamma Stimulation Ameliorates Alzheimer’s-Associated Pathology and Improves Cognition
33 minutes | 5 months ago
Six years ago, a new infection began popping up in four different hospitals on three different continents, all around the same time. It wasn’t a bacteria, or a virus. It was ... a killer fungus. No one knew where it came from, or why. Today, the story of an ancient showdown between fungus and mammals that started when dinosaurs disappeared from the earth. Back then, the battle swung in our favor (spoiler alert!) and we’ve been hanging onto that win ever since. But one scientist suggests that the rise of this new infectious fungus indicates our edge is slipping, degree by increasing degree. This episode was reported by Molly Webster, and produced by Molly and Bethel Habte, with production help from Tad Davis. Special thanks to Julie Parsonnet and Aviv Bergman. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. Further Fungus Reading: NYTimes feature on the mysterious rise of Candida auris. Arturo's paper: “On the emergence of Candida auris, Climate Change, Azoles, Swamps, and Birds”, by Arturo Casadevall, et al. “On the Origins of a Species: What Might Explain the Rise of Candida auris?”, a report from the CDC.
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