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Thousand-year-old Peruvian queens and medieval murder victims may seem lost to time, but history “detectives” are on a mission to solve a mystery: What did those people look like? We hear from Oscar Nilsson, a forensic facial reconstructionist who uses a combination of science and art to re-create the faces of our ancestors. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Want more? Oscar Nilsson’s reconstructions of Cheddar Man, Bocksten Man and others can be seen at his website odnilsson.com. Also explore:  When an explorer uncovered the skeleton of an ancient Peruvian queen in a tomb in Peru, they asked Nilsson to make a recreation of her. Uncover the story here. 8,000 years ago, a man’s bones were used in a ritual in Scandinavia. Take a look at Nilsson’s recreation of him. For subscribers: A mother and child were buried in Sweden 4,000 years ago. Read about Nilsson’s recreation of the woman and see what she might have looked like. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
When it comes to examples of cities that have successfully emerged from the industrial age into the information age, look no further than Pittsburgh. But can it be done with an eye toward climate solutions? In this editorial collaboration with Project Drawdown, storyteller Matt Scott follows engineer and artist Clara Kitongo, architect Erica Cochran Hameen, and transportation manager Sarah Olexsak, three of the women working toward a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable community, straight out of the future they want to build. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Want More? Clara, Erica, and Sarah are just three of the Pittsburgh climate-solutions advocates featured in Project Drawdown’s short documentary series Drawdown’s Neighborhood. The series, done in collaboration with adventure filmmaker Erik Douds, will announce its expansion to additional cities later this year. Check out the New York Times best seller Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by environmentalist and Project Drawdown co-founder Paul Hawken, for more climate solutions from scientists, researchers, and environmental advocates. And find out how climate change impacts including wildfire, extreme heat, and drought are affecting forests from the Amazon to the Arctic in National Geographic’s special issue “Saving Forests.” If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/explore to subscribe today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
After wildlife filmmaker Malaika Vaz stumbled upon manta ray poaching near her home in India, she disguised herself as a fish trader to find out who was behind the plot—a dicey proposition as she pursues traffickers in India, China, and Nepal. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Want more? Check out Malaika and Nitye’s production company, Untamed Planet. There, you can see films about big cats, pandemics, and, of course, manta ray trafficking. Also explore:  Curious how these animals stole Malaika’s heart? Take a look at Nat Geo Wild’s The Social Lives of Manta Rays. For subscribers: Believe it or not, manta rays have their own distinct social circles. Learn more in our article about manta ray friendships. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Farming for the Planet

Farming for the Planet

2022-04-2616:543

How do you turn barren land into a complex working farm that reflects the planet’s biodiversity? Just ask John and Molly Chester, who traded city life in Los Angeles for 200 acres in Ventura County, where they are rebuilding soil health and growing the most nutrient-dense food possible. Their film, The Biggest Little Farm: The Return is now available on Disney Plus. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
How do you capture the image of a 150-foot-tall tree in the middle of a dense rainforest? If you’re National Geographic Explorer Nirupa Rao, you pull out your paints. Rao draws from the centuries-old practice of botanical illustration to catalog and celebrate native plant life of the southern Indian rainforest, introducing new audiences to the wonders they hold. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Want more? This Earth Day, celebrate our planet’s beautiful, remote, and at-risk locations—and meet the explorers protecting them—at natgeo.com. See Nirupa’s illustrations on Instagram, @niruparao. And check out her books Hidden Kingdom and Pillars of Life. “Sky islands” in the Western Ghats host an almost unbelievable array of microclimates—and a chance for scientists to see evolution in action. King cobras, which live in the Western Ghats, can "stand up" and look a full-grown person in the eye. Fortunately, they avoid humans whenever possible. Also explore: Rainforests have an unsung hero that keeps the forest healthy and functional: termites. Also, National Geographic’s resident artist, Fernando Baptista, brings stories to life by sculpting clay models, then using them for a drawing or stop-motion film. If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/explore to subscribe today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
As a boy growing up in Peru, Andrés Ruzo recalls his grandfather’s stories about the horrors Spanish conquistadores encountered in the Amazon, including a “boiling river.” Years later, Ruzo, a National Geographic Explorer, journeys into the Amazon to try to find the waterway. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want more? Read Andrés’s book: The Boiling River: Adventure and Discovery in the Amazon. Also explore:  Curious what you can do to help the river’s ecosystem? Go to www.boilingriver.org.  For subscribers:  Read a Q&A with Andrés to learn more about the communities that live around Shanay-Timpishka and the theories scientists explored to understand why the river boils. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
What happens when a tree falls in a forest and no one is listening? The sound starts with truck engines and chainsaws and ends with a small piece of forest being silenced. Illegal logging is slowly thinning out the world’s forests, paving the way for widespread deforestation. With limited resources and difficult terrain, it’s a hard problem to tackle. National Geographic Explorer Topher White—who considers himself a war photographer for climate change—has found that by listening for the sounds of logging through hundreds of recycled cell phones nailed high in treetops from Indonesia to Eastern Europe, the stewards of the world's trees might have a chance to detect and prevent illegal logging. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want More: Check out this article to learn more about how illegal lumber makes its way into the global supply chain. National Geographic has detailed explanations of both gibbons and deforestation.  Take a look at this project to use waste from coffee production to help renew destroyed forests.  Also Explore: Take a look at the last known footage of a Tasmanian Tiger. To learn more about Topher White and the Rainforest Connection, take a look at their website. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Queens of the High Seas

Queens of the High Seas

2022-03-2926:455

Yo-ho, a pirate’s life for she! Legends of Blackbeard and movie buccaneers like Captain Jack Sparrow give us the impression that piracy was a man’s world. But historians and the Nat Geo book Pirate Queens: Dauntless Women Who Dared to Rule the High Seas are righting the ship. Join the fleet of Zheng Yi Sao, a woman from southern China who at her peak commanded some 70,000 pirates during the early 19th century. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Want more? Check out Pirate Queens: Dauntless Women Who Dared to Rule the High Seas, the new book from National Geographic Kids.  Subscribers can follow the trail of pirate queen Grace O’Malley—also known as “Bald Grace”—who became a living legend in 16th-century Ireland. An animated video breaks down the life of Zheng Yi Sao, perhaps the most successful pirate of all time. Also explore: There are plenty of pirate myths, but National Geographic has the true stories of discovering Blackbeard’s ship, the reason pirates practiced democracy, and what science has to say about the food pirates ate (hint: it was usually terrible).      Go deeper with the books Pirates of the South China Coast, 1790-1810 by Dian Murray and The Blue Frontier: Maritime Vision and Power in the Qing Empire by Ronald Po. If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/explore to subscribe today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In the most remote part of Guyana, plateaus called tepuis—also known as sky islands for poking through the clouds—rise up from the jungle. They’re topped by unique ecosystems, filled with plants and animals never before seen by human eyes. That’s because getting there is no small feat. Eager to find new species but unable to scale the sheer cliff faces, 80-year-old biologist Bruce Means teamed up with professional climbers and Indigenous people to trek through the jungle and get to the top of an uncharted tepui named Weiassipu in search of frogs and adventure.  For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.   Want More? To learn more about the expedition to the top of Weiassipu, take a look at Mark Synnott’s feature story in the upcoming April issue of National Geographic magazine.  And to see these stunning sky islands for yourself, check out the National Geographic special Explorer: The Last Tepui, streaming on Earth Day, April 22, exclusively on Disney+. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nowruz and the Night Sky

Nowruz and the Night Sky

2022-03-1530:0928

Not everyone celebrates the New Year in the middle of winter; for 300 million people around the world, their New Year begins at the moment of the vernal equinox. The holiday of Nowruz celebrates that “new day” by encouraging us to make poetic connections between life and death, and past and present. National Geographic photographer Babak Tafreshi reacquaints us with the shimmering origins of this ancient Persian holiday; they are above our heads, shining in the night sky. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want more? The International Dark Sky Association is working to protect our skies from light pollution. They can help you find your way to the starriest viewing on the planet.     As Nowruz approaches, it’s not too late to learn more about Iran’s long history of poets going back to more than 10 centuries.  Also explore: If you’d like to create your own haft-sin table, check out these gorgeous examples for inspiration. Babak Tafreshi has published a book of his beautiful night sky photography, The World at Night.  For subscribers:  Learn more about how light pollution is affecting our planet through images that Tafreshi captured. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Behind her modest smile and windblown charm, Amelia Earhart was a rarity in the 1930s: a fiercely confident woman with a dream to fly. Her adventurous spirit went well beyond setting records as a pilot—her true goal was perhaps equality for women. This is a different Amelia, which might explain why the mystery of her disappearance remains unsolved—explorers are looking in the wrong place. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want more? Read “My Flight from Hawaii,” the 1935 article Earhart wrote for National Geographic about her voyage from Hawaii to California.  Peruse the Amelia Earhart archive at Purdue University, which is filled with memorabilia and images from Earhart’s life, including her inimitable sense of fashion and some revolutionary luggage. Take a look through Earhart’s childhood home in Atchison, Kansas. It’s now the Amelia Earhart Museum.  Also explore: Check out Earhart’s cherry red Lockheed Vega 5B, used to fly across the Atlantic solo in 1932. It’s on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, in Washington, D.C. Learn about the Ninety-Nines, an organization founded in 1929 to promote advancement for women in aviation. Earhart was the Ninety-Nines’ first president. Today its membership is composed of thousands of female pilots from around the world. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Ever since Amelia Earhart made her last radio transmission somewhere over the Pacific, theories about her disappearance have proliferated; more than 80 years later, the constant retelling of her story shows no signs of slowing. Although the search to find a “smoking gun” has yielded little evidence, there are many who believe they know how Amelia’s story ended. Whether they’re right or wrong, one thing remains true: Their stories have little to do with Amelia herself. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want more? Check out the maps of Amelia Earhart’s flight plan as well as archival photos, and take a peek inside Bob Ballard’s search vessel in a National Geographic story about Ballard’s expedition. You can also watch the documentary Expedition Amelia on Disney+.  See the final radio log between Earhart and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Itasca on the morning she disappeared.  Also explore: Learn about how cadaver dogs are used around the world to help uncover what humans can’t detect.  There’s a reason humans are such good storytellers—it’s to our evolutionary advantage. Learn about why we crave the ending to a story. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
With every breakthrough, computer scientists are pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence (AI). We see it in everything from predictive text to facial recognition to mapping disease incidence. But increasingly machines show many of the same biases as humans, particularly with communities of color and vulnerable populations. In this episode, we learn how leading technologists are disrupting their own inventions to create a more humane AI. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want more? In 2020 widespread use of medical masks has created a new niche—face-mask recognition. The technology would help local governments enforce mask mandates, but is it worth it? Thanks to evolution, human faces are much more variable than other body parts. In the words of one researcher, “It's like evolving a name tag.” Most people have difficulty accurately recognizing strangers. But a few individuals—called super-recognizers—excel at the task. London police have employed some of these people to help find criminal suspects. Also explore:  Take a look at the documentary Coded Bias, featuring AI researcher Joy Buolamwini. The film explores Joy’s research on racial bias in facial recognition AI. Read the NIST report, co-authored by Patrick Grother and discussed in this episode. For subscribers:  Artificial intelligence and robotics have been improving rapidly. Our cover story from September 2020 explores the latest robotic technology from around the world. In 1976 Isaac Asimov wrote an article for National Geographic predicting how humans might live in 2026. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
K2, a mountain in the Kashmir region of Asia, is the second highest peak on Earth and yet more dangerous than Mount Everest, especially in the winter. But in January 2021, a group of Nepali climbers attempted to accomplish what people thought was impossible. Team co-leader Mingma Gyalje Sherpa tells the story of the epic journey on what experienced climbers call the Savage Mountain.  For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want more? Watch the video of the Nepali climbers summiting K2, singing their national anthem. Check out Nims’s new, adventurous memoir, Beyond Possible. And learn about previous attempts to summit K2. Our article follows a couple of European teams trying—and failing—to summit the mountain.  Also explore:  Curious about those Polish climbers who started this winter climbing craze? Read Bernadette McDonald’s book Freedom Climbers. For reflections on the risks of mountaineering, listen to our recent episode about the tragic story of the late renowned climber Alex Lowe. For subscribers:  There’s way more to this K2 expedition than we could cover in one episode. For more on Mingma G. and Nims’s journey, check out our magazine story. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In another special episode of Overheard, we continue the journey with National Geographic Explorer Tara Roberts, who upends her life—including leaving her job—to join a group of Black scuba divers searching for the wrecks of ships that carried enslaved Africans to the Americas. When Tara meets Ken Stewart, the co-founder of Diving With a Purpose (DWP), she’s moved by his near 20-year mission to find the Spanish pirate ship Guerrero, which wrecked off the coast of Florida in 1827. Tara decides to train with DWP, learning how to find and map a shipwreck. With the help of poet and fellow Explorer Alyea Pierce, Tara tries to imagine the journey of the enslaved Africans on the Guerrero and how their spirits might have flown home after they perished at sea. Listen and subscribe to all six episodes of Into the Depths wherever you get your podcasts. Want more? Check out our Into the Depths hub to learn more about Tara’s journey following Black scuba divers, find previous Nat Geo coverage on the search for slave shipwrecks, and read the March cover story. And download a tool kit for hosting an Into the Depths listening party to spark conversation and journey deeper into the material. Also explore: Listen to author and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s full 2009 Ted Talk on the danger of a single story. Learn more about Diving With a Purpose co-founder Ken Stewart and the organization’s ongoing efforts to find the Guerrero, and take a deeper dive into the wrecking of the ship off the Florida Keys in 1827. Find out more information about Diving With a Purpose and its work training adults and youth in maritime archaeology and ocean conservation. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
National Geographic Explorer Danielle Lee takes us on a tour of potential research sites around her home in the St. Louis area, sharing her passion for witnessing how wildlife (particularly rodents) thrives in neglected urban spaces—along with the reality of doing fieldwork as a Black scientist and how she hopes to inspire young African Americans to join her.  For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want More?  Check out Danielle’s Ted Talks on how African pouched rats can help people find land mines and using hip-hop to communicate science.  And you can watch National Geographic’s video on Danielle’s work with field mice.    Also explore:  If you’re interested in the emerging field of segregation ecology, learn about how access to green space is affecting the behavior of urban coyotes. And here’s the scientific summary of the study on raccoons in St. Louis.  You can also listen to stories Danielle’s told live on stage for The Story Collider podcast: one on a terrible exchange with a science website editor and another on her experiences in Tanzania.   And read her thoughts on science outreach at her Urban Scientist blog on Scientific American.  Find Danielle Lee’s Twitter @DNLee5. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this special episode of Overheard, meet National Geographic Explorer Tara Roberts, who upends her life—including leaving her job—to join a group of Black scuba divers searching for the wrecks of ships that carried enslaved Africans to the Americas. It’s the first in a new six-part podcast series, Into the Depths. Tara's journey will require an uncomfortable reckoning with the traumatic history of the slave trade. Then she learns about legendary diver Doc Jones and the underwater memorial he placed at the wreck site of the British ship Henrietta Marie in honor of the 274 Africans who had been trafficked to the West Indies from its cargo hold. As fellow National Geographic Explorer and poet Alyea Pierce gives the captive Africans a voice and speaks their names, Tara realizes there is far more to this history than pain and trauma alone. Listen and subscribe to all six episodes of Into the Depths wherever you get your podcasts. Want more? Check out our Into the Depths hub to learn more about Tara’s journey following Black scuba divers, find previous Nat Geo coverage on the search for slave shipwrecks, and get a sneak peek at the March cover. And download a toolkit for hosting an Into the Depths listening party to spark conversation and journey deeper into the material.   Also explore: Find out more information about Diving With a Purpose and its work training adults and youth in maritime archaeology and ocean conservation. Dive into the records of the more than 36,000 voyages made during the transatlantic slave trade, including time lines, maps, and 3-D reconstructions of slave ships. Students can learn more about the Henrietta Marie in journalist Michael H. Cottman’s book Shackles From the Deep. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The Price of Adventure

The Price of Adventure

2022-02-0129:004

Renowned mountaineer Alex Lowe had reached the summit of his career by 1999, scaling some of the planet’s most challenging peaks. Just a few months after he was featured in National Geographic as “one of the world’s finest all-around climbers,” he was killed in an avalanche in Tibet. His son Max Lowe and his best friend, Conrad Anker, share their reflections on what it means to be a mountaineer and the true price of adventure.  For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want more? More information about Max Lowe’s documentary, Torn, can be found here: https://films.nationalgeographic.com/torn The sport of rock climbing has a long and eventful history, this article explains some of climbing’s greatest moments.  Check out our interview with Dawa Yangsum Sherpa, a Nepali climber who shares her thoughts on overcrowding on Mt. Everest.  Also explore: The Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation was founded in memory of Alex Lowe and helps people living in remote parts of the world. If you like what you hear and you want to support more content like this, please rate and review us in your podcast app and consider a National Geographic subscription. That’s the best way to support Overheard. Go to natgeo.com/explore to subscribe.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The Arctic Story Hunter

The Arctic Story Hunter

2022-01-2521:085

What’s it like to grow up underneath the aurora borealis, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean? Photographer Evgenia Arbugaeva describes leaving—and returning to—Tiksi, a Siberian coastal town that during her childhood slowly became a ghost town in the wake of the Soviet collapse. That experience led her to find beauty in unexpected places—riding reindeer with nomadic herders and watching Arctic storms in isolated weather stations. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Want More? See Evgenia’s photos in National Geographic, which include stories of the lucrative “tusk rush” on woolly mammoth bones that have emerged from Russian permafrost as well as the murky world of butterfly trading in Indonesia. Evgenia’s lens also focuses on the wild whimsy of her frigid hometown, Tiksi. See more photos on Instagram @evgenia_arbugaeva and @natgeo. Also explore: Learn how a gigantic offshore oil rig could radically alter the Arctic environment. Listen to a Nat Geo photographer explain in a previous Overheard episode how climate change’s impact on the Arctic is threatening the way of life for Alaskan Natives.   If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/explore to subscribe today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
National Geographic photographer Tomas van Houtryve documents the layered history and revival of one of the world’s most enduring landmarks, Notre-Dame de Paris. A reflection of the city and part of its soul, the cathedral has been ravaged, reimagined, and resurrected over the course of eight centuries. Badly damaged by fire in 2019, Notre-Dame is again in the hands of skilled artisans who are braving dizzying heights and dangerous conditions to bring the cathedral back to life. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.  Want more? For more on the restoration of the Notre Dame de Paris, read National Geographic’s magazine story, which features Tomas van Houtryve’s photography and drone videos. Take a look at more than a century of photos of Notre Dame from National Geographic’s archive, including some very curious-looking gargoyles.  The late art historian Andrew Tallon had a vision to map Notre-Dame de Paris with lasers. His work has aided the reconstruction of the cathedral.  Also explore: Victor Hugo is a literary icon with deep connections throughout French culture. See the source of his inspirations here.  Painter Henri Matisse could see Notre Dame from his window on Quai Saint-Michel; it was the subject of many of his paintings and sketches. But many other artists had their own angle on the cathedral. See 16 of them here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Comments (93)

Werner Behann

Distasteful that national geographic is pushing anti white people material.

May 15th
Reply

Maryam Weiss

I loved this podcast and I learned a lot. I never thought beavers could be influencing global warming in any way, but it turns out it's not just humans! Great podcast, would highly recommend it.

Apr 26th
Reply

MEHDI ZAHED

Thank you very much. Important work done about #Nowruz and #Persian New Year.

Mar 29th
Reply

Bojana Lalic

Love it!

Mar 6th
Reply

Matthew

holy shit! it's official, everything is racist. trees and shade. you guys really had to dig for that one.

Jan 7th
Reply

koorosh musavi

i listen these episodes in order to get better in listening in english and they Rock. i love national geographic, thanks guys. and if it is any transcript, i whould be happy to hqve it. thank you again ❤️

Nov 15th
Reply

Let's go Brandon!

Biden needs to resign in disgrace. Afghanistan has fallen because of Bidens choices. Pure incompetence and he goes back to vacationing.

Aug 17th
Reply

VoiceOfZen

👍

Jul 20th
Reply

Let's go Brandon!

Trump/ DeSantis 2024!

Jun 22nd
Reply

Top Clean

Thanks again for yet another good episode. Amazing world we live in. (^^,)

May 25th
Reply (1)

MAR zieh

Wow... It is so violence to kill a pregnant whales !!!

May 16th
Reply

WaiTo Tsui

what happened to the people that stole the bee?

Apr 6th
Reply

Let's go Brandon!

Biden and his son have illegal dealings with China. Where's the investigations from hypocritical Democrats?

Mar 13th
Reply

WaiTo Tsui

a white lie lol that's what you asked the review to be xD

Mar 11th
Reply

Johnny Utah

You heard it here. it's recorded here and everywhere else. She swore an oath to DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES!!! The 2nd amendment is NOT yours to change BITCH!! Hairass is NOT going to threaten us with her bullshit anymore, try it and the outcome will not go your way bitch! 1776-2021

Jan 22nd
Reply

Dea Applegate

great episode, thank you for bringing to light this issue

Dec 9th
Reply

Old man

I'm sorry, but your dad is not a hippie. he sounds cool anyway! cooler than me. I could not be okay with my daughter going anywhere near a war zone.

Nov 22nd
Reply

Old man

the story about attempting, and failing at producing good floating ant raft pictures and then finally succeeding, had a surprising effect on me. sort of a wonderful thrilling feeling. Much better than a easy success! good for National Geographic for demanding better, but not just dismissing him.

Nov 21st
Reply

Chanaka Hettige

Annnnnd people be like "Climate change don't affect anyone". Look at these ripple effects!

Nov 17th
Reply
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