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Radiolab

Radiolab

Author: WNYC Studios

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A two-time Peabody Award-winner, Radiolab is an investigation told through sounds and stories, and centered around one big idea. In the Radiolab world, information sounds like music and science and culture collide. Hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, the show is designed for listeners who demand skepticism, but appreciate wonder.

WNYC Studios is the producer of other leading podcasts including Freakonomics Radio, Death, Sex & Money, On the Media and many more.
198 Episodes
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Finding Yourself
Alecia Faith Pennington was born at home, homeschooled, and never visited a dentist or a hospital. By both chance and design she is completely invisible in the eyes of the state. We follow Faith as she struggles to free herself from one restrictive world only to find that she is trapped in another. In her journey to prove her American citizenship she attempts to answer the age-old question: who am I?Radiolab then follows the story of David Weinberg, a man who found himself stuck.  He had been kicked out of college, was cleaning toilets by day, delivering pizzas by night and spending his weekends in jail. Then one night he heard a story on the radio and got it in his head that maybe he too could make a great radio story. He’d cast himself as the main character in a great documentary and he’d travel and live and steer his way out of his rut.So he bought a recorder and began to secretly record every last meaningful and mundane minute of his life and he found his great idea transformed into a troubling obsession. The very thing that gave him hope and purpose was also distancing him from those he loved the most. What if he’d created an archive of his life that had become his life?Faith’s original Youtube video is posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPtpKNyaO0UFor updates on Faith’s journey, visit her Facebook page Help Me Prove It: https://www.facebook.com/Help-Me-Prove-It-882732628415890/Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.

Finding Yourself

2018-05-0201:00:4236

Dark Side of the Earth
Astronauts at the International Space Station can make one request to talk to an earthling of their choice. For some reason, Astronaut Mark Vande Hei chose us. A couple weeks ago, we were able to video chat with Mark and peer over his shoulder through the Cupola, an observatory room in the ISS. Traveling at 17,000 miles an hour, we zoomed from the Rockies to the East Coast in minutes. And from where Mark sits, the total darkness of space isn’t very far away. Talking to Mark brought us back to 2012, when we spoke to another astronaut, Dave Wolf. When we were putting together our live show In the Dark, Jad and Robert called up Dave Wolf to ask him if he had any stories about darkness. And boy, did he. Dave told us two stories that  became the finale of our show.Back in late 1997, Dave Wolf was on his first spacewalk, to perform work on the Mir (the photo to the right was taken during that mission, courtesy of NASA.). Dave wasn't alone -- with him was veteran Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Solovyev. (That's a picture of Dave giving Anatoly a hug on board the Mir, also courtesy of NASA).Out in blackness of space, the contrast between light and dark is almost unimaginably extreme -- every 45 minutes, you plunge between absolute darkness on the night-side of Earth, and blazing light as the sun screams into view. Dave and Anatoly were tethered to the spacecraft, traveling 5 miles per second. That's 16 times faster than we travel on Earth's surface as it rotates -- so as they orbited, they experienced 16 nights and 16 days for every Earth day.Dave's description of his first spacewalk was all we could've asked for, and more. But what happened next ... well, it's just one of those stories that you always hope an astronaut will tell. Dave and Anatoly were ready to call it a job and head back into the Mir when something went wrong with the airlock. They couldn't get it to re-pressurize. In other words, they were locked out. After hours of trying to fix the airlock, they were running out of the resources that kept them alive in their space suits and facing a grisly death. So, they unhooked their tethers, and tried one last desperate move.In the end, they made it through, and Dave went on to perform dozens more spacewalks in the years to come, but he never again experienced anything like those harrowing minutes trying to improvise his way back into the Mir.After that terrifying tale, Dave told us about another moment he and Anatoly shared, floating high above Earth, staring out into the universe ... a moment so beautiful, and peaceful, we decided to use the audience recreate it, as best we could, for the final act of our live show.Pilobolus creates a shadow astronaut during Dave Wolf's story on stage (photo by Lars Topelmann):The audience turns Portland's Keller auditorium into a view of outer space with thousands of LED lights (photo by Lars Topelmann):Here's Dave Wolf in the dark darkness of space, performing a spacewalk in 2009 (courtesy of NASA):To give you an idea of what it looks like during the brightness of day, here's another photo taken in 2009 -- more than a decade after the adventure described in our podcast -- this time of astronaut Tom Marshburn (Dave Wolf is with him, out of frame, photo courtesy of NASA):This episode was produced by Matt Kielty and Soren Wheeler. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.

Dark Side of the Earth

2018-04-2600:27:3739

Border Trilogy Part 3: What Remains
Border TrilogyWhile scouring the Sonoran Desert for objects left behind by migrants crossing into the United States, anthropologist Jason De León happened upon something he didn't expect to get left behind: a human arm, stripped of flesh.This macabre discovery sent him reeling, needing to know what exactly happened to the body, and how many migrants die that way in the wilderness. In researching border-crosser deaths in the Arizona desert, he noticed something surprising. Sometime in the late-1990s, the number of migrant deaths shot up dramatically and have stayed high since. Jason traced this increase to a Border Patrol policy still in effect, called “Prevention Through Deterrence.”Over three episodes, Radiolab will investigate this policy, its surprising origins, and the people whose lives were changed forever because of it. Part 3: What Remains The third episode in our Border Trilogy follows anthropologist Jason De León after he makes a grisly discovery in Arivaca, Arizona. In the middle of carrying out his pig experiments with his students, Jason finds the body of a 30-year-old female migrant. With the help of the medical examiner and some local humanitarian groups, Jason discovers her identity. Her name was Maricela. Jason then connects with her family, including her brother-in-law, who survived his own harrowing journey through Central America and the Arizona desert.With the human cost of Prevention Through Deterrence weighing on our minds, we try to parse what drives migrants like Maricela to cross through such deadly terrain, and what, if anything, could deter them.This episode was reported by Latif Nasser and Tracie Hunte and was produced by Matt Kielty and Tracie Hunte. Special thanks to Carlo Albán, Sandra Lopez-Monsalve, Chava Gourarie, Lynn M. Morgan, Mike Wells and Tom Barry.Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. CORRECTION: An earlier version of this episode incorrectly stated that a person's gender can be identified from bone remains. We've adjusted the audio to say that a person's sex can be identified from bone remains. 
Border Trilogy Part 2: Hold the Line
Border Trilogy While scouring the Sonoran Desert for objects left behind by migrants crossing into the United States, anthropologist Jason De León happened upon something he didn't expect to get left behind: a human arm, stripped of flesh.This macabre discovery sent him reeling, needing to know what exactly happened to the body, and how many migrants die that way in the wilderness.  In researching border-crosser deaths in the Arizona desert, he noticed something surprising. Sometime in the late-1990s, the number of migrant deaths shot up dramatically and have stayed high since. Jason traced this increase to a Border Patrol policy still in effect, called “Prevention Through Deterrence.”Over three episodes, Radiolab will investigate this policy, its surprising origins, and the people whose lives were changed forever because of it. Part 2: Hold the LineAfter the showdown in court with Bowie High School, Border Patrol brings in a fresh face to head its dysfunctional El Paso Sector: Silvestre Reyes. The first Mexican-American to ever hold the position, Reyes knows something needs to change and has an idea how to do it. One Saturday night at midnight, with the element of surprise on his side, Reyes unveils ... Operation Blockade. It wins widespread support for the Border Patrol in El Paso, but sparks major protests across the Rio Grande. Soon after, he gets a phone call that catapults his little experiment onto the national stage, where it works so well that it diverts migrant crossing patterns along the entire U.S.-Mexico Border.Years later, in the Arizona desert, anthropologist Jason de León realizes that in order to accurately gauge how many migrants die crossing the desert, he must first understand how human bodies decompose in such an extreme environment. He sets up a macabre experiment, and what he finds is more drastic than anything he could have expected.This episode was reported by Latif Nasser and Tracie Hunte, and was produced by Matt Kielty, Bethel Habte and Latif Nasser.Special thanks to Sherrie Kossoudji at the University of Michigan, Cheryl Howard, Andrew Hansen, William Sabol, Donald B. White, Daniel Martinez, Michelle Mittelstadt at the Migration Policy Institute, Former Executive Assistant to the El Paso Mayor Mark Smith, Retired Assistant Border Patrol Sector Chief Clyde Benzenhoefer, Paul Anderson, Eric Robledo, Maggie Southard Gladstone and Kate Hall. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. CORRECTION: An earlier version of this piece incorrectly stated that Silvestre Reyes's brother died in a car accident in 1968; it was actually his father who died in the accident.  We also omitted a detail about the 1997 GAO report that we quote, namely that it predicted that as deaths in the mountains and deserts might rise, deaths in other areas might also fall. The audio has been adjusted accordingly. 
Border Trilogy Part 1: Hole in the Fence
Border TrilogyWhile scouring the Sonoran Desert for objects left behind by migrants crossing into the United States, anthropologist Jason De León happened upon something he didn't expect to get left behind: a human arm, stripped of flesh.This macabre discovery sent him reeling, needing to know what exactly happened to the body, and how many migrants die that way in the wilderness. In researching border-crosser deaths in the Arizona desert, he noticed something surprising. Sometime in the late-1990s, the number of migrant deaths shot up dramatically and have stayed high since. Jason traced this increase to a Border Patrol policy still in effect, called “Prevention Through Deterrence.”Over three episodes, Radiolab will investigate this policy, its surprising origins, and the people whose lives were changed forever because of it. Part 1: Hole in the Fence:We begin one afternoon in May 1992, when a student named Albert stumbled in late for history class at Bowie High School in El Paso, Texas. His excuse: Border Patrol. Soon more stories of students getting stopped and harassed by Border Patrol started pouring in. So begins the unlikely story of how a handful of Mexican-American high schoolers in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country stood up to what is today the country’s largest federal law enforcement agency. They had no way of knowing at the time, but what would follow was a chain of events that would drastically change the US-Mexico border. This episode was reported by Latif Nasser and Tracie Hunte and was produced by Matt Kielty, Bethel Habte, Tracie Hunte and Latif Nasser. Special thanks to Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, Estela Reyes López, Barbara Hines, Mallory Falk, Francesca Begos and Nancy Wiese from Hachette Book Group, Professor Michael Olivas at the University of Houston Law Center, and Josiah McC. Heyman, Ph.D, Director, Center for Interamerican and Border Studies and Professor of Anthropology.Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
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Comments (106)

Joseph Katz

Just listening to the guys abuse the toy dinosaur made me uncomfortable it's amazing how broken some people are

May 18th
Reply

Justin Pagan

20:00 "It's about 5 inches tall.... all head..."

May 18th
Reply

Ben Davis

That toy dinosaur story raises some important questions about humanity's relationship with technology. I'd love to hear a debate about that.

May 18th
Reply

Tyler

Ben Davis are you Ben Davis from Wayne Highschool?

May 19th
Reply

Zach G

I'm sorry guys, but you completely missed the one truly moral answer to the trolley problem. if you and a man are on a bridge and could stop the train by pushing the man on the tracks, where does the assumption come from that it's the man going down? and who are you to decide to end another's life? the only moral response is to jump yourself, saving everyone

May 9th
Reply

Matheus Rolim

Good story!

May 6th
Reply

mesha parks

lol pulp l)

May 6th
Reply

kacyhansen@hotmail.com

why the old episodes as if they are new?

May 4th
Reply

NATE FERGUSON

damn why are the replaying old episodes

May 3rd
Reply

Tauno Tedre

klw

May 1st
Reply

Gerry M.

Amazing where belief and emotions can lead a person. The Russians obviously know something about our society that we are not aware of or not willing to face ourselves. Trump is a nincompoop that resonates with people of a certain mindset.

Apr 29th
Reply

Tom Stokes

anyone else getting random scratchy static throughout this episode?

Apr 10th
Reply

Andrew W

Tom Stokes all the time. I think it is the app

Apr 21st
Reply

Thunder Bag

Tom Stokes not me :-)

Apr 16th
Reply

Caio Rolim de Freitas

1997 gao hold the line report

Apr 8th
Reply

Lorna Kelly

re - The gun show. Do your homework guys! U. S. v Miller 1939. Two men indicted for transporting unregistered sawed-off shot guns across state lines. S.C. interpreted 2nd amendment in conjunction with the militia clause stating, in essence, that the possession and use of such an instrument has no reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia. In my opinion, this provides precedence for restricting civilan possession and use of assault rifles. Look it up -Law Library of Congress.

Apr 8th
Reply

Melody Chamness

the last few weeks are

Apr 2nd
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Jerome Pope

huh?

Apr 1st
Reply

Amber Marie Beauchamp

Somone taking action and helping save a life does not in any way "prove" a God! There was no magic or mystical, or unexplainable action.

Mar 28th
Reply

dcl525

Amber Marie Beauchamp proove?

Apr 19th
Reply

Jamieson Orth

out check band collection under band later

Mar 25th
Reply

Alysha Di

Jamieson Orth HV jv

Mar 30th
Reply

Jamieson Orth

good my brain dont no were to start I'm Jamison blue orth got cool tunes band lab app maid n heaven sad n heaven search American spirit check

Mar 25th
Reply

Keli McCoy Weltchek

Jamieson Orth p

Apr 6th
Reply

Isaac Hello

cleaner shrimp!

Mar 22nd
Reply

dylaaana

This is THE best.

Mar 19th
Reply
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