147 episodes

Radiolab is on a curiosity bender. We ask deep questions and use investigative journalism to get the answers. A given episode might whirl you through science, legal history, and into the home of someone halfway across the world. The show is known for innovative sound design, smashing information into music. It is hosted by Jad Abumrad, Lulu Miller, and Latif Nasser.

Radiolab WNYC

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 1 Rating

Radiolab is on a curiosity bender. We ask deep questions and use investigative journalism to get the answers. A given episode might whirl you through science, legal history, and into the home of someone halfway across the world. The show is known for innovative sound design, smashing information into music. It is hosted by Jad Abumrad, Lulu Miller, and Latif Nasser.

    The First Radiolab

    The First Radiolab

    Jad started Radiolab roughly 20 years ago. And now he is stepping aside from hosting and producing the show to replenish, to think, to rock in his chair and be with his kids and wife, and maybe make some music. The news has been all over twitter and there’s a letter from Jad and our hosts Latif and Lulu on the website. But in this episode, Jad talks through his decision to leave and the future of the show with Lulu and Latif. And then, as a parting gift, we play him the very first episode of Radiolab (“The Radio Lab” as he called it then). He tells us about biking the CDs over the Brooklyn bridge just before the show was supposed to air, reading the news and weather between segments, and then we just sit back together and listen to where it all began.

    Jad, for those of us who have been radically changed by the thing you put out into the world, we are both sad to lose you in our ears and endlessly grateful for what you’ve given us.

    • 1 hr 24 min
    The 11th: A Letter From George

    The 11th: A Letter From George

    Last week, Lulu heard an interview that trapped her in her car. She decided to play it for Latif.

    The interview – originally from a podcast called The Relentless Picnic, but presented by one of Lulu’s current podcast faves, The 11th – is part of an episode of mini pep talks designed to help us all get through this cold, dark, second-pandemic-winter-in-a-row. But the segment that Lulu brings Latif is about someone trying to get through something arguably much more difficult, something a pep talk can’t solve, but that a couple friends — and one very generous stranger — might be able to help make a little more bearable.

    The episode of The 11th this comes from is “I’m Here to Pep You Up.” The Relentless Picnic is currently running a series of episodes called CABIN, an audio exploration of isolation, which you can listen to here. The organization where Matt volunteers as a counselor is called SUDEP. The Lu Olkowski story Lulu recommends at the end of the episode is “Grandpa,” and the lobster story Latif recommends is “The Luckiest Lobster.”

    Special Thanks:

    Eric Mennel, senior producer at The 11th, and host of the podcast Stay Away from Matthew Magill.Lu Olkowski, voracious listener, super reporter, and host of the podcast Love Me.Radiolab is on YouTube! Catch up with new episodes and hear classics from our archive. Plus, find other cool things we did in the past — like miniseries, music videos, short films and animations, behind-the-scenes features, Radiolab live shows, and more. Take a look, explore and subscribe!

    Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.  

    • 23 min
    Darkode

    Darkode

    It would seem that hackers today can do just about anything they want - from turning on the cellphone in your pocket to holding your life's work hostage. Cyber criminals today have more sophisticated tools, have learned to work collaboratively around the world and have found innovative ways to remain deep undercover in the internet's shadows. This episode, we shine a light into those shadows to see the world from the perspectives of both cybercrime victims and perpetrators.

    First we meet mother-daughter duo Alina and Inna Simone, who tell us about being held hostage by criminals who have burrowed into their lives from half a world away. Along the way we learn about the legally sticky spot that unwitting accomplices like Will Wheeler find themselves in.

    Then reporter and author Joseph Menn tells us about the surprisingly lucrative professional hacker structure in places throughout the former Soviet Union. Finally, the co-creator of one of the most notorious online marketplaces to ever exist speaks to us and NPR cyber-crime expert Dina Temple-Raston about how a young suburban Boy Scout can turn into a world renowned black hat hacker.

    Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.Radiolab is on YouTube! Catch up with new episodes and hear classics from our archive. Plus, find other cool things we did in the past — like miniseries, music videos, short films and animations, behind-the-scenes features, Radiolab live shows, and more. Take a look, explore and subscribe!

    • 38 min
    Worst. Year. Ever.

    Worst. Year. Ever.

    What was the worst year to be alive on planet Earth?  

    We make the case for 536 AD, which set off a cascade of catastrophes that is almost too horrible to imagine. A supervolcano. The disappearance of shadows. A failure of bread. Plague rats. Using evidence painstakingly gathered around the world - from Mongolian tree rings to Greenlandic ice cores to Mayan artifacts - we paint a portrait of what scientists and historians think went wrong, and what we think it felt like to be there in real time. (Spoiler: not so hot.)  We hear a hymn for the dead from the ancient kingdom of Axum, the closest we can get to the sound of grief from a millennium and a half ago.

    The horrors of 536 make us wonder about the parallels and perpendiculars with our own time: does it make you feel any better knowing that your suffering is part of a global crisis? Or does it just make things worse?"Thanks to reporter Ann Gibbons whose Science article "Eruption made 536 ‘the worst year to be alive" got us interested in the first place. In case you want to learn more about 536, here are some other sources: Timothy P. Newfield, “The Climate Downturn of 536-50” in the Palgrave Handbook on Climate HistoryDallas Abbott et al., “What caused terrestrial dust loading and climate downturns between A.D. 533 and 540?”Joel Gunn and Alesio Ciarini (editors), “The A.D. 536 Crisis: A 21st Century Perspective”Antti Arjava, “The Mystery Cloud of 536 CE in the Mediterranean Sources” And for more on the composer Yared, watch Meklit Hadero’s TED talk “The Unexpected Beauty of Everyday Sounds”

    Credits: This episode was reported by Latif Nasser and Lulu Miller, and produced by Simon Adler.  With sound and music from Simon Adler and Jeremy Bloom.

    Special Thanks: Thanks to Joel Gunn, Dallas Abbott, Mathias Nordvig, Emma Rigby, Robert Dull, Daniel Yacob, Kay Shelemey, Jacke Phillips, Meklit Hadero, and Joan Aruz.

    Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate. 

    Radiolab is on YouTube! Catch up with new episodes and hear classics from our archive. Plus, find other cool things we did in the past — like miniseries, music videos, short films and animations, behind-the-scenes features, Radiolab live shows, and more. Take a look, explore and subscribe!

    • 24 min
    Flop Off

    Flop Off

    This past year was a flop. From questionable blockbuster reboots to supply chain shenanigans to worst of all, omnipresent COVID variants. But, in a last ditch effort to flip the flop, we at Radiolab have dredged up the most mortifying, most cringeworthy, most gravity-defying flops we could find. From flops at a community pool to flops at the White House, from a flop that derails a career to flops that give NBA players a sneaky edge, from flops that’ll send you seeking medical advice to THE flopped flop that in a way enabled us all. Take a break from all the disappointment and flop around with us.

    Special Thanks to: Kaitlin Murphy, Dana Stevens, David Novak, Pablo Pinero Stillman

    Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate. 

    • 1 hr 15 min
    Vanishing Words

    Vanishing Words

    When Alana Casanova-Burgess set out to make a podcast series about Puerto Rico, she struggled with what to call it. Until one word came to mind, a word that captures a certain essence of life in Puerto Rico, but eludes easy translation into English. We talk to Alana about her series, and that particular word, then turn to an old story about treating words as signals of something happening just beneath the surface. 

    Agatha Christie's clever detective novels may reveal more about the inner workings of the human mind than she intended. According to Dr. Ian Lancashire at the University of Toronto, the Queen of Crime left behind hidden clues to the real-life mysteries of human aging in her writing. Meanwhile, Dr. Kelvin Lim and Dr. Serguei Pakhomov from the University of Minnesota add to the intrigue with the story of an unexpected find in a convent archive that could someday help pinpoint very early warning signs for Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Sister Alberta Sheridan, a 94-year-old Nun Study participant, reads an essay she wrote more than 70 years ago.

    La Brega update was produced by Maria Paz Gutierrez

    • 24 min

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