Radiolab Radiolab, with Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, is a radio show and podcast weaving stories and science into sound and music-rich documentaries.
Radiolab

Radiolab

From WNYC Radio

Radiolab, with Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, is a radio show and podcast weaving stories and science into sound and music-rich documentaries.

Most Recent Episodes

Right to be Forgotten

In an online world, that story about you lives forever. The tipsy photograph of you at the college football game? It's up there. That news article about the political rally you were marching at? It's up there. A DUI? That's there, too. But what if ... it wasn't. In Cleveland, Ohio, a group of journalists are trying out an experiment that has the potential to turn things upside down: they are unpublishing content they've already published. Photographs, names, entire articles. Every month or so, they get together to decide what content stays, and what content goes. On today's episode, reporter Molly Webster goes inside the room where the decisions are being made, listening case-by-case as editors decide who, or what, gets to be deleted. It's a story about time and memory; mistakes and second chances; and society as we know it. This episode was reported by Molly Webster, and produced by Molly Webster and Bethel Habte. Special thanks to Kathy English, David Erdos, Ed Haber, Brewster Kahle, Imani Leonard, Ruth Samuel, Jane Kamensky and all the people who helped shape this story. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. To learn more about Cleveland.com's "right to be forgotten experiment," check out the very first column Molly read about the project.

More Perfect: Cruel and Unusual

On the inaugural episode of More Perfect, we explore three little words embedded in the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: "cruel and unusual." America has long wrestled with this concept in the context of our strongest punishment, the death penalty. A majority of "we the people" (61 percent, to be exact) are in favor of having it, but inside the Supreme Court, opinions have evolved over time in surprising ways. And outside of the court, the debate drove one woman in the UK to take on the U.S. death penalty system from Europe. It also caused states to resuscitate old methods used for executing prisoners on death row. And perhaps more than anything, it forced a conversation on what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Special thanks to Claire Phillips, Nina Perry, Stephanie Jenkins, Ralph Dellapiana, Byrd Pinkerton, Elisabeth Semel, Christina Spaulding, and The Marshall Project Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. Also! We're working on collecting some audience feedback so we can do a better job of getting our show out to all of you, interacting with you, and reaching new people. We'd love to hear from you. Go to www.radiolab.org/survey to participate.

G: The World's Smartest Animal

This episode begins with a rant. This rant, in particular, comes from Dan Engber - a science writer who loves animals but despises animal intelligence research. Dan told us that so much of the way we study animals involves tests that we think show a human is smart ... not the animals we intend to study. Dan's rant got us thinking: What is the smartest animal in the world? And if we threw out our human intelligence rubric, is there a fair way to figure it out? Obviously, there is. And it's a live game show, judged by Jad, Robert ... and a dog. For the last episode of G, Radiolab's miniseries on intelligence, we're sharing that game show with you. It was recorded as a live show back in May 2019 at the Greene Space in New York City. We invited two science writers, Dan Engber and Laurel Braitman, and two comedians, Tracy Clayton and Jordan Mendoza, to compete against one another to find the world's smartest animal. What resulted were a series of funny, delightful stories about unexpectedly smart animals and a shift in the way we think about intelligence across all the animals - including us. Check out the video of our live event here! This episode was produced by Rachael Cusick and Pat Walters, with help from Nora Keller and Suzie Lechtenberg. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris and Dorie Chevlin. Special thanks to Bill Berloni and Macy (the dog) and everyone at The Greene Space. Radiolab's "G" is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.

G: Unnatural Selection

This past fall, a scientist named Steve Hsu made headlines with a provocative announcement. He would start selling a genetic intelligence test to couples doing IVF: a sophisticated prediction tool, built on big data and machine learning, designed to help couples select the best embryo in their batch. We wondered, how does that work? What can the test really say? And do we want to live in a world where certain people can decide how smart their babies will be? This episode was produced by Simon Adler, with help from Rachael Cusick and Pat Walters. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris. Engineering help from Jeremy Bloom. Special thanks to Catherine Bliss. Radiolab's "G" is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.

G: Unfit

When a law student named Mark Bold came across a Supreme Court decision from the 1920s that allowed for the forced sterilization of people deemed "unfit," he was shocked to discover that it had never been overturned. His law professors told him the case, Buck v Bell, was nothing to worry about, that the ruling was in a kind of legal limbo and could never be used against people. But he didn't buy it. In this episode we follow Mark on a journey to one of the darkest consequences of humanity's attempts to measure the human mind and put people in boxes, following him through history, science fiction and a version of eugenics that's still very much alive today, and watch as he crusades to restore a dash of moral order to the universe. This episode was produced by Matt Kielty, Lulu Miller and Pat Walters. You can pre-order Lulu Miller's new book Why Fish Don't Exist here. Special thanks to Sara Luterman, Lynn Rainville, Alex Minna Stern, Steve Silberman and Lydia X.Z. Brown. Radiolab's "G" is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.

G: Relative Genius

Albert Einstein asked that when he died, his body be cremated and his ashes be scattered in a secret location. He didn't want his grave, or his body, becoming a shrine to his genius. When he passed away in the early morning hours of April, 18, 1955, his family knew his wishes. There was only one problem: the pathologist who did the autopsy had different plans. In the third episode of "G", Radiolab's miniseries on intelligence, we go on one of the strangest scavenger hunts for genius the world has ever seen. We follow Einstein's stolen brain from that Princeton autopsy table, to a cider box in Wichita, Kansas, to labs all across the country. And eventually, beyond the brain itself entirely. All the while wondering, where exactly is the genius of a man who changed the way we view the world? This episode was reported by Rachael Cusick and Pat Walters, and produced by Bethel Habte, Rachael Cusick, and Pat Walters. Music by Alex Overington and Jad Abumrad. Special thanks to: Elanor Taylor, Claudia Kalb, Dustin O'Halloran, Tim Huson, The Einstein Papers Project, and all the physics for (us) dummies Youtube videos that accomplished the near-impossible feat of helping us understand relativity. Radiolab's "G" is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science.

G: Problem Space

In the first episode of G, Radiolab's miniseries on intelligence, we went back to the 1970s to meet a group of Black parents who put the IQ test on trial. The lawsuit, Larry P v Riles, ended with a ban on IQ tests for all Black students in the state of California, a ban that's still in place today. This week, we meet the families in California dealing with that ban forty years later. Families the ban was designed to protect, but who now say it discriminates against their children. How much have IQ tests changed since the 70s? And can they be used for good? We talk to the people responsible for designing the most widely used modern IQ test, and along the way, we find out that at the very same moment the IQ test was being put on trial in California, on the other side of the country, it was being used to solve one of the biggest public health problems of the 20th century. This episode was reported and produced by Pat Walters, Rachael Cusick and Jad Abumrad, with production help from Bethel Habte. Music by Alex Overington. Fact-checking by Diane Kelly. Special thanks to Lee Romney, Chenjerai Kumanyika, Moira Gunn and Tech Nation, and Lee Rosevere for his song All the Answers. Radiolab's "G" is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science.

G: The Miseducation of Larry P

Are some ideas so dangerous we shouldn't even talk about them? That question brought Radiolab's senior editor, Pat Walters, to a subject that at first he thought was long gone: the measuring of human intelligence with IQ tests. Turns out, the tests are all around us. In the workplace. The criminal justice system. Even the NFL. And they're massive in schools. More than a million US children are IQ tested every year. We begin Radiolab Presents: "G" with a sentence that stopped us all in our tracks: In the state of California, it is off-limits to administer an IQ test to a child if he or she is Black. That's because of a little-known case called Larry P v Riles that in the 1970s ... put the IQ test itself on trial. With the help of reporter Lee Romney, we investigate how that lawsuit came to be, where IQ tests came from, and what happened to one little boy who got caught in the crossfire. This episode was reported and produced by Lee Romney, Rachael Cusick and Pat Walters. Music by Alex Overington. Fact-checking by Diane Kelly. Special thanks to Elie Mistal, Chenjerai Kumanyika, Amanda Stern, Nora Lyons, Ki Sung, Public Advocates, Michelle Wilson, Peter Fernandez, John Schaefer. Lee Romney's reporting was supported in part by USC's Center for Health Journalism. Radiolab's "G" is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.

Neither Confirm Nor Deny

How a sunken nuclear submarine, a crazy billionaire, and a mechanical claw gave birth to a phrase that has hounded journalists and lawyers for 40 years and embodies the tension between the public's desire for transparency and the government's need to keep secrets.

The Good Samaritan

On a Tuesday afternoon back in the summer of 2017, Scotty Hatton and Scottie Wightman both made a decision to help someone in need. They both paid a price for their actions that day, which have led to a legal, moral, and scientific puzzle about how we balance accountability and forgiveness. In this episode, we go to Bath County, Kentucky, where, as one health official put it, opioids have created "a hole the size of Kentucky." We talk to the people on all sides of this story about stemming the tide of overdoses, we wrestle with the science of poison and fear, and we try to figure out when the drive to protect and help those around us should rise above the law. This story was reported by Peter Andrey Smith with Matt Kielty, and produced by Matt Kielty. Special thanks to Earl Willis, Bobby Ratliff, Ronnie Goldie, Megan Fisher, Alan Caudill, Nick Jones, Dan Wermerling, Terry Bunn, Robin Thompson and the staff at KIPRC, Charles Landon, Charles P Gore, Jim McCarthy, Ann Marie Farina, Dr. Jeremy Faust and Dr. Ed Boyer, Justin Brower, Kathy Robinson, Zoe Renfro, John Bucknell, Chris Moraff, Jeremiah Laster, Tommy Kane, Jim McCarthy, Sarah Wakeman, and Al Tompkins. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. CDC recommendations on helping people who overdose: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pdf/patients/Preventing-an-Opioid-Overdose-Tip-Card-a.pdf Find out where to get naloxone: https://prevent-protect.org/

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