Wow in the World + The Story Pirates in Do You SEE What I HEAR? This week, it's a double scoop of our first ever, Wow in the World Podcast Scrambler! In this episode, Guy Raz and Mindy team up with the Story Pirates Podcast to explore the latest science behind SYNESTHESIA!

Wow in the World + The Story Pirates in Do You SEE What I HEAR?

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MINDY THOMAS, HOST:

Hey, guys. Before we start the show...

(SOUNDBITE OF DOORBELL)

THOMAS: Huh? Who could that be? I'm not expecting anyone. Hello? There's no one there.

LEE OVERTREE: Psst. Look down.

THOMAS: Who said that?

OVERTREE: Look down at the box on your doormat - the one covered in wrapping paper with a beautiful bow.

THOMAS: Wait a second. Lee?

OVERTREE: No, it's not Lee. I'm a present. You should open me - I mean it.

THOMAS: OK, if you say so. I'll just pull this ribbon here. And...

OVERTREE: (Yelling) Surprise.

THOMAS: (Screaming).

OVERTREE: I'm here for the big crossover episode.

THOMAS: The big what?

OVERTREE: You remember - WOW IN THE WORLD and the Story Pirates are doing an episode together.

THOMAS: Oh, yeah. Hey, that's a great idea. We should totally do that.

OVERTREE: We are doing that.

THOMAS: What - like, right now?

OVERTREE: Yes. That's why I surprised you.

THOMAS: Oh, cool.

OVERTREE: So did you get me anything?

THOMAS: Oh, yeah. I got you this.

OVERTREE: A present for me? How thoughtful. I'll just pull this ribbon here and...

THOMAS: (Yelling) Surprise.

OVERTREE: (Screaming).

THOMAS: Two can play at the old jump out of a very small box and surprise the co-host of a rival podcast game.

OVERTREE: Wait. If you just jumped out of this box, who's the person that I surprised?

THOMAS: Oh, that's a robot I made so I don't have to answer the door anymore.

OVERTREE: That's impressive.

THOMAS: (In robotic voice) I love answering the door.

Ssh. We know, Robo-Mindy.

(In robotic voice) I love answering the door.

Mindy, why don't you just go and answer one of the other doors in the house?

(In robotic voice) I love answering the door.

So where were we?

OVERTREE: WOW IN THE WORLD and the Story Pirates are doing an episode together.

THOMAS: When?

OVERTREE: Now.

THOMAS: But WOW IN THE WORLD is all about exploring all of the amazing wonders of the world.

OVERTREE: And Story Pirates is about taking kids' words and ideas and turning them into amazing songs and stuff.

THOMAS: And we're going to do all that at the same time on the same episode?

OVERTREE: Yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOORBELL)

THOMAS: Robo-Mindy, can you get that? She's never around when I need her. I'll just get it. Hello?

OVERTREE: Mindy, look.

THOMAS: Another present? I bet I know who's in there.

OVERTREE: I bet I know who's in there.

GUY RAZ, HOST:

(Yelling).

OVERTREE: (Screaming).

RAZ: Mindy? Lee?

MINDY THOMAS AND LEE OVERTREE: Guy Raz?

RAZ: Enough of this hilarious comedic bit. It's time to start the episode.

THOMAS: You're right, Guy Raz. Let's do this.

OVERTREE: Robo-Mindy, would you introduce the episode?

THOMAS: (In robotic voice) I love answering the door.

RAZ: Mindy, why is there another one of you that loves answering the door?

THOMAS: Guy Raz, let's walk and talk. You see, it all started with the advent of artificial intelligence.

OVERTREE: And now, without further ado, please enjoy the very first smashup mashup crossover episode of WOW IN THE WORLD and the Story Pirates.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE GOLDEN AGE (WOW IN THE WORLD PODCAST THEME SONG)")

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Stay seated. Three, two, one, ignition.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Get ready for an adventure of magnificent proportions.

THE POP UPS: (Singing) I don't know what you've been told, but we're in a golden age - so many discoveries that are jumping off the page. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: With Guy and Mindy.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: We're on our way, Houston.

(SOUNDBITE OF DIALING PHONE)

THOMAS: Doo-doo-doo. We're sorry. The number you have called has been disconnected. Please check the number and dial again.

RAZ: That's weird. I'm sure that was her number. Let me try this again.

(SOUNDBITE OF DIALING PHONE)

THOMAS: Fish market. Shark speaking.

RAZ: I'm sorry. I think I must have the wrong number. Wait. Did you say shark?

(SOUNDBITE OF DISCONNECT TONE)

RAZ: OK. Let me try this one more time.

(SOUNDBITE OF DIALING PHONE)

THOMAS: Mixed nuts. Cashew speaking.

RAZ: (Groaning) Mindy, is that you?

THOMAS: Jell-O? Jell-O?

RAZ: Mindy...

THOMAS: Oh, hey, Guy Raz. Everything OK?

RAZ: Why can't you just answer the phone like a normal person?

THOMAS: Why can't you just call a normal person?

RAZ: Mindy, I'm calling you because I'm about to run out to the store. And I wanted to see if you needed me to pick anything up for you while I'm out.

THOMAS: Oh, Guy Raz, that's so thoughtful of you.

RAZ: No big deal. Just a friendly gesture.

THOMAS: OK. Well, I do have a few things on my list. You might want to get something to write this down.

RAZ: I think I can remember a few things. Just tell me what you need me to pick up.

THOMAS: OK. Here goes. I'm going to need 320 aluminum composite panels...

RAZ: Huh?

THOMAS: ...Four hundred eighty zippers, 1,000 bulbs - you getting all this?

RAZ: No.

THOMAS: Twenty projectors, a dozen extension cords, a mirror dance floor, 15 packs of halogen light bulbs and Mylar filters in every single color of the rainbow. Oh, and a boombox.

RAZ: What?

THOMAS: Thanks, buddy.

RAZ: Mindy, I was thinking maybe you needed bread or...

THOMAS: Ooh, and some bread.

RAZ: Mindy, I'm a little afraid to ask, but what do you plan to do with all this stuff?

THOMAS: So glad you overcame your fear of asking, Guy Raz.

RAZ: Well, I...

THOMAS: So Reggie and I are planning to build a synesthesia machine.

RAZ: A syne-what?

THOMAS: Synesthesia machine. Well, I guess you could call it a human-sized Kaleidoscope sound and light portal.

RAZ: A what?

THOMAS: A sound and light portal?

RAZ: A sound and...

THOMAS: Well, Reggie's been calling it a lighty, lighty, flashy, flashy cave. But...

RAZ: Mindy, what are you talking about? You know what? Never mind. I'm going to come over there. I need to see what you're planning with my own four eyes. And no funny business when I ring the doorbell, OK?

THOMAS: Not making any promises.

RAZ: (Groaning).

(SOUNDBITE OF KNOCKING ON DOOR)

THOMAS: Room service.

RAZ: Mindy...

THOMAS: Oh, hi, Guy Raz. What a nice surprise. Welcome to my humble gingerbread mansion abode. Right this way.

RAZ: So I see you still haven't rebaked the walls in the dining room.

THOMAS: Oh, no, I did.

RAZ: OK. So where are they?

THOMAS: I had to eat the walls to make room for my synesthesia machine.

RAZ: Yeah. About that...

THOMAS: Guy Raz, I have spent the last six months working on plans for a fully functional synesthesia machine - first invention of its kind.

RAZ: Wow. I was just reading something about synesthesia. Isn't it sort of, like, a mashup of the senses?

THOMAS: Yeah. Basically, it's this super-rare neurological condition...

RAZ: Neurological, meaning that it happens in the brain.

THOMAS: So it's this neurological or brain condition where one of your senses - say, like, hearing, for example - is triggered at the same time as another one of your senses, like seeing. In other words, your brain wires criss-cross, making your senses get all mixed up.

RAZ: And so when that happens, your criss-crossed brain wires end up triggering two senses at once, causing you to do things like see sounds?

THOMAS: Yep. And with synesthesia, you might hear a bird chirp and, at the same time, see the color blue. Or maybe you're just minding your own business, listening to your favorite jams.

RAZ: Ah, Mozart's "Alla Turca."

THOMAS: Sure. You might be listening to that and seeing wild bursts of color and light like your own personal fireworks display.

RAZ: Wow, a sound and light show.

THOMAS: Yep. But that's not even the half of it.

RAZ: Wait. There's more?

THOMAS: Yeah. So a person with synesthesia might be able to see sound. But other people might be able to hear color or touch smells or even taste words. In fact, there are over 80 different types of synesthesia.

RAZ: Wow. So you know how I just told you I was reading something about synesthesia?

THOMAS: Yeah.

RAZ: Well, I just saw this new study that was written by a scientist named Amanda Tilot and a group of other scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands and...

THOMAS: Hold the phone, Guy Raz. Psycholinguistic what's-it-land?

RAZ: Psycholinguistics, Mindy. It's the study of how humans acquire or collect language but also how we use it and understand it and produce it.

THOMAS: Psycholinguistics. Psycholinguistics. Psycholinguistics, linguistics, linguine. Guy Raz, this sounds like noodles. Are there noodles involved in this?

RAZ: Just the noodle in your head.

THOMAS: All right. Well - so as I've been working on the design for my synesthesia machine, I've been using my noodle to try and figure out how to get synesthesia the good, old-fashioned way.

RAZ: You mean like how to naturally simulate or recreate what it's actually like to have synesthesia?

THOMAS: Yeah. So it's so super-rare that only, like, 1 in every 2,000 people have it. And most of those people somehow get it when they're kids.

RAZ: That's what the researchers in this study I was telling you about were trying to figure out. What causes synesthesia?

THOMAS: So what'd they find?

RAZ: They found that it's all about connectivity.

THOMAS: Connectivity. Huh. So you mean like the connections between the five senses or the connections between family members who share the same neurological noodle thing going on?

RAZ: Well, both.

THOMAS: Whoa.

RAZ: So let's start with the family tree.

THOMAS: Oh, I just planted one in my backyard.

RAZ: Mindy, you don't plant a...

THOMAS: No, really. Look out the window. I'll show you.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Aunt Mojo) Mindy, it's your Aunt Mojo.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Mindy, look how high I climbed.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Aunt Mojo) Hey there, Guy Raz. Oh, is that your elbow or mine?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Mojo, get off my leg.

RAZ: Mindy, your entire family is just sitting in a tree in your backyard?

THOMAS: Yeah, it's my family tree. They're having a little reunion out there. Fortunately, my ancient ancestors weren't able to make it. So we're missing some pretty important roots.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Timber.

(SOUNDBITE OF TREE CRASHING)

RAZ: Whoa. Did your family tree just fall over?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) I think I broke something.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Uh-oh. Looks like your butt has a crack in it.

THOMAS: They're OK. So, Guy Raz, what does the family tree have to do with synesthesia?

RAZ: Scientists have known for a long time that synesthesia seems to be passed down from generation to generation.

THOMAS: So if, for example, my Grandma G-Force had synesthesia, then there would be a good chance that I would have it, too?

RAZ: Exactly.

THOMAS: But do scientists know how it's passed down between the generations - like, what that connection might be?

RAZ: Well, up until now that's been a major scientific mystery.

THOMAS: Up until now? Wait. Does that mean that these researchers were able to finally find the connection?

RAZ: Well, after studying the DNA...

THOMAS: Time out. DNA is the stuff in your body that makes you you and me me. Time in.

RAZ: Well, after studying the DNA of three families where there were several generations of family members with synesthesia, they found that while members of the same family shared many of the same genes...

THOMAS: I'm wearing Grandma G-Force's jeans right now.

RAZ: The other kind of genes, Mindy.

THOMAS: Oh. You're talking about the kind of genes that make it possible for both me and Grandma G-Force to have glow-in-the-dark eyeballs.

RAZ: Yes. Yes. Wait. Is that true?

THOMAS: I mean...

RAZ: So these researchers thought that maybe synesthesia was hereditary, meaning that it was passed down from one generation to the next generation, kind of like you and Grandma G-Force.

THOMAS: Huh. And were they right? I mean, did they find that families with more than one synesthete - or person with synesthesia - that those families shared more of the same genes as other families with synesthetes?

RAZ: Mindy, these researchers found that none of those specific genes were common or shared among the other families with lots of synesthetes.

THOMAS: So let me just make sure I've got this straight. These researchers found common genes among members of the same family, but they couldn't find any common genes when they compared them to different families of synesthetes?

RAZ: That's exactly right. In other words, there wasn't a single common or shared synesthesia gene.

THOMAS: What did this mean for the research?

RAZ: So these researchers concluded that maybe the cause of synesthesia is not in our genes at all.

THOMAS: Man, so then I guess the researchers just threw their hands up in the air, packed up their DNA samples and called it a day.

RAZ: Well, not exactly. As you know, Mindy, part of being a scientist means following your curiosity wherever it might lead you.

THOMAS: So where did curiosity lead this team of researchers?

RAZ: Well, it led them back to the lab because if it wasn't the genes that were causing the synesthesia, then maybe - just maybe - it was the way the genes were formed or used in our bodies.

THOMAS: So maybe that's what causes synesthesia. Wait. So how are genes formed anyway?

RAZ: Well, to help us understand that, Mindy, we're going to have to...

THOMAS: What?

RAZ: We're going to have to...

THOMAS: What?

RAZ: Pop the top of your head.

THOMAS: What? Guy Raz, you always say that weirds you out. I know. But you know what else I say.

GUY RAZ AND MINDY THOMAS: Anything for science.

THOMAS: Well, OK. Here goes.

(SOUNDBITE OF CATS MEOWING)

THOMAS: Always cats on the brain.

RAZ: Yeah, it's a little weird. OK. Let's see what we've got inside here.

THOMAS: Okeydoke.

RAZ: Now, first, we're going to take a look at the different sections of your brain.

THOMAS: Oh, yeah. Those different sections control how we interpret - or understand - and feel our different senses.

RAZ: Right. And looking at your brain here, it seems like you've got a section for seeing. And here's your section for hearing. And this is the one for smelling. There's a section for tasting. It's over here. And a section for touch and feeling.

THOMAS: Ouch. Don't poke it.

RAZ: Oh, sorry. Sorry about that.

THOMAS: OK. So eyes, ears, nose, mouth and touch - my five senses.

RAZ: Yes. And you're able to experience those senses by way of this highway in your brain.

THOMAS: What? There's a highway in my brain. Hand me that mirror over there.

RAZ: Here you go.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRAFFIC NOISE)

THOMAS: An entire highway system in my brain. Looks like there's a collision on I-95.

RAZ: Mindy, this highway system is what connects your eyes and ears and nose and mouth to your brain. And it helps you experience your senses.

THOMAS: And I'm guessing it's also got little, teeny, tiny delivery trucks that ride these highways, carrying information from my eyes, ears, nose and mouth and delivering that information to the different sections of my brain?

RAZ: Yes, yes. And those teeny, tiny delivery trucks are called nerve impulses.

THOMAS: I wonder if those nerve impulses come with cruise control and optional third-row back seating?

RAZ: What?

THOMAS: Anywho, its nerve impulses deliver these messages and tell our senses what's up?

RAZ: Yes. And it's this highway messaging system that helps us to hear what we hear or taste what we taste and so on. But in people like you and me, people without synesthesia, there are separate highway systems in each section of our brains. And they never, ever cross or connect to the others.

THOMAS: So these sections of our brains are like their own little islands or continents with no highways to connect them?

RAZ: Yes. But - and, Mindy, this is a big but...

THOMAS: Did you just...

RAZ: ...These researchers just concluded that people with synesthesia have brains that are able to build more highways and longer highways that stretch to connect different parts of their brains. And this highway building is something called axonogenesis.

THOMAS: Axonogenesis. So because of this, the part of their brain that helps them to hear music is suddenly able to connect to the part of their brain that helps them see color?

RAZ: Exactly. And that's just one example.

THOMAS: Wow. People with axonogenesis must have some pretty skilled building crews in their brains.

RAZ: And that's how someone with synesthesia might be able to see something that they hear or taste something that they feel with their hands.

THOMAS: Someone with synesthesia might be able to touch a table and taste chicken?

RAZ: Yes, or see an orange crayon and feel a paper cut.

THOMAS: Whoa. So looking at my brain here, are you sure I don't have a tangled web of highways connecting and confusing all my senses? Please say I do. Please say I do. Please say I do.

RAZ: Mindy, believe it or not, as I'm looking at your brain here, I'm not seeing a whole lot of evidence of confusion at all.

THOMAS: Man, you sure?

RAZ: But there does seem to be a tangled web of...

THOMAS: What? A tangled web of what?

RAZ: Are those ramen noodles?

THOMAS: I guess they don't call it a noodle for nothing. Now pop the top back on. We've got a synesthesia machine to build before my friends get here to help us simulate the experience.

RAZ: You have other friends besides me and Reggie?

THOMAS: We'll get to that in a few minutes. But first, we're going to need those supplies I listed for you earlier.

RAZ: Oh, right, the 320 panels of aluminum composite and all that. OK. I'll be right back.

THOMAS: And don't forget the bread.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROOSTER CROWING)

RAZ: (Panting).

THOMAS: Guy Raz, what took you so long? You OK?

RAZ: I had to go to 45 different stores to find everything on your list, Mindy.

THOMAS: But you found everything on my list. Let's see here. Got the aluminum panels, the zipper, the bulbs, the mirrored dance floor, the halogen light bulbs, the boombox - hey. Where's the boombox?

RAZ: Mindy, I'm not going back out for a...

THOMAS: It's OK. I'll just see if my friends can bring theirs when they come over.

RAZ: So now what? What do we do with all this junk?

THOMAS: What do we do with all this junk? Guy Raz, we build my synesthesia machine. Come on.

RAZ: Did you write up an instruction manual for this invention, Mindy?

THOMAS: Of course I did not write up an instruction manual for this invention, Guy Raz.

RAZ: (Groaning).

THOMAS: We're going to wing it.

RAZ: What?

THOMAS: Guy Raz, hammer time.

RAZ: Hammer time?

THOMAS: I need the hammer. Hammer me.

RAZ: Oh, right. Here you go. Now, please be careful.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONSTRUCTION NOISES)

THOMAS: And there. All finished.

RAZ: Whoa. You weren't kidding, Mindy. This synesthesia machine does look like a human-sized kaleidoscope.

THOMAS: Yep. And as soon as my friends get here, we can try it out. Man, they are going to love this thing.

RAZ: You keep mentioning these friends.

THOMAS: You know what, Guy Raz? I'm just going to give them a call and have them head over now. They've been at sea for a while, and it might take them a hot minute to get to shore.

RAZ: Wait. Your friends have been at sea? What are they, pirates or something?

THOMAS: Well, yeah.

RAZ: What in the...

THOMAS: Now stand by but stand back. When I call them up, it could get a little loud on the other end. Dialing the number.

(SOUNDBITE OF DIALING PHONE)

OVERTREE: Hello?

THOMAS: Hey, Lee.

OVERTREE: Hey, Mindy.

THOMAS: Hey. Just wanted to let you know that I built the synesthesia machine.

OVERTREE: You guys, you guys, she built it. Mindy built the synesthesia machine.

(CHEERING)

THOMAS: And I want to invite all you Story Pirates to be the first to test it out.

(CHEERING)

THOMAS: But I'm not going to need you to bring the jams.

OVERTREE: Oh, you got it, Mindy. Hey, everybody. Mindy wants us to change into our pajamas.

THOMAS: Wait. No. No. I didn't - not jammies. Just...

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

RAZ: Mindy, Story Pirates?

THOMAS: Oh, yeah. They're my friends who gently pillage stories from kids and turn them into sketch comedy and songs. They even have their own podcast, so you know they're basically super ooh-la-la rich and famous, living the dream.

RAZ: I wish I had a podcast - or three podcasts.

THOMAS: What? Anywho, let's go sit by the window. They should be pulling up in their pirate ship any minute now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SEAGULL SQUAWKING)

RAZ: Hey, you seagull, get out of the way. I want to see this pirate ship when it finally shows up.

THOMAS: Oh, I just remembered something important.

RAZ: What?

THOMAS: Well, the Story Pirates can't just pull their ship down our street. They're lost in the middle of the ocean.

(SOUNDBITE OF SEAGULL SQUAWKING)

THOMAS: Plus, they're terrible at parallel parking. If they try to park that ship outside, it would be this whole thing. And anywho, we're going to have to go to them.

RAZ: And how exactly are we going to do that?

THOMAS: I think we might just have to ride that seagull they sent for us.

(SOUNDBITE OF SEAGULL SQUAWKING)

RAZ: OK. But do you think that Reggie could also ride the seagull with us?

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

THOMAS: Oh, well, that would mean a pigeon riding a seagull. You know what, Guy Raz? There's only one way to find out. Come on, Reg. Hop aboard this bird 'cause here we go.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

THOMAS: Man, what a wild ride. You OK, Reg?

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRD COOING)

RAZ: This water is freezing. Where are we?

THOMAS: (Gasping) Guy Raz, I think we made it. Hey, Story Pirates. Look. Down here in the water. Story Pirates.

OVERTREE: Oh, hey. Hi, Mindy. Hi, Guy.

THOMAS: Help us up.

OVERTREE: Hold on to that anchor, and we'll pull you up to the deck of the ship.

THOMAS: OK. Hold on, Reggie. Hold on, Guy Raz.

OVERTREE: All right, everyone. Pull.

THE STORY PIRATES: Pull, pull, pull.

THOMAS: Come on, Guy Raz. You can do it, little buddy. I'll give you a boost.

OVERTREE: Glad that's over with. I'm out of breath.

THOMAS: Well, you better borrow some more breaths because we still have to pull up my synesthesia machine.

OVERTREE: Oh, boy.

RAZ: Oh, no. We forgot the synesthesia machine.

OVERTREE: No, you didn't. Look at that flock of seagulls.

RAZ: Thanks, seagulls.

THOMAS: Yeah, thanks, seagulls. You saved the day. No, you are. (Laughter) Those guys are great. OK. So I'm just going to use this rope I found to lasso my synesthesia machine. And then we can all pull it up, OK?

OVERTREE: Whoa, Mindy. I didn't know you could lasso so well.

THOMAS: Let's just say this isn't my first time at the rodeo. It's my third at least. All right. Everybody, on the count of three, let's pull. Ready? One, two - I didn't say three.

THE STORY PIRATES: Pull. Pull.

THOMAS: We did it. Wow. I can't believe I am here on the Story Pirate ship, one of the most famous podcast ships.

OVERTREE: One of?

THOMAS: Well, besides the S.S. NP-Arr (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: Boo.

THOMAS: Anywho, Lee, Story Pirates, this is my best friend, Guy Raz.

OVERTREE: Oh. Hi, Guz Raz.

THOMAS: And Guy Raz, these are the Story Pirates.

OVERTREE: Say hi, Story Pirates.

THE STORY PIRATES: Hi, Guy Raz.

RAZ: Hello, Story Pirates.

OVERTREE: We changed into our pajamas, just like you asked.

THOMAS: Oh, I didn't - you know what? Never mind. You guys look great.

OVERTREE: Please make yourself at home. Take a seat in one of our big blow-up chairs. Put your feet up on our big, fuzzy ottomans. Enjoy a glass of kefir.

RAZ: What's kefir?

THOMAS: It's kefir, Guy Raz.

OVERTREE: The champagne of dairy.

RAZ: Huh?

OVERTREE: It's a yogurt you can drink.

RAZ: Oh, OK. Hey, not bad. So you guys live on this ship?

OVERTREE: Yup. Pretty cool, right?

RAZ: Actually, I was going to say it looks kind of gross and falling apart.

OVERTREE: Mm-hm.

RAZ: But I guess it's got a lot of character.

OVERTREE: Yeah.

RAZ: If character is a word that means disgusting and hazardous. What is this rusty liquid I'm standing in?

OVERTREE: I don't know. Ship sweat?

THOMAS: OK. So is everyone super psyched to try out my amazing new synesthesia machine?

OVERTREE: I think so, but I'm still a little confused. This machine is going to help us understand what synesthesia feels like?

THOMAS: Yep. That's exactly what it's going to do.

OVERTREE: Mindy, I know you're excited about this machine. But before we try it out, we were thinking that maybe the best way to understand something would be to talk to a person who experiences it firsthand.

THOMAS: I think I like where you're going with this.

OVERTREE: So we talked to a real kid named Niall (ph).

THOMAS: Wait. You really do know someone with synesthesia?

OVERTREE: Yeah. Niall's an amazing kid. And he told us all about it.

RAZ: Mindy, does it feel like this ship is sinking to you?

THOMAS: Shh. Not now, Guy Raz.

OVERTREE: And then we took what Niall told us and turned it into a song. We thought it might pair nicely with your synesthesia machine.

THOMAS: An original song about synesthesia, direct from the source?

OVERTREE: Uh-huh. You want to hear it?

THOMAS: Ooh. But do you have some, like, fancy singers to sing it for us?

OVERTREE: Oh, well, we were just going to sing it ourselves.

THOMAS: Oh, OK. Sure, I guess that works, too.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

NIALL: Several people have different outcomes in synesthesia. For me, I see pictures for certain things, especially songs. Sometimes I actually see words written out.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: (Singing) There are pictures, certain pictures. There are pictures that are planted in his mind when he hears a sound.

OVERTREE: (Singing) It could be the names of family or a certain melody. They spark the images revealed inside his mind, the same ones every time.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: (Singing) When he hears the word...

NIALL: Mom.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: (Singing) ...He sees the Golden Gate Bridge. He's crossing the bridge on a sunny day. When he hears the word...

NIALL: Grandmom. I call her Oma.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: (Singing) ...He sees her name in the sky.

PETER MCNERNEY: (Singing) The letters all in gold. The letters all in gold.

THE STORY PIRATES: (Singing) The senses all connect, crisscrossing neural effect. With synesthesia, it's a mixed-up sensory world. A highway in his brain, the axons play a game, connecting senses for a mixed-up sensory world. And now we understand. The senses work hand in hand. With synesthesia, it's a mixed-up sensory world. It's a mixed-up sensory world.

NIALL: For other people, sometimes it's patterns and sometimes colors.

OVERTREE: (Singing) There are people - yes - lots of people, other people who experience this too. And there's over 80 different kinds. That's a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: (Singing) Like maybe they might see patterns. They might hear colors or smell or taste a word. It's revealed inside their minds, unique need for every kind.

NIALL: So I take dance. Sometimes the teacher explains some of the moves.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: (Singing) He sees a visual map.

NIALL: Inside my mind.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: (Singing) Of how to do the dance moves, all the steps and the counts.

I hope we're talking tap here, Niall.

NIALL: The song "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: That's a great song. But there are so many covers of it.

(Singing) He sees a king upon a throne, a king upon a throne.

MCNERNEY: You guys want to hear my cover of that song?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: No, Peter. Peter, don't you dare. Don't...

MCNERNEY: It goes a little something like this.

(Singing) I heard there was a secret chord.

Oh, shoot.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: Peter, can you just...

MCNERNEY: What?

OVERTREE: Peter, can you just stick to our song, please?

MCNERNEY: That's fine. You just meet me later, and I'll sing you the whole song. Can I count us in?

OVERTREE: All right.

MCNERNEY: Five, six, seven, eight.

THE STORY PIRATES: (Singing) The senses all connect. Criss-crossing nerve effect. With synesthesia, it's a mixed-up sensory world. It's like a two-for-one, twice the sense and twice the fun. With synesthesia, it's a mixed-up sensory world. And now we understand the senses work hand in hand. With synesthesia, it's a mixed-up sensory world.

THOMAS: I'm so excited. I can't stand it any longer. Come on, guys. Let's all get inside the synesthesia machine.

(CHEERING)

RACHEL WENITSKY: Are you coming, pet lamb?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAMB BLEATING)

CELINE DION: (As Synesthesia Machine) Welcome to the synesthesia machine. Please buckle your seatbelt and keep your hands inside the ride at all times.

OVERTREE: Mindy, who is that voice?

THOMAS: Oh, that's the synesthesia machine. I call her Celine Dion.

OVERTREE: This might be too late to ask, but am I too tall for this ride? Also, it doesn't go upside down, does it? I get sick very easily.

THOMAS: OK. Everybody ready? Turning it on in three, two, one.

OVERTREE: Whoa. It's like a kaleidoscope.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: Wow. It's amazing.

DION: (As Synesthesia Machine, singing) Can you see this note?

THOMAS: Whoa. I can hear the music, but I can also see shapes.

DION: (As Synesthesia Machine, singing) Can you smell this song?

OVERTREE: The music - it smells like cinnamon rolls.

DION: (As Synesthesia Machine, singing) Can you taste these words?

OVERTREE: I taste kefir, the champagne of dairy.

DION: (As Synesthesia Machine, singing) Can you feel my voice?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: What is this feeling? So sudden and new.

DION: (As Synesthesia Machine) Commencing chromesthesia guitar solo.

THOMAS: Guys, this means that we're going to see colors when you hear the sound.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #7: Whoa, I see purple.

OVERTREE: This note is blue. Rachel, what colors does your pet lamb see when she hears the music?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAMB BLEATING)

WENITSKY: Oh, she says fuchsia.

OVERTREE: Mindy, thank you so much for letting us use your synesthesia machine.

THOMAS: My pleasure, Story Pirates. You guys ready to go back home?

MCNERNEY: One more time. One more time.

THOMAS: All right. One more. Here we go.

THE STORY PIRATES: (Singing) Our senses all connect. Criss-crossing nerve effect. With synesthesia, it's a mixed-up sensory world. The highway in my brain. The axons play a game, connecting senses for a mixed-up sensory world. And now we understand the senses work hand in hand. With synesthesia, it's a mixed-up sensory world. It's a mixed-up sensory world.

MCNERNEY: Oh, no, I'm getting a little queasy.

THE STORY PIRATES: (Singing) It's a mixed-up sensory world.

MCNERNEY: Oh, no.

(SOUNDBITE OF VOMITING)

MCNERNEY: Who's going to clean this up?

OVERTREE: Peter - all right. Whose turn is it to swab the deck?

THOMAS: Hey, where's Guy Raz? Guy Raz?

MCNERNEY: High five, Lee?

OVERTREE: Hard pass.

MCNERNEY: Lee, don't leave me hanging. Lee, Lee, high five. Lee. Lee. Lee.

THOMAS: Hey, Story Pirates, has anyone seen my best friend, Guy Raz?

RAZ: Mindy...

THOMAS: Guy Raz?

OVERTREE: Uh-oh. Looks like he's ready to jump ship.

THOMAS: Oh, boy. I better go help him.

OVERTREE: Well, it's been fun experiencing the sensations of synesthesia with you, Mindy.

THOMAS: It's been fun experiencing the sensations of an actively falling-apart ship with you, Lee.

RAZ: (Yelling) Man overboard.

THOMAS: Better go save him. Hold on, little buddy. I'll be right there. Bye, Story Pirates.

THE STORY PIRATES: Bye, Mindy and Guy Raz.

OVERTREE: Don't forget you need a seagull to get home.

(SOUNDBITE OF SEAGULL SQUAWKING)

WENITSKY: I can't believe they just left their machine.

OVERTREE: What are we going to do with it?

(SOUNDBITE OF SEAGULL SQUAWKING)

RAZ: Feels so good to be back on dry land. I was starting to get seasick and...

THOMAS: Oh, thanks for the ride, seagull. Reggie, say thanks for the ride.

(SOUNDBITE OF SEAGULL SQUAWKING AND BIRD COOING)

RAZ: OK. OK. OK. That's enough. Sail away into the sunset, little seagull.

(SOUNDBITE OF SEAGULL SQUAWKING)

RAZ: You know, Mindy, I think that was my first time taking an Ubird (ph).

THOMAS: Yeah. He was a little chatty for my tastes, but his complimentary snacks were...

RAZ: They were seeds, Mindy.

THOMAS: Anywho, that was so much fun.

RAZ: Well, that's an opinion, though I'm a little worried about their ship. It doesn't exactly seem to be seaworthy.

THOMAS: You know, Guy Raz, with a little elbow grease and a lot of imagination, I think they're going to be just fine.

RAZ: Really? Are you sure about that?

THOMAS: No. Ships don't run on imagination. They're going to need a mechanic and a million dollars.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: WOW IN THE WORLD will be right back. Grown-ups, this message is for you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: That's it. Back to the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE GOLDEN AGE (WOW IN THE WORLD PODCAST THEME SONG)")

THE POP UPS: (Singing) Wow in the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF DIALING PHONE)

THOMAS: Hi. Thanks for calling WOW IN THE WORLD. After the beep, get ready to record.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

OLIVER: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Oliver (ph). I live in Melbourne, Australia. I am 6. And my wow is that snakes smell with their tongues. Bye. I love your show.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

ELLIE: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Ellie (ph), and I am 8. I live in Dallas, Texas. And my wow in the world is that newborn pandas weigh half a pound, while adult pandas weigh 250 pounds. Love your show. Bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

CHRIS: Hi, Mindy. Hi, Guy Raz. My name is Chris (ph). I live in Felida, Wash. And my wow in the world is that hummingbirds can flap up to 90 times per second. I love your guys' show. Keep up the wow.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

NINA: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Nina (ph), and I live in Pasadena, Calif. My wow in the world is that marine iguanas go under the sea to find their food. And their favorite food is seaweed. Bye. I love your show.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

IKE: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. I'm Ike (ph) from Overland Park, Kan. And my wow in my world is that there was once gold laying on the surface of the Earth. And you could just pick it up. Bye. I love your show.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

WESLEYAN: Hi. My name's Wesleyan (ph). I live in Montgomery, Ala. And my wow in the world is that because it gets so little rain, Antarctica is considered a desert. Penguins, seals, whales and krill live in Antarctica but not polar bears. Bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

HENRY: Hi, Mindy and Guy Raz. My name is Henry (ph). And I live in Pittsburgh, Penn. My wow in the world - that if you wash your hands, you can fight bad bacteria. Bye, Mindy and Guy Raz. I love your show.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

MAX: Hi. My name is Max (ph). And I live in Montclair, N.J. And my wow in the world is that Micropachycephalosaurus is a really small dinosaur with a really big name. Bye. I love your show.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #8: End of messages.

THOMAS: Hey, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us this week on WOW IN THE WORLD meets the Story Pirates. If you like what you heard, be sure you're subscribed to both WOW IN THE WORLD...

OVERTREE: ...And the Story Pirates.

THOMAS: So can you hear us every week. And if you want to keep the conversation from today's episode going, check out some of the questions we've posted on this episode at our website wowintheworld.com. There you can also find our shop, our tour dates and more information on becoming a member of the World Organization of Wowzers.

OVERTREE: And to find out all about what the Story Pirates are up to, including tour dates, T-shirts, and our book, parents, go to storypirates.com.

THOMAS: WOW IN THE WORLD is produced by Jed Anderson, with help from Thomas van Kalken, Chelsea Ursin and Jessica Bodie (ph). Meredith Halpern-Ranzer is the big boss. WOW IN THE WORLD'S theme song was composed and performed by The Pop Ups. Check them out at thepopups.com.

OVERTREE: "Mixed-Up Sensory World" features performances by Peter McNerney, Jack Mitchell, Alexandra Nader, Brendan O'Grady, Megan O'Neil, Emily Olcott, Lee Overtree, Chris Simpson and Rachel Wenitsky. "Mixed-Up Sensory World" was written by Jack Mitchell, produced by Brendan O'Grady and associate produced by Jack Mitchell, with vocal arrangements and direction by Jack Mitchell.

THOMAS: And if you haven't already done so, on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts, leave WOW IN THE WORLD...

OVERTREE: ...And Story Pirates...

THOMAS: ...A few stars or a review. And tell a friend about the shows. Thanks for listening. WOW IN THE WORLD and the Story Pirates will both be back with brand-new episodes next week. See you then.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE GOLDEN AGE (WOW IN THE WORLD PODCAST THEME SONG)")

THE POP UPS: (Singing) Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world. Wow in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: WOW IN THE WORLD was made by Tinkercast and sent to you by NPR.

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