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Radiolab

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.

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Breaking News

Today, two new technological tricks that together could invade our most deeply held beliefs and rewrite the rules of credibility. Also, we release something terrible into the world. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.

49mins

19 Nov 2019

Rank #1

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Man Against Horse

This is a story about your butt. It’s a story about how you got your butt, why you have your butt, and how your butt might be one of the most important and essential things for you being you, for being human.  Today, reporters Heather Radke and Matt Kielty talk to two researchers who followed the butt from our ancient beginnings, through millions of years of evolution, and all the way to today, out to a valley in Arizona, where our butts are put to the ultimate test.   This episode was reported by Heather Radke and Matt Kielty and was produced by Matt Kielty, Rachael Cusick and Simon Adler. Sound design and mixing by Jeremy Bloom. Fact-checking by Dorie Chevlen. Special thanks to Michelle Legro. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 

58mins

28 Dec 2019

Rank #2

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Silky Love

We eat eels in sushi, stews, and pasta. Eels eat anything. Also they can survive outside of water for hours and live for up to 80 years. But this slippery snake of the sea harbors an even deeper mystery, one that has tormented the minds of Aristotle and Sigmund Freud and apparently the entire country of Italy: Where do they come from? We travel from the estuaries of New York to the darkest part of the ocean in search of the limits of human knowledge. This episode was produced by Matt Kielty and Becca Bressler.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  Further reading: Lucy Cooke's book The Truth about Animals! Chris Bowser's Eel Research Project

35mins

27 Sep 2019

Rank #3

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Post No Evil

Back in 2008 Facebook began writing a document. It was a constitution of sorts, laying out what could and what couldn’t be posted on the site. Back then, the rules were simple, outlawing nudity and gore. Today, they’re anything but.  How do you define hate speech? Where’s the line between a joke and an attack? How much butt is too much butt? Facebook has answered these questions. And from these answers they’ve written a rulebook that all 2.2 billion of us are expected to follow. Today, we explore that rulebook. We dive into its details and untangle its logic. All the while wondering what does this mean for the future of free speech? This episode was reported by Simon Adler with help from Tracie Hunte and was produced by Simon Adler with help from Bethel Habte. Special thanks to Sarah Roberts, Jeffrey Rosen, Carolyn Glanville, Ruchika Budhraja, Brian Dogan, Ellen Silver, James Mitchell, Guy Rosen, and our voice actor Michael Chernus. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 

1hr 8mins

17 Aug 2018

Rank #4

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Dinopocalypse Redux

Using high-powered ballistics experiments, fancy computer algorithms, and good old-fashioned ancient geology, scientists have woven together a theory about the extinction of the dinosaurs that is so precise, so hot, so instantaneous, as to seem unimaginable. Today, we bring you this story, first published on Radiolab in 2013, plus an update: a spot on planet Earth, newly discovered, that - if it holds true - has the potential to tell us about the first three hours after the dinos died. This update was reported by Molly Webster and was produced with help from Audrey Quinn.  We teamed up with some amazing collaborators for Apocalyptical, the Radiolab live show that this episode is based on. Find out more about these wildly talented folks: comedians Reggie Watts, Patton Oswalt, Simon Amstell, Ophira Eisenberg and Kurt Braunohler; musicians On Fillmore and Noveller, and Erth Visual & Physical Inc. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  To learn more about the North Dakota site - known as Tanis, for all you Indiana Jones fans - check out the recent paper. Make sure you spend time digging into those supplemental materials, it contains all the juice ! And, go watch Apocalyptical; to dinosaurs and beyond!

45mins

3 May 2019

Rank #5

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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.

1hr 4mins

7 Jun 2019

Rank #6

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Breaking Bongo

Deep fake videos have the potential to make it impossible to sort fact from fiction. And some have argued that this blackhole of doubt will eventually send truth itself into a death spiral. But a series of recent events in the small African nation of Gabon suggest it's already happening.  Today, we follow a ragtag group of freedom fighters as they troll Gabon’s president - Ali Bongo - from afar. Using tweets, videos and the uncertainty they can carry, these insurgents test the limits of using truth to create political change and, confusingly, force us to ask: Can fake news be used for good? This episode was reported and produced by Simon Adler. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 

1hr 3mins

27 Nov 2019

Rank #7

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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. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 

1hr 2mins

28 Jun 2019

Rank #8

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The Memory Palace

Nate DiMeo was preoccupied with the past, and how we relate to it, from a very young age. For the last decade or so he's been scratching this itch with The Memory Palace, a podcast he created. He does things very differently than we do, but his show has captured the hearts of Radiolab staffers, past and present, time and time again.  So we decided to get Nate into the studio to share a few of his episodes with us and talk to us about how and why he does what he does. He brought us stories about the Morse Code, the draft lottery, and then he hit us with a brand new episode about a bull on trial, that bounces off a story we did pretty recently. More history on scrub bulls. Follow @thememorypalace on Twitter. This episode was produced with help from Bethel Habte.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  Other staff favorites: Zulu Charlie Romeo Notes on an Imagined Plaque Snakes! Outliers

41mins

28 Aug 2019

Rank #9

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In the No Part 1

In 2017, radio-maker Kaitlin Prest released a mini-series called "No" about her personal struggle to understand and communicate about sexual consent. That show, which dives into the experience, moment by moment, of navigating sexual intimacy, struck a chord with many of us. It's gorgeous, deeply personal, and incredibly thoughtful. And it seemed to presage a much larger conversation that is happening all around us in this moment. And so we decided to embark, with Kaitlin, on our own exploration of this topic. Over the next three episodes, we'll wander into rooms full of college students, hear from academics and activists, and sit in on classes about BDSM. But to start things off, we are going to share with you the story that started it all. Today, meet Kaitlin (if you haven't already).  In The No Part 1 is a collaboration with Kaitlin Prest. It was produced with help from Becca Bressler and Shima Oliaee. The "No" series, from The Heart was created by writer/director Kaitlin Prest, editors Sharon Mashihi and Mitra Kaboli, assistant producer Ariel Hahn and associate producer Phoebe Wang, associate sound designer Shani Aviram. Special thanks to actor Tommy Schell. Check out Kaitlin's new show, The Shadows. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 

55mins

11 Oct 2018

Rank #10

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There and Back Again

Here's a simple question: When an animal disappears in the winter, where does it go? Oddly enough, this question completely stumped European scientists for thousands of years. And even today, the more we learn about the comings and goings of the animals, the deeper the mystery seems to get. We visit a Bavarian farm with an 11 year old, follow warblers and wildebeests around the world, and get a totally new kind of view of the pulsing flow of animals across the globe.   This episode was reported by Robert Krulwich and Jackson Roach and produced by Pat Walters, Matt Kielty, and Jackson Roach. Mix & original music by Jeremy Bloom. Special thanks to Allison Shaw, David Barrie, Auriel Fournier, and Moritz Matschke. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  And check out: The Truth about Animals by Lucy Cooke No Way Home: The Decline of the Great Animal Migrations by David Wilcove  The migration video Jad and Robert watch in this episode!

44mins

18 Dec 2019

Rank #11

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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/

1hr 10mins

24 May 2019

Rank #12

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Tit for Tat

In the early 60s, Robert Axelrod was a math major messing around with refrigerator-sized computers. Then a dramatic global crisis made him wonder about the space between a rock and a hard place, and whether being good may be a good strategy. With help from Andrew Zolli and Steve Strogatz, we tackle the prisoner’s dilemma, a classic thought experiment, and learn about a simple strategy to navigate the waters of cooperation and betrayal. Then Axelrod, along with Stanley Weintraub, takes us back to the trenches of World War I, to the winter of 1914, and an unlikely Christmas party along the Western Front.

24mins

17 Sep 2019

Rank #13

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For Whom the Cowbell Tolls

When Nancy Holten was 8 years old her mom put her in a moving van. She fell asleep, woke up in Switzerland, and she's been there ever since. Nancy is big into animal rights, crystals, and various forms of natural and holistic healing. She’s also a viral sensation: the Dutch woman apparently so annoying, her Swiss town denied her citizenship. In this episode we go to the little village of Gipf-Oberfrick to meet Nancy, talk with the town, and ask the question: what does it mean and what does it take to belong to a place? This episode was reported by Kelly Prime and was produced by Kelly Prime and Annie McEwen.  Special thanks to reporter Anna Mayumi Kerber, the tireless fixer and translator for this story. Thanks also to Dominik Hangartner and to the very talented yodelers Ai Dineen and Gregory Corbino. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  A tasty note from Latif: Towards the end of the story, I casually mentioned a place called Greg's Poutine in Toronto.  Turns out, it's actually called Smoke's Poutinerie. (Confused it with Greg's Ice Cream.) Go. It's delicious. 

57mins

29 Mar 2019

Rank #14

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Apologetical

How do you fix a word that’s broken? A word we need when we bump into someone on the street, or break someone’s heart. In our increasingly disconnected secular world, “sorry” has been stretched and twisted, and in some cases weaponized. But it’s also one of the only ways we have to piece together a sense of shared values and beliefs. Through today's sea of sorry-not-sorries, empty apologies, and just straight up non-apologies, we wonder what it looks like to make amends. The program at Stanford that Leilani went through (and now works for) was a joint creation between Stanford and Lee Taft. Find out more here: www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/patient-family-resources/pearl This episode was reported by Annie McEwen and was produced by Annie McEwen and Simon Adler.  Special thanks to Mark Bressler, Nancy Kielty, and Patty Walters.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 

58mins

21 Dec 2018

Rank #15

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In the No Part 2

In the year since accusations of sexual assault were first brought against Harvey Weinstein, our news has been flooded with stories of sexual misconduct, indicting very visible figures in our public life. Most of these cases have involved unequivocal breaches of consent, some of which have been criminal. But what have also emerged are conversations surrounding more difficult situations to parse – ones that exist in a much grayer space. When we started our own reporting through this gray zone, we stumbled into a challenging conversation that we can’t stop thinking about. In this second episode of ‘In the No’, radio-maker Kaitlin Prest joins us for a conversation with Hanna Stotland, an educational consultant who specializes in crisis management. Her clients include students who have been expelled from school for sexual misconduct. In the aftermath, Hanna helps them reapply to school. While Hanna shares some of her more nuanced and confusing cases, we wrestle with questions of culpability, generational divides, and the utility of fear in changing our culture. Advisory: This episode contains some graphic language and descriptions of very sensitive sexual situations, including discussions of sexual assault, consent and accountability, which may be very difficult for people to listen to. Visit The National Sexual Assault Hotline at online.rainn.org for resources and support. This episode was reported with help from Becca Bressler and Shima Oliaee, and produced with help from Rachael Cusick.  Special thanks to Ben Burke and Jackson Prince. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 

39mins

19 Oct 2018

Rank #16