If you haven’t checked out Radiolab — either via your local National Public Radio station or podcast — I suggest that you add it to your to-do list for this week. I’m sure that there are big fancy ways to describe the show, but I generally sell it to people as a show that explores and explains big and little scientific concepts through stories. Like, science in layman’s terms, and without ever making the audience feel like they are stupid.
To start out with, some of my favorites are:
Mirror, Mirror — How we can swap with the selves we see in the mirror, and how simply changing your hair part can change so much in your life.
Goat on a Cow — A mystery that unravels and unravels, instigated by, you guessed it, a goat on a cow.
Fu Manchu — A zoo keeps finding their orangutans in the strangest of places, and the culprit is as unsuspected as he is cunning.
Lost and Found — Probably my favorite full episode of the entire series. I often recount the story of Sharon Roseman and how her world will, without control, shift 90 degrees and how she’s lived with this since she was five years old. Then there’s a wonderful tale about a WWII pigeon, and an Australian language that insists that you know exactly where you are at all times. Lastly, the story of Alan and Emilie which is equally heartbreaking and uplifting and will stay with you for a long, long time.
However, as many times as I’ve listened to the episodes, I rarely check out the videos so I missed this one that they did last year — “Words.” The piece, directed by Will Hoffman and Daniel Mercadante, explores language down to individual words and how they can have so many meanings. (It was connected to their “Words” episode that recounted the fascinating story of a 27-year-old man discovering words and language for the first time.) The video was shown in a “Best of” collection at PromaxBDA: The Conference 2011 this June and I tracked it down to rewatch over and over because it’s so brilliant and inspiring. No matter how many times I see it, I see something new each time.