Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience. Radiolab is heard around the country on more than 500 member stations. Check your local station for airtimes. Embed the Radiolab widget on your blog or website. Radiolab is supported, in part, by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at All press inquiries may be directed to Jennifer Houlihan Roussel at (646) 829-4497.
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect - The Gun Show
Feb 23 • 69 min
The shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018, reignited an increasingly familiar debate about guns in this country. Today, we’re re-releasing a More Perfect episode that aired just after the Las Vegas shooting last year that attempts to make…
The Curious Case of the Russian Flash Mob at the West Palm Beach Cheesecake Factory
Feb 20
We don’t do breaking news. But when Robert Mueller released his indictment a few days ago, alleging that 13 Russian nationals colluded to disrupt the 2016 elections, we had a lot of questions. Who are these Russian individuals sowing discord? And who are…
Smarty Plants
Feb 13 • 34 min
Do you really need a brain to sense the world around you? To remember? Or even learn? Well, it depends on who you ask. Jad and Robert, they are split on this one. Today, Robert drags Jad along on a parade for the surprising feats of brainless plants.…
Ghosts of Football Past
Feb 3 • 36 min
In anticipation of Super Bowl LII (Go Eagles), we’re revisiting an old episode about the surprising history of how the game came to be. It’s the end of the 19th century — the Civil War is over, and the frontier is dead. And young college men are anxious.…
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect - One Nation, Under Money
Jan 31 • 55 min
An unassuming string of 16 words tucked into the Constitution grants Congress extensive power to make laws that impact the entire nation. The Commerce Clause has allowed Congress to intervene in all kinds of situations — from penalizing one man for…
The Voice in Your Head - A Tribute to Joe Frank
Jan 23
How do you pay proper tribute to a legend that many people haven’t heard of? We began asking ourselves this question last week when the visionary radio producer Joe Frank passed away, after a long struggle with colon cancer. Joe Frank was the radio…
How to Be a Hero
Jan 9 • 28 min
What are people thinking when they risk their lives for someone else? Are they making complicated calculations of risk or diving in without a second thought? Is heroism an act of sympathy or empathy? A few years ago, we spoke with Walter F. Rutkowski…
Inside Radiolab (Video)
Dec 29, 2017
Take a stroll through where Radiolab is made and meet some of the people who have created your favorite episodes. Help make another year of curiosity possible.
Bigger Little Questions
Dec 22, 2017 • 55 min
We’re back with Part 2! When we dumped out our bucket of questions, there was a lot of spillover. Like, A LOT of spillover. So today, we’re chasing down answers to some bigger, little questions. This episode was reported and produced by Annie McEwen,…
Big Little Questions
Dec 20, 2017 • 46 min
Here at the show, we get a lot of questions. Like, A LOT of questions. Tiny questions, big questions, short questions, long questions. Weird questions. Poop questions. We get them all. And over the years, as more and more of these questions arrived in our…
Super Cool
Dec 5, 2017 • 25 min
When we started reporting a fantastic, surreal story about one very cold night, more than 70 years ago, in northern Russia, we had no idea we’d end up thinking about cosmology. Or dropping toy horses in test tubes of water. Or talking about bacteria. Or…
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect - Mr. Graham and the Reasonable Man
Nov 30, 2017 • 68 min
This story comes from the second season of Radiolab’s spin-off podcast, More Perfect. To hear more, subscribe here. On a fall afternoon in 1984, Dethorne Graham ran into a convenience store for a bottle of orange juice. Minutes later he was unconscious,…
Nov 23, 2017 • 36 min
Back in 1995, Claude Steele published a study that showed that negative stereotypes could have a detrimental effect on students’ academic performance. But the big surprise was that he could make that effect disappear with just a few simple changes in…
Match Made in Marrow
Nov 9, 2017 • 60 min
You never know what might happen when you sign up to donate bone marrow. You might save a life… or you might be magically transported across a cultural chasm and find yourself starring in a modern adaptation of the greatest story ever told. One day,…
Oliver Sacks: A Journey From Where to Where
Oct 27, 2017 • 37 min
There’s nothing quite like the sound of someone thinking out loud, struggling to find words and ideas to match what’s in their head. Today, we are allowed to dip into the unfiltered thoughts of Oliver Sacks, one of our heroes, in the last months of his…
Father K
Oct 12, 2017 • 71 min
Today, while the divisions between different groups in this country feel more and more insurmountable, we zero in on a particular neighborhood to see if one man can draw people together in a potentially history-making election. Khader El-Yateem is a…
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect - American Pendulum I
Oct 2, 2017 • 51 min
This story comes from the second season of Radiolab’s spin-off podcast, More Perfect. To hear more, subscribe here. What happens when the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, seems to get it wrong? Korematsu v. United States is a case that’s been…
Driverless Dilemma
Sep 26, 2017 • 40 min
Most of us would sacrifice one person to save five. It’s a pretty straightforward bit of moral math. But if we have to actually kill that person ourselves, the math gets fuzzy. That’s the lesson of the classic Trolley Problem, a moral puzzle that fried…
Oliver Sipple
Sep 22, 2017 • 62 min
One morning, Oliver Sipple went out for a walk. A couple hours later, to his own surprise, he saved the life of the President of the United States. But in the days that followed, Sipple’s split-second act of heroism turned into a rationale for making his…
Radiolab Presents: Anna in Somalia
Sep 12, 2017 • 34 min
This week, we are presenting a story from NPR foreign correspondent Gregory Warner and his new globe-trotting podcast Rough Translation. Mohammed was having the best six months of his life - working a job he loved, making mixtapes for his sweetheart -…
Where the Sun Don’t Shine
Aug 23, 2017 • 32 min
Today we take a quick look up at a hole in the sky and follow an old story as it travels beyond the reach of the sun.
Truth Warriors
Aug 3, 2017 • 22 min
After last week’s episode exploring the future of fakery scared the living daylights out of us, we decided to search for a bit of hope. What we found… A few folks, warriors really, ready to defend the truth with all they’ve got. Support Radiolab by…
Breaking News
Jul 27, 2017 • 48 min
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
The Ceremony
Jul 14, 2017 • 46 min
Today, paranoia sets in: we head to The Ceremony, the top-secret, three-day launch of a new currency, wizards and math included. Halfway through, something strange happens. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at
Revising the Fault Line
Jun 27, 2017 • 47 min
A new tussle over an old story, and some long-held beliefs, with neurologist and author Robert Sapolsky. Four years ago, we did a story about a man with a starling obsession that made us question our ideas of responsibility and justice. We thought we’d…
The Gondolier
Jun 15, 2017 • 54 min
What happens when doing what you want to do means giving up who you really are? We travel to Venice, Italy with reporters Kristen Clark and David Conrad, where they meet gondolier Alex Hai. On the winding canals in the hidden parts of Venice, we learn…
The Radio Lab
May 25, 2017 • 39 min
15 years ago the very first episode of Radiolab, fittingly called “Firsts,” hit the airwaves. It was a 3-hour long collection of documentaries and musings produced by a solitary sleep-deprived producer named Jad Abumrad. Things have changed a bit since…
Null and Void
May 12, 2017 • 50 min
Today, a hidden power that is either the cornerstone of our democracy or a trapdoor to anarchy. Should a juror be able to ignore the law? From a Quaker prayer meeting in the streets of London, to riots in the streets of LA, we trace the history of a quiet…
Funky Hand Jive
Apr 26, 2017 • 28 min
Back when Robert was kid, he had a chance encounter with then President John F. Kennedy. The interaction began with a hello and ended with a handshake. And like many of us who have touched greatness, 14 year old Robert was left wondering if maybe some of…
Radiolab Extra: Henrietta Lacks
Apr 18, 2017 • 35 min
With all the recent talk about HBO’s upcoming film, we decided it would be good time to re-run our story of one woman’s medically miraculous cancer cells, and how Henrietta Lacks changed modern science and, eventually, her family’s understanding of…
Apr 7, 2017 • 55 min
President Richard Nixon once boasted that at any moment he could pick up a telephone and - in 20 minutes - kill 60 million people. Such is the power of the US President over the nation’s nuclear arsenal. But what if you were the military officer on the…
Shots Fired: Part 2
Mar 24, 2017 • 26 min
A couple years ago, Ben Montgomery, reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, started emailing every police station in Florida. He was asking for any documents created - from 2009 to 2014 - when an officer discharged his weapon in the line of duty. He ended up…
Shots Fired: Part 1
Mar 17, 2017 • 55 min
A couple years ago, Ben Montgomery, reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, started emailing every police station in Florida. He was asking for any documents created - from 2009 to 2014 - when an officer discharged his weapon in the line of duty. He ended up…
Update: CRISPR
Feb 24, 2017 • 49 min
It’s been almost two years since we learned about CRISPR, a ninja-assassin-meets-DNA-editing-tool that has been billed as one of the most powerful, and potentially controversial, technologies ever discovered by scientists. In this episode, we catch up on…
Radiolab Presents: Ponzi Supernova
Feb 10, 2017 • 38 min
We thought we knew the story of Bernie Madoff. How he masterminded the biggest Ponzi scheme in history, leaving behind scores of distraught investors and a $65 billion black hole. But we had never heard the story from Madoff himself. This week, reporter…
Stranger in Paradise
Jan 27, 2017 • 43 min
Back in 1911, a box with a dead raccoon in it showed up in Washington D.C., at the office of Gerrit S. Miller. After pulling it out and inspecting it, he realized this raccoon was from the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe, and unlike anything he’d ever…
Radiolab Presents: On the Media: Busted, America’s Poverty Myths
Jan 18, 2017 • 33 min
We love to share great radio, even if we didn’t make it. Today, On the Media’s Brooke Gladstone tells Jad and Robert about a mammoth project they launched to take a critical look at the tales we tell ourselves when we talk about poverty. In a 5-part…
Lose Lose
Dec 30, 2016 • 25 min
No matter what sport you play, the object of the game is to win. And that’s hard enough to do. But we found a match where four top athletes had to do the opposite in one of the most high profile matches of their careers. Thanks to a quirk in the…
It’s Not Us, It’s You
Dec 16, 2016 • 59 min
It’s the end of the year, and the entire Radiolab team is starting to take stock and come up for air. We’re excited about how much ground we’ve covered - stories about college debaters and figure skaters, meat allergies and salmon-eating trees, deathwatch…
Bringing Gamma Back
Dec 8, 2016 • 24 min
Today, a startling new discovery: prodding the brain with light, a group of scientists got an unexpected surprise — they were able to turn back on a part of the brain that had been shut down by Alzheimer’s disease. This new science is not a cure, and is…
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect - Object Anyway
Nov 22, 2016 • 49 min
At the trial of James Batson in 1982, the prosecution eliminated all the black jurors from the jury pool. Batson objected, setting off a complicated discussion about jury selection that would make its way all the way up to the Supreme Court. On this…
One Vote
Nov 7, 2016 • 48 min
Come election season, it’s easy to get cynical. Why cast a ballot if your single measly vote can’t possibly change anything? In our first-ever election special, we set off to find a single vote that made a difference. We venture from the biggest election…
Alpha Gal
Oct 27, 2016 • 34 min
Tuck your napkin under your chin. We’re about to serve up a tale of love, loss, and lamb chops. For as long as she can remember, Amy Pearl has loved meat in all its glorious cuts and marbled flavors. And then one day, for seemingly no reason, her body…
Seneca, Nebraska
Oct 12, 2016 • 29 min
Back in 2014 the town of Seneca, Nebraska was deeply divided. How divided? They were so fed up with each other that some citizens began circulating a petition that proposed a radical solution. If a majority wanted to they’d self-destruct, end the town and…
The Primitive Streak
Sep 23, 2016 • 29 min
Last May, two research groups announced a breakthrough: they each grew human embryos, in the lab, longer than ever before. In doing so, they witnessed a period of human development no one had ever seen. But in the process, they crashed up against…
Update: Eye In the Sky
Sep 12, 2016 • 36 min
An update on Ross McNutt and his superpower — he can zoom in on everyday life, then rewind and fast-forward to solve crimes in a shutter-flash. But should he? In 2004, when casualties in Iraq were rising due to roadside bombs, Ross McNutt and his team…
The Girl Who Doesn’t Exist
Aug 29, 2016 • 33 min
In today’s episode, we meet a young woman from Texas, born and raised, who can’t prove that she exists. Alecia Faith Pennington was born at home, homeschooled, and never visited a dentist or a hospital. By both chance and design she is completely…
Playing God
Aug 21, 2016 • 61 min
When people are dying and you can only save some, how do you choose? Maybe you save the youngest. Or the sickest. Maybe you even just put all the names in a hat and pick at random. Would your answer change if a sick person was standing right in front of…
From Tree to Shining Tree
Jul 30, 2016 • 32 min
A forest can feel like a place of great stillness and quiet. But if you dig a little deeper, there’s a hidden world beneath your feet as busy and complicated as a city at rush hour. In this story, a dog introduces us to a strange creature that burrows…
David and the Wire
Jul 12, 2016 • 31 min
David Weinberg was stuck. He had been kicked out of college, was cleaning toilets by day, delivering pizzas by night and spending his weekends in jail. Then one night he heard a story on the radio and got it in his head that maybe he too could make a…
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect - The Imperfect Plaintiffs
Jun 28, 2016 • 65 min
On this episode, we visit Edward Blum, a 64-year-old “legal entrepreneur” and former stockbroker who has become something of a Supreme Court matchmaker. He’s had remarkable success, with 6 cases heard before the Supreme Court, including that of Abigail…
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect - The Political Thicket
Jun 10, 2016 • 43 min
The question of how much power the Supreme Court should possess has divided justices over time. But the issue was perhaps never more hotly debated than in Baker v. Carr. On this episode of More Perfect, we talk about the case that pushed one Supreme Court…
The Buried Bodies Case
Jun 3, 2016 • 47 min
In 1973, a massive manhunt in New York’s Adirondack Mountains ended when police captured a man named Robert Garrow. And that’s when this story really gets started. This episode we consider a string of barbaric crimes by a hated man, and the attorney who,…
Coming Soon: More Perfect
May 24, 2016 • 1 min
How does an elite group of nine people shape everything from marriage and money, to safety and sex for an entire nation? From the producers of Radiolab, More Perfect dives into the rarefied world of the Supreme Court to explain how cases deliberated…
Bigger Than Bacon
May 9, 2016 • 37 min
Today’s story is a mystery, shockingly hot, and vanishingly tiny. It starts with a sound, rising like a mist from the marsh, around a dock in South Carolina. But where it goes next - from submarines to superheroes (and yes, Keanu Reeves!); from the…
On the Edge
Apr 21, 2016 • 42 min
At the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, one athlete pulled a move that, so far as we know, no one else had ever done in all of human history. Surya Bonaly was not your typical figure skater. She was black. She was athletic. And she didn’t seem to care…
Apr 6, 2016 • 30 min
There’s a black hole in the middle of the history of life: how did we go from tiny bags of chemicals to the vast menagerie of creatures we see around us? Today, we explore one of the most underrated mysteries of all time, and present one possible answer…
Update: 23 Weeks 6 Days
Mar 23, 2016 • 62 min
An update on Juniper French, a tiny baby, born at 23 Weeks and 6 days — roughly halfway to full term. And a whole universe of medical and moral questions. Technology has had a profound effect on how we get pregnant, give birth, and think about life and…
Mar 11, 2016 • 57 min
Unclasp your briefcase. It’s time for a showdown. In competitive debate future presidents, supreme court justices, and titans of industry pummel each other with logic and rhetoric. But a couple years ago Ryan Wash, a queer, Black, first-generation college…
Feb 24, 2016 • 37 min
In the U.S., paparazzi are pretty much synonymous with invasion of privacy. But today we travel to a place where the prying press create something more like a prison break. K-pop is a global juggernaut - with billions in sales and millions of fans hanging…
Hard Knock Life
Feb 12, 2016 • 19 min
This Valentine’s Day, a mysterious tap tap tapping leads us into a world of sex, death, and head-banging. Biologist Dave Goulson introduces us to the lonely yearnings of an especially pathetic beetle and snatches a sound back from the hands of the devil…
I Don’t Have To Answer That
Jan 29, 2016 • 34 min
Roosevelt, Kennedy, Eisenhower … they all got a pass. But today we peer back at the moment when poking into the private lives of political figures became standard practice. In 1987, Gary Hart was a young charismatic Democrat, poised to win his party’s…
The Cathedral
Jan 7, 2016 • 31 min
Ryan and Amy Green were facing the unfaceable: their youngest son, Joel was diagnosed with terminal cancer after his first birthday. Producer Sruthi Pinnamaneni tells the story of how Ryan and Amy stumble onto an unlikely way of processing their…
The Fix
Dec 18, 2015 • 40 min
This episode we take a sober look at the throbbing, aching, craving desire states that return people (again and again) to the object of their addiction … and the pills that just might set them free. Reporter Amy O’Leary was fed up with her ex-boyfriend’s…
Nov 22, 2015 • 58 min
You know the drill - all it takes is one sperm, one egg, and blammo - you got yourself a baby. Right? Well, in this episode, conception takes on a new form - it’s the sperm and the egg, plus: two wombs, four countries, and money. Lots of money. At first,…
Staph Retreat
Nov 2, 2015 • 29 min
What happens when you combine an axe-wielding microbiologist and a disease-obsessed historian? A strange brew that’s hard to resist, even for a modern day microbe. In the war on devilish microbes, our weapons are starting to fail us. The antibiotics we…
Update: New Normal?
Oct 19, 2015 • 68 min
An update: Peacenik baboons, a man in a dress and cuddly tame foxes. Stories of adaptation, and reframing ideas about normalcy. 3 stories where choice challenges destiny.
Smile My Ass
Oct 6, 2015 • 34 min
As Candid Camera succeeded, it started to change the way we thought not only of reality television, but also of reality itself.
Sep 21, 2015 • 37 min
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…
The Rhino Hunter
Sep 7, 2015 • 50 min
Back in 2014, Corey Knowlton paid $350,000 for a hunting trip to Namibia to shoot and kill an endangered species. He’s a professional hunter, who guides hunts all around the world, so going to Africa would be nothing new. The target on the other hand…
Remembering Oliver Sacks
Aug 30, 2015 • 25 min
In memory of one of our dear friends, a re-release of our last conversation with Dr. Oliver Sacks.
Aug 23, 2015 • 73 min
Scientists took about 300 years to lay out the Periodic Table into neat rows and columns. In one hour, we’re going to mess it all up. This episode, we enlist journalists, poets, musicians, and even a physicist to help us tell stories of matter that…
From the Archives: Oliver Sacks’ Table of Elements
Aug 6, 2015 • 16 min
As we’re busy working on our next episode, with stories inspired by the Periodic Table of Elements, we thought we’d bring you one of its chief inspirations. As a young boy, neurologist, author and Radiolab favorite Oliver Sacks pored over the pages of the…
Jul 30, 2015 • 43 min
The definition of life is in flux, complexity is overrated, and humans are shrinking. Viruses are supposed to be sleek, pared-down, dead-eyed machines. But when one microbiologist stumbled upon a GIANT virus, hundreds of times bigger than any seen before,…
Gray’s Donation
Jul 16, 2015 • 25 min
A donation leads Sarah and Ross Gray to places we rarely get a chance to see. In this surprising journey, they gain a view of science that is redemptive, fussy facts that are tender, and parts of a loved one that add up to something unexpected. Before he…
Mau Mau
Jul 3, 2015 • 43 min
This is the story of a few documents that tumbled out of the secret archives of the biggest empire the world has ever known, offering a glimpse of histories waiting to be rewritten.
Eye in the Sky
Jun 18, 2015 • 28 min
Ross McNutt has a superpower — he can zoom in on everyday life, then rewind and fast-forward to solve crimes in a shutter-flash. But should he? In 2004, when casualties in Iraq were rising due to roadside bombs, Ross McNutt and his team came up with an…
Antibodies Part 1: CRISPR
Jun 6, 2015 • 30 min
Hidden inside some of the world’s smallest organisms is one of the most powerful tools scientists have ever stumbled across. It’s a defense system that has existed in bacteria for millions of years and it may some day let us change the course of human…
Nazi Summer Camp
May 22, 2015 • 30 min
Reporter Karen Duffin and her father were talking one day when, just as an aside, he mentioned the Nazi prisoners of war that worked on his Idaho farm when he was a kid. Karen was shocked … and then immediately obsessed. So she spoke with historians, dug…
Radiolab Live: Tell-Tale Hearts featuring Oliver Sacks
May 12, 2015 • 58 min
A few days ago Radiolab performed a live show and this episode we’re bringing you a few of the highlights. They were stories of what motivates us, our drives, our loves and losses. Producer Molly Webster tells us the story of life, near-death and what…
Sight Unseen
Apr 28, 2015 • 29 min
In December of 2009, photojournalist Lynsey Addario was embedded with a medevac team in Afghanistan. After days of waiting, one night they got the call - a marine was gravely wounded. What happened next happens all the time. But this time it was captured,…
The Living Room
Apr 9, 2015 • 28 min
We’re thrilled to present a piece from one of our favorite podcasts, Love + Radio (Nick van der Kolk and Brendan Baker). Producer Briana Breen brings us the story: Diane’s new neighbors across the way never shut their curtains, and that was the beginning…
VIDEO: Radiolab Presents: Radio Ambulante
Apr 2, 2015
Our story Los Frikis was a collaboration with Radio Ambulante, who produced a story of their own about two of the last surviving frikis, Yohandra and Gerson. They’ve also made a translated video of their Spanish-language piece and we’re thrilled to share…
Los Frikis
Mar 24, 2015 • 31 min
How a group of 80’s Cuban misfits found rock-and-roll and created a revolution within a revolution, going into exile without ever leaving home. In a collaboration with Radio Ambulante, reporter Luis Trelles bring us the story of punk rock’s arrival in…
Mar 10, 2015 • 35 min
During World War II, something happened that nobody ever talks about. This is a tale of mysterious balloons, cowboy sheriffs, and young children caught up in the winds of war. And silence, the terror of silence. Reporters Peter Lang-Stanton and Nick…
La Mancha Screwjob
Feb 24, 2015 • 51 min
All the world’s a stage. So we push through the fourth wall, pierce the spandex-ed heart of professional wrestling, and travel 400 years into the past to unmask our obsession with authenticity and our desire to walk the line between reality and fantasy.…
The Trust Engineers
Feb 9, 2015 • 30 min
When we talk online, things can go south fast. But they don’t have to. Today, we meet a group of social engineers who are convinced that tiny changes in wording can make the online world a kinder, gentler place. So long as we agree to be their lab rats.…
American Football
Jan 29, 2015 • 74 min
Today, we tackle football. It’s the most popular sport in the US, shining a sometimes harsh light on so much of what we have been, what we are, and what we hope to be. Savage, creative, brutal and balletic, whether you love it or loathe it … it’s a…
Radiolab Presents: Invisibilia
Jan 9, 2015 • 31 min
Producers’ Note: A correction has been made to this audio to reflect the wishes of the subject of this story, Paige Abendroth. NPR’s Invisibilia’s originally included Paige’s birth name in this piece due to a miscommunication between Invisibilia’s…
Dec 23, 2014 • 71 min
This episode, we make three earnest, possibly foolhardy, attempts to put a price on the priceless. We figure out the dollar value for an accidental death, another day of life, and the work of bats and bees as we try to keep our careful calculations from…
Buttons Not Buttons
Dec 12, 2014 • 26 min
Buttons are usually small and unimportant. But not always. Sometimes they are a portal to power, freedom, and destruction. Today we thread together tales of taking charge of the little things in life, of fortunes made and lost, and of the ease with which…
Outside Westgate
Nov 29, 2014 • 36 min
In the wake of public tragedy there is a space between the official narrative and the stories of the people who experienced it. Today, we crawl inside that space and question the role of journalists in helping us move on from a traumatic event. NPR’s East…
Patient Zero - Updated
Nov 13, 2014 • 68 min
The greatest mysteries have a shadowy figure at the center—someone who sets things in motion and holds the key to how the story unfolds—Patient Zero. This hour, Radiolab hunts for Patient Zeroes of all kinds and considers the course of an ongoing…
Oct 30, 2014 • 30 min
Dennis Conrow was stuck. After a brief stint at college, he’d passed most of his 20’s back home with his parents, sleeping in his childhood room. And just when he finally struck out on his own, fate intervened. He lost both his parents to cancer. So…
Oct 20, 2014 • 75 min
How close can words get you to the truth and feel and force of life? That’s the question poking at our ribs this hour, as we wonder how it is that the right words can have the wrong meanings, and why sometimes the best translations lead us to an…
John Luther Adams
Oct 3, 2014 • 25 min
What’s the soundtrack for the end of the world? We go looking for an answer. When Jad started to compose music for our live show Apocalyptical, he immediately thought of John Luther Adams. Adams’ symphony “Become Ocean,” rooted in the sounds of nature, is…
Sep 18, 2014 • 43 min
Ron and Cornelia Suskind had two healthy young sons, promising careers, and a brand new home when their youngest son Owen started to disappear. 3 months later a specialist sat Ron and Cornelia down and said the word that changed everything for them:…
In The Dust Of This Planet
Sep 8, 2014 • 41 min
Horror, fashion, and the end of the world … things get weird as we explore the undercurrents of thought that link nihilists, beard-stroking philosophers, Jay-Z, and True Detective. Today on Radiolab, a puzzle. Jad’s brother-in-law wrote a book called ‘In…
Aug 21, 2014 • 45 min
It’s hard to start a conversation with a stranger—especially when that stranger is, well, different. He doesn’t share your customs, celebrate your holidays, watch your TV shows, or even speak your language. Plus he has a blowhole. In this episode, we try…
Shorts: Happy Birthday Bobby K
Aug 7, 2014 • 29 min
It’s Robert’s birthday! (Or it was, anyway, a couple days back.) So today we celebrate with some classic Krulwich radio and a backwards peek into the spirit and sensibility that, in many ways, drives our show. For his birthday surprise we all listened to…
Shorts: For the Birds
Jul 24, 2014 • 14 min
Today, a lady with a bird in her backyard upends our whole sense of what we may have to give up to keep a wild creature wild.
Jul 17, 2014 • 62 min
Today, the strange story of a small group of islands that raise a big question: is it inevitable that even our most sacred natural landscapes will eventually get swallowed up by humans? And just how far are we willing to go to stop that from happening? We…
Shorts: 9-Volt Nirvana
Jun 26, 2014 • 24 min
Learn a new language faster than ever! Leave doubt in the dust! Be a better sniper! Could you do all that and more with just a zap to the noggin? Maybe. Sally Adee, an editor at New Scientist, was at a conference for DARPA - The Defense Advanced Research…
Shorts: ≤ kg
Jun 13, 2014 • 20 min
A plum-sized lump of metal takes us from the French Revolution to an underground bunker in Maryland as we try to weigh the way we weigh the world around us.
May 30, 2014 • 61 min
From a piece of the Wright brother’s plane to a child’s sugar egg, today: Things! Important things, little things, personal things, things you can hold and things that can take hold of you. This hour, we investigate the objects around us, their power to…
Shorts: The Skull
May 15, 2014 • 20 min
Today, the story of one little thing that has radically changed what we know about humanity’s humble beginnings and the kinds of creatures that were out to get us way back when. Wits University Professor Lee Berger and Dr. Chris Stringer from London’s…
Shorts: For the Love of Numbers
May 2, 2014 • 19 min
It’s hard to think of anything more rational, more logical and impersonal than a number. But what if we’re all, universally, also deeply attuned to how numbers … feel? Why 2 is warm, 7 is strong and 11 is downright mystical.
60 Words
Apr 18, 2014 • 55 min
This hour we pull apart one sentence, written in the hours after September 11th, 2001, that has led to the longest war in U.S. history. We examine how just 60 words of legal language have blurred the line between war and peace.
Shorts: Straight Outta Chevy Chase
Apr 1, 2014 • 34 min
From boom bap to EDM, we look at the line between hip-hop and not, and meet a defender of the genre that makes you question… who’s in and who’s out.
Shorts: KILL ‘EM ALL
Mar 25, 2014 • 21 min
They buzz. They bite. And they have killed more people than cancer, war, or heart disease. Here’s the question: If you could wipe mosquitoes off the face of the planet, would you?
What’s Left When You’re Right?
Feb 25, 2014 • 59 min
More often than not, a fight is just a fight… Someone wins, someone loses. But this hour, we have a series of face-offs that shine a light on the human condition, the benefit of coming at something from a different side, and the price of being right.…
Shorts: Neither Confirm Nor Deny
Feb 12, 2014 • 25 min
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…
Shorts: Brown Box
Jan 28, 2014 • 20 min
You order some stuff on the Internet and it shows up three hours later. How could all the things that need to happen to make that happen happen so fast?
Black Box
Jan 17, 2014 • 65 min
This hour, we examine three very different kinds of black boxes—those peculiar spaces where it’s clear what’s going in, we know what’s coming out, but what happens in-between is a mystery. From the darkest parts of metamorphosis, to a sixty year-old…
Shorts: The Times They Are a-Changin’
Dec 30, 2013 • 20 min
At the start of this new year we crack open some fossils, peer back into ancient seas, and look up at lunar skies to find that a year is not quite as fixed as we thought it was.
Shorts: Sex, Ducks, and The Founding Feud
Dec 19, 2013 • 21 min
Jilted lovers and disrupted duck hunts provide a very odd look into the soul of the US Constitution.
Dec 9, 2013
Cataclysmic destruction. Surprising survival. In this new live stage performance, Radiolab turns its gaze to the topic of endings, both blazingly fast and agonizingly slow.
VIDEO: Radiolab Live Apocalyptical Sneak Peek
Dec 9, 2013
A preview of Radiolab’s live show Apocalyptical: dinosaurs, death, destruction… plus cinematic live scoring and comedic mayhem from Reggie Watts and Kurt Braunohler. Feast your eyes on more video — including a cut of the full show! — at
Shorts: An Ice-Cold Case
Nov 19, 2013 • 21 min
Scientists’ obsession with one particular man - and with the tiny scraps of evidence left in the wake of his death - gives us a surprisingly intimate peek into the life of someone who should’ve been lost to the ages.
Shorts: Cut and Run
Nov 1, 2013 • 25 min
Legions of athletes, sports gurus, and scientists have tried to figure out why Kenyans dominate long-distance running. In this short, we stumble across a surprising, and sort of terrifying, explanation.
UPDATE: Famous Tumors
Oct 22, 2013 • 67 min
When we first released Famous Tumors, Rebecca Skloot’s book about the life and legacy of Henrietta Lacks (and her famous cells) had just hit the shelves. Since then, some interesting things have happened to both Henrietta’s cells and her family. So, 4…
Shorts: Quicksaaaand!
Oct 10, 2013 • 15 min
For many of us, quicksand was once a real fear — it held a vise-grip on our imaginations, from childish sandbox games to grown-up anxieties about venturing into unknown lands. But these days, quicksand can’t even scare an 8-year-old. In this short, we try…
Shorts: Poop Train
Sep 24, 2013 • 22 min
You may not give a second thought (or backward glance) to what the toilet whisks away after you do your business. But we got wondering — where would we wind up if we thought of flushing as the start, and not the end, of a journey? In this short, we head…
Sep 12, 2013 • 62 min
We’ve all felt it, that irresistible urge to point the finger. But new technologies are complicating age-old moral conundrums about accountability. This hour, we ask what blame does for us — why do we need it, when isn’t it enough, and what happens when…
Shorts: Dawn of Midi
Aug 29, 2013
In this short, Jad puts on his music hat and shares his love of Dawn of Midi, a band that he recently started using on the show.
Shorts: Rodney Versus Death
Aug 13, 2013 • 30 min
What do you do in the face of a monstrous disease with a 100% fatality rate? In this short, a Milwaukee doctor tries to knock death incarnate off its throne.
Jul 31, 2013 • 63 min
From medicine to the movies, the horrifying to the holy, and history to the present day — we’re kinda obsessed with blood. This hour, we consider the power and magic of the red liquid that runs through our veins.
Shorts: Happy Birthday, Good Dr. Sacks
Jul 9, 2013 • 22 min
One of our favorite human beings turns 80 this week. To celebrate, Robert asks Oliver Sacks to look back on his career, and explain how thousands of worms and a motorbike accident led to a brilliant writing career.
Shorts: Ally’s Choice
Jul 2, 2013 • 17 min
Producer Lu Olkowski brings us the story of a tightly-knit family caught on opposite sides of a very big divide. If you ask Ally Manning’s mom and sister, they’ll tell you there’s no question: they’re black. But as a teenager, Ally decided that what was…
Shorts: Curious Sounds from the Solid Sound Festival
Jun 27, 2013
This fall, we’re hitting the road with our brand-new live show. We’re stopping in 20 cities across the US (plus 1 stop in Canada), and we have some exciting news about the special musical guests who are joining us for the tour. Listen to a quick sneak…
Shorts: The Trouble with Everything
Jun 13, 2013
The desire to trace your way back to the very beginning, to understand everything — whether it’s the mysteries of love or the mechanics of the universe — is deeply human. It might also be deeply flawed.
Shorts: Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl
May 30, 2013 • 42 min
This is the story of a three-year-old girl and the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl is a legal battle that has entangled a biological father, a heart-broken couple, and the tragic history of Native American…
VIDEO: Radiolab Behind the Scenes
May 20, 2013
If you’ve ever wondered how the podcast comes together, or what it’s like to work at Radiolab, here’s a peek into our process.
Shorts: The Septendecennial Sing-Along
May 14, 2013 • 17 min
Every 17 years, a deafening sex orchestra hits the East Coast — billions and billions of cicadas crawl out of the ground, sing their hearts out, then mate and die. In this short, Jad and Robert talk to a man who gets inside that noise to dissect its…
Shorts: The Distance of the Moon
Apr 16, 2013
What if the moon were just a jump away? In this short, a beautiful answer to that question from Italo Calvino, read live by Liev Schreiber.
Shorts: Radiolab Presents: TJ & Dave
Apr 2, 2013
Improv comedy puts uncertainty on center stage — performers usually start by asking the audience for a prompt, then they make up the details as they go. But two actors in Chicago are taking this idea to its absolute limit, and finding ways to navigate the…
Are You Sure?
Mar 26, 2013 • 68 min
This hour, we walk the tightrope between doubt and certainty, and wonder if there’s a way to make yourself at home on that razor’s edge between definitely…and not so sure.
Mar 19, 2013
This spring, parts of the East Coast will turn squishy and crunchy — the return of the 17-year cicadas means surfaces in certain locations (in patches from VA to CT) will once again be coated in bugs buzzing at 7 kilohertz. In their honor, we’re…
Shorts: The Man Behind the Maneuver
Mar 5, 2013
In the 1970s, choking became national news: thousands were choking to death, leading to more accidental deaths than guns. Nobody knew what to do. Until a man named Henry Heimlich came along with a big idea. Since then, thousands and thousands — maybe even…
Shorts: Speedy Beet
Feb 19, 2013
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his…
Feb 5, 2013 • 56 min
We live our lives at human speed, we experience and interact with the world on a human time scale. But this hour, we put ourselves through the paces, peek inside a microsecond, and master the fastest thing in the universe.
Shorts: The Bitter End
Jan 15, 2013 • 20 min
We turn to doctors to save our lives — to heal us, repair us, and keep us healthy. But when it comes to the critical question of what to do when death is at hand, there seems to be a gap between what we want doctors to do for us, and what doctors want…
Shorts: Solid as a Rock
Dec 31, 2012
Is reality an ethereal, mathematical poem… or is it made up of solid, physical stuff? In this short, we kick rocks, slap tables, and argue about the nature of the universe with Jim Holt.
Dec 17, 2012 • 71 min
Moments of total, world-shaking bliss are not easy to come by. Maybe that’s what makes them feel so life-altering when they strike. And so worth chasing. This hour: stories of striving, grasping, tripping, and falling for happiness, perfection, and ideals.
Shorts: Raising Crane
Dec 3, 2012 • 21 min
In this short, costumed scientists create a carefully choreographed childhood for a flock of whooping cranes to save them from extinction. It’s the ultimate feel-good story, but it also raises some troubling questions about what it takes to get a species…
Nov 19, 2012 • 63 min
Once a kid is born, their genetic fate is pretty much sealed. Or is it? This hour, we put nature and nurture on a collision course and discover how outside forces can find a way inside us, shaping not just our hearts and minds, but the basic biological…
Shorts: What’s Up, Doc?
Nov 6, 2012
Mel Blanc was known as “the man of 1,000 voices,” but the actual number may have been closer to 1,500. Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Tweety, Barney Rubble — all Mel. His characters made him one of the most beloved men in America. And in 1961, when a car crash…
Shorts: Seeing in the Dark
Oct 22, 2012
John and Zoltan are both blind, but they deal with the world in completely different ways — one paints vivid pictures in his mind, while the other refuses to picture anything at all. In this short, they argue about the truth of a world they can’t see.
Shorts: Dark Side of the Earth
Oct 8, 2012 • 19 min
200 miles above Earth’s surface, astronaut Dave Wolf — rocketing through the blackness of Earth’s shadow at 5 miles a second — floated out of the Mir Space Station on his very first spacewalk. In this short, he describes the extremes of light and dark in…