Sunday, March 29, 2015


Animal Minds - "When we gaze into the eyes of a wild animal, or even a beloved pet, can we ever really know what they might be thinking? Is it naive to assume they're experiencing something close to human emotions? Or is it ridiculous to assume that they AREN'T feeling something like that?" This is "the story of a rescued whale that may have found a way to say thanks."  (The whale story runs from 3:37 to 22:12.)

The Luckiest Lobster - "One place you absolutely, positively do not want to be if you're a healthy, middle-aged American lobster: trapped in a suburban grocery store in western Pennsylvania. But that's where this week's podcast begins.  It doesn't stay there long, though. Bonnie Hazen and Toni Leone take us on an adventure that carries us by car, by plane, and by boat toward a deeper understanding of those mysterious protective feelings that sometimes sweep over us -- well, some of us -- when we encounter our fellow animals -- um, okay, some of them."

Wild Talk - "Reporter Ari Daniel Shapiro tells us about Klaus Zuberbuhler's work in the Tai Forest of West Africa. When Klaus first came to the forest, he hit a wall of sound. But he slowly started making sense of that sonic chaos by scaring a particular monkey called the Diana Monkey. Turns out, the Diana Monkey is making more than just noise. Then we jump from the jungle to the prairie, where Con Slobodchikoff has discovered what he calls a grammar of color, shapes, and sizes embedded in prairie dog chirps. His discovery leaves Jad and Robert wondering whether we could ever understand the language of a different species. Back in the jungle, Klaus is wondering the same thing, and tells us about one day when the cacophony of monkey calls distilled into a life-saving warning."

Mischel’s Marshmallows - Psychologist Walter Mischel explains a test involving a marshmallow. "And Radiolab favorite Jonah Lehrer helps us make sense of the results. This one's all about our will power (or lack thereof)."

Chasing Bugs - “Remember the first time you ever saw an ant hill? That parade of black insects pouring in and out of a small sand mound...most of us stopped, looked and then moved on to other parts of the playground. E. O. Wilson is the kid who never took his eyes off the mound. He grew up to revolutionize the fields of entomology, sociobiology and conservationist thought. E. O. (E is for Edward, O is for Osborne) got a nod from Time Magazine on their list of the 25 Most Influential People in America and picked up a few Pulitzers along the way. But before all that he was just an eight-year-old boy in the South whose nickname was 'Bugs.' Ed and Robert Krulwich spoke a few years ago at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan about Ed's early insect-philia and how it blossomed. Ed tells Robert about the time he figured out how to make hundreds of ants trace his name and the time he convinced an ant colony one of their ants was dead when it was anything but.”

Argentine Invasion - “From a suburban sidewalk in southern California, Jad and Robert witness the carnage of a gruesome turf war. Though the tiny warriors doing battle clock in at just a fraction of an inch, they have evolved a surprising, successful, and rather unsettling strategy of ironclad loyalty, absolute intolerance, and brutal violence. David Holway, an ecologist and evolutionary biologist from UC San Diego, takes us to a driveway in Escondido, California where a grisly battle rages. In this quiet suburban spot, two groups of ants are putting on a chilling display of dismemberment and death. According to David, this battle line marks the edge of an enormous super-colony of Argentine ants. Think of that anthill in your backyard, and stretch it out across five continents. Argentine ants are not good neighbors. When they meet ants from another colony, any other colony, they fight to the death, and tear the other ants to pieces” … “Argentine ants don’t fool around. If you’re not part of the colony, you’re dead.”

Raising Crane - “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 back to being wild.”

Why Isn’t the Sky Blue - “What is the color of honey, and ‘faces pale with fear’? If you're Homer--one of the most influential poets in human history--that color is green. And the sea is "wine-dark," just like oxen...though sheep are violet. Which all sounds...well, really off. Producer Tim Howard introduces us to linguist Guy Deutscher, and the story of William Gladstone (a British Prime Minister back in the 1800s, and a huge Homer-ophile). Gladstone conducted an exhaustive study of every color reference in The Odyssey and The Iliad. And he found something startling: No blue! Tim pays a visit to the New York Public Library, where a book of German philosophy from the late 19th Century helps reveal a pattern: across all cultures, words for colors appear in stages. And blue always comes last. Jules Davidoff, professor of neuropsychology at the University of London, helps us make sense of the way different people see different colors in the same place. Then Guy Deutscher tells us how he experimented on his daughter Alma when she was just starting to learn the colors of the world around, and above, her.”

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