“You’re Listening to Radiolab”

January 12, 2010

Every two weeks or so I get to hear that anew. I know I’m going to spend the next hour or so absolutely enchanted, with my brain turning over new ideas, and marveling at what can be done to tell a story on the radio.

I think Planet Earth is the best thing humans have ever put on television. Radiolab is the radio equivalent for me. It is, hands down, the best thing I listen to.

The Celts used to talk about “thin places,” where the fabric of the universe was leaking through and a person could experience a small taste of the divine. This sounds so cheesy, but I experience thin places when I listen to Radiolab. Whatever, I get it; I’m talking about radio–no one should like radio this much. Shut up. Jad and Robert start unlocking the mystery and wonder behind the world; the things we sort of know about as a species that ultimately reveal just how much we have yet to learn. Sometimes I just have to pause the show and stop. Let it sink in. Say, “Whoa.” Rewind. Listen again. Let it wash over me.

Yes, they’re talking about science, but remember when you were a kid and science was fascinating? Not memorizing the periodic table. Not writing out taxonomies. Blowing up sodium. Setting things on fire. Building catapults. Freezing things in liquid nitrogen. Making your own volcano. You liked science then.

Jad and Robert will often “take you there,” but they refuse to give an answer. Questions are raised, evidence is explored, but the conclusions are up to you to make. They trust that you’re intelligent enough to do that.

I appreciate their trust.

The latest is on animals and emotion.


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