3 for Thursday: 3 mind-bending Radiolab podcasts

RSS Feed IconRadiolab podcasts are addictive. When there is too much time between episodes, I get serious withdrawal symptoms. Most TV shows do not entertain and enlighten like Radiolab podcasts do, and so it is time to provide a shout-out for the show here on The Discarded Image.

If The Discarded Image is a blog about belief changing ideas, then Radiolab podcasts are catalysts for making that happen. Below are three that I listened to when I first heard of Radiolab and each engage questions of perception and identity with intense creativity. The links take you to the page where you can listen to them online, but they are also available through iTunes, where you can download all the past episodes. If you are already a fan of Radiolab podcasts and you want to contribute to the show, they now have a special Lab Partners program that provides special benefits for members, including more downloads.

So listen and enjoy. You won’t regret it.

1. Words
Description: It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without words. But in this hour of Radiolab, we try to do just that. We meet a woman who taught a 27-year-old man the first words of his life, hear a firsthand account of what it feels like to have the language center of your brain wiped out by a stroke, and retrace the birth of a brand new language 30 years ago.

2. Time
Description: This hour of Radiolab, we try our hand at unlocking the mysteries of time. Jorge Luis Borges wrote, “Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire.” And it’s still as close a definition as we have. We stretch and bend time, wrestle with its subjective nature, and wrap our minds around strategies to standardize it…stopping along the way at a 19th-century railroad station in Ohio, a track meet, and a Beethoven concert.

3. Who Am I?
Description: The “mind” and “self” were formerly the domain of philosophers and priests. But in this hour of Radiolab, neurologists lead the charge on profound questions like “How does the brain make me?” We stare into the mirror with Dr. Julian Keenan, reflect on the illusion of selfhood with British neurologist Paul Broks, and contemplate the evolution of consciousness with Dr. V. S. Ramachandran. Also: the story of woman who one day woke up as a completely different person.

  • Kevin

    I think you introduced me to this show awhile back. It is my favorite podcast now. I too go through withdrawal, and have to search their archives for something I haven’t already listened to. (Unfortunately that list of unlistened to podcasts is rapidly diminishing.) The three you mention are very thought provoking as I recall, now I’ll have to go back and listen to them again. If you haven’t already listened to it (which I highly doubt), Sleep is another good one.

In search of belief changing ideas