On the Radio

Week of August 10, 2014

Image: David Rodriguez Martin Via: Flickr Creative Commons



Imagine a world where flying robots watch over our borders, assist with search and rescue missions, and survey roads and pipelines. Sounds like science fiction, but in many parts of the country it's a reality.

  1. The Meme of Our Time - Alex Rivera

    Filmmaker Alex Rivera has been interested in drones for years. His 2008 sci-fi thriller, Sleep Dealer, imagines a dystopian future where the U.S.-Mexico border is aggressively policed by drones, and migrant workers can only cross it virtually, by plugging their bodies into a digital network of robots. He told Steve Paulson why he believes drones are the meme of our time.

    Average: 4.5 (2 votes)
  2. Commercial Drones - Missy Cummings

    Missy Cummings studies unmanned systems like drones, as director of Duke University’s Humans and Autonomy Lab. Charles Monroe-Kane spoke with her about a few of the ways drones are being used outside of the military.

    Average: 4 (1 vote)
  3. Drones Gone Wild

    Have you heard about Amazon's plans to start a fleet of delivery drones? What would that look like? Listener Sandra Cheasty gives us a glimpse in her short story, "Drones Gone Wild."

    Average: 3 (2 votes)
  4. The Life of a Military Drone Pilot - Bruce Black

    Retired US Air Force pilot Bruce Black talks about his experience flying drones in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Average: 5 (1 vote)
  5. BookMark: Steve Roggenbuck

    Poet Steve Roggenbuck BookMarks "Feminism is for Everybody" by Bell Hooks.

    Average: 5 (1 vote)
  6. On Our Minds: Nadia Hashimi

    Afghan-American author Nadia Hashimi talks about her book, “The Pearl That Broke Its Shell,” as well as the Afghan custom of Bacha Posh – in which a girl is allowed to dress as a boy.

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math wall by Joao Trindade via Flickr Creative Commons

Doing the Math


Why do Americans suck at math?  And why do so many claim to hate math?  In a recent survey, a third of respondents said they'd rather clean the bathroom than solve an equation.  In today's show, mathematicians tell us what we're missing.  

  1. How Not To Be Wrong

    Why do so many people think they hate math?  Mathematician Jordan Ellenberg says deep down inside, we all think mathematically.  We just don't know it.

    Average: 4.8 (5 votes)
  2. The Calculus Diaries

    Science writer Jennifer Ouellette spent a year confronting her math phobia straight on.  She taught herself calculus.  It helped her win at Vegas, get a good mortgage, and might just save her from a zombie apocalypse. 

    Average: 4.8 (4 votes)
  3. Russian Postal System Puzzle

    Sarah Flannery is an Irish mathematician and former child prodigy.  She won the EU Young Scientist of the Year award when she was 16 for her work on the Cayley-Purser algorithm.  She challenges us to  the Russian Postal System puzzle. 

    Average: 5 (3 votes)
  4. The Magician of Mathematics

    Persi Diaconis was a stage magician before he discovered probability theory and became one of the world's leading mathematicians.  He tells us about some very powerful formulas derived from card shuffles and magic tricks.

    Average: 5 (4 votes)
  5. The Magic of Pi

    There's a special mystique to the number pi -- songs have been written about it and there's a day  named after it.  Jordan Ellenberg explains why.

    Average: 5 (4 votes)
  6. BookMark - Brendan Koerner on "Confessions of a Mask"

    Writer Brendan Koerner reviews Yukio Mishima's classic novel, "Confessions of a Mask".

    Average: 4 (2 votes)
  7. On Our Minds: Ghost Month

    August is Ghost Month in Taiwan—a time to commemorate the dead: burn incense, visit shrines, honor ancestors, and avoid large purchases.  It's also the setting for Ed Lin's newest mystery.  Lin is a 3-time winner of the Asian-American Literary Award. 


    Average: 5 (2 votes)