Latest Stories

Jordan Ellenberg, geometer
Articles

Math superstar Jordan Ellenberg reveals the geometrical underpinnings of pretty much everything — from pandemics to voting districts to the 14th dimension. If geometry is indeed "the cilantro of math," Ellenberg could convert even the most die-hard hater to the joy of shapes.

Length: 
34:00
A hummingbird drinks nectar
Audio

Christopher Benfey tells Anne Strainchamps why there was a hummingbird craze in 19th century Massachsetts, how artists and poets used them as symbols, and why they seem like winged jewels.

Length: 
11:39
Deb Blum
Audio

Science journalist Deborah Blum thinks both reporters and news consumers have a responsibility to try to understand the truth. That includes being willing to pay attention to the uncomfortable, complicated news that we might not want to hear.

Length: 
15:07
Steve Paulson conducting an interview with Ezra Klein from the New York Times
Articles

New York Times podcaster Ezra Klein has strong views about what he does as a journalist. “I’m not objective,” he says. “I don’t believe anybody’s objective. What I am is transparent.” He takes Steve Paulson behind the scenes of his popular podcast.

Length: 
19:12
A great horned owl
Articles

Jennifer Ackerman writes in her new book "What an Owl Knows: The New Science of the World’s Most Enigmatic Birds" about how owls are cryptic, hard to find, and difficult to understand. Speaking to Shannon Henry Kleiber, she said that’s part of the attraction.

Length: 
17:45
sliced mango
Articles

Aimee Nezhukumatathil takes us through the layers of food emotion and nostalgia, encouraging us to slow down and experience taste and all the wonder it brings with it.

stacked up biscuits
Audio

Growing up in Appalachia, Crystal Wilkinson learned that food was about community and family. Now she is passing her stories and recipes down to her own children and grandchildren in her new book, "Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts.”

Jumbo's Good Food, c. 2001
Audio

When Joe Hardtke was a kid in the 1980s, Jumbo's Drive-In in Kewaunee, Wisconsin was the place all the farm kids hung out. 40 years later, people still talk about their fries. Joe went back to his hometown to investigate what made those fries so perfect — crispy and filled with flavor — and how the story of Jumbo’s is a reflection on how we all see our hometowns. 

cookie dough
Articles

Three authors share recipes that anchor them back to history, both shared and personal.

Bradley Lomax and Judith Heumann
Audio

Sami Schalk is the author of “Black Disability Politics,” a history of disability rights and Black activism. She says understanding Black disability politics is essential to building an accessible future.

Length: 
15:41
Brian Muraresku
Articles

Scholar Brian Muraresku makes the controversial argument that the famous Eleusinian Mysteries were fueled by a psychedelic beer.

Length: 
49:43
feet
Audio

Rae Johnson is a somatic movement therapist and the author of “Embodied Activism.” They say the process of making change is more sustainable when you listen to your body. 

Length: 
13:38
Audio

As Steve says in this 2005 profile, part of the magic of Nobel Prize-winning short story author Alice Munro was the way she condensed the essence of a life into a short space. Munro passed away on May 13, 2024. She was 92.

Articles

Jessi Kneeland, a fitness trainer turned body neutrality coach, suggests that aiming for a neutral stance toward one's body — rather than unconditional love — might be more realistic and attainable for many of us.

Length: 
19:53
Eula Biss
Bookmarks

"On Immunity: An Inoculation" author Eula Biss recommends a memoir in which author Maggie Nelson asks questions that bend conventions about gender, sexuality, motherhood, family and identity itself.

Length: 
3:53
Left to right: Rylea Nevaeh Whittet as Maddy and Margaret Qualley as Alex in episode 101 of "Maid."
Articles

Stephanie Land’s 2019 book "Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive" detailed her personal experience struggling with precarious work as a housecleaner while raising a young child.

Length: 
19:18
A woman with child
Articles

The time a person spends carrying their child during a pregnancy is only a brief time compared to the time they'll spend being a mother, but as Amanda Henry shares in her story, that time goes differently for everyone, shaping who you are and what impact you'll go on to have on the world around you.

Frank Stella, Double Gray Scramble, 1973.
Audio

Frank Stella sits down with Steve Paulson to talk about a lesser known aspect of his remarkable career — his work as a printmaker.

Abstract dishes
Articles

Fasting is an ancient practice that’s experiencing something of a revival right now in health and fitness circles. But when John Oakes set out to explore the concept, he took it a lot deeper.

Length: 
16:27
Frans Hals, Meeting of the Officers and Sergeants of the Calivermen Civic Guard, 1633
Photo Gallery

The Frans Hals Museum in the Netherlands holds an exquisite collection of 16th and 17th century Dutch art — and the largest collection of paintings by artist Frans Hals himself. Steve Paulson takes us along on a tour of Hals’ work, and talks with Steven Nadler, a philosopher who has written a new book about Hals.

Length: 
19:36
Meghan O’Gieblyn
Articles

Does AI have a fundamentally different kind of intelligence than the human mind? Essayist Meghan O’Gieblyn is fascinated by this question. Her investigation into machine intelligence became a very personal journey, which led her down the rabbit hole into questions about creativity and the nature of transcendence.

Length: 
17:01
Lucrezia de’ Medici (1545-1561)
Articles

In her latest novel, Irish novelist Maggie O’Farrell takes us into the world of Renaissance Italy, where she unravels the tale of a young woman, Lucrezia de’ Medici. Shannon Henry Kleiber talked with O’Farrell about what we can learn about history and ourselves through the many layers of portraits.

Length: 
14:51
A raven on a tree
Audio

Our producer Charles Monroe-Kane has a passion for ravens.  The raven has meaning for him from legend and art, to the point where he’s had one tattooed on his forearm.

Length: 
7:15
Photo Gallery

Peter Brathwaite has now researched and re-imagined more than a hundred paintings of Black subjects. What began as a game is now a book and a museum exhibition called “Rediscovering Black Portraiture.

Length: 
16:30
a crumbled up piece of paper
Articles

There are two sides to giving up. The virtue of sacrifice – and the sin of despair. So how do we decide which is which? That’s the question psychoanalyst Adam Phillips asks in his newest book “On Giving Up.”

Length: 
13:32
A mysterious door.
Audio

Turns out there is an emerging science of uncertainty — a new frontier in psychology, artificial intelligence, and surgery — where things can go very wrong when people are missing a crucial skill set: being unsure. Maggie Jackson explains.

Length: 
18:02
Audio

Dustin Mater is a Chickasaw artist who's fascinated by ancient rock art. He says these images resonate with stories he heard from tribal elders, which he uses as inspiration for his own art.  

Length: 
11:21
Photo Gallery

Stephen Alvarez — a National Geographic photographer and founder of the Ancient Art Archive — has spent years documenting ancient rock art around the world. He takes Steve Paulson on a long hike in the Cumberland Plateau, where they find an "unnamed cave" with 2,000-year old engravings.

Length: 
16:41
Articles

Geologist Marcia Bjornerud has a profound understanding of Earth's deep history. The author of "Timefulness," she says geologic literacy would give us a much healthier sense of time. 

Length: 
19:48
Feilding
Audio

In the years when psychedelic science had been shut down, Amanda Feilding helped jump-start research into altered states of mind. Today, she's in her 80s and remains active in psychedelic research with her Beckley Foundation.

Length: 
7:58

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