Latest Stories

Philip Pullman
Bookmarks

Philip Pullman — author of the fantasy classic "His Dark Materials" — is clearly attuned to the imaginative world of children. So maybe it’s not surprising that the book that exerted such a pull on his own imagination was "The Pocket Atlas of the World," which he first encountered at the age of nine.

Length: 
3:43
ruth ozeki
Bookmarks

For her own book, author Ruth Ozeki drew from “Kamikaze Diaries,” a collection of writings left behind by the young soldiers who died on suicide missions. They represent a generation of brilliant, highly educated young students who were conscripted into the army and ordered not just to kill but to die.

Length: 
3:38
maps and guides
Sonic Sidebar

Dave Eggers – the writer and founder of McSweeney’s – has been all over the world. Along the way, he developed his own personal code of travel ethics.

Length: 
04:11
Helping hands while traveling. Illustration By George Wylesol (AFAR Magazine)
Articles

What’s the most uncomfortable you’ve ever been on a trip? Anu Taranath is a social justice facilitator and teacher, used to having difficult conversations about race, identity and privilege. She says those are issues that come up all the time when Americans travel abroad.

Length: 
13:15
Bookmarks

Nature writer and adventurer Robert Macfarlane has given away one book more than any other volume. It's "The Living Mountain," by Scottish writer and poet Nan Shepherd.

Length: 
4:40
Screenshot from "Desert Bus" playthrough by Phrasz013.
Sonic Sidebar

A simulated eight-hour bus drive earns you one point. Why would anyone want to play a game like that?

Length: 
3:04
Mark playing a game in his basement.
Audio

After suffering a terrible concussion, game designer Jane McGonigal created a game to help her feel better. In the years since, it's helped nearly half a million other people overcome depression, anxiety and other mood disorders.

Length: 
12:42
 Early fall on the pond in "Walden, a game."USC Game Innovation Lab
Video

Game developer Tracy Fullerton tells us why Henry David Thoreau would play her new game. It’s called “Walden.”

Length: 
8:46
The many realities
Video

How do you know what’s real? Start with your senses — if you can see, touch, hear or taste something, it’s real — right? Not necessarily, according to cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman and neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan.

Length: 
18:13
Mark and Anne in front of Mark's home in "Animal Crossing"
Video

Mark just built a new house. In fact, he built a whole town. And it's the one place we can actually visit, because it’s inside a game. He’s been taking refuge from the grim reality of a global pandemic...in Animal Crossing.

Length: 
8:35
tree roots
Articles

Forest ecologist Suzanne Simard talks about her pioneering research into “forest intelligence,” She also reflects on her childhood growing up in Canadian forests, how the timber industry can become sustainable, and why she talks to trees.

Length: 
42:34
"The Tradition" book cover design by Phil Kovacevich
Articles

Jericho Brown is an award-winning poet who has been working with religious language for a long time. His poems have titles like "1 Corinthians 13:11" and "Hebrews 13." His book "The Tradition" continues to mine Brown's childhood in the church.

Length: 
13:33
Heart graphic
Audio

Poems can hold grief and mark loss. But what about love? Romantic love. Poet Li-Young Lee understands this completely. Because he’s in love.

Length: 
11:15
letters
Audio

Jimmy Santiago Baca was in a maximum security prison. He taught himself to read and fell in love with words. Today he’s a champion of the International Poetry Slam, and the author of multiple books of verse.

Length: 
13:39
Alice Walker
Interactive

Hope is a complicated, even slippery, word. One that demands a poet’s voice. Here’s Alice Walker, reading her poem “Hope is a Woman Who Has Lost Her Fear.”

Length: 
2:49
Ghosts
Audio

Poet Edward Hirsch has written many collections of poetry and criticism. He wrote the long-running “Poet’s Choice” column in the Washington Post. He spoke with Steve Paulson about his elegy to his son, “Gabriel: A Poem.”

Length: 
11:05
lonely plant
Audio

Once you acknowledge that plants are intelligent and sentient beings, moral questions quickly follow. Should they have rights? How can we think of plants as "persons"? Plant scientist Matt Hall sorts out these ideas with Steve.

Length: 
11:06
plant
Articles

Plants are intelligent beings with profound wisdom to impart—if only we know how to listen. And Monica Gagliano knows how to listen.

Length: 
15:48
The plants Brooke keeps on hand.
Sonic Sidebar

As a plant ecologist, Brooke Hecht knows plants. But then a few years ago, while at a professional conference, her young daughter who'd tagged along got sick. And that's when the healing powers of plants came to the rescue.

Length: 
8:03
Robin Wall Kimmerer (left) and Anne Strainchamps (right)
Articles

Emerging science in everything from forest ecology to the microbiome is confirming that our relationship with plants and animals is deep. Ecologist Robin Wall Kimmerer also draws on Native knowledge to explain our intimate relationships with plants.

Length: 
14:02
Alissa Waters in her shop.
Photo Gallery

In Madison, Wisconsin, there’s a place a lot of women with scars go. It’s a studio run by a tattoo artist — Alissa Waters — who specializes in the scars left from breast cancer surgery. Her tattoos help women reclaim their bodies.

Length: 
10:29
earth from space
Audio

Lidia Yuknavitch’s apocalyptic novel “The Book of Joan” is one of the most stunning examples of climate fiction. It’s the story of a near-future where Earth is decimated and the last few survivors are stranded out in space.

Length: 
16:36
Products for skin
Audio

Living through a global pandemic is giving us all a whole new awareness of skin. Producer Angelo Bautista has been thinking a lot about his own skin — how to claim it, care for it, and all the ways he lives in it.

Length: 
17:44
sea wall on a cliff
Audio

British journalist John Lanchester’s recent novel “The Wall” paints a very chilly picture of climate catastrophe. It begins in the future, when rising sea levels and an immigration crisis pit children against parents.

Length: 
12:34
a barren tree in Nambia
Audio

Lydia Millet mined Bible stories and parables to write her very contemporary novel about climate change, "A Children’s Bible.” She says that fiction can help us sort through hard feelings about climate change in a way daily news stories can't.

Length: 
13:17
Greenland ocean sunset
Articles

In "Our Biggest Experiment," climate advocate Alice Bell traces the history of the scientists who have been studying the impact of humanity on the climate since 1856. She tells Anne Strainchamps that science has been critical for spurring the world to act. 

Length: 
16:16
crystal meth
Audio

When anthropologist Jason Pine traveled to rural Missouri, he wound up spending a lot of time observing underground meth labs. And he came to a startling conclusion: that the meth cooks of the Ozarks are today’s alchemists.

Length: 
12:31
Isaac Newton
Articles

Isaac Newton wrote more than a million words on alchemy over his lifetime, conducting decades of alchemical experiments. But he did it all in secret. Why? The question fascinates historian Bill Newman.

Length: 
10:58
alchemical recipes
Articles

Pamela Smith's science history students spend a semester taking medieval alchemical recipes and re-creating them in a lab.

Length: 
11:02
pyramid
Audio

Alchemists believed that if they could transform matter, why not also the spirit, or the self? That last part is what’s attracting new followers today, like Sara Durn.

Length: 
8:41

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