Interviews By Topic

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Ngugi wa Thiong’o — the renowned Kenyan author — believes African writers should write in their native language, not the colonial language of English or French. He says the best way to decolonize the mind is to reclaim native languages.More

 Practice dummy, Cryonics UK standby team training | Tim’s house, Sheffield, UK 2010

Photographer Murray Ballard says he expected a cryonics facility to look like something out of a sci-fi movie scene. But in visiting one, Ballard says he was intrigued by the contrast between such an ambitious endeavor and the somewhat unremarkable architecture and equipment.More

 Social gathering and sharing a meal during Russian Easter honoring the dead, Spring Valley, New Jersey, 1997

Between 1996 and 1998, Bastienne Schmidt and her husband Philippe Cheng traveled throughout the United States photographing the diverse services and ceremonies Americans use to mark the death of family members and friends. According to Cheng, one of the goals was to "show some of the poetry of death and dying in America."More

elderly woman

Nicholas Nixon has devoted a significant amount of his long career — which stretches back to the 1970s — to taking portraits of people who are sick and dying. He continues to work with people coming to the end of their lives, including those in palliative care and hospice.More

Half brothers Robert Lafayette Gee (right) and Henderson Gee (left)

Rev. Alex Gee is fascinated by genealogy. So he took a DNA test and discovered one of his ancestors was a white slave owner. Then he went down to New Orleans to meet his white relatives — and that meeting sparked a slew of complicated emotions.More

a son of Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings, is buried in a local cemetery.

Steve Paulson was surprised to discover that a son of Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings, is buried in a local cemetery. With the help of Erin Hoag of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, he searches for the grave of Eston Hemings Jefferson.More

spirals

With help from Freud, neuropsychologist Mark Solms locates consciousness in choice.More

Malcolm Gladwell

Journalist Malcolm Gladwell is famous for mining behavioral science for his work, and when it comes to better understanding the intersection of crime, violence, and policing, he turns over and over to criminologist Frank Zimring.More

Children in Addis Ababa.

Dagmawi Woubshet and Julie Mehretu were both born in Addis Ababa and then moved to America. They wonder what the city's explosive growth will mean for its unique character — one rooted in Ethiopia's history as the only African nation never colonized.More

Fruit bodies of the fungus Psilocybe pelliculosa

After the excesses of the 1960s — and an ensuing moral panic — psychedelic research was outlawed by the United States government for decades. But today, the research is blossoming as a promising treatment for depression and anxiety.More

Math of the universe

For centuries, people have considered mathematics the purest form of knowledge — and our best bet for deciphering the universe's hidden order. Steve spoke with two people who love math: physicist James Gates and science writer Margaret Wertheim.More

exercise

Exercise is good for you. And while that might seem pretty obvious, Dr. Claudia Reardon says that it goes deeper than that — specific exercises can actually act as effective treatments for specific mental illnesses.More

fish

Lulu Miller's book “Why Fish Don’t Exist” — which examines ichthyologist David Starr Jordan — is a meditation on the shadow side of scientific classification, and the dangers of trying too hard to impose order on chaos.More

Putting aside the question of whether there's any validity to it, the ancient science of astrology has a lot in common with contemporary data science. In fact, data scientist Alexander Boxer calls astrology humanity’s very first set of algorithms.More

Eel

Eels are philosophically and scientifically slippery — they're still some of the most mysterious creatures on the planet. Journalist Patrik Svensson has been obsessed with them, and wound up writing a surprise bestseller — “The Book of Eels.”More

Akwaeke Emezi

Nigerian writer Akweake Emezi identifies as trans, non-binary and also an Ogbanje. In Emezi’s native Igbo culture, an Ogbanje is a spirit that can be born into a human — a spirit with a plural identity.More

Big Freedia

In Big Freedia's memoir, she tells the story of growing up gay and gender non-conforming in one of the toughest neighborhoods in New Orleans, of surviving gun violence and Hurricane Katrina, and of finding acceptance and self-expression in Bounce music.More

Pages