The first podcast I heard from radiolab, a programme at New York based public radio station WNYC, was called staying alive. When it comes to the point where a scientist claims that he can play back voices from thousand years ago captured in the grooves of ancient pottery with a stylus like an old grammophone-type recording, I had to burst out laughing. This story about “paleoacoustics” is of course a hoax that looks back on a decade-long history of appearances in different pseudo-scientific papers and science-fiction novels (more about this “urban myth” on this webpage). The podcast closes with a visit at a CPR class where they deal with the problem to hit the right lifesaving rhythm. I keep the ending for myself to not spoil the episode.
The thing with all the radiolab podcasts is that they find an inspiring tone of curiousity and humour to deal with the big questions of life, death, the human experience and everything that blurs the boudaries between science and philosophy. This can turn out extremely funny like this podcast about sperm (why so many sperm?) or can get serious and reflective like in these 11 meditations on how, when and even if we die (after life). All is congenially accompanied by a superb sound design that illuminates the ideas and thoughts followed. The after life episode even inspired filmmaker Will Hoffman to produce this beautiful and uplifting video: