Transistor

Transistor

Transistor is podcast of scientific curiosities and current events, featuring guest hosts, scientists, and story-driven reporters. Presented by radio and podcast powerhouse PRX, with support from the Sloan Foundation.... Show More

Episodes

November 13, 2017 9 min

Vaccinations, in one form or another, have been around longer than the United States. In fact, during the Revolutionary War in 1776, future first lady Abigail Adams pursued the controversial scientific technique to protect her 5 children against a threat more dangerous than an army of Redcoats. Here’s Luke Quinton with the story.

Share
Mark as Played
October 29, 2017 10 min

Cosmic rays from outer space sound like science fiction. They’re not—invisible particles flung from outer space pass through our bodies every minute. But not all cosmic rays are equal; Some are immensely powerful and very rare. For decades scientists have wondered where they're coming from – and what could possibly be hurling them at Earth. Now, they're getting closer to finding out.  Ross Chambless has the story.

Share
Mark as Played
October 15, 2017 10 min

Every October 16th hundreds of people gather in Dublin to celebrate Ireland's greatest mathematician, William Rowan Hamilton. And get this – It was his act of vandalism on Broom Bridge in 1843 that put him in the history books – it actually changed mathematics forever. Samuel Hanson brings us the story.

Share
Mark as Played
October 1, 2017 9 min

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma left devastation in their wake all across the southern United States as unimaginable quantities of water swallowed up small towns and cities alike. But what happens to that water and how can cities better prepare ahead of time? Two years ago, reporter Jenny Chen followed two so-called flood hydrologists to learn more about the preparation.

Share
Mark as Played
September 17, 2017 10 min

What if the size of our dinner plate, its color, the material of our cutlery - even background sounds - all affect how our food tastes? In other words, what if it’s not just about what we cooked for dinner, but the context of the meal itself?

Reporter Quentin Cooper brings us this story.

Share
Mark as Played
September 3, 2017 10 min

Underneath our vrooms, beeps, and rumbles, natural sound may be more important than we think.

Share
Mark as Played
August 20, 2017 10 min

On May 2, 2015, beekeepers Pam Arnold and Kristy Allen got hit with a pesticide. They couldn't see it or smell it, but when they saw their bees writhing on the ground and dying they knew something was seriously wrong. They called a panel of scientists at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Share
Mark as Played
August 8, 2017 11 min

Thirty-six-year-old twins Carol and Katy are physically identical in every way but one: Katy was born without ovaries, and wanted to start a family. The science and ethics behind ovarian transplants as a treatment for infertility.

Share
Mark as Played
May 16, 2017 11 min

The headlines are often full of advice for women about when they should have children. Marnie Chesterton goes digging into the fertility stats and myths for modern women. Prepare to be surprised.

Share
Mark as Played
April 28, 2017 10 min

Humans have always been interested in controlling the weather. In the past we used raindances and sacrifices; today we turn to science. Cloud seeding is practiced all over the world, but there's still a lot we don't know about it. Delve into the surprising history, the controversial present, and the uncertain future of cloud seeding.

Share
Mark as Played
April 3, 2017 7 min

Visual stylometry is a branch of mathematics that can determine the style of a particular artist’s body of work.

Share
Mark as Played
March 9, 2017 10 min

Head underground to hear how some of the first subways were built, and how they are built today.

This story was originally produced by Bishop Sand in 2013. It was hosted for Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Image: CC BY-SA 3.0 Adam E. Moreira | Music: Whurlywind from Podington Bear

Share
Mark as Played
February 7, 2017 8 min



This 1948 graphic shows sound traveling on an axis 700 fathoms down in the Atlantic.

Something unusual happens about a half mile under the sea. Ocean physics create a special zone where sound travels for hundreds, even thousands of miles. Whales use it, and cold warriors plumbed its secrets. Listen in:

This story was produced by David Schulman in 2014. It was hosted for Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor b...

Read more
Share
Mark as Played

For the next few episodes, we’re featuring the Smithsonian’s new series, Sidedoor, about where science, art, history, and humanity unexpectedly overlap — just like in their museums.

In this episode: an astronomer has turned the night sky into a symphony; an architecture firm has radically re-thought police stations; and an audiophile builds a successful record company on under-appreciated sounds.

For even more from Sidedoor, subs...

Read more
Share
Mark as Played

For the next few episodes, we’re featuring the Smithsonian’s new series, Sidedoor, about where science, art, history, and humanity unexpectedly overlap — just like in their museums.

In this episode: two besties turn into lifelong enemies over a dining room; a researcher embraces the panda craze; and why some dinosaur skulls were built to take a beating.

For even more from Sidedoor, subscribe in iTunes or wherever you get your pod...

Read more
Share
Mark as Played

For the next few episodes, we’re featuring select episodes from the Smithsonian’s new series, Sidedoor, about where science, art, history, humanity and where they unexpectedly overlap — just like their museums. Up first: tales of scientific deception and trickery.

For even more from Sidedoor, subscribe in iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

Share
Mark as Played
November 10, 2016 10 min



Bronwyn Tarr with Carimbó dancers.

Oxford evolutionary neuroscientist Bronwyn Tarr was in a remote area of Brazil to begin an experiment. On her first night there, she heard distant drumbeats, went looking for them, and experienced firsthand what she was there to study: how dancing develops a sense of community.

This story was produced by Katie Burke in 2015 with the assistance of Jagmeet Mac, and edited by Andrea Mustain. It wa...

Read more
Share
Mark as Played
October 20, 2016 10 min

Vissarion Shebalin was not a great composer. But his music could unlock an important truth about how the brain processes music and language.

This story was produced by Tobin Low in 2015 and edited by Andrea Mustain. It was hosted for Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Share
Mark as Played

Ancient navigators traveled across the Pacific without the aid of maps or instruments. We’ll hear from modern-day navigators in New Zealand, Hawai’i and North America about the techniques used to do so. This is the art and science of Polynesian wayfinding, brought to us by producer Lily Bui.

This story was produced by Lily Bui in 2015 and edited by Andrea Mustain. It was hosted for Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for ...

Read more
Share
Mark as Played
September 2, 2016 7 min

This episode is brought to you by… science fair memories. I (your host Genevieve) remember being inspired to create my sixth grade science fair project by a visit to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia (more on that below).

I found this piece from Adam Hochberg in our archive. It’s about schools remaking science fairs to include more actual science and less papier-mâché volcanos. Enjoy!

As mentioned in the episode, here’s a ph...

Read more
Share
Mark as Played

Chat About Transistor

Popular Podcasts

The Breakfast Club
Crime Junkie
Crime Junkie
If you can never get enough true crime...
Stuff You Should Know
Stuff You Should Know
If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.
    Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeartRadio App.

    Connect

    © 2020 iHeartMedia, Inc.