Sidedoor from the Smithsonian: Masters of Disguise

side_door_cover_art_640x640For 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.

Dance: It’s Only Human

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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 and edited by Andrea Mustain. It was hosted for Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Image by: José Roberto Corrêa

The Art and Science of Polynesian Wayfinding

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 Transistor by Josh Swartz. Image by Lily Bui.

Remaking the Science Fair

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 photo of my Rube Goldberg machine that I built after seeing Newton’s Dream — a large contraption of golf balls moving along tracks — at the Franklin Institute. My version is obviously a bit simpler: drop a ball from the top, and it would roll through the pipe to flip a die suspended on a pipe cleaner inside the box box.

DieFlipper2

Here’s a video of Netwon’s Dream. Jump to about 21 seconds to see it more in action.

What inspired you to create when you were a child? Do you have a favorite science fair project you’ve seen or done? Share your #sciencefairmemory with me in the comments below or @TransistorShow.

The story in this podcast was produced by Adam Hochberg in 2013. It was hosted for Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Photo copyright Genevieve Sponsler.

The Ghost in the MP3

What’s lost when a song is compressed into an MP3? To the untrained ear, perhaps nothing. But to one composer, these “lost sounds” are a source for his stunning and ghostly musical compositions.

This episode was produced by Emily Richardson-Lorente with editing by Andrea Mustain. It was curated and hosted for Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler, and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Outside Podcast: Devil’s Highway, Part 2

Transistor’s mothership PRX has partnered with Outside Magazine to produce four special podcast episodes on the Science of Survival. You’ll receive them in Transistor’s podcast feed, and for even more, subscribe to the Outside Podcast.

Here’s episode 4.

In the spring 2001, a large group of men set out from Mexico to cross the border into Arizona through some of the harshest desert terrain anywhere. The tragic result helped researchers develop the Death Index, a new model for predicting dehydration fatalities.

Outside Podcast: Devil’s Highway, Part 1

Transistor’s mothership PRX has partnered with Outside magazine to produce four special podcast episodes on the Science of Survival. You’ll receive them in Transistor’s podcast feed, and for even more, subscribe to the Outside Podcast.

Here’s episode 3.

In the heart of the Sonoran Desert is the remarkable story of Pablo Valencia, a gold prospector who spent six days wandering in 110-degree heat before stumbling into scientist William McGee’s camp.

Outside Podcast: Struck by Lightning

Transistor’s mothership PRX has partnered with Outside magazine to produce four special podcast episodes on the Science of Survival. You’ll receive them in Transistor’s podcast feed, and for even more, subscribe to the Outside Podcast.

Here’s episode 2.

Most of the time, when lightning makes the news, you’re hearing about it because something really unlikely has happened. Like the park ranger who was struck by lightning seven times. Or the strike survivor who also won the lottery. This is not one of those stories. This is about Phil Broscovak and what his life was really like after he was struck.