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.

Trace Elements: The Musical


Ta-da! Our fifth special episode with Cristina Quinn and Alison Bruzek of Trace Elements is here. Let us know what you enjoyed about their series and what surprised you in the comment section below. In just five episodes they’ve covered the science of feeling no fear, illusions with robots, bio-hacking, a mystery at a lake, and this time…

Birds of a feather may flock together — but it turns out birds that live in the city sing at higher frequencies, louder, and more often than their rural friends to outmatch the noise pollution of cars and people. The din of city life is creating new divisions between bird species. Researchers like Elizabeth Derryberry are finding those high-pitched tenors of the bird world aren’t quite as attractive to mates as the lower Barry Whites of the country.

Elizabeth Derryberry, Tulane University
David Luther, George Mason University

Trace Elements: Mystery at the Lake

Lake Oneida on April 24, 2016. Photo by Carl Hagmann

Special episode #4 featuring Trace Elements with Cristina Quinn and Alison Bruzek. In the 1970s, a geochemist and a biologist banded together to solve a mystery at Lake Oneida in upstate New York. What they found is changing the way we think about human life, and where the origins of life come from.

Kenneth Nealson, professor, University of Southern California
Willard Moore, professor emeritus, University of South Carolina

Trace Elements: Upgrade

It’s here! Episode three of our special five-part series called Trace Elements with hosts Cristina Quinn and Alison Bruzek.

Hacking your hearing aid to implanting NFC tags into your hands — we are now in the age of DIY Bio. Dive into the growing underworld of body modification from the backrooms of tattoo shops to the lab in your kitchen.

Frank Swain, biohacker/community manager at New Scientist
Amal Graafstra, CEO of Dangerous Things
Meredith Patterson, technologist

Outside Podcast: Frozen Alive

We are interrupting your regularly scheduled podcast feed with a special new episode on the science of survival from Outside Magazine and PRX. Here’s the first episode on the cold, hard facts about what happens when you get lost in the snow.

To get future episodes, which come every two weeks, subscribe to the Outside Podcast on iTunes or wherever you lsiten. You can also get the full scoop from PRX’s press release.

Trace Elements: Fooled Ya

Cristina & Marco hanging out with EDI

Episode two of our special five-part series called Trace Elements — with hosts Cristina Quinn and Alison Bruzek — is here. This time: the how and why of illusion. Maybe you’ll get some April Fools ideas.

Marco Tempest is not your average magician. He uses robots to do magic tricks on stage — but the real trick is in how easily he can get an audience to believe that robot has personality and is almost human.

Guests: Marco Tempest, cyberillusionist
Matt Berlin, co-founder IFRobotics, LLC
Kate Darling, researcher, MIT Media Lab

Engineer: Andrew Kramer
Theme Song: Rory Jackson
Additional Music: Lullatone, Keen Collective, and Golden Gram
Special Thanks: The Great Shiftini, aka Craig LeMoult

Trace Elements: The Reset


Two hosts, one adventure: This episode marks the beginning of five special Transistor episodes featuring Trace Elements. Hosts and producers Cristina Quinn and Alison Bruzek take listeners on an off-road trip into the science that connects us. Learn more here in our super-official press release.

In this episode: Meet a man who woke up from a hospital procedure and no longer felt any fear.

Jordy Cernik
Tracy Cernik
Richard Hodin, chief of endocrine surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital
Anand Vaidya, director of the center for adrenal disorders at Brigham & Women’s hospital

Engineer: Andrew Kramer
Theme Song: Rory Jackson
Additional Music: Rory Jackson, Ashwan, Doxent, Cuarto, Sheeba
Special Thanks: Sean Sugrue

The Invention of the Home Pregnancy Test

We love a good backstory to a scientific invention that is ubiquitous today. Meet the women who got pregnancy tests out of labs and into homes.

In the episode:
Audrey Peattie
Margaret Crane
Gloria Allen

Special thanks to Dr. Jesse Olszynko-Gryn (University of Cambridge), whose research provided the basis for this piece.

This episode was brought to us by the podcast Mother, produced by Amy Gastelum and Anne Noyes Saini.

Rodney Learns to Fly

Rodney Stotts and Mr. Hoots, a Eurasian eagle owl.

“Biophilia” refers to the instinctive affection humans have for nature. It’s a term that was coined in the mid-’80s by renowned biologist E.O. Wilson. This story is about just such a connection: Rodney Stotts grew up selling dope and guns. But he’s always loved caring for birds. The drugs landed him in jail. The birds helped set him free.

Rodney Stotts and Mr. Hoots, a Eurasian eagle owl.

Producer/reporter Ari Daniel.

This story was produced by Ari Daniel and edited by Andrea Mustain. Hear more of Ari’s reporting on his site and follow Ari on Twitter.

This episode of Transistor was hosted by Genevieve Sponsler and was mixed by Josh Swartz. The intro/outro music is called “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

Imagine All the People

Casey draws his imaginary grandson, Georgie. Photo by Pien Huang.

Casey is just four, but he already has an imaginary grandson. What does science say about what imaginary friends do for kids and the adults they become?

Hey listeners, do you remember your imaginary friends? We’d love to hear who they were. Comment below or tweet us @TransistorShow.

This episode’s story was produced by Pien Huang and edited by Andrea Mustain. It was hosted for this episode of Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.