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.

Trace Elements: The Musical

DSC_9832

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.

Guests:
Elizabeth Derryberry, Tulane University
David Luther, George Mason University

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.

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

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.

rod01
Rodney Stotts and Mr. Hoots, a Eurasian eagle owl.

rod03
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.