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.

Disease Detectives On the Case

Ebola, salmonella, even measles. All of these have a source, and disease detectives trained at the CDC know how to find the culprits. Join two rookies as as they solve “the case of the nutty dish”.

This episode was originally produced by Philip Graitcer for PRX’s STEM Story Project in 2014. It was hosted for this episode of Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Orbital Path: Must Be Aliens

Loyal Transistor listeners will remember astronomer Michelle Thaller, who hosted three episodes for us early in 2015. She’s back, now with her own monthly podcast from PRX called Orbital Path. It’s all about stars, the universe, and us — for space lovers or just the curious.

The debut episode features the infamous Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy, as Michelle and Phil talk about why aliens get the credit for almost everything unexplainable. And episode two is in the works with another guest you won’t want to miss.

Enjoy the show — and get links to subscribe to Orbital Path here.

Orbital Path is produced by Lauren Ober.

Bluegrass…for Wolves?

What kind of music do animals like? A woman who studies how non-human creatures go mad throws concerts for captive animals to try and enrich their lives, and researchers weigh in on how we can understand animal tastes for music with science. Plus, a bluegrass concert for 52 wolves.

Here’s a video of the concert featured in the audio story:

Music for Wolves: Black Prairie from Aubree Bernier-Clarke on Vimeo.

This episode was produced for PRX and Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen by Britt Wray in 2014. It was mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

All By Myself…Maybe

“52 Hz” is the name given to a mysterious whale that vocalizes at a different frequency than other whales. Some refer to him as “The World’s Loneliest Whale,” but other scientists aren’t convinced that its unique call has left the whale isolated at all.

Craig and George went on a whale watch when they reported this story. See their photos and videos here.

This episode was produced for PRX & Transistor by Craig Shank and George Drake Jr. of Everything Sounds, and was mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Image from Shutterstock. Not 52 Hz.

Nautilus special: “To Save California, Read Dune”

The sci-fi epic of Dune takes place on a desert planet. There, the water in even a single tear is precious. Can Dune offer lessons for drought-stricken California of 2015?

This is a special episode featuring science magazine Nautilus.

This episode was produced for PRX and Nautilus by David Schulman.