Podcast/Audio Selection: WNYC’s Radiolab on Time


In this era of YouTube, Podcasts, TiVo and all the other forms of media on demand, the last place many folks go for information or entertainment is the radio. Recognizing this shift, many radio staions and individual producers are increasingly making their matieral available on the Internet via podcasts and streaming audio. This is great news whether you can’t get a big enough fix or if you who live in a community outside the broadcasting range. I’ll be linking to podcasts, Internet radio stations, and other auditory morsels for your enjoyment in the weeks ahead. This week is an archived program on time from Radiolab, the brainchild of Jad Abumrad. Radiolabexplores big ideas in science (and beyond) through conversation, storytelling and sound.” Past programs have explored memory, fear, and sleep.


Jorge Luis Borges wrote, “Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire,” and it’s as close a definition as we have. But maybe if we slow time down enough, or speed it up enough, we can unlock its secrets. On this week’s Radio Lab, we’re using our hour to try and do just that. 

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Unlocking The Secrets of Time

Neurologist Oliver Sacks tells us about his fascination with time. As his soon-to-be-published essay in the New Yorker will tell you, he’s been fascinated by time and has used photography to get inside it since he was a little boy. We’ll hear a recording of a baby becoming a young woman, in “Nancy Grows Up.” How did we get from a sundial – using the sun to tell us about the passing of time – to standarized time?

Radio Lab takes a spin through the history of time, making a stop at the way the railroads changed our experience of time and Rebecca Solnit, author of River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West joins us to describe how a photographs stopped time to create a horse floating in the air.Plus Jay Griffiths, author of A Sideways Look at Time, introduces us to the variety of clocks – spice clocks, flower clocks, potato clocks – that predated the wristwatch.

It’s All Relative

Both physicist Brian Greene and neurologist Oliver Sacks explain the very strange, very subjective nature of time.The elasticity of experience is expressed by sound artist Ben Rubin in a piece he produced for The Next Big Thing. We include an excerpt on being in “the zone.” His story features track stars: Shawn Crawford, Amy Acuff, Brendon Couts, Jason Pyrah, Derrek Atkins, Jon Drummond, and Larry Wade.

And much, much more!


2 responses »

  1. I realize this is an old post but I’m wondering which episode explored fear? I am a frequent listener of radiolab and am doing some research on fear and cannot figure out which of their episodes discussed fear. Thanks in advance for a reply.

  2. Wow, this is an old post!

    Could be here:

    Sunday, January 22, 2006
    The body has a system for getting out of trouble. Back when trouble meant being chased by a tiger, that system gave us a real survival edge. But these days, “trouble” is more likely to mean waiting in traffic… and “the system” is more likely to make us sick. Stanford University neurologist (and part-time “baboonologist”) Dr. Robert Sapolsky takes us through what happens on our insides when we stand in the wrong line at the supermarket and offers a few coping strategies: gnawing on wood, beating the crap out of somebody, and having friends.

    You could also email the Radio Lab crew:


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