Improv comedy puts uncertainty on center stage -- performers usually start by asking the audience for a prompt, then they make up the details as they go. But two actors in Chicago are taking this idea to its absolute limit, and finding ways to navigate the unknown.
Stories about walking the tightrope between doubt and certainty.
This spring, parts of the East Coast will turn squishy and crunchy -- the return of the 17-year cicadas means surfaces in certain locations (in patches from VA to CT) will once again be coated in bugs buzzing at 7 kilohertz. In their honor, we're rebroadcasting one of our favorite episodes: Emergence.
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit.
The inhumanly fast world of high-speed trading, an excruciatingly slow experiment, and a physicist plays Zeus.
We turn to doctors to save our lives -- to heal us, repair us, and keep us healthy. But when it comes to the critical question of what to do when death is at hand, there seems to be a gap between what we want doctors to do for us, and what doctors want done for themselves.
In this short, costumed scientists create a carefully choreographed childhood for a flock of whooping cranes to save them from extinction. It's the ultimate feel-good story, but it also raises some troubling questions about what it takes to get a species back to being wild.
Mel Blanc was known as "the man of 1,000 voices," but the actual number may have been closer to 1,500. Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Tweety, Barney Rubble -- all Mel. His characters made him one of the most beloved men in America. And in 1961, when a car crash left him in a coma, these characters may have saved him.
John and Zoltan are both blind, but they deal with the world in completely different ways -- one paints vivid pictures in his mind, while the other refuses to picture anything at all. In this short, they argue about the truth of a world they can't see.
200 miles above Earth's surface, astronaut Dave Wolf -- rocketing through the blackness of Earth's shadow at 5 miles a second -- floated out of the Mir Space Station on his very first spacewalk. In this short, he describes the extremes of light and dark in space, relives a heart-pounding close call, and shares one of the most tranquil moments of his life.
Getting a firm hold on the truth is never as simple as nailing down the facts of a situation. This hour, we go after a series of seemingly simple facts -- facts that offer surprising insight, facts that inspire deeply different stories, and facts that, in the end, might not matter at all.
"Hey kids," said physicist Tadashi Tokieda, "Wanna see a magic trick?" He pulled out a Slinky and did something that amazed the kids, & their dad Steve Strogatz. Steve, along with Neil deGrasse Tyson, explains what the gravity-defying Slinky trick reveals about the nature of all things great and small (including us).
Pain is a fundamental part of life, and often a very lonely part. Doctors want to understand their patients' pain, and we all want to understand the suffering of our friends, relatives, or spouses. But pinning down another person's hurt is a slippery business.
Celebrate the 35th anniversary of the launch of Voyager 2 (it rocketed off Earth on 8/20/77 carrying a copy of the Golden Record), and tip your hat to the Mars rover Curiosity as it kicks off its third week on the red planet, with a rebroadcast of one our favorite episodes: Space.
From a suburban sidewalk in southern California, Jad and Robert witness the carnage of a gruesome turf war. Though the tiny warriors doing battle clock in at just a fraction of an inch, they have evolved a surprising, successful, and rather unsettling strategy of ironclad loyalty, absolute intolerance, and brutal violence.
In early August of 1945, Tsutomu Yamaguchi had a run of the worst luck imaginable. A double blast of radiation left his future, and the future of his descendants, in doubt. In this short: an utterly amazing survival story that spans ... well, 4 billion years when you get down to it.