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Season 12 | Episode 3


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Cataclysmic destruction. Surprising survival. In this new live stage performance, Radiolab turns its gaze to the topic of endings, both blazingly fast and agonizingly slow.

This hour we celebrate the one thing that all things do: end. From the stage in Seattle, with an all-star cast of comedians and musical guests, we bring you stories that end with a bang, with a whimper, and with astonishing bravery and resilience in the face of one's own demise.



Glenn Kotche, Noveller and Reggie Watts


We’ve all heard the story of what happened on the day the dinosaurs died, right? Well, we thought we had. Turns out, high-powered ballistics experiments, fancy computer algorithms, and good old-fashioned ancient geology have given us a shocking new version of the events on that day, 66 million years ago. ...

Comments [30]

The Beginning of the End

Not much was left roaming Earth after the Dinosaurs were wiped out. But among the few survivors there was one little creature that crawled out of the ground and gave rise to nearly every mammal on Earth, including us. We meet our great, great, great, great, great...etc!...grandmother and try to ...

Comments [6]


Two actors who were losing their ability to move, to remember, to speak tell the story of the astonishing way they decided to face their own personal endings.

Comments [1]

Comments [38]

William Davis from Nashua, NH

What utter piffle! trying to describe a video using the medium of radio! Total CRAP!!!


Jan. 02 2017 07:25 PM

To you, who did not appreciate the humor or the science: turn those frowns upside down; let a smile be your umbrella. Come out of those sad, sad shells. The basic parts of this program--the dinosaur-centered parts--were outstanding. Imaginative, informative, and entertaining. I'm sorry the Negatifs making comments are so tightly cinched into their bloomers

Jan. 01 2017 08:18 PM

Seems we're lucky to exist during a relatively calm phase of the solar system's evolution, when large objects hitting the inner planets is reasonably rare. And at the same time, civilization has developed within an extra-long, relatively stable interglacial period. So ultimately, what are we going to do with these blessings? Mature to the point of being more advanced, and resilient as a species to things like natural cataclysm, or wither away because we're too dumb to get past tribalism and near term self-interest, and correct our mistakes? Tune in next millennium...

Jan. 01 2017 02:50 PM
Pallas from Columbia, MD

Where is this video?

The hypothesis (not "theory") presented during this episode would seem to be contradicted by the survival of birds and alligators, crocs, etc., whose ancestors were alive at the time of the dinosaurs. We know something survived yet this hypothesis presents a total apocalypse.

Jan. 01 2017 01:00 PM

"Oceans from US", the atmospheric temperature would have to stay at 1200° for a long, long time to evaporate the oceans. It could be fairly accurately calculated (and don't forget that evaporating water is an endothermic reaction) but I'd guess millions of years. The ocean is wide and deep :)

I won't address other commenters, as the comments are so OLD.

Dec. 31 2016 08:12 PM
Malcolm Drake from Grants Pass, Oregon, USA

Lots of scientific issues. To name one, if the gasified rock (which cooled into glass shards) reached as far into space as Mars, as claimed, it surpassed Earth's Escape Velocity, and would not likely return to earth.

Since when do pizza ovens cook at 1200°?

The diagrams showed the asteroid hitting Normal to the earth's surface? Did it?

What effect did the asteroid collision (and/or the "Mars size" object's collision) have on the speed of Earth's rotation? Could it have slowed the rotation enough that it increased the "effective gravity" , especially near the equator, resulting in dinosaurs being unable to support their weight?

Dec. 31 2016 08:05 PM
Oceans from US

If the earth heated up to 1200 degrees wouldn't the oceans become gas and evaporate?
How were the oceans effected by this extreme heat?

Really wish RadioLab ran a follow up to answer these questions.

Dec. 31 2016 12:36 PM

Very good show. The stories, the visuals, and the music were top notch.

Jun. 25 2016 09:39 PM
Stéphane from Argentina

Wow, this show seemed great, I'm sad I missed it :/

Stéphane Romanyszyn

Dec. 23 2015 09:18 AM
PJ from New Jersey

Your lack of scientific knowledge and the way the two of you giggle about it and get the audience to go har-har continue to appall me. And that attempt at a blues song or whatever that was sent me to change the station.

Dec. 20 2015 01:52 PM
Crtp from Ny

The music at the end of the dinosaur section was so high pitched it hurt my ears. I'm a big fan but please try to be more mindful with your sound editing. We already have plenty of ways to loose hearing with everyday life.

Feb. 15 2015 08:40 PM
casey longo from Boulder, Co

I am wondering if anyone can tell me which book that quote from Loren Eiseley came from? I loved it and have been hunting around but have been unable to find it.

Jun. 18 2014 11:00 AM
Jack Rosevear from London

Please don't try to be funny. What you have and what you are = perfect. The Blame Pod was profound. Here you undermine everything you have built up with cheap, weak slapstick and schlock. Stick to your knitting, chaps.

Jun. 08 2014 10:27 AM

As we are told in grade school and asteroid hit the earth, dust came up over the earth, and all the dinosaurs died. It was extremely fascinating to hear the possible detailed explanation of how it was done. I listened to the podcast version and not the video version but I assume the visuals are amazing for this podcast. The story of how the asteroid hit the earth and created a shower of tiny glass that covers the sky, raises temperatures to almost 1200 degrees and kills any living thing is a very terrifying story. The time it takes to kill the living creatures was a scary two hours of heat. Its hard to think of how this could happen again anytime soon in the future. Its a maddening thought.

Apr. 10 2014 11:40 PM
Plantlust from IL

A few questions:
1 - Would the asteroid effect be different if it would have hit water (ocean) first? Really, REALLY want explosion guy to create this experiment.
2 - If the entire world heats up, what happens to the oxygen? And if the oxygen is gone, how did the underground/underwater life survive the lack?
3 - Aren't crocs supposed to be unchanged since the age of the dinosaurs? Crocs live in both shallow land and water, so how could they have survived the glass hell balls?

Mar. 31 2014 05:39 PM
Ben Faulkner

Life definitely did not die out completely during the K-Pg event. In fact, since I am huge dinosaur nerd, it bothers me that the survival of birds (just a group of theropod dinosaurs) was not mentioned. Birds were living as part of dinosaur diversity for much of the Mesozoic. How did other terrestrial animals like mammals and crocodiles survive if temperatures got that high? I have been lucky enough to work with bonebeds from just before and just after the event in Montana. Biodiversity took a big hit, but it wasn't an extermination. I don't have any informed argument against the molten glass evidence, but all dinosaurs did NOT die then, and they are still going strong today.

Mar. 17 2014 02:42 PM
sleepytime from Not Seattle

Wow, Jad wasn't kidding when he described Reggie's bit as "a little Seattle-specific". I didn't have the slightest clue about anything Reggie was talking about and didn't find it even remotely funny.

Mar. 07 2014 11:16 PM

Is this the segment that just aired - 830-845 pm - 2/27......???

Feb. 27 2014 09:00 PM
Jonathan Kates from First state

I am confused. If the temp around the world was 500 degrees and that killed all of the dinos, wouldn't that also kill virtually ALL life on earth? Did life forms then start over from the beginning with single cell organisms?

Feb. 25 2014 07:46 AM
Jeff Aguiar from Stafford , VA

Did anyone ever figure out the answer to the poster aboves question about the first song Reggie performed. Does it have a name and is it available because i tried shaazam with no luck

Dec. 30 2013 11:28 PM
Elaine Fine

The beginning of Andersen's "The Snow Queen" seems to be serendipitously aligned with the glass rain theory:

"You must listen to the beginning of this story, for when we get to the end you will know more than you do now. It begins with a wicked hobgoblin who invented a looking-glass that had the power to make everything good or beautiful that was reflected in it seem to shrink to almost nothing, while it made everything that was worthless and bad look greater in size and worse than ever.

Everyone who went to the goblin's school—for he kept a school—talked of the wonders of this looking glass, and declared that people could now, for the first time, see what the world and mankind were really like. They carried the glass about everywhere until the people in every land had been looked at through this distorted mirror.

They wanted to fly with it up to heaven to see the angels, but the higher they flew, the more slippery the glass became, and they could scarcely hold it. At last it slipped from their hands, fell to the earth, and broke into millions of pieces, all of different sizes.

If one of the tiniest glass fragments flew into a person's eye, it would remain there unnoticed; but it would distort everything he saw. It would be even worse for someone to get a piece of glass in his heart because it would make his heart grow cold, like a lump of ice."

Dec. 25 2013 01:02 PM
J Jack from Delaware

I am curious if this event, the KT layer, also aligns with plant history as well. Orchids are some of the oldest plants, so I'm curious if there were changes or shifts in the plant community in similar fashion to animals changes.

Also, sepiae and Jim Gleeson, There is a difference between hypothesis, theory and law, but they don't seem to be as important as they once were. Gravity can be a theory and a law, but when refering to jumping off a bridge, you are refering to the law portion. In science, hypothesis and theories exsist to be broken through research. They are not fact. This is something people outside of science seem to forget. The information in this show is always evolving and changing and therefore can not be named fact no matter how much data or opinion exists until it's dubbed a law.

Dec. 25 2013 11:36 AM
נו, באמת

I feel like you left out an important detail. When suggesting that it was June/July when the dinosaurs were hit by an astroid based on remenants of flowers blooming, I assume they had to account for climate which may have been different then, no?

Dec. 24 2013 07:22 PM

I'm confused. I listened to the podcast and then watched the live show. I mostly watched the video for Reggie Watts set but on the video it's a completely different set. I thought this was weird because his set on the audio was sort of "Seattle specific"? Where's the video of the set from audio?

Dec. 19 2013 10:56 PM

Oh my, this show was Amazing! im so sorry I missed it.

Dec. 16 2013 11:02 PM
Dave from WI

I thought this live episode did not translate well to the podcast. Too much music with limited appeal and I skipped through all of Reggie Watts.
I also would have appreciated a warning of upcoming f-bombs in the last segment.
I also found the worldwide pizza oven hypothesis pretty dubious - long on speculative interpretation and short on scientific testing.

Dec. 16 2013 12:06 PM

1st of all to Jim Gleeson from Sydney, Australia, who left a comment:
I think you're being a lil to fussy here. I know what you mean, and I also cringed at the 'just a theory,' but I'm very, very sure it wasn't meant the same way as creationists evoke the sentence w/o understanding what a scientific theory is. I'm very sure Jad knows that the word he should have used was hypothesis [as the ultimate evidence is not yet clear cut - important to note, and they always do it]. But hey - it's a live show, the enthusiasm was clearly high, and we shouldn't hang anyone about this.
Obviously you guys put in a lot more than the 1st time - there's moments when I need a teletransporter. Or better sponsoring. Or to move to the States. The in-between brief descriptions of what went on on stage were TANTALIZING...! :) Very good of you to post the vid.
Great show, must've been fun, and thanks for getting it to those who couldn't attend as much as possible!

Dec. 13 2013 04:59 AM
Jim Gleeson from Sydney, Australia

I love Radiolab and I loved Apocalyptical.
But why do Robert's religious beliefs so often intrude? During the show, he said "there are some who believe" in the big bang theory, casually dismissing the combined research and expertise of the world's finest astronomers.
And elsewhere in the show, Jad said, "it's just a theory," being equally dismissive our body of scientific knowledge. In 1687, Isaac Newton proposed the idea of gravity, but I'm not going to jump off the Sydney Harbour Bridge because it's just a theory. Theories are the closest things that science has to facts.

I believe Radiolab has nothing to gain when Robert carries the banner for young-earth creationists, or when Jad represents unenlightened views.

Radiolab enlightens us - please don't trivialise your fine and brilliant work!

Jim Gleeson

Dec. 13 2013 04:45 AM


Great show! Curious if you could provide the name of the instrumental song played between 72:18 -73:40? I Shazam'ed it with no avail.


Dec. 12 2013 08:53 PM

I guess the better question is not how did the dinosaurs die, but how did *anything* survive? Seriously, you should do a short covering THAT.

Dec. 12 2013 03:58 PM

At 1:15:10 they start Dan’s story about Streetcar and how he isn't swinging his left arm.

At 1:16:34 we find out that Chris has Parkinson’s.

At 1:18:48 they talk about Dan & Chris both having Parkinson’s. When was Dan ever diagnosed? That seems to be missing in this audio. Am I missing something?

Dec. 11 2013 08:59 PM

'I can't go on. I'll go on.' is the last two sentences of the novel 'The Unammable.' Not a play.

Dec. 11 2013 05:06 PM
TreVor from Houston

I have one question, if the world was a pizza oven for at least a few hours, would we/do we see a significant rise in sea level, due to the probable melting of all the Earth's ice, snow, and glaciers in the rock record?

Dec. 11 2013 04:12 PM
TreVor from Houston

I have one question, if the world was a pizza oven for at least a few hours, would we/do we see a significant rise in sea level, due to the probable melting of all the Earth's ice, snow, and glaciers in the rock record?

Dec. 11 2013 04:12 PM

was SOOOO waiting for this one...!!!
can hardly wait...

Dec. 11 2013 04:20 AM
edna from Irvine, CA

Does the song Reggie Watts performed have a song (in the beginning part of his segment? If so, what is it called and how can I find it? Thanks!

Dec. 10 2013 06:29 PM
Erin from Not from Portland

Very cool! - too bad I couldn't catch the show live! For a moment, I thought that Reggie Watts was Robert - their speaking voices sound oddly similar....hmm I was thinking "I didn't know Robert could beatbox!!" Thanks again for expanding my mind and ears!

Dec. 10 2013 02:21 PM
Jamie York from NYC


If you've come here because you're having problems with the pop-up audio player on our home page for the Apocalyptical live show, we're sorry, we know it's not working and we're trying to fix it. The good news is that the audio embed player at the top of this page is working.

Thanks for listening,
Jamie York
Producer, Radiolab

Dec. 10 2013 12:11 AM

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