Apr 6, 2020


One of the most consistent questions we get at the show is from parents who want to know which episodes are kid-friendly and which aren’t. So today, we're releasing a separate feed, Radiolab for Kids. To kick it off, we're rerunning an all-time favorite episode: Space.

In the 60’s, space exploration was an American obsession. This hour, we chart the path from romance to increasing cynicism.

We begin with Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan, with a story about the Voyager expedition, true love, and a golden record that travels through space. And astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson explains the Coepernican Principle, and just how insignificant we are.

Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate 



THE LAB sticker

Unlock member-only exclusives and support the show

Exclusive Podcast Extras
Entire Podcast Archive
Listen Ad-Free
Behind-the-Scenes Content
Video Extras
Original Music & Playlists



JAD ABUMRAD: Hey everybody, it's Jad. Okay, I want to announce something that's kind of new. You know, we've been making Radiolab for a long time, almost 20 years. And one of the questions that we get almost more than any other is which of your episodes are kid-friendly? Which episodes can I listen to with my kids? And it felt like a really important question to answer now that so many of us are isolated in our homes and having to figure out home schooling. I'm certainly in that situation. So we wanted to -- we wanted to help you guys out. So we launched a new podcast, it's called Radiolab For Kids. Basically, we went through our entire archives, gathered together some of our most favorite kid-friendly episodes and put them all in one place. You can go to Radiolab.org and subscribe to it there or, you know, wherever you get your podcasts, search for Radiolab For Kids and you'll find it. And we're gonna keep adding to this feed. And just to kick the whole thing off, I thought I would play one episode that's in that group that we've curated. This is one of the first Radiolabs I ever made, and the reason I wanted to start with this one is, you know, it's funny, I've been having a lot of conversations in the last few weeks with my oldest kid who's 10. He's been asking me a lot of questions about space and black holes, and I found it to be a really comforting topic of conversation right now. And I don't know why, maybe it's something about the scale. You know, we're in this moment where we're thinking about shifting of scales, giant pandemics sweeping the globe, how humans are so tiny and powerless at times. And all of this can be very scary. Here's a chance to take some of that same way of thinking, that same way of shifting scales, but apply it to something that's much more about wonder and discovery. So hope you enjoy it. Here's an episode all the way back from the beginning of Radiolab. It's called Space.




JAD: Some people go to therapy, some to church. Others come here to the northwest corner of a parking lot on Fire Island, where most nights you'll find a handful of people looking up.


RON: I come down here quite often. It's a great place to stargaze. You got the sound of the ocean in the background with the crashing waves. It just adds to the relaxation of it, you know?


JAD: The night I visited this guy, Ron was about one of 20 enthusiasts huddled over astral maps, staring through telescopes of all sizes.


JAD: This is quite a -- quite a telescope you've got.


JAD: Some so big you needed a ladder.


CHILD: Wow, that's a big cluster of stars.


RON: Yes, it certainly is.


JAD: Do you get attached to certain stars?


JOHN: Oh, yeah. Yeah, you do. You begin -- you know, the first ones you ever found and stuff like that.


JAD: Do you remember your first?


JOHN: Yeah, Albireo was one of my -- I really like. Ron's gonna show it to you, I think.


JAD: I didn't catch your name, actually.


JOHN: John. John.


RON: What it is is that to the naked eye, Albireo just looks like a really faint single star, but when you look at it through a telescope ...


JOHN: Just have a look in there.


JAD: Yeah, yeah. Oh my God, they're so bright! Like little flashlights.


JAD: Through the telescope, Albireo looked like a headlight, bright and flat and close. Very immediate. But that was nothing compared to what happened next. A woman walks up, points her finger at the star ...


JAD: Okay. So is that -- is that the one up here?


JAD: ... and touches it.


JOHN: That one right there.


JAD: Touches the star.


JAD: That's really cool. [laughs] That was one of the coolest things I've -- describe what you just did, please.


LINDA: I turned on my green laser and I pointed it at the star.


JAD: It was one of the coolest things I have ever, ever, ever seen. Her name was Linda. She had a pen that was a laser, and when she turned it on a focused, bright green beam of light sprung from her hand to the star like a long green finger. She literally touched the star. And for a moment, I forgot the ground underneath my feet and that that star Albireo was 50 million light-years away. It seemed right there.


JAD: So tell me -- I mean, what do you see when you look up? Besides, you know, nebulas and stars and star clusters, but what do you sort of look for exactly?


RON: Well, you can really see sort of like where you are in the universe, or at least in our own galaxy. And it makes like a very interesting perspective for yourself, you know, and like, what life is like here and what life must be like in other worlds and whether or not there's other planets out there with people or different life forms that we can't even comprehend.


JAD: This is Radiolab. I'm Jad Abumrad. Today on the program, we're gonna project our minds out there to the great beyond and ask some basic questions. Here to help as always ...




JAD: Is Robert Krulwich.


ROBERT: And in this hour we discover how big -- oh, sorry. And in this hour we find ourselves in space. We discover how immense, how huge space is, and then we ask ourselves, "Now, where does that leave us?"


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: We are a speck on a speck on a speck on a speck.


ROBERT: And as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson will remind us later in the program, it is difficult for little specks like us to find walking, talking, intelligent specks somewhere else in the universe. But say what you will, we are trying.


JAD: Speaking of which, let's begin by rewinding the clock back to 1977.




JAD: This was a big year for the space program, because in August of that year NASA launched a spacecraft carrying a gold record. You remember this, right?


ROBERT: I do. I remember.


JAD: The record carried a message from us to them. Our story. Now it was Carl Sagan ...


[ARCHIVE CLIP, Carl Sagan: The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.]


JAD: Who led the team that made the record, and that team included -- actually, it was headed by Annie Druyan. I visited Annie at her home in Ithaca, New York, and we sat in the backyard near a waterfall in the same spot she says where Carl himself would sit and become so absorbed in what he was reading that he would not notice a deer standing right next to him.


ANNIE DRUYAN: My name is Annie Druyan, and I was honored to be the Creative Director of the Voyager Interstellar Message Project, which began in early 1977.


JAD: Now how did this come about? I think about the project now, and it's so exciting to think about. I mean, it's such a romantic idea. Did you know that at the time?


ANNIE DRUYAN: Absolutely. We felt, first of all, that this was a kind of sacred trust. That here we were, half a dozen very flawed human beings with huge -- huge holes in our knowledge of all of these subjects, building a cultural Noah's Ark. It was a chance to tell something of what life on Earth was like to beings of perhaps a thousand million years from now, because the -- the Voyager engineers were saying this record will have a shelf life of a billion years. If that didn't raise goosebumps then you'd have to be made of wood. It was also the -- the season that Carl Sagan and I fell so madly in love with each other. And here we were taking on this mythic challenge and knowing that before it was done two spacecraft would lift off from the planet Earth moving at an average speed of 35,000 miles an hour for the next thousand million years, and on it would be a kiss, a mother's first words to her newborn baby, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, greetings in the 59 most populous human languages, as well as one non-human language, the greetings of the humpback whales. And it was a sacred undertaking, because it was saying we want to be citizens of the cosmos. We want you to know about us.


JAD: Tell me about the moment you fell in love with Carl Sagan. You said it was during the Voyager compilation.


ANNIE DRUYAN: Yes, it was. It was on June 1st, 1977. I had been looking for some time for that piece of Chinese music that we could put on the Voyager record and not feel like idiots for having done so. And I was very excited because I'd finally found a ethnomusicologist composer at Columbia University who told me without a moment's hesitation that this piece, Flowing Streams, which was represented to me as one of the oldest pieces of Chinese music, 2,500 years old, was the piece we should put on the record. So I called Carl who was traveling. He was in Tucson, Arizona, giving a talk. And we had been alone many times during the making of the record and as friends for three years, and neither of us had ever said anything to the other. We were both involved with other people. We'd had these wonderful, soaring conversations, but we had both been completely just professional about everything and as friends. And he wasn't there, left a message. Hour later, phone rings. Pick up the phone and I hear this wonderful voice, and he said, "I get back to my hotel room and I find this message and it says Annie called. And I say to myself, 'Why didn't you leave me this message 10 years ago?'" And my heart completely skipped a beat. I can still remember it so perfectly. And I said, "For keeps?" And he said, "You mean, get married?" And I said, "Yes." And we had never kissed, we had never, you know, even had any kind of personal discussion before. We both hung up the phone and I just screamed out loud. I remember it so well, because it was this great eureka moment. It was just like a scientific discovery. And then the phone rang, you know? Like -- and it was Carl, and he said, "I just want to make sure. That really happened. We're getting married, right?" And I said, "Yeah, we're getting married." He said, "Okay. Just wanted to make sure." And the spacecraft lifted off on August 20th, and August 22nd we told everyone involved. And we were together from that moment until his death in 1996 in December.


JAD: Wow, talk about romantic, my God!


ANNIE DRUYAN: It was so romantic. And part of my feeling about Voyager obviously, and part of what I was feeling in the recording of my brain waves, my heart, my eyes, everything in that meditation on the record. I had asked Carl whether or not it would be possible to compress the impulses in one's brain and nervous system into sound and then put that sound on the record and then think that perhaps the extraterrestrials of the future would be able to reconstitute that data into thought. And he looked at me on a beautiful May day in New York City and said, "Well, you know, a thousand million years is a long time, you know? Why don't you go do it, because who knows, you know? Who knows what's possible in a thousand million years?" And so my brain waves and REM, every little sound that my body was making was recorded at Bellevue Hospital in New York. This was two days after Carl and I declared our love for each other. And so what I often think is that maybe a hundred million years from now, you know, somebody flags that record down, and I always wonder because part of what I was thinking in this meditation was about the wonder of love and of being in love. And to know it's on those two spacecraft. Even now in my -- whenever I'm down, you know, I'm thinking, "And still they move. 35,000 miles an hour, leaving our solar system for the great wide open sea of interstellar space."


JAD: Billions of years from now, the sun will have reduced this planet to a charred ashy ball, but that record with Ann Druyan's brain waves and heartbeat on it will still be out there somewhere intact in some remote region of the Milky Way preserving a murmur of an ancient civilization that once flourished on a distant planet.


ROBERT: Two hearts on a wing. Very nice.


JAD: It's lovely, right?


ROBERT: Yeah, it is. Although there are six plus billion earthlings right now, and the best thing I think about Earth is that we're so various.


JAD: Right.


ROBERT: So you're gonna get six-plus billion versions of being an Earthling.


JAD: Yeah, like if you were Annie Druyan and Carl Sagan, what would your recipe of us be? So we asked a bunch of people.




JAD: Comedian Margaret Cho, you know her?


ROBERT: Uh-huh.


JAD: Neil Gaiman, this graphic novelist. Michael Cunningham, an author. The very famous chef Alice Waters. They all sort of, you know, told us what they would send. I'll play you one. Not gonna play all ...


ROBERT: Yeah, just one. I don't want to hear them all.


JAD: It would take too long. You can hear all of them on our website actually, Radiolab.org. But here is one guy we asked. He's a composer.


PHILIP GLASS: This is Philip Glass speaking. The reason I've chosen Bach is that he had the ability to do two things at once. One was to -- to deal concretely with the language of music, almost you could say grammar of music. At the same time, while he was doing a lot, say, with one part of his brain, he was able to create music that we empathize with. He takes you by the hand as it were, and walks you into states of being that you didn't even know existed. Bach goes out in the spaceship. Whether anybody can hear it or not, we'll put it in the spaceship. But I would also recommend strongly that we bring music in from other world traditions, whether it's from Africa, or whether it's kind of a throat singing that you might hear in Siberia or in the Arctic, or wonderful flute playing that you might hear in South India. I was in India in 1966 or '67, and I was in a small village in the Himalayas called Kalimpong on the border of Bhutan and Tibet. And a friend of mine, a rug dealer, I had been in his shop numerous times to look at his rugs, ran out of the shop and said, "Oh, Mr. Glass come with me. I want to show you a picture." And he had gotten ahold of a film clip of Gandhi. It was a march he took in the '30s called the -- it was known as the Salt March. The English had put a tax on the use of salt. Thousands and thousands of people joined him and they walked into the sea, and they took their garments, put them into the water and harvested the salt.


[ARCHIVE CLIP, Mahatma Gandhi: There is an indefinable mysterious power that pervades everything. I feel it, though I do not see it.]


PHILIP GLASS: And I saw the picture of this tiny little man really, surrounded by thousands upon thousands of people leading this march. And it was so moving. I think what you have to do is get that piece of footage. It articulates in this very simple act how societies change, how people that appear to be powerless and insignificant can bring about huge changes.


JAD: Jad here. Robert and I will continue in a moment.


[CANDACE: I am Candace Crotty calling from St. Paul, Minnesota. Radiolab is supported in part by the National Science Foundation and by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org.]


JAD: This is Radiolab. I'm Jad Abumrad.


ROBERT: And I'm Robert Krulwich.


JAD: And this hour were talking about space, sending stuff into space, little messages in bottles or capsules as it were, so that the extraterrestrials of the future might one day find it.


ROBERT: If there are any.


JAD: Well, yes. Yes. But surely there are. I mean, someday Anne Druyan's space capsule is bound to run into someone and they'll know about us.


ROBERT: Well I -- just a second here. I know that the Anne story was beautiful and that you're in some kind of romantic haze ...


JAD: But hey!


ROBERT: But if you would just get a little more cold-hearted here about solid facts, you might feel differently about this whole thing.


JAD: What do you mean?


ROBERT: Well, what do you think is the likelihood of Anne's message of love ever being read by an intelligent alien somewhere in the universe?


JAD: I see where you're going with this. What do you have to ask that question? I mean, it's just a gesture. It's like a romantic thing.


ROBERT: No, no. This is an attempt, I think, to be fair to her, to have a real conversation. She wants someone to hear about this, but the chances are so remote when you consider the vastness of space. Suppose for example, you wanted to visit just -- I don't know, make it easy, the very next star to us, okay? Actually, that's too lucky. To meet a civilization, I think it would be so odd to come out and find one in the very first stop. Let's go four stars out to a star called Zeta Tucanae.


JAD: I see. You've been digging up on this.


ROBERT: I look -- I admit I looked it up. If we increase the speed of the Voyager capsule, Anne Druyan's message, from 35,000 miles an hour, that's how fast she was going, right?


JAD: Yeah, that's right.


ROBERT: Increase that speed to, say, a million miles an hour, how long do you think would it take for you to get to Zeta Tucanae?


JAD: 300 years.


ROBERT: Mm. 30,000 years.


JAD: Seriously? Whoa!


ROBERT: This, Jad Abumrad, is a 1,200 generation trip. Do you know where the Abumrads were 1,200 generations ago?


JAD: Where?


ROBERT: They were living in a cave beating on a drum. That's what they were doing. So imagine a space trip in which you have to go forward 1,200 generations. That's a long trip.


JAD: You're such a downer.


ROBERT: [laughs] Well, you think that's tough? Listen to this. There's a whole 'nother problem we're gonna have to deal with.


JAD: Oh boy.


ROBERT: Not the problem of distance. In this case, there's a problem of time. We have one of those too. Every civilization has an arc. You can think of it in threes.


ANNOUNCER: Step one.


[monkey sounds]


ANNOUNCER: Step two.


[ARCHIVE CLIP, radio: Let's welcome Seth Jackson and his Chesterfield Band of Florida.]


ANNOUNCER: And step three.


[Explosion. Man screaming.]


JAD: [laughs] What the hell was that?


ROBERT: Well, a million years ago we were practically apes.


[monkey sounds]


ROBERT: We'd hardly begun to have conversation. Now we have technology. We have radio and TV, and the universe can hear us.


[ARCHIVE CLIP, radio: How do you do?]


ROBERT: But how long will it be do you think, before either from global warming or from some kind of war we're ...


[Explosion. Man screaming.]


JAD: The way the news has been recently? Days, weeks.


ROBERT: [laughs]


JAD: In any case.


ROBERT: I'm gonna guess, like, a hundred million years or ten million years, but that's still a flash of time in a universe. Now suppose instead of one civilization, let's have two civilizations, another one out there.


JAD: Mm-hmm.


ROBERT: If they arrive on Earth ready to talk and we're, oh ...


[monkey sounds]


ROBERT: ... then there's no way to have the conversation. Or on the other hand, if they arrive on Earth after ...


[Explosion. Man screaming.]


ROBERT: ... then there's nobody to talk to.


JAD: I see.


ROBERT: And in a 14-billion-year universe with each civilization lasting, you know, only 10 million years, what are the chances of two civilizations lining up in perfect synchrony so they can have a conversation? It's almost mathematically impossible.


JAD: Yeah, fine, fine. But you have to keep something in mind though, right?




JAD: As a rule, people who make the argument you're making right now, pessimists as it were, as a rule those people are usually proven wrong, It's -- that's always how it goes. Let me play you something.


TIM FERRIS: Well, in the history of human navigation lots of things have seemed too lonely and too far away until someone did them.


JAD: This is the guy who produced the Voyager record. His name is Tim Ferris.


TIM FERRIS: I mean, settling Polynesia in canoes, navigating by the stars and the currents alone, and hitting a tiny island after crossing hundreds or even thousands of miles of open ocean, that's a pretty lonely, scary thing to do and yet thousands of Polynesians did it. So I don't know what our future in interstellar space flight will be, but it's -- it is important to keep in mind that the record of people who said that this or that journey of exploration is impossible or ill-advised, historically those sorts of predictions have not fared very well.


JAD: Yes, so you just hold your horses, right?


ROBERT: Well I mean look, Tim is talking about the Pacific Ocean which is big, but I'm talking about the universe here. Mine is a much, much bigger space and therefore a much, much, much bigger problem. And when I want to ask questions about space ...




ROBERT: I usually go to this guy.


BRIAN GREENE: See, now I realize what's happening here. I hear you through that speaker, but not through my headphones.


JAD: Who is this?


ROBERT: This is Brian Greene, Professor of Mathematics and of Physics at Columbia University.


ROBERT: Are we -- are we on? Okay.


ROBERT: So Jad, I said to Brian if we've got a spacecraft crawling through this vast, vast empty universe, how long a trip is it for just to start from wherever it is now to the -- to the end of the universe? And by the way, what is -- where is the end of the universe?


BRIAN GREENE: That's a very natural question. You know, in most environments you can walk for a while, but then you hit the end, you hit the end of the city, the end of the state, the end of the country. But when it comes to the universe, we believe that there's probably no edge. There is no end. Now how do you picture that? Well, one possibility is that maybe that the universe just goes on forever.


ROBERT: Mm-hmm.


BRIAN GREENE: Space may just carry on, you can just keep on going and you'll just never run out of space. The other possibility is it could be that you walk off into space for a while and you keep on walking, and after a while you realize that you've actually circled back to your starting point. Sort of like on the surface of the Earth, you don't find an edge. You can't fall off the Earth's surface because when you walk ultimately you'll come back to your starting point. That idea may apply to the fabric of space, to the entire cosmos.


ROBERT: Although the Earth analogy is a little insufficient because when I'm walking in Central Park, I am on the edge of the Earth, because when I look down I see Earth, but when I look up I see non-Earth, I see gas around the earth. So I'm at the edge.




ROBERT: It's as if I were on a balloon. I'm on the surface of the balloon looking out at non-balloonness.


BRIAN GREENE: Yeah, that's where the analogy fails. If you're on the surface of the Earth, you can jump off, you can jump up.




BRIAN GREENE: So it feels like you're on an edge. But in the universe there is no notion of jumping off because there is nothing beyond the space that we inhabit. It is all there is, and there is nothing outside of it.


ROBERT: And now to make things even harder for our little capsule traveling through space, we now know that space, that the universe and the space that it is is expanding, constantly expanding. So imagine our little craft, all alone in nothingness, and every minute there's more nothingness and more nothingness and more nothingness and more ...


ROBERT: Has this always been happening?


BRIAN GREENE: We think it's been happening since the very beginning. So if the Big Bang was the origin of the universe then this expansion has been going on for 13.7 billion years.


ROBERT: So there's more space all the time?




ROBERT: Does that mean that it takes a longer time to go from one part of the universe to another, is that ...


BRIAN GREENE: Absolutely. Absolutely.


ROBERT: So when you say something like the universe is expanding, what that seems to mean to you is that the empty spaces in the universe are getting bigger?


BRIAN GREENE: Yes. So the -- the intuitive but wrong picture would be that you picture the universe expanding into a pre-existing space, a pre-existing realm that the universe is now filling.


ROBERT: Like a balloon.


BRIAN GREENE: Like a balloon. Filling, say, the room in which you're blowing it up.




BRIAN GREENE: But that imagery is wrong in the following way: It's not that the universe is expanding into a pre-existing space, it's that as the universe expands it creates more space. It creates the new space that it then in habits.


ROBERT: Does that mean that there's no middle of the universe?


BRIAN GREENE: Yes. The old idea was that there is a central point in the universe, and the old idea was that we were at that central point in the universe. But in the current way and more modern way of thinking about the universe, there is no center. The universe is actually expanding, but it's not expanding from a certain point in space. All of space is stretching uniformly.


ROBERT: Brian Greene is Professor of Physics and Mathematics at Columbia University. This leaves us in a sort of strange position.


JAD: Yeah, lonely position.


ROBERT: In the sense that we have this little capsule riding somewhere in a space which just keeps changing. We don't know where it is or where we are relative to other things, and whatever we know is changing all the time. It used to be so different. Neil deGrasse Tyson who runs the Hayden Planetarium in New York City says once upon a time we knew where we were, at least we thought we knew where we were, and we were the stars.


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Well, before Copernicus, the idea of our place in the universe was largely accepted to be the center. It looked that way, for sure. You stand here on Earth and look up and the sun rises and sets and the moon rises and sets and the stars rise and set and the planets rise and set. When Copernicus came around, he put the sun in the middle of the known universe, allowing the planets to then go around the sun, relegating Earth to the status of a planet being one of these objects that goes around the Sun.


ROBERT: Now that was a very dangerous idea at the time, apparently.


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Yes, because that idea conflicted with all prevailing interpretation of scripture. It had deep societal ramifications, and Copernicus knew this. He knew it so well that he said, "I'm gonna make sure I'm dead before this hits the bestseller list." So ...


ROBERT: You mean, he didn't want to publish during his own lifetime?


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: This book was basically published on his deathbed.


ROBERT: Copernicus was 1600s?




ROBERT: 15? Okay.


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Oh, yeah. 1543 I think was the pub date.


ROBERT: So now what happens? So -- so now we're no longer -- humankind is no longer at the center of things. Now what?


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Well, we're no longer at the center of the then-known universe.


ROBERT: Right.


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: The then-known universe was the objects of the solar system, the planets. But you look up at the night sky beyond the planets, what do you see? Stars. There's stars in every direction. In fact, if you count how many stars are to your left, how many are to your right, how many are above and below -- it's about the same in every direction you look. Hey, maybe even if Earth is not the center of the solar system, the solar system is in the center of the rest of the universe.




NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Yeah. That's the ticket, okay? Now we can dig out of this hole that Copernicus put us in.




NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Let's go ahead and do that.


ROBERT: So our group is king.


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Oh yeah. Our little family of planets, we're in the center. And so that prevailed for a while, because it's a comforting concept not only for the public but for the scientists as well. It wasn't until the 1920s where Harlow Shapley, then head of Harvard College Observatory, noticed globular clusters. Those were more in one direction of the sky than the other.




NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: And he deduced that these things ought to know where the center of the gravity is, rather than these measly handful of stars that are sitting in front of us around on the sky.


ROBERT: Oh, you mean these big, fat concentration of stars?


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Big, fat, hundred thousand star beehive concentrations of stars. Star clusters. They ought to know where the center of the galaxy is, even if these single stars don't. And so he deduced that the center of the galaxy was off in the direction of Sagittarius on the sky, okay? So now people are fighting that, people are fighting that, but then all hell breaks loose because 1920s come in, Edwin Hubble grabs the business end of the biggest telescope of the day, and determines that these fuzzy things among the stars are not the same distance as the stars themselves. They're vastly farther away. In fact, you know, they kind of look like what this collection of stars might look like from afar. In fact, maybe they are other Milky Ways, maybe they are other galaxies, maybe we're not the whole story.


ROBERT: Oh boy.




ROBERT: Meanwhile, the sky keeps getting bigger and bigger and deeper and deeper and bigger and deeper and bigger and deeper. Yeah.


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Man, oh this was terrible for the ego.


ROBERT: I can tell you I'm disappointed myself.


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Oh, man. And so now okay, maybe we're in the center of the -- that universe.


ROBERT: Yeah, let's hope for that.


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Because we look this way, we see about the same number of galaxies this way as that way as that way as that way. Kind of looks like we're at the center. And they're all receding from us. So hey, we're at the center then. You know, but now we're smarter than this now. We're saying we're not gonna fall for that, okay? We've fallen for that one nine times already. We're not gonna fall for this again.


ROBERT: You mean, somebody's sitting there in the corner thinking, "Every time we make ourselves the star of the show, we're wrong."


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: We're wrong. So I'm -- we're not gonna make that mistake again. And so you then apply Einstein's general theory of relativity, and it says if you live in an expanding universe, in this fabric of space and time, no matter where you are it will look like you're at the center.


ROBERT: Which means what? There is no center?




ROBERT: Every center is an illusion.


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Yes. And so that's how we could look like we're at the center of the actual universe, even though we're not, because everybody sees the same signature of the expansion. Now there's an even stronger argument for -- than the numerics. Let's look at the ingredients of the human body. You learn from biology class we're mostly water.


ROBERT: Right.


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: But what is water mostly?


ROBERT: Hydrogen and oxygen.


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Hydrogen. Hydrogen and oxygen. Let's look in the cosmos. The number one ingredient in the cosmos is hydrogen. Next in the universe: Oxygen. Next on Earth and in life: Oxygen. Next in the universe: Carbon. Next in life: Carbon. Next in the universe: Nitrogen. Next in life: Nitrogen. One for one you go down the list. We are not simply in this universe, the universe is in us.


ROBERT: So we're not the center of the universe, we are on the side. Then our gang is not the center of everything but it's just out on a wing, and then a galaxy that we're a part of is one of many. And the fact that we are alive is maybe not unique.


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: I got something worse ...


ROBERT: How low can we go?


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Oh, we can go lower. You ready?




NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: You want to go lower?




NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Okay. We may not even be the principal stuff of the universe. That's how insignificant we are, okay?


ROBERT: What do you mean?


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: We have learned the universe has this stuff that has gravity but doesn't otherwise interact with matter as we know it. It doesn't shine. It doesn't reflect. It doesn't block. It's dark. It's called dark matter.


ROBERT: So how much of the universe is the stuff that we can either see or that is blocked but we can kind of detect?




ROBERT: [laughs]




ROBERT: What are you talking about?


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: I told you we're gonna sink low. You asked how low can we go?


ROBERT: You mean, like, 96 percent of the universe is missing?


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: 96 percent of the universe is not us, it's something else.


ROBERT: Is it your working bias that if I came to you with a new discovery in which we were less important, or a discovery which proposed that we were more important that you would guess that my scientific discovery that said we are less important is more likely to be right?


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: No doubt about it. That's correct. Now you cal that a bias, but I don't. I call that track record. [laughs]


ROBERT: [laughs]


NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Okay? Track record. We have among our exhibits here, our timeline of the universe that begins with the Big Bang and you walk the equivalent length of 100 yards, and time goes by with every step you take. 70 million years depending on how long your legs are. 70 million years per step.




NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Per step. And you do that for a hundred yards. And you get near the bottom, it's a gently sloping ramp. You get to the bottom of the ramp, and then you're reminded that 65 million years ago the dinosaurs were roaming the Earth ready to become extinct. And then you take one more step on this ramp and you reach modern-day. Well, at the end of that ramp we have mounted a single strand of human hair. The left side of that hair, cavemen were drawing cave paintings. The right side of that hair is this conversation right now. So we are a speck on a speck on a speck on a speck.


ROBERT: And the speck that you just heard talking, who is over six feet tall by the way, is Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City.


JAD: See that right there though, is why I think a lot of people don't like science. Because any time that anyone normal wants to say that we are important ...


ROBERT: Mm-hmm.


JAD: ... there's some scientist in a corner who's yelling, "Bah, that's just a speck!"


ROBERT: That's, you know, science's preference, but I don't -- I think artists, Shakespeare for example, who says what a piece of work is man, how noble in reason and all. It seems like it's art's job to say that we are special, significant, glorious, and it's science's job to say, "No, we're not."


JAD: Right. Well -- well, maybe art is where we should go next. Stay with us. I'm Jad Abumrad.


ROBERT: And I'm Robert Krulwich.


JAD: And Radiolab will continue in a moment.


[BRITT: Hi, my name is Britt Vann and I live in Manhattan.]


[ERICA: My name is Erica Stisser and I live in Brooklyn. And we've been best friends since fifth grade. Radiolab supported in part by the National Science Foundation and by the Alfred P, Sloan Foundation.]


[BRITT: Enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern worlds.]


[ERICA: More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org.]


JAD: This is Radiolab. I'm Jad Abumrad.


ROBERT: And I'm Robert Krulwich.


JAD: And this hour on Radiolab we're looking at space. More specifically, our place in it, our place in the cosmos.


ROBERT: It's big. We're little.


JAD: Yes. But since, as you mentioned before the break, sometimes artists have their own particular ways of tilting things back in our favor, let me introduce you to someone.


JAD: Introduce yourself.


JAD: He's an artist.


DARIO ROBLETO: I'm Dario Robleto.


JAD: Dario Robleto.


DARIO ROBLETO: An artist. Live in San Antonio, Texas.


JAD: I ran into Dario actually New York at the Whitney Museum. He was 27, and this was his first solo show.


DARIO ROBLETO: My first show here in New York, first solo show at the Whitney.


JAD: Sculpture, mostly. That's his main thing. But on a side wall, he was displaying some photographs.


JAD: So tell me what we're looking at.


JAD: Which I asked him to show me.


DARIO ROBLETO: It's a series of seven digital photographs framed on the wall.


JAD: Side by side, seven photos all showing the same thing.


DARIO ROBLETO: Tomato seeds.


JAD: Seeds.


DARIO ROBLETO: That are at different stages of blossoming.


JAD: Think back to kindergarten. That's what these remind you of. The day your teacher came in and said, "Okay class, we're gonna grow some seeds." These pictures are of that day. But more specifically, the day the seeds actually grew. Because each photo -- and there are seven -- shows one seed, tiny little seed, poking its head out of a massive cup.


DARIO ROBLETO: So what I did was these are custom-made porcelain cups. If you can imagine the size of a Styrofoam cup.


JAD: Dario made the cups, put some dirt and a seed inside, and then crammed the top full of cotton.


DARIO ROBLETO: Cotton, which is also another schoolroom element.


JAD: Final step: When the seeds grew, like right at the moment that they grew, he snapped photos.


DARIO ROBLETO: They're -- each one's at a slightly different stage of development, but basically it's -- it's that moment when the leaves are pushing at -- like, you know, waking up from a long sleep, which that one kind of looks like yawning and your arms go up in the air. Also, I should point out that there's text printed right on the cups just as if, you know, a kid had written their name or something.


JAD: In loopy cursive.


JAD: Can you read me the names of the people on there?


DARIO ROBLETO: Yeah. So we have M.J. Smith, F.R. Scobee, S.C. McAuliffe, J.A. Resnik ...


JAD: Maybe you recognize those names, maybe not. But here's the backstory as Dario tells it. It's 1984. Everyone's excited about space, and NASA ...


DARIO ROBLETO: NASA built this probe. It's called the LDEF. It stands for the Long Duration Environmental Facility.


JAD: This was a probe that was basically meant to store things for long periods of time. So it had all these compartments.


DARIO ROBLETO: 52 compartments, I believe. And NASA for the first time opened it to the public.


JAD: It was brilliant PR. They said, "Okay, America. We've got this probe with all these compartments. What would you like to send into space?"


DARIO ROBLETO: They kind of said, you send in a proposal for what you'd like to put on board ...


JAD: And we'll consider it. People of all stripes sent in ideas: Ant farms, paint samples, pond water.


DARIO ROBLETO: All the way to a group of school kids got together and said, "Hey, can we put some seeds on board?" So and NASA's, I think, seeing the great potential in what these children proposed, furthered the experiment a bit and put aboard a lot of seeds for the sole purpose that when they returned they would be redistributed to the classrooms as a cool, you know, space seed artifact.


JAD: April 6, 1984, the probe filled with seeds and all kinds of things goes aboard the space shuttle.


DARIO ROBLETO: It goes aboard on the space shuttle Challenger.


JAD: Launches successfully.


DARIO ROBLETO: Probe is deployed from the Challenger, and it was scheduled to be picked up on the next shuttle mission by the Challenger. Well, the day on that pickup mission was the day the Challenger exploded.


[ARCHIVE CLIP, NASA: Coming up on the 30-second point in our countdown. T-minus 30 seconds and we have a go for outer sequence start. Four, three, two, one, and lift off! Lift off of the 25th space shuttle mission. And it has cleared the tower.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, NASA: Control. A major malfunction. The vehicle has exploded. Contingency procedures are in effect.]


JAD: In a flash, seven people were gone and America changed its mind about space.


DARIO ROBLETO: And the whole space program got put on hiatus for I think it was almost two years.


JAD: And meanwhile, that little probe the Challenger had been on its way to get and which was only supposed to be up there for about nine months, well it stayed up there.


DARIO ROBLETO: This is a case where something literally got lost in space, because this is ...


JAD: It was floating out there.


DARIO ROBLETO: This probe, designed for nine months, ends up sitting in orbit for almost seven years.


JAD: January 19th, 1990, the probe is finally brought back after seven years by another space shuttle mission, this time without fanfare. Because all the kids that would have wanted those seeds were grown up. They didn't know or care anymore. And the only people that did were collectors, NASA geeks.




JAD: And Dario ...


DARIO ROBLETO: I was able to obtain some of those seeds that went aboard that day.


JAD: Through an online auction.


DARIO ROBLETO: Luckily, they were vacuum-sealed the whole time, but they were incredibly moody little seeds. They did not want to cooperate.


JAD: He planted the seeds in the cotton-filled cups, and the seeds did break through the cotton like spaceships bursting through clouds. And right as they did, he snapped photos. But then days later, and suddenly, they all died. All of them.


JAD: So none of these seeds are alive anymore?


DARIO ROBLETO: No, and -- and I wanted them to, and like I said they just -- something just wasn't right anymore. I had originally, you know, wanted to take them to full bloom. It just -- it wasn't meant to be. But getting it here was quite a miracle. So I'll take this -- this stage.


JAD: If you willfully invest in the illusion of a photograph as Dario does, this stage means that the seeds and everything they represent, the lives of the crew, the hope of a class of schoolkids, is frozen.


DARIO ROBLETO: Alive again, forever.


JAD: Forever. Then again, this is just an art project. Sometimes reality doesn't cooperate, because here's the sad coda to the story. It turns out the shuttle that picked up the probe in 1990 and brought it back was the Columbia. And just before Dario was preparing to show his pictures ...


DARIO ROBLETO: Just by coincidence, I had the photographs laid out in front of me going over some framing issues when the tragedy was first reported that morning.


[NEWS CLIP: We are breaking in with sad news this morning. The space shuttle Columbia has been seen apparently breaking up in the skies over Texas as it returned to Earth shortly after 9:00 a.m. Eastern time this morning. Search and rescue teams are reported ...]


DARIO ROBLETO: To know suddenly the only two shuttles that these seeds ever had anything to do with were the two that we lost, it really hit me hard.


JAD: Dario Robleto's an artist. Lives in San Antonio, Texas.


ROBERT: Nobody promised that space travel would be safe or pleasant or easy or even rewarding. All that was promised was that it would be an adventure, and sometimes we were in the mood and sometimes we weren't.


JAD: Well, Anne Druyan, Carl Sagan's widow who began the show, she remembers what it was like at the very beginning.


ANNIE DRUYAN: President Kennedy, 1962, makes a speech which if you read about it in Herodotus, you know, that some Persian king decreed that we would walk on the moon.


[ARCHIVE CLIP, John F. Kennedy: We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon.]


ANNIE DRUYAN: It was the stuff of dreams.


[ARCHIVE CLIP, John F. Kennedy: We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we're willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.]


ANNIE DRUYAN: Now of course, it was in reality part of the worst part of the Cold War and the madness of the nuclear arms race, but it brought out the very best in a whole bunch of people. And I remember feeling in first walking on the moon, when Americans first walked on the moon, you know, I was enraged at my government's conduct in the world, horrified by it. But I had to admit that it made me really proud. And then as soon as NASA became involved with the space shuttle, we lost the grand purpose. And it was very much to me as a mother of two children, remembering when they were young that when they would -- were toddlers and they were first learning to walk, they would run away from me and encounter some frightening reality 10, 12 feet away and then turn around and come running back to be around my ankles. And that's what the last 25 years of the space program has been like. A kind of retreat to our mother's skirts.


JAD: Yeah, according to Annie Druyan, somewhere around the space shuttle we lost our nerve.


ROBERT: Yeah, although there is now a new generation of people who would be space explorers and who say in the loud as possible way, "We don't want to be sissies in space anymore."


[ARCHIVE CLIP, Peter Diamandis: But of course, we've thought about the government always as the person taking us there.


ROBERT: Take this guy.


[ARCHIVE CLIP, Peter Diamandis: But I put forward here the government is not going to get us there. The government is unable to take the risks required to open up this precious frontier. The shuttle's costing a billion dollars a launch. That's a pathetic number! That's unreasonable.


ROBERT: That was Peter Diamandis. Remember him?


JAD: Mm-mm.


ROBERT: The guy who offered the X Prize?


[NEWS CLIP: The X Prize.]


[NEWS CLIP: The X Prize. A global contest to build the first commercially-manned spaceship.]


ROBERT: That space prize?


JAD: Right.


ROBERT: He was at a conference in Oxford in England called TED Global. It was an audience filled with entrepreneurs and technologists and he said to them, "You know why I created this prize? You know what's really gonna get people interested in space, exploring space, taking risks in space again?"


[ARCHIVE CLIP, Peter Diamandis: As we go forward ...]


ROBERT: And here his instinct is kind of different from Annie Druyan's. What's gonna bring people back to space, he says ...


[ARCHIVE CLIP, Peter Diamandis: Is wealth.]


ROBERT: Money.


[ARCHIVE CLIP, Peter Diamandis: In fact, the greatest wealth. If you think about these other asteroids ...]


JAD: Wealth? Asteroids?


ROBERT: Think how much you could make if you could own an asteroid.


[ARCHIVE CLIP, Peter Diamandis: There's a class of the nickel iron which in platinum group metals markets alone are worth something like $20-trillion if you can go out and grab one of these rocks. And my plan is actually buy puts on the precious metal market and then actually claim that I'm gonna go out and get one. That will fund the actual mission to go and get one.]


JAD: Hold on. What are -- what a puts?


ROBERT: That's what you do to finance grabbing one of those rocks, as he puts it.


JAD: [laughs]


ROBERT: But the key here remember is that you got to create a business. And to do that you need a business plan, some reason to invest and build and do. For that he has actually kind of a cool phrase.


[ARCHIVE CLIP, Peter Diamandis: So we need what I call an exothermic economic reaction in space.]


ROBERT: Which in ordinary English means that there's got to be some way to get entrepreneurs to spend money, their own money, on some kind of space stuff.


JAD: And how, exactly?


ROBERT: Well, his first notion was he would sell tickets to rich billionaires. He sold a seat on the Russian space shuttle, the Soyuz, for $20-million.


[ARCHIVE CLIP, Peter Diamandis: $20-million.]


JAD: What?


[ARCHIVE CLIP, Peter Diamandis: Under -- that is -- it is expensive, but people are willing to pay that.]


JAD: Not any people I know.


ROBERT: Well -- but [laughs]. Yeah, I guess you're not gonna get a whole lot of people at prices like that.


JAD: Uh-uh.


ROBERT: So then he came up with a bigger, bolder, broader plan, which was a prize.


JAD: A prize?


ROBERT: Because remember when Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic?


JAD: No, I don't remember. I wasn't born yet.


ROBERT: [laughs] Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic to win a prize.


JAD: That's really why he crossed? Seriously?


ROBERT: Yeah, for a cash prize.


JAD: Huh.


ROBERT: Peter thought, "Why don't I create a prize of my own?" And he came up with the number 10 million bucks. That would be the prize.


JAD: Why $10 million, exactly?


ROBERT: Because it was just big enough to be really attractive to young scientific teams all over the world, $10-million, and just small enough to be boring to conservative, clunky companies like Lockheed and Boeing who wouldn't ever think of anything interesting, anyway.


JAD: He was trying to split the difference, I guess.


ROBERT: Yeah. But, you know, Peter doesn't have that kind of money. He's not a government. So where do you get $10-million?


[ARCHIVE CLIP, Peter Diamandis: Probably the most difficult thing that I had to do was raise the capital for this, I went to a hundred, 200 CEOs, CMOS, no one believed it was done. Everyone said, "Well, what does NASA think?" "Well, people are gonna die. How can you possibly put this forward?" And what I ended up doing was going out to the insurance industry and buying a hole-in-one insurance policy.]


ROBERT: You know how rare it is to hit a hole-in-one on a golf course?


JAD: Yeah.


ROBERT: Well, the insurance industry will make you a betting proposition. If you go to the insurance company and say, "I bet that I can go up and down in space twice in the same two-week period," and they go, "No, you can't," and you say, "Well, I'll give you a million dollars in premiums if you give me a $10-million insurance policy." He made the offer, the insurance company said, "Well, this isn't gonna happen," right?


[ARCHIVE CLIP, Peter Diamandis: See, the insurance companies went to Boeing and Lockheed and said, "Are you gonna compete?" No. "Are you gonna compete?" No. So no one's gonna win this thing. So they took a bet that no one would win by January of '05 and I took a bet that someone would win.]


ROBERT: And amazingly ...


[NEWS CLIP: Today, pilot Mike Melville made aviation history.]


ROBERT: ... just two months before the deadline ...


[NEWS CLIP: The privately-funded rocket plane Spaceship One ...]


[NEWS CLIP: ... flew to the edge of space in a privately-funded vehicle.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, Peter Diamandis: So -- and -- and the best thing is they paid off and the check didn't bounce.]


ROBERT: Plus, he got tons of publicity. He incentivized young scientists all over the world. He did it with other people's money. But then just as he was finishing the presentation, there was this guy in the room who got up and said ...


[ARCHIVE CLIP, audience member: I almost wasn't going to ask this because I didn't want to end on a negative note.]


ROBERT: Said, "You know, Peter Diamandis, maybe you're not that brilliant. Maybe all you are is lucky."


[ARCHIVE CLIP, audience member: By encouraging innovation so effectively, you are encouraging risk-taking.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, Peter Diamandis: Yes.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, audience member: And it is inevitable that sooner or later there will be deaths ...]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, Peter Diamandis: Yes!]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, audience member: ... as a result of this.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, Peter Diamandis: Absolutely.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, audience member: And you're also ...]


[Audience laughs]


JAD: That was a little too enthusiastic.




[ARCHIVE CLIP, audience member: You've also made a very coherent explanation of why frankly in PR terms, investing in prizes is very, very good value because you get a vast amount of publicity and you're assuming it's all good publicity. But I can just see the -- again, the U.S. broadcast media and the British press media ripping you to shreds because you've encouraged lots of innocent young 25 year olds from Romania and Argentina and whatever to kill themselves.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, Peter Diamandis: Quick answer.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, audience member: Okay.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, Peter Diamandis: Well, it's an important answer. Guys, I'm gonna take my hat on as an American. I am thankful that 500 years ago, thousands of people gave their lives to cross the Atlantic and explore the Americas. And I'm thankful that -- that 200 years ago they crossed the Great Plains. No one has the right to say for my children and their children that we shouldn't take the risk now to open these frontiers. And if it's up to the individual to risk their life, so be it.]


[Audience applauds]


JAD: Yeah, but that's -- that's -- that was a cop-out answer, I have to say. Because when those people he's referring to, the people who crossed the Atlantic, crossed the plains, when they did all those things and then when many of them died, I mean thousands of -- I don't know how many.


ROBERT: Thousands, I'm sure.


JAD: Anyway, but when they died, those early Americans, they died alone. There were no TV cameras around, there was no Scott Simon on the radio. They were by themselves.


ROBERT: I think you're right.


JAD: It was a completely different time.


ROBERT: When you make it sensational, people will die sensationally. And then what's gonna happen to the money and the entrepreneurs and the businessmen?


JAD: Right. That's exactly right.


ROBERT: Businessmen don't exactly have a sterling reputation for sticking by their guns. If you have a small financial problem showing up in Brazil, people all over the world pull their money out of Brazil. You get a total rush for the exits. Total collapse.


JAD: It's true, they're always the first to leave. You know, money and wealth, it's good motivators to get us back to space, but once you get there, it's got to be about something more than that.


ROBERT: Like what, though? Because I agree with you, it's just ...


JAD: Well, it's -- I don't even know what to call it, exactly. But you certainly hear it. Take the last transmissions from the moon in December of 1972.


ROBERT: Uh-huh. Oh, last time we were there.


JAD: Yeah, the last time we were there. The voices you hear of those astronauts coming back, when you hear them talking ...


[ARCHIVE CLIP, NASA: Ignition sequence. All engines are started.]


JAD: You hear something else.


[ARCHIVE CLIP, NASA: Two, one, zero, We have a lift-off. We have a lift-off and it's lighting up the areas. It's just like daylight here at Kennedy Space Center. The Saturn V is moving off the pad.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, astronaut: We're right over South America and of course we can see up the Gulf Coast, and it looks like Houston's covered with clouds.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, astronaut: Hey, I just saw a flash on the lunar surface. Just a pinprick of light.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, astronaut: Okay, I got the landing site. We're right over the top of it.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, NASA: Challenger, you're go for landing.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, astronaut: Oh, are we coming in. Oh, baby. Stand by for touchdown. 10 feet.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, astronaut: Got contact. Okay, Houston, the Challenger has landed.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, NASA: Roger, Challenger. That's super.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, astronaut: Houston, you can tell America that Challenger is at Taurus Littrow.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, astronaut: I'd like to dedicate these first steps of Apollo 17 to all those who made it possible. I'm out here. Oh, my golly! Unbelievable. Just walk around for one second.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, astronaut: [singing] I was strolling on the moon one day, in the merry, merry month of December.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, astronaut: No, May.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, astronaut: May.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, astronaut: Hey, there he is. It's all over.]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, astronaut: Hey, it is! I can see it from here! Orange!]


[ARCHIVE CLIP, astronaut: Here man completed his first exploration of the moon. December, 1972 A.D. And if we leave the moon at Taurus Littrow, we leave as we came and God willing as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.]


JAD: The Last Transmission From the Moon, produced by Barrett Golding for HearingVoices.com. Thanks to him. If you want to hear that again or anything else in the program again, visit our website, Radiolab.org. We are now podcasting. Oh, and also on our website there are a couple of things which didn't make it into the program today, little space capsules.


ROBERT: Little artsy little compositions, yes.


JAD: Yes, so famous people saying what they would send into space. I know they're your favorite. You can find it Radiolab.org. And last but not least, if you want to send us email, Radiolab@wnyc.org is the address. I'm Jad Abumrad.


ROBERT: And I'm Robert Krulwich.


JAD: Thanks for listening.


[KATHLEEN: I'm Kathleen Kasual, and I'm calling from Brussels, Belgium. Radiolab is created by Jad Abumrad with Robert Krulwich and produced by Soren Wheeler. Dylan Keefe is our Director of Sound Design. Suzie Lechtenberg is our Executive Producer. Our staff includes Simon Adler, Becca Bressler, Rachael Cusick, David Gebel, Bethel Habte, Tracie Hunte, Matt Kielty, Annie McEwen, Latif Nasser, Sarah Qari, Arianne Wack, Pat Walters and Molly Webster. With help from Shima Oliaee, W. Harry Fortuna, Sarah Sandbach, Malissa O'Donnell, Tad Davis and Russell Gragg. Our fact-checker is Michelle Harris.]

Copyright © 2020 New York Public Radio. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use at www.wnyc.org for further information.


New York Public Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline, often by contractors. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of New York Public Radio’s programming is the audio record.