Saigon, 1965
45 min

In the early 1960s the Pentagon set up a top-secret research project in an old villa in downtown Saigon. The task? To interview captured North Vietnamese soldiers and guerrillas in order to measure the effect of relentless U.S. bombing on their morale. Yet despite a wealth of great data, even the leaders of the study couldn’t agree on what it meant.

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Science Friday
Science Friday
Science Friday and WNYC Studios
Ig Nobel Prizes, Koji Alchemy. Nov 27, 2020, Part 2
Laugh Along At Home With The Ig Nobel Awards We know traditions are different this year. Maybe you’re having a small family dinner instead of a huge gathering. Maybe you’re just hopping on a video call instead of going over the river and through the woods. At Science Friday, our holiday tradition of broadcasting highlights from the annual Ig Nobel Awards ceremony is different this year too. Rather than being recorded live in front of a cheering crowd at Harvard’s Sanders Theater, the ceremony was virtual this year. But one thing remains the same—awards went to a bunch of genuine scientists for research that first makes you laugh, then makes you think. This year marks the ceremony’s 30th anniversary. Marc Abrahams, editor of the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research and master of ceremonies for the awards, joins Ira to talk about Ig Nobel history, and to share highlights from this year’s winners. Koji: The Mold You Want In Your Kitchen When chef Jeremy Umansky grows a batch of Aspergillus oryzae, a cultured mold also known as koji, in a tray of rice, he says he’s “bewitched” by its fluffy white texture and tantalizing floral smells. When professional mechanical engineer and koji hobbyist Rich Shih thinks about the versatility of koji, from traditional Japanese sake to cured meats, he says, “It blows my mind.” Koji-inoculated starches are crucial in centuries-old Asian foods like soy sauce and miso—and, now, inspiring new and creative twists from modern culinary minds. And Shih and Umansky, the two food fanatics, have written a new book describing the near-magical workings of the fungus, which, like other molds, uses enzymes to break starches, fats, and proteins down into food for itself. It just so happens that, in the process, it’s making our food tastier. You can grow koji on grains, vegetables, and other starchy foods, and make sauces, pastes, alcohols, and vinegars. Even cure meats. Umansky and Shih say the possibilities are endless—and they have the koji pastrami and umami popcorn to prove it. Plus, Urmansky and Shih share some of their favorite koji-inspired holiday dishes and leftover recipes—from turkey amino spreads to cranberry sauce amazake to soy sauce-infused whipped cream. Read more on Science Friday!
47 min
How to Save a Planet
How to Save a Planet
Gimlet
If Miami Will Be Underwater, Why Is Construction Booming?
Miami Beach could be mostly underwater within eighty years, but construction of new beachfront properties is booming. What’s behind this disconnect? To find out, writer Sarah Miller went undercover posing as a high end buyer to meet with real estate agents across the city. Here’s the story of what she found. Sarah Miller’s piece, along with 40 other amazing essays by women at the forefront of the climate movement, appear in the book Ayana co-edited with Dr. Katharine Wilkinson, All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis. To find out more about the book and all of the contributors, visit allwecansave.earth. The essay is read by actor Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as excerpted from the star-studded audiobook for All We Can Save. Calls to action Check out this map of sea level rise projections from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to see what areas we likely to become inundated. Check out the rest of the climate anthology that Ayana co-edited, All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, at allwecansave.earth. Since we’re a podcast, we recommend checking out the audiobook version, which includes America Fererra, Janet Mock, Sophia Bush, Ilana Glazer, and Jane Fonda among the readers. If you take an action we recommend in one of our episodes, do us a favor and tell us about it! We’d love to hear how it went and what it felt like. Record a short voice memo on your phone and send it to us at howtosaveaplanet@spotify.com. We might use it in an upcoming episode.
26 min
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect
WNYC Studios
The Most Perfect Album: Episode 9
This season, More Perfect is taking its camera lens off the Supreme Court and zooming in on the words of the people: the 27 amendments that We The People have made to our Constitution. We're taking on these 27 amendments both in song and in story. This episode is best listened to alongside 27: The Most Perfect Album, an entire album (an ALBUM!) and digital experience of original music and art inspired by the 27 Amendments. Think of these episodes as the audio liner notes. In More Perfect's final episode of the season, listen to liner notes for two amendments that contemplate the still-unfinished status of our Constitution. "27" is an album that marks a particular point in our history: this moment when we have 27 Amendments to our Constitution. What will be the 28th? Maybe it will address our nation's capital. The capital has been a bit of a Constitutional anomaly for much of our nation's history — it's at the heart of the democracy, but because it's not a state, people in Washington D.C. have been disenfranchised almost by accident. The 23rd Amendment solved some of the problem — it gave D.C. the right to vote for president. But it left much of D.C.'s representation questions unanswered. D.C. still does not have voting representation in Congress. Instead, D.C. sends a "non-voting delegate" to Congress. For this liner note, More Perfect profiles that delegate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and her unique approach to fighting for power in a virtually powerless role. The song for the 23rd Amendment is by The Mellow Tones, a group of students from D.C. high school Duke Ellington School of the Arts, along with their teacher Mark G. Meadows. The chorus, "Why won't you count on me?" reflects on the continued disenfranchisement of our nation's capital. The final amendment of the album, the 27th Amendment, put limits on Senators' ability to give themselves a pay raise, and it has arguably the most unusual path to ratification of all 27. The first draft for the amendment was written by none other than James Madison in 1789, but back then, it didn't get enough votes from the states for ratification. It wasn't until a college student named Gregory Watson awakened the dormant amendment centuries later that it was finally ratified. The 27th Amendment song is by Kevin Devine and tells Watson's story.
24 min
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