From Tree to Shining Tree [Radiolab]

2019-02-24_Blog_TreesRadiolabI love trees and forests. I’ve loved them since I was a girl, when I’d wander in the woods that backed up to our yard, build lean-tos, and feel some magical sense of wonder being around the trees. Even today, out on a walk, I’ll stop next to a tree, lean against it, touch it, and experience the bark. There’s a connection I’ve always felt, but never understood.

This Radiolab episode feeds right into those feelings and makes me suspect my feeling of connection is grounded in the trees themselves.

The episode introduces the idea that trees are not just single organisms doing their own individual thing, but part of interconnected forest networks, communicating not just with other trees—including other tree species—but also with underground fungi. It’s a network of exchanged resources, the trees depending on the fungi for minerals and the fungi depending on the trees for sugar.

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Nukes (and the President) [RadioLab]

(Photo Credit: Official CTBTO Photostream)

My early exposure to the concept of nuclear war was oddly calm: duck under your school desk, cover your head, and all will be right with you and the world.  It was only later, when visuals on TV showed more horrific images, that the terror of it became clear; along with the inanity of “duck and cover,” that tender ode to nuclear annihilation.

I was a child during the Cuban Missile Crisis. As a child, I didn’t truly understand the horrors the world was facing. As an adult, it’s becoming all too clear, especially with the current saber-rattling of nations around the globe. Including ours.

Which got me to wondering: what are the “rules” around launching a nuclear bomb? Who gets to authorize it (the President) and can anyone stop him from doing so (no).  This RadioLab episode provides a unique look at the process, considering it from the perspective of a military officer who would receive a call to launch. Could he refuse to act?

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Spying On a City [RadioLab]

2015-09-03 22.26.52

As a kid, getting spied on usually meant Mrs. Harper down the street had seen me doing something I shouldn’t be doing, and reporting it to my mom.  As long as I kept clear of Mrs. Harper, I could safely mess around and not get busted.

Now, my computer may be spying on me.  “Cover up the camera on your computer,” I’m warned, “hackers may be watching you.”

Then there’s my phone. If it’s always ready to respond to my “Hey Siri,” how can I know for sure it isn’t listening to other conversations?

And with the Internet of Things, I have to start worrying about whether my refrigerator, my TV, my washing machine, or my toaster are recording my words or movements.  Because “wiretapping” now appears to include the possibility that our microwaves are listening.

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9-Volt Nirvana [RadioLab]

Hot Wire the Brain

Juice the brain. No more than a 9-volt battery. And suddenly, bam! You become an invincible sharp-shooter.  Firing away at virtual killers, bringing them down with perfect accuracy. Where minutes before the juice, you’re lying in a pool of virtual blood.

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