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Terrestrials from WNYC Studios is a show for people of all ages that explores the strangeness that exists right here on Earth. In each episode, host Lulu Miller (co-host of Radiolab) will introduce you to a creature or earthly phenomenon that will defy your expectations of how nature is supposed to work. Along the way, you'll encounter a chorus of experts, including scientists, surfers, hip hop artists and…a "Songbud" named Alan (indie punk musician Alan Goffinski) who creates original songs for key moments of confusion, discovery or awe. Listen in with your whole family. Or all alone.
Sy Montgomery, an author and naturalist, shares the story of a color-changing creature many people assumed to be brainless who outsmarts his human captors. If you want a SPOILER of what the creature is, read on: It’s an octopus. We hear the story of one particularly devious octopus who lost a limb, was captured by humans, and then managed to make an escape from its aquarium tank—back into the ocean! The tale of “Inky” the octopus calls into question who we think of as intelligent (and kissable) in the animal kingdom.
A singing entomologist, Dr. Sammy Ramsey, and a biologist with a knack for inventing things, Dr. Paul Mireji, tell us about one of the most fearsome animals on our planet. If you want a SPOILER of what it is, read on: It sucks our blood, spreads diseases; it's the tsetse fly. Both Sammy and Paul were afraid of this creature, but share the story of what can be gained by looking close at what scares you. In the case of the tsetse fly, we learn that these creatures give live birth, produce milk, protect entire ecosystems, and just might hold the solutions to some of our planet’s biggest problems.
High above the banks of the Mississippi river, a nest holds a secret about America’s most patriotic creature. The story of these “tree musketeers” puzzles scientists, thrills onlookers and confirms indigenous wisdom, all thanks to a park ranger named Ed, and a well-placed webcam. If you want to spoil the mystery, here ya go: it’s a bald eagle. Actually, it’s three bald eagles. A mama bird and two daddies make a family together for over a decade and show a different side of our national symbol.
Over a billion lightyears ago, in the darkness of outer space, a collision of black holes sent out a fleet of invisible waves that were headed right toward planet Earth. The waves were so powerful they could ripple spacetime but most people on Earth didn't believe the waves were real. SPOILER ALERT: The waves are called gravitational waves and…they are real! Astrophysicist Dr. Wanda Díaz Merced tells the story of what happened when they hit Earth in 2015 and how scientists came to learn to use senses beyond eyesight to detect the waves. We also learn from Dr. Stavros Katsanevas about the building of a giant gravitational wave catcher called “The Interferometer.” This episode also explores how to persist in the face of doubt as we learn Wanda's tale of going blind and learning how to listen to the stars.
The ocean can be a scary place: the waves are so strong, the water so deep. But surfer and illustrator AJ Dungo tells the story of an earthling who figured out how to walk on water and literally defy the rules of gravity. If you want a big SPOILER, here it is: It’s only human for the season, the grandfather of modern-day surfing, Duke Kahanamoku. Duke’s great grandniece, Heather Kina’u Paoa tells us about what Duke’s life was really like. We learn about the physics of surfing, and how surfing is an escape, not just on a spiritual level, but a physical one too. Finally, we learn how Duke’s story of learning to conquer the waves while remaining true to his Hawaiian heritage inspired AJ to get through one of the hardest times of his life.
In the game of life, every species is like an action figure. You got your dogs and your dung beetles, your bald eagles and your blueberries. And for a long time scientists believed it was pretty much impossible for those action figures to mix and make a new kind of action figure that was able to have its own babies (dog beetles? Baldberries? Nah). But, today we tell the story of a four-legged beast in Kentucky whose existence is upending scientific beliefs. If you want a big fat SPOILER, here it is: the creature in question is a mule! After almost 20 years of living her life as a hybrid (a mix between a horse and a donkey), believed to be incapable of having babies, Peanut the mule shocked the world by doing the impossible. Peanut’s owners, Teresa and Jerry Smothers, tell us the story of her life. Evolutionary biologist Dr. Molly Schumer explains how scientists’ understanding of hybrids has changed dramatically over the course of Peanut’s lifetime. And no mule episode would be complete without a cowboy-hatted mule packer leading us deep into the rocky trails of the American West on muleback to explain why mules are the best of both worlds of their parents.