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The radio extension of Modern Notion, a website for the ultra-curious that finds the science behind the story and the truth in every tale. It’s your middlebrow library for highbrow ideas. We tell stories about history, science, technology, culture and life.

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Hosts

Zack Christenson and Dara Katz are the co-hosts of Modern Notion Daily, and the editor-in-chief and editor of Modern Notion.

A New Language in Australia, Vulture Restaurants

On today’s episode of Modern Notion Daily, our guest is Carmel O’Shannessy, a linguist at the University of Michigan. For more than a decade, O’Shannessy has been researching the genesis of a new language, Light Warlpiri, in Australia’s Northern Territory. We talk with her about why the language is unique, and we even hear a…

Original Sin & the Western World

On today’s episode of Modern Notion Daily, we’re talking to James Boyce, author of Born Bad: Original Sin and the Making of the Western World (Counterpoint Press, May 2015). Boyce argues that original sin is the West’s creation story, and it affects all Western peoples, whether we’re aware of it or not. Music this hour:…

Director Frank Pavich on Jodorowsky’s Dune

This hour, director Frank Pavich joins us to talk about his 2013 documentary, Jodorowsky’s Dune. Alejandro Jodorowsky is an avant-garde filmmaker who planned to make a movie adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel, Dune, in the early 1970s. He enlisted the likes of Orson Welles and Salvador Dalí to be in his movie, but…

A Year in Antarctica, Lemming Myth

On today’s episode of Modern Notion Daily, we talk to guest Anthony Powell, director of Antarctica: A Year on Ice. Powell started working in Antarctica as a communications tech. He quickly realized that the true experience of living in Antarctica—particularly in the winter—had never been captured. So, he taught himself to shoot video and time-lapse…

Astronaut Chris Hadfield

On today’s episode of Modern Notion Daily, we welcome guest Col. Chris Hadfield, a retired Canadian astronaut. Hadfield was the first Canadian to walk in space and the first Canadian to act as commander of the International Space Station. He talks about how he became an astronaut, the life lessons he’s learned in space, and…

A Short History of Bourbon

On this hour of Modern Notion Daily, we’re talking with Reid Mitenbuler, author of Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey (Viking, May 2015). The history of bourbon collides with major events in America’s past, from the Whiskey Rebellion to Prohibition. And even modern-day bourbon marketing makes ample use of America’s history of…

What’s It Like to Be a Pilot; Benjamin Franklin on Flatulence

On today’s show, we talk with guest Mark Vanhoenacker, author of Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot (Knopf, June 2015). After working for years as a consultant, Vanhoenacker decided to pursue his dream of becoming a commercial airline pilot. He now flies Boeing 747s for British Airways, and in his spare time, he wrote this…

The Fly Trap, Japanese Picture Brides, Cannibalism

On today’s show, our guest is Fredrik Sjöberg, an entomologist and author of The Fly Trap (Pantheon, June 2015). Sjöberg has devoted much of his life to watching, trapping, and studying hoverflies, but he’s tried not to get trapped in his love of the flies. Using literature and details from the life of naturalist René…

The Murder That Transfixed Chicago, Elves, Taxidermy Class

On today’s episode of Modern Notion Daily, we talk with guest Gillian O’Brien. O’Brien’s new book, Blood Runs Green: The Murder That Transfixed Gilded Age Chicago (University of Chicago Press, March 2015), tells the largely forgotten story of the murder of Dr. P. H. Cronin in the late 19th century. We also visit a taxidermy…

Joan of Arc

On today’s podcast, we’re talking with guest Helen Castor, author of Joan of Arc: A History (Harper, May 2015). Castor argues that most people see Joan of Arc as an empty vessel—someone to whom they can attach meaning, given the extraordinary nature of her life and accomplishments. Castor does not discount those conversations, but her…