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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.

Children of the Stone, Laura Bridgman

On today’s show, we’re talking with Sandy Tolan, author of Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land (Bloomsbury, April 2015). Tolan chronicles the life of Ramzi Aburedwan, a Palestinian boy who grew up to become a musician and start music schools in the West Bank. We’re also talking to contributing…

How to Bake Pi, Fake Anastasia

On today’s episode of Modern Notion Daily, our guest is Dr. Eugenia Cheng, author of How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics (Basic Books, May 2015). Cheng’s research is about category theory—which she calls the “mathematics of mathematics.” When teaching category theory, she found it was so abstract that analogies…

Rebooting Southern Cuisine; Heirloom Foods

This hour we’re talking with two guests: David Shields, author of Southern Provisions: The Creation and Revival of a Cuisine (University of Chicago Press, March 2015), and Jennifer Jordan, author of Edible Memory: The Lure of Heirloom Tomatoes and Other Forgotten Foods (University of Chicago Press, April 2015). Shields is on a mission to bring…

Plankton and Other Sea Creatures

On today’s episode of Modern Notion Daily, we’re talking about plankton! Christian Sardet wrote the upcoming book, Plankton: Wonders of the Drifting World (University of Chicago Press, June 2015), which took him around the globe to scour the seas for the many species of plankton. Later in the show, staff writer Josh Hrala joins us…

The Moore of Moore’s Law, Illuminati

On this hour of Modern Notion Daily, we have two guests: Arnold Thackray and David Brock. Thackray, Brock, and Rachel Jones co-wrote Moore’s Law: The Life of Gordon Moore, Silicon Valley’s Quiet Revolutionary (Basic Books, May 2015). Gordon Moore worked at Fairchild Semiconductor in the 1960s, where he came up with Moore’s Law. He went on…

The Inventor of BASE Jumping and Percy Fawcett

On this hour of Modern Notion Daily, we’re talking to documentary filmmaker Marah Strauch. Strauch’s newest film is Sunshine Superman (Magnolia Pictures), which tells the story of the inventor of BASE jumping, Carl Boenish. Boenish was not just a thrill seeker; he was also obsessed with filmmaking, and the possibility of filming humans jumping off…

Searching for Atlantis, Skin Whitening

On today’s Modern Notion Daily, our guest is Mark Adams, author of Meet Me in Atlantis: My Obsessive Quest to Find the Sunken City (Dutton, March 2015). Adams spent three years exploring the veracity of Plato’s classic tale of Atlantis. While he encountered some idiosyncratic character and wild theories, the people he found to be…

Brains vs. Artificial Intelligence Poker Tournament, Rumpology

On this hour of Modern Notion Daily, we talk to the two sides of the Brains vs. Artificial Intelligence poker tournament. First, we talk to Tuomas Sandholm, professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. Sandholm designed the poker-playing computer program, known as Claudico. Then we talk to Jason Les, one of the four poker…

Working with NASA’s Mars Rover, Fermi Paradox

On this hour of Modern Notion Daily, we’re talking to Bekah Sosland, an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. At 25, Sosland has worked with Opportunity, the 11-year-old Mars rover, as a flight director. Staff writer Josh Hrala joins us later in the hour to talk about the Fermi paradox: if the universe is…

Bison Return to the Prairie, and Should We Eat Horse Meat?

This hour, we’re talking to Jeffery Walk, director of science at the Illinois chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Seven months ago, Walk and his team reintroduced bison to the prairie in Illinois, and they animals have thrived in their new home. We also talk to contributing editor Mark Hay about his reasons for thinking Americans…