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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.

Rise of the Robots, Ivan the Terrible

On today’s episode of Modern Notion Daily, we’re talking to Martin Ford, author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future (Basic Books, May 2015). Ford argues that robots will soon replace not only blue-collar workers, but also white collar workers, too. We also have contributing editor Mark Hay in…

Fixing Global Warming with Soil, the Los Angeles Cycleway

On this hour of Modern Notion Daily, we’re talking to Kristin Ohlson, author of The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet (Rodale, March 2015). Based on interviews with scientists and farmers around the country, Ohlson believes we soil is the key to solving many…

The 14th Century Famine, Worm Rain

On today’s show, we’re talking to William Rosen, author of The Third Horseman: A Story of Weather, War, and the Famine History Forgot (Penguin Books, May 2014). A seven-year famine is thought to have caused 5-8 million deaths in northern Europe in the 14th century—but Rosen argues that the famine’s severity was exacerbated by the…

Lovelace and Babbage, Degas and the Little Dancer, Pranks

This hour we talk to Sydney Padua, author and illustrator of The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer (Pantheon, April 2015). In this graphic novel with lengthy, tongue-in-cheek footnotes, Padua reimagines the lives of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, who worked on prototypes for the first “computer”…

Elephant Don, the Hardest Tongue Twister, Mr. Eats All

On today’s episode of Modern Notion Daily, we talk with guest Caitlin O’Connell, author of Elephant Don: The Politics of a Pachyderm Posse (University of Chicago Press, April 2015). O’Connell shares her observations from 20 years of research on male African elephants, and comes to the conclusion that they’re not unlike the Mafia (hence, the…

Rain: A Natural and Cultural History, Self-Immolation, Moon Landing and Filmmaking

On today’s show we talk to Cynthia Barnett, author of Rain: A Natural and Cultural History (Crown, April 2015). Barnett, an environmental journalist, takes us to Texas, India, and everywhere in between to explore how we make sense of the water that falls from the sky. Josh Hrala tells us how filmmakers might be the…

How to Clone a Mammoth, Naked Came the Stranger, Suicide Forest

Today on Modern Notion Daily we talk to Beth Shapiro, author of How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction (Princeton University Press, April 2015). Shapiro says the we won’t ever be able to bring back an exact clone of a Dodo or a Woolly Mammoth, but we could use their ancient DNA to…

Galileo’s Middle Finger, Ancient Trees, the Real Chef Boyardee

This hour we talk to Alice Dreger, author of Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science (Penguin Press, March 2015). As both a scientist and activist, Dreger has found herself in the middle of controversies surrounding the intersex movement, transsexual identity, and the biology of rape (among other issues). Contributing…

A River Changes Course in Cambodia, Unsinkable Violet Jessup

On today’s show we talk to Kalyanee Mam, the director and producer of the documentary film, “A River Changes Course.” For several years, Mam filmed two Cambodian families—one that subsists on fishing, the other on farming—affected by vast environmental and economic changes in their country. Plus, contributing editor Erin Blakemore tells us how Violet Jessup…

Jenny Price, the Cult Behind the Cutlery, First Women Voters

On this episode of Modern Notion Daily we talk to Jenny Price, a writer, artist, and environmental humanities scholar. She thinks that historians and artists bring new questions—and new perspectives—to discussions about the environment and climate change. We talk to contributing editor Mark Hay about Oneida, the cult that gave rise to a popular American…