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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.

John Horton Conway: The Seductive Mathematician

On today’s episode of Modern Notion Daily, our guest is Siobhan Roberts, author of Genius at Play: The Curious Mind of John Horton Conway (Bloomsbury USA, July 2015). Roberts spent seven years writing this biography of one of the most famous contemporary mathematicians and creator of the Game of Life. The magnitude of Conway’s genius is matched…

The Race to Crack the Genetic Code

On today’s Modern Notion Daily show, our guest is Matthew Cobb, a zoology professor and author of Life’s Greatest Secret: The Race to Crack the Genetic Code (Basic Books, July 2015). Cobb traces the history of genetic discoveries from Mendel and his predecessors (yes, he stood on the shoulders of other early geneticists) to CRISPR…

The Origins of International Adoption from Korea

On today’s Modern Notion Daily podcast, our guest is Arissa H. Oh, author of To Save the Children of Korea: The Cold War Origins of International Adoption (Stanford University Press, June 2015). During the Korean War and the rise of “war orphans,” Americans began adopting Korean children in large numbers; that trend spiked in the…

Murder & Romance in the 19th Century

This hour, our guest is Michael Knox Beran, author of Murder by Candlelight: The Gruesome Crimes Behind Our Romance with the Macabre (Pegasus, August 2015). Beran explores three murders from the 19th century that showcase people’s changing attitudes toward the macabre at that time. Music this hour: “Miri’s Magic Dance” by Kevin MacLeod, from the…

Andy Warhol’s Epic 1963 Cross-Country Road Trip; Sardinian Foods

On today’s episode of Modern Notion Daily, our guest is Deborah Davis, author of The Trip: Andy Warhol’s Plastic Fantastic Cross-Country Adventure (Atria Books, July 2015). Based on Warhol’s trove of receipts and other ephemera, Davis recreated his 1963 road trip from New York to Hollywood, where a friend was throwing him a party. That…

A History of the Written Word

On today’s episode of Modern Notion Daily, our guest is Matthew Battles, author of Palimpsest: A History of the Written Word (W. W. Norton & Co., July 2015). Battles explores the trajectory of writing, from the forms it takes (cuneiform, pictographs, letters, characters, emojis) to the way it’s been produced (on clay tablets, on parchment,…

The Oregon Trail

On today’s episode of Modern Notion Daily, our guest is Rinker Buck, author of The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey (Simon & Schuster, June 2015). After coming across an Oregon Trail marker in Kansas, and then reading that it had been decades since anyone traversed it, Buck decided it was his turn. It took…

Three Stoners Who Became Gunrunners for the Department of Defense

On today’s Modern Notion Daily podcast, author Guy Lawson joins us to talk about his new book, Arms and the Dudes: How Three Stoners from Miami Beach Became the Most Unlikely Gunrunners in History (Simon & Schuster, June 2015). It could only have happened in the internet age, argues Lawson: three kids from Miami Beach…

The First Lady of the Black Press; Fake Blood for Mosquitoes

On today’s show our guest is James McGrath Morris, author of Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press (Amistad/HarperCollins, February 2015). Payne was one of the first African-American women journalists, and her heyday was in the 1950s and 1960s. Before she even got into journalism professionally, Payne was an…

North Korea Undercover; The Dead Man Who Helped the Allies Win World War II

On today’s show our guest is John Sweeney, author of North Korea Undercover: Inside the World’s Most Secret State (Pegasus, July 2015). Sweeney, a journalist, posed as a professor taking students on a tour in order to get into North Korea. While there, he wasn’t able to see much—but even the absence of certain fundamentals…