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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.

Peyton Place; Origins of the Bikini

On today’s episode of the Modern Notion Daily podcast, we’re talking with Ardis Cameron, author of Unbuttoning America: A Biography of ‘Peyton Place‘ (Cornell University Press, May 2015). Cameron knew the book as a symbol of illicit love affairs and drama, but didn’t actually read the novel until she was in her fifties. When she…

Ernest Lawrence, the Cyclotron, & the Military-Industrial Complex

On today’s Modern Notion Daily podcast, we’re talking with Michael Hiltzik, author of Big Science: Ernest Lawrence and the Invention that Launched the Military-Industrial Complex (Simon & Schuster, July 2015). Hiltzik chronicles the life of Lawrence and his machine, the cyclotron (also known as the proton accelerator). This invention, Hiltzik argues, was the beginning of…

The Women Behind the Whiskey

This hour we’re talking to Fred Minnick, author of two books about whiskey: Whiskey Women (Potomac Books, October 2013) and Bourbon Curious (Zenith Press, August 2015). After covering a women’s military unit in Iraq as a journalist, Minnick was inspired to report on more stories about women’s history. In Whiskey Women, he recounts women’s roles…

Understanding Dinosaurs with the Traces They Left Behind; Head Transplants

On today’s show, our guest is Anthony J. Martin, author of Dinosaurs Without Bones: Dinosaur Lives Revealed by Their Trace Fossils (Pegasus, paperback March 2015). Martin is an ichnologist, which means he studies the traces of animals in conjunction with fossils of the animals themselves. This could mean tracks or it could mean puke—and ichnology…

Quantum Biology and Life on the Edge; Mosquito Asphyxiation

Today on Modern Notion Daily, our guests are Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe McFadden, authors of Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology (Crown, July 2015). Al-Khalili, a quantum physicist, and McFadden, a molecular biologist, have teamed up to write the first book on the burgeoning field of quantum biology. The quantum…

Elephants and Kings; Foods for Survival

This hour of Modern Notion Daily, our guest is Thomas Trautmann, author of Elephants and Kings: An Environmental History (University of Chicago Press, 2015). Trautmann looks at the fascinating history behind how and why elephants were first tamed for use in battle, from more than two thousand years ago until the Vietnam War. Later in…

The Texting-While-Driving Crash That Killed Two Rocket Scientists

On today’s show, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Matt Richtel joins us to talk about his book, A Deadly Wandering: A Mystery, the Landmark Investigation, and the Astonishing Science of Attention in the Digital Age (William Morrow, June 2015 paperback). Richtel followed the case of Reggie Shaw, who was texting while driving, when he swerved and hit an…

Modern Notion Daily

The Tragic Story of Ota Benga; Cylinder Seals

On today’s show, award-winning journalist Pamela Newkirk talks about her new book, Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga (Amistad/HarperCollins, June 2015). Ota Benga was a young man from the Congo, kidnapped and put on display at the St. Louis World’s Fair and the Bronx Zoo at the dawn of the 20th century. Newkirk explores…

The Scientists Who Invented Weather Prediction

On today’s episode of Modern Notion Daily, our guest is Peter Moore, author of The Weather Experiment: The Pioneers Who Sought to See the Future (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June 2015). Before any concerted study of the weather, people didn’t understand that it was a global system; it seemed more like random, individual events controlled…

Reconstructing Roman Hairstyles & the Tour de France’s “Lanterne Rouge”

On today’s show we have two guests. The first is Janet Stephens, a hairdresser turned Roman hairstyle archaeologist. Stephens was inspired when she walked into a museum in Baltimore—it was the first time she’d really examined the backs of Roman statues’ heads. That set her on a quest to figure out how to recreate those…