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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.

The Scientists Behind World War I, Wilma Rudolph’s Obstacles

On today’s episode of Modern Notion Daily, our guest is Taylor Downing, author of Secret Warriors: The Spies, Scientists and Code Breakers of World War I (Pegasus, April 2015). Downing’s book shifts the focus away from the trenches and bloody battlefields to the scientific innovations that made World War I different from any previous war.…

The Real Housewives of 16th-Century France

This hour, our guest is Nancy Goldstone, author of The Rival Queens: Catherine de’ Medici, Her Daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal That Ignited a Kingdom (Little, Brown and Company, June 2015). These weren’t just any 16th-century queens; these women engaged in love affairs, group sex, killing sprees, and much, much more. Goldstone researched these…

Invisibility, Ave Maria

This hour, we’re talking with Philip Ball, author of Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen (University of Chicago Press, April 2015). Ball takes a look back at human fascination with invisibility throughout history, from Plato to the present. And it turns out, science is getting closer to solving the invisibility problem—but if we do…

Swimming the River Thames, Atoms Under the Floorboards

On today’s show, we have two guests. The first is Caitlin Davies, author of Downstream: A History and Celebration of Swimming the River Thames (Aurum Press, June 2015). The River Thames has the same mythic status in England as the Mississippi River has in the United States, and Davies undertook a project to research the…

Max Planck, Schrodinger’s Cat, Ancient Dog Tomb

On today’s show, we’re talking to author Brandon Brown about his new book, Planck: Driven by Vision, Broken by War (Oxford University Press, June 2015). Max Planck was the German physicist who created quantum physics, and he acted as a mentor to the likes of Albert Einstein and Lise Meitner. But as an elderly man,…

The Science of Criminal Injustice

On this hour of Modern Notion Daily, we’re talking with Adam Benforado, a lawyer and law professor who just published Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice (Crown, June 2015). Benforado uncovers the hidden biases at play within our criminal justice system, which affect everyone from jurors to judges to first responders to lawyers. Music…

The mp3 Revolution, Why We Can’t Remember Dreams

On today’s show, our guest is Stephen Witt, author of How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy (Viking, June 2015). Witt traces the lives of three men on all different sides of the music industry: the creator of the mp3, a music…

Tales of the Grim Sleeper, Leopard Men, Cockroaches in Space

On this hour of Modern Notion Daily, our guest is Nick Broomfield, director of the HBO documentary, Tales of the Grim Sleeper (2015). Broomfield and his son, Barney, went to the mostly-black South Central neighborhood of Los Angeles to tell the story of a serial killer dubbed the Grim Sleeper. The Grim Sleeper is accused…

Dueling Neurosurgeons, Banjo History, Dead Words

On this hour of Modern Notion Daily, we welcome guest Sam Kean, author of The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery (Basic Books, June 2015 paperback). Kean set out to find the boundary between brain and mind, using anecdotes about various…

A History of the Redhead, Ebola Prank Calls, the First Sex Tape from Space

On today’s show, our guest is Jacky Colliss Harvey, author of Red: A History of the Redhead (Black Dog & Leventhal, June 2015). As a redhead herself, Harvey wanted to research the unique experience of being a ginger, from the science behind it to representations of redhead in art throughout history. In the process, she…