Ira Glass speaks with Paul Davies, chair of the Post-Detection Task Force of SETI. That stands for the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, and Paul’s task is to figure out what to say to space aliens if we find them.
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If you don't pay the rent on a self storage unit, eventually all of your stuff can go up for auction. But the people bidding aren't allowed to dig around.
Wyatt Cenac tells this story about spreading Christmas cheer in Texas. Wyatt is a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
For the last 13 years, the University of Montevallo in Alabama has held an event called The Life Raft Debate, where several professors take the stage and each tries to convince the students that his or her discipline—chemistry, say, or communications—is the most essential field of study. But in 2007, a professor named Jon Smith decided that the debate itself needed saving.
Jonathan Menjivar has been thinking a lot about 2010 lately, especially about one upcoming event: The birth of his daughter. Jonathan's one of the producers of NPR's Fresh Air.
A hedge fund named Magnetar comes up with an elaborate plan to make money. It sponsors the creation of complicated and ultimately toxic financial securities...while at the same time betting against the very securities it helped create. Planet Money's Alex Blumberg teams up with two investigative reporters from ProPublica, Jake Bernstein and Jesse Eisinger, to tell the story.
Jack Hitt has spent the last two years watching the Obama administration lose the news cycle and war of soundbites to Republicans day after day. Watching the Democrats run away from issues like health care reform and middle class tax cuts, Hitt wonders if there is some secret long-term master plan the Democrats are deploying, or if they're just incompetent.