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Act Four: Period Drama

Remember learning that women’s menstrual cycles tend to sync up when they spend a lot of time together? Producer Diane Wu was skeptical. So she went looking for evidence.

Prologue

If there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, why haven’t we heard from the extraterrestrials yet? Producer David Kestenbaum explains The Fermi Paradox to host Ira Glass. The possibility that we are alone in the universe makes David sad.

Prologue

A year ago, we did a story about a study that found that a simple 20-minute conversation could change someone’s mind about controversial issues like gay marriage and abortion. But a few weeks after we aired the story, the study was discredited.

Act One: Do These Genes Make Me Look Fatless?

Journalist David Epstein tells the story of Jill Viles, who has muscular dystrophy and can’t walk. But she believes that she somehow has same condition as one of the best hurdlers in the world, Priscilla Lopes-Schliep.

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NPR Science reporters Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller explain to Ira Glass how they smuggled a rat into NPR headquarters in Washington, and ran an unscientific version of a famous experiment first done by Psychology Professor Robert Rosenthal. It showed how people’s thoughts about rats could affect their behavior.

Act One: Batman Begins

Lulu tells the story of Daniel Kish, who’s blind, but can navigate the world by clicking with his tongue. This gives him so much information about what’s around him, he does all sorts of things most blind people don’t.

Act Five

Science teacher Jason Pittman, who teaches pre-school through sixth grade at a school in Fairfax County, Virginia, won a big teaching award this week. In fact, during his ten years teaching, he’s won many, many awards.

Prologue

NPR reporter David Kestenbaum tells Ira about the time, when he was doing graduate work in physics, he and his other single friends decided to figure out the mathematical probability that they’d find girlfriends. They wanted to know what the chances were that there was more than one person in the world for them.

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Reporter Josh Bearman tells Ira a story about two coded messages that Galileo sent to fellow scientist Johannes Kepler back in the 17th century. Galileo was trying to tell Kepler about some of the amazing discoveries he made with his new telescope.

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We sent a reporter named Dan Grech to the Hundred Year Starship Public Symposium, which aims to tackle the technological problems related to interstellar space travel. And as host Ira Glass explains, Dan found this gathering to be way more adventurous than your average scientific conference.

Act Three: As The Worm Turns

Another story about parasites. When Jasper Lawrence learned that hookworms might lessen the effects of his allergies, he set out on a unique mission: To travel to West Africa and purposefully become infected with the parasite.

Prologue

NPR reporter David Kestenbaum tells host Ira Glass about the time, when he was doing graduate work in physics, he and his other single friends decided to figure out the mathematical probability that they'd find girlfriends. They wanted to know what the chances were that there was more than one person in the world for them.

Act Four: Twistery Mystery

Wayne Curtis has been puzzling over an unexplained meteorological phenomenon involving chickens...a riddle that's nearly two centuries old. Wayne is the author, most recently, of And A Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails.