Interviews By Topic

From the Codex Seraphinianus

The "Codex Seraphinianus" has a magical air to it, full of bizarre illustrations and beautiful calligraphy in a made-up language. Publisher Charles Miers told Charles why he published the book, and why trying to understand it isn't really the point.More

Brain activity

After months of isolation, the COVID-19 lockdown is rewiring your brain. Neuroscientist David Eagleman says our brains are continually in flux, responding to the surrounding world. And the silver lining of coronavirus? It's probably boosting your creativity.More

neon brain

Writers are used to working in isolation. So how are they responding to the COVID-19 lockdown? Ilan Stavans has edited an anthology of international writing to consider the question. Stavans himself says the pandemic has liberated him as a writer.More

Phineas Gage

In 1848 Phineas Gage suffered a gruesome accident. BIasting through rock to build a new railroad in Vermont, an explosion sent a 3-foot, 13-pound iron rod straight through his skull. Remarkably, Gage lived, but brain science changed forever.More

questions and stones

Suppose you know your death is imminent, but you have a choice about how you will die. What would you choose? More

crystal meth

When anthropologist Jason Pine traveled to rural Missouri, he wound up spending a lot of time observing underground meth labs. And he came to a startling conclusion: that the meth cooks of the Ozarks are today’s alchemists.More

pyramid

Alchemists believed that if they could transform matter, why not also the spirit, or the self? That last part is what’s attracting new followers today, like Sara Durn.More

"The most important colour in alchemy was red. It was a symbol of life, blood and the Sun."

Alchemy left its mark on Prague — and on our producer, Charles Monroe-Kane, who lived there as a young man. He says the Czechs are still uncovering alchemical secrets.More

Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton wrote more than a million words on alchemy over his lifetime, conducting decades of alchemical experiments. But he did it all in secret. Why? The question fascinates historian Bill Newman.More

Octopus

Philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith says the octopus is "probably the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien.” It has no bones and most of its neurons are in its arms — not its brain. Can we ever fathom octopus consciousness?More

Birdle

Helen Macdonald's book "H is for Hawk" turned her goshawk Mabel into one of the most memorable literary characters of recent years. Mabel is no longer with her, but Helen now has a new avian companion — an ornery and very smart parrot.More

alchemical recipes

Pamela Smith's science history students spend a semester taking medieval alchemical recipes and re-creating them in a lab.More

washing machine in a house.

In her new book, author Eula Biss reckons with a new phase in her life, moving from an apartment in Chicago to the first house her family owns. While that dream is about as American as the proverbial apple pie, Biss ruminates on the reality that it’s an impossible dream for many people.More

The Museum of Everyday Life is in Clare Dolan’s barn.

"Museum of Everyday Life" founder and curator Clare Dolan calls it "an ongoing, revolutionary experiment" — a celebration of "the mysterious delight embedded in the banal but beloved objects we touch everyday.More

whale at House on the Rock

When Angelo visited the House on the Rock for the first time, at first he saw a testament to one man's obsession and demented imagination. But then he started to think — does he have his own bizarre collection of stuff in his home?More

parents

When the pandemic hit, it laid bare just how precarious parenting arrangements were — especially for single parents, parents who can't work from home, and the unemployed. Working mothers in particular lost jobs or were forced to quit to take care of children at home. Journalist Alissa Quart spoke with Shannon about why a "parenting revolution" might be on the horizon.More

Michaeleen Doucleff

While one way of making life better for parents could be changing the structure around us, author and reporter Michaeleen Doucleff thinks parents could learn to do things differently — taking cues from mothers and fathers in ancient civilizations.More

Amaud Johnson and Cherene Sherrard.

Poets and married couple Amaud Johnson and Cherene Sherrard live in Madison, Wisconsin. Parents to two teenage boys, Amaud and Cherene each have a new book out, which focuses on their roles as fathers and mothers.More

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