Interviews By Topic

Ebony Thomas doesn't see Hermione from the Harry Potter series as Black. But a whole new generation of young Black girls do, and they're using fan fiction and online communities to re-imagine a witch they can identify with more deeply.More

A wolf

"White Fang" by Jack London is a classic outdoor adventure story about a wild wolf-dog's struggle to survive in the Yukon Territory during the 1890's Gold Rush. Writer Quan Barry read it for the first time at age 11 and learned just how powerful a book can be. More

Apps

Sara Wachter-Boettcher warns that failing to account for the unintended ways technology shapes our lives can cause us pain that might be avoided if we think about how we design digital platforms and apps differently.More

an illustration of a knight in armor

Every year, at holiday time, "H is for Hawk" author Helen Macdonald reads this tale of a boy who finds out he's one of the "old ones," part of a series from author Susan Cooper. She says it reconnects her with a sense of wonder inspired by what might lurk beneath the surface of the seen world.More

Elizabeth Feinler, Radia Perlman, and Stacy Horn.

You know the Apple origin story with the two Steves in the garage. You know the Facebook origin story with Mark Zuckerberg in his dorm. But journalist Claire Evans argues, if you want to tell the internet origin story, you have to talk about women.More

fish

Lulu Miller's book “Why Fish Don’t Exist” — which examines ichthyologist David Starr Jordan — is a meditation on the shadow side of scientific classification, and the dangers of trying too hard to impose order on chaos.More

Eel

Eels are philosophically and scientifically slippery — they're still some of the most mysterious creatures on the planet. Journalist Patrik Svensson has been obsessed with them, and wound up writing a surprise bestseller — “The Book of Eels.”More

Math of the universe

For centuries, people have considered mathematics the purest form of knowledge — and our best bet for deciphering the universe's hidden order. Steve spoke with two people who love math: physicist James Gates and science writer Margaret Wertheim.More

The Schlitz Bottling Floor, c. 1666.

Milwaukee has a reputation as America's "Brew City." But why? Historian Ben Barbera lays out the economic forces and acts of God that built the houses of Miller, Pabst and Schlitz.More

The Len-Der, our boat for the Milwaukee River

Milwaukee historian John Gurda takes us on a boat ride down the Milwaukee River as we learn how the city nearly lost its river, and what Milwaukee is now doing to preserve it.More

people

Social scientists are finding that generating happiness in your life may have less to do with an arbitrary number — like your bank account or how many Instagram followers you have — and more to do with how well you connect with the people around you.More

people on the horizon

Psychologist Laurie Santos created a college course to teach students how to use what scientific research has discovered about what makes us happy and why. It became the most popular class in the 300 year history of Yale.More

Ross Gay

In a dark world, poet Ross Gay recommends "stacking delights." Share what you love, he says — not what you hate.More

Claudia Rankine

In her book "Citizen: An American Lyric," poet Claudia Rankine challenges readers to explore their underlying assumptions about race. She tells Charles Monroe-Kane what compelled her to write the book, and about visiting Ferguson, Missouri.More

Conversation with Samantha, the artificial intelligence

To a certain extent, loneliness is part of the human condition. You can be lonely anywhere, even surrounded by friends. But modern life has exacerbated it, and that requires modern solutions. Indie game designer Jason Rohrer has one — an artificial friend named Samantha.More

A Black woman with her face on her knee

Poet Claudia Rankine spoke to Anne about the loneliness of being Black in America, and how the social isolation of the pandemic woke Black Americans up.More

A man with totalitarian ideas and conspiracy swirling around him.

Examining both historical and present-day moments of widespread loneliness, philosopher Samantha Rose Hill argues we must understand our feelings of loneliness — otherwise they could be exploited to control us.More

Oakwood residents and singers

"To the Best of Our Knowledge" producer Shannon Henry Kleiber shares a story about her mother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease two years ago, and the power of music.More

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