Category: Exploration

Saving the Last Ocean

We hear a lot in the news about the Antarctic ice sheet melting – but other than climate change, it’s hard to imagine what else threatens a place so cold, so remote, and so seemingly barren. What other ecological protection could the southern continent possibly need? But Antarctica is…a really weird place. No single country “owns” or governs Antarctica, so decisions about conservation are a huge challenge that involve diplomacy and cooperation. On today’s show, we learn about polar history and the recent fight to save the surprisingly biodiverse waters of Antarctica’s Ross Sea.

Image: John B. Weller

Are we alone in the universe?

How did life begin on Earth? Curiously, scientists often search for the answer on other planets or moons in our solar system. After all, if we want to see whether our theories are right, we need to find another example of life somewhere. The search has taken us to some strange places seemingly frozen in time that give us hints to what Earth looked like billions of years ago when life first appeared in the geologic record: places like Mars that show evidence of fossil oceans, and places like Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, that show evidence of liquid water oceans containing organic READ MORE

Sounds of Space

When we think of space, we typically think of beautiful images taken by powerful telescopes and interplanetary rovers. We think of the rings around Saturn; the giant red spot on Jupiter; or Martian rover selfies. But what does the surface of Mars sound like? What haunting melody should we expect from our Sun? And what do these sounds teach us about our cosmic neighborhood? On today’s episode, producer Miles Traer takes us READ MORE

The Soundtracker

Listen up, because you never know when a sound will change your life.  Acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton tells us the story of how he became “The Soundtracker,” an unorthodox career choice that has led him around the planet three times in pursuit of the last pristine soundscapes. Journey along with Hempton from tropical jungles to the frozen North as he records the music from the solar-powered jukebox that is Earth.

Image adapted from Randy Storey

This episode was produced by Leslie Chang, Mike Osborne, and Miles Traer.
Additional music by Kevin MacLeod (License available here)

The Urban Equation

As cities continue to grow, scientists are trying to define the “Urban Equation” – a mathematical expression that defines not just a group of buildings, but a complex network of physical and social interactions.  Why?  Because our cities control previously elusive aspects of human evolution.  To understand our cities is to understand us.  In this episode, Luis Bettencourt and Tyler Nordgren discuss various elements of the urban equation.  We see how complex networks give rise to creativity; how to break an urban metropolis down into a series of mathematical symbols; and how our cities are dramatically affecting a cultural connection reaching back nearly 400 years.


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This episode was produced by Leslie Chang, Mike Osborne, and Miles Traer.
Additional music by Kevin Macleod (Tracks used: Finding Movement and Perspectives.  License available here)

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The Naked Elements

A tale of two men and geology on the roof of the world

Still from John Noel’s 1924 film “The Epic of Everest” (copyright John Noel) showing the tiny figures of George Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine’s team as they prepared for the summit attempt.

BY Miles Traer
Part I – Onto the Mountain

I’m sitting in a warm room wearing flannel pajamas with a hot meal in my belly when the title card on the movie fades and the 90-year-old film begins to flicker.  The circular aperture is neatly divided along a diagonal line: READ MORE

Because It’s There: Exploration in the Anthropocene [part 2]

In the second half of his interview with Gen Anthro, Hari Mix talks about his experiences this past spring in the Himalaya and his summit bid for Lhotse without oxygen. He also sheds some light on the costs of mountaineering, respecting weather conditions on the mountain, and what he learned about his own physical ability and about the way rescue decisions are made on mountains. Finally, Hari shares some of his ideas for potential directions he might take his mountaineering in the future. If you missed the first half of Hari’s interview, you can listen to it here.


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[BLOG] Hari’s Lhotse Video & Photos

I loved hearing about how Hari started climbing mountains, but I’m even more excited for tomorrow’s release of the second half of his interview, in which he talks about his experiences in the Himalaya this past spring. I remember very clearly the day that I learned Hari was planning on climbing Lhotse. It was back in the fall of last year when Mike, Hari, and I met up for lunch one day at a cafe on campus. Actually, Hari had already eaten, so he just sipped on a can of Coke as he explained to us that he wanted to make the summit bid without oxygen, and that he was spending a lot of time getting his gear together and figuring out how to finance his trip. I had never even heard of Lhotse before that, and as we sat there together at the outdoor cafe table, all of us sweating a bit in the sun, surrounded by students eating lunch, it was hard to imagine any experience that was remotely icy or physically strenuous or oxygen-thin. But this is the kind of landscape Hari was going to.

(Photo credit: Hari Mix. Everest/Lhotse base camp.) READ MORE

Because It’s There: Exploration in the Anthropocene [part 1]

Today’s episode is the first part of Generation Anthropocene’s interview with Hari Mix, a mountaineer, PhD student, and friend of the producers. In this first half, Hari talks about how he got into mountaineering, and some of his experiences climbing mountains in Colorado and Kazakhstan. He also reflects on a close shave with a collapsed ice bridge in Tajikistan, and on the role of risk in mountaineering. Check back on Friday for part 2 of Hari’s interview, in which he talks about his experience climbing Mt. Lhotse this past spring.


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