Sound science

A surprise hit on public radio uses an irreverent style to sell listeners on science

Arthur Warwick
Dec 7, 2006
Radio Lab, produced by WNYC New York Public Radio, builds complex scientific ideas around the sort of stories a guy might tell in a bar. In an episode exploring the effects of stress on the body, co-hosts Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad invited a guest to recount the tale of his "fight with a boat propeller" during a water-skiing accident. The hosts gave the guest plenty of time to describe the gory details, like the "big hunks of flesh" hanging off his limbs and the way his legs looked "like when someone cuts into a fish in a fish market, and you see the inside very clearly."But although they clearly enjoy a good gross-out, Krulwich and Abumrad were aiming at a larger point: in spite of his terrible injuries, the man did not feel panic, or even pain, in the minutes following his accident, and the hosts were after a...

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