In the 1840s, a hardy caravan of pioneers set off from St. Joseph Missouri to head for the promised land of California. Lured by glowing tales of teeming game and fertile land as far as the eye could see, these westward heading migrants had no real sense of how to get to their destination, no good maps; did not know the best trails over the mountains. These men, women and many children embarked on what would be one of the most harrowing and horrifying adventures in the history of America. Crossing the Wasatch and then the Great Salt Desert, losing possessions and people all along the way, the party finally got trapped near a lake high in the Sierra Nevadas as a brutal winter set in and supplies ran out. What happened next is described in detail in DANIEL JAMES BROWN’S terrific new history THE INDIFFERENT STARS ABOVE: THE HARROWING SAGA OF A DONNER PARTY BRIDE. If you have always wondered what life was like for these pioneers, do not miss tonight’s show.
A language is a messy, inconsistent and unruly thing. All those tenses and irregular verbs! All those exceptions to the rules! For centuries there have been small number of utopian and eccentric linguists who have taken on the task to create their own artificial and more perfect language in the hopes of creating a better world. There have been logic-based languages; feminist inspired languages, symbolic languages and even a language based on chipmunk noises. Unsurprisingly, none of these have captured the wide audience their inventor desired, and that can tell us a lot about how traditional spoken languages evolve. Tonight on Inquiry, we talk with linguist ARIKA OKRENT about her latest fascinating and very entertaining book IN THE LAND OF INVENTED LANGUAGES: ESPERANTO ROCK STARS, KLINGON POETS, LOGLAN LOVERS AND THE MAD DREAMERS WHO TRIED TO BUILD A PERFECT LANGUAGE.
Most of us are now on Facebook, but do you have any idea how it was “invented”. It started as a prank at Harvard created by classic geeks wanting find girls and ended up a sordid tale of drugs, lawyers and deep betrayal. Along the way there are dates with Victoria’s Secret models, a koala was eaten on a yacht, and billions of dollars were made. Tonight on Inquiry we talk with writer and columnist BEN MEZRICH about his wild and wooly tale social networking and big bucks titled THE ACCIDENTAL BILLIONAIRES: THE FOUNDING OF FACEBOOK: A TALE OF SEX, MONEY, GENIUS, AND BETRAYAL.
From the beginning of experimentation, humans have used a wide variety of animal and plant life as equipment in a “living laboratory”. From Galvani’s experiments using frog’s legs and electricity to the Vacanti mouse, with a human ear attached to it’s back, animals have been an intimate part of the human quest for knowledge. How have these animals been used? Who were the people who used these animals? Were humans ever used as part of an experimental apparatus? And finally, what about the morality of using living things in scientific experiments? Tonight on Inquiry we welcome an expert on this controversial history of science: ROM HARRE, Emeritus Fellow of Philosophy of Linacre College, Oxford and Distinguished Research Professor at Georgetown University. He to talks about his very important new book PAVLOV’S DOG AND SCHRODINGER’S CAT: SCENES FROM THE LIVING LABORATORY.
Women have power. In Womenomics, journalists Shipman and Kay
deal in facts, not stereotypes, providing a fresh perspective on the
largely hidden power that women have in today's marketplace. Why?
Companies with more women managers are more profitable. Women do more
of the buying. A talent shortage looms. Younger generations want to
work flexibly, too. It all adds up to a workplace revolution that is
great news for professional women—not to mention men and businesses as
well. As Brenda Barnes, CEO of Sara Lee, notes: “Companies need to
recognize that this kind of flexibility offers employees the ability to
manage and balance their own careers and lives, which in turn improves
productivity and employee morale.” This new way of thinking and working
is all the more valuable in a recession, as companies begin offering
flexible schedules, four-day workweeks, and extended vacations as a way
to avoid layoffs, save costs, and still reward employees.
How do ants navigate enormous stretches of featureless Saharan desert and still manage to find their way back to their nest? How do Pacific Island cultures find their way across vast stretches of ocean out of sight of land? Why do most of us still get lost in a mall? Humans have an unrivaled ability to understand physical space, but we still have trouble drawing a map for getting across town to our house. If you would like some answers to these questions of space and mind tune in to Inquiry tonight when we talk to COLIN ELLARD, Experimental Psychologist at the University of Waterloo and Director of its Research Laboratory for Immersive Virtual Environments. Professor Ellard will be discussing his endlessly fascinating book: YOU ARE HERE: WHY WE CAN FIND OUR WAY TO THE MOON, BUT GET LOST IN THE MALL: WHAT SCIENCE SAYS ABOUT OUR SPATIAL INTELLIGENCE AND HOW IT SHAPES OUR CONNECTIONS TO NATURE, CITIES, HOMES AND VIRTUAL WORLDS.
Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois is home to the largest proton accelerator in the United States. Here scientists conduct cutting edge high-energy physics experiments to learn about the ultimate structure of matter and learn more about particles like quarks. How does a megascience facility like this get built? How do you manage a place so big it contains a restored prairie and a herd of buffalo? Is America still on the cutting edge of “big science”? Tonight on Inquiry we talk about the history of Fermilab with LILLIAN HODDESON, Professor of History of Science at the University of Illinois; ADRIENNE W. KOLB, Fermilab Archivist; and CATHERINE WESTFALL, Visiting Associate Professor at Michigan State University. Together they have written one of the great histories of American science: FERMILAB: PHYSICS; THE FRONTIER AND MEGASCIENCE.
Worcester Magazine, the 33-year-old alternative weekly newspaper serving Greater Worcester, has undergone another design change and re-sizing. WoMag – or Worcester Mag, as the publication
now calls itself for short – has a free circulation of 34,000 copies
through more than 400 locations, and readership of more than 163,000.
Worcester Magazine is a three-time winner of the New England Press Association’s “Newspaper of the Year Award. Regarding the overall alternative-newspaper sector in America, circulation – which grew steadily between 1989 and 2000, has been more or less level since 2000. The circulation figure
now stands around 7.5 million.
Like any American teenager, Brenda Paz spent much of her time with
her friends. They would go to parties, listen to music, and show off
their cars late into the night. But Brenda and her friends belonged to
the Mara Salvatrucha--the MS-13--the most violent gang in America, and
in addition to enjoying the things that all teenagers do, her friends
were thieves, drug dealers, human traffickers, and murderers.
street gang that began in Los Angeles in the 1980s, the Mara
Salvatrucha has spread across the United States and Central America
with startling speed, boasting tens of thousands of members. They deal
ruthlessly with competing gangs and any members who display disloyalty,
often leaving a trail of dismembered corpses in their wake. They are
poised to surpass the Mafia as the country's most organized criminal
network. And by operating within the insular Central American immigrant
communities, the Mara Salvatrucha has been able to easily elude law
All that changed when Brenda Paz turned
informant for the FBI, exposing the incredible scope of the gang's
operations. But Brenda's cooperation with the FBI was only the
beginning. What followed is an extraordinary story of strength,
intelligence, and incredible courage.
This is for the Mara Salvatrucha takes us into a dark and violent world that few people have seen, but is closer than you think.
JEFF JOHNSON has been tattooing professionally for over 18 years and is the co-owner of the Sea Tramp Tattoo Company in Portland, Oregon. His new book TATTOO MACHINE: TALL TALES, TRUE STORIES, AND MY LIFE IN INK is part no-holds barred memoir, part behind the scenes look at the life of a tattoo artist as well as an assessment of the “tattoo industry” today and where it might be headed. Of course along the way there are some truly great stories to tell of life as a “Swamp Panther” and the strange things that happen when you create intimate art for another person’s body using needles and ink. Jeff is definitely a great raconteur, so don’t miss this show!
Underwriter of the Week
Arts, sciences and humanities build healthier, more livable, vital communities. They are essential to a strong education system. They contribute enormously to our economy.