What’s in a Word?

This week, we explore communication: how do we talk? how do we hear? and what the hell are we even saying?  And what about the rest of the animal kingdoms?  African elephants don’t just communicate through trumpeting – they also use seismic waves. Elephant behavior expert Caitlin O’Connell explains this “second language,” and how it’s helping advance hearing aid technology. She also tells us about her new work of fiction, Ivory Ghosts, which draws attention to the intensifying problem of illegal ivory trade. We then talk to evolutionary biologist Nicole Creanza, who explains that we can learn a lot about early human migration across the globe not just through genetics, but also through our languages.

This episode was produced by Leslie Chang, Mike Osborne, and Miles Traer.
Additional music by Kevin MacLeod (tracks used: Digya and Night Cave. License available here)

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Google Autofill: Are Geologists…?

by Miles Traer

As we kick off this new season of Generation Anthropocene, I thought that I’d take some time to answer some of the most queried questions on Google about geologists.  Specifically, I tackled the question, “Are geologists…” followed by every letter of the alphabet and the resulting autofill question.  Unsurprisingly, some of the letters hadn’t been searched enough for autofill to work.  And yet, some letters yielded some of the strangest questions I’ve ever heard about geologists.  Without further ado, here are my attempts at answers: Continue reading

The future of cars

Today, we discuss the future of the automobile and all of its possibilities with Sven Beiker.  Sven discusses car specialization and why the “Swiss Army Knife” car just won’t work.  We also talk about changing driver patterns, connecting your car to the internet, how changing cars might change our roads as well, along with a brief exploration of how the idea of our cars as a symbol of freedom might be shifting.  We also take a second to figure out how to say the plural of the Toyota Prius.


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[ESSAY] What happened to the middle in the GMO debate?

This essay was written by Miles Traer.  If you’d like to hear Miles read it, click play below.


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The debate surrounding genetically modified organisms, often called GMOs, is an absolute mess.  A huge part of the argument stems from genetically modified foods.  Some people trumpet GM wheat and corn for its drought resistance and ability to feed more people in parts of the world that desperately need food.  Others point to unwanted side effects like the creation of super-weeds and the potential loss of biodiversity as reasons to be wary of this new technology. But what drove my desire to do a GMO story for Generation Anthropocene was something entirely different and was born from two intertwined questions: how did the GMO discussion become so polarized and why does it continue to feel like the topic of GMOs doesn’t allow for a middle ground? Continue reading