Frankenstein Freak-outs

Radiolab is a show about science that briliantly uses radio’s greatest strength–sound–to bring stories to life in ways we print goons can only dream about. I wrote a story about how animals sleep. The Radiolab folks played the sound of brain waves from a sleeping cat. And so on.

I’m particularly fond of their latest podcast, which you can listen to below. It’s about chimeras, synthetic biology, and other threats to our conventional notions of life.

Full disclosure: I am acquainted with Robert Krulwich, one of the hosts, and in recent months he and I have spent a fair amount of time talking about the brave new world of synthetic biology. He is freaked out in many ways, some legitimate, and some, I think, not so much. (I recently wrote about why I can’t summon up a good freak-out in Wired.) Bascially, I think ordinary biology like foul drinking water and drug-resistant bacteria is more frightening than a microbe that smells like wintergreen. But you can listen to Krulwich get disturbed and judge for yourself.