For the past month, i’ve been listening to WNYC’s Radiolab podcast. It’s been an absolute godsend since I haven’t been that entertained by scientific wonderment ever since Megaten‘s weekly science education show disappeared from my life .
‘Megaten’ (japanese for ‘Eyes Wide Open‘) featured experiments and expositions that blew your mind. The subject of every episode would revolve around something very ordinary. For instance in the clip below, they talk about how it is possible to make sweet drinks carry zero calories.
They reveal that most 0kcal drinks uses a generically named ‘sweetener‘. To entertain us further, they conduct a small street experiment to compare it’s taste with the taste of normal sugar. 27 out of 30 tasters would prefer the taste of the sweetener, than the taste of sugar.
I find the format of the show impressive. I wouldn’t normally find it interesting to be told that the common sweetener known as ‘Acesulfame K‘ is 200-300% more potent than ordinary sugar. But you get to see the guy tasting a bit of it in his hand, and then watch his incredulous expression transform into complete surprise!
Well Radiolabs does something similar, except they use radio drama techniques to provide imaginative content for the duration of every episode, the format is designed to evoke curiosity whilst making an effort to keep the stories or arguments ‘balanced’. Topics range from Talking Machines, to The Elasticity of Time, from Surprising pieces of ancient garbage to an escapologist nicknamed Little Houdini , and every one of them are just as surprising and wonderful as the last. Even an early episode titled ‘Sleep‘ was surprisingly good to listen to. Though it didn’t help me get to sleep last night, too bloody interesting. Kept me awake.
TRIVIAL TRIVIA (taken from wikipedia)
Acesulfame Potassium was developed after the accidental discovery of a similar compound (5,6-dimethyl-1,2,3-oxathiazin-4(3H)-one 2,2-dioxide) in 1967 by Karl Clauss and Harald Jensen at Hoechst AG. After accidentally dipping his fingers into the chemicals that he was working with, Clauss licked them to pick up a piece of paper.