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Flash Forward


A show about possible and not so possible futures. From space pirates to conscious robots to the end of antibiotics. Hosted by Rose Eveleth.

A show about possible and not so possible futures. From space pirates to conscious robots to the end of antibiotics. Hosted by Rose Eveleth.
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A show about possible and not so possible futures. From space pirates to conscious robots to the end of antibiotics. Hosted by Rose Eveleth.




EARTH: The Desert Creep

Today, we travel to the deserts. Or, actually, the deserts travel to us. What happens if dust swallows up over 30% of the planet? → → → Background reading, source material and other links here ← ← ← As air pollution gets worse, a dystopian accessory is born ← My piece on face masks mentioned in the episode! Guests:climate researcher at University of MarylandPhD candidate at UC Irvinefreelance technology researcherresearcher on land use and sustainability at the University of Leedssoil...


EARTH: The Polar Flip

Today we travel to a future where the Earth’s magnetic poles reverse. → → → Further reading available here ← ← ← Guests:Eftyhia ZestaMichael PuruckerAlanna MitchellThe Spinning MagnetRory CottrellThorsten RitzBrent RoseZahra Noorbakhsh, host of Good Muslim, Bad MuslimJoseph JonesTamara Krinsky, host of Tomorrow’s World TodayAvery TrufelmanArticles of InterestAndrea SilenziThe Longest Shortest TimeRose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The episode...


EARTH: The Sunshade

We're back! Did you miss me? Don't answer that please. Today's episode kicks off Season FIVE of Flash Forward. This year, I'm doing things a little bit differently. Instead of doing a new episode every other week, you're getting little mini-seasons. Each little block of five episodes will come out weekly, and center around a theme. This week we're starting our EARTH series. Five episodes, five different future Earths. Buckle up, I hope you're ready for some fun. And some terror. This is...


Season Five Coming Soon!

In case you think I've been sitting on my butt doing nothing, here's a trailer to let you know that I have been sitting on my butt doing lots of things! Flash Forward returns to your feeds NEXT WEEK, but to get you excited, I wanted to drop in and give you all a little taste of what’s to come. See you in the future! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices


Snip Snip Snip

At long last, we’re doing genetic editing. What’s the deal with the recent news about CRISPR babies? What does a future full of human genetic editing look like? And how might CRISPR change the food we eat? Guests:Sarah Zhangreporter at The AtlanticGreta Johnsenco-host of NerdetteAlice WongDisability Visibility ProjectAlison Van Eenennaam→→→ Further reading and sources HERE ←←← Paper mentioned in the Policygenius ad: “National culture and life insurance consumption” Flash Forward is...


Water Would Be Nice

What happens when the Rio Grande dries up? The river is often overshadowed, at least in the US, by the Colorado River. But the Rio Grande creates the border between US and Mexico, and the water that flows through it is at the center of a looming geopolitical crisis. So what happens when towns, farms and cities on both sides of the border start to run out of water? Guests: Naveena Sadasivam: staff writer at the Texas Observer covering the environment, energy and climate and co-author on the...


The Commute From Hell

Getting from one place to another is hard. What if we could just teleport? From the physics of how this would work (it wouldn’t) to the ripple effects it might have on politics, urban development, and tourism, this episode is all about what would happen if we could zip instantly from one place to another. Guests Matt Lubchansky, comic artist and associate editor at The Nib Zeeya Merali, physicist at the Foundational Questions Institute, author of A Big Bang in a Little Room, cohost of the...


What To Expect When You're Expecting In Space

If humans want to really have a go at leaving Earth and living in space or on other planets, we’re going to have to figure out a lot of things: spaceships, food supplies, fuel, how to keep everybody from killing one another. But one thing seems to be frequently left out of the picture, when it comes to distant space travel research: reproduction. It turns out we know very, very little about what pregnancy in space might look like, or whether it’s even possible at all. Guests Maggie...


Farm To Tablet

On today’s episode we tackle a future that was once a staple of science fiction: food pills. Instead of shopping and cooking and sitting down to eat meals together, we all simply pop our nutritional pills and move along with our lives. How feasible is this, really? Where did the idea come from? And what does the rise and fall in the popularity of the idea say about our changing relationships to food, culture and politics? Guests: Annalee Newitz, science journalist and science fiction...


Eyes In The Skies

Computers are getting smaller and smaller. But what if we had sensors the size of dust, that could float through the air undetected, talk to one another, gather information, and transmit that information back down to a central place? This is the concept behind smart dust, and it's more plausible than you might think. Guests: Amy Webb, quantitative futurist and founder of the Future Today Institute Faine Greenwood, journalist and drone expert Stacey Higginbotham, journalist, co-host of...


Money For Nothing

What if we just gave everybody money? It sounds simple, but universal basic income is a trendy idea right now and a lot of you have asked for an episode about a future where everybody gets money from the government no matter what. And it turns out that while it sounds simple, just giving everybody money is way more complicated than you might thing. Guests:Atossa Araxia AbrahamianShaksam Khosla India’s Basic Income: Bedeviled by the Details Aisha NyandoroSpringboard to OpportunityCara Rose...


Fungus Among Us

How much of what you do is actually your choice? What if you were secretly being controlled by a parasite that had infected your brain? What if that infection was spreading? Guests: David Walton, author of The Genius Plague Tade Thompson, author or Rosewater Charissa de Bekker, researcher at the University of Central Florida Sandeep Ravindran, science journalist For additional reading and resources on this episode, visit flashforwardpod.com. Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose...


Spawn of Sponcon

On today’s episode we travel to the near-future of advertising. Welcome to a future in which you can sign up to be a brand ambassador, and get paid for every time you mention a product in conversation. Simply download the app, and your phone will listen to your every word waiting to hear brand names, and pay you some money every time you mention one. Guests: Deborah Dahl, speech technology expert and principal of Conversational Technologies Lee Tien, senior staff attorney at the...


Dr. Doolittle

~~~~ TAKE THE SURVEY! (Please) ~~~~ Today we tackle the age-old question: what if animals could talk? Or, more precisely, what if we could actually understand what animals are saying? Guests: Con Slobodchikoff, professor at Northern Arizona University, CEO of Zoolingua, and author of Chasing Dr. Doolittle: Learning the Language of Animals. Irene Pepperberg, professor of psychology Harvard University, author of Alex and Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal...


Under The Sea

In the 1960's, the United States spent millions of dollars exploring two different realms: outer space, and the deep oceans. But today, only one of those programs is still around. Why do space colonies seem more likely than underwater cities? And what does it take to build a settlement on the sea floor? Guests: Ben Hellwarth, journalist and author of SEALAB: America's Forgotten Quest to Live and Work on the Ocean Floor Jim Fourqurean, professor of Marine Science at Florida International...


Portrait Of The Artist As An Algorithm

In today’s episode I welcome you to the Museum of Non-Human Art, a brand new gallery full of art made entirely by machines, computers, algorithms, robots and other non-human entities. I hope your enjoy your visit! To see pictures of any of the artworks we talked about on this show head to the website! Guests: Elizabeth Stephens, Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Queensland Michael Noll, computer artist,...


The Very Big Sick

In 1918, the Spanish flu killed four to five percent of the entire global population. Infectious disease experts all agree that another pandemic is coming. It's when, not if. But are we ready for it? Today's episode explores what happens when a pandemic strikes, what the most likely candidates are, and whether or not the world is ready. Guests: Ed Yong, science writer at The Atlantic Nahid Bhadelia, assistant professor at Boston University School of Medicine and the Medical Director of...


The Space Roomba

This episode we take on a future where space junk has gotten so bad, that active spacecraft are constantly having to maneuver around it, which wastes fuel and cuts down on operation time. And humans decide to finally do something about it. But what? Guests: Loren Grush, science reporter at The Verge Lisa Ruth Rand, historian of science technology and the environment. Tiago Soares, systems engineer for ESA’s Clean Space program Andrew Wolahan, systems engineer for ESA’s e.deorbit...


We Are Family

With the rise in consumer DNA tests and online genealogy, people might soon have a pretty good idea where their families came from for generations. But are we putting too much faith in DNA? Can our genetic ancestry really tell us anything about ourselves? And what happens when DNA databases become playgrounds for true crime sleuths? Guests: Carl Zimmer, science journalist and author of She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions and Potential of Heredity Kristen V. Brown,...


Federal Project Two

Guests: Susan Quinn, author of Furious Improvisation: How the WPA and a Cast of Thousands Made High Art out of Desperate Times and other books. Monet Noelle Marshall, playwright, consultant, artist, director, founder of JOCOAA. Monica Byrne, novelist, playwright, futurist, activist. Further Reading: Furious Improvisation: How the WPA and a Cast of Thousands Made High Art out of Desperate Times by Susan Quinn The New Deal Art Projects, An Anthology of Memoirs by Francis V....