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Teaser episode available now, full show premieres January 13, 2017.

Teaser episode available now, full show premieres January 13, 2017.
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Teaser episode available now, full show premieres January 13, 2017.




The Track Not Taken

The Meigs Elevated Railway—one of the world’s first monorail systems—looked like something out of a Jules Verne novel. But it was very real. Hear how nineteenth-century Bostonians missed their chance to build a steam punk utopia.


When Minds and Machines Converge

Can thought-power control the world outside our heads? Thanks to new brain-machine interface technology, the answer is yes. But the real question is whether it can it help us control the world inside our heads.


Making Music with Machines

We can’t predict what kind of music people will want to make or hear in the future. But based on the sounds coming out of today's studios and clubs, it's a good bet that the tunes of tomorrow will be heavily mediated by digital technology. This week’s show asks how software has changed the way composers and performers make music, and how our tools for creating music will evolve in the near future. You’ll meet people using technology on different scales to create scores for film, television,...


Tomorrow, Today with Ministry of Ideas

The way we picture the future is still based, in large measure, on the visions brought to life at the world’s fairs and international expositions that swept the globe between the 1850s and the 1960s—especially the New York World’s Fairs of 1939-40 and 1964-65, the Seattle World’s Fair of 1962, and Disney World’s EPCOT Center (which is, in essence, a permanent World’s Fair). But the fairs were about much more than technology: they were also about a specific vision of Western dominance, one...


Sci-Fi That Takes Science Seriously

The golden era of “hard” science fiction that respects the rules of actual science lasted from the 1940s to the 1960s. In the 1970s, demand for hard sci-fi fell off a cliff, with a big push from the first Star Wars movie in 1977. But for the last year and a half, Soonish host Wade Roush has been part of a project to revive this underappreciated genre. This week’s episode is all about Twelve Tomorrows, the new short-story anthology Wade edited for MIT Technology Review and the MIT Press. The...


The Future Is Clear

Episode 2.07: What's ubiquitous but invisible, versatile yet temperamental, goopy when it's hot yet brittle when it's cold, as old as civilization yet as new as the screen of your smartphone? The answer is glass. This week on Soonish, we ask what glass really is, where it comes from, who's using it in interesting ways today, and how it will fit into our world in the future. We visit the world capital of glass—Corning, New York, home to both Corning, Inc., and the remarkable Corning Museum of...


Looking Virtual Reality In The Eye

Episode 2.06: The immersive, 3D environments of virtual reality aren’t science fiction any more, and they aren’t just for video games. In this episode Wade visits “The Enemy,” a groundbreaking VR exhibit about the psychology of war. The creation of photojournalist Karim Ben Khelifa, it introduces visitors to hyper-realistic avatars based on six real fighters from Israel, El Salvador, and the Congo. It offers a vivid reminder that all conflict is grounded, to some extent, in stereotypes and...


A Space Shuttle Isn't Cool. You Know What's Cool? A Space Elevator (Soonish on Soonish)

Episode 2.05 of Soonish, the podcast, is all about Soonish, the book! Host Wade Roush interviews Kelly and Zach Weinersmith, the husband-and-wife team behind the new book Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything. Kelly Weinersmith is a parasitologist at Rice University and co-host of the podcast Science…Sort of, and Zach Weinersmith is the creator of the wildly popular Web comic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Their book is a funny, fast-paced,...


Back To The Futurists With Tamar Avishai

Episode 2.04 is a special crossover show featuring Tamar Avishai's The Lonely Palette, one of the founding shows in our new podcast collective, Hub & Spoke. In this episode Tamar focuses on Italian Futurism, a pre-World War I art movement fueled by a heady mix of diesel and testosterone. The Futurists consciously aimed to use painting, sculpture, and photography to celebrate speed, power, industry, and all of the exhilarating ways technology was changing the world. What they couldn't...


Mapping the Future with Tim O'Reilly

Episode 2.03: For a sane, humane, and skeptical perspective on what’s happening to Silicon Valley and why our high-tech economy seems to be failing us, there’s no better source than Tim O’Reilly, master trend spotter and founder of computer book publisher O’Reilly Media. Soonish’s in-depth conversation with the admired entrepreneur, investor, and author focuses on his new book “WTF: What’s The Future and Why It’s Up to Us,” published October 10. In the interview—and in the book—O’Reilly...


Introducing Hub & Spoke

Episode 2.02: Big news! Soonish is a founding member of Hub & Spoke, a Boston-centric collective of smart, idea-driven podcasts. Together with the art history podcast The Lonely Palette and the new philosophy-and-culture show Ministry of Ideas, we’re celebrating independent audio storytelling and the power of art, science, arguments, and ideas to change the world. In this episode you’ll hear the Ministry of Ideas pilot, “The Shape of History,” hosted by Zachary Davis and produced by Nick...


Shadows Of August: The Eclipse Road Trip Edition

Episode 2.01: The conflict in Charlottesville in August of 2017 showed that Americans are having a hard time figuring out how to represent the country’s past, let alone how to fix the present or plan for the future. But sometimes a stunning natural event like a total solar eclipse can bring us back together—if only for a few minutes. For the Season Two premiere of Soonish, host Wade Roush went on a road trip across 10 states, visiting the place with more Confederate monuments than any other...


Washington, We Have A Problem

Episode 1.10: Just in time for Independence Day 2017, it's a special politics edition of Soonish! With his attacks on judges and journalists, his attempts to quell inquiries into his campaign’s Russia ties, his early-morning tweetstorms, and so much more, Donald Trump has breached every norm of presidential conduct. And he’s testing the constitutional separation of powers in ways the nation’s founders could never have anticipated. In this episode, we try to understand Trump’s impact on...


A Tale Of Two Bridges

Episode 1.09: When Boston’s elegant Longfellow Bridge opened in 1907, it was innovative example of classical European bridge architecture adapted for a busy American city. But over the next century, officials allowed the bridge to rust to the point of near-collapse. And recently, a futuristic new cable-stay bridge, the Zakim Bridge, was built across the Charles River just a mile downstream, displacing the Longfellow as an icon of the city and proving that Bostonians still have a taste for...


Hacking Time

Episode 1.08: Why do "productivity" tools like email, to-do lists, and calendars make so many of us feel miserable and overburdened? Why hasn't anyone come up with a better way for us to manage our diverse commitments and our chronic information overload? This episode of Soonish looks at our personal futures and the tools we use to manage them. We talk with folks who are pursuing new technologies for keeping our lives organized. We look at the kludge-y but often brilliant productivity...



Episode 1.07: More than 500 people have flown in space since Yuri Gagarin’s historic ride in 1961—and virtually every one of them has been a military officer or government employee. But now that’s changing. Jeff Bezos’s rocket company Blue Origin aims to begin commercial passenger flights to space in 2018, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX has announced plans to send two private citizens around the moon, also in 2018. Meanwhile, here on Earth, there’s a boom in space-related innovation and investment,...


Origin Story

Episode 1.06: After in-depth episodes about movies, monorails, museums, manufacturing, and meat, the show goes meta and I talk about Soonish itself. Hear how Carl Sagan and extraterrestrials helped to kickstart my science journalism career, how the Challenger disaster woke me up to technology’s double-edged nature, and how the New York World’s Fair of 1939 got me thinking about the world of the future. Also, I explain how you can now support Soonish directly through Patreon. The Soonish...


Meat Without The Moo

Episode 1.05: We meet people working to promote a range of alternatives to meat from livestock--including a cricket farmer, a researcher studying ways to grow meat from muscle cells in the laboratory, and a startup founder commercializing jackfruit, a huge fruit from India with a meat-like texture. The logic behind their work is simple. In the coming decades, as the human population expands toward 10 billion people by 2050, we'll probably have to figure out how to replace a lot of the meat...


Future Factories, With Workers Built In

Episode 1.04: Six million manufacturing jobs have disappeared in the U.S. since 2000, and you've probably heard economists and politicians say "those jobs aren't coming back." But that view isn't quite right. It doesn’t account for a cultural and technological revolution sweeping the United States—one that promises to redefine manufacturing, make it drastically more accessible, and create a ladder to new kinds of jobs for unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled workers alike. In this episode of...


Can Technology Save Museums?

Episode 1.03: Museum attendance declined steeply in the first decade of this century, according to a survey by the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA found that audiences were being siphoned away by the Internet, television, and other distractions. So, technology can be seen as a threat to museums—but maybe it's also a tool they can use to re-engage with the public. In this episode of Soonish, we visit museums in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Boston to see how some curators and...