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The Intersection


Your search for fascinating stories ends here. The Intersection narrates stories that meld culture, science and history in India.

Your search for fascinating stories ends here. The Intersection narrates stories that meld culture, science and history in India.
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Your search for fascinating stories ends here. The Intersection narrates stories that meld culture, science and history in India.




#48: The Stories in our Stars: Tribal Astronomy in Ancient India

At some point of time, every human that has ever walked this planet has looked up at the night sky and wondered what the cosmos is trying to tell them. Tribes turned to the heavens when looking for structure and found ingenious ways to build their lives around the stars they saw every night, as Samanth and Padma discover in this stellar episode of The Intersection dedicated to ancient astronomy. Music: Josh Woodward

Duration: 00:20:27

#47: The Science of the Stampede

Stampedes are all too common in India--at temples, religious festivals, sporting events and most recently, at a railway station in Mumbai. Though it might seem like unpredictable, unorganized chaos, there are actually computational models that study such potential situations and help authorities, designers and architects avoid them. As The Intersection returns with a new season, find out why stampedes occur and what to do if you're stuck in one. Music: Josh Woodward

Duration: 00:17:47

#46: How Our Vocabulary Evolved Over 8,000 Years

Isn't it odd that the word for "father" in Spanish ("padre") and Sanskrit ("pitru") sound similar? Especially given the geographic and cultural barriers that separate the two languages? As this episode of The Intersection discovers, there's a reason these languages can sound similar, and what's more, there's actually a way to trace the pronunciations of modern words, sometimes going back 8,000 years. Tune in to know more about the granddaddy of modern Indo-European languages and how a...

Duration: 00:18:48

#45: Decoding The Hype around Hyperloop

You've probably heard of the Hyperloop, the high-speed mode of transport that could potentially change the way we travel. Dreamed up by entrepreneur and inventor Elon Musk, the Hyperloop promises to cut travel times substantially, promising to cover 500km in about 30 minutes. There's even talk of the Hyperloop coming to India, and connecting cities like Mumbai and Delhi, and Bengaluru and Chennai. But how does this transport system (that looks like something out of "The Jetsons") work? And...

Duration: 00:15:00

#44: Music and Emotion

Music has a power to move us; a few notes of a piece of music can make us feel intensely elated or deeply melancholic. Researchers have done significant work to find out how music connects to our brains and how just a few notes can trigger specific responses among us. This episode of The Intersection goes into the science behind the sounds of music. Music: Josh Woodward

Duration: 00:15:14

#42: Preserving Books - From Mumbai to Dublin

In India, preservation and restoration of old manuscripts is not treated with the seriousness it deserves by libraries. Against this environment of callousness, Anand Akolkar wages a somewhat lonely war, from his humble home in Mumbai. He battles with the harsh elements of nature and an uncaring bureaucracy to preserve and restore old and dying manuscripts. A few thousand miles away in Dublin, we get a peek into the biggest library in Ireland and learn how seriously the preservation and...

Duration: 00:15:17

#41: People Power-Coming Together for Science

Bird watching is not just a hobby that some enthusiasts undertake to pass their time, it can be an exercise in natural historiography itself. Historically and internationally, the contribution of amateur naturalists has been significant and often pioneering. Non-professionals have played a very important role in laying the foundations of Indian natural history since colonial times. And they continue to build on it today as well. Listen to Samanth and Padmaparna in this new episode as they...

Duration: 00:15:53

#40: (Super) Bugs Without Borders

39 volunteers. 59 countries. 136 airports. With 400 swabs collected over 3 years. That is what it took for researchers to determine the course of bacteria that affect thousands of people worldwide. Multi drug resistant bacteria are growing more powerful each day with microbiologists struggling to find a way to combat these pathogens. Samanth Subramanian and Padmaparna Ghosh talk to Frieder Schaumburg, the microbiologist who ran this study to understand the fight against these superbugs....

Duration: 00:13:24

#39: Racist Artificial Intelligence = Racist Us

People were asked to send in their selfies for a beauty contest judged by AI and the results were shocking. Of the 44 winners of the beauty contest, only one was dark skinned. Elsewhere Microsoft developed a self-learning chat bot, Tae, which was taken offline in just 16 hours because of its offensive behaviour. Are robots inherently racist? Or is it inevitable for them to echo and amplify the prejudices their makers hold? Music Credit: Josh Woodward and Chris Zabriske

Duration: 00:15:38

#38: Aliens on the Radio #Wow, via Big Ear

39 years ago, a radio telescope called Big Ear in Ohio received a sudden burst of waves that were most likely from a source near Sagittarius. The signal, called the Wow signal, named after Astronomer Jerry Ehman’s reaction to it, has never been heard again. But a few astronomers hope to find the mystery behind the source of the signal in the next few years and (hopefully) probe the possibility of a life beyond our planet. Music Credit: Josh Woodward and Chris Zabriske Sound Credit: NASA

Duration: 00:13:50

#37: Measuring Happiness: My GNH Is Bigger Than Yours

Bhutan was the first country to take into consideration the happiness of its citizens by measuring GNH (Gross National Happiness). Other institutions in other countries have also tried to set-up similar parameters around the measurement of well-being. But how do you measure something that is so subjective and so difficult to quantify. Samanth Subramanian and Padmaparna Ghosh talk to researchers about the challenges with measuring happiness and its correlation with economic growth.

Duration: 00:14:02

#36: A Cold-War Spy Story, From the Sixties

In 1965, Captain Manmohan Singh Kohli, an officer in the Indian navy, led a group of CIA and IB officials on an arduous trek across 125 kilometres, for a covert mission to spy on China’s nuclear capability. They changed course a month into this arduous trek after encountering a severe avalanche and the story was soon forgotten. The abandoned mission only came back into the news, after a leak in the 1970s, when questions were raised in parliament about the dangers of the lost plutonium. In...

Duration: 00:15:38

#35: Tinder for Vegetables? How Plants Communicate With Potential Mates

Communication is not limited only to the words we hear or the signs we see, it can go beyond that. Plants cannot speak, hear, see or move, so how do these plants communicate? Is their language made up of chemicals and signals? In this brand new episode, we cover the work done by scientists to study the relationship plants have with the complex ecosystem around them.

Duration: 00:14:12

#34: YInMn - A New Kind of Blue

A lot of what we see around is defined by its colour. When a new colour is added, there are exciting new possibilities in terms of shades that are possible and how they may be used. A new shade of blue was discovered in Oregon, USA which the makers called YInMn Blue, named after the elements it consists of - Yttrium, Indium and Manganese. This is exciting because it’s the first new blue in over 200 years. Padmaparna Ghosh speaks to Professor Mas Subramanian who developed this colour who...

Duration: 00:16:10

#33: How We Are Failing to Respond to Climate Change

Are the floods in Mumbai, Chennai, Assam and other parts of India related to the wildfires in North America? In his new book The Great Derangement, Amitav Ghosh argues that these calamities are a direct outcome of climate change and our response to this has been inadequate. He also suggests that the Indian media is conveniently ignoring these very serious events because it is more fixated with Bollywood, Cricket and Politics (as a circus). Music credit: Josh Woodward

Duration: 00:16:48

#32: Vanishing Voices: What We Lose When We Lose a Language

The rich linguistic diversity of India is under threat, over 300 languages spoken by communities in geographically isolated areas have gone extinct and over a 100 more are endangered. As we move towards homogeneity in the name of progress, several indigenous languages across India are merging with more dominant ones. Meet V K Neelarao who concerned by the intrusion of Tamil in his original Saurashtrian language, made a film called ‘Hedde Jamoi’ to raise awareness for this dying language....

Duration: 00:14:02

#31: Mission Impossible - Surveying Indian Languages and Dialects

It took George A. Grierson about 30 years to finish his masterpiece —the Linguistic Survey of India, a monumental publication that documented 179 languages and 544 dialects across the extensive and diverse borders of India. Today these historic archives are available at the click of a mouse, but this compilation —of fables, songs, stories and epic poetry became a cornerstone of Indian language studies. Almost 100 years later, this epic work had a companion, when eminent Indian linguist...

Duration: 00:16:29