170 Favorites

More Information


United States




Transistor is a transformative STEM podcast from PRX. Three scientist hosts — a biologist, an astrophysicist, and a neuroscientist — report on curiosities and current events in and beyond their fields. Sprinkled among their episodes are special science stories from around the globe. Presented with support from the Sloan Foundation.




Bowl Tastes Delicious

What if the size of our dinner plate, its color, the material of our cutlery - even background sounds - all affect how our food tastes? In other words, what if it’s not just about what we cooked for dinner, but the context of the meal itself? Reporter Quentin Cooper brings us this story.

Duration: 00:10:58

Hurry Up and Listen

Underneath our vrooms, beeps, and rumbles, natural sound may be more important than we think.

Duration: 00:10:50

A Job for the Bee Team

On May 2, 2015, beekeepers Pam Arnold and Kristy Allen got hit with a pesticide. They couldn't see it or smell it, but when they saw their bees writhing on the ground and dying they knew something was seriously wrong. They called a panel of scientists at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Duration: 00:10:38

An Ovarian Transplant Between Twins

Thirty-six-year-old twins Carol and Katy are physically identical in every way but one: Katy was born without ovaries, and wanted to start a family. The science and ethics behind ovarian transplants as a treatment for infertility.

Duration: 00:11:18

Engineering NYC from Below

Head underground to hear how some of the first subways were built, and how they are built today. This story was originally produced by Bishop Sand in 2013. It was hosted for Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz. Image: CC BY-SA 3.0 Adam E. Moreira | Music: Whurlywind from Podington … Continue reading Engineering NYC from Below

Duration: 00:10:11

Dance: It’s Only Human

Bronwyn Tarr with Carimbó dancers. Oxford evolutionary neuroscientist Bronwyn Tarr was in a remote area of Brazil to begin an experiment. On her first night there, she heard distant drumbeats, went looking for them, and experienced firsthand what she was there to study: how dancing develops a sense of community. This story was produced by … Continue reading Dance: It’s Only Human

Duration: 00:10:49

The Words are a Jumble

Vissarion Shebalin was not a great composer. But his music could unlock an important truth about how the brain processes music and language. This story was produced by Tobin Low in 2015 and edited by Andrea Mustain. It was hosted for Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Duration: 00:10:45

The Art and Science of Polynesian Wayfinding

Ancient navigators traveled across the Pacific without the aid of maps or instruments. We'll hear from modern-day navigators in New Zealand, Hawai'i and North America about the techniques used to do so. This is the art and science of Polynesian wayfinding, brought to us by producer Lily Bui. This story was produced by Lily Bui in 2015 and edited by Andrea Mustain. It was hosted for Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz. Image by Lily Bui.

Duration: 00:11:21

Remaking the Science Fair

This episode is brought to you by... science fair memories. I (your host Genevieve) remember being inspired to create my sixth grade science fair project by a visit to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia (more on that below). I found this piece from Adam Hochberg in our archive. It's about schools remaking science fairs to include more actual science and less papier-mâché volcanos. Enjoy! As mentioned in the episode, here's a photo of my Rube Goldberg machine that I built after seeing...

Duration: 00:07:01

Peeing in Your Pants… In Your 30s

Some studies suggest that one out of 10 women in her 30s is peeing herself. Others say the numbers could be much much higher. But it’s tough to talk about. Producer Lauren Whaley shares her story and the scientific approaches to hopefully one day solving this problem.

Duration: 00:09:39

Rodney Learns to Fly

Rodney Stotts and Mr. Hoots, a Eurasian eagle owl. “Biophilia” refers to the instinctive affection humans have for nature. It’s a term that was coined in the mid-'80s by renowned biologist E.O. Wilson. This story is about just such a connection: Rodney Stotts grew up selling dope and guns. But he's always loved caring for birds. The drugs landed him in jail. The birds helped set him free. This story was produced by Ari Daniel and edited by Andrea Mustain. Hear more of Ari's reporting on...

Duration: 00:12:29

Disease Detectives On the Case

Ebola, salmonella, even measles. All of these have a source, and disease detectives trained at the CDC know how to find the culprits. Join two rookies as as they solve "the case of the nutty dish". This episode was originally produced by Philip Graitcer for PRX's STEM Story Project in 2014. It was hosted for this episode of Transistor by Genevieve Sponsler and mixed for Transistor by Josh Swartz.

Duration: 00:09:36

Orbital Path: Must Be Aliens

Loyal Transistor listeners will remember astronomer Michelle Thaller, who hosted three episodes for us earlier this year. She’s back, now with her own monthly podcast from PRX called Orbital Path. It’s all about stars, the universe, and us — for space lovers or just the curious. The debut episode features the infamous Phil Plait of … Continue reading Orbital Path: Must Be Aliens

Duration: 00:14:37

Bluegrass…for Wolves?

What kind of music do animals like? A woman who studies how non-human creatures go mad throws concerts for captive animals to try and enrich their lives, and researchers weigh in on how we can understand animal tastes for music with science. Plus, a bluegrass concert for 52 wolves. Here’s a video of the concert … Continue reading Bluegrass…for Wolves?

Duration: 00:09:47

52 Hz

52 Hz is the name given to a mysterious whale that vocalizes at a different frequency than other whales. Some refer to him as “The World’s Loneliest Whale,” but other scientists aren’t convinced that its unique call has left the whale isolated at all. This episode was produced for PRX & Transistor by Craig Shank … Continue reading 52 Hz

Duration: 00:08:35

Nautilus special: “To Save California, Read Dune”

The sci-fi epic of Dune takes place on a desert planet. There, the water in even a single tear is precious. Can Dune offer lessons for drought-stricken California of 2015? This is a special episode featuring science magazine Nautilus. This episode was produced for PRX and Nautilus by David Schulman.

Duration: 00:20:57

The Indiana Jones of Math

Ken Golden isn’t your typical mathematician. He’s the Indiana Jones of Mathematics. He gets up from behind his desk, armed with mathematical theory and gets out into the world, having adventures and finding unifying math behind seemingly unconnected subjects. In this episode, we find him out on the Arctic sea ice drawing on math developed … Continue reading The Indiana Jones of Math

Duration: 00:08:45

Forensics in Flames

Over the past 20 years, there’s been a revolution in the science of arson investigations. Many of the clues that had been used for decades to determine that a fire was not accidental, especially the analysis of burn patterns on walls and floors, have been proven to be false. Reporter Michael May looks closely at … Continue reading Forensics in Flames

Duration: 00:12:19

That Crime of the Month

What does it mean when a woman commits a crime and attributes her actions to PMS? We revisit the court case for — and the science behind — the first use of the “PMS defense” in this country, back in 1981. Featuring the true crime show, Criminal. This episode was produced by Criminal — Phoebe … Continue reading That Crime of the Month

Duration: 00:11:59

The Last of the Iron Lungs

As storms raged through Oklahoma in 2013, Martha Lillard waited them out from inside her iron lung. She is one of just dozens of polio survivors who still rely on their decades-old machines. The Last of the Iron Lungs is a portrait of Martha, who contracted polio in 1953. To Martha, the 1940s iron lung … Continue reading The Last of the Iron Lungs

Duration: 00:08:44

See More