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99% Invisible podcast

99% Invisible

Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we've just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. From award winning producer Roman Mars. Learn more at 99percentinvisible.org.

Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we've just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. From award winning producer Roman Mars. Learn more at 99percentinvisible.org.

 

#510

458- Real Fake Bridges

The great Jacob Goldstein, author of [Money: The True Story of a Made Up Thing] (https://amzn.to/2XcGQhF) , stops by to tell us two stories about the design of paper currency around the world. First, the story of the making of the Euro banknotes, the design of which was supposed to unify Europe and not rely on any one country's national heroes or monuments. Then we learn about China's early pioneering experiments in paper currency, hundreds of years before it caught on in the rest of the world.  [Real Fake Bridges] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=37968&post_type=episode) ... Read more

14 Sep 2021

20 MINS

20:43

14 Sep 2021


#509

457- Model Organism

Axolotls are nature’s great regenerators. They are able to grow back not just their tails, but also legs, arms, even parts of vital organs, including their hearts. This remarkable ability is one of several traits that turned the axolotl into a scientific superstar. The axolotl is one of the most abundant laboratory animals in biology. They can be found swimming in tanks at universities all around the world. But in the wild they’ve only ever been found in one place: Mexico City. [Model Organism] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=37900&post_type=episode) ... Read more

07 Sep 2021

31 MINS

31:53

07 Sep 2021


#508

456- Full Spectrum

In 2015 the world was divided into two warring factions overnight. And at the center of this schism was a single photograph. Cecilia Bleasdale took a picture of a dress that she planned to wear to her daughter's wedding and that photo went beyond viral. Some saw it as blue with black trim; others as white with gold trim. For his part, Wired science writer Adam Rogers knew there was more to the story -- a reason different people looking at the same object could come to such radically divergent conclusions about something as simple as color. Rogers recently wrote a book titled [Full Spectrum: How the Science of Color Made Us Modern] (https://amzn.to/3yqQUAG) . In this episode, Roman Mars talks with the author about how the pursuit to organize, understand, and create colors has been one of the driving forces shaping human history, starting with the story of this hotly debated piece of apparel from 2015 then winding back through built environments of global World's Fairs. [Full Spectrum] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=37889&post_type=episode) ... Read more

31 Aug 2021

32 MINS

32:13

31 Aug 2021


#507

455- A Field Guide to Water

What does water mean to you? In this feature, author Bonnie Tsui (Why We Swim), actress Joy Bryant, submarine pilot Erika Bergman, figure skater Elladj Baldé, 85-year-old synchronized swimmer Barbara Eison-White, professional mermaid Olivia Gonzales, and others share stories about the many ways water influences our lives. From [Pop-Up Magazine] (https://www.popupmagazine.com/) , creators of this [ Field Guide series] (https://www.popupmagazine.com/fieldguide/) : "We recommend listening outside, near water if you can. Head to the ocean if you’re on the coast. Or walk to a nearby pond or creek. Sit by a fountain at a park. Or just pour yourself a glass of water." Plus, an excerpt of [Roman Mars On The Anatomy Of A Good Story (w/ Michelle Fournet, Roman Mars, Pedro Pascal)] (https://www.stitcher.com/show/periodic-talks-1995038/episode/roman-mars-on-the-anatomy-of-a-good-story-w-michelle-fournet-roman-mars-pedro-pascal-200230334) , part of the Periodic Talks podcast. It's a show about what gets people curious, from virtual experiences to celestial bodies, with Gillian Jacobs (Community, Netflix's LOVE) and Diona Reasonover (NCIS) [A Field Guide to Water] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=37869&post_type=episode) ... Read more

17 Aug 2021

34 MINS

34:57

17 Aug 2021


#506

454- War, Famine, Pestilence, and Design

When Roman Mars and Kurt Kohlstedt were promoting  [The 99% Invisible City ] (http://99pi.org/book) in late 2020, one question came up over and over again in conversations and interviews about our built environment: in what ways will the COVID pandemic change cities long term? Realistically, it's hard to answer a question about the future while in the midst of a crisis, but we can look to and extrapolate from precedents, like: designs born out of past disasters. [War, Famine, Pestilence, and Design] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=37836&post_type=episode) ... Read more

10 Aug 2021

31 MINS

31:38

10 Aug 2021


#505

453- The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food

Officially titled The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food, it was often known simply as “Kniga” (translated: "book") because it was one of the only cookbooks to exist in the Soviet Union. The volume is peppered with glossy photographs of really lavish spreads and packed with text as well. There are recipes for lentils and crab salad and how to cook buckwheat nine different ways. But this book was meant to do so much more than show people how to make certain dishes — it's a Stalinist document aimed at addressing hunger itself in the USSR. "The book" was at the vanguard of a radical Soviet food experiment that, despite its numerous obstacles, transformed Russian cuisine. [The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=37787&post_type=episode) ... Read more

04 Aug 2021

42 MINS

42:27

04 Aug 2021


#504

452- The Lows of High Tech

Britt Young is a geographer and tech writer based in the Bay Area. She also has what's called a "congenital upper limb deficiency." In other words, she was born without the part of her arm just below her left elbow. She's used different sorts of prosthetic devices her whole life, and in 2018, she celebrated the arrival of a brand new, multi-articulating prosthetic hand. This prosthetic hand has a sleek carbon fiber casing, with specific pre-programmed grips that she can control just by flexing the muscles in her residual limb. She can use a precision pinch to pick a hairpin off of the table, or a Hulk-style power fist to squeeze objects. This kind of assistive technology has been life-changing for a lot of people who have limb differences. But for Britt, in particular, it hasn't been life-changing at all. In fact, her cutting-edge bionic arm has been a pretty major disappointment. "It's just not what you imagine. It's not like I'm like everyone else now, it's something different." [The Lows of High Tech] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?post_type=episode)   ... Read more

27 Jul 2021

40 MINS

40:20

27 Jul 2021


#503

451- Hanko

Hanko, sometimes called insho, are the carved stamp seals that people in Japan often use in place of signatures. Hanko seals are made from materials ranging from plastic to jade and are about the size of a tube of lipstick. The end of each hanko is etched with its owner’s name, usually in the kanji pictorial characters used in Japanese writing. This carved end is then dipped in red cinnabar paste and impressed on a document as a form of identification. Hanko seals work like signatures, only instead of signing on a dotted line, you impress your hanko in a small circle to prove your identity. But unlike a signature, which you can make with any old pen or touch screen, in Japan you need to have your own personal hanko with you whenever you stamp something, and you have to stamp it in person. ... Read more

20 Jul 2021

39 MINS

39:05

20 Jul 2021


#502

450- Stuff the British Stole

Throughout its reign, the British Empire stole a lot of stuff. Today those objects are housed in genteel institutions across the UK and the world. They usually come with polite plaques. The ABC podcast [Stuff the British Stole] (https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/stuff-the-british-stole/) is a six episode series about the not-so-polite history behind a few of those objects. We’re going to play the first episode and Roman talks to the presenter and creator Marc Fennell about the series. [Stuff the British Stole] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=37737&post_type=episode) ... Read more

14 Jul 2021

46 MINS

46:18

14 Jul 2021


#501

449- Mine!

Every year, fights break out on airplanes. They happen between the people who lean back in their seats, and the people who get their knees smooshed. Sometimes planes have to be grounded because of these arguments. If you think about it, these arguments are the result of confusion. Both people paid for a seat on the airplane, but it's unclear who owns the space behind it. Jim Salzman and Michael Heller are law professors and the authors of a new book called [Mine! How the Hidden Rules of Ownership Control Our Lives] (https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/601899/mine-by-michael-heller-and-james-salzman/) . They write about these common instances where ownership is not clear cut. According to Salzman and Heller, confusing ownership rules are often the result of poor ownership design. This is true not just for airplane seats, but also for battles over digital privacy, climate change, and wealth inequality. [Mine!] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=37675&post_type=episode)   ... Read more

29 Jun 2021

30 MINS

30:18

29 Jun 2021


#500

448- Katie Mingle's Right to Roam

We revisit Katie Mingle's Right to Roam episode as we say goodbye In the United Kingdom, the freedom to walk through private land is known as “the right to roam.” The movement to win this right was started in the 1930s by a rebellious group of young people who called themselves “ramblers” and spent their days working in the factories of Manchester, England. [Right to Roam] (https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/right-to-roam/) ... Read more

23 Jun 2021

34 MINS

34:30

23 Jun 2021


#499

447- Flag Days: The Red, the Black & the Green

After Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd last year, tens of thousands of people all over the world took to the streets to protest police violence against Black people. And if you look at images from these marches, you will probably start to notice a common color scheme -- one involving a lot of red, black, and green. The flag was invented to unite Black people all over the world living under racial repression. When it first came into existence, the flag posed some bold questions about where Black people owed their loyalty: was it to the nations where their lives were demeaned and threatened? Or to a new nation - one they would build entirely for themselves? For hundreds of thousands of Black people, the red-black-and-green symbolized the answer. [ Flag Days: The Red, the Black & the Green] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=37514&post_type=episode) ... Read more

15 Jun 2021

34 MINS

34:43

15 Jun 2021


#498

446- Flag Days: Good Luck, True South

Correction: Our staff producer pronounced the the Japanese word "ōbōn" incorrectly in this episode. It is pronounced OH-bohn not oh-BAHN. Let us be the first to wish you a Happy Flag Day, beautiful nerds!  Anyone who has listened to 99% Invisible regularly knows we have a thing for flags, which can beautiful things that give communities something symbolic to rally around. This year, we decided to get the celebration started early then keep the party going with two whole weeks of flag-related stories. They look like normal Japanese flags (hinomaru) at a glance, but upon inspection, they are covered in handwritten notes often radiating outward in kanji from the central red circle (a sun against a field of white). Different messages are written in different hands directly on the fabric. These so-called "good luck flags" were gifted to soldiers, particularly during WWII, as part of a send-off from loved ones -- and their name in English comes from one of the most commonly written phrases on them: good luck. Antarctica is a wonderfully strange place, and not just because of its infamously frigid climate. This huge landmass doesn’t have an independent government or even a permanent human population. It also has a lot of flags, though strangely: no single official one. [Flag Days: Good Luck, True South] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=37501&post_type=episode) ... Read more

08 Jun 2021

44 MINS

44:15

08 Jun 2021


#497

445- The Clinch

After Producer Katie Mingle's mom wrote a romance novel, Katie set out to understand the romance genre and its classic covers. There was a lot to unpack.  [The Clinch] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=37403&post_type=episode) ... Read more

02 Jun 2021

38 MINS

38:08

02 Jun 2021


#496

444- Pipe Dreams

Most people probably don't spend a lot of time thinking about their toilets, but they are both a modern marvel while also being somewhat of a failure of systems design. On the one hand, it has created a vast sanitation system that has helped add decades to human lifespan by reducing disease. But on the other hand, less than half of the world’s population can access a toilet that safely manages bodily waste, including many right here in the United States. We use about 100 trillion gallons of water for toilets every year at a time when water is becoming more scarce. While we see radical technological change in almost every other aspect of our lives, we remain stuck in a sanitation status quo—in part because the topic of toilets is taboo. [Pipe Dreams] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=37394&post_type=episode) ... Read more

25 May 2021

36 MINS

36:55

25 May 2021


#495

443- Matters of Time

For the most part, we take time for granted; maybe we don’t have enough of it, but we at least know how it works --- well, most of the time. A lot of what we think about time is relatively recent, and some of what we take for granted isn't quite as universal as one might think. This series of time-centric stories challenges what you know (or think you know) about the way time works around the world. [Matters of Time] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=37295&post_type=episode) ... Read more

19 May 2021

53 MINS

53:37

19 May 2021


#494

442- Tanz Tanz Revolution

Today, Berlin is one of the premier destinations for techno music fans. People come from all over the world to party all night to the rhythmic beat of Berlin's club scene. And this music that the city is most famous for developed in large part because of the thing the city is most infamous for: the Berlin wall, which divided the city into east and west for almost thirty years. When the wall fell in 1989, everyone was euphoric and parties started popping up everywhere. East Berlin was like a big playground of derelict buildings. It wasn't just the abandoned apartments. There were also former military sites and factories that had been shut down and buildings that had been condemned. And these places were perfect for techno. [Tanz Tanz Revolution] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=37339&post_type=episode)   - ... Read more

11 May 2021

44 MINS

44:04

11 May 2021


#493

441- Abandoned Ships

If you look around you right now, about 90% of what you’re looking at came to you onboard a cargo ship—your television, your sofa, most of the stuff in your kitchen. But as the number of these cargo ships has increased, so has a problem: workers stuck on ships that have been completely abandoned by the owners, leaving them stranded out at sea without basic supplies like food. In some cases, seafarers (that's the industry term for cargo ship workers) have been stuck on these abandoned vessels without enough supplies for months, or even years. [Abandoned Ships] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=37280&post_type=episode) This episode was produced in collaboration with the podcast [Kerning Cultures,] (https://kerningcultures.com/) a podcast that makes audio stories - like this one - from the Middle East and North Africa. ... Read more

04 May 2021

28 MINS

28:18

04 May 2021


#492

308- Curb Cuts (Repeat)

If you live in an American city and you don’t personally use a wheelchair, it's easy to overlook the small ramp at most intersections, between the sidewalk and the street. Today, these curb cuts are everywhere, but fifty years ago -- when an activist named Ed Roberts was young -- most urban corners featured a sharp drop-off, making it difficult for him and other wheelchair users to get between blocks without assistance. [Curb Cuts] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=25041&post_type=episode) plus a special announcement from Roman Mars about the future of 99pi. ... Read more

28 Apr 2021

48 MINS

48:24

28 Apr 2021


#491

440- La Brega in Levittown

On the show this week, we’re bringing you an episode of a new podcast called, La Brega. And to tell us all about the series is Alana Casanova-Burgess. Casanova-Burgess traces back the story of the boom and bust of Levittown, a massive suburb that was founded on the idea of bringing the American middle-class lifestyle to Puerto Rico during a time of great change on the island. Casanova-Burgess (herself the granddaughter of an early Levittown resident) explores what the presence of a Levittown in Puerto Rico tells us about the promises of the American Dream in Puerto Rico. [La Brega in Levittown] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?post_type=episode&p=37245) Subscribe to [La Brega] (https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/la-brega) on [Sitcher] (https://www.stitcher.com/show/la-brega) , [Apple Podcasts] (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/la-brega/id1553089886) , or [Spotify] (https://open.spotify.com/show/29uRUkbXF07QPdI5rI5zmK) ... Read more

20 Apr 2021

51 MINS

51:58

20 Apr 2021


#490

439- Welcome to Jurassic Art Redux

Kurt and Roman talk about icebergs and how we visualize them all wrong. Plus, we visit a classic 99pi story by Emmett FitzGerald about visualizing dinosaurs. At least for the time being, art is the primary way we experience dinosaurs. We can study bones and fossils, but barring the invention of time travel, we will never see how these animals lived with our own eyes. There are no photos or videos, of course, which means that if we want to picture how they look, someone has to draw them. The illustrated interpretation of dinosaur morphology and behavior has had a big impact on how the public views dinosaurs and it's gone through a couple of key turning points, including a more recent push for more speculative paleoart. [Welcome to Jurassic Art Redux] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=37231&post_type=episode) ... Read more

14 Apr 2021

35 MINS

35:56

14 Apr 2021


#489

438- The Real Book

Since the mid-1970s, almost every jazz musician has owned a copy of the same book. It has a peach-colored cover, a chunky, 1970s-style logo, and a black plastic binding. It’s delightfully homemade-looking—like it was printed by a bunch of teenagers at a Kinkos. And inside is the sheet music for hundreds of common jazz tunes—also known as jazz “standards”—all meticulously notated by hand. It’s called the Real Book. But if you were going to music school in the 1970s, you couldn’t just buy a copy of the Real Book at the campus bookstore. Because the Real Book... was illegal. The world’s most popular collection of Jazz music was a totally unlicensed publication. The full story of how the Real Book came to be this bootleg bible of jazz is a complicated one. It’s a story about what happens when an insurgent, improvisational art form like Jazz gets codified and becomes something that you can learn from a book. [The Real Book] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=37178&post_type=episode) ... Read more

07 Apr 2021

41 MINS

41:55

07 Apr 2021


#488

437- Science Vs Snakes

More than 100,000 people die every year from snake bites. Snake venom can have up to 200 different toxins inside it and each toxin has a different horrible effect to your body. Some attack your muscles, while others attack your nerves. And sometimes two different toxins can work together to form an even more sinister combination. Part of the reason people are dying is because they're not getting antivenom - the medicine required to fight these horrible toxins - fast enough. The system we have to create snake antivenom is a time-consuming and inefficient process that basically hasn't changed for more than 100 years. This is a collaboration with the great podcast [Science Vs] (https://gimletmedia.com/shows/science-vs) from Gimlet [Science Vs Snakes] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=37092&post_type=episode) ... Read more

30 Mar 2021

37 MINS

37:02

30 Mar 2021


#487

436- Oops, Our Bad

In the 20th century, humans became very good at the control of nature, but now that we’ve spent some time with the consequences, such as species extinction and climate change, humans are focused on the control of the control of nature. In this episode, Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Under a White Sky, talks about everything from the introduction of poisonous frogs in Australia to launching diamond dust into the stratosphere. Oops, Our Bad ... Read more

23 Mar 2021

30 MINS

30:53

23 Mar 2021


#486

435- The Megaplex!

Back in the early 1990s, movie theaters weren't that great. The auditoriums were cramped and narrow, and the screen was dim. But in 1995, the AMC Grand 24 in Dallas changed everything. It was the very first movie megaplex in the United States. This is the gigantic, neon, big-box store of moviegoing that we're all used to  today, and it's easy to dismiss as a tacky ‘90s invention. But the megaplex—specifically this first megaplex in Dallas—upended the entire theater business and changed the kinds of movies that got made in ways you might not imagine. [The Megaplex!] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?post_type=episode) ... Read more

16 Mar 2021

33 MINS

33:46

16 Mar 2021


#485

434- Artistic License

Idaho was the first state to slap a slogan on a license plate, “Idaho Potatoes,” which may not seem like a big deal, but it turns out this idea would end up having outsized consequences, and not just for Idaho. Because what started in one state would soon spread. And when it did, the question of what should go on a license plate, and what shouldn't, would prove surprisingly contentious. [Artistic License] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=36488&post_type=episode) Like 99pi? Get the 99pi book: [The 99% Invisible City] (http://99pi.org/book) ... Read more

09 Mar 2021

34 MINS

34:07

09 Mar 2021


#484

433- Florence Nightingale: Data Viz Pioneer

Victorian nurse Florence Nightingale (played in this episode by her distant cousin Helena Bonham Carter) is a hero of modern medicine - but her greatest contribution to combating disease and death resulted from the vivid graphs she made to back her public health campaigns. Her charts convinced the great and the good that deaths due to filth and poor sanitation could be averted - saving countless lives. But did Nightingale open Pandora's Box, showing that graphs persuade, whether or not they depict reality? [Cautionary Tales] (https://www.pushkin.fm/show/cautionary-tales/) is a podcast by [Tim Harford] (https://timharford.com/) from Pushkin Industries. You can read more about the remarkable legacy of Florence Nightingale and the perils of misinformation in Tim Harford's new book [The Data Detective] (https://timharford.com/books/datadetective/) (US/Canada) / [How To Make The World Add Up] (https://timharford.com/books/worldaddup/) (UK / International). ... Read more

02 Mar 2021

37 MINS

37:18

02 Mar 2021


#483

432- The Batman and the Bridge Builder

Mark Bloschock is an engineer from Texas, and in the late 1970s he got a job with the Texas Department of Transportation renovating the Congress Avenue Bridge. The bridge was a simple concrete arch bridge that spans Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin. It needed to be rebuilt with more contemporary beams called “box beams.” The box beams sit below the road’s surface, and they needed to be spaced a certain distance apart. Bloschock and the other engineers decided that the gap should be somewhere between ¾ of an inch and an inch and a half, which didn’t seem like a particularly meaningful decision… until the bats moved in. A tale of bats and bridges and how the built environment and the natural environment don’t need to be at odds with one another. [The Batman and the Bridge Builder] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=36226&post_type=episode) Plus, we talk with Simon Doble, CEO of Solar Buddy. Light access (both day and night) is a basic need many people take for granted.  [SolarBuddy] (https://solarbuddy.org/)  is an Australian charity uniting a global community with a big dream to gift six million solar lights to children living in energy poverty by 2030, to help them to study after dusk and improve their education outcomes. 99% Invisible’s Impact Design coverage is supported by  [Autodesk] (https://www.autodesk.com/) . The  [Autodesk Foundation] (http://www.autodesk.org/)  supports the design and creation of innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. Learn more about these efforts on Autodesk’s  [Redshift] (https://www.autodesk.com/redshift/) , which tells stories about the future of making across architecture, engineering, infrastructure and manufacturing. ... Read more

23 Feb 2021

33 MINS

33:02

23 Feb 2021


#482

431- 12 Heads from the Garden of Perfect Brightness

The story of the twelve bronze zodiac heads that are at the center of a fight over the repatriation of Chinese cultural heritage. Most believe all such cultural artifacts should return to China, but many others argue that these objects are also serving as nationalistic propaganda. [12 Heads from the Garden of Perfect Brightness] (https://99percentinvisible.org/?p=36193&post_type=episode) ... Read more

16 Feb 2021

36 MINS

36:06

16 Feb 2021


#481

Judas and the Black Messiah, Episode 1: The Chairman

Proximity, 99% Invisible, and Warner Bros. present the “Judas and the Black Messiah Podcast [,] (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/judas-and-the-black-messiah-podcast/id1549883019) ” an official film companion from the Radiotopia podcast network from PRX. In the “Judas and the Black Messiah Podcast,” host and critic Elvis Mitchell of KCRW is joined by Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. — son of Chairman Fred Hampton and head of the Black Panther Party Cubs — as well as the film’s actors and creative team, and by members of the Black Panther Party who knew Chairman Fred Hampton. Together, they look at the true stories behind the events portrayed in the film. In episode 1, we get the real story of how Fred Hampton became The Chairman. Watch [the film] (https://www.judasandtheblackmessiah.com/) and subscribe to the rest of the series here: [Apple Podcasts] (https://podcasts.apple.com/iq/podcast/judas-and-the-black-messiah-podcast/id1549883019) [Stitcher] (https://www.stitcher.com/show/judas-and-the-black-messiah-podcast) ... Read more

12 Feb 2021

36 MINS

36:52

12 Feb 2021