Overheard at National Geographic

National Geographic

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Come dive into one of the curiously delightful conversations overheard at National Geographic’s headquarters, as we follow explorers, photographers, and scientists to the edges of our big, weird, beautiful world. Hosted by Peter Gwin and Amy Briggs.

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118 episodes

Frank Drake’s Cosmic Road Map

Are we alone in the universe? It’s a question we’ve been asking for millennia. Now we’re on the cusp of learning the answer. Frank Drake—one of the most vocal (and brilliant) askers—has spent the past six decades inspiring others to join him in this quest. Now, a new generation of scientists is carrying his work forward. They’re finally being taken seriously, and they’re about to change the way we think about our place in the cosmos. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Want more? Space isn’t the only place to explore when scientists are looking for alien life; it’s also important to go underground—here on Earth. Find out why on another episode of Overheard. Breakthrough Listen is reaching beyond our galaxy to determine whether or not there is life in space. The project is audacious—and worth following closely. Frank Drake and Carl Sagan had a legendary friendship and professional relationship. One of their many projects was to create another kind of cosmic road map meant to show aliens how to find us.  Also explore: In 1977, NASA sent a set of Golden Records to space attached to two Voyager spacecraft. Carl Sagan, Frank Drake, and a team of inspired scientists decided what they should contain. Here’s the music that’s flying outside of our solar system right now. Thanks to another kind of map, it’s possible to see just how far those radio signals have traveled since leaving our planet over a hundred years ago. So far, they’ve traveled about 200 light-years—and no one has heard them yet. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

36m
Aug 02
Playback: Amelia Earhart Part II: The Lady’s Legacy

Amelia Earhart’s statue was recently unveiled at the U.S. Capitol, and for good reason: Her adventurous spirit had implications for women around the country. Earhart went well beyond setting records as a pilot--her true end game was equality for women, a rarely explored side of her life story that goes well beyond the mystery of her disappearance. In today's Playback, we hit our archives and learn about a different Amelia. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. This summer, adventure is never far away with a free one-month trial subscription to Nat Geo Digital. For starters, there’s full access to our online stories, plus every Nat Geo issue ever published in our archives! There’s a whole lot more for subscribers, and you can check it all out–for free–at natgeo.com/exploremore. Want more? Read “My Flight from Hawaii,” the 1935 article Earhart wrote for National Geographic about her voyage from Hawaii to California.  Peruse the Amelia Earhart archive at Purdue University, which is filled with memorabilia and images from Earhart’s life, including her inimitable sense of fashion and some revolutionary luggage. Take a look through Earhart’s childhood home in Atchison, Kansas. It’s now the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum.  And click here to learn more about the Amelia Earhart statue at the U.S. Capitol and the new Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum being built in Atchison. Also explore: Check out Earhart’s cherry red Lockheed Vega 5B, used to fly across the Atlantic solo in 1932. It’s on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, in Washington, D.C. Learn about the Ninety-Nines, an organization founded in 1929 to promote advancement for women in aviation. Earhart was the Ninety-Nines’ first president. Today its membership is composed of thousands of female pilots from around the world. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

37m
Jul 28
Harnessing the Power of Yellowstone’s Supervolcano

If a major eruption ever were to occur at Yellowstone’s “supervolcano,” the event could destroy huge swaths of North America. But in recent years, some scientists have proposed that the amazing power locked beneath the caldera could be harnessed to generate renewable geothermal energy. National Geographic writer Maya Wei-Haas examines the risks of a supervolcanic eruption at Yellowstone and what it would take to use it as a power source. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Want more?  Check out Maya Wei-Haas’ article about how bacteria discovered in Yellowstone led to the development of PCR tests used to detect Covid-19, and her article about the eruption of Cumbre Vieja on La Palma.  See how the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory is monitoring the region on their website.  Listen to more of Paolo Dell'aversana’s geomusic on his YouTube page. Also explore: Find out more about the geothermal facilities mentioned in this episode on their websites: Cornell University Borehole Observatory The Geysers in California  Krafla Magma Testbed If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/exploremore to subscribe today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

36m
Jul 26
The Complications of Building a Tunnel Under Stonehenge

The 4,500-year-old Stonehenge attracts hordes of tourists—and massive congestion. To alleviate traffic, the British government is considering a plan to build a tunnel under the monument, but historians and modern Druids alike are concerned that the development could damage artifacts critical to understanding the ancient stone circle. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. SHOW NOTES Want more? Did you know that some pieces of Stonehenge may have come from even older artifacts? Take a look at our article on the subject. Also explore Now that you’ve heard about Alice Zoo’s and Reuben Wu’s photography, want to see it for yourself? Check out Alicezoo.com and ReubenWu.com. For subscribers We only scraped the surface when it comes to Stonehenge. Roff Smith wrote a piece for the August issue of the magazine that digs into the ancient past of the site as well as its modern issues, and you can read more about how Reuben captured the spirit of the world heritage site using a drone. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

28m
Jul 19
Do Shark Stories Help Sharks?

Our obsession with sharks has generated folklore around the world for thousands of years. But a series of attacks at the Jersey shore in 1916 would forever change the way we tell stories about sharks. We trace how attitudes toward sharks shifted in the past century—from stoking our fears to emboldening some to ride on their backs—which directly affects the future of one of the most evolved species on the planet. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Want More?  SharkFest returns! For more great stories on sharks and for our programming schedule, check out natgeo.com/sharkfest. Read about camo sharks that change the color of their skin, scientists who are using drones to expand our understanding of shark behavior, and discoveries on the shark superpowers of speed and bite force. Also explore:  The attacks on the Jersey Shore in 1916 were captured in the newspapers at the time; the fear generated was instantaneous. Read more about that here. “Sharkzilla” was not a thing. But that didn’t stop many people from believing in it. What was the real story behind the Carcharocles megalodon? Read about it here. If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/exploremore to subscribe today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

36m
Jul 12
How Black Climbers Are Closing the Adventure Gap

Ever since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest, there has been a long list of firsts: the first ascent without supplemental oxygen, the first in winter, and the first full ski descent, to name a few. The first Black climber reached the roof of the world in 2003. But until this year, no team of Black climbers had done it. Meet one of the climbers in the Full Circle Everest expedition, and learn why he hopes this historic accomplishment shows that Black people belong in outdoor recreation too. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard Want more? Read more about Full Circle Everest, the revolutionary team that made history on the world’s highest peak. And go deeper with James’s podcast episode featuring an interview with Demond “Dom” Mullins, as well as James’s website The Joy Trip Project and his book The Adventure Gap. Black Americans make up just two percent of National Park visitors, according to a 2018 report. Read about how the National Park Service is trying to live up to its credo to provide “Benefit and Enjoyment of the People”—all people. Income disparities and an inability to take time off work can restrict people of color from outdoor recreation. Follow a group of people strapping on crampons and climbing frozen waterfalls for the first time.    Also explore: Check out other groups—like Outdoor Afro and Melanin Base Camp—dedicated to diversifying the outdoors. See Everest from above. Panoramic drone photography shows what it’s like to stand on the roof of the world. In 2021, researchers announced a new height for Mount Everest: 29,031.69 feet above sea level. Learn how they arrived at such a precise measurement, as well as the biting-cold, middle-of-the-night ascent that made it possible. Everest may be the world’s tallest mountain, but K2 is often called the most dangerous. In another Overheard episode, we chronicle the all-Nepali team that climbed K2 in winter, something that had never been done before.   If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/exploremore to subscribe today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

29m
Jul 05
Introducing: ESPN Daily—Title IX @50

For all the strides Title IX helped women make in sports, today a contentious issue centers on who gets to compete as a woman. In part four of the documentary 37 Words, filmmaker Clare Marash met transgender kids whose right to participate in society as themselves is in question by dozens of state legislatures—on the field and in life. And in this episode of ESPN Daily, marking 50 years since Title IX became law, host Allison Glock and Clare Marash look at the future of civil rights around education and sports through the families fighting for their kids to play. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

38m
Jun 29
Playback: The Tree At the End of the World

Deadly seas. Hurricane-force winds. A punishing journey to the tip of South America is all in a day’s work for Nat Geo Explorer Brian Buma. But Craig Welch, a reporter who calls himself a “normal human being,” also tagged along—and found that a miserable expedition makes for a heck of a story. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Want more? Read Craig’s story about the wind-blasted journey to Cape Horn and see photos of the remote, otherworldly landscape at natgeo.com. Forests are the key to protecting the planet, and they need our help. Subscribers can read more of Craig Welch’s reporting in a special issue of National Geographic all about forests. Also explore: At an estimated 5,400 years old, a Patagonian cypress may set a new record for the world’s oldest tree. But some scientists aren’t convinced the math checks out. High-altitude snow and ice are disappearing much faster than previously assumed, according to climate research in another extreme environment—Mount Everest, called the “roof of the world.” If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/exploremore to subscribe today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

26m
Jun 28
She Shoots, She Scores: Title IX Turns 50

Meet Kari. Now meet the other Kari. One played college lacrosse in the 1980s; the other currently plays at the same school for the same coach. College sports have radically evolved during that time—take the high-tech clothes that emit infrared radiation to maximize performance—but there’s one constant: Title IX of the Higher Education Act ensures that no person is excluded from university programs “on the basis of sex.” In collaboration with ESPN and The Walt Disney Company, we examine how Title IX continues to ripple across American society. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Want more? Dive into ESPN’s Fifty/50, a month-long storytelling project that illuminates Title IX, one of the most significant pieces of American civil rights legislation—and maybe the most misunderstood. Title IX met fierce resistance even after it was passed. Learn why it was urgently needed and how its opponents pushed back. “If you’re not upset about this problem, then you’re a part of it.” Disparities in food and training facilities at an NCAA championship tournament led to a public reckoning for college basketball. Also explore: The Iroquois invented lacrosse. Now the Iroquois national lacrosse team—led by one of the sport’s biggest stars—wants to compete in the 2028 Olympics. The first step: gain recognition from international sports organizers. The stories of 20 women from the National Geographic archives show how these explorers mapped the ocean floor, conquered Earth’s highest peaks, and unearthed ancient civilizations—but didn’t always get the credit they deserved.  If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/exploremore to subscribe today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

34m
Jun 21
Celebrate Juneteenth with Into the Depths

In this special episode of Overheard in celebration of Juneteenth, we reconnect with now Rolex/National Geographic Explorer of the Year Tara Roberts, who upends her life—including leaving her job—to join a group of Black scuba divers searching for the wrecks of ships that carried enslaved Africans to the Americas. Tara is inspired by the stories of the Clotilda, a ship that illegally arrived in Mobile, Alabama, in 1860, and of Africatown, created by those on the vessel—a community that still exists today. The archaeologists and divers leading the search for the Clotilda lay out the steps it took to find it. As Tara talks to the living descendants of those aboard the ship, she admires their enormous pride in knowing their ancestry, and wonders if she can trace her own ancestors back to a ship. She hires a genealogist and visits her family’s small hometown in North Carolina, where she celebrates the nation’s first federal Juneteenth holiday. The spirit of community she finds at the celebration, as well as the surprising results she receives from the genealogist, bring Tara a sense of belonging to a place that she never could have imagined. Want more? Check out our Into the Depths hub to learn more about Tara’s journey following Black scuba divers, find previous Nat Geo coverage on the search for slave shipwrecks, and read the March cover story. And download a tool kit for hosting an Into the Depths listening party to spark conversation and journey deeper into the material. Also explore: Dive into more of National Geographic’s coverage of the Clotilda with articles looking at scientists’ ongoing archaeological work, the story that broke the discovery of the ship, and the documentary Clotilda: Last American Slave Ship. Meet more of the descendants of the Africans trafficked to the U.S. aboard the Clotilda, and find out what they’re doing to save Mobile’s Africatown community in the face of difficult economic and environmental challenges. Read the story of Kossola, who later received the name Cudjo Lewis, in the book Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo,” by author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston. Learn more about the life of abolitionist Harriet Jacobs, author of “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl,” who escaped Edenton, N.C., through the Maritime Underground Railroad. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

45m
Jun 15
This Indigenous Practice Fights Fire with Fire

SHOW NOTES Want more? If you want to hear more from Kiliii, you can also listen to a previous Overheard episode where he shares stories from the many weeks he spent camping on sea ice with Native Alaskan whale hunters.  And you’re dying to see his photography, check out his website to see portraits of Indigenous people, Arctic wildlife, and more.  Also explore To learn more about Margo Robbins and her efforts to revive cultural burns, check out our article on the subject. For subscribers Cultural burns are just one of many stories that Kiliii and writer Charles Mann covered about the ways Indigenous groups are trying to reclaim sovereignty. That’s coming out in the July issue of the magazine. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

29m
Jun 14
Sonic Postcards From the Appian Way

“All roads lead to Rome” was once more than a saying; it was a fact. The first of the great roads of ancient Rome, the Appian Way was the most important of them all. Italians still travel what’s left of the Queen of Roads, even if they don’t always know it. National Geographic writer Nina Strochlic and photographer Andrea Frazzetta take us on an immersive trip down the venerable road. The soundscapes they travel through—the voices and vibrations of modern and ancient life—reveal something essential about the Italian identity. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Want more? So, how did the Romans build 200,000 miles of roads? It wasn’t easy. You’ll find out more here in an issue of National Geographic History. St. Peter fled Rome, so the story goes, along the Appian Way. As he left, he encountered Jesus Christ—resurrected. There is still a church on that site, aptly named Domine Quo Vadis, for the famous phrase St. Peter uttered before he returned to Rome and was crucified himself. You can see Annibale Carracci’s 17th-century painting of the event here. If going underground and being surrounded by bones doesn’t give you the willies, then you’ll love visiting the catacombs in Italy. Or you can take a look here, and read about why Romans buried their dead this way. Also explore: If your appetite is piqued after hearing about a trip through Italy, you might want to check out what the ancient Romans ate. You won’t find gelato (or a tomato) anywhere in sight. But you might be inspired to re-create a peppery custard. For the truly adventurous, try your hand at recipes from the oldest surviving Italian cookbook, De Re Coquinaria. If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/exploremore to subscribe today.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

37m
Jun 07
Restoring a Lost Sense of Touch

When Brandon Prestwood’s left hand was caught in an industrial conveyor belt 10 years ago, he lost his hand and forearm. Scientists are unraveling the science of touch by trying to tap into the human nervous system and re-create the sensation for people like Prestwood. After an experimental surgery, Prestwood’s prosthetic arm was upgraded with a rudimentary sense of touch—a major development in technology that could bring us all a little closer together. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.    Want More? To learn more about this story and writer Cynthia Gorney’s other reporting on the science of touch, take a look at her feature article. The robotic arm isn't the only nascent technology that seems like it's right out of Star Wars. Our science desk has compiled a list of examples of real research inspired by the franchise.   Also Explore More information about Dustin Tyler’s research can be found through his Case Western Reserve University website and his organization, the Human Fusions Institute. If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/exploremore to subscribe today.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

33m
May 31
Where in the World Is Jessica Nabongo?

In 2019 Jessica Nabongo, author of the popular travel blog The Catch Me If You Can, became the first documented Black woman to travel to every country in the world. From swimming with humpback whales near Tonga to eating delicious dumplings in Georgia, the world traveler shares how globe-trotting changed the way she sees the world and humanity. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/exploremore. Want more? Check out Jessica Nabongo’s forthcoming book, The Catch Me If You Can: One Woman’s Journey to Every Country in the World, published by Nat Geo Books. You can learn more about her adventures on her blog, The Catch Me If You Can, and Instagram page.  Also explore: Learn more about pangolins, why they are so heavily trafficked, and the ongoing efforts to protect them.  Archaeologists have found that humans have been making wine in Georgia for 8,000 years. Talk about vintage.  If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/exploremore to subscribe today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

24m
May 24
Bringing the Dead to Life

Thousand-year-old Peruvian queens and medieval murder victims may seem lost to time, but history “detectives” are on a mission to solve a mystery: What did those people look like? We hear from Oscar Nilsson, a forensic facial reconstructionist who uses a combination of science and art to re-create the faces of our ancestors. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Want more? Oscar Nilsson’s reconstructions of Cheddar Man, Bocksten Man and others can be seen at his website odnilsson.com. Also explore:  When an explorer uncovered the skeleton of an ancient Peruvian queen in a tomb in Peru, they asked Nilsson to make a recreation of her. Uncover the story here. 8,000 years ago, a man’s bones were used in a ritual in Scandinavia. Take a look at Nilsson’s recreation of him. For subscribers: A mother and child were buried in Sweden 4,000 years ago. Read about Nilsson’s recreation of the woman and see what she might have looked like. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

30m
May 17
The Greening of Pittsburgh

When it comes to examples of cities that have successfully emerged from the industrial age into the information age, look no further than Pittsburgh. But can it be done with an eye toward climate solutions? In this editorial collaboration with Project Drawdown, storyteller Matt Scott follows engineer and artist Clara Kitongo, architect Erica Cochran Hameen, and transportation manager Sarah Olexsak, three of the women working toward a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable community, straight out of the future they want to build. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Want More? Clara, Erica, and Sarah are just three of the Pittsburgh climate-solutions advocates featured in Project Drawdown’s short documentary series Drawdown’s Neighborhood. The series, done in collaboration with adventure filmmaker Erik Douds, will announce its expansion to additional cities later this year. Check out the New York Times best seller Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by environmentalist and Project Drawdown co-founder Paul Hawken, for more climate solutions from scientists, researchers, and environmental advocates. And find out how climate change impacts including wildfire, extreme heat, and drought are affecting forests from the Amazon to the Arctic in National Geographic’s special issue “Saving Forests.” If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/explore to subscribe today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

28m
May 10
Going Undercover to Save Manta Rays

After wildlife filmmaker Malaika Vaz stumbled upon manta ray poaching near her home in India, she disguised herself as a fish trader to find out who was behind the plot—a dicey proposition as she pursues traffickers in India, China, and Nepal. Want more? Check out Malaika and Nitye’s production company, Untamed Planet. There, you can see films about big cats, pandemics, and, of course, manta ray trafficking. Also explore:  Curious how these animals stole Malaika’s heart? Take a look at Nat Geo Wild’s The Social Lives of Manta Rays. For subscribers: Believe it or not, manta rays have their own distinct social circles. Learn more in our article about manta ray friendships. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

39m
May 03
Farming for the Planet

How do you turn barren land into a complex working farm that reflects the planet’s biodiversity? Just ask John and Molly Chester, who traded city life in Los Angeles for 200 acres in Ventura County, where they are rebuilding soil health and growing the most nutrient-dense food possible. Their film, The Biggest Little Farm: The Return is now available on Disney Plus. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

19m
Apr 26
The Secret Life of Plants

How do you capture the image of a 150-foot-tall tree in the middle of a dense rainforest? If you’re National Geographic Explorer Nirupa Rao, you pull out your paints. Rao draws from the centuries-old practice of botanical illustration to catalog and celebrate native plant life of the southern Indian rainforest, introducing new audiences to the wonders they hold. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Want more? This Earth Day, celebrate our planet’s beautiful, remote, and at-risk locations—and meet the explorers protecting them—at natgeo.com. See Nirupa’s illustrations on Instagram, @niruparao. And check out her books Hidden Kingdom and Pillars of Life. “Sky islands” in the Western Ghats host an almost unbelievable array of microclimates—and a chance for scientists to see evolution in action. King cobras, which live in the Western Ghats, can "stand up" and look a full-grown person in the eye. Fortunately, they avoid humans whenever possible. Also explore: Rainforests have an unsung hero that keeps the forest healthy and functional: termites. Also, National Geographic’s resident artist, Fernando Baptista, brings stories to life by sculpting clay models, then using them for a drawing or stop-motion film. If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/explore to subscribe today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

25m
Apr 19
Solving the Mystery of the Boiling River

As a boy growing up in Peru, Andrés Ruzo recalls his grandfather’s stories about the horrors Spanish conquistadores encountered in the Amazon, including a “boiling river.” Years later, Ruzo, a National Geographic Explorer, journeys into the Amazon to try to find the waterway. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want more? Read Andrés’s book: The Boiling River: Adventure and Discovery in the Amazon. Also explore:  Curious what you can do to help the river’s ecosystem? Go to www.boilingriver.org.  For subscribers:  Read a Q&A with Andrés to learn more about the communities that live around Shanay-Timpishka and the theories scientists explored to understand why the river boils. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

38m
Apr 12
Turning Old Cell Phones into Forest Guardians

What happens when a tree falls in a forest and no one is listening? The sound starts with truck engines and chainsaws and ends with a small piece of forest being silenced. Illegal logging is slowly thinning out the world’s forests, paving the way for widespread deforestation. With limited resources and difficult terrain, it’s a hard problem to tackle. National Geographic Explorer Topher White—who considers himself a war photographer for climate change—has found that by listening for the sounds of logging through hundreds of recycled cell phones nailed high in treetops from Indonesia to Eastern Europe, the stewards of the world's trees might have a chance to detect and prevent illegal logging. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want More: Check out this article to learn more about how illegal lumber makes its way into the global supply chain. National Geographic has detailed explanations of both gibbons and deforestation.  Take a look at this project to use waste from coffee production to help renew destroyed forests.  Also Explore: Take a look at the last known footage of a Tasmanian Tiger. To learn more about Topher White and the Rainforest Connection, take a look at their website.

26m
Apr 05
Queens of the High Seas

Yo-ho, a pirate’s life for she! Legends of Blackbeard and movie buccaneers like Captain Jack Sparrow give us the impression that piracy was a man’s world. But historians and the Nat Geo book Pirate Queens: Dauntless Women Who Dared to Rule the High Seas are righting the ship. Join the fleet of Zheng Yi Sao, a woman from southern China who at her peak commanded some 70,000 pirates during the early 19th century. For more information on this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard. Want more? Check out Pirate Queens: Dauntless Women Who Dared to Rule the High Seas, the new book from National Geographic Kids.  Subscribers can follow the trail of pirate queen Grace O’Malley—also known as “Bald Grace”—who became a living legend in 16th-century Ireland. An animated video breaks down the life of Zheng Yi Sao, perhaps the most successful pirate of all time. Also explore: There are plenty of pirate myths, but National Geographic has the true stories of discovering Blackbeard’s ship, the reason pirates practiced democracy, and what science has to say about the food pirates ate (hint: it was usually terrible).      Go deeper with the books Pirates of the South China Coast, 1790-1810 by Dian Murray and The Blue Frontier: Maritime Vision and Power in the Qing Empire by Ronald Po. If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to natgeo.com/explore to subscribe today.

29m
Mar 29
First Ascent of a Sky Island

In the most remote part of Guyana, plateaus called tepuis—also known as sky islands for poking through the clouds—rise up from the jungle. They’re topped by unique ecosystems, filled with plants and animals never before seen by human eyes. That’s because getting there is no small feat. Eager to find new species but unable to scale the sheer cliff faces, 80-year-old biologist Bruce Means teamed up with professional climbers and Indigenous people to trek through the jungle and get to the top of an uncharted tepui named Weiassipu in search of frogs and adventure.  For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.   Want More? To learn more about the expedition to the top of Weiassipu, take a look at Mark Synnott’s feature story in the upcoming April issue of National Geographic magazine.  And to see these stunning sky islands for yourself, check out the National Geographic special Explorer: The Last Tepui, streaming on Earth Day, April 22, exclusively on Disney+.

35m
Mar 22
Nowruz and the Night Sky

Not everyone celebrates the New Year in the middle of winter; for 300 million people around the world, their New Year begins at the moment of the vernal equinox. The holiday of Nowruz celebrates that “new day” by encouraging us to make poetic connections between life and death, and past and present. National Geographic photographer Babak Tafreshi reacquaints us with the shimmering origins of this ancient Persian holiday; they are above our heads, shining in the night sky. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want more? The International Dark Sky Association is working to protect our skies from light pollution. They can help you find your way to the starriest viewing on the planet.     As Nowruz approaches, it’s not too late to learn more about Iran’s long history of poets going back to more than 10 centuries.  Also explore: If you’d like to create your own haft-sin table, check out these gorgeous examples for inspiration. Babak Tafreshi has published a book of his beautiful night sky photography, The World at Night.  For subscribers:  Learn more about how light pollution is affecting our planet through images that Tafreshi captured.

33m
Mar 15
Amelia Earhart Part II: The Lady’s Legacy

Behind her modest smile and windblown charm, Amelia Earhart was a rarity in the 1930s: a fiercely confident woman with a dream to fly. Her adventurous spirit went well beyond setting records as a pilot—her true goal was perhaps equality for women. This is a different Amelia, which might explain why the mystery of her disappearance remains unsolved—explorers are looking in the wrong place. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want more? Read “My Flight from Hawaii,” the 1935 article Earhart wrote for National Geographic about her voyage from Hawaii to California.  Peruse the Amelia Earhart archive at Purdue University, which is filled with memorabilia and images from Earhart’s life, including her inimitable sense of fashion and some revolutionary luggage. Take a look through Earhart’s childhood home in Atchison, Kansas. It’s now the Amelia Earhart Museum.  Also explore: Check out Earhart’s cherry red Lockheed Vega 5B, used to fly across the Atlantic solo in 1932. It’s on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, in Washington, D.C. Learn about the Ninety-Nines, an organization founded in 1929 to promote advancement for women in aviation. Earhart was the Ninety-Nines’ first president. Today its membership is composed of thousands of female pilots from around the world.

36m
Mar 08
Amelia Earhart Part I: The Lady Vanishes

Ever since Amelia Earhart made her last radio transmission somewhere over the Pacific, theories about her disappearance have proliferated; more than 80 years later, the constant retelling of her story shows no signs of slowing. Although the search to find a “smoking gun” has yielded little evidence, there are many who believe they know how Amelia’s story ended. Whether they’re right or wrong, one thing remains true: Their stories have little to do with Amelia herself. For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want more? Check out the maps of Amelia Earhart’s flight plan as well as archival photos, and take a peek inside Bob Ballard’s search vessel in a National Geographic story about Ballard’s expedition. You can also watch the documentary Expedition Amelia on Disney+.  See the final radio log between Earhart and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Itasca on the morning she disappeared.  Also explore: Learn about how cadaver dogs are used around the world to help uncover what humans can’t detect.  There’s a reason humans are such good storytellers—it’s to our evolutionary advantage. Learn about why we crave the ending to a story.

38m
Mar 01
Playback: The Battle for the Soul of Artificial Intelligence

With every breakthrough, computer scientists are pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence (AI). We see it in everything from predictive text to facial recognition to mapping disease incidence. But increasingly machines show many of the same biases as humans, particularly with communities of color and vulnerable populations. In this episode, we learn how leading technologists are disrupting their own inventions to create a more humane AI. SHOW NOTES For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want more? In 2020 widespread use of medical masks has created a new niche—face-mask recognition. The technology would help local governments enforce mask mandates, but is it worth it? Thanks to evolution, human faces are much more variable than other body parts. In the words of one researcher, “It's like evolving a name tag.” Most people have difficulty accurately recognizing strangers. But a few individuals—called super-recognizers—excel at the task. London police have employed some of these people to help find criminal suspects. And for subscribers:  Artificial intelligence and robotics have been improving rapidly. Our cover story from September 2020 explores the latest robotic technology from around the world. In 1976 Isaac Asimov wrote an article for National Geographic predicting how humans might live in 2026. Also explore:  Take a look at the documentary Coded Bias, featuring AI researcher Joy Buolamwini. The film explores Joy’s research on racial bias in facial recognition AI. Read the NIST report, co-authored by Patrick Grother and discussed in this episode.

27m
Feb 22
Summiting the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain

K2, a mountain in the Kashmir region of Asia, is the second highest peak on Earth and yet more dangerous than Mount Everest, especially in the winter. But in January 2021, a group of Nepali climbers attempted to accomplish what people thought was impossible. Team co-leader Mingma Gyalje Sherpa tells the story of the epic journey on what experienced climbers call the Savage Mountain.  For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want more? Watch the video of the Nepali climbers summiting K2, singing their national anthem. Check out Nims’s new, adventurous memoir, Beyond Possible. And learn about previous attempts to summit K2. Our article follows a couple of European teams trying—and failing—to summit the mountain.  Also explore:  Curious about those Polish climbers who started this winter climbing craze? Read Bernadette McDonald’s book Freedom Climbers. For reflections on the risks of mountaineering, listen to our recent episode about the tragic story of the late renowned climber Alex Lowe. For subscribers:  There’s way more to this K2 expedition than we could cover in one episode. For more on Mingma G. and Nims’s journey, check out our magazine story.

31m
Feb 15
Journey "Into the Depths"

When National Geographic Explorer Tara Roberts meets Ken Stewart, the co-founder of Diving With a Purpose (DWP), she’s moved by his near 20-year mission to find the Spanish pirate ship Guerrero, which wrecked off the coast of Florida in 1827. Tara decides to train with DWP, learning how to find and map a shipwreck. With the help of poet and fellow Explorer Alyea Pierce, Tara tries to imagine the journey of the enslaved Africans on the Guerrero and how their spirits might have flown home after they perished at sea. Want more? Check out our Into the Depths hub to learn more about Tara’s journey following Black scuba divers, find previous Nat Geo coverage on the search for slave shipwrecks, and get a sneak peek at the March cover. And download a tool kit for hosting an Into the Depths listening party to spark conversation and journey deeper into the material. Also explore: Listen to author and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s full 2009 Ted Talk on the danger of a single story. Learn more about Diving With a Purpose co-founder Ken Stewart and the organization’s ongoing efforts to find the Guerrero, and take a deeper dive into the wrecking of the ship off the Florida Keys in 1827. Find out more information about Diving With a Purpose and its work training adults and youth in maritime archaeology and ocean conservation.

33m
Feb 10
The Wonders of Urban Wildlife

National Geographic Explorer Danielle Lee takes us on a tour of potential research sites around her home in the St. Louis area, sharing her passion for witnessing how wildlife (particularly rodents) thrives in neglected urban spaces—along with the reality of doing fieldwork as a Black scientist and how she hopes to inspire young African Americans to join her.  For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard. Want More?  Check out Danielle’s Ted Talks on how African pouched rats can help people find land mines and using hip-hop to communicate science.  And you can watch National Geographic’s video on Danielle’s work with field mice.    Also explore:  If you’re interested in the emerging field of segregation ecology, learn about how access to green space is affecting the behavior of urban coyotes. And here’s the scientific summary of the study on raccoons in St. Louis.  You can also listen to stories Danielle’s told live on stage for The Story Collider podcast: one on a terrible exchange with a science website editor and another on her experiences in Tanzania.   And read her thoughts on science outreach at her Urban Scientist blog on Scientific American.  Find Danielle Lee’s Twitter @DNLee5.

30m
Feb 08