Episodes

  • Exploring the superpowers of sharks. Building shade for warming cities. Remapping the solar system. Investigating illegal cheetah trafficking. Join us for curiously delightful conversations, overheard at National Geographic headquarters. Hosted by Peter Gwin and Amy Briggs.
    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. 

  • As billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson lead the charge for a new commercial space race, we revisit an episode from our archives: What if women had been among the first to head to the moon? A NASA physician thought that wasn't such a far-fetched idea back in the 1960s. He developed the physical and psychological tests used to select NASA's first male astronauts. We'll investigate what happened to his program and what the women who were involved had to say.
    For more information about this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard
    Want more?
    Private companies Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are reaching the Earth’s edge. Find out what that means for the future of space tourism. Also, read more about why the ultrarich itch for space—and why scratching that itch helps keep crewed space exploration alive.
    Where is the edge of space anyway? The answer depends on who you ask.
    Also explore:
    Since the first humans went to space 60 years ago, we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to leave Earth. Here’s how the “right stuff” has changed since then.
    And for subscribers:

    See why some scientists think women are better suited to spaceflight than men.
    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.

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  • Sharks have never been able to outswim their reputation as mindless killers, which is so entrenched that the U.S. Navy once even tried to weaponize them. But are sharks really just “remorseless eating machines” on the hunt for blood? Hop in the water with marine scientists for a look at sharks’ extraordinary senses and unique adaptability.
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard

    Want More?
    National Geographic’s SharkFest swims onto screens this July and August with six weeks of programming! Watch Shark Beach With Chris Hemsworth, the feature documentary Playing With Sharks, and other shark-infested programming all summer long on National Geographic and Disney+.
    You can read our stories about how sharks can navigate via the Earth’s magnetic field and even band together to hunt. And be sure to check out our list of the most fascinating shark discoveries in the last decade. 

    Also explore:
    Lauren Simonitis is a member of a cool group called Minorities in Shark Science, which promotes inclusivity and diversity in shark science.
    You can read more about shark repellent research in Mary Roach’s book Grunt, and her latest book comes out September 14. It’s called FUZZ: When Nature Breaks the Law.
    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.

  • It’s a dream year in the making. High jumper Priscilla Frederick-Loomis will do anything to support her training for the 2020 Olympics—even clean strangers’ houses. But as the postponed Tokyo Games approach, she’s still suffering mysterious health problems months after contracting COVID-19. In collaboration with ESPN, we follow Frederick-Loomis’s progress and ask: What will it take to safely pull off the Olympics?
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard

    Want more?
    Follow Priscilla Frederick Loomis and her journey to the 2021 Olympics on Instagram @priscilla_frederick.
    And hear more from Pablo Torre at ESPN Daily, ESPN’s flagship podcast. Leroy Sims recently appeared to talk about leading the vaccine rollout for the NBA.  
    For more of ESPN’s reporting on the Olympics, meet the USA Rugby player who works as a pediatric nurse. And learn how Japanese athletes are getting the vaccine before the general public.
    The Olympics has had a turbulent history. Read our story about it and explore if a curse could explain why the Olympics gets disrupted so often.
    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.

  • How do you calculate the number of chimpanzees living in the forests of Nigeria? If you’re National Geographic Explorer Rachel Ashegbofe, you listen carefully. After discovering that Nigerian chimpanzees are a genetically distinct population, Rachel began searching for their nests to study them more closely. Now she’s teaching her community how to be good neighbors to humans’ closest genetic relative—and potentially save them from extinction.
     
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.

    Want more?
    Did you know that chimpanzees hunt tortoises? Catch up on all there is to know about Pan Troglodytes through National Geographic’s chimpanzee fact sheet.

    Chimpanzee moms form strong bonds with their children. Take a look at some of the latest research on the social lives of chimpanzee mothers.
     
    And for subscribers:
    Travel back in time to Jane Goodall’s original 1963 article for National Geographic, just three years after she started her field research at Gombe Stream National Park. 
     
    Or take a look at the entire National Geographic Magazine Archive.
     
    Also explore:
    Learn more about Rachel Ashegbofe’s work through the website for the South West/Niger Delta Forest Project.

    Jane Goodall continues to be a conservation icon and she even has a podcast of her own called The Jane Goodall Hopecast. You can listen to the first episode here.  

    For Disney+ subscribers, you can also watch National Geographic’s 2017 documentary film Jane, which features rare footage of her chimpanzee work, and 2020 film The Hope, which focuses on her career as an environmental activist. 

    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.

  • In the basement of National Geographic’s headquarters, there’s a lab holding a secret tech weapon: Tom O’Brien. As Nat Geo’s photo engineer, O’Brien adapts new technologies to capture sights and sounds previously never seen or heard before. O’Brien leads us on a tour of his lab as he designs and builds an underwater camera and shows us some of his favorite gadgets—including a camera lens that flew over Machu Picchu in a blimp, a remote camera he designed for the film Free Solo and a piece of gear known simply as the "funky bird train."
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard
    Want more?
    See photographs mentioned in this episode, including wolves captured by a gnaw-proof camera, sage grouse as seen by the funky bird train, and a cheetah running in super slow motion. Want to see what goes on in Nat Geo’s photo engineering lab? Follow Tom O’Brien on Instagram @mechanicalphoto. And learn more about Tom’s predecessor, Kenji Yamaguchi, who held the job for more than 30 years.
    Also explore:
    On World Oceans Day, learn more about Jacques Cousteau, who pioneered scuba gear, brought the oceans to life, and jolted people into environmental activism.   
    And hear more about beavers and how they shape the world on a previous Overheard episode, “March of the Beaver.”
    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.

  • It sounds like the start of a bad joke: How do you move eight giraffes—including a newborn calf—off an island in Africa’s Western Rift Valley? Answer: It isn’t easy, and it involves a boat, blindfolds, and earmuffs. We follow conservationist David O’Connor on an epic (and awkward) journey to save these endangered animals.
    For more information about this episode, visit natgeo.com/overheard.
    Want more?
    To learn more about David O’Connor’s conservation work, check out his organization, Save Giraffes Now. 
    You can also read up on how scientists are trying to prevent giraffes from going extinct. 
    Subscribers can also see what the “giraft” looked like and read more about the giraffe rescue from Lake Baringo. 
    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.

  • After 17 years underground, so-called Brood X cicadas get a fleeting moment in the sun and commence their deafening buzz. But periodical cicadas can’t escape a silent killer: a fungus that eats them from the inside and forces them into a rabid mania. Follow National Geographic Explorer Matt Kasson as he tracks these “flying saltshakers of death,” and hear why scientists say cicadas should be respected, not feared—even if they do raise a ruckus in your backyard.
    For more information about this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.
    Want more?

    Trillions of cicadas appearing at once is a good thing, we promise. Learn more about how periodical cicadas do it.
    And see photos of annual cicadas from the National Geographic Photo Ark. Also, bring Brood X to your taste buds with recipes for cocktails, cupcakes, and other buggy treats.
    Also explore:
    Read on about the weird world of zombie cicadas. And track cicada emergences near you with Cicada Safari or other smartphone apps.
    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.

  • A Reckoning in Tulsa
    A century ago, Tulsa’s Greenwood neighborhood was a vibrant Black community. One spring night in 1921 changed all that: a white mob rioted, murdering as many as 300 Black residents and destroying their family homes and thriving businesses. Archaeologists are working to uncover one of the worst—and virtually unknown—incidents of racial violence in American history, as efforts to locate the victims' unmarked graves continue. 
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.
    Want more?
    For more on the Tulsa Race Massacre, check out the cover story on the anniversary from writer Deneen Brown in the upcoming June issue of National Geographic. You can also find the Race Card, a project from journalist Michele Norris, to capture people’s thoughts on race in just six words.
    And poet Elizabeth Alexander will reflect on what it means to be Black and free in a country that undermines Black freedom.
    And for subscribers:
    Check out Tucker Toole’s piece on how Greenwood was destroyed by the Tulsa Race Massacre, in the May/June issue of National Geographic History magazine. 
    And soon, you’ll also be able read a personal essay Tucker wrote about his ancestor J.B. Stradford on our website.
    Also explore:
    And check out Scott Ellsworth’s new book on the Tulsa Race Massacre called, The Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice.
    Finally, stay tuned this summer for National Geographic’s documentary, Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer, which chronicles white supremacist terrorism and race riots that took place across the country in 1919, shortly before the Tulsa Race Massacre. 
    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. 

  • Every spring Inupiaq hunters camp on the sea ice north of the Arctic Circle, in hopes of capturing a bowhead whale to share with their village. But as global warming accelerates ice melt, it threatens the tribe’s 4,000-year-old tradition. National Geographic photographer Kiliii Yuyan recounts the five years he spent documenting these whale hunters, including one harrowing experience when the sea ice groaned—and then collapsed underneath them.
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.
    Want more?
    Learn more about bowhead whales and hear their recordings of their wild sounds.
    And take a look at our in-depth coverage on the challenges facing polar bears in the Arctic.
    To see Kiliii’s stunning photography and short film about the Inupiaq people and their whale hunting traditions, Nat Geo subscribers can check them out in an online story, titled “Meet the Bowhead Whale Hunters of Northern Alaska.” 
    You can also follow Kiliii on Instagram where you can see amazing portraits he’s taken of native people, wildlife and kayaks that he built himself. 
    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. 

  • 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.
     
    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.

    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. 

  • Dive with killer whales to observe their surprising cultures. Venture into the world of artificial intelligence to see how scientists are teaching machines to recognize human diversity. Visit Nat Geo’s legendary tech lab where engineers have dreamed up super cameras to hunt for the Loch Ness monster, float above Machu Picchu and swim with Jacques Cousteau. Join us for curiously delightful conversations overheard at National Geographic headquarters. Hosted by Peter Gwin and Amy Briggs.
    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. 

  • Scientists are discovering that killer whales, among the most social and intelligent of marine animals, have unique family structures and behaviors, passed from one generation to the next. National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry traveled the globe to document killer whale pods—where he found that diving with these special creatures can lead to strange and wonderful situations. 
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.

    Want more?
    All four episodes of the Disney+ original series, Secrets of the Whales, from National Geographic, streams Earth Day, April 22 on Disney+.
    Join National Geographic’s Earth Day Eve celebration on Wednesday, April 21st at 8:30 pm EST, with a star-studded lineup of environmentally conscious musical artists, including Willie Nelson, Maggie Rogers, Yo-Yo Ma, Ziggy Marley, streamed on  NatGeo’s YouTube and NatGeo.com/EarthDayEve

    Also explore:
    Learn about orca behavior in our magazine piece, including orca greeting ceremonies and dialects.
    And read about Brian Skerry’s 10,000 hours underwater and find out why orca whales do poorly in captivity.

    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. 

  • Mozart wowed audiences as a child. The Beatles blew away Ed Sullivan. Beyonce hypnotized Super Bowl crowds. The world has been enthralled by those we call musical geniuses. But what defines a musical genius? And how does society recognize it? We probe these questions as we examine the life and career of Aretha Franklin, a transformational figure in American music, and the rise of a young prodigy, Keedron Bryant.
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.
    Want more?
    Watch the Genius: Aretha, a series about Aretha’s life, now streaming on Hulu. And check out the magazine piece about her and this journey through the career of the Queen of Soul. 
    Immerse yourself in the genius of Aretha Franklin and her music with this playlist https://lnk.to/ArethaGenius!NGE. Available on Spotify and Apple Music.
    And of course, check out the song that made Keedron viral and the opera performance that cemented Aretha’s genius.
    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. 

  • Photographer Charlie Hamilton James chronicles his days ditching high school to hide out by the river near his home in Bristol, England, to snap photos of brilliantly plumed kingfishers dive-bombing for fish—“delinquent behavior” that somehow led to a job making films for the BBC and eventually to National Geographic.
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.
    Want more?
    You can see some of Charlie’s stunning photos of vultures in this story about vulture poisoning in Kenya.
     Check out Charlie’s photographs of kingfisher’s in this article from the magazine “Blaze of Blue.”
    Also explore:
    Look through Charlie’s lens to get a glimpse into the lives of indigenous peoples of the Amazon.
    Charlie’s also photographed the urban animals that live alongside us: rats.
    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. 

  • Greek myths tell tales of Amazons, fearsome women warriors who were the equals of men. Now archaeological discoveries and modern DNA analysis are uncovering reality: these women warriors existed. National Geographic History magazine Executive Editor Amy Briggs and historian Adrienne Mayor introduce us to the horse-riding, arrow-flinging women who fought like men—and were feared by them too.
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.

    Want more?
    Uncover the hidden meaning of Amazon names, hidden in ancient inscriptions. They include names like “Hot Flanks” and “Don’t Fail.” 
     And for subscribers, read the full History Magazine cover story that Adrienne wrote about the Amazons. You can also see photographs of modern women warriors around the world through the eyes of photojournalist Lynsey Addario.  

    Also explore: 
    Adrienne has written a whole book on Amazons. It’s called The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient 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/explore to subscribe today. 

  • On assignment in the canyons of the Gila Wilderness, Nat Geo photographer Katie Orlinsky has a fireside chat with Overheard host Peter Gwin about telling stories through pictures. She chronicles how she found her way—from growing up in New York City to covering workers rights in rural Mexico and the world’s most grueling dogsled race in Alaska. 
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.
    Want more?
    Some of Katie's picture from this assignment can be seen on National Geographic's Instagram page,
    In her work on the Yukon Quest dog sled race, you can see what it looks like to cross 1,000 miles of Alaska on dog power.
    On Katie’s personal website, you can see more images, including from her time in Juárez.
    Also explore:
    And magazine subscribers can see Katie’s photos in our recent story about thawing permafrost. Sometimes that thaw creates pockets of methane under frozen lakes that scientists test by setting on fire. That story was also featured in our podcast episode about how beavers are changing the Arctic.
    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. 

  • For much of recorded history, maps have helped us define where we live and who we are. National Geographic writer Freddie Wilkinson shows us how one small line on a map led to a bitter conflict in another country, thousands of miles away.
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.
    Want more?
    Everyone knows Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, but exactly how tall is it? The science and politics behind finding that number is surprisingly complicated. A team from Nepal and China recently came up with a new official height.
    The world's second tallest mountain, K2, is only a few miles away from Hodgson's line and the Siachen glacier. Just a few months ago a team of 10 Nepalis completed the first winter climb of the mountain.
    The history of the Kashmir conflict is complicated. Here's a straightforward explainer of how it all started.
    Also explore:
    Magazine subscribers can read Freddie Wilkinson’s full article, including more details about Robert Hodgson’s life and our geography team's detailed maps of the Siachen glacier.
    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.   

  • It’s a jewel of biodiversity, the so-called Galápagos of the Indian Ocean, and might also hold traces of the earliest humans to leave Africa. No wonder scientists want to explore Socotra. But it’s also part of Yemen, a country enduring a horrific civil war. Meet the Nat Geo explorer with a track record of navigating the world’s most hostile hot spots who’s determined to probe the island—and empower its local scientists before it’s too late.
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.
    Want more?
    See Socotra’s wonders—including the dragon’s blood tree—through the eyes of National Geographic explorers. And check out human footprints preserved for more than 100,000 years, which could be the oldest signs of humans in Arabia. 
    Also explore:
    Learn more about Yemen’s civil war. One Yemeni photographer explains why she looks for points of light in the darkness. And for subscribers, go inside the country’s health crisis and the life of violence and disease the war has brought to many civilians.
    Also, learn more about Ella Al-Shamahi’s new book, The Handshake: A Gripping History, and visit Horn Heritage, Sada Mire’s website preserving heritage in Somalia, Somaliland and the Horn of Africa.   
    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. 

  • For the past year, Overheard has explored the journeys of photographers and scientists who are focusing a new lens on history. National Geographic presents In Conversation, a special podcast episode featuring explorer Tara Roberts, computer scientist Gloria Washington, and photographer Ruddy Roye. Through their dynamic work across maritime archeology, artificial intelligence, and photojournalism, they’re determined to reimagine Black history.
    We begin with National Geographic Explorer and Storytelling Fellow Tara Roberts, who talks to Overheard’s Amy Briggs about documenting the efforts of Black scuba divers and archaeologists in their search for the lost wrecks of ships that carried enslaved Africans to the Americas.
    We’ll also hear from computer scientist Gloria Washington of Howard University. She speaks with guest host Brian Gutierrez about her work developing “emotional” artificial intelligence.
    And finally National Geographic Storytelling Fellow Ruddy Roye traces his photographic journey with Overheard’s Peter Gwin—and turns his lens on the racial and civil conflicts that defined 2020.
    For more stories like this one, visit National Geographic’s Race in America homepage, chronicling the human journey of racial, ethnic, and religious groups across the United States.
    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.