This week, we have three stories about the life-changing, transformative power of sound. First, we look at brain activity during moments of silence in music. Then, a student investigates the healing powers of traditional Cambodian chants. Finally, a class of Stanford students led by John-Carlos Perea find a new community while learning the art of the powwow drum.

Host: Hannah Krakauer
Producers: Angela Castellanos, Bonnie Swift, Hannah Krakauer 
Featured: Trent Walker, Vinod Menon, Daniel Levitin, Jonathan Berger, Chris Chafe, Gabe Turow, Pat Moffitt Cook, Sherwood Chen, John Carlos-Perea, Michaela Raikes, Ben Burdick, Luke Taylor, Jidenna Mobbison 
Music: Chloe Krakauer

Release Date: 26 May 2008



Story 1: Silence Speaks Volumes

We take a look at how our brains are able to process the huge number of sounds we hear every day. Turns out that if noises are interspersed with a few moments of silence, we may be much better off.

Producer: Angela Castellanos


Story 2: Healing Sounds


After a long, stressful day, listening to music can make us feel more relaxed. But there’s a traditional form of Cambodian chanting, called Smote, that claims to be able to do much more than relax us. A Stanford student recounts his experiences with the music, and how his skepticism about its healing power changed.
Producer: Trent Walker



Story 3: People Find the Drum Who Need the Drum

John-Carlos Perea came to Stanford for 10 weeks to teach Stanford students the art of Native American pow-wow music. They learned how the music has served as a bond within the Native American community, and created a new community of their own.

Producers: Bonnie Swift and Hannah Krakauer
Featuring: John-Carlos Perea, Michaela Raikes, Ben Burdick, Luke Taylor and Jidenna Mobbison

Science and the Supernatural

Where does the physical end and the metaphysical begin? This week’s show is about scientists who use traditional methods to investigate untraditional questions. We start in Special Collections of the Stanford Libraries, with a brief history of para-psychology and spiritualism at Stanford, and continue with the story of three contemporary researchers who study psychic phenomena. Today’s one-hour journey reveals some of the social aspects that come into play in the pursuit of scientific knowledge.

Host: Bonnie Swift
Producer: Bonnie Swift
Featured: Margaret Kimball, Robert Jahn, Brenda Dunne, Helen Longino and Dean Radin
Music: Noah Burbank, Ambika, Jimi Hendrix, Thelonius Monk, and Frank Zappa and the Mothers

Release Date: 5 May 2008

Listen to the Full Show:

Story 1: Seeds, Rocks, Ink Blocks

In the early 1900s Stanford had a special fellowship dedicated to ‘psychical’ research. Money was donated by Leland Stanford’s younger brother, Thomas Welton. Besides money, Welton also sent his collection of ceremonious objects, mysterious items purported to have appeared, or been altered during seances.

Featuring: Margaret Kimball

Story 2: They Proved It?

The Thomas Weltons of the world have largely disappeared. At least from the academy… But not entirely. At the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratories, or PEAR, decades of research, and thousands of experiments may have demonstrated evidence for the existence of psychic phenomena.

Featuring: Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne

Story 3: The Guards at the Gates

After PEAR decided it had found evidence of psychic phenomena, researchers needed to generate a theory for how the mind could influence the physical world. To do that they probed the nooks of physics, quantum mechanics and neuroscience. What happens when a body of evidence doesn’t fit within a dominant framework? How are theories made?

Featuring: Helen Longino and Robert Jahn

Story 4: Vibration Isolation

A visit with Dean Radin at his current headquarters at the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma, California. Also, a discussion about the nature of scientific fraud, and what is consciousness?

Featuring: Helen Longino and Dean Radin

Story 5: At the Margins

As Shakespeare wrote, “There are more things under heaven and earth, then are dreamt of in your philosophies.” It’s a fitting quote for our last story, a consideration of what science can and can’t answer. Institutions like PEAR expand our notion of what is science and what questions science should be asking.

Featuring: Helen Longino, Robert Jahn and Dean Radin

Telling Other People’s Stories

What’s at stake when we try to tell another person’s story? We explore this question in two parts. First, a class at Stanford works to tell a real woman’s tragic life story in graphic novel form, discovering huge challenges collaborating as a group and getting the story right. Second, Emily Prince takes on the overwhelming and somber task of drawing a portrait of every American soldier who has died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Host: Micah Cratty
Producers: Dan Hirsch, Hannah Krakauer
Featured: Emily Prince, Tom Kealey, Adam Johnson, Eric Pape, The Stanford Graphic Novel Project
Music: Dengue Fever, Cambodian Cassette Tapes vol.1, Brother
URLs: Emily Prince, Shake Girl

Release Date: 12 May 2008

Story 1: Doing Justice for Shake Girl

A class at Stanford has 10 weeks to tell a real woman’s tragic life story in graphic novel form. They discover the huge challenges of collaborating as a group and getting the story right.

Producers: Dan Hirsch, Lee Konstantinou
Featuring: Tom Kealey, Adam Johnson, The Stanford Graphic Novel Class.
URL: Shake Girl

Story 2: A Portrait of War

Emily Prince is an artist who took on an enormous and somber task: drawing portraits of every American soldier who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Producer Hannah Krakauer visited Emily to learn why she decided to do this, and what she learned in the process.

Producer: Hannah Krakauer
Featuring: Emily Prince