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Lobsters, and the Memory Palace

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Harriet Quimby - Seriously, just go listen to the episode about her. It's only 4 minutes long and soooooo good.

I listen to a lot of podcasts – on my commute, while sitting at the bench pipetting, doing dishes, in line at the grocery store, wherever. When you add it all up, I consistently listen to about 20-30 hours worth of audio every week. I don’t actually spend 20-30 hours/week listening though, most of what I listen to can be rushed through my brain at 2 or even 3x speed. There are a couple of shows though that are so rich, so sonically pleasing that I have to listen to them at normal speed.

In fact, with the Memory Palace by Nate DiMeo, I almost feel like I should slow it down. In the most recent episode, about the first female pilot in the US, in less than 4 minutes, I was dragged through almost every emotion – curiosity, then elation, then anger, sadness and finally back to happiness. Seriously, in 4 minutes – I was tearing up in at the tissue culture hood.

This is a podcast about history, but it’s so much more than that. They are beautifully crafted stories, that make you really FEEL. If you’re a fan of This American Life, think about your favorite moments of that show, where everything clicks – I think every episode of the Memory Palace is like that. Just to make this relevant to a food blog, you should have a listen to this episode about lobsters, and how they went from terrible food served to prisoners to a delicacy. Maybe you’ve heard this story before, but you haven’t heard it like this. Or maybe like me you’re into infectious disease – one of my favorites is this Halloween story about tuberculosis, and vampires.

Unfortunately, the episodes are widely spaced. Every time I hear one, I desperately want more to be made. I’ve listened through the whole catalogue probably 3 times, some episodes far more, but they only come out about once a month or so. I’m hoping that if more people listen and love it, more people will contribute tips, make him a big shot over at the Maximum Fun podcast network, and he’ll have incentive to make more episodes and more often.

Or maybe it’s just a lot of work and he can’t do it faster, but in any case, more people need to hear this stuff.

Kevin Bonham About the Author: Kevin Bonham is a Curriculum Fellow in the Microbiology and Immunobiology department at Harvard Medical school. He received his PhD from Harvard, where he studied how the cells of the immune system detect the presence of infectious microbes. Find him on Google+, Reddit. Follow on Twitter @Kevbonham.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.






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  1. 1. jgrosay 8:59 am 02/1/2014

    The jesuite priest Mateo Ricci wrote in 1596, during his stay in China, a book entitled: ‘The memory’s palace’, Jonathan D. Spence wrote another book on the M Ricci’s work.

    Link to this

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