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Lobsters, and the Memory Palace


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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 is a 6th year graduate student working on a PhD in the Immunology Program at Harvard, where he studies how the immune system detects 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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