Interviews By Topic

Math of the universe

On October 10, Steve spoke with physicist S. James Gates, Jr. and science writer Margaret Wertheim about the universal language of the universe: math. Can we see the hidden order of the natural world by studying the equations that govern it? And can we see true beauty in numbers?More

"Skin" by Kathe Koja

Citing the book's enormous influence on her own work, novelist Gemma Files recommends Kathe Koja’s horror story set against the backdrop of 1990s counterculture scenes of art, body modification and underground music.More

striped floor

In collaboration with David Lynch, Mark Frost co-created one of the most enduring fictional universes of all time — Twin Peaks. Bookending the series' return to TV in 2017 after 25 years, Frost has written two innovative novels that take a deep dive into the history of the surreal logging town. More

Guy under stress

According to one estimate there may be as many as 50 million workers in the on demand economy, and they're not all Uber drivers or freelancers. Economist Guy Standing has a word for this new and very insecure economic class: "the precariat."More

Students testing their DNA

What's it like to discover that your own genetic ancestry is both black and white? At West Chester University in Pennsylvania, Anita Foeman leads the DNA Discussion Project, where students use DNA testing to learn about their mixed bloodlines.More

Half brothers Robert Lafayette Gee (right) and Henderson Gee (left). Robert was Ruben Gee‘s first child to his white wife, Aurelia. Henderson was his second child to his slave, Venus. Henderson was born a slave.

Rev. Alex Gee is fascinated by geneology. So he took a DNA test and discovered one of his ancestors was a white slave owner. Then he went down to New Orleans to meet his white relatives — and that meeting sparked a slew of complicated emotions.More

Robot boy

Alexander Weinstein’s “Children of the New World” is a collection of cautionary tales about extreme emotional attachment to software and silicon.  More

"Poison Squad" Volunteers taking in a dinner with a side of Borax.

Science writer Deborah Blum on the government scientists who made the case for food regulation by "eating dangerously."More

Art Official Age cover

Chuck Klosterman thinks the Internet has ruined a lot of things, including death.More

"I Will Bear Witness" by Victor Klemperer

The author of "Lincoln in the Bardo" recommends Victor Klemperer's two-volume diary that reads as a slow-motion picture of what the Holocaust looked like before it was known Holocaust.More

A poison garden

Amy Stewart is a serious gardener with a side gig – writing about all the plants that could kill you.More

Poison tea

Kathryn Harkup is a chemist with an expertise in poison. She’s made a close study of a famous poisoner that employed everything from arsenic to cyanide to knock off close to 300 (fictional) victims: Agatha Christie, the mystery writer.More

A glowing radium clock.

How painting radium on watches and instrument dials killed more than 50 young women working in Ottawa, Illinois.More

"If Beale Street Could Talk" by James Baldwin

The author of "Another Brooklyn" recommends a James Baldwin novel she says belongs on everyone's bookshelf.More

Nikka and Strings

When Nikka Costa was ten, she was a pop sensation in Europe. In her 20s, she was Britney Spear’s opening act. But she’s left pop music behind and now she’s performing songs by some of the musicians she’s known, including Prince and Frank Sinatra.More

"The Land at the End of the World" by António Lobo Antunes

The author of "The Sympathizer" recommends António Lobo Antunes' novel.More

"The Complete Short Stories of James Purdy"

The notorious filmmaker recommends the complete short stories of "one of the greatest―and most underappreciated―writers in America in the latter half of the twentieth century."More

Books on books on books

Why do we keep dividing the world of books into different genres — like romance novels, science fiction and literary fiction? Novelist Lauren Beukes says we should simply get rid of the whole idea of genre.More

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