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Playlist: Diana Prince's Portfolio

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Big Picture Science (Series)

Produced by Big Picture Science

Most recent piece in this series:

Testing Your Metal

From Big Picture Science | Part of the Big Picture Science series | 54:00


Catalytic converters are disappearing. If you’ve had yours stolen, you know that rare earth metals are valuable. But these metals are in great demand for things other than converters, such as batteries for electric cars, wind farms and solar panels.

We need rare earth metals to combat climate change, but where to get them? Could we find substitutes?

One activity that could be in our future: Deep sea mining. But it’s controversial. Can one company’s plan to mitigate environmental harm help?


  • Paul Dauenhauer - Professor of chemical engineering and material science at the University of Minnesota and a 2020 MacArthur Fellow
  • Chris Leighton - Distinguished University Teaching Professor, Editor, Physical Review Materials, Dept. of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of Minnesota
  • Renee Grogan - Co-founder and Chief Sustainability Officer, Impossible Mining company

Featuring music by Dewey Dellay



A Way with Words (Series)

Produced by A Way with Words

Most recent piece in this series:

Mudlarking (#1561)

From A Way with Words | Part of the A Way with Words series | 54:00

Awww_logo_color_square Laura Maiklem's book Mudlark: In Search of London's Past Along the River Thames (Bookshop| Amazon) is a charming memoir about the rewards of scavenging for bits of history along the River Thames.

Barney from Carmel, Indiana, says his family always used the term schniddles to refer to e teeny bits of detritus left on the table after snipping paper snowflakes. It's most likely a variant of schnibbles, a far more common term for "scraps," or "small pieces," which is heard in parts of the United States that were settled largely by German immigrants. The term comes from German Schnippel, meaning "scraps."

Michael in Morgantown, Kentucky, is pondering his grandfather's phrase He fotched a heave and catched a fall meaning someone "made a quick bodily movement and fell." Fotched is a dialectal past tense of fetch.

In response to our conversation about pangrams, those sentences that use every letter of the alphabet at least once, Sarah McCall sent us this advice: Just mask up and be extra careful that you don't quit always sanitizing everything.

A malaprop is a word or phrase used mistakenly for a similar-sounding word or phrase, often to amusing effect. Quiz Guy John Chaneski offers a puzzle in honor of the late comedian Norm Crosby, a.k.a. "Mr. Malaprop," who once noted that "The human body is prone to many melodies." For each quiz clue, John has replaced each malaprop with its definition. For example, John says, Norm once took his trousers to the tailor because they were in need of "a noisy public argument." What did those trousers need?

Cassandra, who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, wonders about the rules for how to punctuate titles such as Professor and Doctor. Growing up in South Africa, she was taught that, in contrast to practice in the United States,  the titles Dr, Mr, and Mrs are not followed by a period because they stand for the whole words Doctor, Mister, and Mistress and include the first and last letters of each term. In contrast, she says, she was told that Prof should be followed by a period because it's an abbreviation of the word Professor, cutting the word off in the middle. When it comes to abbreviations, there are lots of exceptions to punctuation rules. In the United States, for example, people sometimes leave out the period in US, UN, and CEO when using shortened forms of United States, United Nations, and Chief Executive Officer.

Creature comforts, meaning "material comforts," may sound like a newfangled term, but it goes back at least as far as the 1640s.

Scottie in Dallas, Texas, says her grandmother, who was from Mississippi, used to use the term Jack Roses whenever a discussion veered off course. Her family picked up the term, and called it out whenever the course of a conversation changed abruptly. Any history to the term Jack Roses? There's a sweet cocktail called the Jack Rose, but other than that, this may well be a family word.
Zoe from Kingston, New York, wonders: what is the plural of octopus? More than one of these animals can be referred to as octopi or octopuses. Octopus comes from Greek words that mean "eight feet," so strictly speaking, if you wanted to use the equivalent of a Greek ending on this word, you'd use the rare English word octopodes (rhymes with "mock plop of cheese"), but try it, and you'll only sound pretentious.

Mudlark: In Search of London's Past Along the River Thames (Bookshop| Amazon) relates the amazing tale, told many places, of Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson, a bookbinder who developed the famous Doves Type. To prevent the moveable type from falling into the hands of his younger business partner, Cobden-Sanderson methodically tossed bits of this metal type -- thousands of them -- into the Thames River. Decades later, some of that type has been recovered by graphic designer Robert Green.

Laura in San Diego, California, wonders about the tradition of performers saying Toi toi toi to each other backstage to wish each other a good performance. It's possible that it derives from the ancient idea that spitting three times can ward off the evil eye. Today performers sometimes simply text each other #toix3. It's possible it comes from the German word Teufel or "devil," but no one is sure.
Dean from Chadron, Nebraska, notes that people in his area use the term visit to mean "talk with" or "converse," as in I went over to Mary's house and we had a really nice time visiting. This usage originated in the American South as far back as the 1860s, then spread throughout the country.

Debbie from Memphis, Tennessee, grew up in Arkansas, where she learned the term trade-last, which refers to "a quoted compliment offered in return for the recipient first offering one to the speaker." Although those from the American South may remember this practice as a sweet, harmless interaction, writer Nora Ephron, in her book I Remember Nothing (Bookshop|Amazon) describes a trade-last or T.L. as "a strange, ungenerous, and seriously narcissistic way of telling someone a nice thing that has been said about them."

This episode is hosted by Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette.

WNYC's Fishko Files (Series)

Produced by WNYC

Most recent piece in this series:

WNYC's Fishko Files: Sviatoslav Richter

From WNYC | Part of the WNYC's Fishko Files series | 07:12

Saraflat_medium_small Sviatoslav Richter, born March 20 1915, was a pianistic phenomenon, whose broad musical range was backed up by dazzling technique. On the 100th anniversary of his birth, WNYC's Sara Fishko considers his musical gifts as well as his unconventional life.  With guests Michael Kimmelman (NY Times critic, pianist and sometime music writer), pianist Vladimir Viardo, and the late pianist and music critic Harris Goldsmith.

*The excerpts from Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition"  are from Richter's live recording made in Sofia, Bulgaria, on February 25, 1958 

Latin Perspective - Latin Jazz Hour (weekly) (Series)

Produced by Tony Vasquez

Most recent piece in this series:

Latin Jazz Perspective (G-7)

From Tony Vasquez | Part of the Latin Perspective - Latin Jazz Hour (weekly) series | 59:01

10408791_948591901823533_3291516235368767195_n_small A weekly radio show featuring the best in classic and contemporary Latin Jazz music hosted by 17-year veteran Tony Vasquez.