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Social Science


Wade Roush

At Soonish, tech journalist Wade Roush argues that the future is shaped by technology—but technology is shaped by us. Season 2 features shows on the power of virtual reality to persuade us (and maybe deceive us) and the power of a total solar eclipse...Show More

06:43 | Aug 19th

In this short bonus episode, hear the bizarre story of a college student who scaled a New England weather tower on a dare, stole a curious scientific instrument as a trophy, and inadvertently disrupted a series of climate observations going back more...Show More

28:42 | Aug 7th

Once in a while, a trickle of incremental, everyday innovations can merge into something surprising and transformative. And when that happens in a fundamental area like the technology of image reproduction, it can alter the way we see the world. Toda...Show More
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34:24 | Jul 24th

Earlier this year Soonish took on social media in an episode called "A Future Without Facebook." In that show I explained my own decision to quit the troubled platform, and talked with friends and colleagues about their own reasons for staying or goi...Show More

34:12 | May 14th

The adjective “visionary” gets thrown around a lot, but it’s literally true of Chesley Bonestell and Arthur Radebaugh, the two illustrators featured in this week’s episode. Both men used their fertile visual imaginations and their artistic skills to ...Show More

44:08 | Mar 22nd

Every technology has its growing pains, but Facebook, at age 15, has matured into a never-ending disaster. Here at Soonish, I'm fed up, and I'm closing my accounts. In this episode, you’ll hear how I reached this point, and how other Facebook users a...Show More

25:22 | Nov 9th, 2018

The Meigs Elevated Railway—one of the world’s first monorail systems—looked like something out of a Jules Verne novel. But it was very real. Hear how nineteenth-century Bostonians missed their chance to build a steam punk utopia.

30:38 | Oct 1st, 2018

Can thought-power control the world outside our heads? Thanks to new brain-machine interface technology, the answer is yes. But the real question is whether it can it help us control the world *inside* our heads.

40:27 | Jul 27th, 2018

We can’t predict what kind of music people will want to make or hear in the future. But based on the sounds coming out of today's studios and clubs, it's a good bet that the tunes of tomorrow will be heavily mediated by digital technology. This w...Show More

39:27 | Jul 2nd, 2018

The way we picture the future is still based, in large measure, on the visions brought to life at the world’s fairs and international expositions that swept the globe between the 1850s and the 1960s—especially the New York World’s Fairs of 1939-40 an...Show More

39:00 | Jun 18th, 2018

The golden era of “hard” science fiction that respects the rules of actual science lasted from the 1940s to the 1960s. In the 1970s, demand for hard sci-fi fell off a cliff, with a big push from the first Star Wars movie in 1977. But for the last yea...Show More

35:55 | Feb 17th, 2018

Episode 2.07: What's ubiquitous but invisible, versatile yet temperamental, goopy when it's hot yet brittle when it's cold, as old as civilization yet as new as the screen of your smartphone? The answer is glass. This week on Soonish, we ask what gla...Show More

36:21 | Jan 5th, 2018

Episode 2.06: The immersive, 3D environments of virtual reality aren’t science fiction any more, and they aren’t just for video games. In this episode Wade visits “The Enemy,” a groundbreaking VR exhibit about the psychology of war. The creation of p...Show More

55:14 | Dec 15th, 2017

Episode 2.05 of Soonish, the podcast, is all about Soonish, the book! Host Wade Roush interviews Kelly and Zach Weinersmith, the husband-and-wife team behind the new book Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything. Kell...Show More

39:42 | Nov 8th, 2017

Episode 2.04 is a special crossover show featuring Tamar Avishai's The Lonely Palette, one of the founding shows in our new podcast collective, Hub & Spoke. In this episode Tamar focuses on Italian Futurism, a pre-World War I art movement fueled by a...Show More

47:24 | Oct 24th, 2017

Episode 2.03: For a sane, humane, and skeptical perspective on what’s happening to Silicon Valley and why our high-tech economy seems to be failing us, there’s no better source than Tim O’Reilly, master trend spotter and founder of computer book publ...Show More

18:02 | Oct 13th, 2017

Episode 2.02: Big news! Soonish is a founding member of Hub & Spoke, a Boston-centric collective of smart, idea-driven podcasts. Together with the art history podcast The Lonely Palette and the new philosophy-and-culture show Ministry of Ideas, we’re...Show More

46:09 | Sep 14th, 2017

Episode 2.01: The conflict in Charlottesville in August of 2017 showed that Americans are having a hard time figuring out how to represent the country’s past, let alone how to fix the present or plan for the future. But sometimes a stunning natural e...Show More

31:15 | Jul 3rd, 2017

Episode 1.10: Just in time for Independence Day 2017, it's a special politics edition of Soonish! With his attacks on judges and journalists, his attempts to quell inquiries into his campaign’s Russia ties, his early-morning tweetstorms, and so much ...Show More

36:40 | Jun 8th, 2017

Episode 1.09: When Boston’s elegant Longfellow Bridge opened in 1907, it was innovative example of classical European bridge architecture adapted for a busy American city. But over the next century, officials allowed the bridge to rust to the point o...Show More

33:41 | May 11th, 2017

Episode 1.08: Why do "productivity" tools like email, to-do lists, and calendars make so many of us feel miserable and overburdened? Why hasn't anyone come up with a better way for us to manage our diverse commitments and our chronic information over...Show More

32:43 | Apr 20th, 2017

Episode 1.07: More than 500 people have flown in space since Yuri Gagarin’s historic ride in 1961—and virtually every one of them has been a military officer or government employee. But now that’s changing. Jeff Bezos’s rocket company Blue Origin aim...Show More

19:40 | Mar 29th, 2017

Episode 1.06: After in-depth episodes about movies, monorails, museums, manufacturing, and meat, the show goes meta and I talk about Soonish itself. Hear how Carl Sagan and extraterrestrials helped to kickstart my science journalism career, how the C...Show More

33:22 | Mar 8th, 2017

Episode 1.05: We meet people working to promote a range of alternatives to meat from livestock--including a cricket farmer, a researcher studying ways to grow meat from muscle cells in the laboratory, and a startup founder commercializing jackfruit, ...Show More

33:40 | Feb 22nd, 2017

Episode 1.04: Six million manufacturing jobs have disappeared in the U.S. since 2000, and you've probably heard economists and politicians say "those jobs aren't coming back." But that view isn't quite right. It doesn’t account for a cultural and tec...Show More

32:33 | Feb 8th, 2017

Episode 1.03: Museum attendance declined steeply in the first decade of this century, according to a survey by the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA found that audiences were being siphoned away by the Internet, television, and other distracti...Show More

29:37 | Jan 25th, 2017

Episode 1.02: Monorails first captured the public imagination as the "trains of the future" here in the U.S., thanks to projects like the Disneyland monorail (1959) and the Seattle World's Fair monorail (1962). But today, it seems that new monorail s...Show More

33:08 | Jan 11th, 2017

Episode 1.01: This inaugural episode of Soonish is about the boldest vision of the future ever put down on film: Stanley Kubrick’s "2001: A Space Odyssey." The movie came out in 1968, and it offered a detailed and inspiring forecast for life the earl...Show More

02:25 | Dec 10th, 2016

Episode 1.00: A preview of coming attractions from Soonish, a new podcast about the future hosted by technology journalist Wade Roush, PhD. Each episode tells a story about the technological choices we’re making today and how those choices could end ...Show More