Episode 5: What makes a sad song sad?

Ever been listening to a sad song wondering why it sounds so darn sad? Happy, sad, peaceful or angry — there’s just something about music that makes us feel a certain way. Apart from any lyrics, there seems to be much more to music than meets the ear.

In our investigation of how and why we perceive music the way we do, we talk to physicist Dr. Roy Briere and music theorist Dr. Richard Randall from Carnegie Mellon University, and psychologists Dr. Meagan Curtis from Purchase College and Dr. Shantala Hegde from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences.


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Episode 4: What does the brain do while reading?

As you’re reading this sentence, what is your brain doing? What’s actually going on as it turns a bunch of lines and circles into words that carry meaning? This week, I Wonder… explores the world of reading.

During the program, we talk to some people who have been thinking about the reading brain for quite a while: Dr. Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the SquidDr. Marcel Just from Carnegie Mellon University, and Dr. Charles Perfetti from the University of Pittsburgh. We also learn of an interesting story from the blog Krulwich Wonders.

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Public Transit: Commuters, Communities, and Costs

In part 2 of our series on the public transit funding crisis in Pittsburgh, we answer these questions: How might these cuts affect people with disabilities? And are other cities going through similar cuts, too? How are they handling it?

During the program, we speak with Lucy Spruill at United Cerebral Palsy, Holly Dick at ACCESS, college student Cathy Mikolay, and residents at the Allegheny Independence House in Wilmerding. We also talk to Dianne Williams from Metro St. Louis.

This work is a collaboration between I Wonder… and History for the Future, public affairs programs on WRCT-Pittsburgh 88.3FM, and is produced by Ellis Robinson, Kevin Brown, and Daniel Tkacik.

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Public Transit: Past, present, and future…

This week’s episode is a special co-production between I Wonder… and History for the Future, a public affairs show hosted by Kevin Brown on WRCT-Pittsburgh that critically explores history, politics, and society.

With 35% service cuts looming for Port Authority transit, we answer three big questions: What is wrong with public transit in Pittsburgh? Where did public transit even come from in the first place? And what could it look like in the future?

During the program, we speak with “transit guru” Michael SypoltPost-Gazette transportation writer Jon Schmitz, Columbia University historian Kenneth Jackson, and Sustainable Pittsburgh executive director Court Gould.

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Episode 3: How has the internet changed us? (and how hasn’t it)

This week, a caller ponders about something so prominent in many of our lives…the Internet. Is the internet radically reshaping society? Or is it just another tool to allow us to do things that we’ve always done?

During our search for insight into this question, we speak to Ph.D student Patrick Kelley and Dr. Moira Burke from Carnegie Mellon University and Dr. Kimberly Young from St. Bonaventure University and the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery. We also try to illustrate this emerging technology using the humor of comedian Pete Holmes.

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Episode 2: Are cities good or bad for the environment?

In our second episode of I Wonder…, a caller’s asthma leads him to wonder whether cities are good or bad for the environment. We discuss this inquiry with an environmental historian, an atmospheric chemist, and random pedestrians to try to understand how cities affect our lives, whether we live in them or not.

During the episode, we reference Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax,  Joel Tarr’s Devastation and Renewal, Ed Glaeser’s Triumph of the City, and the air quality research of Neil Donahue.

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Episode 1: When do we get our first memories?

In our pilot episode of I Wonder…, a caller wonders if it’s actually possible for her 30-something year old brother to recall a memory from when he was only 4 years old.

In addition to surveying some students on Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) campus, we explore the world of memories by talking with several memory experts: Lynne Reder from CMU, and Mark Wheeler and James Becker from the University of Pittsburgh. We also search for insight by talking with those who are constantly learning, but may not fully understand what a memory constitutes: children.

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