Known and Unknown

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Friday, July 20, 2012

On today’s show: we’ll take a look at how your cell phone can be used as a tracking device and can reveal all kinds of information about you to corporations or to the government. Annie Baker talks about her much-praised adaptation of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya,” along with two of the production’s stars, Michael Shannon and Reed Birney. We’ll investigate the death of Yasir Arafat and whether he might have been poisoned with polonium. Plus, on Please Explain, physicists Brian Greene and Kyle Cranmer discuss why the discovery of the Higgs boson is so important!


Cell Phones as Trackers

ProPublica’s Peter Maass and Megha Rajagopalan explain how the cell phone, the device that most people carry around all the time, can be used as a tracker. In a piece jointly published by ProPublica and the New York Times Sunday Review, they describe how cell phones track "what we buy, where and when we buy it, how much money we have in the bank, whom we text and email, what Web sites we visit, how and where we travel, what time we go to sleep and wake up.”  They also look into how much of that data is shared with companies who use it for marketing.

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"Uncle Vanya" at the Soho Rep

Annie Baker, who adapted Chekhov’s classic “Uncle Vanya,” discusses the play, along with Reed Birney and Michael Shannon, who star in it. Variety critic Marilyn Stasio called Baker’s version “a fresh rethinking of the material from the perspective of a modern mind.” “Uncle Vanya” is playing at the Soho Rep, and has been extended through August 26.


What Killed Yasir Arafat

Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat died mysteriously in 2004. A recent investigation by Al-Jazeera, which included testing of Arafat’s personal effects, suggests that he might have been poisoned by polonium. Clayton Swisher, the Al-Jazeera English journalist who carried out network’s investigation of Arafat’s death, talks about the investigation.

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Please Explain: The Higgs Boson

Early this month, researchers at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, announced that they found convincing evidence of a new particle called the Higgs boson. Sometimes called the “god particle,” the Higgs boson gives mass to the elementary particles that make up the universe. Brian Greene, Professor of Mathematics and Physics and author of The Elegant Universe, The Fabric of the Cosmos, and The Hidden Reality, and Kyle Cranmer, Assistant Professor of Physics at New York University, help us decipher what the Higgs is and why it matters, and explain how the Large Hadron Collider works.

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Guest Picks: Annie Baker

Annie Baker was on the Lopate Show to discuss her adaptation of Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" at the SoHo Rep. She also told us that she's a fan of Texas. Find out what else Annie's a fan of!


Guest Picks: Michael Shannon

Michael Shannon was on the Lopate Show to discuss starring in the new adaptation of Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" at the SoHo Rep. He also shared his, um,  unusual pairing of comfort foods.


Tributes: Celeste Holm

Celeste Holm’s breakout role was as Ado Annie in the original Broadway production of “Oklahoma!” in 1943. And she went on to have a career that spanned 6 decades and stretched from Broadway to Hollywood. She won the Academy Award in 1947 for her performance in “Gentlemen’s Agreement” and was nominated for her work in “Come to the Stable” and “All About Eve.” She often returned to the Broadway stage between film roles. Celeste Holm died recently at the age of 95. She spoke to Leonard – along with co-star Fritz Weaver – back in 2000, when she was starring in a production of “Don Juan in Hell.”


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