Hallucinations; Topsy in Coney Island; "The Weir"; and Our Missing Ancestor

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Monday, July 08, 2013

Brooke Gladstone fills in for Leonard Lopate. She speaks with neurologist Oliver Sacks about his work and his research into hallucinations. We’ll find out the true story of an elephant that was electrocuted at the turn of the last century. Director Ciaran O’Reilly and actor Dan Butler discuss “The Weir,” playing at the Irish Rep. And National Geographic’s Jamie Shreeve explains what DNA found in a cave in Siberia tells us about our human roots.

Oliver Sacks on Hallucinations

Neurologist Oliver Sacks talks about hallucinations and what they tell us about how the brain works. His book, Hallucinations, weaves together stories of his patients and of his own hallucinatory experiences and explores how hallucinations have influenced every culture’s folklore and art, and why the potential for hallucination is present in us all, a vital part of the human condition.

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Michael Daly Tells the Story of Topsy

In 1903, on Coney Island, an elephant named Topsy was electrocuted, and over the past century, this bizarre, ghoulish execution has reverberated through popular culture. But it really happened, and many historical forces conspired to bring Topsy, Thomas Edison, and those 6600 volts of alternating current together that day. Michael Daly tells the story of this astonishing tale in Topsy The Startling Story of the Crooked Tailed Elephant, P.T. Barnum, and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison.

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“The Weir” At the Irish Rep

Director Ciaran O'Reilly and actor Dan Butler discuss the revival of Conor McPherson's “The Weir.” Set in a remote country pub in Ireland, newcomer Valerie arrives and becomes spellbound by an evening of ghostly stories told by the local bachelors who drink there. Then Valerie reveals a startling story of her own. It's playing at the Irish Repertory Theatre through September 8.


Our Missing Ancestor

Jamie Shreeve, National Geographic magazine’s executive editor for science talks about why DNA from a skeleton found in a cave in Russia adds a mysterious new member to the human family. His latest article, “The Case of the Missing Ancestor,” is in the July issue of National Geographic.


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