Time to Eat the Dogs

On Science, History, and Exploration

Episode 34: Psychology in Extreme Environments


Ben Saunders and Tarka L’Herpiniere haul sledges towards the South Pole in 2013

Nathan Smith talks about the psychology of exploration, specifically the psychology of performance in extreme environments. Smith worked closely with polar explorer Ben Saunders as he attempted to ski to the South Pole and back unassisted in 2013: a recreation of Robert Falcon Scott’s tragic 1911 Terra Nova Expedition in which Scott and his party died on their return journey across the Ross Ice Shelf. Smith helped establish the research module on Extreme Medicine at the University of Exeter and worked as a senior research scientist within the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.


Nathan Smith


The Expedition Psychology Project (includes Smith bibliography)

In Extremis

Ben Saunders’ Website

The Scott Expedition


Episode 33: What the Dead Can Teach Us


Too often keeping patients alive gets in the way of helping them as they approach death. Dr. Pauline Chen shares her experiences as a medical student and transplant surgeon and how they’ve shaped the way she practices medicine. 

Chen is the author of Final Exam: A Surgeon’s Reflections on Mortality and the New York Times column “Doctor and Patient.” Her essays have appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times Magazine, and the New York Times Book Review. Her work has been nominated for a National Magazine Award.

chan_publicity photo Pauline W. Chen

Pauline Chen

Episode 32: Rethinking Humboldt


Alexander von Humboldt by Friedrich Georg Weitsch (1806)

It’s hard for 21st century audiences to understand the fame and admiration that followed Humboldt after his 1799 expedition to South and Central America. In the early 1800s, he was the most famous explorer in the world. While his fame would be eclipsed by other explorers, especially in the Anglo-American world, Humboldt is working his way back into the conversation. Patrick Anthony discusses Humboldt and his complicated legacy.


“Geographie des Plantes Equinoxiales.” Tableau Physique des Andes et Pays Voisins (1805)

Anthony is a PhD candidate at Vanderbilt University. His essay “Mining as the Working World of Alexander von Humbolt’s Plant Geography and Vertical Cartography” recently won the Nathan Reingold Prize from the History of Science Society. It is published in the spring issue of the society’s journal, Isis


Patrick Anthony


Susan Faye Cannon, Science in Culture: The Early Victorian Period

Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation

Michael Robinson, “Why We Need a New History of Exploration”

Aaron Sachs, The Humboldt Current: A European Explorer and His American Disciples

Laura Dassow Walls, Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America


Episode 31: The Revolution in Paleoanthropology


Homo Naledi

John Hawks talks about new developments in paleoanthropology – the discovery of a new hominid species Homo Naledi in South Africa, the Neanderthal ancestry of many human populations, and the challenge of rethinking anthropological science’s relationship with indigenous peoples and the general public. Hawks is the Vilas-Borghesi Achievement Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He is the co-author of Almost Human: The Astonishing Tale of Homo naledi and the Discovery That Changed Our Human Story


John Hawks, (photo credit Russ Creech)


John Hawks blog

Almost Human: The Astonishing Tale of Homo naledi and the Discovery that Changed the Human Story

Episode 30: The Vanguard Project


Vanguard team prepares satellite for lauch (1958)

Angelina Callahan talks about the Naval Research Laboratory’s Vanguard Project. While the launch of Vanguard 1 in 1958 was part of the Cold War “Space Race,” it also represented something more: a scientific platform for understanding the space environment as well as a test vehicle that would provide data for satellites of the future. Vanguard 1 is still flying. At 60 years, it is the oldest artificial satellite in space.

Callahan is the Naval Research Laboratory Historian. She is also a co-author (with John Krige and Ashok Mahara) of NASA in the World: Fifty Years of International Collaboration in Space. Her work has also been featured in NASA Spaceflight: A History of Innovation, the Navy War College Review, Seapower Magazine, and Federal News Radio. 


Angelina Callahan


NRL Celebrates Sixty Years in Space with Vanguard

J. Krige, A. Maharaj, and A. Callahan, NASA in the World
Fifty Years of International Collaboration in Space

Angelina Callahan, “The Origins and Flagship Project of NASA’s International Program: The Ariel Case Study” in NASA Spaceflight: A History of Innovation

Michael J. Neufeld, Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War

David H. DeVorkin, Science with a Vengeance: How the Military Created the US Space Sciences after World War II


Episode 29: Descartes, Traveler


Hal Cook talks about the travels and trials of the young Descartes, a man who spent as much time traveling and fighting as he did studying philosophy. Cook is John F. Nickoll Professor of History at Brown University. He is the author of The Young Descartes: Nobility, Rumor, and War out this year with University of Chicago Press.


Harold Cook


Episode 28: The Journeys of Eslanda Robeson


Eslanda Cardozo Goode Robeson

Annette Joseph-Gabriel talks about Eslanda Robeson — chemist, political activist, anthropologist, and traveler — and the significance of her journeys. Robeson’s 1946 trip through the Congo is featured in Joseph-Gabriel’s interactive website Digitizing Diaspora. Joseph-Gabriel is an assistant professor of French at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. She is the managing editor of Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International (SUNY Press), a regular contributor to the African American Intellectual History Society blog, and an active podcast host on the New Books Network.

Annette Joseph Gabriel

Annette Joseph-Gabriel

For more on Eslanda Robeson, read Barbara Ransby‘s biography Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson

Selected works by Joseph-Gabriel include:

“‘Ce pays est un volcan’: Saint-Pierre and the Language of Loss in White Creole Women’s Narratives.”

“‘Tant de silence à briser’: Entretien avec Evelyne Trouillot.”

“Mobility and the Enunciation of Freedom in Urban Saint-Domingue.”