Time to Eat the Dogs

On Science, History, and Exploration

Episode 22: The History of Madagascar in Trade and Exploration


Madagascar lies so close to the African coast –and so near the predictable wind system of the Indian Ocean– that it’s easy to overlook the island, the fourth largest in the world, when talking about oceanic trade and exploration. But there is a lot to tell.

Jane Hooper talks about Madagascar and its importance to the history of Indian Ocean trade and exploration. Hooper is the author of Feeding Globalization: Madagascar and the Provisioning Trade, 1600-1800, recently published by Ohio University Press.


Episode 21: Lands of Lost Borders


Kate Harris — writer, scientist, and extreme cyclist – talks about the trip she made with her friend Mel, tracing Marco Polo’s route across Central Asia and Tibet. The journey is the subject of Harris’s new book, Lands of Lost Borders: a Journey on the Silk Road 


The Myth of the “Lost White Tribe”

figure 20

Illustration from H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines (1905)

Zocalo’s Public Square ran my essay this week about the global, largely hidden, history of white supremacy. It was picked up by the Boston Globe. Thanks to Andrea Pitzer for being a terrific editor.

Episode 20: The Ebola Outbreak of 2013


Why did Ebola, a virus so deadly that it killed or immobilized its victims within days, have time to become a full-blown epidemic? That’s what happened in 2013 in when the virus, already well-known to virologists and epidemiologists, broke out in West Africa, infecting twenty-eight thousand people and killing eleven thousand. 

Stephan Bullard, associate professor of biology at the University of Hartford, discusses the 2013 outbreak which is the subject of his new book, A Day to Day Chronicle of the 2013-16 Ebola Outbreak, which will be released soon with Springer Press.


Stephan Bullard

Episode 19: Inventing the American Astronaut


It seems logical that would NASA select military test pilots to be the first astronauts, right? They were used to risk. They were good with machines. They already explored extreme environments. But these skills were not unique to test pilots. There were also mountaineers, scuba divers, and explorers. They too were considered. So why did NASA choose test pilots?

Matthew Hersch, assistant professor of history at Harvard University and author of Inventing the American Astronaut, talks about this and other aspects of the astronaut program. 


Matthew Hersch

Episodes 17 & 18: The First Americans on Everest, Parts I & II


Historian of Science Phil Clements discusses the 1963 American Mount Everest Expedition. His book, Science in an Extreme Environment: The American Mount Everest Expedition, is now out with University of Pittsburgh Press.

Part I, originally posted in November 2017, focuses on the goals and events of the expedition. Part II offers new material from the interview in which Clements discusses the expedition party’s scientific findings and treatment of local Sherpas. It also discusses the expedition’s broader relevance to the study of environmental history and climate change.

Part I:

Part II

Episode 16: The Falcon Heavy


The Falcon Heavy on Launch Pad 39a, Kennedy Space Center

Today is launch day for a new space launch system – the Falcon Heavy – a rocket that may revolutionize spaceflight. If it flies, it will be the most powerful rocket in the world by a factor of two. It is also the first rocket of this size that will be reusable. 


Eric Berger (left) with Elon Musk (right) 

Eric Berger talks about the Falcon Heavy – how it works, where its going, and what it’s good for. Berger is the senior space editor for Ars Technica. In addition to his work as a space journalist, he writes about meteorology. For his reporting on Hurricane Ike, Berger was named as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize 2009. His interview of Elon Musk – conducted this week at the Falcon Heavy launch site at the Kennedy Space Center – is currently up on the Ars Technica website