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  • For much of recorded history, maps have helped us define where we live and who we are. National Geographic writer Freddie Wilkinson shows us how one small line on a map led to a bitter conflict in another country, thousands of miles away.
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.
    Want more?
    Everyone knows Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, but exactly how tall is it? The science and politics behind finding that number is surprisingly complicated. A team from Nepal and China recently came up with a new official height.
    The world's second tallest mountain, K2, is only a few miles away from Hodgson's line and the Siachen glacier. Just a few months ago a team of 10 Nepalis completed the first winter climb of the mountain.
    The history of the Kashmir conflict is complicated. Here's a straightforward explainer of how it all started.
    Also explore:
    Magazine subscribers can read Freddie Wilkinson’s full article, including more details about Robert Hodgson’s life and our geography team's detailed maps of the Siachen glacier.
      

  • It’s a jewel of biodiversity, the so-called Galápagos of the Indian Ocean, and might also hold traces of the earliest humans to leave Africa. No wonder scientists want to explore Socotra. But it’s also part of Yemen, a country enduring a horrific civil war. Meet the Nat Geo explorer with a track record of navigating the world’s most hostile hot spots who’s determined to probe the island—and empower its local scientists before it’s too late.
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.
    Want more?
    See Socotra’s wonders—including the dragon’s blood tree—through the eyes of National Geographic explorers. And check out human footprints preserved for more than 100,000 years, which could be the oldest signs of humans in Arabia. 
    Also explore:
    Learn more about Yemen’s civil war. One Yemeni photographer explains why she looks for points of light in the darkness. And for subscribers, go inside the country’s health crisis and the life of violence and disease the war has brought to many civilians.
    Also, learn more about Ella Al-Shamahi’s new book, The Handshake: A Gripping History, and visit Horn Heritage, Sada Mire’s website preserving heritage in Somalia and the Horn of Africa.   

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  • For the past year, Overheard has explored the journeys of photographers and scientists who are focusing a new lens on history. National Geographic presents In Conversation, a special podcast episode featuring explorer Tara Roberts, computer scientist Gloria Washington, and photographer Ruddy Roye. Through their dynamic work across maritime archeology, artificial intelligence, and photojournalism, they’re determined to reimagine Black history.
    We begin with National Geographic Explorer and Storytelling Fellow Tara Roberts, who talks to Overheard’s Amy Briggs about documenting the efforts of Black scuba divers and archaeologists in their search for the lost wrecks of ships that carried enslaved Africans to the Americas.
    We’ll also hear from computer scientist Gloria Washington of Howard University. She speaks with guest host Brian Gutierrez about her work developing “emotional” artificial intelligence.
    And finally National Geographic Storytelling Fellow Ruddy Roye traces his photographic journey with Overheard’s Peter Gwin—and turns his lens on the racial and civil conflicts that defined 2020.
    For more stories like this one, visit National Geographic’s Race in America homepage, chronicling the human journey of racial, ethnic, and religious groups across the United States.

  • Mars Gets Ready for Its Close-up
    Mars has fascinated Earthlings for millennia, ever since we looked skyward and found the red planet. Through telescopes, probes, and robots, scientists have gazed at its red rocks, craters, and canyons—and the latest rover, Perseverance, is poised to tell them much more about the planet’s past and present as sophisticated new cameras search for signs of ancient life. Join National Geographic writer Nadia Drake, NASA engineer Christina Hernandez and Mars Perseverance Principal Investigator Jim Bell for a behind-the-scenes look at how Perseverance will expose Mars in ways we’ve never seen before. 
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.

    Want More?
    Magazine subscribers can learn about the Mars Perseverance mission through a series of beautiful graphics, including those of the instruments that will help the rover search for traces of ancient life. 
    You can also read Nadia Drake’s article on why people are so “dang obsessed” with Mars, an explainer on the history of Mars exploration and how artwork over several centuries has shown how people have imagined the red planet. 
    There’s also an interactive graphic of the red planet you can play with to learn about how it might have evolved over the last 3.8 billion years. 
    Also explore: 
    Humans could make it to Mars one day, but for now, our AR experience may be as close as you can get. See through the Perseverance rover’s eyes and share your own selfie on Instagram.

  • Searching for the Himalaya’s Ghost Cats
    National Geographic’s editor at large Peter Gwin travels to the Himalaya to join photographer and National Geographic explorer Prasenjeet Yadav on his search for snow leopards, one of the planet’s most elusive animals in one of its most forbidding landscapes. Himalayan communities have long regarded the snow leopards as threats to their livelihoods, but conservation efforts and tourism are changing the way people see them.
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard.

    Want more? 
    For Peter Gwin’s reporting on snow leopards in Kibber, National Geographic magazine subscribers can read his piece, “Himalaya Snow Leopards Are Finally Coming Into View.” 
    And if you want to see photos that National Geographic explorer Prasenjeet Yadav has captured of snow leopards, head to his instagram page: @prasen.yadav. 

    Also explore: 
    For basic information on snow leopards, here’s National Geographic’s reference page on the species.
    Subscribers can also see beautiful illustrations that show how the snow leopard’s anatomy has adapted to the harsh Himalaya environment and read about how poaching is threatening the species in Asia. 

  • Tracking snow leopards in the Himalaya. Looking for ancient microbial life on Mars. Uncovering the truth about Amazon warriors. Unraveling a mapmaker’s dangerous decision. Join us for curiously delightful conversations, overheard at National Geographic headquarters. Hosted by Peter Gwin and Amy Briggs.

  • Since George Washington took the first presidential oath of office in 1789, inaugurations have been held during times of war and peace, prosperity and uncertainty, strong unity and deep division. How will history remember Joe Biden’s inauguration? National Geographic deployed a team of photographers and writers around the nation’s capital to document this historic moment. Editor-at-Large Peter Gwin was among them, and he and Amy Briggs, Executive Editor of National Geographic History, talk about how this day fits in with inaugurations of the past.
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard
    Want more?
    You can see Nina Berman and David Guttenfelder’s photography in articles about the first “virtual” inauguration and the celebration that followed. And check out Louie Palu’s video of the January 6th insurrection on the Capitol.
    For more of their photography, you can follow Louie Palu, Nina Berman and David Guttenfelder on Instagram.
    Also explore:
    You can also listen to our interview with photographer Andrea Bruce for a reflection on what democracy means and explore dispatches from her project, Our Democracy.
    And for paid subscribers, read Amy Briggs’s article on past inaugural addresses, which highlights some wise words leaders used to unite us in troubled times. And learn about fraught presidential transitions in our nation’s history.

  • Decades of daring acrobatics, spectacular motorcycle stunts, and mind-blowing magic tricks couldn’t prepare Central America’s oldest-running circus for its most challenging feat yet—how to get home during a pandemic. Photographer and National Geographic Explorer Tomas Ayuso encountered the Segovia Brothers Circus stranded in Honduras amid the coronavirus lockdown, and then chronicled the performers’ rollercoaster journey back to their native Guatemala–and the surprising circus fan who ultimately came to the rescue.
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard
    Want more?
    If you’d like to read the magazine article that inspired this episode, you can find that in our show notes. There, you’ll find another story from Tomas Ayuso – it’s about the impact that coronavirus has had on migrant families applying for asylum in the United States.
    Also explore:
    If you’d like to read more circus coverage from National Geographic, check out our story about traditional tightrope walking in remote Russian villages. 
    And for paid subscribers:
    Check out a recent National Geographic Magazine feature on COVID-19. It takes the work of photographers in five countries and compiles it all into one photo essay about how the pandemic became a painful shared experience around the globe.

  • Pigments color the world all around us, but where do those colors come from? Historically, they’ve come from crushed sea snails, beetles, and even ground-up mummies. But new pigments are still being discovered in unexpected places, and for researcher Mas Subramanian, a new color came, well, out of the blue. Overheard’s Amy Briggs ventured into the National Geographic photo studio to see the new color—the first blue pigment of its kind discovered since Thomas Jefferson was president.
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard
    Want more?
    Read about how underwater cave explorers discovered a 11,000 year old pigment mine in Mexico and what it might tell us about the people who lived there.
    The names of colors are usually fanciful, but mummy brown is a surprisingly accurate description of this macabre pigment. 
    This episode is all about color, and so we have two colorful photo galleries for you to dive into: Photos through the eyes of the color blind, and the 12 different kinds of rainbows defined by science.
    Also explore:
    Check out the pigment collection and Harvard’s Art museum. 
    Read more about Mas Subramanian’s research at Oregon State University.
    And for paid subscribers:
    In this episode, Amy Briggs went into the Nat Geo studio to see our staff photographers hard at work photographing YInMn blue and other pigments. Take a look at our magazine feature to see the final product.
    The Phonician empire was shaped by the production of Tyrion purple, a pigment with its weight in gold which was made by boiling the mucus glands of thousands of sea snails.

  • Today we share an episode of a new podcast series called Trafficked, hosted by National Geographic Channel’s Mariana van Zeller. The series pulls back the curtain on the people operating trafficking rings and shadow economies. In this episode, Mariana sits down with country rapper Struggle Jennings. An outlaw country rapper—and the grandson of country music legend Waylon Jennings— he once got busted for trying to purchase a big load of oxycontin in a Walmart parking lot in Memphis, Tennessee. Mariana and Jennings discuss the day he got busted, his life leading up to it, and the toll it took. This episode features some strong language and drug references, so if your kids are around, you might want to check out another one of our episodes.  
    The Trafficked TV series is available now on National Geographic, and new episodes air Wednesdays.

  • Less than 4,000 tigers live in the wild, but experts say there may be more than 10,000 captive in the U.S., where ownership of big cats is largely unregulated. Overheard’s Peter Gwin talks with National Geographic Channel's Mariana van Zeller about her investigation into tiger trafficking and how wildlife tourism encourages a cycle of breeding and mistreatment.
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard
    Want more?
    For Mariana van Zeller’s reporting on tiger tourism and trafficking around the world, tune into National Geographic’s series Trafficked. 
    Learn about what the Netflix series Tiger King left out about captive tigers and how visitors of roadside zoos can pose health risks to big cats. And check out how some of the series’ characters, like Doc Antle and Jeff Lowe, have been penalized for their treatment of wild animals. 
    Also explore:
    Listen to our previous episode about the hidden costs of wildlife tourism. 
    And for paid subscribers:
    Read “Captive tigers in the U.S. outnumber those in the wild. It’s a problem,” the National Geographic magazine story that looked into why there are thousands of big cats in the U.S.

  • Spinosaurus has long been a superstar among dinosaur fans, with its massive alligator-like body and a huge “sail” of skin running the length of its spine. Though the fossil was unearthed a century ago, scientists hadn’t been able to say exactly what it looked like because only a few bones had ever been found. But new fossil discoveries by National Geographic explorer Nizar Ibrahim will forever change the way we think about Spinosaurus—and all other dinosaurs.

    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard

    Want more?
    Michael Greshko has a lot more to say about Spinosaurus. Take a look at his article full of pictures and animations of what Spinosaurus might have looked like in the water. 
    Or learn about why dinosaurs went extinct in the first place.
    You can also make Spinoaurus and other prehistoric creatures appear in your living room by using Nat Geo's dinosaur instagram AR filter. Follow us at instagram.com/NatGeo. 
    Also explore:
    Check out our previous episode about the illegal trade of dinosaur fossils in the United States.
    And for paid subscribers:
    In our cover story, “Re-imagining dinosaurs,” you can read about how paleontologists are learning more than ever by using advanced techniques like giving CT scans to frozen crocodiles or using lasers to figure out what color Velociraptor eggs were.

  • On the bottom of the world’s oceans lie historic treasures—the lost wrecks of ships that carried enslaved people from Africa to the Americas. Only a handful have been identified so far, but National Geographic explorer and Storytelling Fellow Tara Roberts is documenting the efforts of Black scuba divers and archaeologists to find more, hoping to finally bring their stories to light.

    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard

    Want more?
    Follow Tara’s journey around the world on Instagram. And here’s the photo that Tara Roberts saw at the National Museum of African American History and Culture that inspired her to learn to scuba dive. Read about the last slave ship survivor, Matilda McCrear, and what her descendants make of her legacy. Tag along on a scuba mission with DWP divers in this video produced by National Geographic.

    And for paid subscribers:
    Read a History magazine article about the Clotilda, the ship that illegally smuggled 110 West Africans into the United States on the eve of the Civil War. We have another History magazine article about 1619, when the first enslaved Africans arrived in colonial North America

  • How do you measure something that destroys everything it touches? That’s an essential question for tornado researchers. After he narrowly escaped the largest twister on record—a two-and-a-half-mile-wide behemoth with 300-mile-an-hour winds—National Geographic Explorer Anton Seimon found a new, safer way to peer inside them and helped solve a long-standing mystery about how they form.
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard
    Want more?
    See some of Anton’s mesmerizing tornado videos and his analysis of the El Reno tornado. Check out what we know about the science of tornadoes and tips to stay safe if you’re in a tornado’s path. Plus, learn more about The Man Who Caught the Storm, Brantley Hargrove’s biography of Tim Samaras.
    And for paid subscribers:
    Read “The Last Chase,” the National Geographic cover story chronicling Tim Samaras’ pursuit of the El Reno tornado. 

  • Andrea Bruce, a National Geographic photographer, has covered conflict zones around the world for nearly two decades. She shares how the experience of capturing democratic ideals as a war photographer in Egypt, Afghanistan, and Iraq now shapes the way she's chronicling democracy in America in 2020.
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard
    Want more?
    Explore dispatches from Andrea Bruce’s Our Democracy project as well as her photos from overseas. We also have resources for election night, including how experts say you should talk to your kids about elections and why election maps may be misleading.
    And for paid subscribers:
    See what Bolivia, New Zealand, Iraq, and Afghanistan have in common: Women there have made huge advances and gained political power. Andrea Bruce photographed the women in charge—and the women still fighting for change.

  • Photographer and National Geographic Storytelling Fellow Ruddy Roye grew up in Jamaica, a cradle of reggae and social justice movements. He describes how that background prepared him to cover the historic protests and civil unrest in 2020, what he’s tackling in his new National Geographic project "When Living Is a Protest," and what he tells his sons about growing up in America.
    For more information on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/overheard
    Want more?
    See some of Ruddy Roye’s National Geographic assignments, including his coverage of the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, as well as his most recent photographs, depicting the impact of COVID on people of color and the Black Lives Matter protests.
    And for paid subscribers:
    See the renaissance happening at historically Black colleges—a surge in enrollment and a new brand of African-American activism.

  • Documenting democracy. Untwisting the world’s largest tornado. Searching for wrecks of lost slave ships. Dinosaur hunting in Morocco. Accidentally inventing a new color. Come dive into one of the curiously delightful conversations overheard at National Geographic’s headquarters, as we follow explorers, photographers, and scientists to the edges of our big, weird, beautiful world. Hosted by Peter Gwin and Amy Briggs.

  • Photographer Anand Varma details his very first natural history adventures—not in Amazonian rainforests or on Polynesian coral reefs but in suburban Atlanta—and how a childhood fascination with catching frogs and turtles in his backyard led to a career documenting the fantastical worlds of “zombie” parasites, fire ant colonies, vampire bats, hummingbirds, and jellyfish.
     
    Want More?
    Read about the zombie parasites that control their hosts, and watch a video of these mindsuckers here.
    Also check out Mexico’s carnivorous bats, and go behind the lens with Anand as he attempts to capture the iconic shot of a honeybee emerging from a brood cell for the first time.
     
    Also explore:
    The science of hummingbirds and what makes these birds the perfect flying machines.
     
    Got something to say?
    Contact us: overheard@natgeo.com

  • Anastasia Taylor-Lind talks about how she grew up living the life of a modern gypsy, traveling across southern England in the back of a horse-drawn wagon, and how her experiences covering conflicts in Iraq and Ukraine forever changed the way she views storytelling and war photography.
     
    Want More?
    You can see the photo of the female Peshmerga soldier that launched Anastasia’s career on her website along with many of her other projects.
    Read Anastasia’s essay “The Most Frightening Thing About War” here.
    Check out the story Peter Gwin and Anastasia collaborated on about riding Arabian horses in Oman.
    You can watch Anastasia’s TED talk “Fighters and Mourners of the Ukrainian Revolution.”
     
    Also explore:
    See our story on soldiers using art to reveal the trauma of war and learn about today’s battlefields, where more women than ever are on the front lines of armed conflict and as peacekeepers in the world’s hot spots.
     
    Got something to say?
    Contact us: overheard@natgeo.com

  • Chirp. Whistle. Creak. Beluga whales, the canaries of the sea, have a lot to say. But noise from ships can drown out their calls, putting calves in danger. What happens when humans press pause during the coronavirus pandemic—and finally give ocean life some peace and quiet?
    For more on this episode, visit nationalgeographic.com/podcasts/overheard.

    Want more?
    Ever wonder why ocean animals eat plastic? The answer is surprisingly complicated. 
    Whales around the world are still being hunted for their meat. But in Iceland that might be ending.
    Also explore:
    Take in the breathtaking sight of hundreds of beluga whales gathering in the Arctic.
    Check out the very first episode of Overheard for another story on how whales communicate.
    And for paid subscribers:
    The graphics team at Nat Geo has mapped out the effects of shipping on Arctic sea ice.
    Read Craig Welch’s reporting on the changing Arctic, including how the thawing of permafrost affects us all.
    See photos of whales taken by a Nat Geo explorer who’s spent 10,000 hours underwater. 
    Got something to say? Contact us!
    overheard@natgeo.com