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NG Weekend: Secrets of Sleep


This week on National Geographic Weekend radio, host Boyd Matson speaks with guests about the big oil leak, getting stalked by a bear, travel nightmares, global warming, flying reptiles, the Arctic thaw, sleep secrets, snow leopards, and treetop lemurs.

Hour 1

  • An oil spill in 1971 off the coast of California compelled John Francis to forego motorized vehicles for 22 years. For 17 of those years he also didn’t speak. While silent, Francis earned a Ph.D. in land resources, focusing on oil spills in the marine environment. He then went to work for the Coast Guard, helping to improve regulation in the wake of the Exxon Valdez spill. Francis joins Boyd in the studio to share his thoughts about the current oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Lynn Schooler was in the Alaskan wilderness, without a gun, when a grizzly bear decided he looked like a tasty treat. Schooler tells Boyd about the harrowing experience of being stalked by a bear, and how he finally managed to escape. Schooler shares this and other stories in his new book, Walking Home: A Traveler in the Alaskan Wilderness, a Journey into the Human Heart.
  • Doug Lansky’s new book, The Titanic Awards: Celebrating the Worst of Travel, is chock full of places and companies you’ll want to avoid on your next trip. From the airline with the stingiest legroom to the worst airport layout to the most confusing subway system, this book covers it all. Boyd and Lansky laugh over the worst of the worst.
  • When he was twelve years old, Alec Loorz heard Al Gore give a presentation about global warming. Loorz decided then that he would make it his life’s work to help stop climate change. He started the group “Kids vs. Global Warming” and has become the youngest person trained to give Gore’s presentation. Now 15, Loorz joins Boyd in the studio to talk about his ongoing work.
  • A flying reptile with a nine-foot wingspan and 54 needle-sharp teeth is swooping your way. David Braun, head of National Geographic News, joins Boyd to talk about the news you didn’t know you needed to know.

Hour 2

  • Gretel Ehrlich’s new book, In the Empire of Ice: Encounters in a Changing Landscape, chronicles her experiences among the indigenous Arctic people living on the thawing edge of climate change. Ehrlich joins Boyd in the studio to talk about the real impact melting ice is having on the lives of northern people.
  • From birth, we spend a third of our lives asleep. Yet after decades of research, we’re still not sure why. D.T. Max explores the “Secrets of Sleep” in the May 2010 issue of National Geographic magazine.
  • National Geographic grantee Tshewang Wangchuk studies the elusive snow leopard in Bhutan. Wangchuk joins Boyd in the studio to explain how he and his colleagues study an animal they hardly ever see.
  • National Geographic Weekend climbs into the treetops of Madagascar with National Geographic grantee Natalie Vasey to get a glimpse of life from a lemur’s point of view.
  • Boyd shares some of his own worst travel experiences.

Hear National Geographic Weekend on XM/Sirius satellite radio (XM channel 133 Sundays at noon), subscribe to the iTunes podcast, or get the show streamed to your iPhone, Blackberry, Palm, or Android OS phone with Stitcher Radio.

Photograph by Maggie Steber


  1. Isle Dance
    May 23, 2010, 10:45 pm

    Fantastic – love this!