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The Lonely City, NASA's Visions of the Future and the Past, & Overheard

David Hale Smith via Flickr CC

From solitary poets to reclusive painters, loneliness is a rich vein for artists. Today, writer Olivia Laing meditates on this essential part of the human condition.

Then - we'll talk to the designer behind one of NASA's viral ad campaigns, a beautiful set of travel posters that put a mid-century spin on the future of space tourism. And, we’ll delve into the history of the iconic NASA logo known as "the meatball" and its doomed successor "the worm.”

Listen to the full show. 

The Lonely City

The writer Olivia Laing found herself overwhelmed with loneliness after moving from England to New York for a relationship that ended abruptly.  Living in a string of sublets and surrounded by couples and crowds, she felt dis-connected...deviant.

Rather than deny her wish for connection, she dives into the experience of urban isolation and of several artists whose desolation fueled their work. Her book, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Aloneguides readers through the biographies artists, research on loneliness, and of Olivia coming to believe that such an essential human experience as loneliness cannot be wholly worthless.   

The Lonely City

Visions of the Future

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory recently launched a new series of dazzling space travel posters that hearken back to "the golden age of airline travel" to encourage people to imagine a future where touring the "historic sites of Mars" or visiting more than "100 breathtaking geysers" on the tiny Saturnian moon Enceladus could be on your short list for spring break.

Don and Ryan Clark are the brothers behind Invisible Creature, a design and illustration studio based in Seattle that designed three of the posters for JPL's "Visions of the Future" series.  

"Visions of the Future"

NASA's Logo Tug-of-War

NASA’s recent “Visions of the Future” poster series isn’t the only way the organization is taking advantage of its retro appeal. Word of Mouth producer Molly Donahue brings us the story of NASA’s logo and its sometimes bumpy history.

NASA's Logo Tug-of-War

StoryCorps: Alton Yates

Just before NASA was created, the united states air force began testing the effects of high speeds on the body. Alton Yates was part of a small group of volunteers who were strapped to rocket propelled sleds that hurtled down a track at more than 600 miles per hour. These experiments helped prove that space travel was safe for humans. At Storycorps, Yates told his daughter Toni how he came to be a pioneer in the space program right out of high school. Their interview is archived at the Library of Congress.

You can listen to this story again at

Overheard: March Edition

Amid the barrage of “best of” lists at the end of last year, the Word of Mouth team shared some of our favorite audio of 2015. The list included moments from comedy podcasts, multi-media websites, and public radio programs. We had such a blast doing that, that we thought we'd expand that a bit and share bits of lost and found sound available online each month.  

Overheard: March Edition

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