January 20, 2013: Getting Attacked By a Rhino (While Riding an Elephant), Searching Far Into Space, and More

This Hubble Space Telescope view shows stars in the Omega Centauri globular cluster. Science writer Tim Folger explains how scientists are searching for new ways to go farther into the Universe in his article “Crazy Far” for the January issue of National Geographic Magazine (courtesy of Hubble Space Telescope).

Every week, embark with host Boyd Matson on an exploration of the latest discoveries and interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet, on National Geographic Weekend.

Please check listings near you to find the best way to listen to National Geographic Weekend, or pick your favorite segments and listen now below!

Episode: 1303 – Air Date: January 20


National Geographic features the world’s most stunning images, delivered every month, so readers can enjoy the photographs from the comfort of their own homes. But Steve Winter, photographer for the August 2010 National Geographic magazine cover article “Grassland Kingdom,” tells Boyd that the photographers endure significant risk to do so. He shares a story from his time in India’s Kaziranga National Park, where a rhino attacked an elephant that he was riding while he was trying to photograph tigers. Listen here.

Some people plan their international vacations for months, but for a very specific NASA mission, it might take centuries to plan. Tim Folger tells Boyd that scientists are starting to think of ways for humans to venture out into the deeper recesses of the Universe. The trick, however, is finding a way to power a humungous space ship that can take humans “Crazy Far“. Folger’s story is in the January 2013 issue of National Geographic magazine. Listen here.

John Mittermaier had to be pretty sure of what he would find in order to endure a twenty hour boat ride to a remote Indonesian island. He was in search of the Moluccan Woodcock, which hadn’t been seen by scientists in 30 years. But once he reached the island, it took just two days to find his first bird; over the next few weeks, he had over 50 sightings of what was thought to be a rare animal. Listen here.

Many ancient rulers sealed their legacy by creating lasting monuments to themselves. But, National Geographic Fellow Fred Hiebert explains that, apparently, Genghis Khan was confident in his reputation, as his grave site has never been officially confirmed. Hiebert located a likely location for the eternal resting place of the ruler of one of the largest empires ever, but the Mongolian government prevented his excavating the site. So Hiebert turned his sights to one of Genghis Khan’s descendents, named Tamerlane, in attempt to locate a missing palace. Listen here.

David Braun, editor of National Geographic Daily News, explains that humans aren’t the only creatures who struggle with their own mortality and legacy once we hit middle age. Before embarking on their autumn years, chimpanzees ponder what the world will remember them for once they’re gone. Listen here.


For the vast majority that humans have existed, there has been no reason to trust that a stranger you encounter won’t kill you. So, the only logical decision would be to try to kill them first. Jared Diamond tells Boyd that strong governments that people believe in have curbed this distrust among neighbors, as has been evidenced in now peaceful tribal societies, like those in Papua New Guinea. But Diamond says that we’ve learned a lot from recently contacted human civilizations as well. Diamond’s new book, The World Until Yesterday, explores tribal societies to learn what lessons we can glean from the humans that we have only recently met. Listen here.

The Appalachian Trail is one of the Eastern United States’ most famous wilderness expanses. The well-worn 2,200 mile path connects 14 states and, in comparison to many more rugged trails in western states, can be pretty tame. The same cannot be said for the planned Rim of Africa Trail, which runs 400 miles through six mountain ranges in South Africa. Explorer Jay Simpson became the first person to trek the length of the trails, which aren’t yet a single, cohesive path. He is helping the Rim of Africa organization plot its route and spread a message of conservation and sustainability to people who live in the shadows of the mountains. Listen here.

People travel for all different reasons. Many people, like Boyd, travel to gain new experiences, see new places and meet new people. But others, like Andre Aciman, are exiles constantly searching for the familiar. Aciman explains in his book of essays, Alibis, that he travels to reconnect with a past that cannot be reclaimed. Listen here.

The best way to help someone is to figure out what that person needs and then help them attain it. It seems like a simple concept, but many aid organizations fail to consider the needs of people in one town may be addressed differently than the needs of people in others. But Allison Archambault, president of EarthSpark is applying this lesson as it strives to connect Haiti’s homes with affordable electricity. Listen here.

In this week’s Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd reflects that it’s not just high schoolers who are fascinated by animal poop. Boyd shares some of his favorite poop facts, and explains a game that involves seeing how far one can spit impala droppings, known as a “bokdrol spoeg kompetisie.” Listen here.

Changing Planet

Meet the Author
Gina Cook is an intern for the weekly radio program National Geographic Weekend. She is a graduate student studying multimedia journalism at the University of Missouri.