June 9, 2013: Cooking Cicadas, Colonizing Mars, and More


Every so often cicadas emerge from the ground to inhabit trees. Author Jenna Jadin suggests a few unique ways for cooking-up the noisy critters in her cookbook “Cicada-licious”. (photo by George Grall)

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: 1323 – Air Date: June 9


Fifty years and one month since Americans first summited Mt. Everest, the mountain remains a symbolic achievement for climbers, but serious climbers often downplay the skill required to tackle it. The first American to stand on the world’s tallest point, Jim Whittaker, tells Boyd that wasn’t the case when he reached the top in 1963; their understanding of nutrition and the day’s equipment wasn’t nearly as advanced as now, and a great degree of luck was involved in reaching the summit. Listen here.

On the evening of Friday, May 31st, a large tornado tore through El Reno, Oklahoma. National Geographic Explorer Tim Samaras was caught in the storm, along with his son, Paul, and longtime tornado-chasing partner Carl Young. All three men died. Just hours before the storm, Tim spoke with Boyd about tornado safety, and how tornado season has changed over the three decades Tim has been in the business. Listen here.

On the United States’ East Coast, adult Brood II cicadas are emerging from the ground to briefly inhabit local trees, reproduce and die. The well-timed emergence from their earthen tunnels can overwhelm towns with their drone-like vibrations. But Jenna Jadin recommends a way to deal with that: by eating them. She made a cookbook, Cicada-licious, for a 2004 cicada emergence. She has updated the book to incorporate current food trends, like cicada banh mi and candied cicada cocktails. Listen here.

Many residents of the “New World” revere early European explorers for their bravery in crossing dangerous oceans and searching an unknown continent for riches and finding many dangers. Buzz Aldrin sees a parallel opportunity, as he hopes man will one day colonize Mars much in the same way (excepting the exploitation of Native tribes). He reflects on the opportunity in his new book, Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration. Listen here.

Many people are aware that bats use echolocation to hunt for food and navigate the dark environments they inhabit. But National Geographic grantee Gloriana Chaverri examines how bats might use verbal cues to communicate with each other. She discovered a call-and-answer behavior that she has recorded and managed to attract bats searching for a place to bed down after an evening of hunting. Listen here.


After extremely long voyages, explorers often have a difficult time readjusting to life inside of cities, surrounded by people. Astronauts experience physical changes after prolonged periods in space; Sarah Marquis, after three years of walking from Siberia to Australia and across that continent, says she felt strange sleeping in a bed upon returning to her parents’ home in Switzerland. She said she used to fantasize about Swiss chocolate, but will always relish the “discovery in every step” that walking across new places provides. Listen here.

Humans lived in Australia for 50,000 years in isolation until two hundred years ago, when they first met European colonists. In the following decades, an ancient way of life has been endangered, but there are a few Aboriginal populations committed to preserving their time-tested customs. Amy Toensing visited the Aboriginal homelands and captured the stunning images for the June, 2013 National Geographic magazine article, “First Australians“. Listen here.

A popular misconception of traditional hunter-gatherer tribes is that they spent most of their time occupied in the pursuit of food. But National Geographic grantee Alexander Geurds tells Boyd that certain tribes in modern-day Nicaragua had many other occupations, which included creating large, monolithic statues to honor their ancestors, which would have been quite the undertaking for a society that didn’t have beasts of burden or wheels to assist. Geurds tells Boyd what we understand about these ancient statue-makers. Listen here.

When he travels abroad, Boyd has a habit of getting into tight spaces – these usually occur at airports or with customs officials. But on a recent trip to Macedonia, he met Stole Misev who helped him get into a literal jam: four hundred metres inside of Macedonia’s only tunnel-cave. After an hour of admiring stalactites and stalagmites and crawling through bat guano, Boyd was happy to be in the open air. Listen here.

In this week’s Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd shares the story of his own 150-mile jaunt through Australia’s outback in an advanced survival course. Their provisions were stored in a soap dish, and notably didn’t include water. Nobody died, but everybody was a bit hungry, after not having eaten for seven days. Listen here.

Human Journey

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.