National Geographic Society Newsroom

June 1, 2014: Slackline Between Hot Air Balloons, Curing “Invisible Diseases” and More

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 on radio, or listen below! Hour 1 – Slacklining...

It was once thought that ticks were the only way people could get Lyme disease. Scientists and doctors are learning that might not be the case. Andrea Caesar, a longterm carrier of Lyme, explains that she has suffered for years due to medical misinformation about the condition. (photo by Darlyne Murawski/National Geographic)

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 on radio, or listen below!

Hour 1

– Slacklining – the act of walking along a loose nylon mesh – is a sport that was pioneered by rock climbers to kill down time when they were unable to be hanging from wall faces. But in the past few years, it has become a sport pursuing its own identity, with daredevil athletes pushing the boundaries of what is possible. One such athlete is“Sketchy” Andy Lewis who recently completed a famous feat of one-upmanship when he slacklined 4,000 feet above the Earth between two hot air balloons, without any leash attaching him to the line. Lewis explains how he and slacklining grew up together, and what he sees in the future for himself and the sport’s. Listen here.

– Lyme disease is commonly thought to be transmitted to humans exclusively through the bite of a deer tick; if there isn’t a bite to be found, there isn’t Lyme to be diagnosed. But as science improves, an increasing number of “mystery illnesses” of chronic headaches, body pains, and general malaise are being attributed to the disease. Andrea Caesar is one such person who has been diagnosed with a chronic form of Lyme disease, but it wasn’t recognized until 26 years later. In the interim, doctors tried to diagnose her symptoms as mental disorders and “selfishness”. She and Dr. Joseph Jemsek who co-authored A Twist of Lyme: Battling a Disease That “Doesn’t Exist” share her journey with the elusive disease. Listen here.

– The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is probably the best known endurance race along the route from Fairbanks to Nome. But there is another grueling 1,000 mile ride over the packed snow and ice on the trail: the Iditarod Trail Invitational, a bike race that runs in early March. Jeff Oatley won this year’s race in 10 days, 2 hours and 53 minutes, breaking the previous record by nearly 5 days. Oatley said that unusually warm conditions conspired with him to set the pace that would have seen him place 21st in this year’s dog sled race. Listen here.

– Recycling old materials for new purposes is always seen as a win for conservation and green friendly living. But when those materials are coated in lead paint and asbestos, the act of reusing that is seen as undeniably positive becomes a bit more ambiguous. Peter Gwin‘s story in the May 2014 issue of National Geographic magazinetells about those who break down large oceangoing ships in India and Bangladesh and use all of the ship’s parts for some new purpose. The dangerous working conditions for “The Ship Breakers” result in new hospital beds, fishing boats and iron rebar for those working nearby. Listen here.

– In our “This Weekend in History” segment, National Geographic library research manager Maggie Turqman helps us remember the 1922 dedication of the Lincoln Memorial; the 125th anniversary of the “Great Flood of 1889,” in Johnstown, Pennsylvania; and the 1st anniversary of the deaths of tornado scientist Tim Samaras, his son Paul and partner Carl Young. Listen here.

Hour 2
– The South Pacific’s remotest islands call to people who are searching for something they can’t find anywhere else: author Robert Louis Stevenson searched for health, painter Paul Gauguin’s hoped to leave the “artificial” world of Western society behind, and author J. Maarten Troost left searching for adventure and recovery from his vices. Troost also says that it’s still possible to find remote, isolated places in the South Pacific, but the first trick is to get somewhere that doesn’t have an airport. Troost’s new book is titled Headhunters on my Doorstep. Listen here.
– Each year, National Geographic names a new class of Emerging Explorers, who are tomorrow’s visionaries inspiring everybody to care about the planet. Ecologist and epidemiologist Christopher Golden is part of the 2014 class for his work in Madagascar helping local people develop better food cultivation habits than simply turning to the forest for wild meat. Golden says that it’s possible to understand this on a global scale: one example he cited is to encourage people to more sustainably harvest fish from the oceans, so we don’t experience a global collapse of biodiversity. Listen here.
– The phrase “fish out of water” is often used to describe someone in a situation that they’re poorly suited for. But National Geographic Young Explorer Andrew Thompson explains that not all fish are in trouble when they run out of water. He studies the killifish, which during droughts and dry seasons, are able to suspend their development when they’re in the egg until more comfortable – and wet – circumstances are available. Listen here.
– Amy Dickman understands what it is to live closely with lions. The biologist and conservationist with National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative has famously had a lion sleep on top of her tent while she was in it, so she can empathize with those like the Samburu who try to live closely with Africa’s most feared predators. But in order to save the cats, she encourages herders to secure their homes and livestock with bomas to cut down on cats killing cows and herders getting heated over their loss. Listen here.
– On this week’s Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd shares his personal experiences growing up as a Boy Scout, that brought him from climbing his first mountain in Texas to a life filled with his many adventures at National Geographic. Listen here.

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Meet the Author

Justin O'Neill
Justin O'Neill produces the weekly radio program National Geographic Weekend with host Boyd Matson. Check it out on on SiriusXM satellite radio (XM channel 133 Sundays at noon), subscribe to the iTunes podcast, or stream it directly to your smartphone with Stitcher Radio.