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September 21, 2014: Living At Sea for 3 Years, Uncovering The Largest Ever Carnivore 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 – Russia’s...

Spinosaurus, the 50 foot long carnivore dominated the landscape in a period of huge meat-eaters. (image by Davide Bonadonna/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!


– Russia’s Valeri Polyakov holds the record for a single space flight, setting it in 1995 after staying aboard the Mir space station for 437 days. Reid Stowe nearly tripled that mark when he spent 1,152 days aboard his schooner, many of them alone. Unlike Polyakov, Stowe didn’t have to deal with the physical impacts of living prolonged periods in weightlessness. But Polyakov may have had it better, as Stowe’s ship flipped off of Cape Horn, endured freezing temperatures in the Southern Ocean, and had to dodge hurricanes in the North Atlantic and typhoons in the South Pacific. Stowe says that he came home to be with his family, but he was provisioned enough to spend another year at sea.

– Pitcairn Island, once notorious as home of the HMS Bounty’s crew post-mutiny, may soon have a more positive connotation: if Paul Rose and his Pristine Seas team have their way, it sits inside of a proposed 300,000 square mile no-take marine reserve. Rose, who also works alongside National Geographic Explorer in Residence Enric Sala, explains that the reserve would be targeted at the large factory-fishing ships that deplete the oceans of their diverse marine life, rather than the few residents of Pitcairn who fish for subsistence. Rose believes a marine reserve would allow the sea life to rebound in a way that would ultimately make fishing better in the future, with a focus on sustainability in the future.

– In the dying days of summer, it isn’t too late for one last “Cannonball Run” road trip across the country. Digital Nomad Andrew Evans suggests Route-66, the iconic highway that shaped the country’s music and culture for the back half of the 20th Century.

– As threats to national security increasingly become digital as well as physical, power grids and nuclear reactors are extremely important strategic points to protect. Centripetal Networks VP Sean McGurk discusses precautions that corporations and governments must take to protect their networks from having data stolen or tampered with. NOVA’s showRise of the Hackers airs Wednesday, September 24 at 9 pm ET.

– In the United States, there is an ongoing battle between New York and Chicago for pizza supremacy, neither side ever acknowledging that the other’s pizza culture has any merit.Food blogger and author of National Geographic’s Walking Rome Katie Parla says that there is a large diversity of pizza inside of Italy as well, from Naples’ thick-crusted mozzarella clad pizza to Rome’s thinner pies. The only way to know which you prefer? Eat them all.


– Over 95 million years ago, there was a 50-foot long, 20-foot high, 6-ton carnivore that haunted prey both on land and in water. The spinosaurus, for all of its size, has eluded paleontologists for decades. After the first specimen was collected in the early 1900’s and was subsequently bombed by the Allies in World War II, National Geographic Emerging Explorer Nizar Ibrahim finally tracked down another skeleton after scouring Morocco’s deserts for years. Ibrahim’s skeleton has led to a better understanding of the semi-aquatic creature, as well as a life sized model, which is now on display in the Washington D.C.’s National Geographic museum.

– Coal and oil as sources of power are often the focus of environmentally savvy lawmakers and campaigners seeking to reduce our country’s carbon footprint. But one power-source is often overlooked as a polluter: hydroelectricity. DamNation is a film that documents the rise and fall of American dams, which producer Matt Stoecker says have outlived their usefulness. While dam power helped the United States quickly arm itself during World War II, they fill up with silt, evaporate water, emit methane, kill fisheries and produce energy less efficiently than other methods we have available. DamNation documents the rise and, hopeful, fall of dams in the country.

– Cats are the most popular family pet in the United States. As Boyd knows, loving felines is often a one-way relationship, as they tend to show their affection on their own time. But there is a physiological benefit to petting a cat: veterinarian Bernadine Cruz, explains that petting cat relaxes the body in a healthier way than having a drink. Cruz stars in Nat Geo WILD’s one-hour special, “The Secret Life of Cats”. Cruz also gives tips on training a cat, and shares some facts that makes cats amazing predators, in addition to being loving* family pets. *(Affection given at each cat’s discretion)

– Computers, touch-screen phones, and i-gadgets conspire to keep people constantly engaged and “connected” to the world around them. But the issue with this was observed by David Bond in his own children — they often spent as much time outside as they did in the bathroom each week. Hoping to get his own children outside, he created an ad campaign on behalf of Mother Nature that would compete with the largest tech companies for the hearts and minds of children everywhere. His campaign, documented in the film Project Wild Thing, hoped to remind children and their parents of what we’ve known for centuries – getting dirty in the wild world around us is fun.

– In this week’s Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd looks forward to celebrating the 20th anniversary of his first trip to Africa when tested the desire of a male lion: did he want to eat Boyd or increase the odds of his genes surviving into the future. Lucky for Boyd, he chose the latter.

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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.