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Radiolab

Have you ever won­dered what would hap­pen if the ground gave in when you walked? Or if the Moon was only a few feet away? Or where you and those you love go after death? In this hour or Radi­o­lab, we turn to the pow­er of the writ­ten word and explore three sep­a­rate tales that take us out of this universe…and into another.

We begin with a sto­ry excerpt­ed from an essay by Berton Roueché, which first appeared in the New York­er in 1958 and was lat­er pub­lished by Dut­ton in a book called The Med­ical Detec­tives.” Read for us by the actress Hope Davis, it tells the true tale of a woman named Rose­mary Mor­ton, who had a lit­tle, um, trou­ble with gravity.

Next, we turn to space. Accord­ing to one the­o­ry, the moon formed when a Mars-sized chunk of rock col­lid­ed with Earth. After the moon coa­lesced out of the debris from that impact, it was much clos­er to Earth than it is today. This idea is tak­en to it’s fan­ci­ful lim­it in Ita­lo Calvi­no’s sto­ry The Dis­tance of the Moon” (from his col­lec­tion Cos­mi­comics, trans­lat­ed by William Weaver). The sto­ry, nar­rat­ed by a char­ac­ter with the impos­si­ble-to-pro­nounce name Qfwfq, tells of a strange crew who jump between Earth and moon, and some­times hov­er in the nether reach­es of grav­i­ty between the two.

Final­ly, we have a read­ing from David Eagle­man’s book Sum. It’s a vision of the after life that’s both play­ful and… hor­ri­fy­ing. Sum is read by actor Jef­frey Tambor.