99% Invisible

by Roman Mars

Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we've just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. From award winning producer Roman Mars. Learn more at 99percentinvisible.org.

A proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX. Learn more at radiotopia.fm.

  

Latest Episodes

337- Atomic Tattoos

In the early 1950s, teenage students in Lake County, Indiana, got up from their desks, marched down the halls and lined up at stations. There, fingers were pricked, blood was tested and the teenagers were sent on to the library, where they waited to get a specialized tattoo. Each one was in the same place on the torso, just under the left arm, and spelled out the blood type of the student.

This experimental program was called Operation Tat-Type. It was administered by the county and the idea was simple: to make it easier to transfuse blood after an atomic bomb. At the age of 16, producer Liza Yeager's grandmother, who went to school in Lake County, was permanently marked in anticipation of a nuclear catastrophe.

Atomic Tattoos


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Posted on 16 January 2019 | 12:51 am


336- Mini-Stories: Volume 6

99% Invisible is starting the year off with the sixth installment of our staff mini-stories. Kicking off 2019 are a set of tales about a perpetual lie about New York City, karaoke, a 50-foot-tall burning puppet, the result of a Canada-U.S. border dispute, and time thieves.

Mini-Stories: Volume 6


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Posted on 9 January 2019 | 12:29 am


335- Gathering the Magic

Magic: The Gathering is a card game and your goal is to knock your opponent down to zero points. But Magic: The Gathering also has a deep mythology about an infinite number of parallel worlds. Eric Molinsky of Imaginary Worlds looks at why this handheld card game has survived the onslaught of competition from digital games, and how the designers at Wizards of the Coast create a sense of story and world-building within a non-sequential card game.

Subscribe to Imaginary Worlds on Apple Podcasts and RadioPublic


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Posted on 1 January 2019 | 11:54 pm


334- Christmas with The Allusionist

For the holidays this year, we're presenting a two-part Radiotopia feature with friend of the show (and host of The Allusionist podcast) Helen Zaltzman, each tackling a different aspect of this festive season.

Subscribe to The Allusionist on Apple Podcasts and RadioPublic


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Posted on 26 December 2018 | 12:30 am


333- Mini-Stories: Volume 5

It’s the end of 2018 and time for our annual Mini-stories episodes. These are my favorite episodes of the year to make. Mini-stories are fun, quick hit stories that don’t quite warrant a full episode and two months of hard reporting, but they’re great 99pi stories nonetheless. This week we have stories of 60s cult TV shows, semi-useless gadgets, woo woo miracles cures, and a modern Christmas tradition.

Mini-Stories: Volume 5

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Posted on 18 December 2018 | 11:07 pm


Bonus Episode- Avery talks Articles of Interest with Roman

Roman talks with Avery about the lessons learned from making Articles of Interest

Don’t buy that new piece of clothing and use a bit of that money to support Radiotopia


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Posted on 14 December 2018 | 7:39 pm


332- The Accidental Room

A group of artists find a secret room in a massive shopping center in Providence, RI and discover a new way to experience the mall.

Plus, we look at the origin of the very first mall and the fascinating man who designed it, Victor Gruen.

The Accidental Room

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Posted on 12 December 2018 | 1:30 am


331- Oñate's Foot

Juan de Oñate is one of the world’s lesser-known conquistadors, but his name can be found all over New Mexico. There are Oñate streets, Oñate schools, and, of course, Oñate statues. When an activist group removed one foot off an Oñate statue in 1998, they said it was a symbolic act meant to highlight the atrocities Oñate committed against the indigenous population.

Just as people in New Mexico were learning more of this history, the city of Albuquerque was considering building yet another statue of him. This resulted in a years long conflict about how New Mexico should commemorate a “founding father” who committed such cruel acts.

Oñate’s Foot

This was a collaboration with Reveal, from the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX

Please support the 2018 Radiotopia fund drive!


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Posted on 5 December 2018 | 5:38 am


330- Raccoon Resistance

After Toronto unveiled its "raccoon-resistant" compost bins in 2016, some people feared the animals would be starved, but many more celebrated the innovative design. Rolling out this novel locked bin opened a new battlefront in city's ongoing "war on raccoons."

Journalist Amy Dempsey was researching the bins and raccoon behavior when her reporting took an unexpected turn down her own garbage-strewn alleyway. Had local raccoons finally figured out how to defeat the greatest human effort in our “war” against their kind?

Raccoon Resistance

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Posted on 27 November 2018 | 9:30 pm