[Flash Forward] What If We Could Never Touch Again?

What If We Could Never Touch Again?

13/04/2021 by Rose Eveleth

Web player: https://podcastaddict.com/episode/121722913

Episode: https://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.megaphone.fm/FLASH4781688401.mp3?updated=1618335818

Today’s episode is about a future without touch.

Guests: Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist currently working at the Georgetown Center for Global Health, Science and Security but soon to be head of her own lab up at the University of Saskatchewan.

Dr. Catherine Cudlick, a historian and the Director or the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability at San Francisco State University.

Dr. Tiffany Field, the director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

Dr. David Parisi, a professor at the college of Charleton the author of a book called Archaeologies of Touch: Interfacing with Haptics from Electricity to Computing.

Voice Actors: Naomi Jackson — Shara Kirby Dr. Sandra Bowles — Richelle Claiborne Advertisement Voices — Rachel Lara, Jake & Rory Terracina, and Kathryn Dollens

→ → → Further reading & resources here! ← ← ←

Flash Forward is hosted by, Rose Eveleth and produced by Julia Llinas Goodman. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky.

Listen Date: 15 May 2021 (Main Episode), 31 May 2021 (Bonus Episode)


  • I think the what if was so outlandish here (disease can spread by touch but not through air) that Rose Eveleth gave up about ten minutes in, and then spent the rest of the episode on various tangents. Which is not too bad in itself – it just made the episode feel like a bunch of vignettes rather than the usual overarching theme that Flash Forward usually has.
  • I would never have thought of ‘What are blind people supposed to do when nobody’s allowed to touch anything’ on my own, so I guess I’m glad Rose Eveleth brought the point to my attention.
  • And that whole bit of the episode made me remember Foxtrot, and Peter Fox’s blind girlfriend Denise sussing him out by touching his face.
  • Interesting things from the bonus episode: fungi have traditionally been parasites on cold blooded animals (possibly because they prefer cooler temperatures). In the last five years, three different strains of candida on three different continents independently evolved the ability to infect humans – possibly because global warming has led to new, heat-tolerant fungi evolving. Oh joy.
  • I guess that means that the Ophiocordyceps route to human zombies has become marginally more possible.
  • Also in the bonus episode: discussions about prion diseases, mad cow diseases, and the history of cannibalism and kuru (which I first encountered in Jared Diamond).

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