Cities: TMSIDK Episode 19

Listen now:

Sewers offer a portal to knowledge about a city’s hidden side. (Photo: David Goehring/flickr)

You can tell a lot about a city by looking at urine and stool in sewage: what foods we’re eating, what infections we’re harboring, and a lot more. A team at MIT designed a system to understand the health and well-being of a community through sewage sampling at the neighborhood scale, using Mario and Luigi — two small, sewer-scavenging robots deployed below manhole covers to slurp up good samples. A few findings: most people poop at 8 a.m.; pomegranate is very popular in Cambridge, MA,; and the most abundant plant DNA in sewage might not be what you expect…

Join Tell Me Something I Don’t Know in one of America’s oldest urban centers for a show about cities, including ruins, sewage and ghost towns. Our panelists are:

Ed Glaeser, Harvard economist and author of Triumph of the City, who doesn’t know when to quit.

Amy Glasmeier, professor of economic geography and regional planning at MIT and creator of the Living Wage Calculator, who loves to run as a write-in candidate.

Eugene Mirman, comedian and the voice of Gene on Bob’s Burgers, who is kind of a big deal in Boston.

Our real-time fact-checker is Mike Maughan, head of global insights at Qualtrics.