Third Pod from the Sun

Third Pod from the Sun

Fire: Lighting the skies with fireflies

December 02, 2022

This episode is about how random flashes of fireflies gradually acquire synchrony. Studies have shown that this surreal coordination of twinkling occurs through a natural cadence among certain species of fireflies during the mating season.

Scientist Orit Peleg wears many hats. She’s a biophysicist and a computer scientist. Peleg and her group of researchers have arrived at some of these conclusions by trekking through national parks in the United States during the mating season of fireflies. They camp in the forest to observe the fireworks of these lightning bugs and have come back stunned by the visual appeal and mathematics of these pyrotechnics. 

This episode was produced by Anupama Chandrasekaran and mixed by Collin Warren. Illustration by Jace Steiner.