Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Big Data Shows How We Live And Die

Called the Global Burden of Disease study, the monumental effort to understand how we live and how we die has at its center the brilliant, controversial economist and physician Christopher Murray, who has developed an entirely new way of discovering and comparing the worldwide toll of both the things that kill us and those that diminish the quality of our lives. His goal: to enable all of us to live longer and better lives.

The story of Murray’s lifelong determination to understand how we live and die encompasses wars and famines, presidents and activists, billionaires and billions of people worldwide living in poverty. It shows the human side of scientific revolutions—and of revolutionary scientists: their breakthroughs and setbacks, their genius and their flaws, their champions and their critics, as they strive to bring the news of their findings to the world.

This transformational effort is far from over, but the story of its genesis and impact is already an epic tale.

The Write Question blog
The Write Question on Facebook
The Write Question podcast

Jeremy N. Smith is a 2000 graduate of Harvard College and a 2005 graduate of the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Montana. Between degrees, he received a Henry Russell Shaw Fellowship to travel and write in Europe. Past employment includes work as a NASA-funded astronomer, assistant to a Hollywood movie producer, computer programmer, and cartoonist.

Jeremy N. Smith has written for The Atlantic, Discover, and the New York Times, among many other publications. His first book, Growing a Garden City, was one of Booklist’s top 10 books on the environment for 2011.

Chérie Newman is an arts and humanities producer and on-air host for Montana Public Radio, and a freelance writer. Her weekly literary program, The Write Question, is broadcast on several public radio stations, and available online at and
Become a sustaining member for as low as $5/month
Make an annual or one-time donation to support MTPR
Pay an existing pledge or update your payment information
Related Content