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College students, programmers, musicians, all sorts of people looking for an edge are finding it in a flood of new over and under the counter drugs that promise to make them faster, sharper, and more alert. Guest host Barbara Bogaev looks at the rise of Modafinil and other "smart drugs."

Also, the strained US-Saudi relationship is highlighted in King Salman's visit. On today's Talking Point, the new documentary Meru captures the story of three champion climbers who just couldn't give up a dream to scale one of the most treacherous peaks in the world. We talk with the climber who carried the cameras.

Photo: Geoff Greer

Strained US-Saudi Relationship Highlighted in King's Visit 6 MIN, 30 SEC

Saudi Arabia's King Salman is in Washington today to finalize a $1 billion arms deal with the US ­­ and lobby for more support to counter Iranian influence in the Middle East. It's his first visit since ascending to the throne in January, and it comes just days after President Obama secured the magic number of Senate votes needed to get the Iran nuclear deal through Congress. Steven Cook is a senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Steven A. Cook, Council on Foreign Relations (@stevenacook)

CFR fellow Philip Gordon the King's visit to Washington

The Struggle for Egypt

Steven A. Cook

Smart Drugs: The Quest for Getting an Edge 32 MIN, 24 SEC

Let's face it, who doesn't want to be sharper, more alert, and able to ace anything you want to do without having to get much sleep? Now, in addition to Ritalin and Adderall, there's a new crop of over-the-counter drugs aimed at enhancing brain function, including Provigil and Modafinil. Originally a narcolepsy drug Modafanil – or Moda -- is easy to obtain on college campuses now. Entrepreneurs, video gamers, office workers and musicians are taking it to give them an edge in a competitive world. But is it safe? Is this the beginning of a medicalized level doping of our minds? Are smart drugs miracle pills, pathways to addiction or just plain cheating?

Sydney Lupkin, Vice News / MedPage Today (@slupkin)
Jesse Lawler, Axon Labs (@Lawlerpalooza)
James Giordano, Georgetown University Medical Center (@NeuroBioEthics)
Jeremy Martinez, Matrix Institute on Addictions (@addictionlounge)

Lupkin on Modafinil
Oxford University study on modafinil and cognition
Stevens Johnson Syndrome
Smart Drug Smarts on "nootropics"
Smart Drug Smarts on 'smart drugs'

Climbing, Filming and Fear in 'Meru' 10 MIN, 52 SEC

If at once you don't succeed summiting a mountain and it nearly kills you, should you try, try, try again? In 2008, three mountain climbers set out to be the first team to scale Meru, a 21,000 foot mountain in the Himalayas. Along with 200 pounds of gear, Conrad Anker, Renan Ozturk and Jimmy Chin brought cameras to document the climb.

That trip ended in failure just 100 meters from the summit. Three years later, despite setbacks, they tried again. That's the subject of the new documentary film Meru. Climber, co­director, producer and cinematographer Jimmy Chin joins us.

An exhausted Renan Ozturk contemplates the long descent after making the summit.

Jimmy Chin

Jimmy Chin, professional climber, mountaineer and skier (@jimkchin)


Jimmy Chin

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