I Googled "Radio Lab" and the episode I referred to is there on the first page. Easy to find. "Speed" February 5, 2013.
I have personally thought of some physical explanations which were essentially identical. It'd take a book to explain how it would work, but in short, I think it comes short of what Dependent Origination is telling us. There's something very simple about dependent origination which goes beyond physical explanations. Take for example, "dependent on contact arises feeling." It is direct to the point with regards to our experience, we don't need to know all about the synapses in order to be aware of how it is presented to our minds.
PadmaVonSamba, I think you are correct that this is where a lot of the confusion comes from.