Right Now in Stuff to Blow Your Mind

Deadly elixirs in tiny bottles play into the cruelest machinations of history, fiction and myth. In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast, join Robert and Christian as they sneak six of these deadly concoctions from the poisoner’s chest and explore each one’s power and place in human history.

Path of Totality: See the Eclipse!

There’s a total solar eclipse sweeping across the center of the United States on Monday, August 21, 2017, so here’s a special Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast episode to enhance the experience! Join Robert and Joe for practical viewing tips and a rundown on the celestial mechanics at work in the sky above.

Alien Abduction Experience, Part 2

What are we to make of alien abduction experiences? Scientific investigation points to a barrage of logical explanations for abnormal sensory experience, from sleep paralysis and temporal lobe anomalies to false memory encoding. Interpret it all within the confines of a sci-fi narrative and you have a revealing, kaleidoscopic view of the 20th century zeitgeist in all its wonder, hope, anxiety and yearning. Join Robert and Christian for this Stuff to Blow Your Mind two-part examination of paranormal experience in the space age.

Alien Abduction Experience, Part 1

What are we to make of alien abduction experiences? Scientific investigation points to a barrage of logical explanations for abnormal sensory experience, from sleep paralysis and temporal lobe anomalies to false memory encoding. Interpret it all within the confines of a sci-fi narrative and you have a revealing, kaleidoscopic view of the 20th century zeitgeist in all its wonder, hope, anxiety and yearning. Join Robert and Christian for this Stuff to Blow Your Mind two-part examination of paranormal experience in the space age.

The Science of Secrets

Can you keep a secret? If so, what's the psychic weight of that secret? How does secret keeping fit into human evolution and the modern shape of human society? Join Robert and Joe as they discuss the science of secrets and secret keeping in this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast.

The Buddha is a Mountain

One of the largest historical statues in the world, China’s Lèshān Grand Buddha has overlooked the Dàdù river for 1200 years. Carved from the side of a mountain, this serene titan is a testament to human artistry and the Anthropocene Epoch. Join Robert and Joe for a discussion of the Buddha’s history, meaning and the overarching theme of humanity’s remaking of the natural world.

Sharks of Summer (with Marah Hardt of ‘Sex in the Sea’)

If you watch enough 'Jaws' and Shark Week, you’re bound to see sharks as ravenous death machines. But is it really more appropriate to think of these ancient creatures as LIFE machines? In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast, Robert and Christian welcome 'Sex in the Sea' author Marah Hardt back on the podcast for a discussion of embryonic cannibalism, virgin shark birth, conservation efforts and more.

Svalbard: Land of Snow and Apocalypse Arks

The Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard has it all: glaciers, polar bears, scientific researchers and an epic seed vault built to survive the apocalypse. Join Robert and Christian as they discuss this frigid environment and the human activities that have come to define it.

Summer Reading: Aliens, Microbes, Cocktails and More

It's time once again for Robert, Joe and Christian to share a selection of fiction, nonfiction and comic book reads to enhance your summer travels -- or simply boost your reading list. Join your Stuff to Blow Your Mind hosts as they discuss volumes about alien worlds, space vampires, nuclear war, content creation, cocktails and more.

The Biophilia Hypothesis

Why are humans so drawn to the natural world of biodiverse organisms? Is this longing merely part of our culture or do we possess an innate and even genetic tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes? Join Robert and Joe as they discuss Edward O. Wilson’s biophilia hypothesis and explore arguments for and against this captivating view of nature lovers.

Artificial Gravity: Cosmic Wheels and Hurtling Towers

Humans are creatures of gravity. We’re born into it. Life as we know it evolved to thrive in it. So what’s a gravitational organism to do in the low-gravity and zero-gravity expanses beyond Earth? You can’t bring it with you, but scientists have cooked up a few different schemes to replicate its effects. Join Robert and Joe for a full exploration in this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast.

Order out of Chaos: How to Create a Universe

Numerous mythologies speak to the birth of our universe out of darkness and chaos, but can humans follow in the footsteps of the gods? Can we create a universe in the lab? In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast, Robert and Joe explore the primordial darkness of multiple cosmologies as well as the theoretical depths of human-created universes and simulated realities.

Cultural Appropriation

We’ve all heard charges of cultural appropriation in everything from fashion and music to personal world view, but what’s actually at stake here? What is cultural misappropriation, when does it have negative consequences and how does it fit into our historical and scientific understanding of the human experience? Robert and Christian explore.

Sword of the Samurai

Appreciation for the katana cuts across cultures and genres, slicing into the hearts of history buffs, japanophiles, comic book fans and more. But what’s so special about the sword of the Samurai? In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian discuss the science of this most skillful blade, the grisly test for its sharpness and its importance in Japanese culture.

Ticks, Mites and Mysterious Lone Star Illnesses

Ticks are, in the words of Pliny the Elder, 'the foulest and nastiest creature that be.' If these blood sucking arachnids and their mite brethren weren’t horrible enough, they’re second only to the mosquito in the risk of blood borne human pathogens. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe discuss ticks, chiggers and the mysterious illnesses associated with the lone star tick -- one of which generates a meat allergy in the host.

CRISPR and the Genetic Astronaut

In 1960, scientists Nathan Kline and Manfred Clynes envisioned a spacefaring cyborg, technologically augmented to endure the rigors of space travel. The subsequent six decades of space exploration largely ignored this radical suggestion, but the advent of gene editing tools like CRISPR present raise new questions. Might genetic alterations give future astronauts the 'right stuff?' What would the physiology of a genetically-augmented space traveler even look like? Robert and Joe explore in this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast.

Extended Cognition: Brain, Fingers, Web and Krang

It’s easy to think yourself a mere brain within a human body -- a cognitive machine making sense out of all the incoming sense data from outside world. But what if other parts of the body and even objects beyond the body serve a vital role in our cognition? In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast, Robert and Joe discuss the concept of extended cognition and how it relates to the human condition, number systems, spider webs, octopuses, mantises and even a fictional alien brain monster.

Monster of the Week: Blade the Dhampir and Slime Mites

What do Blade the vampire slayer and the lowly slime mite have in common? Robert Lamb explores...

Space Music: ‘Iteration’ by Com Truise

The Com Truise sci-fi saga continues with the album 'Iteration.' Robert Lamb weighs in...

Name Thy Demons: The Roots of Human Violence

Is human civilization growing less violent? Cognitive scientist Steven Pinker argued the point in his 2011 book 'The Better Angels of Our Nature,' in which he also defined the 'five inner demons' that push us to wrath. Know them -- speak their true names -- and you have the power to undermine their influence. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian explore Pinker's thesis and draw in supporting research and dissenting opinions.