Right Now in Stuff to Blow Your Mind

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.

AI, Machine Learning and Human Creativity

Just as manufacturing automation cuts into human jobs, the prospect of creative artificial intelligence raises the specter of robot writers, robot artists and robot musicians who never sleep and always agree with their patron. But paranoia aside, where will creative machine learning take us? Robert and Christian discuss some possibilities in this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast.

Science Communication Breakdown

Science enabled humans to ascend out of the darkness and tackle life’s problems with systematic, self-correcting rigidity. Yet, when faced with scientific consensus on climate change and other issues, some citizens, politicians and even scientists dig in their heels and deny the shape of our current understand. Why do some people doubt scientific consensus? What’s wrong in science communication? Robert and Joe attempt to find an answer.

There But For Science: Blood Navigation

Imagine a world in which sailing ships navigate by the yelps of tormented dogs and nuclear submarines whisper to each other via the screams of rabbits and their murdered young? In both of these cases, science won out over magical thinking -- and actual scientific advances stepped in to solve the problems. Join Robert and Joe as the discuss the powder of sympathy and 20th century state-sponsored paranormal research.

The Tower of Babel

An ancient people build a tower to touch the heavens. A vengeful god disrupts the project through the splintering of human language. Everyone’s left to pick up the pieces. The Tower of Babel myth resonates out from the Mesopotamian cradle of civilization, but what does it mean? Was there really a tower? Join Robert and Joe as they discuss everything from the art of Bruegel the Elder to 'Snow Crash.'

Neurosecurity: Dawn of the Brain Hackers

While hackers and malware can certainly cause a great deal of damage and misery, these dangers can’t hurt us physically, right? In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast, Robert and Joe are sorry to say you’re wrong -- and as more biotechnology and brain-computer interface creeps into our lives, the risk will only go up. Tune in for a discussion on inherent vulnerability, looming technology and what needs to happen to protect us.

Height, Health and Human Happiness

Tall people. Short People. Somewhere-in-between people. What are we to make of human height and its relationship to overall health and personality? Robert and Christian explore in this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast. All heights welcome.

Five Reasons to Never Take Your Space Helmet Off

You've consumed enough science fiction to know something the average red shirt doesn't: Never take your space helmet off on a foreign planet. But if you're still tempted to breathe deep the gathering gloom, how about five compelling scientific reasons not to? Join Robert and Joe as they discuss 'Alien: Covenant' and explore some very compelling biological and radiological reasons to remain helmeted on an alien hell world.

R. Scott Bakker: On Alien Philosophy & Dark Fantasy

Canadian author R. Scott Bakker is best known for his Second Apocalypse saga, a series of dark fantasy novels that explore philosophical and even neuroscientific ideas through a world of sorcery, holy wars and inhuman evil. In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe chat with Bakker about his recent paper 'On Alien Philosophy,' published in the The Journal of Consciousness Studies. Plus, as a long-time fan, Robert throws in a few questions about Bakker’s approach to fiction and the strange creatures that occupy his created worlds.

‘Alien: Covenant’ and the Entrance of the Gods

Robert Lamb shares his thoughts about Ridley Scott's inhuman obsessions in 'Alien: Covenant.'

Hook Suspension and the Complexity of Pain

Hook suspension challenges our perceptions of pain. We see practitioners, pierced through the flesh with hooks, suspended by chains and yet smiling as if lost to a state of bliss. What are they feeling? Where does this practice come from and how does it fit into the larger human experience? Join Robert and Christian as they explore this most-outsider form of masochistic performance art.

Space Music: 3TEETH's 'shutdown.exe'

Robert Lamb explores the industrial anarchy and god-slaying incantations of 3TEETH's new album '' in this edition of Space Music...

Escape Velocity: Jack Parsons and the New Magick

Jack Parsons wanted to break free, from both the limits of Earth and the boundaries of traditional early 20th century American thought. He devoted his short life to the scientific pursuit of rocket engineering and the occult exploration of magick. As such, Parsons is a contradiction -- a counterculture figure that continues to fascinate us with his mystery. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian explore the work and wonder that moved his life.

Weird Wonders of House Gastropoda

The world of slugs and snails is a grotesque circus of fever-dream horrors and biological marvels. Join Robert and Christian for a six-species dive into their life cycles of slime, iron plating, deadly neurotoxins and more.

Jade Immortality: Burial Armor of the Han Dynasty

Chinese aristocracy of the Western Han Dynasty embarked on their journey into the afterlife within garments of stone -- luxurious suits of jade armor entailing thousands of individual plates sewn together with gold, silver or silk. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian explore this ancient funeral custom and both the scientific and superstitious qualities of jade.

Higher Human Forms: Hook Suspension

Robert Lamb explores the history and science of hook suspension, another means to modify the body and elevate the human soul.

Push the Frontier

You’ve seen enough Westerns and Game of Throne episodes to know a frontier when you see it, but what exactly is this boundary between the laws of your world and the promise or threat of another? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe discuss the membranous nature of frontier in world-systems theory, as well as Frederick Jackson Turner’s influential thesis on the American frontier.

Monster of the Week: The All-Powerful Sarlacc

Robert Lamb considers the natural world parallels to the Star Wars Universe’s deadly denizen of the Great Pit of Carkoon…

Space Music: Unit Black Flight, Steve Moore & MAVS

Robert Lamb uploads more space music directly into your neural lace, this time featuring the work of Unit Black Flight, Steve Moore & Makeup and Vanity Set...

STBYM Live: Weird Science in the Windy City

Robert, Christian and Joe transport you back to the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893, when the neoclassical architecture of Daniel Burnham’s White City loomed on the shores of Lake Michigan, Nikola Tesla’s alternating current powered thousands of decorative incandescent lamps, and the original Ferris Wheel gave visitors from all around the world a view from the top. Join them for a live C2E2 2017 discussion on the great wheel, the Parliament of World Religions and the H. H. Holmes Murder Castle.