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The Secret Intellect of Animals, Part 2

 The Secret Intellect of Animals, Part 2

In the second of two episodes, Christian and Joe continue their discussion of animal cognition, including animal morality, tool use, mental time travel, culture, and other strange clues to the intellectual complexity of our cousins in the animal kingdom. Afterwards, they speak to Dutch-American primatologist Frans de Waal about his book and his thoughts on the future of animal intelligence research. See more »

The Secret Intellect of Animals, Part 1

 The Secret Intellect of Animals, Part 1

In the 18th century, David Hume wrote that “no truth appears to me more evident than that beasts are endow’d with thought and reason as well as men.” Yet animal cognition has remained a controversial subject in science ever since. In the first of two episodes, Christian and Joe discuss the work of Dutch-American primatologist Frans de Waal, and ask the question of not just whether animals are smarter than we understand, but why the evidence of animal cognition is often so difficult for we humans to grasp. See more »

The Holy Black Stone of Mecca

 The Holy Black Stone of Mecca

The Kaaba marks the geographic center of the Islamic world, and here one finds Al-Hadjar Al-Aswad, the Holy Black Stone of Mecca. Islamic traditions hold that the once white white stone blackened with humanity’s sins, but various scientific theories point to geological and potentially cosmic origins. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe discuss the mythic, historical and scientific substance of the Kaaba. See more »

The Mystery of Crab Boxing

 The Mystery of Crab Boxing

Boxer crabs stand out amid their crustacean brethren due to their amazing tool use -- a mutualistic relationship between these tiny crabs and the living sea anemones they employ as weapons. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian look at a pair of studies that expand on their amazing use of weapons. See more »

Jump Into The Void

 Jump Into The Void

Ever wrestle with the illogical quasi-compulsion to throw yourself off a cliff or building? Don’t worry! You’re probably not suicidal, but merely touched by the 'call of the void' or 'high place phenomenon.' In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast, Robert and Christian explore some of the more enlightening theories about this experience. See more »

Scientific Reductionism

 Scientific Reductionism

You might have read that 'love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs,' but would it really be better explained as the behavior of a large aggregation of elementary particles and their quantum mechanical and electrodynamic properties? Would a perfect a scientific worldview ultimately reduce all explanations to fundamental physics, or is there genuine novelty at the higher levels of complexity we find in everything from superconductors to politics? Join Robert and Joe for a journey into the innerverse of complexity, reductionism and emergence. See more »

100 Days Later: Mathematics of a Zombie Apocalypse

 100 Days Later: Mathematics of a Zombie Apocalypse

When it comes to the particulars of a fictional zombie apocalypse, the particulars are all over the place -- but it’s always fun to throw fantastic monsters up against the wall of science to see what sticks. In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast, Robert and Christian explore a few different studies that examine the undead plague from the standpoint of mathematics and infections disease. See more »

Chinese Immortality: Elixirs and Enlightened Beings

 Chinese Immortality: Elixirs and Enlightened Beings

From deathless beheaded warriors and sacrificial heroines to mystical hermits, Chinese mythology is rich with tales of the undying. After all, the notion of immortality is as old as recorded history, so it makes sense to find a diverse, uniquely Chinese take on the trope. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, join Robert and Joe as they contemplate tales and traditions from Taoist sorcery, alchemy and Chinese folktales. See more »

Chinese Zodiac: Superstition, Economics & Destiny

 Chinese Zodiac: Superstition, Economics & Destiny

As we celebrate Chinese New Year and enter the year of the fire rooster, join Robert and Joe for an encore Stuff to Blow Your Mind exploration of the Chinese zodiac and some interesting studies related to its impact on birth rates, economics and individual destiny. As always, you can take astrology with a grain of salt, but the impact on human behavior and culture is undeniable. See more »

Interplanetary War

 Interplanetary War

Syfy’s 'The Expanse,' based on the James S. A. Corey book series, revolves around conflict between human-seeded planetary civilizations -- namely a UN-governed Earth and an independent Martian state. How does this vision match up with futurist predictions concerning interplanetary war, the rigors of space travel and postcolonial cultural schisms? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian explore and even chat with 'The Expanse' executive producer Naren Shankar. See more »