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Podcasts

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.

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.