Biology

Poison and the Rhino Horn

Can a chalice made of rhino horn detect poison? Can its ground powder serve as an aphrodisiac? The science is at best sketchy on both fronts, but such beliefs continue to endanger the world’s remaining rhinoceros species. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explore the magical beliefs surrounding rhino horn and exactly what science has to say about the matter.

The Psychology of Tattoos

Do you have a tattoo? If so, you probably have an interesting story to go with it, or some personal insight into just what the design and the experience mean to you. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian discuss the science of tattoos and the psychology behind why we get them and how the world sees us afterwards.

Green Beard Genes

Join Robert and Joe as they explore the world of green beard genes and their role in biological altruism. The Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast takes you from the writings of William D. Hamilton and Richard Dawkins to laboratory results entailing ants, slime molds and rodent sperm trains.

Six Deadly Poisons

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.

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.

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.

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.