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History

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. See more »

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. See more »

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. See more »

Fossil Action Scenes: Dino Birth and Prehistoric Combat

Fossilized remains provide exciting insight into the biology and behavior of prehistoric beasts, but sometimes the fossil record gives us even more -- a bonafide action scene! In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explain fossilization and discuss examples of birth, mating behavior and deadly dinosaur-on-dinosaur combat written in the rocks. See more »

Books of Flesh: Anthropodermic Bibliopegy

The libraries of horror fiction typically offer many a dark tome bound in human flesh, but do books like the ‘Necronomicon Ex-Mortis’ of ‘Evil Dead’ really exist? They do, and the true story of skin-clad literature will chill you. Join Robert and Christian as they crack open the history and science of anthropodermic bibliopegy. See more »

Mixologia: Potions, Cocktails & Deadly Spirits

While the cocktail is an inherently American invention, the history of combining alcohols with other substances to create potent, drinkable concoctions dates back to ancient times. While you might expect dangerous ingredients to have a place in a wizard’s potion or a philosopher's goblet, modern cocktails and spirits have also dabbled with nefarious elixirs. Join Robert and Joe as they explore the history, myth and science behind it all in this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind. See more »

Artes Mathematicall: The Diviner John Dee

Elizabethan scholar Dr. John Dee was one of the most learned men of the 16th century, applying his intense mathematical intellect to matters scientific, political, alchemical and occult. He advised Queen Elizabeth, sought communion with angelic beings, advocated British expansion and plunged the depths of human knowledge in age of great change. In this second of two episodes on the topic, Robert and Christian discuss Dr. Dee’s involvement in science, statecraft, cryptography and espionage. See more »

Artes Mathematicall: The Conjurer John Dee

Elizabethan scholar Dr. John Dee was one of the most learned men of the 16th century, applying his intense mathematical intellect to matters scientific, political, alchemical and occult. He advised Queen Elizabeth, sought communion with angelic beings, advocated British expansion and plunged the depths of human knowledge in age of great change. In this first of two episodes on the topic, Robert and Christian discuss the world, life and magic of the enigmatic Dr. Dee. See more »

Scalp Hunters and the Cobra Effect

Bounties have a way of complicating the economics of human decency and indecency, resulting in hoards of rats, ill-gotten pig tails and the escalating genocidal horror of scalp hunting in Colonial America. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explore the perverse world of unintended consequences and the cobra effect. See more »

The Great Flood

From tales of Utnapishtim and Noah to Yü and Manu, everyone loves a good mythical deluge. But why are flood myths so important? What sort of natural phenomena could cause the sort of massive flooding likely to resonate through the heritage memories of a flood-traumatized civilization? Join Robert and Christian for a Stuff to Blow Your Mind exploration. See more »