Right Now in Stuff to Blow Your Mind

In Jorge Luis Borges' masterful short story "The Library of Babel," librarians and cultists wander a vast honeycomb library of hexagonal rooms -- rooms that contain not only all books but all possible books, from unwritten masterpieces to tomes of typographical nonsense. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick venture into this metaphoric labyrinth for contemplations of genetics, cosmology, philosophy, computer programing and magic. (Originally published Aug 2, 2016)

Listener Mail: Kingdom of the Face Blind

What's it like to live with prosopagnosia or face blindness? Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick as they devote an entire Stuff to Blow Your Mind episode to listener thoughts, observations and experiences. 

The Fartonomicon

What is a fart? From what foul bodily depths does it arise? Join Stuff to Blow Your Mind hosts Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick as the crack open the Fartomicon. Explore the fascinating chemistry of flatus, recoil in horror at the thought of medieval fart demons and consider the curious creatures that enjoy a flatulence-free existence. 

From the Vault: Hollywood Acid

From the corrosive blood of the "Alien" xenomorph to the various Bond and Batman villains' use of the iconic acid vat, popular media presents us with a dramatic and largely unrealistic vision of acidic power. What are our strongest acids and superacids actually like? How do they generate those acid effects in the movies? And just what sort of blood courses through the xenomorph's veins? Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore in this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind. (Originally published May 12, 2016)

Machine Consciousness and P-Zombies

If a machine told you it was conscious, how could you tell if it was lying? Indeed, how can you tell that any random human in your life is lying when they speak of their own consciousness. Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick for a stirring discussion on AI consciousness, philosophical zombies and the coming techno-cognitive dilemma. 

The Singing Colossus of Memnon

The twin Egyptian statues erected by Amenophis III were already ancient relics when Roman travelers visited them in the first century CE. One stood tall and unconquered by some 1400 years of sun and sand, the other lay toppled by a recent earthquake. The Romans mistakenly called them the Colossi of Memnon, and inscribed proof of their visit on the legs of the toppled colossus -- because it spoke to them. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick discuss the singing colossus. Why did it start speaking? Why did it stop? 

From the Vault: Myth-Fleshed Fossil

Are the fossilized monsters of paleontology and the fantastic monsters of myth one and the same? Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick as they discuss the realm of of geomythology, entailing the possible ancient real-world origins of dragons, griffins, giants the cyclops and other wonders. (Originally published Jun 28, 2016)

Face Blindness

It’s easy to take the human brain’s facial recognition powers for granted, unless there’s a malfunction. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore the science of prosopagnosia or face blindness. 

The Cambodian Stegosaurus

Do Cambodian temple ruins speak to a time when humans and dinosaurs coexisted? Absolutely not, but it’s a great excuse for Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick to talk about the armored stegosaurus, Ta Prohm temple, young Earth creationism and avian evolution. 

From the Vault: Saturn's Brood

The planet Saturn offers far more than rings to those who venture within its gravitational influence. This wind-swept gas giant also holds sway over no fewer than 53 moons, including such wonders as the atmosphere-shrouded Titan, two-faced Iapetus and sponge-like Hyperion. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore the mysteries of the Saturnian moons. (Originally published Aug 4, 2016)

The Bathysphere: William Beebe Descends

In 1930, American naturalist William Beebe began his descent in a spherical, unpowered submarine known as a Bathysphere -- and in doing so visited a world previously unseen by human beings. In this two-part Stuff to Blow Your Mind exploration, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick discuss humanity’s prior understanding of the deep ocean and Beebe’s astounding reports from the world a half mile down. 

The Bathysphere: Life in the Deep

In 1930, American naturalist William Beebe began his descent in a spherical, unpowered submarine known as a Bathysphere -- and in doing so visited a world previously unseen by human beings. In this two-part Stuff to Blow Your Mind exploration, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick discuss humanity’s prior understanding of the deep ocean and Beebe’s astounding reports from the world a half mile down. 

From the Vault: Jupiter’s Children

Of all the moons of Jupiter, Callisto, Ganymede, Europa and Io tantalize us the most. These alien worlds of ice, fire, desolation and hidden oceans tantalize us with their possibility for extraterrestrial life and human exploration of the outer solar system. Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick for a mind bending exploration of the great gas giant's Galilean Moons. (Originally published April 26, 2016)

Leviathan: The Wolf of Whale Street

Canst thou draw out Livyatan melvillei with a hook? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore the awesome undersea world of carnivorous whales -- as well as the sperm whale ancestor that may have preyed on its fellow toothed cetaceans.

Life Beyond The Shield

Life on Earth depends on the planet’s natural shielding, otherwise solar and cosmic radiation would ravage our small blue world. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, sponsored by the National Geographic Channel’s series 'One Strange Rock,' Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick discuss the wonders of the magnetosphere and discuss the risk of radiation with one of the few humans to ever venture beyond the shield: astronaut Dr. Jeff Hoffman.

From the Vault: Bird Intelligence

Just what are the upper limits of avian cognitive ability? Various studies reveal how certain bird species engage in mental time travel, tool use, self recognition, theory of mind and even meta-cognition. But how do their non-mammalian brains actually work, and what might a technologically-advanced bird species even look like? Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick as they explore the avian mind. (Originally published March 31, 2016)

The Nuts and Bolts of Boltzmann Brains

Do your ever have the feeling that your entire reality is just a momentary hallucination inside a randomly formed space brain? If so, then this is the podcast episode for you! In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick discuss the existential nightmare of Boltzmann brains, a thought experiment that questions the nature of self and cosmos. Plus, expect some discussion of Descartes’ evil demon, brain in a vat and the Hindu concept of Māyā.

I Ching: The Book of Changes

The Book of Changes stands as one of the most important divination texts in human history -- and a foundational text of Chinese culture in general. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick discuss the I Ching. How does it work? How does it relate to other divination traditions and why do humans, concerned with uncertainty, turn to randomness generators?

From the Vault: Tip of the Tongue

Your know the feeling. You're trying to recall the name of a time-keeping musical device or the the actor who played Fredo in 'The Godfather' and all that comes to mind is a memory-hole in the shape of a metronome or John Cazale. It's on the tip of your tongue and it's a universal experience of memory retrieval. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick as they discuss the science of TOT phenomenon and what you can do to prevent it. (Originally published April 14, 2016)

Listener Mail: Crab Faces, Anus Myths and More

Once again, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick read listener mail related to recent episodes. You'll hear myths about the anus, reflections on samurai crab faces, Egyptian religion, salt water consumption, virtual reality and more.