Right Now in Stuff to Blow Your Mind

Once more, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick consult recent offerings of listener mail for your thoughts on artificial intelligence, demonic flatulence and more. 

Boltzmann Brains Revisited

Space brains. Religious models of infinity. Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick as they revisit the topic of Boltzmann brains and discuss the general history of infinity. 

From the Vault: Animal Sex Cannibals

Sexual cannibalism is a rarity in the natural world, and scientists are still attempting to understand the act as practiced by mostly arachnids and insects. Why consume your mate after or during sexual intercourse? Why venture into such a scenario in the first place? Join Robert and Joe as they explore the thoroughly inhuman world of sexual cannibalism. (Originally published March 10, 2016) 

Unicorns of the Natural World

While the unicorn itself is a creature of fantasy and legend, one-horned and one-tusked animals do reside in the natural world. Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick as they examine several extant and extinct species noted for their solitary protrusions  -- including the narwhal and a certain circus unicorn. 

Unicorns of the Mythic World

Jorge Luis Borges tells us that the oldest unicorn legends are nearly identical to the most recent ficitonal treatments -- but why is that? Why is the notion of a sacred, one-horned horse so resilient in human culture? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick for a look at the history of global unicorn myths and legends. Plus, don't be shocked if a satyr shows up. 

From the Vault: Jumping Fish

Fish belong in the water, right? What business do they have leaping out of their world and into ours? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore the surprisingly fascinating, dangerous and mysterious world of leaping, jumping and gliding fish. From skewering swordfish and breaching sharks to the alleged urethra-bound candiru, nature provides more than a few mind-blowing specimens of note. (Originally published July 14, 2016)

Evolution and the City: The Birds

How have birds adapted to the artificial environments of human cities? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick sit down with educator, writer and Audubon Society birder Jason Ward about everything from urban hawks to Atlanta’s wild turkeys.  

Evolution and the City: The Beasts

Human cities are the ultimate artificial environments -- and we're not the only organisms to call them home. In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick consider some of the adaptive animals that have taken to city life and thrive within its challenging complexity. 

From the Vault: Library of Babel

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.