Right Now in Stuff to Blow Your Mind

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.

War, Pain and the Super Soldier

The history of war is filled with examples of soldiers who, in the heat of battle, fail to register the full extent of their injuries. In fact, some of our oldest accounts of battle seem devoid of pain’s emotional context. For humans possess two systems of pain: sensory pain and conscious pain. Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick for a discussion that spans the battlefields of human history and future, invoking everything from the bicameral mind to current neuroscience.

From the Vault: Hyper-Real Religion

When does a protest religion become an actual faith? What happens when purely fictional modes of belief leak off the page or screen? Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick as they discuss modern religious movements, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the rise of so-called hyper-real religions like Jediism and Dudeism (Originally published March 29, 2016)

The Great Eyeball War, Part 2

Are apps, smart phones and social media sucking us dry? As Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick discuss in this two-part Stuff to Blow Your Mind exploration, the modern media experience certainly depletes our attention. Learn all about the ramifications of this dystopian reality, as well as some tips to combat these neurological vampires.

The Great Eyeball War, Part 1

Are apps, smart phones and social media sucking us dry? As Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick discuss in this two-part Stuff to Blow Your Mind exploration, the modern media experience certainly depletes our attention. Learn all about the ramifications of this dystopian reality, as well as some tips to combat these neurological vampires.

From the Vault: The Science of Whining

Unless you've lived your life in a childless fortress of seclusion, you've likely encountered the maddening, high-pitched whine of a complaining child. But what is whining? Is it universal? Why is it so annoying and just what's being communicated between parent and child? In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore. (Originally published November 24, 2015)

The Proteus Effect

What effect does a virtual reality avatar have on the user? Can it alter your identity? Can it change how you behave in the real world? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore the Proteus Effect, named for the shape-shifting, formless Greek sea god.

Carl Sagan and the Samurai Crabs

Legend has it that a variety of crabs contain the ghosts of a drowned samurai army -- and each bears a grimacing warrior face on their backs to prove it. But what can we really gather from this biological peculiarity? In the book and TV series “Cosmos,” Carl Sagan argued that it presented a case of artificial selection, but critics disagree. Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick for a discussion of the Heikegani.

From the Vault: Dune Biology

Frank Herbert's 1965 novel 'Dune' is a game-changing saga of space-age feudalistic intrigue, rampaging sandworms and prescient mind drugs on a desert world. Even today, the work resonates with scientific wonder and philosophical intrigue, so join Robert and Joe for a two-part exploration of the science of 'Dune.' In this episode, explore the lifecycle of the sandworm, mentats and the power of the spice. (Originally published Oct. 1, 2015)

The Chinese Typewriter (with Tom Mullaney)

Where the technolingustic systems of the west meet the non-alphabetic written characters of the east, the Chinese typewriter emerges. It’s a story of technological innovation, linguistic imperialism and China’s 19th and 20th century struggle over national identity. Join Robert and Joe as they chat with Thomas S. Mullaney about his book 'The Chinese Typewriter: A History.'

Space Music ‘Nufonia Must Fall’ by Kid Koala

Robert Lamb discusses Kid Koala's amazing live puppet film 'Nufonia Must Fall.'

Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor

You’ve seen the photos of the famed terracotta warriors, but no one in over 2200 years has glimpsed inside the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. It’s a chamber where rivers of mercury trace the empire’s form beneath a ceiling starscape of precious stones. We know where it is, yet it remains just outside of our scientific reach. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explore the first emperor’s life and afterlife. Plus Anney and Lauren from FoodStuff drop by to discuss their episode on lunar new year foods.

From the Vault: Dune Technology

Frank Herbert's 1965 novel 'Dune' is a game-changing saga of space-age feudalistic intrigue, rampaging sandworms and prescient mind drugs on a desert world. Even today, the work resonates with scientific wonder and philosophical intrigue, so join Robert and Joe for a two-part exploration of the science of 'Dune.' First up, consider the real-life possibilities of water-recycling stillsuits, the Holtzman Effect and the war against thinking machines. (Originally published Sept. 29, 2015)