Blow Your Mind: Robotic Roomates and the Science of Smell


BFFs. (Ryan Harvey/Creative Commons)

So I think this bit of fan mail from our listener John sets up this week's episodes rather nicely:

"Listening to Robots podcast and y'all keep mentioning Roombas, and I know you are cat people. We on a Skeptical Listserve were discussing Roombas last month, and a participant mentioned that a friend of his had a Roomba and a Cat. The cat crapped on the carpet, and the Roomba not-so-helpfully tracked the feces all over the house."

This anecdote has it all: robots in the home, cat poop and our annoyance with both. Here are your Stuff to Blow Your Mind topics for this week:

Smells to Blow Your Mind Did you know that smell is the only one of your five senses with a direct connection to your brain? Or that plants can smell and that fancy cheese and David Beckham's foot odor share the same molecular smells? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Julie and I break down the amazing science of smell.

Living With Robots: Worst Roomates Ever The robot invasion of our homes has begun, and the future is bright with robotic caregivers and mechanical maids. But just how to we plan to keep this cohabitation from feeling creepy? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Julie and I discuss such advancements as "robot skin" and machines that anticipate our every thought.

So there you have it! You can find the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast on iTunes, Zune and the RSS feed. And don't forget the free HowStuffWorks App!

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About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.