Podcasts

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.'

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)

Animal Lies: Six Tales of Mimicry and Deception

What are the shadiest lies in the animal kingdom? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, join Robert and Joe as they explore six different organisms and the fabulous ways they deceive each other and rival species. Meet cuckoos, cuttlefish, mountain alcon blue butterflies, nursery web spiders, femme fatal lightning bugs and the death's head hawk moth.

Anchor in the Mind

Anchoring bias is one of the most powerful and easily exploited vulnerabilities in the human mind. Throughout your life, people, companies and organizations will use it to influence your thoughts and control your behavior. In this episode of Stuff to Blow to Your Mind, Robert and Joe tell you what you need to know and to fight the anchor in your mind.

From the Vault: Tears of Re

In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, enter a kingdom within a kingdom: the remarkable honey-and-wax monarchy within a beehive and the organizational complexity of ancient Egypt. Join Robert and Joe as they discuss the importance of apiculture in ancient Egypt and chat with 'The Tears of Re' author entomologist Gene Kritsky. (Previously published Mar 17, 2016)

Evolution of the Anus

Chances are, you take the anus for granted -- at least so long as it’s behaving itself. Yet this fascinating anatomical feature has a deep evolutionary history and is itself a marvel of engineering. Join Robert and Joe for a look at this most marvelous alimentary portal.

Miasma Theory and the Evil Air

Prior to the germ theory of disease, miasma theory ruled the day -- the notion that bad air, full of destructive particles, wafted out from the foul places of the earth to corrupt everything it touched. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explore the origins or the theory, its effects on society and how it eventually gave way to an accurate understanding of contagion.