Biology

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)

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.

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.

Aquatic Humanoids, Part  2

From the sirens of 'The Odyssey' to 'The Creature From the Black Lagoon' and beyond, humans have always imagined their underwater doubles. In this two-part Stuff to Blow Your Mind exploration, Robert and Joe discuss the revealing myth and fiction of mermaids and gillmen -- as well as the aquatic ape theory and the biological possibilities of an aquatic humanoid.

Aquatic Humanoids, Part  1

From the sirens of 'The Odyssey' to 'The Creature From the Black Lagoon' and beyond, humans have always imagined their underwater doubles. In this two-part Stuff to Blow Your Mind exploration, Robert and Joe discuss the revealing myth and fiction of mermaids and gillmen -- as well as the aquatic ape theory and the biological possibilities of an aquatic humanoid.

Don't Drink the Salt Water

Whether you draw your wisdom from 18th century poems or experience in the surf, you probably know that drinking seawater is a terrible idea. But exactly why shouldn’t you drink saltwater? What happens if you do? Can it really drive you mad with hallucinations? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe look to the world of biology for answers.

Where’s my eternal youth? Part 2

Throughout history, humans have faced the inexorable process of aging and death. We’ve dreamt up countless myths to explain why we age and what comes of seeking immortality, but what does science tell us about the process? Why do we age? What purpose does it serve in natural selection? Indeed, what can science offer us in the way of eternal youth? Robert and Joe seek to find out in this two-part Stuff to Blow Your Mind exploration.

Where’s my eternal youth? Part 1

Throughout history, humans have faced the inexorable process of aging and death. We’ve dreamt up countless myths to explain why we age and what comes of seeking immortality, but what does science tell us about the process? Why do we age? What purpose does it serve in natural selection? Indeed, what can science offer us in the way of eternal youth? Robert and Joe seek to find out in this two-part Stuff to Blow Your Mind exploration.