Dreams of Orgonon: Sex, Storms & Death

Do you believe there's a natural energy that permeates the universe? Wilhelm Reich did, calling it "orgone." He also thought it was generated by orgasms, could manipulate the weather and cure cancer. Join Joe and Christian as they review Reich's life work, including a personal visit to his Orgonon observatory. We cover Reich's history, his contributions to alternative medicine and psychoanalysis, his orgone theories and his construction of orgone accumulators and cloudbusters.

Monster of the Week: The Mushrooms of Matango

Ecstasy Drug to Fight Cancer

First invented in 1914 by a Mereck pharmaceutical researcher, MDMA or Ecstasy started out as a mere chemical catalyst. It sat on the shelf for decades till, in the 1970s, Dow Chemical employee rediscovered the drug and its powerful euphoric effects on the human mind. The early 1980s saw its therapeutic use by psychiatrists. But by 1985, the drug was outlawed in the United States.

Blow Your Mind: (Kick)astrobiology

Astrobiology is just a bunch of scientists trying to figure out what aliens look like, right? Wrong. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Julie and I discuss how this exciting, multidisciplinary field of science asks essential questions not just about the cosmos, but about the history of life on Earth. Of course it's also about pondering the sorts of extremophile life that might exist in the strangest corners of our galaxy.

With all this talk about stem cells and whether it's, in President Obama's words, "dangerous and profoundly wrong" to research human cloning, I can't help but think of the HeLa cell line that has played such a vital role in everything from eradicating polio to to early space shuttle missions. And talk about profoundly wrong -- the cells' owner was never told that her tissue was going to a medical center at Johns Hopkins for special analysis, much less the role she would unwittingly play in the future of medicine. Her name was Henrietta Lacks, a 31-year-old black mother of five in 1950s Baltimore, Md. When she went in for a routine biopsy, the doctors discovered a tumor with most unusual cell activity: they were essentially immortal. Normally, cellular samples have a limited shelf life in a laboratory. They'll only divide a certain number of times before the chromosomes reach their Hayflick limit.