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: 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)

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.

Talos: The Bronze Automaton

Among the many humanoid gods and bestial monsters of Greek mythology, one finds a peculiar outlier: Talos the bronze automaton. Said to stalk the shores of Crete, Talos pelted suspicious ships with rocks and immolated enemy soldiers with its smoldering embrace. Does this myth reveal Greek attitudes toward technology? What existing technologies can we decode in its description? Robert and Joe explore in this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind.

From the Vault: The Stone of Madness

Madness has always intrigued artists, and medieval paintings sometimes presented this malady's treatment via the surgical removal of cranial stone. What was the stone of madness? Was it mere fantasy, metaphor or an actual medical condition? In this classic episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe collect their trepanation tools and investigate. (Originally published Jan 7, 2016)

Baby Jesus and the Homunculus

We’ve all marveled at the grotesque, oddly-proportioned old man babies in medieval art -- but why did artists of the period pain such creatures? In this special Christmas episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explore the convergence of the homunculus theory of human reproduction, the nativity and the infants of medieval and renaissance art.

The First Monster

Humans love monsters, but when did we first dare to dream up bestial hybrids and chimerical horrors? In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast, Robert and Joe consider the 35-40 thousand-year-old Löwenmensch statues. Who created these images of lion-headed men? What do they represent and what do they reveal about human cognition?

Optography: Image in a Dead Man's Eye

Pseudoscience often enters our world where magic fails us, seeming to make the impossible possible via the invocation of actual scientific and technological marvels. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian explore the unmistakably necromantic world of optography, a 19th century notion that the last images seen by the dead might be retrieved from the flesh and fluid of the eye.

‘The Rage of Achilles’ and the Bicameral Mind

Robert Lamb discusses Terence Hawkins' 2009 novel 'The Rage of Achilles' and its use of Julian Jaynes’ theory of the bicameral mind.

Six Ghost Stories

Human superstition provides us with an overwhelming wealth of ghost stories, each an unreal creation that reveals something crucial about culture, history and psychology. In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast, Robert and Christian explore six ghost stories from around the world and discuss what they reveal about the (living) human experience.