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.

Jade Immortality: Burial Armor of the Han Dynasty

Chinese aristocracy of the Western Han Dynasty embarked on their journey into the afterlife within garments of stone -- luxurious suits of jade armor entailing thousands of individual plates sewn together with gold, silver or silk. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian explore this ancient funeral custom and both the scientific and superstitious qualities of jade.

Chinese Immortality: Elixirs and Enlightened Beings

From deathless beheaded warriors and sacrificial heroines to mystical hermits, Chinese mythology is rich with tales of the undying. After all, the notion of immortality is as old as recorded history, so it makes sense to find a diverse, uniquely Chinese take on the trope. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, join Robert and Joe as they contemplate tales and traditions from Taoist sorcery, alchemy and Chinese folktales.

Reincarnation Blues

The metaphysics of reincarnation are nothing short of enthralling, from the notion of an immortal soul drifting through myriad life forms to the intimidating Wheel of Samsara with its heavenly and hellish realms. Why does this version of immortality appeal to us? And what, if anything, can science tell us about the survival of the soul? Join Robert and Julie for a rich discussion on the reincarnation. Image source: Godong/Universal Images Group/Getty

The Problem of Immortality: Terror Management Theory

Humans are haunted by death. It awaits us all with open arms and all we can do is dream of its blissful antithesis: immortality. And so we've constructed a fortress of ideas to protect us against the terror of impermanence: astral bodies, bodily resurrection, reincarnation and the immaterial soul. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Julie discuss the Terror Management Theory, which holds that fear of death and the quest for immortality command every facet of our lives. Discover how reminders of mortality affect or personal ethics and decision making, from the cash register to the voting booth.

Blow Your Mind: The Quest for Cyberimmortality

Death is always strange, but modern technology has a way of making it stranger still. My father died last month and, as I relate in this podcast, one of the first things I did after I heard the news was to call his cell phone. I'm not entirely sure why. But call I did, and I interacted with the digital remnants of the man that was. In the weeks that have followed, I've e-mailed his account a couple of times as well, an act that feels equal parts weird and therapeutic. What does it all mean?