Monsters

From the Vault: Mind Flayers

If you've watched Stranger Things 2, then you know another beloved Dungeons and Dragons monster pops up as an analogy for an extra-dimensional menace: the mind flayer. Join Robert and Christian for the 2016 episode 'The Body Illithid: Science of the Mind Flayers,' in which they explore the real-world science behind these tentacled, brain-sucking monsters.

The Monstrosity/Cuteness Spectrum

It seems the unavoidable fate of all terrifying monsters, doesn’t it? We reduce the most horrifying creatures of myth, legend and folklore to an adorable kids costume or a mega-cute illustration. Why can’t we help ourselves? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explore the battle between cuteness and monstrosity, with examples drawn from Japanese traditions.

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?

Science of It: Deadlights and Derry

If you’ve read Stephen King’s “It” or recoiled in fear from the 2017 film and the 1990 miniseries, then perhaps you’ve wondered what science can reveal about Pennywise the Dancing Clown and the horrors of Derry, Maine. Join Robert and Christian as they consider the monster science of the creature itself and various, real world explanations that grown-ups might turn to for a town gone bad.

The Body Illithid: Science of the Mind Flayers

If Dungeons and Dragons has ever touched your life, then you’re probably familiar with the tentacled, brain-sucking Illithids. Even in a fantasy world so rich in bizarre monstrosities, the Mind Flayers stand out as shockingly alien. Yet the Illithids are not without their parallels in the natural world -- and even in human civilization. Join Robert and Christian for a science-grounded look at everyone’s favorite Underdark horror.

Mystery of the Myth-Fleshed Fossil

Are the fossilized monsters of paleontology and the fantastic monsters of myth one and the same? Join Robert and Joe as they discuss the realm of of geomythology, entailing the possible ancient real-world origins of dragons, griffins, giants the cyclops and other wonders.

Holiday Monsters & Listener Mail

Christmas is here again, so join Robert, Joe and Christian as they discuss a few holiday monsters and tend to your listener mail.

Ghouls: Myth, Fiction and... Evolutionary Heritage?

If your fictional diet contains significant quantities of horror or dark fantasy, then you've likely encountered the ghoul: a scavenging, grave-robbing race of unnatural beings with an insatiable hunger for the dead. As Robert and Joe explore in this episode, the roots of ghouldom sink back into pre-Islamic Arabic folklore -- as well into the distant evolutionary history of humanity itself.

The Science of Dune: Biology

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Frank Herbert's "Dune," the game-changing 1965 sci-fi novel full 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.

Poison Arrows, Chinese Medicine and Werewolves

Perhaps you've heard of wolf's bane as curative or even causal agent in the mythology of lycanthropy, yet the appeal of this very real plant reaches far beyond the realm of werewolves. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian consider the role of wolf's bane in traditional Chinese medicine, early biological warfare and natural insect defenses.