myth

Divine Weapon: The Trident

What are we to make of the trident? The three-toothed spear has seen service as the divine weapon of mythic deities, the fishing implement of common mortals and a symbolic weapon in gladiatorial combat. What does it mean, and was it ever a practical weapon? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick look for answers in myth, archaeology and military history. 

The Gods Must Be Counterintuitive

What’s the key to a lasting myth, a captivating religion or a sensational film pitch? Some cognitive scientists and anthropologists argue that the key is a minimally counterintuitive narrative: the right balance of the mundane with just a dash of the unreasonable and unexpected. Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick as they discuss the minimal counterintuitiveness effect. 

Unicorns of the Mythic World

Jorge Luis Borges tells us that the oldest unicorn legends are nearly identical to the most recent ficitonal treatments -- but why is that? Why is the notion of a sacred, one-horned horse so resilient in human culture? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick for a look at the history of global unicorn myths and legends. Plus, don't be shocked if a satyr shows up. 

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.

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.

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.

Chakram: Spinning Death in Myth, War & Physics

It’s easy to assume that spinning, ring-shaped blades are weapons best left to Hindu gods and TV warrior princesses. But long before humans invented the peaceful Aerobie, ancient Indian warriors unleashed spinning chakram against their enemies -- and Sikh warriors continued to use them in combat up into the 19th century. Join Robert and Christian as they explore the mythic power, military history and aerodynamics of this marvelous flying halo.

Six Deadly Poisons

Deadly elixirs in tiny bottles play into the cruelest machinations of history, fiction and myth. In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast, join Robert and Christian as they sneak six of these deadly concoctions from the poisoner’s chest and explore each one’s power and place in human history.

Order out of Chaos: How to Create a Universe

Numerous mythologies speak to the birth of our universe out of darkness and chaos, but can humans follow in the footsteps of the gods? Can we create a universe in the lab? In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast, Robert and Joe explore the primordial darkness of multiple cosmologies as well as the theoretical depths of human-created universes and simulated realities.

The Necessity of Patient Zero

Patient zero looms large in our collective consciousness. Through carelessness, impropriety or sheer twisted luck, they introduce highly contagious pathogens into new human populations -- if not the human species itself. But where does the science end and the game of scapegoating and othering begin? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian explore the concept of patient zero in science, history and myth.