war

From the Vault: Greek Fire

To engage the ships of Byzantine Empire was to risk the horrors of Greek fire, a medieval weapons system that empowered ships to spew forth flaming liquid on enemy ships and crew members. The secrets of Greek fire are lost to history, but historians and scientists continue to theorize its formula and deployment details. Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick as they discuss the weapon’s history, predominant theories on its specifics and the risks and rewards of secret keeping. (Originally published Aug. 22, 2017)

Fear and the Autonomous Cyber Weapon

We often focus our fear in the wrong direction -- developing flying anxieties when we should be more concerned about that ride to the airport. We also tend to focus on autonomous weapons when we should be thinking more about autonomous CYBER weapons. Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick for a discussion of cyber warfare. 

Troubled Sleep in the Arks of Doom

It’s hard enough to sleep just knowing that dozens of nuclear ballistic missile submarines haunt the oceans, each containing the means to rain nuclear annihilation on the world. But what’s it like to sleep aboard these arks of doom? It actually ties into long-term military study, and the results may help us send humans to other planets. Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore... 

War, Pain and the Super Soldier

The history of war is filled with examples of soldiers who, in the heat of battle, fail to register the full extent of their injuries. In fact, some of our oldest accounts of battle seem devoid of pain’s emotional context. For humans possess two systems of pain: sensory pain and conscious pain. Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick for a discussion that spans the battlefields of human history and future, invoking everything from the bicameral mind to current neuroscience.

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.

Greek Fire: The Byzantine Secret Weapon

To engage the ships of Byzantine Empire was to risk the horrors of Greek fire, a medieval weapons system that empowered ships to spew forth flaming liquid on enemy ships and crew members. The secrets of Greek fire are lost to history, but historians and scientists continue to theorize its formula and deployment details. Join Robert and Joe as they discuss the weapon’s history, predominant theories on its specifics and the risks and rewards of secret keeping.

Sword of the Samurai

Appreciation for the katana cuts across cultures and genres, slicing into the hearts of history buffs, japanophiles, comic book fans and more. But what’s so special about the sword of the Samurai? In this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian discuss the science of this most skillful blade, the grisly test for its sharpness and its importance in Japanese culture.

Name Thy Demons: The Roots of Human Violence

Is human civilization growing less violent? Cognitive scientist Steven Pinker argued the point in his 2011 book 'The Better Angels of Our Nature,' in which he also defined the 'five inner demons' that push us to wrath. Know them -- speak their true names -- and you have the power to undermine their influence. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian explore Pinker's thesis and draw in supporting research and dissenting opinions.

There But For Science: Blood Navigation

Imagine a world in which sailing ships navigate by the yelps of tormented dogs and nuclear submarines whisper to each other via the screams of rabbits and their murdered young? In both of these cases, science won out over magical thinking -- and actual scientific advances stepped in to solve the problems. Join Robert and Joe as the discuss the powder of sympathy and 20th century state-sponsored paranormal research.

Interplanetary War

Syfy’s 'The Expanse,' based on the James S. A. Corey book series, revolves around conflict between human-seeded planetary civilizations -- namely a UN-governed Earth and an independent Martian state. How does this vision match up with futurist predictions concerning interplanetary war, the rigors of space travel and postcolonial cultural schisms? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Christian explore and even chat with 'The Expanse' executive producer Naren Shankar.