Stuff You Should Know

Stuff You Should Know

www.howstuffworks.com
If you’ve ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.
How Galaxies Work
Feb 21 • 49 min
In the universe things tend to cluster. This means there’s a coherent structure to the universe and learning about clusters of stars – galaxies - helps us figure out what that structure is. Join Chuck and Josh on an amazing space voyage!
Short Stuff: Turbulence
Feb 20 • 12 min
If you’ve ever had a bumpy airplane ride, you know it’s nothing fun. But have you ever noticed that the pilots sometimes tell you ahead of time to buckle in? How do they know turbulence is ahead? Are they some kind of fortune teller? How can anyone see…
Yeti: The Asian Bigfoot
Feb 19 • 48 min
We’ve covered Nessie and Bigfoot, so why not tackle the Yeti? Listen in today and Josh and Chuck cover what used to be known as the Abominable Snowman.
SYSK Selects: Interpol: World Police
Feb 16 • 35 min
Interpol is an international police agency that helps other law-enforcement agencies track criminals who operate across national borders — but how does it work, exactly? Join the guys as they delve into the world of global law enforcement.
Elephants: The Best Animals?
Feb 14 • 63 min
Elephants are pretty much the best. Why? Josh and Chuck will let you know in great detail in today’s episode.
Short Stuff: War of Jenkins’ Ear
Feb 13 • 13 min
In the 18th century, Spain and England fought each other in the colonies of Georgia and Florida, a war kicked off by an English sea captain who was mad his ear had been perhaps unfairly lopped off.
Could There Be A Loch Ness Monster?
Feb 12 • 65 min
People have believed something strange lives in Loch Ness for at least 3500 years. Thousands of people have sighted the Loch Ness Monster and dozens of expeditions have been launched. But does the fact that nothing’s been found mean it’s not real?
SYSK Selects: How Coral Reefs Work
Feb 9 • 38 min
Coral reefs are the largest organic structures on Earth, yet they’re created through a symbiotic relationship between creatures about 3 millimeters long. Learn more about the the world’s coral reefs (and how to protect them) in this episode.
The True Story of BlacKkKlansman
Feb 7 • 48 min
In 2018, director Spike Lee brought the story of Ron Stallworth to the big screen to great effect. Today, Josh and Chuck discuss the true story behind the Oscar nominated film.
Short Stuff: Ellen Richards
Feb 6 • 12 min
Who is Ellen Richards? One of the most unsung scientists of all time, that’s who. Her contribution? Bringing real science into the household and forcing the world to take “home-ec” seriously. We celebrate her today on Short Stuff.
The Insidious Abuse of Stalking
Feb 5 • 59 min
Stalking has only recently been recognized for what it is – a profound form of psychological abuse where the victim’s life is “infected” by the stalker, as one survivor put it. Stalking can go on for years, and in some cases may be the prelude to murder.
SYSK Selects: Saunas: More Interesting Than You Think!
Feb 2 • 40 min
Although they seem pretty mundane, saunas are surprisingly fascinating inventions. Josh and Chuck break out all sorts of sweaty, sauna-related trivia, from the Finnish affinity for saunas to sauna etiquette, in this episode.
How Central Park Works
Jan 31 • 55 min
Central Park in Manhattan was America’s first landscaped public park, built at a time when New Yorkers’ only option for getting some fresh air was hanging around cemeteries. Get all the info about this beautiful icon and how it’s served as a landscape for…
Short Stuff: Johnny Appleseed
Jan 30 • 13 min
Johnny Appleseed was real! And he was about as amazing as the legend paints him. He really did plant apple trees all over America and if the feds hadn’t chopped them down during Prohibition, they’d still be around. Learn what we mean in this episode.
How Ping Pong Works
Jan 29 • 59 min
While Asia is well-known for being cuckoo for Ping Pong, the game was actually invented by bored British Victorian aristocrats. Go back and forth about Ping Pong’s place in the world with Chuck and Josh.
SYSK Selects: Bioluminescence: A Bright and Shiny Fish
Jan 26 • 40 min
Science has a handle on fireflies and glowworms, but most bioluminescent animals live in the ocean and are tough to study. Today, researchers are still figuring out why some animals produce light. Dive with Josh and Chuck into this illuminating topic.
The Legend of Betsy Ross
Jan 24 • 45 min
Betsy Ross is an American icon to many, the seamstress who sewed the first U.S. flag because of a personal commission from George Washington. But is it true? Sort of. Learn all about this fascinating story today.
Short Stuff: Thread Count
Jan 23 • 13 min
Is thread count all it’s cracked up to be? Listen in and find out in today’s edition of Short Stuff!
SYSK Live: The Kellogg Brothers’ Wacky World of Health
Jan 22 • 74 min
There’s no way you haven’t had one of their breakfast cereals, but we bet you don’t know the story behind the two brothers who brought the world corn flakes. Buckle in for a lot of talk about poop, religion and masturbation, live from Sydney, Australia.
SYSK Selects: How Lobotomies Work
Jan 19 • 36 min
Lobotomies — brain surgeries to relieve psychiatric problems — are rarely performed today, but they were once fairly common. Tune in to learn more about the controversial history and practice of lobotomies.
The July 20th Plot to Assassinate Hitler
Jan 17 • 49 min
A lot of people in Hitler’s inner circle wanted him dead toward the end of the war. But he proved impossible to kill from within. Listen in today as Josh and Chuck dig into the infamous July 20th plot to blow up Der Führer.
Short Stuff: Olestra
Jan 16 • 12 min
In the 90s a fat free miracle food came out that promised we could eat all we wanted and not gain weight. But there was a caveat: it could also make your bowels unpleasantly loose.
How Airbags Work
Jan 15 • 42 min
It turns out that the inflatable bag of air that shoots out of your steering wheel or dashboard is the result of a controlled explosion of solid fuel, just like in a rocket – aimed for your face.
SYSK Selects: How Schizophrenia Works
Jan 12 • 46 min
Up to 24 million people worldwide have schizophrenia. Despite the vast amounts of research, the disorder remains mysterious. In this episode, Josh and Chuck delve into the nature of schizophrenia, from the history of the disorder to the latest research.
The Great Finger in the Wendy’s Chili Caper
Jan 10 • 46 min
In 2005 a woman named Anna Alaya discovered a length of human finger – nail and all – in her Wendy’s chili. Her cries of disgust would set off a media firestorm, a criminal investigation and a prison sentence for her and her husband.
Short Stuff: How Often Do You Need To Change Your Oil?
Jan 9 • 15 min
First things, first: Take that oil change reminder sticker off your windshield and throw it away forever and never look back!
How the Spanish Flu Worked
Jan 8 • 60 min
The Spanish Flu killed anywhere from 20-100 million or more people over 1918/1919. All of this played out with World War I in the foreground, one big reason why the flu spread so far, so fast. Learn all about this devastating pandemic in today’s episode.
SYSK Selects: How Munchausen Syndrome Works
Jan 5 • 42 min
Why would someone fake an illness? Here’s an even better question: Why would someone repeatedly make themselves sick? Join Josh and Chuck as they separate the facts from fiction and give you the scoop on Munchausen syndrome.
What was the Tunguska event?
Jan 3 • 44 min
In 1908, the most powerful meteoroid explosion in recorded history happened over a remote area of Siberia. But the weird thing is there was no impact crater and no asteroid to be found – so was it an asteroid? (Yes.)
Short Stuff: Khipu
Jan 2 • 16 min
Listen in to learn all about the fascinating “language” of the Incan khipu knotted ropes.
Rockettes: Still Kicking After All These Years
Jan 1 • 47 min
Tune in today to learn all about the legendary NYC Rockettes, who actually got their start in Missouri.
SYSK Selects: How Fossils Work
Dec 29, 2018 • 39 min
A fossil is a piece of once-living organic material that has undergone a transition from an organic state to an inorganic state. But what exactly is fossilization? Listen in as Josh and Chuck break down the process of fossilization.
Dr. Seuss: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Dec 27, 2018 • 54 min
The Seuss is loose in this episode about legendary children’s book author Ted Geisel. The funny thing is, he didn’t ever want children of his own, and his past work was a bit problematic.
Short Stuff: The Brain-Bladder Connection
Dec 26, 2018 • 15 min
How much do you know about the brain-bladder connection? In about 15 minutes, it’ll be a lot more.
SYSK Live Christmas Spectacular!
Dec 25, 2018 • 75 min
This year, Josh and Chuck go live for their annual Christmas Spectacular. Recorded from the Center Stage Theater in Atlanta, pour up some eggnog, light a fire and enjoy this live show with the whole family.
SYSK Selects: The Star Wars Holiday Special of 1978
Dec 22, 2018 • 57 min
Long ago, in a galaxy not so far away, George Lucas allowed the Star Wars Holiday Special to be made. What happened on the night of November 17, 1978 can never be fully explained, but we make our best effort in a very special edition of SYSK. May the…
E.T.: Is It Really the Worst Video Game of All Time?
Dec 20, 2018 • 44 min
If you play video games you probably have an easy answer to worst game of all time: ET. But it turns out there are no easy answers, especially when you’re talking about a game so terrible it’s blamed for bringing the entire video game industry with it.
Short Stuff: Unique Snowflakes
Dec 19, 2018 • 13 min
Amazingly, it turns out that every snowflake truly is unique. Math backs it up.
Geodesic Domes: The Wave of the Future That Wasn’t
Dec 18, 2018 • 52 min
Sometimes a good idea doesn’t pan out in real life. Take Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome: It requires less energy to heat and cool, it’s cheap, and it’s durable enough to withstand a hurricane – but it’s also godawful ugly and that was its undoing.
SYSK Selects: How Igloos Work
Dec 15, 2018 • 31 min
Igloos were traditionally used by Inuit Indians as temporary shelter while on hunting and fishing trips. In this episode, Josh and Chuck look at the design of igloos, from their impressive heat-catching properties to their ingenious construction.
Are good samaritan laws effective?
Dec 13, 2018 • 48 min
Good samaritan laws have been around for many years, helping to provide legal protections for people who try to help other people. But do they work? Decide for yourself today!
Short Stuff: Laughing Buddha
Dec 12, 2018 • 13 min
Did you know that the friendly, smiling Buddha we all know from bars and restaurants isn’t really Buddha?
How Ayahuasca Works
Dec 11, 2018 • 47 min
One day in the Amazon Basin, a shaman put together a plant containing DMT with a vine that allows the body to absorb DMT. The combination, a foul-tasting, wildly hallucinogenic brew called ayahuasca, has changed cultures throughout the Americas.
SYSK Selects: That Dang-old Goat Fell Over
Dec 8, 2018 • 32 min
Due to a condition known as Thomsen’s disease, the muscles of fainting goats tense up whenever the animal is startled. In this episode, Josh and Chuck break down the science behind this bizarre condition.
Was the PMRC censorship in disguise?
Dec 6, 2018 • 58 min
The Parents Music Resource Center in the 1980s was really just censorship in disguise. But it kind of backfired. Learn all about Tipper Gore’s crusade in today’s episode.
Short Stuff: Dolphin Detectors
Dec 5, 2018 • 15 min
They don’t actually disarm mines, but navies around the world use dolphins to find and tag sea mines so humans can disarm the mines themselves. But even if it’s safe, is it ethical?
How Search and Rescue Dogs Work
Dec 4, 2018 • 53 min
All dogs are great, but some dogs work harder than others. Or play harder, depending on your view. Learn all about the good boys and girls who find lost people and recover bodies to bring humans peace and closure.
SYSK Selects: Can Your Grandfather’s Diet Shorten Your Life?
Dec 1, 2018 • 33 min
Epigenetics is a fascinating field of genetics that studies how the epigenome and environmental, nutritional and social factors affect gene expression. Josh and Chuck explain how epigenetics works in this episode.
Adidas v. Puma: A Sibling Rivalry
Nov 29, 2018 • 44 min
Join Josh and Chuck today as they go down the sport shoe rabbit hole, detailing the strange tail of the brothers who brought Puma and Adidas to the world. Sibling rivalry, Nazis, shoes - there’s a lot to unpack here.
Short Stuff: iSmell
Nov 28, 2018 • 14 min
Two men once had a dream - to add smell to the internet. And they almost gave it to us.
How the Navajo Code Talkers Worked
Nov 27, 2018 • 47 min
In WWII the US Marines devised an unbreakable code-within-a-code made from Navajo, one of the most linguistically difficult languages in the world. A handful of Navajos sent messages on the frontlines in a language they’d been forbidden to speak as school…
SYSK Selects: How Black Friday Works
Nov 24, 2018 • 43 min
On the day after Thanksgiving, Americans go kind of crazy for the deep discount sales that kick off the holiday shopping season in stores. So crazy, in fact, at least four people have lost their lives and as many as 63 others have been injured during…
Fire twucks! Fire twucks! (sic)
Nov 22, 2018 • 51 min
Who doesn’t love fire engines? We certainly do. So much that we geeked out on this one in a big way. Enjoy!
Short Stuff: Safety Pins
Nov 21, 2018 • 13 min
Safety pins are so ubiquitous, we take them for granted. But that’s the genius of their design – they work so intuitively they might as well have come from nature. Instead, they were invented by a man who never went to the trouble of patenting them.
Finders Keepers: Real Law
Nov 20, 2018 • 41 min
You know that heartbreak of the schoolyard – finders keepers, losers weepers? That’s actual law in a great many grown up places. Enter the murky legal world of finding something that belongs to someone else, from buried treasure to a misplaced ring.
SYSK Selects: How Kleptomania Works
Nov 17, 2018 • 29 min
In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck discuss kleptomania, a disorder in which people have an overwhelming impulse to steal unnecessary items.
Olive Oil: Mother Nature’s Gift
Nov 15, 2018 • 63 min
Olive oil is one of Mother Nature’s greatest gifts to humanity. Learn everything you ever wanted to know about the NUMBER ONE OIL, right here, right now.
Short Stuff: Lemonade
Nov 14, 2018 • 14 min
Ever wonder where lemonade came from? Let’s up the stakes a little, what about pink lemonade? Well wonder no more! Join Josh and Chuck as they (briefly) cover the history of putting lemons together with sugar and water and coming up with something great.
Pando: Earth’s Oldest, Hugest Organism Is Trees!
Nov 13, 2018 • 45 min
In Utah, lives a 106-acre stand of Quaking Aspen trees that are all genetically identical because they are all growing from the same massive root system. It’s Pando, the most massive, and almost certainly oldest (by far) organism on Earth.
SYSK Selects: How Pizza Works
Nov 10, 2018 • 54 min
Sure it’s everywhere and there’s a more-than-90-percent chance you eat it once a month. But we’ll bet you don’t know the full history of that pizza (or tomato pie) you’re about to chow down on. Join Chuck and Josh as they explain it to you, bite by bite.
Is yogurt a miracle food?
Nov 8, 2018 • 48 min
Yogurt has been touted as a health food, but is it? Maybe. If you eat it every day. We get into the rich and creamy history of this supposed miracle food in today’s episode. Take a listen!
Short Stuff: Vomitoria
Nov 7, 2018 • 14 min
A vomitorium was a place where ancient Romans went to make themselves throw up after gorging themselves at a sumptuous banquet. Everybody knows that. Except that’s not true at all. Learn about what vomitoria were in this episode and impress your friends.
What were war masks?
Nov 6, 2018 • 42 min
War masks were made for soldiers in WWI who had horrible accidents that left their faces sometimes unrecognizable. Though it may seem rudimentary today, they went a long way in restoring their dignity. Learn all about them today.
SYSK Selects: How Grief Works
Nov 3, 2018 • 43 min
You can probably name the five stages of grief - from denial to acceptance - they’ve become pretty well known since being proposed in 1969. But later researchers are finding that grief is rarely that cut and dried, and it may not be as widely experienced…
How Easy Bake Ovens Work
Nov 1, 2018 • 38 min
Easy Bake Ovens are as iconic as a toy can get, as American as apple pie or baseball. Learn all about these light bulb cooking, working ovens that endanger children to this day.
Short Stuff: Labor Day
Oct 31, 2018 • 14 min
Labor Day, the day when most people in America paradoxically take off work, is actually rooted in some deeply radical and anarchistic thinking. Learn all about this most subversive of American holidays in this episode of Short Stuff.
SYSK’s 2018 Super Spooktacular
Oct 30, 2018 • 51 min
It’s Halloween again and Chuck and Josh want to creep you out. Listen to two great classic horror stories, dripping with Jeri’s creeptastic audio stylings. Guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit.
SYSK Selects: What’s with the Winchester Mystery House?
Oct 27, 2018 • 33 min
After her daughter and husband died, heiress Sarah Winchester became obsessed with the idea that spirits haunted her and to appease them she had to have a house continuously built for them. So she did - 24 hours a day for 38 years.
How the Amityville Horror Worked
Oct 25, 2018 • 55 min
In early 1975, the world was introduced to George and Kathy Lutz, a couple who had fled their home in Amityville, NY to escape a powerful, evil supernatural presence living there. And this being the 70s, the world went nuts for their story.
Short Stuff: Exploding Manholes
Oct 24, 2018 • 15 min
If you live in a big city in a cold climate, you should keep an eye out for 100-pound cast-iron manhole covers suddenly launching 50 feet into the air. It’s unnervingly common and we’ll tell you why.
How Epilepsy Works
Oct 23, 2018 • 56 min
A seizure is like an electrical overload in the brain – when it gets overwhelmed, it just shuts down and resets itself. But imagine being susceptible to these overloads, where one could come at any time with little or no warning. That is epilepsy.
SYSK Selects: How Aphrodisiacs Work
Oct 20, 2018 • 24 min
For thousands of years humankind has pursued the enhancement of sexual pleasure and performance through a plethora of medicines and practices — but how many aphrodisiacs actually work?
Waterbeds: The Sexiest Bed?
Oct 18, 2018 • 41 min
Waterbeds came and went pretty quickly in the United States, but despite their marketing as sex beds, they were actually invented to deliver a great night’s sleep. Learn all about these super 70’s beds in today’s episode.
Short Stuff: Korean Fan Death
Oct 17, 2018 • 15 min
There’s a commonly-held belief in Korea that if you fall asleep with a fan blowing on your face you may die in your sleep from it. And while this idea is found nowhere else in the world, Korean culture has come up with some interesting explanations.
Was There A Real Robin Hood?
Oct 16, 2018 • 51 min
Is it true that Robin Hood hung out in Sherwood Forest and stole from the rich to give to the poor? No. No, it’s not. Find out the real story in this episode.
SYSK Selects: How Homelessness Works
Oct 13, 2018 • 44 min
Today, millions of people around the world are homeless. In this classic episode, Josh and Chuck take a look at homelessness in the United States, discussing everything from the factors that lead to homelessness to what you can do to help alleviate the…
When inventions kill!
Oct 11, 2018 • 47 min
Few things are more ironic than an invention killing its creator. The stories behind real life cases of death-by-invention are pretty interesting too. Pull up a chair and hear about a few from Josh and Chuck.
Short Stuff: William King
Oct 10, 2018 • 14 min
Did you know that the United States has had one Vice-President who was sworn in on foreign soil? Well it turns out that may be the least interesting part of the story of William Rufus King.
How Marathons Work
Oct 9, 2018 • 67 min
You’d have to be crazy to try to run 26.2 miles in a single stretch, right? Right. But people still try it anyway. And a lot of them even survive! Find out all about the pitfalls of marathons and the obsession they can inspire in this episode.
SYSK Selects: Is lethal injection humane?
Oct 6, 2018 • 47 min
Since the Supreme Court’s ban on capital punishment was reversed, states have sought a humane method of killing sentenced criminals. They settled on lethal injection, but is this quasi-medical means of killing as quick and painless as we think?
Algae: Food, Fuel, What?
Oct 4, 2018 • 54 min
Just a couple years ago, algae was touted as the green, plentiful biofuel of the future. But that didn’t pan out. Why? And is algae down for the count? Don’t bet on it. Only a fool would bet against green water.
Short Stuff: Grandfather Clocks
Oct 3, 2018 • 14 min
If you’ve ever wondered why a grandfather clock is called a grandfather clock and you have 12 minutes to spare, this is your lucky day. Listen in to the brand new Short Stuff series. It’s everything you want from Josh and Chuck, and less!
How the Concorde Worked
Oct 2, 2018 • 59 min
The concorde was a wonderful thing, a super fast commerical airliner that got you across the pond in half the time. But it was small and cramped, noisy and a big money loser. Climb aboard and get ready for Mach 1.
SYSK Selects: Does the five-second rule work?
Sep 29, 2018 • 37 min
You know when you drop a piece of food and if you pick it up within five seconds it’s still good to eat? Researchers have studied whether that’s true or not and in doing so have inadvertently shone a light on how utterly covered our world is with bacteria…
Seriously, What Is Dark Matter?
Sep 27, 2018 • 45 min
Chuck and Josh take on astrophysics again and this time it pans out well. It turns out that there simply isn’t enough matter in the universe to account for its mass. Which is super weird. What is this missing matter? Does it even exist?
What is colorblindness?
Sep 25, 2018 • 38 min
Being colorblind doesn’t mean you see in black and white, although in severe cases it can look a bit like that. The condition is on a spectrum ranging from dulled colors to shades of grey. Learn all about what colorblindness means in today’s episode.
SYSK Selects: Was Malthus right about carrying capacity?
Sep 22, 2018 • 27 min
Thomas Malthus concluded that humanity is bound to outgrow Earth’s carrying capacity. The prediction was based on humanity’s exponential growth and the linear growth of the food supply — but was he correct? Tune in to this classic episode to find out.
How Ranked Choice Voting Works
Sep 20, 2018 • 45 min
In the US, winner-take-all voting has created A LOT of political polarization. But what if rather than voting for one candidate, you could rank all of them so if your first choice doesn’t win, your vote goes to your second choice? So long, polarization!
Roundabouts: The Problem Is You
Sep 18, 2018 • 60 min
They’re as American as Washington, DC yet most people in the US are terrified of them, hate them or both. What is it about traffic circles and roundabouts - which do nothing but safely, inexpensively and greenly direct traffic – that America can’t stand?
SYSK Selects: How Commercial Jingles Work
Sep 15, 2018 • 38 min
You probably can recite five right now. Commercial jingles are designed to hijack your working memory and implant a product or service and they really work. In this classic episode, learn about the history of these insidious and catchy advertising…
What are think tanks all about?
Sep 13, 2018 • 47 min
Think tanks? More like stink tanks! We’re kidding. Think tanks do valuable work, when they operate in a non-partisan way of course. Learn all about the history of these heady institutions today.
SYSK Live: How Game Shows Work
Sep 11, 2018 • 70 min
Join Josh and Chuck and a whole bunch of great people at the Gothic Theatre in Denver for this live show on game shows and their place in cultures around the world, recorded on June 28, 2018. You just come right on down, why don’t you?
SYSK Selects: How Circumcision Works
Sep 8, 2018 • 45 min
Circumcision is a common practice in which the foreskin of a male’s penis is removed, typically as a baby. In this classic episode, Josh and Chuck take a look at the origins, practices, and arguments for and against circumcision in this episode.
The Lava Lamp: Goes Great With Acid
Sep 6, 2018 • 49 min
What started out as an egg timer at a London pub became a furnishing for bachelor pads before it took its rightful place as the most recognizable icon of psychedelia. The lava lamp became popular with people on LSD not once, but twice, decades apart.
How Police Lineups Work
Sep 4, 2018 • 55 min
Police lineups are something most people have never had any firsthand experience with. What you see on TV and in movies isn’t so far off though. Learn about how these tropes work for real in today’s episode.
SYSK Selects: How Patents Work
Sep 1, 2018 • 64 min
What was originally designed to encourage innovation by rewarding the people who create technological advances, the U.S. patent system has become a big mess. Wade into this surprisingly interesting mire to learn how to save this important institution.
How Elimination Diets Work
Aug 30, 2018 • 46 min
Elimination diets are all about whittling down what you eat, then building it back up again in order to identify foods that don’t work for your body. Is it safe? It can be. Learn all about this process in today’s episode.
Why There Aren’t So Many Hotel Fires Anymore
Aug 28, 2018 • 46 min
1946 was a particularly deadly year for hotel fires in the US. Fires killed hundreds of people in Chicago, Dubuque, Dallas and, in Atlanta, the worst hotel fire in American history broke out. Find out how they made staying in hotels safe.
SYSK Selects: What’s the deal with Voodoo?
Aug 25, 2018 • 36 min
Voodoo is a religion found in parts of Africa and Haiti that’s often misunderstood. In this episode, Josh and Chuck separate the faction from the fiction as they explore how Voodoo really works.
Pterosaurs: Not Flying Dinosaurs
Aug 23, 2018 • 40 min
Almost everything you know about pterosaurs is wrong. They weren’t birds, they weren’t flying dinosaurs and they weren’t all pterodactyls. Which makes this a great episode for you to learn some new and amazing stuff about terrifying prehistoric beasts!
Ballpoint pens? Heck yes, ballpoint pens!
Aug 21, 2018 • 51 min
Get ready, folks. The ballpoint pen is far more interesting than you could ever imagine. For real. Brilliant in its simplicity. Took the world by storm. We love our ballpoint pens and you should too. Listen in today!
SYSK Selects: How Electroconvulsive Therapy Works
Aug 18, 2018 • 29 min
With the exception of lobotomies, no other psychological treatment has a worse reputation. But thanks to some thoughtful tweaks, ECT has lately emerged from the dark ages and toward the respectable forefront of treatment for major depression.
Who is The Man of the Hole?
Aug 16, 2018 • 40 min
In 2018, there’s a man from a lost tribe still living deep in the jungles of Brazil who has been all alone since the mid 1990s. He’s referred to as the Man of the Hole, and has had no face-to-face with modern humans. Who is he? We’ll answer that question…
How Board Breaking Works
Aug 14, 2018 • 47 min
If you’ve ever seen someone break a stack of boards or concrete blocks with a single karate chop you know what it means to experience awe. Board breaking is indeed cool but there’s also a lot of physics to help it along. Learn all about this secret art.
SYSK Selects: How Traffic Works
Aug 11, 2018 • 37 min
Whether you’ve been stuck in a traffic jam or forced to merge and avoid road construction, everyone’s had a few bad experiences with traffic. But how does traffic actually work? In this episode, Chuck and Josh take a look at traffic waves (and bubbles).
How Attila the Hun Worked
Aug 9, 2018 • 45 min
If you go to the Internet you’ll see a few people championed as all-time greatest conquerors - Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Atilla the Hun. Listen in today as Josh and Chuck dive into number three on this list, Atilla the Hun.
How Search and Rescue Works
Aug 7, 2018 • 63 min
There are thankfully about as many ways to look for someone as there are ways to get lost. And the people who dedicate themselves to saving the lives of people who are missing take their job seriously. Learn about this fascinating world in this episode.
SYSK Selects: How Miranda Rights Work
Aug 4, 2018 • 32 min
Back in 1966, the Supreme Court decided that suspects in criminal cases had the right to be reminded that they didn’t have to talk to the fuzz if they didn’t want to, as stated in the 5th amendment. Since that ruling, scores of other cases have shaped and…
How the U.S. Military Draft Works
Aug 2, 2018 • 57 min
The U.S. military draft is far more interesting than you’d think. The process of conscription can get quite complicated, but we’re here to clear it up for you. We’ll also talk a bit about whether or not this could ever happen again.
How the Pony Express Worked
Jul 31, 2018 • 47 min
For as long a shadow as it casts across the history of the Old West, the Pony Express was a failed business venture, doomed from the start, that only lasted 18 months. But since the last rider headed out with his bag of mail, its legend has only grown.
SYSK Selects: How the Cannonball Run Worked
Jul 28, 2018 • 35 min
The Cannon Ball Run is a cross-country car race famously portrayed in the campy 1981 movie “Cannon Ball Run.” But it isn’t fictional. Tune in as Josh and Chuck take you on a wild ride through the real (and colorful) history of this infamous race.
The Dyatlov Pass Mystery
Jul 26, 2018 • 42 min
The incident at Dyatlov Pass is one of the more enduring wilderness mysteries of all time. Russian hikers found in various states of undress, frozen. What happened to them? Why were there weird internal injuries and no outward signs of distress? We’ll…
Recycling Update: How’s It Going?
Jul 24, 2018 • 67 min
It’s been about a decade since Josh and Chuck last checked in on recycling and since then a lot has changed. A global commodities market dealing in recyclables has developed and recently crashed. Jump back into the fascinating world of recycling.
SYSK Selects: How Foot Binding Worked
Jul 21, 2018 • 31 min
Once in a while, all the necessary factors converge to produce a peculiar nationalized sexual fetish. In China, that fetish was foot binding and over a millennia three billion Chinese women’s feet were brutally disfigured for men’s pleasure.
How Attorney-Client Privilege Works
Jul 19, 2018 • 39 min
One of the oldest protected forms of speech comes from when a lawyer speaks with their client. Over centuries, this legal privilege has been protected and defined and still stands stronger than ever. Find out why a person’s ability to speak freely to…
Jobs of Bygone Eras
Jul 17, 2018 • 62 min
Join Josh and Chuck today as they take a fun look at some of the strange jobs that our ancestors did. It’s a SYSK top 10, meaning there will only be eight or so.
SYSK Selects: How Twinkies Work
Jul 14, 2018 • 29 min
Twinkies have a reputation for being so processed that they can last for years and years, but they’re not as hardy as you’d expect. Uncover the sweet story of Twinkies in this classic SYSK.
Gerrymandering: How to Stifle Democracy
Jul 12, 2018 • 39 min
No matter which side of the political spectrum you fall on, you should be outraged about the practice of gerrymandering. Redrawing voter district maps to ensure political dominance is about as undemocratic as it gets. Please enjoy Josh and Chuck getting…
The Disappearance of the Yuba County Five
Jul 10, 2018 • 54 min
In 1978, five friends set out for home from a basketball game. The next day, their car was discovered in a lonely mountain road. The next spring, their bodies began to turn up. What happened that night remains a mystery to this day.
SYSK Selects: Did Reagan’s Star Wars program win the Cold War?
Jul 7, 2018 • 38 min
Putting lasers in space to blast Soviet missiles out of the air was a very real part of Ronald Reagan’s defense policy. While his “Star Wars” program was derided at home and abroad, historians are beginning to wonder if it didn’t help win the Cold War…
How the Stanford Prison Experiment Worked
Jul 5, 2018 • 48 min
The infamous Stanford Prison Experiment wasn’t really much of an experiment as it turns out. It was more like a poorly thought out exercise conducted by a professor who didn’t dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Listen in as Josh and Chuck give this experiment…
How Diabetes Works
Jul 3, 2018 • 58 min
Diabetes is one of the biggest killers of people on the planet. And yet, it also seems to be tied to diet and exercise, which makes it preventable. Learn about the fascinating mechanisms that can make your body go haywire and lead to this disease.
SYSK Selects: How Ponzi Schemes Work
Jun 30, 2018 • 30 min
Ponzi schemes. How do they work? And who’s Ponzi? Join Josh and Chuck in this classic episode to discover how an Italian immigrant created a classic con that’s still fleecing investors today.
Narwhals: Unicorns of the Sea
Jun 28, 2018 • 38 min
Narwhals are the unicorns of the sea. They’re also whales with tusks. The tusks are really long tooths. Are you confused? Let us guide you!
Can Anarchism Work?
Jun 26, 2018 • 63 min
Teenage punks going through a phase probably come to mind when you think of anarchists, but anarchism is a legitimate political philosophy based on the idea that governments are unnecessary and do more harm than good. Could we actually live without them?
SYSK Selects: How Condoms Work
Jun 23, 2018 • 63 min
The earliest depiction of a condom is found in a 15,000-year-old cave painting. Ever since humans realized sex led to children, we’ve been using condoms to prevent pregnancy. Join Josh and Chuck for this comprehensive tour of all things condom.
Genghis Khan: Madman or Genius?
Jun 21, 2018 • 53 min
Depending on who you talk to, Genghis Khan was either a sadistic madman or one of the great leaders in world history. One thing is sure, he was one of the most advanced military minds of all time.
How The Pill Changed the World
Jun 19, 2018 • 48 min
When the birth control pill hit the market in 1960 it landed like a social bomb. Almost overnight, women gained the ability to separate sex from pregnancy and everything from feminism to patients’ rights centered on it.
SYSK Selects: How Bullfighting Works
Jun 16, 2018 • 48 min
When the Visigoths ruled Spain, they introduced the idea of battling bulls at festivals. Today matadors get paid $100,000 and perform in front of 50,000 fans. But is bullfighting an antiquated, abusive relic or a cultural tradition above reproach?
Skyscrapers: ‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky
Jun 14, 2018 • 54 min
Skyscrapers are much more than tall buildings. They’re world wonders as far as we’re concerned. From design to construction, these babies are beautifully simplistic in all the best ways. Listen in today!
How Tsunamis Work
Jun 12, 2018 • 49 min
Tsunamis are amazingly devastating natural disasters. They’re miles tall and wide, travel as fast as a commercial airliner and can wipe out entire coastal towns. And if the last couple decades are any indication, they seem to be getting worse.
SYSK Selects: How The Hum Works
Jun 9, 2018 • 40 min
There is a mysterious droning sound often described as like a diesel engine idling that is severely impacting the quality of life of 2 percent of people in places around the world. The thing is, no one knows what’s causing it - or if it actually exists.
Frida Kahlo: Painter, Icon, Genius
Jun 7, 2018 • 49 min
Frida Kahlo was a painter who transcended her own work to became an icon. Learn all about her fascinating and inspiring life and work in today’s episode.
The Max Headroom Incident
Jun 5, 2018 • 51 min
In 1987, a very strange broadcast intrusion occurred in the city of Chicago. For just a couple of minutes, the odd TV character Max Headroom appeared onscreen in the middle of an episode of Dr. Who. He spoke in garbled tones, brandished a marital aid, and…
SYSK Selects: Was there a real King Arthur?
Jun 2, 2018 • 46 min
The legend of King Arthur is very old and very established. By the time the king who saved Britain and united it was first written about, his story was already hundreds of years old. And while many of the details of his life and adventures, from the Lady…
Is the Pied Piper About a Real Historic Tragedy?
May 31, 2018 • 43 min
In the German town of Hameln a tragedy that took place on a specific date in 1284 and befell specifically 130 children is commemorated every year. Aside from those two details, the event is cloaked in mystery. What about the Pied Piper fairy tale is real?
How Drug Courts Work
May 29, 2018 • 54 min
If you aren’t in the know, you may think drug courts are set up to quickly prosecute drug users and get them into prison in short order. Turns out it’s just the opposite - they’re empathetic courts set up to give people a second and sometimes third chance…
SYSK Selects: How Pinball Works
May 26, 2018 • 47 min
Pinball was actually illegal until the 1970s in NY and other cities, hidden in the backs of pornography shops. The game was finally legalized, thanks to a Babe Ruth-style shot by the best player in the world. Learn all about it with Josh and Chuck.
How Occam’s Razor Works
May 24, 2018 • 44 min
You know the rule that says the simplest explanation is probably the correct one? That’s called a razor and it’s meant to guide logic. But over time it’s become a broadsword used to disprove opposing arguments. Learn how to spot a faux skeptic in this…
A List Of Games You Would Surely Lose to a Computer
May 22, 2018 • 58 min
We live in a time where computers can beat the best humans in the world at chess, checkers, poker and video games. But these games are really just demonstrations of how intelligent our machines are growing. They’re growing more intelligent by the hour.…
SYSK Selects: Is brain size related to intelligence?
May 19, 2018 • 37 min
The idea that the larger the brain, the higher the intelligence is an old one, but it’s pretty much utterly false. Modern investigation into how the brain works suggests there’s a lot more to take into account when comparing brain biology to intellect.
The Collar Bomb Heist
May 17, 2018 • 44 min
The collar bomb heist is the crime caper that keeps on giving. Every time the story seemed like it was figured out, another layer appeared. Tune in today to hear Josh and Chuck detail this very odd and twisty story.
What’s a quinceañera anyway?
May 15, 2018 • 42 min
A quinceañera is the celebration of a girl of Hispanic heritage becoming a young woman on her 15th birthday. It involves family, friends, music and a lot of great food. Join Josh and Chuck as they don their favorite pink dresses and go over this wonderful…
SYSK Selects: How Cremation Works
May 12, 2018 • 46 min
Cremation is a burial process practiced around the world, but how exactly does it work? Josh and Chuckers take a detailed look at cremation’s history, practices and controversies in this episode.
How Drowning Works
May 10, 2018 • 54 min
Hundreds of thousands of people drown around the world every year, and yet it can be easily prevented and is widely misunderstood – like how you can officially drown but live to tell the tale, or how you can drown but die days later.
PT Barnum: More Complicated Than You’ve Heard
May 8, 2018 • 61 min
When your life is as outsized as the World’s Greatest Showman PT Barnum it’s pretty easy to - you know - gloss over the grimmer aspects when you turn it into an uplifting musical movie. But the way to understand a person is to look at them, warts and all.
SYSK Selects: Are there undiscovered people?
May 5, 2018 • 29 min
In this classic episode, Josh and Chuck discuss whether there are any truly “undiscovered” groups of people left on the planet, the definition of undiscovered — and why groups might want to avoid modern civilization.
North Korea: What’s the Deal?
May 3, 2018 • 70 min
For almost 70 years, North Korea has been the bane of South Korea, Japan and the US or has stood as the sole defenders of the Korean homeland from the American hordes, depending on who you ask.
Nepotism: When Hiring the Best Just Won’t Do
May 1, 2018 • 44 min
Nepotism is something that is very hard to avoid, and very hard to resist, even if you know it may be the wrong thing to do. We all love helping out families get ahead, but you’re also costing someone else an opportunity when you play ball. Learn all…
SYSK Selects: Who killed JFK?
Apr 28, 2018 • 48 min
For the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Josh and Chuck delve into the killing, the investigations and the conspiracy theories to get to the bottom of an enduring national question.
Does Pyromania Actually Exist?
Apr 26, 2018 • 37 min
A fascination with fire is part of every kid’s childhood, but it’s meant to be passing. For some people, fire becomes the central focus of life, and the urge to set a fire becomes an irresistible impulse. We think.
Emojis: A New Language? Nah.
Apr 24, 2018 • 50 min
Believe it or not, there’s a lot more to Emojis than meets the eye. Turns out their history is pretty interesting stuff. Join Josh and Chuck today as they tell the tale of the little faces that we all love to hate.
SYSK Selects: How Mirrors Work
Apr 21, 2018 • 30 min
Whether using polished metal surfaces or clear glass, human beings have enjoyed admiring their reflections for centuries. In this episode, Josh and Chuck reflect on the types, mind-melting physics, superstitions and rather interesting history of mirrors.
Two Times In the 70s When People Buried Ferraris
Apr 19, 2018 • 48 min
Not once, but twice in the 1970s people buried amazingly valuable Ferraris, arguably the greatest sports cars ever built. One was dug up after being secretly buried; the other was put in the ground forever. These are their stories.
The Unabomber: Misguided to say the least
Apr 17, 2018 • 48 min
The Unabomber was one of the most notorious and longest lasting cases in the history of the FBI. Just because the manifesto reads like he was a fortune teller doesn’t make his actions any less deplorable. Learn all about this fascinating case in today’s…
SYSK Selects: What happens in the brain during an orgasm?
Apr 14, 2018 • 40 min
In this classic episode, Chuck and Josh test the limits of their decorum as they explore the physiology of an orgasm. Learn all about this inexplicably taboo subject (including how even women who are paralyzed can experience orgasms).
How Paramedics Work
Apr 12, 2018 • 50 min
Paramedics are not EMTs. Or fire fighters. Or cops. But they do ride around in ambulances (and drive) to help to save lives. It’s a stressful job and we’re here to shine a light on this noble profession.
Why Landmines Are The Deadliest Legacy Of War
Apr 10, 2018 • 54 min
One of the worst legacies of war are the millions of landmines left behind. They hide for decades after a conflict is over, exploding beneath unsuspecting civilians and children. To many, removing mines and banning new ones is of paramount importance.
SYSK Selects: Sherpas: Warm, Friendly Living
Apr 7, 2018 • 33 min
Pop quiz: What word denotes a nation of people, a last name and an occupation? If you guessed ‘Sherpa,’ then congratulations: You’re correct. But what exactly is a Sherpa? Tune in and learn more as Chuck and Josh explore the culture of the Sherpa people.
Project Azorian: The CIA’s Super 70s Mission To Steal A Sunken Soviet Sub
Apr 5, 2018 • 53 min
In 1974 the CIA undertook one of its most brazen operations – secretly raising a sunken Soviet submarine lost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean right under the noses of the Russian Navy. With the help of billionaire recluse Howard Hughes, obviously.
When Words Take on New Meanings
Apr 3, 2018 • 60 min
Historical words often morph and change to take on new meanings. Today on the podcast, Josh and Chuck sit down and talk about a handful of them, their original meanings, and how they changed over the years to reflect almost nothing about their original…
SYSK Selects: How Guide Dogs Work
Mar 31, 2018 • 43 min
You know how when you see a guide dog leading a blind person to their destination and you think, “There goes a truly great dog?” It turns out you are absolutely correct. Guide dogs are about as special as dogs can get and it’s through years of hard work.…
What are false positives?
Mar 29, 2018 • 47 min
When getting a medical diagnosis, it’s important to understand the terms. Negative is good, positive is bad, false positive is great in a way, but false negative is the worst. Learn all about false positives, when your tests indicate you have a disease of…
How Meals on Wheels Works
Mar 27, 2018 • 50 min
Meals on Wheels is one of the great charitable organizations in the world, providing much-needed nutrition for elderly people in need. It also has a pretty interesting backstory, starting in multiple places in different countries almost simultaneously.…
SYSK Selects: Subways: HUH! What are they good for?
Mar 24, 2018 • 47 min
As ubiquitous as they’ve become, it’s easy to overlook the marvels of engineering that are subways. Chuck and Josh go boring as they explore these systems of tubes that must circumnavigate rock, rivers, cables and more to get you where you’re going.
How the Framingham Heart Study Works
Mar 22, 2018 • 53 min
In the 1940s, a tiny town outside Boston volunteered to be test subjects in a study that would become one of the longest and broadest in the history of medicine. Originally designed to study heart disease, it’s revealed things about plenty else too:…
How the New England Vampire Panics Worked
Mar 20, 2018 • 50 min
In the 19th century, in isolated villages and godforsaken towns in rural New England, people began to suspect their deceased family members had become undead. Thus began everything we know today about killing vampires.
SYSK Selects: How Trickle-Down Economics Works
Mar 17, 2018 • 45 min
The concept of trickle-down economics is tied to Ronald Reagan, but the idea’s been around and in use since the 20s. It’s simple: Give more money to the wealthy and they can use it to rev up an economy. But is the whole thing just a scam?
Is Vaping Really Bad For You?
Mar 15, 2018 • 43 min
E-cigs, vapes, whatever you call them they have been touted as a safer alternative to tobacco and even a way for people to quit smoking. But recent studies have found that perhaps they’re not so harmless after all. So who’s right?
The Huggable, Lovable Walrus
Mar 13, 2018 • 53 min
When it comes to the animal kingdom, SYSK has covered a wide range. This week, the guys dive into the frigid waters of the Arctic to delight in everything that is the huggable, lovable walrus. From their tendency to sticking together in tough times, to…
SYSK Selects: How Cockroaches Work
Mar 10, 2018 • 46 min
You’ve seen them in your home and probably squealed in terror, but now it’s time to learn all about cockroaches. From their ability to run incredibly fast to the appendage that alerts them when you’re about to whack them with your shoe, cockroaches are…
Why Do People Believe In Faith Healing?
Mar 8, 2018 • 56 min
Since a 1906 revival in Los Angeles, people around the world say they’ve been cured by the Holy Spirit after preachers with the Gift of Healing laid their hands on them. Skeptics scoff, but science’s explanations are kind of vague. So what’s going on here?
The Strange Story of Sea Monkeys
Mar 6, 2018 • 55 min
Anyone who ever picked up a comic book as a kid probably marveled at the ads for the mysterious Sea Monkeys. In reality, they are just brine shrimp, not fantastical beings with magical powers. But the story behind the invention of the Sea Monkey is tale…
SYSK Selects: Is there treasure on Oak Island?
Mar 3, 2018 • 39 min
Off Nova Scotia, the tiny spit of land called Oak Island has been host to waves of treasure hunters for more than 200 years. Some of them lost their lives in the search for a treasure reputedly buried in a deep pit. But is anything really there?
SYSK Live: Back When Ford Pintos Were Flaming Deathtraps
Mar 1, 2018 • 77 min
For this special live benefit episode recorded in Atlanta, Josh and Chuck go back to the 70s and look at the decidedly ungroovy course of events that led to Ford recalling its Pinto after people started burning up in them.
Knife Throwing: Super Cool
Feb 27, 2018 • 44 min
Sure knives can cut through a steak or slash through jungle vines, but probably the coolest thing you can do with a knife is throw it. At a person mounted to a wooden wheel. Spinning around. While you’re blindfolded. Learn all about the impalement arts in…
SYSK Selects: How the MPAA Works
Feb 24, 2018 • 46 min
You may be surprised to learn those ubiquitous ratings, from G to NC-17, put on movies in America are actually handed down by anonymous employees of a secretive organization that serves as a lobbying firm for Hollywood’s six biggest studios.
Rosa Parks: Agent of Change
Feb 22, 2018 • 53 min
Rosa Parks finishes out our Black History Month episodes in grand fashion. While most know her from that fateful day on the Montgomery city bus, she actually had a long life as an advocate, protestor and agent of change. Join us today as we celebrate one…
Are Feral Children Real?
Feb 20, 2018 • 44 min
For millennia people have been amazed by legends of wild children found in the forest or jungle, sometimes raised by animals like wolves or apes. But it turns out these stories may actually be true in some cases and may actually have been children with…
SYSK Selects: How the Underground Railroad Worked
Feb 17, 2018 • 38 min
As early as 1786, groups assembled to help slaves escape lives of bondage. And, as the 19th century progressed, the emergent Underground Railroad grew more sophisticated in aiding escaped slaves. But how did it work? Join Josh and Chuck to learn more.
The Harriet Tubman Story
Feb 15, 2018 • 50 min
Harriet Tubman is a legendary figure in history, but the details of her life are even more remarkable than what you may have learned in school. Listen in today as Josh and Chuck pay tribute to a true icon of African-American history.
How Pompeii Worked
Feb 13, 2018 • 53 min
What must be one of the most famous natural disasters in history took place when Mt Vesuvius buried Pompeii in 79 CE. But when the town was resurrected 1700 years later, a new chapter in its history was written.
SYSK Selects: How Narco States Work
Feb 10, 2018 • 35 min
In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck discuss Narco States, places where illegal drugs are traded openly with government support — or without government interference.
The Mystery of The Grand Canyon Newlyweds
Feb 8, 2018 • 54 min
In 1928 Bessie and Glen Hyde attempted to navigate their way through the belly of the Grand Canyon in a homemade boat. They disappeared without a trace and their mystery endures all these years later. Listen in today to hear all about the tragic and…
What is a Mold-A-Rama?
Feb 6, 2018 • 42 min
In the 1960s, a very cool machine debuted at the Seattle World’s Fair - the Mold-A-Rama. It made real plastic toys on-demand from melted plastic pellets, to the delight of children and adults alike. They didn’t last too long, but can still be found at…
SYSK Selects: How Lion Taming Works
Feb 3, 2018 • 31 min
Bossing a lion around in front of a crowd at a circus has been an attraction for 200 years, but exactly how lion tamers get their captive wild animals to comply has evolved over time. Take a peek in the jaws of this odd profession with Josh and Chuck.
Marijuana Vs. Alcohol: Which Is Worse For You?
Feb 1, 2018 • 54 min
It’s been the subject of teenage conversation for decades already, but now you can join Josh and Chuck as they dive into the science of how pot and booze affect your body, mind and behavior and learn which one comes out on top.
The Manson Family Murders Part II
Jan 30, 2018 • 43 min
Listen in today for the conclusion of the story of the Manson Family Murders.
SYSK Selects: Prisons - Not as Fun as You’d Think
Jan 27, 2018 • 47 min
Most people have a basic understanding of how prisons work, but it’s often heavily influenced by fiction. What’s it really like behind those bars? In this episode, Josh and Chuck reveal the practices, controversies and harsh realities of prison life.
The Manson Family Murders Part I
Jan 25, 2018 • 48 min
The ’60s ended with a lot of turbulence, not the least of which was the Manson Family Murders. What made Charles Manson so alluring to his family? What makes one person kill for another? And what did The Beatles have to do with it all? Learn all this and…
How Hoarding Works
Jan 23, 2018 • 64 min
You may be familiar with compulsive hoarding from TV, but something that’s often missing from those shows and the news is the deep and overwhelming shame that this disorder creates in its victims who are neurologically incapable of parting with their…
SYSK Selects: Lab-grown meat: Order up!
Jan 20, 2018 • 29 min
Since Winston Churchill predicted we’d grow meat in a lab by 1981, researchers have considered doing just that. And thanks to the current work of about 30 groups, we may be only years away from mass-produced artificial meat. But will anyone eat it?
How Hang Gliding Works
Jan 18, 2018 • 44 min
It’s a super 70s thing, sure, but hang gliding is a thrill ride for the ages. So strap in with Josh and Chuck and learn all about the earliest method of human flight, originally created by a German man who flew over 2000 times before dying in a crash!
How Removing Public Monuments Work
Jan 16, 2018 • 49 min
Public monuments can be removed for a variety of reasons, from public sentiment changing, to governments being overthrown, to just being downright ugly. Learn all about this hot button topic today.
SYSK Selects: The Wind Cries Typhoid Mary
Jan 13, 2018 • 39 min
In the 19th century, typhoid was considered a disease of the lower classes. When an outbreak occurred in wealthy Oyster Bay, New York, a mystery was afoot. Tune in to learn how this event began an ongoing debate over public safety versus civil rights.
What is an invasive species?
Jan 11, 2018 • 53 min
Invasive species can mean a lot of things, from fungus to feral pigs and European starlings to kudzu vines. Basically, it’s anything brought to a place, either by humans or nature, that didn’t originate there. They aren’t always a problem, but many times…
The Mystery of the Mary Celeste
Jan 9, 2018 • 64 min
When the Mary Celeste was discovered floating and abandoned in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean one day in 1872, the legend of the ghost ship was born. Why did the Mary Celeste’s crew disappear? Was it pirates? Mutiny? UFOs? Well, probably not that last…
SYSK Selects: What Makes a One-hit Wonder?
Jan 6, 2018 • 30 min
The term “one-hit wonder” gets thrown around a lot, and - yes - you probably are using it correctly, but Chuck Bryant went to the trouble to really define what makes a one-hit wonder in the article this episode is based on. Join him and Josh as they get…
How Impeachment Works
Jan 4, 2018 • 54 min
Impeachment is does not necessarily mean a president is removed from office. But it could. It’s a fascinating procedure that has been crafted and shaped over the years because of a lack of detail in its initial definition. Listen in today to learn all…
How Orchids Work
Jan 2, 2018 • 53 min
Ever since Victorian orchid hunters ravaged the tropics in search of unique specimens to sell for ludicrous amounts of money, the West has been gripped by orchidelirium. Small wonder since orchids are not only beautiful, they’re among the most interesting…
SYSK Selects: How Willpower Works
Dec 30, 2017 • 33 min
You use it every day to overcome your lower self (which wants you to eat cake until your vision blurs) in pursuit of the goals of your higher self (which wants you to not develop Type-II diabetes). Yet it was only in the 1990s that researchers began to…
How the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World Works, Part II
Dec 28, 2017 • 48 min
We finish our tour of the best sights of the ancient world when we get deep into the history of a lighthouse that stood for 1200 years, an unsettling statue of Zeus, the world’s first mausoleum, and Chuck’s favorite, the Colossus of Rhodes!
How the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World Works, Part I
Dec 26, 2017 • 45 min
Long before slide rulers and pocket protectors, civilizations across the world used their noggins to build some impressive structures. Almost all have crumbled to ruins over the millennium, but thanks to the earliest tourists, we admire them still today.
SYSK Selects: The Star Wars Holiday Special of 1978
Dec 23, 2017 • 57 min
Long ago, in a galaxy not so far away, George Lucas allowed the Star Wars Holiday Special to be made. What happened on the night of November 17, 1978 can never be fully explained, but we make our best effort in a very special edition of SYSK. May the…
The 2017 SYSK Christmas Extravaganza!
Dec 21, 2017 • 55 min
It’s the most wonderful episode of the year! Join Josh and Chuck as they ride their sleigh through the debate over whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie, the Rockefeller Center tree, a boozy holiday recipe and plenty more great holiday tidings!
Narcissism: But what about me?
Dec 19, 2017 • 62 min
This week Josh and Chuck dive into the world of narcissism, one of the most perplexing and disturbing disorders humans can have. Learn all you ever cared to know about people who largely are centered on the self, lack empathy and don’t understand what the…
SYSK Selects: How Population Works
Dec 16, 2017 • 32 min
Population may not seem like the most scintillating topic in the world, but Josh and Chuck beg to differ. Join them as they explore how population works, from demographics to population control, in this episode.
How the Globe of Death Works
Dec 14, 2017 • 45 min
The Globe of Death – el Globo de la Muerte to our Spanish-speaking friends – is perhaps the greatest of all the circus arts. It requires no smoke, no mirrors, only motorcycles, a giant sphere and fearless riders with the will to bend physics.
The Deal With Doulas
Dec 12, 2017 • 40 min
The word doula in Ancient Greek might mean “female servant” but it’s really not a great description of the 21st century job. Doulas are birth coaches who help women get through the process of childbirth as efficiently and painlessly as possible. They…
SYSK Selects: How much money is there in the world?‚Äč
Dec 9, 2017 • 38 min
There are few things more futile than trying to count all of the money in the world. Even many governments have no idea how much currency they have issued. But that won’t stop Chuck and Josh from trying and explaining why we can’t be sure how much money…
How Flight Attendants Work
Dec 7, 2017 • 43 min
Flight attendants have come a long way. From having to put up with rampant sexism, to the current incarnation as your first line of defense in case of an incident, they are valued airline employees. Learn all about this cool job in today’s episode.
How Vomit Phobia Works
Dec 5, 2017 • 32 min
No one - no one - likes to vomit, but there are some people who would prefer to die rather than vomit, people who spend their days worrying they will vomit at any moment and become so obsessed they curtail their lives to prevent it from happening.
SYSK Selects: How Crime Scene Cleanup Works
Dec 2, 2017 • 35 min
Cleaning up crime scenes is a niche industry that’s both lucrative and messy. In this episode, Josh and Chuck take a look at how crime-scene clean-up works.
Cake: So Great. So, So Great
Nov 30, 2017 • 73 min
Cake has been around for a long time, but mostly less than great forms. It took the Industrial Revolution, the advent of plentiful sugar, and some good old American know-how to come together to make the cake we know and love today.
How Toy Testing Works
Nov 28, 2017 • 49 min
It’s every kid’s dream - a job playing with toys that pays in toys. It’s a real thing and has been around for a long time. Then there’s the other side of the testing process, companies who ensure that toys are safe. It takes both of these testing…
SYSK Selects: How Organ Donation Works
Nov 25, 2017 • 39 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, tune in as Josh and Chuck take a detailed look at organ donation — from the earliest organ transplants to the organ black market.
What is nuclear forensics?
Nov 23, 2017 • 50 min
Nuclear forensics is a lot of things - from UN sponsored inspections to tasks more on the down low. But either way, the job of these men and women is to root out possible nuclear weapon threats. It’s a fairly unknown and thankless task, so allow us to…
Bath Salts: Steer Clear
Nov 21, 2017 • 43 min
Although much of the media-fueled hysteria over the designer drug called bath salts has been utterly unfounded, especially when it comes to driving users to eating people’s faces, you’ll still want to pass on them. Learn why.
SYSK Selects: How Daylight Saving Time Works
Nov 18, 2017 • 37 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, Benjamin Franklin first came up with daylight saving time in 1748, and people still practice it today. But how does it work? What are the pros and cons? Join Josh and Chuck as they turn back the clock to explore the…
Can movies be cursed?
Nov 16, 2017 • 55 min
First of all, movies can’t be cursed because curses aren’t real. However, that can’t stop Josh and Chuck from taking a look at some movies throughout history that have had a disturbing number of bad things surrounding their production and release. Dive…
How the Flu Works
Nov 14, 2017 • 52 min
Every year the flu virus makes the rounds, laying up young and old alike for days before moving on to another hapless victim. But flu viruses can mutate and once in awhile they turn into something much deadlier, a pandemic that can kill millions.
SYSK Selects: How Silly Putty Works
Nov 11, 2017 • 40 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, when the Japanese invaded Southeast Asia in World War II, they cut off America’s rubber supply. Luckily, American can-do created a synthetic rubber and saved the War. Learn about the inventor, fluid chemistry and more…
What’s permaculture all about?
Nov 9, 2017 • 54 min
Permaculture is a growing trend in the world of farming and home landscaping. It’s basically a design principle that emphasizes sustainability and the would-be, natural ecosystem of an area. Simple concepts like planting downhill from a pond and using…
How Restaurant Health Inspections Work
Nov 7, 2017 • 57 min
If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, you know the feeling that occurs when the health inspector pays a visit. While nerve wracking, it’s the best insurance patrons have that their food will be prepared and served in a proper environment. Learn all about…
SYSK Selects: How Exorcism Works
Nov 4, 2017 • 23 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, is the idea of possession a misunderstanding of physiological and psychological conditions, or has science failed to account for unknown, legitimate factors? Learn whether exorcism and psychology are mutually exclusive…
Movie Crush: Tig Notaro on Mask
Nov 3, 2017 • 71 min
Episode two of Movie Crush is a very special one. Comedian Tig Notaro dropped in minutes after a very important, life changing phone call to chat with Chuck about the movie Mask. Have a listen!
Movie Crush: Janet Varney on Tron
Nov 3, 2017 • 53 min
This week Movie Crush launches with two great episodes. Up first, actress Janet Varney talks with Chuck about the movie Tron and how much it means to her.
How Global Warming Works
Nov 2, 2017 • 62 min
It’s a confusing part of climate change when it seems winter is as cold as ever, but as global temperatures creep ever so slightly higher, a cascade of catastrophic events will almost surely follow. The ball is in humanity’s court.
SYSK’s 2017 Super Spooktacular!
Oct 31, 2017 • 58 min
In this year’s super scary Halloween episode, Chuck and Josh read two great works of horror fiction: Gifts, by our very own Ed Grabianowski, and the classic The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
SYSK Selects: How SPAM Works
Oct 28, 2017 • 42 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, SPAM is a canned meat product made from pork shoulder and ham. First introduced in 1937, this iconic food has spread to stores across the world. But what exactly is it, how did it get here — and why is its shelf life…
Episode 1,000: The Simpsons Spectacular Part II
Oct 26, 2017 • 63 min
Today concludes our two part celebration of one of the greatest TV shows of all time - The Simpsons! It also officially marks our 1,000th episode. Can you believe it? We sure can’t. So join us today as we wrap up our tribute to America’s favorite TV…
Episode 999: The Simpsons Spectacular Part I
Oct 24, 2017 • 53 min
For our 999th and 1,000th episodes, we go down the rabbit hole on a TV show that quite literally altered popular culture as we know it. The Simpsons has been around since Josh and Chuck were in grade school, and is still cranking out episodes today. Join…
SYSK Selects: The Cheesiest SYSK Episode Ever
Oct 21, 2017 • 47 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, cheese is often overlooked as a one of humanity’s great achievements. Making cheese is surprisingly easy: It’s been accidentally created by more than one culture at different times. Tune in to learn more about cheese —…
How Internships Work
Oct 19, 2017 • 41 min
The term intern comes from the medical community, but virtually every industry now uses them. From real world training to coffee fetchers, interns can be used and misused in many different ways. Dive into the world of internships with us today. And for…
SYSK Live: The DB Cooper Heist
Oct 17, 2017 • 93 min
Join Josh and Chuck live from Seattle as they (sky)dive into one of the most brazen robberies in the annals of crime and the only unsolved airline hijacking in American history.
SYSK Selects: Is there such a thing as a truth serum?
Oct 14, 2017 • 39 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, ever since people have had secrets, other people have been looking for ways to get it out of them. Law enforcement and chemistry alike have searched for a drug that can remove the ability to lie. Join Josh and Chuck as…
How Buildering Works
Oct 12, 2017 • 49 min
Up until recently we had no idea buildering was a word. Or that people scaling buildings has been a thing since the turn of the 20th Century. Learn along with us, and don’t try it at home.
How the Rolling Jubilee Works
Oct 10, 2017 • 48 min
Everyone thought it was the pits that banks were bailed out by taxpayers in 2008 while those same people weren’t given any relief by the banks. So some Occupy Wall Street members did something about it.
SYSK Selects: Did a cow start the Great Chicago Fire?
Oct 7, 2017 • 31 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, Josh and Chuck find who’s probably to blame for the Great Chicago Fire. The newspapers of the day reported that a cow (or perhaps its owner) was responsible for a fire that burned half of Chicago in 1871. Yet in 1997…
How Giraffes Work
Oct 5, 2017 • 56 min
Even though giraffes are one of the most recognizable animals on the planet, it wasn’t until the 21st century that biology really set about studying them. They’ve found giraffes are even more amazing than they appear.
How Police Body Cameras Work
Oct 3, 2017 • 47 min
Cops wearing cameras is a new thing. So new that we aren’t entirely sure of all the ramifications that go along with them just yet. In theory they should protect both police and citizens, but as we learned, they are no magic pill against police brutality…
SYSK Selects: What was the most peaceful time in history?
Sep 30, 2017 • 31 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, there is a lot of debate about whether pre-agricultural humans existed in a more harmonious state than we do today. Did we slip out of Eden when we began to build large scale societies and pay the price for…
How Nude Beaches Work
Sep 28, 2017 • 47 min
Probably all beaches were nude early on, but as society developed and body shame became all the rage, people started wearing bathing suits. Some, though, liked the way it was before.
How FOIA Works
Sep 26, 2017 • 53 min
In the 60s, Congress worried the White House was operating too much in secret and passed the Freedom Of Information Act, opening the government to public questioning. It has been an ongoing struggle to pry those secrets loose ever since.
SYSK Selects: Fecal Transplants: You Gonna Drink That Poop?
Sep 23, 2017 • 36 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, there’s an emerging field in health care called medical ecology that’s concerned with understanding how the 100 trillion microbes living inside us keep us healthy. The field’s first breakthrough is the fecal transplant,…
A Nostalgic Look at Crayons
Sep 21, 2017 • 54 min
Mixing wax with pigment is something artists have been doing since DaVinci. These little implements would later go on to be called crayons and gained popularity among the elementary school set. Learn all about crayons in today’s episode.
How Frogs Work
Sep 19, 2017 • 53 min
They survived the extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs, but unfortunately frogs seem to be no match for humans and are losing species in droves. This is not good for anyone.
SYSK Selects: How Handwriting Analysis Works
Sep 16, 2017 • 43 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, one of the fields of forensic investigation, handwriting analysis is based on the principle of uniqueness - that each person writes in their own peculiar way. Learn about this interesting area of crime fighting and how…
How the Secret Service Works
Sep 14, 2017 • 56 min
The U.S. Secret Service began after a mandate from President Lincoln called for a service to combat counterfeiters. Since then, they have become more well known as the agency that guards and protects the president and the first family, along with that of…
How Psychopaths Work
Sep 12, 2017 • 50 min
There are people who walk among us who seem normal, maybe even more charming or intelligent than average, yet they hide disturbing and at times dangerous personalities behind what one researcher called a ‘mask of sanity.’
SYSK Selects: How Hip-hop Works
Sep 9, 2017 • 54 min
In this week’s SYSK Select, what you hear is not a test, instead it’s Chuck and Josh discussing the cultural history of the Hip-Hop movement. Born out of the South Bronx, by way of Jamaica, Hip-Hop culture grew up suddenly as DJs learned to use two…
Are crickets the future of food?
Sep 7, 2017 • 46 min
Crickets are part of a larger insect-based diet enjoyed in most parts of the world. Loaded with vitamins, minerals and protein, and green to boot, crickets could help solve some of the world’s food problems if Europe and America get on board. Learn all…
The Baffling Case of the Body On Somerton Beach
Sep 5, 2017 • 67 min
Since his corpse was found in 1948, wearing a nice suit in summer on an Australian beach, an unidentified man has refused to fade into obscurity, gripping the imagination of sleuths around the world.
SYSK Selects: How Shrunken Heads Work
Sep 2, 2017 • 57 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, although U.S. museum collections are rife with counterfeits, shrunken heads are far from fiction. The Shuar tribe of Ecuador has shrunken heads for centuries. Learn the methodical process of shrinking a head and how…
How Satanism Works
Aug 31, 2017 • 55 min
Satanism may be the most misunderstood “religion” in the world. Part of that is because there are, and have been, many offshoots of Satanism, from The Church of Satan to The Satanic Temple. One thing is sure though, none of them are filled with evil…
A Lip-Smacking Look at Barbecue
Aug 29, 2017 • 51 min
Barbecue, or for the lazy, BBQ, is a Southern cooking tradition, but also much more than that. It’s a cultural touchstone of the South where people of all classes and races can sit and break bread with one another. In today’s episode, you’ll learn all…
SYSK Selects: Is Stockholm Syndrome real?
Aug 26, 2017 • 36 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, since a hostage standoff in Sweden took place in 1972 a peculiar and mysterious psychological phenomenon has had a name. But is Stockholm Syndrome real? And what conditions have to be present? Join Chuck and Josh as…
How Personality Tests Work
Aug 24, 2017 • 59 min
For millennia, we have tried to put human personalities into neat types, an effort psychology took up early in its history in an effort to legitimize itself. But is the idea of types – which all personality inventories are based on - flawed to begin with?
Is the Uncanny Valley Real?
Aug 22, 2017 • 70 min
In 1970, roboticist Masahiro Mori wrote an essay that said the closer robots come to lifelike, the more they unsettle humans. His theory became the Uncanny Valley, and science has been evaluating it – and what makes something creepy - in recent years.
SYSK Selects: How Exploitation Films Work
Aug 19, 2017 • 51 min
In today’s SYSK Select episode, we learn about exploitation films. During the 1930s-80s, the work of directors operating in the shadows of Hollywood led to explorations in sexuality and violence that mainstream cinema wouldn’t touch. Join Chuck and Josh…
What’s the deal with accents?
Aug 17, 2017 • 59 min
Accents are truly fascinating. Put simply, they are how a person sounds when they talk. From England to America and all over the world, the way people speak in their native tongue can vary drastically. What are the influences? When do accents begin to…
How Stuttering Works
Aug 15, 2017 • 53 min
Despite as much as one percent of the adult population having the condition, science doesn’t actually know how stuttering works. The best it’s come up with so far: there seems to be an issue between the physical process of speaking and the thought process…
SYSK Selects: How McCarthyism Works
Aug 12, 2017 • 45 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, if you’re accusing someone of disloyalty or subversion without decent evidence, then you may be guilty of McCarthyism. In this episode, Josh and Chuck explore the origin of the term, starting with the infamous…
How Bioarchaeology Works
Aug 10, 2017 • 57 min
Thanks to advancements in fields like genetics, and molecular chemistry, archaeology is undergoing a renaissance and opening up new understanding of the past.
Do motivational speakers motivate people?
Aug 8, 2017 • 52 min
There are all kinds of motivational speakers, from people who have overcome incredible hardships to those who hold pep-rally style events in stadiums. But do these speakers actually help anyone? Science can’t prove it out, but people who take part swear…
SYSK Selects: Why do men have nipples?
Aug 5, 2017 • 28 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, they’re always right there, taunting you: why do you have me, they ask? Why do men have nipples? It turns out there’s a good answer why and nipples on men aren’t entirely useless after all. Join Chuck and Josh for this…
Who Committed the 1912 Villisca Ax Murders?
Aug 3, 2017 • 48 min
In a small town in Iowa in 1912 eight people were murdered in the grisliest of ways while they slept. Local reputations were ruined when accusations flew, but could a drifting serial killer working across the Midwest have been behind it?
How Public Broadcasting Works
Aug 1, 2017 • 59 min
Public broadcasting works a bit differently depending on where you are in the world. American TV made the leap more toward commercial broadcasting in the early days, yet PBS and NPR still remain a vital part of our national fabric. In England and many…
SYSK Selects: How Disco Works
Jul 29, 2017 • 52 min
In today’s SYSK Select episode, fly, robin, fly indeed. No musical genre has risen and burned out as quickly as disco, and historians are still trying to unravel the animosity aimed at it. Join Chuck and Josh as they dig into disco’s underground roots and…
A Dry Look at Toilet Paper
Jul 27, 2017 • 54 min
Over or under? One ply or two? How about six? TP has not been around that long, but is has been embraced in a big way by the United States. Learn all about the interesting history behind this decidedly dry product.
What is Ghost Fishing?
Jul 25, 2017 • 47 min
It sounds cool, but ghost fishing is actually a tragic byproduct of modern fishing practices, where abandoned nylon nets can trap and kill sealife for hundreds of years.
SYSK Selects: How the Sun Works
Jul 22, 2017 • 29 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, amateur astrophysicists Josh and Chuck break out the stats and attempt to explain the complex, boiling ball of gas that we call the sun.
All We Know About Guessing
Jul 20, 2017 • 60 min
Guessing is a weird thing. For millennia, it could have meant the difference between life and death. Now it’s not as vital, but we still do it every day, whether behind the wheel of a car, or judging what another person might be feeling. From wild guesses…
Sunburn, Suntans and Sunscreen
Jul 18, 2017 • 50 min
It’s pretty obvious something’s gone wrong when you get a sunburn, but did you know a tan means you’ve damaged your DNA? Dive into the three Ss of summer and learn all about how to protect yourself from the sun.
SYSK Selects: Why can’t we find Amelia Earhart?
Jul 15, 2017 • 31 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, famed aviator Amelia Earhart’s disappearance in 1937 is a mystery that endures to this day. Why don’t we know what happened to her? In this episode, Josh and Chuck examine the facts and evidence behind the famous case.
How Fever Dreams Work
Jul 13, 2017 • 39 min
Fever dreams can be unsettling experiences. These ramped up nightmares are vivid, detailed and only happen when the human body experiences a fever. What is it about the combination of fevers and dreams that make these night terrors so hellish? Learn all…
Why is There a Battle Over Net Neutrality?
Jul 11, 2017 • 64 min
Net neutrality is the idea that the internet is a public good and that everyone should have equal, unfettered access to it. Though the FCC strongly supported it with new rules in 2015, today’s FCC is under new leadership and has other ideas.
SYSK Selects: How HeLa Cells Work
Jul 8, 2017 • 29 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, after she was diagnosed with the cervical cancer that shortly killed her, a tissue sample was taken from Henrietta Lacks in 1951 without her knowledge. Those cells would go on to become the first immortal line of human…
Josh and Chuck’s List of Horror Movies that Changed the Genre
Jul 6, 2017 • 63 min
Once in a while a movie comes along that’s so forward-thinking it changes the way that horror is done. A new subgenre is spawned, new tropes are established, and audiences are more terrified than ever.
What exactly is stoicism?
Jul 4, 2017 • 60 min
The word stoic has taken on its own meaning apart from the philosophical movement which gave it life. Learn all about the early stoics, what the philosophy is all about and where the movement stands today.
SYSK Selects: Why isn’t the U.S. on the metric system?
Jul 1, 2017 • 39 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, the U.S. stands proudly defiant and the world looks at Americans as dopes for the U.S.’s stubborn refusal to go metric. However, the States have been going metric for about 150 years. Find out what’s the haps in this…
How Standardized Patients Work
Jun 29, 2017 • 53 min
Even the most brilliant medical minds need a good bedside manner, and thanks to standardized patients, they can improve their skills. What are they? Part-time workers who pretend to be real patients so doctors can practice on live humans. If you’re…
Remembering Stonewall
Jun 27, 2017 • 58 min
One of American history’s darker moments, the Stonewall Riots were also the event that galvanized the gay rights movement in the United States. Today there’s a monument in NYC to memorialize this important time. Learn all about this often overlooked story…
SYSK Selects: Scooby Dooby Doo, Where Are You?
Jun 24, 2017 • 43 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, for decades, Scooby Doo has captivated children across the world. It’s been translated to multiple languages and remains as popular as newer programs. But why? Join Chuck and Josh as they shed light on the seemingly…
How Ketchup Works
Jun 22, 2017 • 55 min
Little-known fact: Ketchup, possibly the most all-American of condiments, evolved from fermented fish sauce people in Southeast Asia have been making for more than a thousand years.
How Seed Banks Work
Jun 20, 2017 • 53 min
Since the advent of agriculture, humans have been storing seeds. But as sea levels rise and climates change around the world, our reasons for banking seeds have become more desperate.
SYSK Selects: Do you stay conscious after being decapitated?
Jun 17, 2017 • 32 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, historically speaking, decapitation was a popular means of execution — it’s been used by everyone from ancient Romans to French revolutionaries. But is there any truth to claim that victims retain their consciousness?…
What was Camp X?
Jun 15, 2017 • 52 min
In the early days of World War II, there was a secret training program in Canada that taught Allied saboteurs everything from espionage and bridge blowing to karate chops to the neck of an enemy. It was called Camp X and was so secret that not even the…
How the Beagle Brigade Works
Jun 13, 2017 • 52 min
If you’ve ever been to an international airport, you’ve probably seen one of the keenest spotters of illegal contraband - The Beagle Brigade! These cute dogs aren’t after drugs or bombs, they’re carefully trained to sniff out agricultural products. Learn…
SYSK Selects: How Maps Work
Jun 10, 2017 • 42 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, yes, your brain may have just flash-dried from boredom at the thought of learning about maps, but it turns out they are a lot more than just tools for navigation. Maps are two-dimensional representations of how we…
Why Are Whale Strandings Still a Mystery?
Jun 8, 2017 • 46 min
For millennia, mass strandings of whales have confounded us. Why should dozens or more whales come onto shore only to die a terrible and lengthy death?
How Coelacanths Work
Jun 6, 2017 • 42 min
Coelacanths are incredibly interesting as far as fish go. For one, they were thought to have gone the way of the dinosaur, along with the dinosaur. They also give birth to live fish and tend to dwell more than 800 feet below the ocean’s surface. And this…
SYSK Selects: What’s the deal with Rasputin’s death?
Jun 3, 2017 • 34 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, Grigori Rasputin, the Russian charismatic cleric and political adviser to the ruling Romanovs, is said to have been poisoned, shot, shot again, bludgeoned and drowned. Exactly how did he die and how would such a legend…
The Stories Behind A Few Food Fads
Jun 1, 2017 • 50 min
America loves to go nuts over new food trends and it turns out that the 20th century was a boon time for them.
Are Election Laws Designed to Suppress Voting?
May 30, 2017 • 72 min
Are laws that are meant to protect the sanctity of the polling place in reality designed to make it harder for groups that traditionally vote Democrat to cast their ballots?
SYSK Selects: How Beer Works
May 27, 2017 • 50 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, at long last, Josh and Chuck take on perhaps their most important topic ever. Learn about the history of beer, how it’s made — the whole shebang, basically — in this watershed episode of Stuff You Should Know.
How Schoolhouse Rock Rocked: Featuring Bob Nastanovich of Pavement
May 25, 2017 • 64 min
Schoolhouse Rock is possibly the best children’s program of all time. Join Josh and Chuck as they tell the story of SR, featuring an interview with Pavement’s Bob Nastanovich, contributor to the ’90s Schoolhouse Rock tribute record.
Is a head transplant really a thing?
May 23, 2017 • 46 min
“Head transplant” is a bit of a misnomer, because it’s more like a body transplant. But either way, the idea is that one human will wake up from surgery with a decidedly different look. Is it possible? Probably not. But there are a couple of surgeons who…
SYSK Selects: How Magic Mushrooms Work
May 20, 2017 • 53 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, for thousands of years, humans have used hallucinogenic mushrooms for spiritual reasons. Today, however, having them can get you thrown in prison. How do magic mushrooms do what they do? Can they help the mentally ill?…
How the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis Work
May 18, 2017 • 45 min
It wasn’t too long ago that humans thought the polar lights were signs from the afterlife. Thanks to a 19th century Norwegian, we now understand that they are a fascinating interplay with Earth’s magnetic field and wind from the sun.
How Champagne Works
May 16, 2017 • 62 min
Sure we can all agree that champagne is probably the greatest thing humans have or ever will invent, but how much do we understand how it’s made?
SYSK Selects: Gesundheit! How Allergies Work
May 13, 2017 • 29 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, about 30-40 percent of humans suffer from some sort of allergy. The big joke, though, is that every sufferer is the victim of mistaken identity. Allergies are the result of a hypersensitive immune system mistaking a…
How Charismatic Megafauna Work
May 11, 2017 • 49 min
Charismatic Megafauna is not just a great band name. It’s really just a fancy word for the cutest and most personality plus animals at the zoo. We’re talking pandas, elephants and anything else you might see on a poster. Their mission? To help raise…
How Itching Works
May 9, 2017 • 47 min
It was only in the last few decades that science became aware that itches aren’t just low-level pain. And in that time, the mystery of how we itch and why we scratch has gotten even more baffling.
SYSK Selects: What’s the 10,000 Year Clock?
May 6, 2017 • 49 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, in a desert in Texas a 200-feet-tall clock is being constructed deep inside a mountain. Once completed, it will keep time for the next 10,000 years, even if there are no humans around to use it. Tune in as Chuck and…
Some Nutso Fan Theories
May 4, 2017 • 55 min
It turns out that the characters in your favorite TV shows and the like are actually dead, dreaming, dying or don’t exist.
How Poetry Works
May 2, 2017 • 67 min
Poetry is a broad and expansive art form. From dramatic verse to haiku, rhyming poetry and spoken word, there are many hats a poet can wear. Join Josh and Chuck today as they break down the history of poetry, a dive into what’s so great about it.
SYSK Selects: How Revisionist History Works
Apr 29, 2017 • 46 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, perhaps you equate the term to conspiracy theories and Holocaust denials, but revisionism is a genuine discipline in the field of historical study. And thanks to revisionists, we now include a lot more reality - and…
How Multiple Sclerosis Works
Apr 27, 2017 • 45 min
When the immune system mistakes the tissue covering neural connections as foreign invaders, the result can devastate the body. There is hope, however, in a new radical treatment that resets the immune system.
How the National Security Council Works
Apr 25, 2017 • 56 min
Until recently, most people probably never paid much attention to the National Security Council. It’s been around a long time though, and the president has quite a bit of leeway as to who sits at the table. Learn all about this important group of…
SYSK Selects: How Breast Implants Work
Apr 22, 2017 • 60 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, the first attempt at breast augmentation surgery was on a dog. The second on a woman who went in for tattoo removal. From those weird origins hundreds of thousands of breast implant procedures are now carried out each…
How Swearing Works
Apr 20, 2017 • 51 min
Swearing is something that’s been done across all cultures, virtually since humans began speaking. What is it about these taboo words that offend some, and are beloved by others? Does it help to relieve stress to swear? Are there general rules of thumb…
How Corsets Work
Apr 18, 2017 • 40 min
Sure, we’re doing an episode on corsets. Why do you ask?
SYSK Selects: Lying Liars: How Lying Works, Liar
Apr 15, 2017 • 53 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, studies find that absolutely everyone lies - some have found as much as a quarter of our daily interactions involve lies. What gives with everyone fudging? Chuck and Josh explore the philosophy, psychology and reality…
How Supervolcanoes Work
Apr 13, 2017 • 32 min
Until recently, volcanologists thought supervolcanoes were simply massive volcanoes. But further research has revealed that they are far different - and far more dangerous - than previously imagined.
How Supreme Court Nominations Work
Apr 11, 2017 • 48 min
Being nominated as a Supreme Court Justice is no small thing, and it doesn’t always go as planned. With this week’s confirmation of Justice Gorsuch, Josh and Chuck take a look at the process of getting named to America’s highest court.
SYSK Selects: Can you die of a broken heart?
Apr 8, 2017 • 26 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, in the early 1990s, Japanese researchers found a strange anomaly in their study subjects, five people who had inexplicable heart attacks. From this first investigation has come a scientific mystery: Is it possible that…
How Empathy Works
Apr 6, 2017 • 55 min
Empathy can often be confused with sympathy and regular old compassion. But it’s not exactly either one of those. Some say a lack of empathy can indicate sociopathic tendencies, but that’s not always true either. So what is empathy and what makes someone…
Composting: Nature’s Most Interesting Process
Apr 4, 2017 • 54 min
You may think composting is just a bunch of old banana peels rotting away into dirt but, friend, you’re not looking closely enough. Inside that compost pile is a microcosmic universe doing some magical stuff.
SYSK Selects: How Filibusters Work
Apr 1, 2017 • 39 min
In this week’s SYSK Select episode, although lots of people incorrectly believe the filibuster was an intentional rule created by the founders of the U.S., this ancient method of stalling legislation was actually brought about in America by accident.…
The Shroud Of Turin: No Ordinary Bed Sheet
Mar 30, 2017 • 47 min
The Shroud of Turin is no ordinary bed sheet. Some think it’s the burial cloth of Jesus. Others think it’s an amazing piece of artwork. The truth is, we’ll probably never know what it really is. The mystery of the Shroud of Turin awaits you…
How Foreign Accent Syndrome Works
Mar 28, 2017 • 50 min
Foreign accent syndrome isn’t when your mom talks funny when she goes abroad. It’s an actual condition where people wake up one day with an entirely different accent, usually from some kind of head trauma. Learn all about this decidedly rare affliction…
How the Hyperloop Will Work
Mar 23, 2017 • 64 min
If you’re out there, Elon Musk, this one’s for you (although you already know everything in this episode). Everybody else, buckle in and sit back for a 700 mph thrill ride from LA to SF in 35 minutes - coming soon!
Solitary Confinement: Cruel and Unusual
Mar 21, 2017 • 49 min
In our continuing exploration of crime and punishment, we take a look at the practice of solitary confinement. To be sure, it has its place in prisons, sometimes for protection of the inmates themselves. However, leaving people in solitary for weeks,…
Southerners Aren’t Lazy and Dumb, They Just Had Hookworm
Mar 16, 2017 • 50 min
There was a time when the lower classes of the American South were considered lazy and dimwitted, a stereotype that still somewhat survives today. But this stereotype was rooted in fact. Hookworms, it turns out, were sapping Southerners’ life force.
Pain Scales: Yeeeow!
Mar 14, 2017 • 46 min
Pain is subjective; it is whatever the person experiencing it says it is. But to effectively treat pain, it helps to quantify it, which is why medicine came up with pain scales.
History of the Trail of Tears, Part II
Mar 9, 2017 • 44 min
In the second of two parts, what was once a voluntary resettlement program becomes a violent, forced relocation under the leadership of President Andrew Jackson.
History of the Trail of Tears, Part I
Mar 7, 2017 • 55 min
In this first of two episodes on the Trail of Tears, learn about the forces that converged to create the series of events that formed the basis of what may be the most brutal decade in American history.
How Optical Illusions Work
Mar 2, 2017 • 43 min
Now you see it, now you don’t — optical illusions can fool us into seeing what’s not actually there. But what causes that disconnect between perception and reality? Learn all about this visual trickery in today’s episode.
How Free Speech Works
Feb 28, 2017 • 66 min
Freedom of speech and the press are values vital to American democracy. But the First Amendment doesn’t really define free speech, and plenty of expressions are restricted. Learn all about the ins and outs of this cherished right in today’s episode.
How Famines Work
Feb 23, 2017 • 53 min
It’s common knowledge that famines are usually caused by major droughts: Rain doesn’t fall, crops don’t grow, and people go hungry. But recent research suggests that while weather may trigger famines, they may actually be more of a human-made catastrophe.
The ins and outs of the DEATH TAX
Feb 21, 2017 • 51 min
The estate tax, also known as the death tax, is not new. It’s actually been around in some form since ancient Rome. Some say it’s a necessary tax to help prevent resting on your inheritance laurels. Others say it’s straight up double tax robbery. Learn…
The Black Panther Party
Feb 16, 2017 • 66 min
The Black Panther Party was a complex political movement that was unfairly painted as a militant group who hated white people. Far from it, they were actually men and women trying to effect change in their community. Their history is one of the more…
Tardigrades: Nature’s Cuddly, Indestructible Microanimal
Feb 14, 2017 • 36 min
You can burn them, freeze them, shoot them into space – they wouldn’t bat an eyelash, even if they had eyelashes. Go into the microcosmos and learn about the tiny animals that are so astoundingly durable, they can survive conditions not found here on…
Live from San Francisco: How Malls Work
Feb 9, 2017 • 67 min
In this show recorded live on January 5, 2017 at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre, Josh and Chuck delve into the history and the heyday of the church of consumerism and what it means for local communities and our capitalist society at large when malls die.
The Quinoa Revolution!
Feb 7, 2017 • 46 min
Quinoa is a trendy food, right alongside kale and anything else farm to table. But it’s really an ancient grain. Although it’s not exactly a grain at all. Technically it’s a pseudo-cereal. But it is tasty and nutritious, a true superfood. Learn all about…
What’s the future of virtual sex?
Feb 2, 2017 • 58 min
In the not too distant future, sex may not involve being in the same room as your partner. In fact, your partner may not even have to be a human. We’re talking virtual sex here. Couple VR with high tech, smart sex toys and intercourse as we know it may be…
Elastics: Where God and Science Smooch
Jan 31, 2017 • 54 min
You could be forgiven for thinking the story behind elastics was boring. You’d still be wrong, though. The story of what’s holding up your underwear is a global drama, replete with war, industrial espionage, colonialism, destitute inventors – everything!
How Pacifism Works (And Could It?)
Jan 26, 2017 • 76 min
There is deep disagreement over whether humans are essentially peaceful or essentially warlike. Depending on your view you may see pacifism as either hopelessly naïve or the unsung response to conflict that’s kept us from wiping ourselves out.
How Dictators Work
Jan 24, 2017 • 48 min
There are many types of dictators, from so called “benevolent” ones to the kind who rule with an iron fist. There are also many ways they can come into power, and they don’t all include violence. Learn all about dictators past and present in today’s…
How Soylent Works
Jan 19, 2017 • 43 min
Soylent is a meal replacement drink, but not really. So what is it? Total sustenance in a glass? Some say so. Is it made from humans? No, that’s just a movie. Learn all about this odd concoction in today’s episode.
Are Artificial Sweeteners Really Bad For You?
Jan 17, 2017 • 58 min
Artificial sweeteners have gotten a bad rap in the press for as long as they’ve been in use. But is it just the result of a fear of science or do artificial sweeteners cause real harm? A mounting body of studies is starting to paint a pretty grim picture.
How Watersheds Work
Jan 12, 2017 • 31 min
Unless you happen to be standing on a hilltop or swimming in the ocean right now, you are on a watershed. These unsung wonders of topography and hydrology are an important contributor to the rain cycle and yet we humans tend to abuse them.
What’s the deal with Baby Boomers?
Jan 10, 2017 • 51 min
Baby Boomers are probably the most talked about generation in American history. But who are these people and how did they help shape the country we know today? Find out all about the big boom in today’s episode.
How Feeding Babies Works: The Bottle
Jan 5, 2017 • 72 min
The decision to bottle feed a baby instead of breast-feeding is a weighty one these days, fraught with supposed developmental pitfalls and very real social implications. But is bottle feeding a bad thing? And are benefits of breast-feeding overestimated?
How Feeding Babies Works: The Breast
Jan 3, 2017 • 71 min
Breast milk is considered a perfect food for infants, so much so that for the first four to six months of life, a baby can subsist on mother’s milk alone. Learn all about the most fascinating milk around and the science behind it in this episode.
Human Blockheads: A Real Thing
Dec 29, 2016 • 48 min
Human blockheads are performers who hammer nails and things into their noses. Yup. That’s a thing. And it isn’t a trick either - anyone can do it. Just please don’t try to.
Can you live without a bank account?
Dec 27, 2016 • 53 min
Seems like it would be nearly impossible to live without a bank account these days. But it is possible! Learn all about banking and personal finance in today’s riveting episode.
The Stuff You Should Know 2016 Christmas Extravaganza in 3-D!
Dec 22, 2016 • 55 min
It’s the most wonderful time of year again! Time for Josh and Chuck to take you on a cozy, hall-decked ride full of glad tidings right into the heart of the holiday spirit!
The Golden Age of Grave Robbing: Stuff You Should Know Live in London
Dec 20, 2016 • 78 min
There was a brief period in the US, UK and Ireland when a dead body could fetch a pretty penny for a person willing to dig it up and sell it to surgeons for dissection. It turns out that there was no shortage of ghoulish types willing to do just that.
How Porta-Potties Work
Dec 15, 2016 • 43 min
Despite our lengthy history of evacuating our bowels and bladders, it wasn’t until the relatively recent 1940s that we began to construct portable, self-contained toilets to accept our waste. Dive into the world of porta-potties in this episode.
Will We Find Evidence of Aliens by Their Engineering Projects?
Dec 13, 2016 • 48 min
In 1960 physicist Freeman Dyson suggested that in the hunt for alien life, we should search for evidence of massive engineering projects that encapsulate stars with solar arrays to harness their energy. Could we humans ever make one ourselves?
Is computer addiction a thing?
Dec 8, 2016 • 50 min
Computer addiction is really an umbrella term for the various addictions that can come along with the computer. We’re talking video games, porn, gambling and the like. We dive deep into the world of digital addiction in today’s episode.
Horoscopes: Written in the Stars?
Dec 6, 2016 • 52 min
A lot of people read their daily horoscopes, but does anyone really take stock in them? Turns out the answer is yes, even though there is no evidence of their accuracy. Learn all about horoscopes today.
How a Flea Circus Works
Dec 1, 2016 • 48 min
If you’ve ever seen a flea circus, then count yourself among the few. It’s a dying art, but back in the day they thrilled and delighted young and old alike. Learn all about the tiny big tops in today’s episode.
Frostbite: Yeeeow!
Nov 29, 2016 • 38 min
Up to the 1950s most reports of frostbite came from the world’s militaries, but as outdoor sports have gotten more popular, so have frostbite cases. Learn about how frostbite wreaks havoc on your extremities, even literally freezing off your tookus.
Should Advertising to Kids Be Banned?
Nov 24, 2016 • 68 min
As kids’ buying power in America has exploded in recent decades, so too has the amount companies spend advertising to them. But because of a quirk of brain development, kids aren’t equipped to understand ads are manipulating them. Should they be banned?
The Kitty Genovese Story
Nov 22, 2016 • 40 min
Most people have heard of the story of Kitty Genovese. She was murdered near her apartment in 1964 and her neighbors didn’t do much to help. It caused a nationwide outcry, but the story has often been misrepresented. We’ll set the record straight.
What’s the Deal with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy?
Nov 17, 2016 • 41 min
Concussions are bad enough for football players, but research has found all of those smaller hits can add up to massive brain trauma later in life too, leading to a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition the NFL sought to cover up.
How Fireplaces Work
Nov 15, 2016 • 59 min
They are dirty, harmful to your health, bad for the environment and utterly charming. Wood-burning fireplaces have been with us for centuries and, despite their many drawbacks, are sticking around. Learn more than you thought possible about the fireplace.
How Monty Python Worked: SYSK Live from LA Podfest
Nov 10, 2016 • 54 min
Things get awesome when Josh and Chuck do a live show on Monty Python at the LA Podcast Festival. Hang out as the duo dives into the “Beatles of Comedy,” what made them tick, what made them so funny, the whole bit. Plus, Kevin Pollak crashes the stage.
Do sin taxes work?
Nov 8, 2016 • 54 min
Taxing things like alcohol, tobacco and gambling is big money and has been for a long time. But are these “sin taxes” keeping people from indulging or are they simply a way to raise revenue? Learn all about sin taxes in today’s episode.
A Partial History of Action Figures
Nov 3, 2016 • 75 min
Action figures have a long and glorious history. From GI Joes to Star Wars figures, these offshoots of dolls came along at just the right time to capture the hearts and minds of children everywhere. Learn all about the partial history of action figures…
Ham Radio and the Hams Who Use Them
Nov 1, 2016 • 48 min
If you thought that Ham Radio enthusiasts were (mostly) men and boys who sit alone late at night in order to scan frequencies searching for a human connection then you’re absolutely correct. But it’s much more than that.
SYSK The Podcast: Special Halloween Bonus Episode 2016, The Sequel – From Hell
Oct 31, 2016 • 41 min
Lock your doors and grab something heavy to defend yourself, like a candlestick or something, because Josh and Chuck are going to scare the wits out of you, courtesy of a story from The Grabster and listeners who submitted two-sentence horror. Scary!
The Hinterkaifeck Axe Murders
Oct 27, 2016 • 48 min
In 1922, a little farm in the woods of Bavaria became the site of what would become Germany’s most famous unsolved murder, when six people were brutally killed with a pick axe. What led up to it and followed is nothing short of bizarre.
How Sleep Paralysis Works, or The Worst Thing That Can Happen While You’re Sleeping
Oct 25, 2016 • 43 min
For as long as people have been sleeping, about half of us have probably suffered from sleep paralysis. Thanks to an unusual fluke in the sleep cycle, the sufferer feels paralyzed and consumed by fear as something on their chest tries to kill them.
Living Underground in Beijing
Oct 20, 2016 • 32 min
Chairman Mao’s paranoia of a Soviet invasion led to hundreds of thousands of Beijing residents put to work for a decade building an 85-square-km underground city to serve as a massive bomb shelter. Instead it’s illegal underground housing today.
What’s the What with Fish Fraud?
Oct 18, 2016 • 43 min
Fish fraud, misrepresenting a fish as a more expensive one, costs Americans $25 billion a year. And because less than 100 inspectors check for fraud in the US and everyone from wholesalers to sushi restaurants are free to rip off their customers.
How the Census Works
Oct 13, 2016 • 47 min
Counting humans has been happening for a long, long time. It usually had to do with taxing them, but now census data can reveal a lot about a population and help satisfy its needs. Count us in for this episode.
Hibernation: Not a Snooze
Oct 11, 2016 • 47 min
When animals are faced with scarce food in the winter, they have two choices to stay alive: migrate or hibernate. For hibernators, their bodies undergo some mind-boggling physiological changes in the coldest months. Could humans ever do it too?
Why Did Easter Island’s Civilization Collapse?
Oct 6, 2016 • 57 min
When the first Europeans landed on Rapa Nui, which they renamed Easter Island, they were puzzled by what happened there. Only a few thousand people lived there but there were signs of a massive civilization that once flourished. What happened there?
The Amazing History of Soda
Oct 3, 2016 • 48 min
The soda we get instantly mixed at a fast-food joint owes a lot to a rich history going back to the Roman baths, that features drugs, diseases and explosions. Learn all about soda and soda fountains in this surprisingly interesting episode.
How Polar Bears Work
Sep 29, 2016 • 48 min
Polar bears are more than just lovable creatures that roam the ice in search of food. They’re one of the most fascinating animals on planet Earth. Sadly, as ice shrinks, so does their habitat. Learn all about these huggable beasts in today’s episode.
How Ice Ages Work
Sep 27, 2016 • 49 min
Believe it or not, we live in an ice age. The polar glaciers give it away. Those glaciers used to come clear down to New York. We now know the traces they left are everywhere if you know what to look for; it just took some Swiss peasants to figure it out.
All we know about Zika so far…
Sep 22, 2016 • 49 min
Zika is all over the news these days, yet in America, people don’t seem to be too concerned just yet. Some say it’s a case of the media crying wolf. Others say it’s because the risk factors for zika are limited. Learn all about the latest virus to take…
How Cerebral Palsy Works
Sep 20, 2016 • 63 min
Cerebral palsy isn’t a disease, but an umbrella term for conditions arising from brain damage suffered in the womb or shortly after birth. The factors involved are so divergent no two cases of CP are alike, making it – and people who have CP – fascinating.
What’s the deal with Stradivarius violins?
Sep 15, 2016 • 42 min
The Strad violin is noted for its tonal qualities and superior craftsmanship. And for its price tag. There are many theories why the Strad sounds so great, from the wood to the lacquer, to the simple fact that Antonio Stradivari was really good at what he…
Alexander Hamilton: Most Influential American?
Sep 13, 2016 • 52 min
Alexander Hamilton, the “ten dollar founding father,” is more than the toast of Broadway. In fact, he just may be the most influential American in history. A brash genius, Hamilton wasn’t much of a politician. He was all about policy. Learn all about…
Do Animals Have Natural Rights?
Sep 8, 2016 • 63 min
Animals have had legal protection from unnecessary harm since the 19th century. Yet what harm is necessary is open to interpretation and animals continue to suffer and die for science and commerce. Should they have the right to freedom from humans?
How Animal Testing Works
Sep 6, 2016 • 50 min
The use of animals for commercial and scientific testing is a quietly controversial topic. That we humans have advanced as a species because we use animals as literal and figurative guinea pigs is undeniable. But do we have the right to do that?
How the Negro Leagues Worked
Sep 1, 2016 • 57 min
A decade before the U.S. officially segregated in 1896, baseball banned black players. A decade before the US integrated, baseball broke the color barrier. Between, the Negro Leagues produced some of the finest players to ever take the field.
How Food Tasters Work
Aug 30, 2016 • 54 min
Some people might think that tasting food for a living is the best job in the whole wide world. But think again! The reality is, it can be a tedious, grueling job that destroys your very love of food.
This Custom of Customs
Aug 25, 2016 • 61 min
Customs may be a pain when you’re traveling, but it’s a necessary instrument the government uses to regulate trade. And it has a very fascinating history. Your passport please?
Jellyfish: Even Cooler than Octopi?
Aug 23, 2016 • 54 min
Jellyfish are among the most adaptable, competitive organisms on the planet. They can grow back into their juvenile stage when resources are scarce, reproduce in massive groups and kill an adult human, among lots of other neat stuff. Learn all about em!
The Delightful History of Steam Technology
Aug 18, 2016 • 53 min
One of the coolest things humans have ever figured out is how to use steam as power. It made the Industrial Revolution possible and even today, 88% of America’s electricty comes from steam turbines.
How Woolly Mammoths Worked
Aug 16, 2016 • 52 min
It was only 11000 years ago that the last true woolly mammoths died out, close enough to the modern age that humans lived alongside them. But were humans the cause of mammoths’ sudden extinction or was climate change to blame?
Evel Knievel Part II
Aug 11, 2016 • 46 min
In today’s episode, we cover part two of our Evel Knievel suite. The man, the myth, the legend. Check in and listen to the latter stages of Evel’s career as the world’s most legendary daredevil.
Evel Knievel Part I
Aug 9, 2016 • 40 min
Evel Knievel was perhaps the world’s most legendary daredevil. He came along at a time when the world ate up this kind of entertainment, partially in hopes that he crashed. And crash he did. A lot. Learn all about this icon in this special two part…
Mermaids: Not a real thing
Aug 4, 2016 • 43 min
Mermaids aren’t real. That much we know. But the history and lore of these magical and sometimes menacing creatures of the sea is pretty interesting stuff. Learn all about these half women/half fish today.
How Night Terrors Work
Aug 1, 2016 • 52 min
Night terrors, an uncommon sleep disorder, happen when the brain doesn’t transition correctly to deep sleep. The result is terrifying, with the sufferer genuinely terrified, swatting at invisible attackers, and screaming for help - all while sound asleep.
What is exploding head syndrome?
Jul 28, 2016 • 37 min
Exploding head syndrome isn’t nearly as weird as it sounds, and there are no brain parts being damaged. But if you suffer from it, you will definitely be freaked out. The good news is, despite its name, it’s not dangerous at all.
How Triage Works
Jul 26, 2016 • 44 min
Triage is a system that provides immediate attention and categorization for medical emergencies that hopefully will never be a big part of your life. Unless you work in an ER. Learn all about the interesting history and current methods for this life…
How the Moonwalk Works
Jul 21, 2016 • 43 min
When Michael Jackson debuted the moonwalk in 1983 the world was enrapt. The dance goes back farther, to the 1930s, and pops up again in the 50s, before reappearing via mimes and West Coast poppers in the 70s. Follow the circuitous route of an iconic move.
How Chaos Theory Changed the Universe
Jul 19, 2016 • 57 min
Since the age of Descartes, science has put all of its eggs in the basket of determinism, the idea that with accurate enough measurements any aspect of the universe could be predicted. But the universe, it turns out, is not so tidy.
The Gettysburg Address: Short and Sweet
Jul 14, 2016 • 45 min
The Gettysburg Address is one of the most famous speeches in political history, despite only being a few hundred words long. What was so special about this commemoration? We’ll give you the skinny right here and now.
How Radiation Sickness Works
Jul 12, 2016 • 49 min
Fortunately, science has very few instances where humans have been exposed to acute radiation poisoning to study for clues to treating radiation sickness. They have found, though, that those few instances have been grave.
What’s with this “Internet of Things”?
Jul 7, 2016 • 65 min
You may have heard about the Internet of Things and not known what the term meant. It’s basically a collection of object conected to your life and the internet. We’re talking everything from your smart phone to your fitness tracker. Cool stuff, but…
Research tips from SYSK
Jul 5, 2016 • 45 min
People often ask us how we do our research. We’re not going to disclose all of our secrets, but we’ll give you some tips on how to root out the bad studies from the good ones. Learn all about shady studies and reporting right now!
How Lighthouses Work
Jun 30, 2016 • 47 min
People have been burning fires on cliffs as long as other people have used boats, but after the Age of Exploration, lighthouses took their unmistakable form and the great stories of the people who kept the lights around the world began.
How Underground Mining Works
Jun 28, 2016 • 45 min
People used to use deer antlers to beat the minerals out of rock hidden in the earth. Luckily, they got better at it, and now modern mining is a mind-boggling process for efficiently removing stuff we want from inside the planet.
What’s the misery index?
Jun 23, 2016 • 47 min
Economists love their data because somewhere in the numbers lies the answer to the ills of the country. They also love to frame data in a way people can relate to. Such is the case with the famous “misery index.”
How Space Stations Work
Jun 21, 2016 • 51 min
It seems like we largely take it for granted these days, but the fact that we have humans living in space is the realization of a scientific dream a century old. Visit the space stations orbiting Earth past, present and future in this episode.
How Steadicams Work
Jun 16, 2016 • 37 min
There have been many inventions that have advanced filmmaking, but maybe none as important as the steadicam. Invented in the mid-70s, it literally changed the way movie making happened, and made the impossible possible. Learn about the fascinating history…
Why Are So Many Disembodied Feet Washing Ashore In British Columbia?
Jun 14, 2016 • 39 min
Between 2007 and 2016, 17 disembodied feet - still wearing shoes - have washed ashore between Washington and British Columbia. What’s behind the sudden influx of Vancouver’s mystery feet?
What’s the deal with controlled burns?
Jun 9, 2016 • 42 min
Starting a fire to prevent fire seems counterintuitive, but it makes a lot of sense once you understand it. But controlled burns aren’t just to help prevent forest fires. They’re also a vital part of keeping the local ecosystem healthy and thriving. Learn…
How Motion Sickness Works
Jun 7, 2016 • 39 min
Motion sickness is the worst and hits about 25 to 40 percent of humans when they ride in cars, boats, or simply watch the wrong 3-D movie. Join us as we break down the science behind this nausea-inducing affliction.
How Gene Editing Works
Jun 2, 2016 • 36 min
With the discovery of a surprising immune response in E coli bacteria, we are facing a new era of freedom from genetic mutations that lead to disease by simply and precisely editing our genes. But there is also a potential dark side to gene editing.
How SuperBalls Work
May 31, 2016 • 27 min
You can thank Wham-O’s SuperBall for inspiring the name of the NFL’s Big Game (buh) and you can thank the fear and the Soviet launch of Sputnik aroused in America for the invention of SuperBall! Learn the history and physics of this bouncy legend.
How Crumple Zones Work
May 25, 2016 • 36 min
If you’ve ever been in a bad accident in a newer car, you probably have crumple zones to thank for your life. Much more interesting than you think, these zones are designed to break apart and absorb impact, so you don’t have to.
Chiggers: The Phantom Menace
May 23, 2016 • 35 min
Chiggers are tiny little mites capable of making your life miserable. Worse than mosquitoes? Maybe. But they aren’t insects - mites are actually part of the arachnid family and behave a little like ticks. Learn all about these nearly invisible pests in…
The Unsolved Mystery Disappearance of the Sodder Children
May 18, 2016 • 47 min
In 1945 a house fire took the lives of five children - except that no trace of their bodies was ever found. Dive into the longstanding mystery of the odd circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the Sodder children.
How Bonsai Works
May 16, 2016 • 58 min
For thousands of years people have been taking normal trees and forcing them into miniature. Learn all about the history and art of this strangely engrossing pastime.
True stories of survival cannibalism!
May 11, 2016 • 44 min
Cannibalism is the macabre practice of eating other humans. But sometimes, people have no choice if they want to survive. It’s called survival cannibalism and it tastes like chicken.
How Snake Handlers Work
May 9, 2016 • 56 min
Snake handling ranges from professional snake milkers for antivenin to religious handlers who tend to get bitten and sometimes die from it. Either way, it can be a dangerous business. Learn all about snake handling right here, right now.
How LSD Works
May 5, 2016 • 105 min
In 1943 Swiss chemist Albert Hofman discovered he’d created what may be the most potent hallucinogen known to humankind. Then he took a bike ride. Learn about the chemistry, neurology, history and cultural impact of LSD-25.
How Megalodon Worked
May 3, 2016 • 35 min
Between 2 to 20 million years ago, the biggest shark with perhaps the most devastating bite of any animal ever ruled the oceans with an iron jaw. Despite its fierceness, megalodon went extinct while other species that swam with it survive today. Why?
What was Operation Plowshare?
Apr 28, 2016 • 44 min
America had already used two nuclear bombs to devastating effect when researchers thought “maybe we can use these bombs to dig big holes instead.” That’s right, atom bombs to replace bulldozers. And it worked great.
Myths and Truths About Tornadoes
Apr 25, 2016 • 46 min
Tornadoes can make mincemeat out of houses, people, cars, you name it. So do you know what to do - and what not to do - when there’s one headed your way?
Does Kin Selection Explain Altruism?
Apr 21, 2016 • 35 min
There’s a curious puzzle unanswered by the theory of evolution: why do some animals give up their chance to reproduce to help others reproduce instead? For decades biologists have suggested family was the reason, but that has recently been challenged.
What Makes Lead So Poisonous?
Apr 19, 2016 • 52 min
The people of Flint, MI were horrified to find their drinking water was poisoned with lead. As we learn more about lead’s effects and realize how persistent it is, the more worrying it becomes. What makes lead so toxic?
How Big Bang Theory Works, with Neil deGrasse Tyson
Apr 14, 2016 • 69 min
There are a number of theories for how the universe evolved but none are more widely accepted than the Big Bang theory. Learn about the mind-boggling details of the early universe and hear Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson talk about what it will take for us to…
How the Gender Pay Gap Works
Apr 12, 2016 • 43 min
The gender pay gap is the amount of time into the next year a woman must work to earn as much as a man did the previous year. And it’s narrowing at a snail’s pace.
How Labor Strikes Work
Apr 7, 2016 • 56 min
Labor strikes are the last resort of a workforce frustrated with low pay or dangerous working conditions. A big part of winning a wage war is having the public in your side. Learn all about strikes in today’s episode.
Our cats episode - right here, right meow
Apr 5, 2016 • 58 min
Cats are the most popular pet in the United States, despite the fact that we’ve only been keeping them indoors for 50-60 years. Learn about more cat facts in today’s episode.
Nostalgia is not the most toxic impulse
Mar 31, 2016 • 39 min
Nostalgia is a funny thing. It’s not home sickness, it’s more connected to emotions and a time in your life. But is nostalgia worthwhile? Nascent science says it just might be.
What Was the Deal With the Hatfields and McCoys?
Mar 29, 2016 • 45 min
It was America’s most famous family feud, but the history of the Hatfields vs the McCoys is fraught with bias and inaccuracies. Dig into a disagreement in 19th-century Appalachia that became a very big deal around the world.
How TED Talks Work: Featuring Roman Mars
Mar 24, 2016 • 65 min
TED Talks have been around longer than you think. They became really popular once YouTube came along to bring their often inspirational messages to the world, 18 minutes at a time. In this episode, we interview an actual TED talker, the host of the 99%…
Who Gets to Name Continents?
Mar 22, 2016 • 44 min
America is named after Amerigo Vespucci, right? Maybe not. And who named Australia? Find out the unusually uncertain origins of the continents and other interesting stuff in this episode.
How Makeup Works
Mar 17, 2016 • 53 min
Humans have been wearing makeup for a few thousand years now and yet, here in the US the chemicals used in them are still not understood and not really regulated. Delve into the history of makeup and the psychology and feminist theory around it.
Some Really Interesting Cases of Mass Hysteria
Mar 15, 2016 • 41 min
Around the world and across time, people have fallen victim to one of the strongest contagions of all - the power of suggestion. Here are just a few examples of these bizarre cases.
How Dark Money Works
Mar 10, 2016 • 50 min
Since the Supreme Court ruled in 2010 in the Citizens United case that political contributions are speech and should be protected, the floodgates of anonymous political contributions have opened. But does absolute funding corrupt absolutely?
How The Iditarod Works
Mar 8, 2016 • 60 min
Each year hundreds of dogs haul humans in sleds as part of the 1,100 plus mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. It’s grueling and not without controversy but one thing is for sure, these are some amazing dogs.
How Freak Shows Worked
Mar 3, 2016 • 51 min
Not too long ago, people would pay money to gawk and stare at a performer with a physical disformity. They were called freakshows and they began in large part thanks to P.T. Barnum, whose circus we still enjoy today. Sounds awful, but some of these…
How El Nino Works
Mar 1, 2016 • 37 min
El Nino may mean “the little boy” or “Christ Child” in Spanish, but this weather phenomenon really means crazy things for Planet Earth. We’re talking rain where it’s typically dry and drought where it’s usually wet. Learn why today.
(Approximately) 10 Things That Vanished Mysteriously
Feb 25, 2016 • 56 min
Sometimes things - like dentures, airplanes or even people - go missing. And when they never turn up again they become enduring, and engrossing, mysteries.
The Future of Renewable Energy, Featuring Bill Gates
Feb 23, 2016 • 51 min
Renewable energy could be the key to ensuring the future prosperity and health of Planet Earth and humankind. In this very special episode, we sit down and discuss the possibilities with Bill Gates.
How Nitrous Oxide Works
Feb 18, 2016 • 55 min
For about 175 years people have been huffing nitrous oxide for everything from vision quests to anesthetic to get plain old high. And after all that time we are only now beginning to understand how it works on our brains.
How Jackhammers Work
Feb 16, 2016 • 32 min
It’s likely that without the invention of the pneumatic jackhammer, the Industrial Revolution wouldn’t have hummed along quite so smoothly. Certainly a lot more trains would go around mountains than through them. Learn about this essential tool here.
What’s the Deal With Poop?
Feb 11, 2016 • 48 min
We are going to get down and dirty with all things poop in this episode: What a healthy poop looks like, how to poop your best, the history of using poop to survive in the Canadian wild and lots more interesting stuff.
How Rabies Works
Feb 9, 2016 • 43 min
Rabies may have gotten a lot of attention in the U.S. in the 70s and 80s, but it’s still an issue in developing countries. Learn all about this nasty virus in today’s episode. And stay away from racoons and bats.
How Land Diving Works
Feb 4, 2016 • 41 min
On Pentacost Island the ritual that preceded bungee jumping is alive and well. Just why do these tribesmen risk life and limb? To ensure a hearty yam harvest. Great reason.
Operation Mincemeat: How A Corpse Fooled the Nazis
Feb 2, 2016 • 47 min
In World War II, a secret department of British ‘corkscrew thinkers’ hatched a plan to use the cadaver of an unclaimed homeless man to turn the tide of the war in the Allies’ favor. It worked.
Does Whole-Body Cryotherapy Work?
Jan 28, 2016 • 37 min
Forty years after a Japanese doctor began using whole body cryotherapy to treat patients with arthritis; the technique has made its ways to med-spas and locker rooms throughout the West. But does it actually do anything?
How Personalized Medicine Works
Jan 26, 2016 • 41 min
Hippocrates realized that it is even more important to understand the patient than to understand the disease and now, 2000 years later, we are coming back to that way of thinking with personalized medicine. ?
Timber! How Timber Works
Jan 21, 2016 • 67 min
Throughout much of the world, the forests are being managed through sustainable timber harvesting practices. This has come at the cost of much legal battling and a century of practice. ?
Sir Isaac Newton: Greatest Scientist of All Time?
Jan 19, 2016 • 55 min
There have been a lot of great scientist throughout history, but Sir Isaac Newton might just take the cake. But while he was a certified genius, he was also a little screwy. Dive into the life of this fascinating chap in today’s episode.
The Duality of Caffeine
Jan 14, 2016 • 49 min
Caffeine is a heck of a drug - at the same time it’s both good and bad for you. Learn the good, bad and ugly about this everyday stimulant in today’s episode.
How Futurology Works
Jan 12, 2016 • 42 min
Science fiction writers have made some amazingly accurate predictions over the years, but in 1945 the pace of technological change created a field that spun off of sci-fi forecasting, futurology.
Body Language!
Jan 7, 2016 • 40 min
Body language is how you communicate without words. Some say it bears more impact in communication than speaking words. Learn about how you say what you say could mean more than you think.
The “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s
Jan 5, 2016 • 59 min
In the late 1980s, the United States experienced a “Satanic Panic,” leading parents to fear for the safety of their children. But were there any real examples of Satanic ritual abuse? Find out this and more in today’s episode.
How Lizzie Borden Worked
Dec 31, 2015 • 43 min
Everybody knows how many whacks Lizzie Borden gave her mother and father with that axe, but there is plenty about the infamous double homicide that remains unresolved, like who actually did it. Travel into the mystery of Lizzie Borden in this episode.
The Great Wall of China Episode
Dec 29, 2015 • 43 min
The Great Wall of China is one of the most visited tourist desinations in the world. How’d it get built? How old is it? What’s the current condition? Learn this and more in today’s episode.
The Stuff You Should Know 2015 Jolly Christmas Extravaganza
Dec 24, 2015 • 47 min
It’s the most wonderful time of year again! Join Chuck and Josh as they explore Christmas traditions around the world, tidbits about Elf, holiday foods and lots more joyous stuff in this glad tidings-packed episode.
How Gossip Works
Dec 22, 2015 • 39 min
You know what I heard? That Josh and Chuck hate each other and they’re just faking being friends for the show. That’s called gossip, folks and it can do serious damage. Learn all about it in today’s episode.
The Star Wars Holiday Special of 1978
Dec 17, 2015 • 55 min
Long ago, in a galaxy not so far away, George Lucas allowed the Star Wars Holiday Special to be made. What happened on the night of November 17, 1978 can never be fully explained, but we make our best effort in a very special edition of SYSK. May the…
How the Antikythera Mechanism Works
Dec 15, 2015 • 33 min
In 1900 sponge divers found the wreck of a 2000 year-old treasure ship that contained within it a machine that should not exist. Learn of the device that reveals an understanding of the cosmos far more sophisticated than anyone knew the Greeks possessed.
How Reverse Psychology Works
Dec 10, 2015 • 35 min
You have very likely used reverse psychology before, trying to persuade someone to do something you want by suggesting they do the opposite. What’s behind the bizarre reaction this elicits?
Carl Sagan: American Hero
Dec 8, 2015 • 41 min
Carl Sagan was the world’s first mainstream media super scientist, capapble of breaking down complex ideas for the common folk. But what made him tick? Billions and billions of great ideas.
How HIV/AIDS Works, Part II
Dec 3, 2015 • 41 min
In part two of the series on HIV/AIDS, Chuck and Josh explore how the battle against the disease is being fought and won thanks to new treatments and possible cures.
How HIV/AIDS Works, Part I
Dec 1, 2015 • 55 min
AIDS is one of the most well-known and most misunderstood diseases humans are susceptible to. In part one of this two-part series, Josh and Chuck explain how the disease is contracted and how it works.
Live in Chicago: How Public Relations Works
Nov 26, 2015 • 76 min
After a year of taking it on the road, Josh and Chuck are releasing their show on public relations. Learn all about the ways you’re manipulated on a daily basis and the man who invented it in this fascinating live episode.
The Lowdown on Anonymous
Nov 24, 2015 • 47 min
Anonymous is an amorphous group of hacktivists with no single leader or power structure. Some call them heroes, others call them criminals. Can they be both?
How Dementia Works
Nov 19, 2015 • 50 min
The number of people suffering from dementia is expected to explode in the coming decades and, in a pleasant surprise, countries around the world are taking steps to plan for the increase in friendly, caring ways.
How Rodney Dangerfield Worked, Live From LA
Nov 18, 2015 • 59 min
Other comedians cry on the inside, but Rodney Dangerfield built his entire act around his sad life. Get to know this legendary comic who was nearing 50 when he got his break.
What’s the Deal With Staring?
Nov 17, 2015 • 37 min
Gazing too long upon another person is almost universally viewed as anywhere from impolite to hostile, which is odd considering science isn’t fully certain why we stare - and why we’re so good at knowing when we’re being stared at.
How The Voynich Manuscript Works
Nov 12, 2015 • 42 min
Since its re-discovery in the early 20th century, the Medieval codex the Voynich Manuscript has thoroughly puzzled anyone who has tried to unlock its secret language and bizarre drawings. Will it ever give up its secrets?
Maggots: Good For Healing Wounds, Turns Out
Nov 10, 2015 • 40 min
Cultures around the world over the years have been inspired by, then repulsed, then inspired by maggots’ ability to heal persistent wounds. We are in an inspired-by phase right now.
How Grimm’s Fairy Tales Work
Nov 5, 2015 • 54 min
Unless you were raised alone in a basement (in which case you may be the subject of one), you probably grew up on fairy tales. That’s appropriate because they may be humanity’s greatest psychic projection screen.
The Dark Origins of Fairy Tales
Nov 3, 2015 • 44 min
Fairy tales are for kids right? Well not at first they weren’t. They were dark tales of murder, rape, incest, cannibalism and mayhem geared toward adults. What changed? Chuck and Josh will drop that knowledge and more in today’s episode.
Josh N Chuck’s Hallowe’en Spooky Scarefest
Oct 29, 2015 • 55 min
Each year, Chuck and Josh read a couple of scary stories and this year they have a pair of truly frightful tales about a haunted bog and a terrifying spider exhibit.
How Passports Work
Oct 27, 2015 • 39 min
The concept of passports - that people should enjoy protected freedom of movement - is an ancient one. It wasn’t until WWI that they became universal. Learn all about this overlooked, important document.
Vocal Fry and Other Speech Trends
Oct 22, 2015 • 37 min
You’ve heard lots of complaints about vocal fry, mostly from older white men. But it’s not exclusive to the Kardashians. Learn all about vocal fry, upspeak and other quirky speech trends in today’s episode.
Please Listen to How Plasma Waste Converters Work
Oct 20, 2015 • 38 min
There is a way to not only sustainably get rid our household waste, but also produce enough energy from it to power the process and even create electricity for the grid. The future is here!
How Wine Fraud Works
Oct 15, 2015 • 50 min
Wine fraud may be a case of rich con artists tricking wealthy people into parting with money, but it’s still a crime. Learn all about this weird, widespread practice in today’s episode.
How Vestigial Organs Work
Oct 13, 2015 • 46 min
Darwin asserted that seemingly useless organs and behaviors are left over from our evolutionary history. But as more are found to have a function, the idea has become a flashpoint for the battle between science and religion.
What was the Philadelphia Experiment?
Oct 8, 2015 • 50 min
The Philadelphia Experiment is a bad movie from the 1980s, and also the conspiracy theory that refuses to die, despite virtually zero evidence of its occurrence. Learn all about this strange non-event in today’s show.
How Lobbying Works
Oct 6, 2015 • 56 min
Lobbying is an entrenched part of American politics and one that many people think is breaking government. But petitioning the government is protected in the Constitution. How can this system be fixed?
How PEZ Works
Oct 1, 2015 • 44 min
PEZ began in Vienna as a mint meant to help people quit smoking. But once American kids got ahold of it, the candy took off and a symbol of childhood - and healthy secondary market among collectors - was born.
Chuck and Josh Make It Through Female Puberty
Sep 29, 2015 • 57 min
In part two of the SYSK puberty saga, Josh and Chuck venture into new territory as they explore all of the amazing changes girls face when they come of age.
Geothermal Energy: Earth’s Gift to Mankind
Sep 24, 2015 • 36 min
Green energy is good for all, and it doesn’t get much greener than using the Earth’s own heat to warm your home or office. Learn all about geothermal energy in today’s new episode.
How Cult Deprogramming Worked
Sep 22, 2015 • 40 min
The fear of cults in the 1970s drove Americans to look the other way on kidnappings, abuse and torture of cult members by deprogrammers - but did it even work?
The Great Nuclear Winter Debate of 1983
Sep 17, 2015 • 56 min
At the height of the Cold War, a group of concerned scientists promoted their findings on the horrific aftereffects of nuclear war and were accused of fearmongering. But were they right after all?
How Publicists Work
Sep 15, 2015 • 45 min
Some people call them flacks. Other people call them liars. But if you’re in the public eye and suddenly have an image problem, you’ll call them your best friend.
How Chili Peppers Work
Sep 10, 2015 • 54 min
Born and raised in South America, chilis were the earliest crop domesticated in the continent and among the first items brought back to Europe by Columbus. Today people are really, really into them.
How Police Dogs Work
Sep 8, 2015 • 38 min
Police dogs have been used since the 19th century - one WWI German defector became a major movie star. But in the US the post-9/11 era has seen a K9 unit boom and questions and concerns have increased as well.
How Alcoholism Works
Sep 3, 2015 • 52 min
In the US, 17 million people are alcoholics. Not merely abusing alcohol, these sufferers become physically dependent on it, forming a chronic disease. Learn about the effects on the body, the brain, and the life of an alcoholic and ways to get help.
How to Donate Your Body to Science
Sep 1, 2015 • 45 min
Donating your whole body to further science and medicine is probably the best thing you could do with your corpse. Which is why the industry that handles those gifts need regulating.
Nirvana: Not The Band
Aug 27, 2015 • 35 min
Hinduism and Buddhism are closely related in a number of ways, including their vision of what comes after we exit this mortal coil. Learn about the religions’ interesting interpretation of the state of existence outside space-time.
How Hot Air Balloons Work
Aug 25, 2015 • 48 min
Arguably the most beautiful objects in the entire world, hot air balloons take advantage of some interesting physics and have a long history of killing their occupants. Find out more.
How Umami Works!
Aug 20, 2015 • 38 min
For millennia humans have recognized four tastes, but in the 1980s a fifth taste first isolated in Japan gained worldwide acceptance - and took off like a rocket! Learn about meaty, musty, savory umami in this episode.
Pigeons: Homing, Passenger, Carrier and Otherwise
Aug 18, 2015 • 51 min
Pigeons can get a little confusing. Passengers, messengers, carriers, homing - the list goes on. But when it comes down to it, they’re all variations of the same smart bird with a knack for getting home to roost. Learn about these clever creatures in…
Hula-Hoops: The Toy That’s A Shape
Aug 13, 2015 • 42 min
We’ve covered our fair share of pop-culture icons and here is another - Hula-Hoops. They’ve been around since ancient time in some form or another, but made their name in during the Hoop Boom of the 1950s. Learn all about this popular fad and more.
How Auto-Tune Works
Aug 11, 2015 • 55 min
What began as a challenge to an oil engineer to make a terrible singer into a pitch-perfect one, Auto-Tune has become a ubiquitous (and, to many, obnoxious) part of the musical soundscape.
How Droughts Work
Aug 6, 2015 • 53 min
Droughts can be an inevitable feature of a local climate or a catastrophic result of human meddling. Learn the ins and outs of droughts including the American mother of them all, the Dust Bowl.
How Earth-Like Planets Work
Aug 4, 2015 • 33 min
Since the Kepler telescope went online, astronomers have found there may be an estimate 40 billion planets like Earth in the Milky Way galaxy alone. What does it take for a planet to be considered Earth-like?
How Bats Work
Jul 30, 2015 • 47 min
They are creepy, sure, but they are also useful, cute and in great danger of extinction. Get a new lease on life from a new view of bats in this episode.
How Profiling Works
Jul 28, 2015 • 51 min
At its base, criminal profiling is a legitimate investigatory tool. The Supreme Court has drawn a clear line that bans profiling when it includes race. So why do we still do it?
Road Rage: GRRRR!!!
Jul 23, 2015 • 55 min
About half of all people experience rage on a daily basis when they get behind the wheel. What is it about driving that ticks us off so badly?
How Citizen’s Arrests Work
Jul 21, 2015 • 40 min
In some states, it is not only your right but your duty to arrest someone you see committing a crime. Learn all about why you should basically never do that in this episode.
The Time Nazis Invaded Florida
Jul 16, 2015 • 59 min
During World War II, Nazis invaded the United States with saboteurs bent on fomenting chaos. Three times.
How the Terracotta Army Works
Jul 14, 2015 • 34 min
In 1974, Chinese farmers discovered the first of what would number 7,000 terracotta soldiers meant to protect China’s first emperor in the afterlife.
How Brickfilm Works
Jul 9, 2015 • 34 min
What began as a pair of teens who made a film for their grandparents has exploded into its own art form. Learn all about how stop-motion Lego films are made.
How Egypt’s Pyramids Work
Jul 7, 2015 • 51 min
Pyramids can be found in ruins around the world, but no civilization perfected the feat of engineering like Pharaonic Egypt. Learn about the mysteries that still surround these giants.
How Circus Families Work
Jul 2, 2015 • 46 min
Don’t be confused - this one is about actual circus acts made of family members, not the controversial comic strip.
How Audience Testing Works
Jun 30, 2015 • 42 min
Did you know some of our most beloved movies originally had different, sometimes better, endings? That is until they were tested in front of focus groups.
Mosquitoes: The Worst
Jun 25, 2015 • 44 min
Sun Tzu said know your enemy, and so it is in this spirit that we present this episode on one of the worst airborne pests in the world.
How Landfills Work
Jun 23, 2015 • 43 min
Well-planned landfills have only recently come into widespread use. Recently, waste managers have found that they work a little too well and now the landfill is being reinvented.
Are You My Mother?: How Animal Imprinting Works
Jun 18, 2015 • 38 min
What do little baby ducklings have to do with Nazis? A lot actually. Find out about animal imprinting experiments and the debate over their ethics.
How BASE Jumping Works
Jun 16, 2015 • 55 min
You should never BASE Jump. It is one of the most genuinely dangerous sports on the planet. But with that out of the way, you should definitely learn all about this pastime where people jump from tall structures and outcroppings for fun and thrills.
Bridges: Nature Abhors Them
Jun 11, 2015 • 59 min
From prehistoric logs across streams to the 102-mile Kunshan Grand Bridge, nature works ceaselessly to take down spans. Learn about the fascinating ins and outs of bridge design and building and the mind-boggling challenges structural engineers face.
How the Wow! Signal Works
Jun 9, 2015 • 35 min
In 1977, Ohio State astronomers discovered a radio transmission from space that was 30 times louder than the cosmic background noise. Since then every explanation of what it was has fallen short and the Wow! Signal remains possible evidence of alien life.
How Ocean Currents Work
Jun 4, 2015 • 41 min
It’s easy to overlook the importance of ocean currents - they move along out at sea, while we stay mostly on land. But we are globally affected by them every day. Currents form the base of the food chain, drive weather and keep life as we know it going.
How Street Gangs Work
Jun 2, 2015 • 48 min
The street gang problem in America peaked in the 1990s, but recent FBI reports find that gang membership doubled from 2006-2011. What’s driving this increase, and gangs in general? Wander into gang territory with Josh and Chuck in this episode.
How Tupperware Works
May 28, 2015 • 39 min
Tupperware won immediate design acclaim when it was released in 1947, but it took a pioneering female executive to make a line of plastic food storage into an icon of the American postwar boom. Learn about the surprisingly intriguing history of Tupperware.
How Junk Food Works
May 26, 2015 • 49 min
Junk food is literally that, empty calories of energy that provide little nutritional value and usually are stored as fat. Yet junk food is irresistible and for good reason - companies spend tens of millions engineering it to be that way.
How Color Works
May 21, 2015 • 44 min
Science doesn’t have a good explanation for why we sense color, yet it is everywhere and affecting us all the time. But why should minutely different wavelengths of light have such an impact on our moods and motivations?
How Internet Censorship Works
May 19, 2015 • 45 min
Some of it seems innocuous enough: protecting kids from unseemly sites or intellectual property from piracy. But the tools to protect these things are the same that governments can also use to censor ideas and quell dissent.
How Pinewood Derbies Work
May 14, 2015 • 46 min
Tens of millions of Scouts, and their parents, have taken standard blocks of wood and turned them into cars that zip along at up to 20 mph. Learn about the origin, physics and more of Pinewood Derbies in this episode.
Does the FDA Protect Americans?
May 12, 2015 • 60 min
The FDA was the first consumer protection agency in the US. Since 1906, it’s been issuing regulations meant to protect Americans from tainted food, ineffective drugs and pacemakers that don’t work. But is the FDA too cozy with industries it regulates?
Josh and Chuck Make It Through Male Puberty
May 7, 2015 • 52 min
Around ages 9 or 10 a boy will begin to undergo a magical, surprising, weird, amazing, totally bonkers transformation from childhood to adulthood. To separate fact from myth, Chuck and Josh take on the role of gym teachers and wade into male puberty.
How Therapeutic Hypothermia Works
May 5, 2015 • 51 min
Physicians noticed centuries ago that people exposed to cold temperatures often have amazing recoveries from serious medical emergencies. Now medicine is learning how to purposefully induce hypothermia in order to buy time to fix otherwise fatal trauma.
How Spiders Work
Apr 30, 2015 • 61 min
Spiders are second only to snakes in the dread departemnt, but they’re actually very helpful arachnids who are only deadly to humans under the worst case scenario. Of the more than 40,000 species, very few spiders are even venomous to humans. Learn…
How Water Slides Work
Apr 28, 2015 • 37 min
Water slides have been around in one form or another since the Romans. But back then they didn’t know what they had on their hands. With the birth of the waterpark in the 1970s, these rides have only gotten more extreme, leading up to the birth of today’s…
Oh No, Snakes!
Apr 23, 2015 • 52 min
If you think snakes are legless reptile carnivores, then you are exactly right. If you think snakes are here to kill you then you are exactly wrong. Learn more about these fascinating and undeservedly condemned animals in today’s podcast episode.
How Clowns Work
Apr 21, 2015 • 49 min
Jesters of some sort have been around since ancient Egypt and China. Our modern clown was invented around 1800 and ever since they have been getting steadily creepier.
How Zero Population Growth Works
Apr 16, 2015 • 54 min
In 1968, Paul Erlich published The Population Bomb, predicting coming famine and mass death. Erlich’s predictions didn’t pan out but his ideas launched a debate still raging today.
How Slinky Works
Apr 14, 2015 • 53 min
It has been called a “glorified spring”, but Slinky is one of the best selling toys of all time. From accidental origins to an unlikely resurrection, Slinky has a pretty great back story.
What’s the deal with blood types?
Apr 9, 2015 • 63 min
Blood types have one of the more interesting backstories in medical history. But as much as we’ve figured out about them and how they work, we still don’t know much about why we even have different blood types. Listen in for a truly fascinating look at…
Polyamory: When two just won’t do
Apr 7, 2015 • 45 min
In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck dive into the world of polyamory. Turns out polyamorists aren’t weirdos and deviants, they’re just regular folks looking for love from more than one person. Learn all you ever needed to know about…
Thanks, Easter Bunny! Bock Bock!
Apr 2, 2015 • 45 min
Happy Easter from Stuff You Should Know! Learn all about Easter, from its humble beginnings as a pagan holiday to the multi-billion dollar industry it is today. We’ll cover the Biblical and religious aspects, along with the origins of some of Easter’s…
Does the body replace itself?
Mar 31, 2015 • 34 min
Does the human body really replace itself every few years? The answer is yes, but different parts of the body do so at different rates. Learn all about which parts of your body are the speediest, and which take the longest to regenerate.
How Desalination Works
Mar 26, 2015 • 37 min
Why would people want to remove salt from water? To solve the world’s water problem, that’s why. Learn all about the efforts to desalinate H2O in cheaper and more efficient ways.
10 Bizarre Medical Treatments
Mar 24, 2015 • 46 min
Medical science has a long and storied history of trying out cures and procedures that later strike us as wacky. And they’re still at it today! Learn about bizarre treatments, from opium for children to tobacco smoke enemas in this episode.
Earwax: Live With It
Mar 19, 2015 • 38 min
Despite tons of people using cotton swabs each day to clean the earwax from their ears, cerumen (as earwax is clinically known) is actually quite beneficial to the health of your ears - and even kind of ingenious as your body’s defense goes.
How Anesthesia Works
Mar 17, 2015 • 53 min
The use of general anesthesia is less than 200 years old. Before doctors were able to cause unconsciousness in patients, surgery was brutal for all involved. But despite this advancement in medicine, science still has no idea how it works.
How Tea Works
Mar 12, 2015 • 54 min
Legend has it that tea was discovered by a curious Chinese emperor after leaves blew into his boiled water. Now tea is the second only to water in popularity worldwide. And despite the varieties of tea, they all come from a single species of plant.
How Fleas Work
Mar 10, 2015 • 42 min
Fleas are the bane of the existence of pet owners. From their eggs to their lifespan to their feeding habits, fleas are practically designed to be a nuisance. They are parasites, after all. Get down on flea level with Josh and Chuck in this episode.
How Stonehenge Works
Mar 5, 2015 • 44 min
Even as far back as the Roman invaders, people have had absolutely no idea just what the massive monument complex in England known as Stonehenge was built for. Join Josh and Chuck as they try to get to the bottom of this Neolithic mystery.
How ESP Works(?)
Mar 3, 2015 • 57 min
Even though almost half of Americans believe in it, ESP usually is treated as a load of bull by skeptics. But some respected researchers have dared to apply the scientific method to investigate ESP and a few have found some surprising results.
Some Movies That Changed Filmmaking
Feb 26, 2015 • 59 min
An estimated 50,000 films were made worldwide in 2009 alone. Many are surely clunkers, but in this episode Chuck and Josh talk about the ones that emerged throughout cinema history to change the course of all movies that followed. Get your popcorn.
Why Do Lefties Exist?
Feb 24, 2015 • 42 min
For at least the last 200,000 years, between 10-15% of the human population are left-handed and this fact has utterly left science baffled. In searching to explain handedness, all sorts of contradictory evidence has emerged, creating a fascinating mystery.
How Perfume Works
Feb 19, 2015 • 59 min
Women consistently rate scent as the most important factor in a man’s attractiveness and men have been manipulating that for centuries with scents of all sorts. Learn about the fascinating history — and, well, art — of making perfumes in this episode.
Is there treasure on Oak Island?
Feb 17, 2015 • 39 min
Off Nova Scotia, the tiny spit of land called Oak Island has been host to waves of treasure hunters for more than 200 years. Some of them lost their lives in the search for a treasure reputedly buried in a deep pit. But is anything really there?
What is folklore?
Feb 12, 2015 • 44 min
What is folklore? Turns out it’s just about anything you can think of that’s shared by more than two people. Art, literature, stories, dance, music, traditions, even those family heirlooms qualify. Turns out folklore is pretty neat. Learn all about it in…
How Feng Shui Works
Feb 10, 2015 • 41 min
Feng Shui is an Asian concept that strives to unlock your chi by how your home or office is arranged. Or at least that’s the simplified “Western” version. It’s a little more complicated than that in reality. We’ll unlock your chi by explaining how feng…
How Ice Cream Works
Feb 5, 2015 • 44 min
We all scream for ice cream, sure, but did you know we’re all technically screaming about a colloidal foam? Prepare for deep cravings that will surely emerge as you learn the history of ice cream, how to make it yourself and lots more.
Rainbows: Delighting humanity since forever
Feb 3, 2015 • 32 min
Rainbows seem to defy nature, but they’re really pretty simple when it comes down to it. Turns out it’s just light reacting to water droplets in the air. But they sure do look cool. Learn all about how rainbows are formed in today’s episode.
How Hot Wheels Work
Jan 29, 2015 • 42 min
If you’re an American who had a childhood, you probably have some nostalgia for Hot Wheels. Get your engines revved for this trip down memory lane as we discuss these fun and iconic toys.
How Poison Ivy Works
Jan 27, 2015 • 35 min
Poison ivy, oak and sumac are all variations of the same plant and they all can make you itch… if you’re susceptible that is. In this episode, you’ll learn just about all there is to know about this itch-causing plant, including how to best avoid it.
Nostradamus: Predictor of the future? Not so much.
Jan 22, 2015 • 40 min
Nostradamus delighted us all in grade school, but it turns out the real guy wasn’t quite as prescient as we were led to believe. In truth, he wrote a lot of purposefully confusing riddles that people have twisted into meaning exactly what they want them…
How the March on Washington Worked
Jan 20, 2015 • 44 min
1963 was a huge year of conflict and progress for the American Civil Rights Movement and the March On Washington was the high water mark of that eventful year. Join Josh and Chuck as they get into the story behind the story we learned in school.
Juggling: What the Heck
Jan 15, 2015 • 50 min
There is a lot - A LOT - to juggling and Chuck and Josh go over the lion’s share of it. Delve into the deep history, physics, how-tos and different types of juggling in this surprisingly sweeping look at a putatively innocuous pastime.
How the Scientific Method Works
Jan 13, 2015 • 62 min
It evolved over centuries to become the gold standard for conducting scientific inquiry. Yet many people - including some scientists - don’t fully understand it. Learn about the basis of how we explore our world in this episode.
How Online Gambling Works
Jan 8, 2015 • 41 min
Pretty much immediately after the Internet was opened to the world online gambling sites sprang up. Over the last couple decades, U.S. law and online gambling have had an unusual and complicated relationship. Learn the ins and outs of this grey area.
How Jim Henson Worked
Jan 6, 2015 • 43 min
We’ve already recorded an episode on The Muppets, but Jim Henson was such a neat guy we delved into him even further. Learn all about the man behind the Muppets who was so much more than just a master puppeteer in this episode.
SYSK Live: How Bars Work
Jan 1, 2015 • 52 min
Join Josh and Chuck live from Vancouver as they dive in to the ins and outs of one of the oldest businesses in the world - the bar! Learn about the history of bars, cocktails and the good people who put them together in new and amazing ways.
How Sea Monsters Work
Dec 30, 2014 • 39 min
Legends of sea monsters are as old as humanity, and some ancient cultures even credited with creating the universe. Even today when the sea washes something odd ashore we see monsters - we understand there’s much more than appears above the surface.
Josh and Chuck’s 2014 Christmas Extravaganza!
Dec 25, 2014 • 41 min
It’s that time of year again! Time to get cozy and tuck in with Josh and Chuck as they spread glad tidings and warm Christmas cheer. Tune in to hear about Letters to Santa, A Christmas Story, mulled wine and more neat stuff.
How the GED Test Works
Dec 23, 2014 • 35 min
The GED test was once part of a non-profit organization. That all changed in 2014, when it was privatized, made more expensive and more difficult to pass. But that also brought about a couple of more testing options. Learn all about how high school…
How Cinnamon Works
Dec 18, 2014 • 40 min
In another commodities edition of SYSK, Josh and Chuck dive into the world of cinnamon, once the world’s most prized and pricey spice. But did you know it was really just dried up tree bark?
Boomerangs: Magic Sticks of Physics
Dec 16, 2014 • 32 min
The physics behind returning boomerangs literally may be the most difficult concept to understand in the entire body of science. Join Josh and Chuck as they try their absolute best to describe how boomerangs work - and maybe even pull it off!
Homeschooling: Not Just For Hippies and Religious People Anymore
Dec 11, 2014 • 52 min
Back in the 1970s, homeschooling was illegal in the U.S., but after activists of all stripes lobbied lawmakers, schooling kids at home has become a viable option for parents. And as more and more have chosen it, it’s become more mainstream.
How The Hum Works
Dec 9, 2014 • 40 min
There is a mysterious droning sound often described as like a diesel engine idling that is severely impacting the quality of life of 2 percent of people in places around the world. The thing is, no one knows what’s causing it - or if it actually exists.
How X-Rays Work
Dec 4, 2014 • 41 min
Like many huge discoveries, X-rays were accidentally stumbled upon. That serendipity led to a medical breakthrough still in use today. Learn about how X-rays are created and why they make such delightful images of our bones.
How Leper Colonies Worked
Dec 2, 2014 • 30 min
Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, used to mean a one-way ticket to banishment. But once medicine trained its sights on wiping out what might be the most ancient disease to afflict humans, it has become treatable and even accepted.
How Terraforming Will Work
Nov 27, 2014 • 42 min
A lot of great thinkers are warning that if humans are to survive as a species we are going to have to find another planet to live on. Terraforming, or engineering a planet to maintain all of the ingredients to sustain life, seems to be the answer.
How Kickstarter Works
Nov 25, 2014 • 39 min
With billions of dollars raised, Kickstarter has singled itself out as the go-to site for creative crowdfunding. But not without some controversy along the way. Learn all about how this artistic business model operates in today’s episode.
What is Collective Hysteria?
Nov 20, 2014 • 44 min
Throughout the history of the world, there have been many cases of what is known as collective hysteria - groups of people, usually young women, who all exhibit the same physical symptoms of non-existent conditions. Is it psychosomatic? Is it group think?
How the Enlightenment Works
Nov 18, 2014 • 42 min
The Enlightenment stands as the moment the West withdrew from superstition and found its faith in reason. Did it shift too far? Learn about this massive shift in thinking which we are still sorting through and coming to understand today.
What’s the deal with crop circles?
Nov 13, 2014 • 41 min
For a while in the 1980s, people were fascinated and confused about what exactly crop circles were. Now we know that they aren’t signs left from aliens, but art made by humans. Learn all about these stunning, large form art installations in today’s…
How Patents Work
Nov 11, 2014 • 63 min
What was originally designed to encourage innovation by rewarding the people who create technological advances, the U.S. patent system has become a big mess. Wade into this surprisingly interesting mire to learn how to save this important institution.
How Limousines Work
Nov 6, 2014 • 38 min
The first limousines weren’t even cars! Learn all about the history of limousines, how they’re made and some of the most creative and expensive amenities you can find inside them in this episode with Josh and Chuck.
Can Nuclear Fusion Reactors Save The World?
Nov 4, 2014 • 46 min
The world’s energy consumption is ruining the planet but for decades physicists have been working on what could solve the world’s energy and climate change woes for centuries to come - nuclear fusion. Learn about building stars on Earth in this episode.
SYSK’s Halloween Scare Fest
Oct 31, 2014 • 37 min
Get ready to be creeped out and join Chuck and Josh as they read you with two spooky classic horror stories, The Striding Place and The Pale Man in this special bonus Halloween episode.
How Haunted House Attractions Work
Oct 30, 2014 • 49 min
Ever since the Egyptians, humans have been evolving toward haunted house attractions. The level of sophistication in the scares and gore effects continues to rise over time, but the purpose remains the same: to scare the pants off you.
Is there a disease that kills by preventing sleep?
Oct 28, 2014 • 36 min
The strange disease of fatal familial insomnia was first recorded in the 18th century. Its victims lose their ability to sleep, slip into coma and die. The more we understand about FFI, the more mysterious it becomes.
How Animal Camouflage Works
Oct 23, 2014 • 34 min
The wild kingdom is filled with examples of animals that can camouflage themselves into their environment, but the means and the methods are also wildly varied. Learn about the ins and outs of blending in through this episode.
How Extinction Works
Oct 21, 2014 • 49 min
Scientists believe that 99% of the estimated 50 billion species that have ever lived on Earth have disappeared through extinction. This is a natural process typically, but it can also be cataclysmic and it’s becoming clear we are amid a massive one.
How The Great Train Robbery Worked
Oct 16, 2014 • 45 min
In 1963, 15 men got together in England to pull off one of the most daring heists in history. The Great Train Robbery was the crime of the century, capturing the public’s attention and leaving them torn on who to root for - the cops or the robbers. Learn…
Virus Talk with Josh and Chuck
Oct 14, 2014 • 35 min
Viruses are big jerks that invade regular cells and hold them hostage, making you sick while they’re doing it. Learn everything you ever needed to know about viruses, including how the common cold works.
How Skywriting Works
Oct 9, 2014 • 36 min
Back in the 1920s, skywriting was invented to communicate with troops, but it quickly found its footing as a popular way for companies to advertise. Learn all about the aerial acrobatics and mental skill it takes to write mile-high letters backwards.
How Karate Works
Oct 7, 2014 • 45 min
Karate, meaning “open” and “hand”, was developed in Okinawa before being exported to Japan and then the rest of the world. It is one of the most widely practiced martial arts and one of the most difficult to master. Learn about it in this episode.
How Panic Attacks Work
Oct 2, 2014 • 36 min
Almost three percent of Americans suffer from a debilitating disorder that causes them to suffer intense fear seemingly without reason and science hasn’t yet figured out what causes it. Join Josh and Chuck as they get to the bottom of panic attacks.
How Rogue Waves Work
Sep 30, 2014 • 35 min
Rogue waves come out of nowhere and tower as much as 100 feet over hapless ships they encounter, breaking across the boat and frequently breaking the boat and its inhabitants. Investigate the mystery of rouge waves in this episode.
How Animal Domestication Works
Sep 25, 2014 • 51 min
It’s strange to hear, but the transition from hunting-gathering to agriculture, including the domestication of wild animals, is the single biggest thing to ever happen to humanity. You can thank it for everything from kingdoms to Ebola.
How Police Interrogation Works
Sep 23, 2014 • 67 min
Every year, police across the U.S. get thousands of criminals to confess to their crimes. The trouble is, the procedure that almost all departments use is grounded in bad science and can produce false confessions. Learn about ways of making you talk.
How Currency Works
Sep 18, 2014 • 48 min
Even if you entirely eschew the concept of money, we’ll bet you’d be hard pressed not to trade in some form of currency. Learn how everything from cows to cacao beans to tiny shells from Maldives have served as currency at some time or another.
How Socialism Works
Sep 16, 2014 • 51 min
In America it’s virtually a dirty word, but after being dragged through the mud for a century, socialism is still a part of the U.S.’s national character. Learn about this foil and complement to capitalism and why it might not be so bad.
How Royalty Works
Sep 11, 2014 • 48 min
In some nations royals are so ingrained in the national fabric they are considered part of the country. Join Josh and Chuck as they take a look backward in time at the ancient tradition of despotism and unbridled privilege in this episode.
How Stem Cells Work
Sep 9, 2014 • 38 min
Since scientists realized there is a type of cell that can grow into any other type, they have worked to use them to heal human conditions like Parkinson’s and immune disorders. But because stem cells often come from embryos they remain controversial.
How TV Ratings Work
Sep 4, 2014 • 44 min
Ever wonder why some great shows go off the air after a season or less? Blame it on the Nielsen company, which has for more than 60 years been the almost exclusive decider of what goes and what stays on TV.
How Pinball Works
Sep 2, 2014 • 47 min
Pinball was actually illegal until the 1970s in NY and other cities, hidden in the backs of pornography shops. The game was finally legalized, thanks to a Babe Ruth-style shot by the best player in the world. Learn all about it with Josh and Chuck.
How Blimps Work
Aug 28, 2014 • 48 min
After newsreels captured the Hindenburg erupting in fire in 1937, the promising development of airship aviation was cut short. Today companies and militaries are taking another look at blimps and the unique qualities that may revive them.
What’s the deal with headstones?
Aug 26, 2014 • 50 min
Headstones have quite an interesting history. From the beginnings of marking graves with simple wood carvings to the elaborate tombstones that would come in the Victorian era, Chuck and Josh break down the deal with all things headstone in this episode.
How the Berlin Wall Worked
Aug 21, 2014 • 46 min
It’s hard to believe now, but just over 25 years ago there was a giant concrete wall separating East and West Germany. In this episode, Chuck and Josh get into the fascinating story of the Berlin Wall.
Going Up: Elevators
Aug 19, 2014 • 45 min
Elevators are way more interesting than you might think. In this week’s episode, Chuck and Josh board the lift to enlighten everyone as to the ins and outs, and ups and downs, of these handy people movers.
How Ebola Works
Aug 14, 2014 • 40 min
A disease that was discovered and contained to Central Africa in the 1970s has revived and spread in 2014. Now there is an Ebola outbreak that has moved across borders and science still has no cure for it.
How the NSA Works
Aug 12, 2014 • 46 min
Chuck and Josh dive into the secret world of the National Security Agency, from the origins of the snooping outfit, to the recent revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden.
What is a Numbers Station?
Aug 7, 2014 • 40 min
If you think secretly coded messages sent via short wave radio is Cold War relic, think again. Chuck and Josh are here to dispel that myth, along with many others relating to numbers stations, including why they might still be operational.
How Play-Doh Works
Aug 5, 2014 • 44 min
Do you love Play-Doh? Chuck and Josh certainly love to talk about it, from its interesting history as a wall cleaner, to its more scientific chemical properties. It’s everything you ever wanted to know about the pliable children’s toy.
How Morgellons Disease Works
Jul 31, 2014 • 35 min
There is a condition that can cause people to feel bugs crawling beneath their skin so acutely that they will use tweezers to pluck them from their eyeballs. It’s a terrible disorder made worse by medicine’s insistence it is all in sufferers’ heads.
Is there a dark side of the moon?
Jul 29, 2014 • 31 min
Josh and Chuck explore the old notion that there’s a dark side of the moon. There is, but it turns out it’s not always the same side. And yes, there’s a side we never see, but it’s not always dark. Make sense? It will in this episode.
The Skinny on Probiotics
Jul 24, 2014 • 37 min
You can find probiotics - bacteria thought to have healthful benefits for humans - in everything from pills to yogurt. But does any of it work? Listen as Josh and Chuck get to the bottom of the science (and need for it) of probiotics and health.
How Trickle-Down Economics Works
Jul 22, 2014 • 45 min
The concept of trickle-down economics is tied to Ronald Reagan, but the idea’s been around and in use since the 20s. It’s simple: Give more money to the wealthy and they can use it to rev up an economy. But is the whole thing just a scam?
How In Vitro Fertlization Works
Jul 17, 2014 • 39 min
In the U.S. alone, more than 6 million people are affected by infertility and science has taken up the mantle of helping them to conceive. Learn about the clever, though intuitive, methods of assisting infertile couples to have a child.
How Sushi Works
Jul 15, 2014 • 53 min
Sushi grew out of a way to ferment fish a couple thousand years ago and in the late 20th century began to take the world by storm. What began as traditional, rigid food has come to evolve with new delicious innovations being added to the original canon.
How Grass Works? Yes, How Grass Works
Jul 10, 2014 • 52 min
There’s nothing more boring than watching grass grow, which is why Josh and Chuck aren’t asking you to do that. Instead, you can learn about all sorts of neat things about grass - like how America became obsessed with perfect lawns - in this episode.
Is brain size related to intelligence?
Jul 8, 2014 • 35 min
The idea that the larger the brain, the higher the intelligence is an old one, but it’s pretty much utterly false. Modern investigation into how the brain works suggests there’s a lot more to take into account when comparing brain biology to intellect.
How Monopoly Works
Jul 3, 2014 • 65 min
Since more than 1 billion people have played it, you’re probably familiar with the board game Monopoly, but we bet you don’t know its secret origins as a left-wing socialist teaching tool. Learn about the history, rules and cultural impact of Monopoly.
How The Louvre Works
Jul 1, 2014 • 44 min
The most famous museum in the world, France’s Louvre, has been the seat of high art and culture for several centuries. Its history goes back farther than that, beginning in the 1200s as a fort and prison. Tour the Louvre and its collections in this…
How the MPAA Works
Jun 26, 2014 • 45 min
You may be surprised to learn those ubiquitous ratings, from G to NC-17, put on movies in America are actually handed down by anonymous employees of a secretive organization that serves as a lobbying firm for Hollywood’s six biggest studios.
How the La Brea Tar Pits Work
Jun 24, 2014 • 34 min
It’s surprising that a few 12-feet-deep pools of asphalt have proven to be one of the most significant troves of Pleistocene fossils, but the La Brea Tar Pits, located in the heart of Los Angeles, are giving science a clear picture of a puzzling time.
How Soccer Works
Jun 19, 2014 • 62 min
Maybe you hail from a soccer crazed country - or from the U.S. Either way, there’s lots to discuss about “the beautiful game”, from its prehistory, rules and strategy to, of course, the World Cup. Join Josh and Chuck as they wade into football, aka soccer.
Is your employer spying on you?
Jun 17, 2014 • 45 min
Your employer may be secretly reading your emails, watching what websites you visit and tracking your whereabouts through your phone. And because of how the courts have ruled, there’s nothing you can do about it. Learn all about employer spying here.
Sugar: It Powers the Earth
Jun 12, 2014 • 46 min
Since sugar spread from Polynesia a few thousand years ago, the world has been crazy for it. Insanely high prices, wars and even slavery couldn’t undo world’s need for a sugar fix. Today that fix is responsible for the obesity epidemic facing the West.
How the Placebo Effect Works
Jun 10, 2014 • 41 min
For centuries, doctors have prescribed drugs they knew weren’t real - but that still somehow worked. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the placebo effect, the phenomenon where an inert substance can have a genuine impact on a patient’s recovery, was studied.
How the Space Race Worked
Jun 5, 2014 • 59 min
In the 1950s and 60s, the United States and the Soviet Union battled it out to see who would dominate the race for outer space. The Soviets got out to an early lead, but the U.S. would ultimately win. Learn all about the Space Race in this week’s episode.
Why is Venice so wet?
Jun 3, 2014 • 36 min
Venice, Italy has a problem. It’s sinking, and the water around it is rising. Thankfully, some engineers are working hard on the MOSE project - huge gates that keep high tide from happening. Learn all about Venice in this episode.
Archaeology in a Nutshell
May 29, 2014 • 51 min
If you thought Indiana Jones was the model archaeologist, you’re pretty much right. Archaeologists are one part scientist, one part scholar, and one part adventurer. In this episode, learn all you need to know this fascinating field.
How Temper Tantrums Work
May 27, 2014 • 39 min
When your kid boils over in the grocery store, it can be tough to stay calm and ignore it, but that’s precisely what experts prescribe parents do to deal with temper tantrums. Learn about the anatomy of a tantrum and the best way to deal in this episode.
How Avalanches Work
May 22, 2014 • 44 min
Each year, as snow builds on peaks across the world’s mountain ranges, the potential for avalanches builds. Learn about the science of how these natural disasters develop and are triggered - and how to survive one if you ever find yourself trapped.
8 Reasons Why Your Body Is So Gross
May 20, 2014 • 49 min
Your body right now is home to a liter of mucous, countless fat-loving mites, acid that can dissolve metal and plenty of other gross and interesting stuff. Learn all about your body and its functions here.
How the Paleo Diet Works
May 15, 2014 • 45 min
You may have heard of the Paleo Diet, also known as the Caveman Diet, but do you know the science it’s based on? And did you know that the saturated fat it and other diets avoid may be healthier than you were taught in school?
How the Human Microbiome Project Works
May 13, 2014 • 32 min
If it was possible to take a full scan of all of the DNA of every cell in and on your body the results would be startling: Only 1 percent would be human. The other 99 percent comprises all of the bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microbes you literally…
How Bipolar Disorder Works
May 8, 2014 • 39 min
Suffering from bipolar disorder means a lot more than your garden variety mood swings. Bouts of mania and depression are just the headlines. There are also theories that there’s a link between bipolarism and creativity. Learn all about this disruptive,…
How Gypsies Work
May 6, 2014 • 46 min
Gypsies were called that because they were long ago mistaken as Egyptians. Even their more appropriate name, Roma, is a misnomer since they’re not from Romania. Find out about the mysterious history of this nomadic and genuinely misunderstood ethnic group.
How Marijuana Works
May 1, 2014 • 64 min
For millennia people used marijuana for fun and medicine. Not until the 20th century that was it vilified, unfairly say many. Weed has done lots of good things, from alleviating cancer symptoms to unlocking secrets of the brain. Learn all about pot here.
How the ACLU Works
Apr 29, 2014 • 46 min
Being a card-carrying member of the ACLU is tantamount to being a super liberal to some, but the ACLU ultimately displays no allegiance to any political philosophy, only to whomever’s Constitutional rights are being infringed upon, from Nazis to the NAACP.
Halitosis: Worst Smell Ever?
Apr 24, 2014 • 36 min
Occasional bad breath is one thing, halitosis is another. Or is it? From its odd origins as a marketing ploy to modern weight loss diets that can induce this embarrassing condition, you can learn all about bad breath here.
How Mars Works
Apr 22, 2014 • 53 min
Sure today Mars would kill you with its thin, toxic atmosphere and cold desert temperature swings of 100 degrees, but early on it and Earth were practically twins. Find out how the two planets diverged and if there might be life on the Red Planet.
How Burlesque Works
Apr 17, 2014 • 51 min
What’s old is new again as far as burlesque is concerned. Come explore what was an old-timey outlet for empowering women that later gave rise to the striptease once men started running the show. Now, women have reclaimed the art and it is benefiting.
How Dissociative Identity Disorder Works
Apr 15, 2014 • 45 min
Dissociative Identity Disorder was known as multiple personality disorder until a case of mass hysteria brought on by the movie-mad public and unscrupulous psychiatrists led to a stigma over the term. Now psychiatry has gotten serious about the condition.
How Natural Selection Works
Apr 10, 2014 • 58 min
While evolution gets all the spotlight for moving species into better versions of themselves, but really it’s natural selection that is the engine driving the process. Learn all about this elegant scientific observation that forms the basis of life.
How Charles Darwin Worked
Apr 8, 2014 • 51 min
Charles Darwin wasn’t the first or only scientist to grasp the theory of evolution through natural selection, but he became its father and icon. Learn about the man who reluctantly but bravely became the source of the divide between religion and science.
How Income Taxes Work
Apr 3, 2014 • 45 min
They are among the more reviled concepts of modern life, and yet they are as inevitable as death. Join Josh and Chuck as they look into the history and the basis of income taxes in the U.S. in this episode.
How 3D Printing Works
Apr 1, 2014 • 49 min
With 3D printing you can print not just pictures and words, but actual objects from files. And as costs come down, the list of things you can print expand: from food, to organs, to guns.
How Landslides Work
Mar 27, 2014 • 35 min
Landslides are a form of mass movement of the Earth, and with the amount of death and destruction they wreak on the people and towns they cover, their toll can be massive. Learn all about landslides in this episode with Josh and Chuck.
How Amnesia Works
Mar 25, 2014 • 60 min
Those movies where someone gets hit on the head and can’t remember who they are anymore? They’re actually not too far off from the reality of amnesia. Learn everything about this bizarre and life-robbing condition with Josh and Chuck.
How Electricity Works
Mar 20, 2014 • 46 min
It is literally all around you (and even inside you) - electricity makes up the basis of modern life. But what exactly is electricity and how does it work? Josh and Chuck chase away the darkness and explain electricity in their usual electrifying way.
Tattoos: Not Just For Dirtbags Anymore
Mar 18, 2014 • 67 min
Most Europeans first encountered tattoos after sailors visiting the South Pacific returned covered in them. From then on, with a few notable exceptions, tattoos have been associated with fringe dwellers in the West. Learn all about tats in this episode.
How Black Boxes Work
Mar 13, 2014 • 38 min
Black boxes are designed to be the only survivor of plane crashes so they can live to tell the tale of what went wrong to prevent future accidents. Learn about how these grim devices are made, how they’re tested and the tales they’ve told.
How Skateboarding Works
Mar 11, 2014 • 47 min
Skateboarding started out as something bored surfers did when the waves weren’t breaking, but after a few improvements to the design, it took off like a rocket to become its own cultural phenomenon. Come gleam the cube with Josh and Chuck.
How Online Dating Works
Mar 6, 2014 • 50 min
No longer weird, possibly still desperate and approaching normal, online dating’s been around almost as long as the Internet itself. So what exactly is the best way to find love online if one were so inclined to do so? Josh and Chuck hook you up.
How the Spanish Inquisition Worked
Mar 4, 2014 • 46 min
The idea of pious monks imbued with unbridled power and with a penchant for dealing torture and death is a scary one indeed, and one both Spain and the Catholic Church have tried to reconcile since the Spanish Inquisition ended in the 19th century.
What happened at Kent State?
Feb 27, 2014 • 40 min
On May 4, 1970, four days of anti-war protests at Kent State University in Ohio culminated in the unthinkable when Ohio guardsmen opened fire on protesters, killing four students. How could this tragedy take place?
Termites: They Bore But They Aren’t Boring
Feb 25, 2014 • 44 min
Their soft white bodies look creepy and, to be sure, they are, but termites are pretty amazing bugs. They build ventilation systems into their mounds, poop on their enemies and grow mushrooms. Learn all the neat stuff you didn’t know about termites here.
How Amputation Works
Feb 20, 2014 • 57 min
Amputation is one of the oldest surgeries and an even older punishment for crime, but it wasn’t until the American Civil War and its 50,000 amputations that the procedure began to hit its stride. Learn about amputation and who it attracts in this episode.
How Salt Works
Feb 18, 2014 • 45 min
A Roman senator once said, “Mankind can live without gold, but not without salt.” Right he was. The human body needs salt so much we have developed a taste for it specifically. But too much salt can be toxic. Learn about salt’s role in human history and…
How Cave Dwellers Work
Feb 13, 2014 • 40 min
You know the cavemen, a race of human cousins who lived exclusively in caves? They didn’t exist. Sure prehistoric hominids used caves sometimes but they lived in other places too. Luckily the time they spent in caves has given us a glance at their culture…
Do objects or experiences make us happier?
Feb 11, 2014 • 37 min
Since Sartre classified things that make us happy into the categories of having and doing, science took up the investigation into materialism and experientialism. The results have been in for a while: experiences win by a wide margin, but why exactly?
How Sign Language Works
Feb 6, 2014 • 47 min
It wasn’t until the was developed and despite its co-existence alongside English, a user would be hard-pressed to sign with a British person. Find out about the independent evolution of sign language in the U.S. and how intuitively sensible it is.
Will computers replace doctors?
Feb 4, 2014 • 37 min
With savvy and health-conscious people taking control of their wellbeing through apps and sites, technology is meeting the desire for individuals’ responsibility for their health. But is the day coming soon when doctors will be obsolete, replaced by…
What are crystal skulls?
Jan 30, 2014 • 36 min
Back in the early 20th-century mysterious skulls made from polished crystals began to enter the collections of private enthusiasts of the occult. Discovered by adventurers raiding sacred areas of the ancient world, these skulls were said to possess…
What’s the deal with the debt ceiling?
Jan 28, 2014 • 36 min
Lately it’s been common news fodder that Congress uses its ability to raise the debt ceiling to hold the executive branch hostage to its demands, but exactly how does that work, and what does the debt ceiling do? Learn about it in this fascinating episode.
How the Deep Web Works
Jan 23, 2014 • 34 min
Perhaps you didn’t realize that when you search the web you’re only skimming the surface. In fact, the types of web pages that turn up in your search engine results represent only a mere fraction of the total web. Immerse yourself in the Deep web and its…
Chuck and Josh Bust a Few Everyday Myths
Jan 21, 2014 • 35 min
There are lots of common “facts” that everyone knows, but it turns out a lot of them are actually false. Join Josh and Chuck as they put on their berets and suspenders and take the hot air out of some common everyday myths to make this a slightly smarter…
How Pet Psychics Work
Jan 16, 2014 • 38 min
In the early 21st century a trend of people who claim to be able to telepathically and clairvoyantly communicate with animals has grown. Today, the concept of visiting a pet psychic to find a lost pet, find out why a pet is behaving badly or even to learn…
Was there a real King Arthur?
Jan 14, 2014 • 45 min
The legend of King Arthur is very old and very established. By the time the king who saved Britain and united it was first written about, his story was already hundreds of years old. And while many of the details of his life and adventures, from the Lady…
Your limb is torn off - now what?
Jan 7, 2014 • 37 min
Were you to be the unfortunate victim of a limb removal of any sort, you could take hope. Here in the 21st century, doctors have gotten pretty handy at reattaching arms and legs, replacing thumbs with toes, rebuilding breasts, all to great success thanks…
Could you live without a refrigerator?
Jan 2, 2014 • 39 min
Do you know that hulking refrigerator in your kitchen emits CO2 thanks to the electricity it uses each year? It’s a comparatively small amount, in truth, but enough that some people have foresworn their fridge and adopted a life without one. Included are…
Will solar sails take us to the stars?
Dec 31, 2013 • 27 min
We have within our grasp here on Earth the technology that could make interstellar travel a reality within as little as a few decades and it doesn’t require any exotic fuel. In fact, it only requires sunlight and an initial blast into orbit to begin a…
How Fire Breathing Works
Dec 26, 2013 • 34 min
As part of their strange, ongoing suite on circus arts, Chuck and Josh discuss one of the more dangerous crowd favorites, aspirating extremely flammable chemicals from one’s mouth onto a flame, creating a ball of fire. It’s straightforward, yes, and…
Josh and Chuck’s Warm and Cozy Christmas Extravaganza 2013
Dec 24, 2013 • 48 min
It’s finally here, the best episode of the year! It’s time to settle in by a nice fire, wrap up in a blanket, heat up a toddy and gather your loved ones around the mp3 player to hear Chuck and Josh talk about all of the things that make Christmas so merry…
Is lethal injection humane?
Dec 19, 2013 • 46 min
Since the Supreme Court’s ban on capital punishment was reversed, states have sought a humane method of killing sentenced criminals. They settled on lethal injection, but is this quasi-medical means of killing as quick and painless as we think?
How Manhunts Work
Dec 17, 2013 • 36 min
When a suspect or prisoner goes on the lam there are plenty of ways to hide: in plain sight, in the mountains, in another country. There are as many types of ways law enforcement uses to track wanted people as their are ways to go on the lam, but there…
How Underwater Tunnels Work
Dec 12, 2013 • 34 min
It’s a pretty amazing feat to dig a tunnel beneath a body of water that’s big enough (and safe enough) to drive a train through. While humans have been digging underwater tunnels for thousands of years, it wasn’t until the late 19th century that it became…
How Maglev Trains Work
Dec 5, 2013 • 32 min
Thanks to the amazing properties of magnets, clever engineers have figured out how to make entire trains levitate above their tracks, letting them move frictionlessly and allowing them to reach incredible speeds. Learn about how maglev trains work and…
How Castration Works
Dec 3, 2013 • 43 min
In this episode, Josh and Chuck teach you everything you ever wanted to know but were too freaked out to ask about castration. Learn about the history of removing male genitalia, why some parents had it done to their sons, how the state has become the…
How Black Friday Works
Nov 28, 2013 • 42 min
On the day after Thanksgiving, Americans go kind of crazy for the deep discount sales that kick off the holiday shopping season in stores. So crazy, in fact, at least four people have lost their lives and as many as 63 others have been injured during…
Is there a scientific formula for funny?
Nov 26, 2013 • 45 min
Recorded live at the Los Angeles PodFest, this episode of SYSK delves into the longstanding attempt to break down what humans find funny into a scientifically reproducible formula. Join Josh and Chuck as they examine just why this extremely unfunny quest…
Who killed JFK?
Nov 21, 2013 • 47 min
For the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Josh and Chuck delve into the killing, the investigations and the conspiracy theories to get to the bottom of an enduring national question.
How Chocolate Works
Nov 19, 2013 • 43 min
People have been consuming chocolate for at least a couple thousand years, but it’s only been in the last hundred that humanity has arrived at its crowning achievement: the smooth, creamy milk chocolate bar. Find out about the history of chocolate, how…
How Werewolves Work
Nov 14, 2013 • 35 min
If you’ve ever been bitten by a wolf, you’re probably familiar with the anxiety of waiting for the next full moon to see if you become a werewolf. Learn all about the lore, mental illness and rules behind lycanthropy, one of civilization’s oldest…
Some Interesting Things You Didn’t Know About Stephen Hawking
Nov 12, 2013 • 34 min
Everybody knows that cosmologist Stephen Hawking has an enormous brain, but did you also know he has an equal wit? Learn about some of the lesser-known details about the celebrated physicist in this episode.
How Lewis and Clark Worked
Nov 7, 2013 • 54 min
They may be the most famous explorers in U.S. history, but there are plenty of interesting details to the Lewis and Clark expedition that history has allowed to fade. Learn about the origin and the aftermath of America’s first early push Westward in this…
How Chess Works
Nov 5, 2013 • 49 min
Despite its knights, bishops and castles, the game of chess has been around a lot longer since the Medieval Age. And it wasn’t even invented in Europe - chess comes from 2nd-century India, when some unknown inventor created what has come to be considered…
What’s with the Winchester Mystery House?
Oct 31, 2013 • 32 min
After her daughter and husband died, heiress Sarah Winchester became obsessed with the idea that spirits haunted her and to appease them she had to have a house continuously built for them. So she did - 24 hours a day for 38 years.
The Empty House
Oct 30, 2013 • 43 min
It’s Halloween, and Josh and Chuck are ready to creep you out with this year’s spooky story, Algernon Blackwood’s scary short story, The Empty House. Tune in, turn down the lights and prepare for chills to run down your spine as they read this classic bit…
How Ouija Boards Work
Oct 29, 2013 • 35 min
Although most people who’ve used Ouija boards don’t think they’re communicating with the beyond, there is something mysterious about how it works. Learn the ins and outs of the popular parlor game that sprang directly from the 19th-century spiritualism…
How Guide Dogs Work
Oct 22, 2013 • 42 min
You know how when you see a guide dog leading a blind person to their destination and you think, “There goes a truly great dog?” It turns out you are absolutely correct. Guide dogs are about as special as dogs can get and it’s through years of hard work.…
10 Easy Ways to Save Money
Oct 17, 2013 • 46 min
Times are still kind of tough, but there are some time-tested and easy ways to get ahead and in this episode Josh and Chuck explore them. Learn about not only how to save, but also how to make your new-found dough grow.
How the Maori Work
Oct 15, 2013 • 39 min
It’s a familiar theme, an indigenous group’s culture falls apart when exposed to European ideals, weapons and disease. For the Maori of New Zealand, however, a determined effort to preserve and revive its ancient identity has started to pay off. Join Josh…
Did Archimedes build a death ray?
Oct 8, 2013 • 36 min
During the siege of Syracuse in 214 BCE, the city-state’s resident genius, Archimedes, built a number of clever war machines to thwart the invading Roman fleet. One invention, the death ray, has been considered the stuff of legend. But could it have been…
Can NASA predict natural disasters?
Oct 3, 2013 • 30 min
The US has developed some great equipment for peering into deep space that can also be used to great effect when trained on Earth. Now NASA is using satellites to track natural processes around the globe in an effort to better predict natural disasters…
What’s the deal with diplomatic immunity?
Oct 1, 2013 • 43 min
You’ve heard all about diplomatic immunity, but we’ll bet you don’t really know how it works. Take some time to get into the nuts and bolts of this ancient and bizarre international custom and just how an embassy can be considered sovereign soil in this…
Does owning a gun change your behavior?
Sep 26, 2013 • 32 min
Back in the 1990s, Congress effectively banned the scientific study of gun violence. Still, a handful of researchers plugged on and produced a small body of work about the effect of the presence of guns on the human psyche. Chuck and Josh look at the…
How Crack Works
Sep 24, 2013 • 49 min
Back in the mid-1980s a new and extremely potent drug hit the scene: crack cocaine. In short order, America was in the grip of both a sweeping addiction and a state of hysteria over use of the drug and the social consequences of crack, like crack babies.…
How Dying Works
Sep 19, 2013 • 66 min
Chuck and Josh have covered just about every aspect of death except dying itself. Here, they fulfill the death suite of podcasts with an in-depth look at just how people die, what happens to the body during the dying process and how people accept death —…
How IEDs Work
Sep 17, 2013 • 34 min
Improvised explosive devices were the primary killer of American troops in Iraq and continue to top the list in Afghanistan. Their use is so prevalent among guerrillas and insurgents because they are so effective. They are easy to put together with parts…
How much money is in the world?
Sep 5, 2013 • 37 min
There are few things more futile than trying to count all of the money in the world. Even many governments have no idea how much currency they have issued. But that won’t stop Chuck and Josh from trying and explaining why we can’t be sure how much money…
How the Rosetta Stone Works
Sep 3, 2013 • 39 min
Sometimes providence smiles on historians. Thus is the case with the Rosetta stone, an ancient Egyptian tablet that served as the key for unlocking hieroglyphics, lost to time for a millennia. Learn about the international intrigue, rivalry to translate…
How did 168 conquistadors take down the Inca empire?
Aug 29, 2013 • 40 min
Just before Francisco Pizarro arrived in South American in 1532, the Inca empire covered 350,000 square miles and boasted a million inhabitants. Yet Pizarro managed to take down this vast, powerful and advanced bureaucracy with only 168 men. Find out how…
How Broken Bones Work
Aug 27, 2013 • 41 min
It’s a pretty miserable thing to break a bone. There’s the initial blinding pain, all of the medical procedures during a trip to the hospital and then, in the best case example, you have to wear a cast for four months. Beneath all of this misery, though,…
History’s Greatest Traitors
Aug 22, 2013 • 46 min
The annals of history hold a special place for people who have carried out treachery and betrayed their own. Thousands of years later, their names are still synonymous with being a scoundrel around the world. From Marcus Brutus to Vidkun Quisling and…
How Ejection Seats Work
Aug 20, 2013 • 40 min
When the Jet Age came about, pilots found they had a brand new problem with their brand new planes: how to bail out when they found themselves in a pinch at 700 mph. In the mid-1940s, aerospace engineers got to work coming up with a fascinating and…
How Cockroaches Work
Aug 15, 2013 • 45 min
You’ve seen them in your home and probably squealed in terror, but now it’s time to learn all about cockroaches. From their ability to run incredibly fast to the appendage that alerts them when you’re about to whack them with your shoe, cockroaches are…
Why was Davy Crockett king of the wild frontier?
Aug 13, 2013 • 38 min
If there is an American legend who is both real-life and larger-than-life it is Davy Crockett. While he may not have “”kilt him a b’ar”” when he was three, he definitely did personify both the best and the worst of American individualism during the age of…
How does a diving bell work?
Aug 8, 2013 • 32 min
About 2,400 years ago Aristotle mentions the use of diving bells, apparatuses that convey divers to the bottom of the sea — or at least below the surface of the water — and allows them to breathe — at least until the air runs out. Learn about the physics…
The Shark Diaries
Aug 7, 2013 • 42 min
In this special episode of Stuff You Should Know, Chuck and Josh tip their hats to Shark Week with an old-fashioned radio play. Join the guys (and a few guests) as they present a dramatization of the 1916 Jersey Shore shark attacks.
How Horseshoes Work
Aug 6, 2013 • 32 min
That laziest of backyard games, horseshoes, is also a very ancient one, developed by people following Greek armies more than 2,000 years ago. Since then, the game of horseshoes hasn’t evolved too much, which would indicate that it has reached perfection.…
How Fingerprinting Works
Aug 1, 2013 • 37 min
The Babylonians, one of the earliest civilizations, were the first to use fingerprints to differentiate people, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that prints were used for crime fighting. Ever since, analyzing, classifying and collecting fingerprints…
How LARP Works
Jul 30, 2013 • 36 min
Dressing up in duct tape-covered cardboard suit of armor and pretending you’re an elf warrior for a weekend at a state park might sound like a pretty embarrassing thing to do, but that probably just means you’ve never done it. Join Josh and Chuck as they…
Why should you never scare a vulture?
Jul 23, 2013 • 31 min
Being ravenous eaters of decaying flesh, vultures have long been shunned by humans. But because of their disgusting habits, vultures provide a much-needed service to the rest of the organisms on Earth, making them the unsung heroes of their ecosystems.
Who owns an abandoned house?
Jul 18, 2013 • 31 min
Ever since the real estate bubble in the U.S. burst in 2008, American cities have had to deal with a substantial uptick in abandoned houses. Faced with hundreds of thousands more than usual, new questions have arisen pertaining to who owns a house the…
How Building Implosions Work
Jul 16, 2013 • 37 min
When you need to take down a 20-story building, a wrecking ball won’t do. Instead, you’ll need to turn to the handful of companies in the world that are capable of safely and successfully bringing down a building by blowing it up.
How Hip-hop Works
Jul 11, 2013 • 54 min
In this week’s SYSK Select, what you hear is not a test, instead it’s Chuck and Josh discussing the cultural history of the Hip-Hop movement. Born out of the South Bronx, by way of Jamaica, Hip-Hop culture grew up suddenly as DJs learned to use two…
10 Medieval Torture Devices
Jul 9, 2013 • 37 min
Warning: This episode on instruments designed solely to produce extreme human suffering during the Middle Ages in Europe is very graphic in nature. Seriously, if you’re squeamish, maybe pass on this one.
How Miranda Rights Work
Jul 4, 2013 • 31 min
Back in 1966, the Supreme Court decided that suspects in criminal cases had the right to be reminded that they didn’t have to talk to the fuzz if they didn’t want to, as stated in the 5th amendment. Since that ruling, scores of other cases have shaped and…
How Pollen Works
Jul 2, 2013 • 31 min
For about 375 million years, plants have been using pollen (aka plant sperm) to propagate their species. And the technique has stuck around because it works. Join Chuck and Josh for a cozy look at the ins and outs of plant reproduction.
How Burning Man Works
Jun 27, 2013 • 36 min
You’ve probably heard about Burning Man, it’s a week-long party in the middle of a desert made of 50 thousand people living pretty much without rules, pretty much without any exchange of money and often nude and on drugs. Get the background on this social…
How Ghosts Work
Jun 20, 2013 • 44 min
According to a 2009 poll, more Americans believe in ghosts than don’t. But what are ghosts exactly? If they do exist, what are they made of and why are they hanging around? Josh and Chuck explore both sides of the divide between belief and skepticism on…
How Bitcoin Works
Jun 17, 2013 • 38 min
In 2008 Bitcoin, the world’s first decentralized, anarchistic all-digital currency, was introduced to the world. Its value has risen, fallen and risen again and speculators, techies, libertarians and economists alike are taking it seriously.
Capgras Syndrome: You Are Not Who You Think You Are
Jun 11, 2013 • 27 min
There is an extremely rare condition where the sufferer is convinced that everyone around him is an impostor posing as their friends and family. Learn about the neurology behind this strange and sad mental disorder in this episode.
How Drag Queens Work
Jun 11, 2013 • 44 min
You can trace the origin of men dressing as women in public back to classic Greek theater, but modern drag queens owe their real inception to vaudeville. Dip your toe into the politics and culture of this unique phenomenon with Josh and Chuck.
How do trees affect the weather?
Jun 6, 2013 • 30 min
Sure, you know that trees have an impact on climate change: to wit, fewer trees mean more atmospheric CO2. But did you know that trees can actually impact local and immediate weather? Learn about why you should love trees even more than you do.
What happened to the lost colony at Roanoke?
Jun 4, 2013 • 36 min
Before Jamestown became the first successful English colony in the New World, an entire group of settlers vanished. For the last 430 years, Roanoke has been an American mystery. Learn the theories of what became of the lost colonists in this episode.
How Coffins Work
May 28, 2013 • 42 min
Sure, you’ve probably laid in one at the store or a funeral home, but how much do you know about receptacles used to bury the dead? We’ll bet you’ll learn plenty - like the difference between a coffin and a casket - in this episode.
How Police Chases Work
May 28, 2013 • 28 min
Entire TV shows are dedicated to them and Americans love to watch a live one, but police chases aren’t as routine as they seem. While police assert chases are important tools, critics say cops engage in chases too often and too easily.
How PTSD Works
May 23, 2013 • 42 min
With Post-traumatic Stress Disorder the sufferer relives, over and over again, the worst moment of his life. What’s worse is medicine still doesn’t know how to treat it. Learn about this condition and how it’s leading to an understanding of memory.
How Cicadas Work
May 21, 2013 • 31 min
Cicadas are crawling out from underground, where they have been hiding in the darkness for almost two decades. As of May 2013, they’re invading the East Coast from North Carolina to New York. But why? Learn more about cicadas with Josh and Chuck.
How Aerosol Cans Work
May 16, 2013 • 26 min
In the 87 years since they were invented aerosol cans have protected soldiers, temporarily fixed flat tires, killed a boy who used too much deodorant and had their contents banned by most countries for wrecking the ozone layer. Tune in to learn more.
How Electroconvulsive Therapy Works
May 14, 2013 • 28 min
With the exception of lobotomies, no other psychological treatment has a worse reputation. But thanks to some thoughtful tweaks, ECT has lately emerged from the dark ages and toward the respectable forefront of treatment for major depression.
How Foot Binding Worked
May 9, 2013 • 29 min
Once in a while, all the necessary factors converge to produce a peculiar nationalized sexual fetish. In China, that fetish was foot binding and over a millennia three billion Chinese women’s feet were brutally disfigured for men’s pleasure.
How Fair Trade Works
May 7, 2013 • 32 min
The West has gotten rich off the backs of underpaid labor living elsewhere; people who are dedicated to Fair Trade feel it’s time people at a disadvantage should stop being exploited. The concept is simple - just pay workers fairly for their labor.
How Dungeons and Dragons Works
May 2, 2013 • 48 min
Despite what you’ve heard, Dungeons and Dragons isn’t just for geeks, it isn’t satanic and it’s actually a pretty great way to exercise your imagination. Find out about the basics of D&D, its place in pop culture and the controversy the classic role…
What makes us yawn?
Apr 25, 2013 • 29 min
What is it that makes us suddenly draw in a deep breath through a wide-open mouth? The beautiful thing about yawning is that researchers really don’t know. Whether the answer is physical, mental or even contagious there is pretty much no chance you won’t…
How Magnets Work
Apr 23, 2013 • 38 min
You can stick them to the fridge or use them to transpose sound to tape, whatever they are used for magnets are surprisingly interesting. And knowing just exactly how and why magnets work will make you more interesting, which is why you should listen to…
Uses of the Insanity Defense
Apr 18, 2013 • 33 min
The idea that a person who can’t understand the crime they’ve committed is wrong lets them off the hook from culpability for their actions is a longstanding pillar of Western criminal law. Learn about some of the prominent and overlooked cases where the…
How Marriage Works
Apr 16, 2013 • 42 min
You can tell a lot about a culture through marriage statistics: what age people get married, how many divorce, who is excluded from legal marriage. It forms a picture of how a society interacts with itself. Learn more about marriage in this episode.
Do men and women have different brains?
Apr 11, 2013 • 26 min
It’s a pretty touchy subject because of the possible implications - if you find differences between the brains of men and women, does that mean there are differences in their intellect? Surprisingly, though there are demonstrable differences between male…
What’s the deal with duckbill platypuses?
Apr 9, 2013 • 26 min
It is pretty much impossible to describe duckbill platypuses without using the word “hodgepodge” and for good reason. These mammals also share features with birds, reptiles and even sharks. Learn about the these weird and peculiar (and surprisingly tiny)…
How Grief Works
Apr 4, 2013 • 42 min
You can probably name the five stages of grief - from denial to acceptance - they’ve become pretty well known since being proposed in 1969. But later researchers are finding that grief is rarely that cut and dried, and it may not be as widely experienced…
How the Panama Canal Works
Apr 2, 2013 • 33 min
It’s on more than one list of the Seven Wonders of the World and for good reason - the Panama Canal is one of the great feats of engineering ever undertaken. First conceived of in the 1580s and finally completed in 1914, the canal has a fascinating…
How No-fly Zones Work
Mar 28, 2013 • 28 min
They have become such a ubiquitous tool used by the UN and NATO to intervene in international crises, that it seems like no-fly zones have been around forever. But it was only the 1990s that the first one was enacted and they’ve only be used twice more…
How Apartheid Worked
Mar 19, 2013 • 38 min
After WWII, while the rest of the world grew more socially progressive, the government of South Africa turned inward to focus its attention on domination of the white minority over the non-white majority. It took an internal struggle and the voice of the…
How the U.S. Postal Service Works
Mar 14, 2013 • 46 min
The USPS is currently teetering on the edge of going under and there are a lot of plans to save it, from cutting Saturday service to creating federally-protected email addresses linked to individuals at birth. Join Chuck and Josh as they explore the…
How Police Sketches Work
Mar 12, 2013 • 40 min
Creating composite drawings of suspected criminals from eyewitness accounts has been around since a Frenchman introduced it in the 19th century. Despite the introduction of new techniques and software it hasn’t changed all that much.
Can We Build an Elevator to Space?
Mar 9, 2013 • 32 min
With the end of the shuttle program and an International Space Station still in need of supplies, the aerospace industry is working the kinks of out of a century-old idea to build a service elevator from Earth to outer space.
Do People Really Run Off to Join the French Foreign Legion?
Mar 7, 2013 • 23 min
Anyone who knows anything about Jean-Claude Van Damme knows he played a French legionnaire in the movies. He was just one of many actors to star in films that romanticized this mercenary force. Check out the details in this episode with Josh and Chuck.
What Makes a One-hit Wonder?
Mar 5, 2013 • 30 min
The term “one-hit wonder” gets thrown around a lot, and - yes - you probably are using it correctly, but Chuck Bryant went to the trouble to really define what makes a one-hit wonder in the article this episode is based on. Join him and Josh as they get…
How the Papacy Works
Feb 28, 2013 • 37 min
In February 2013, Pope Benedict said he would become the first pope to retire in 600 years. Check out this episode of Stuff You Should Know to find out just what the pope does and the process of choosing a new one.
How CPR Works
Feb 26, 2013 • 32 min
You have a golden opportunity to make yourself into a worthwhile human being simply by learning how to perform CPR. The chances are you’ll never need to use it, but knowing how just in case never hurts. Listen to this episode to get you primed to take a…
How Spies Work
Feb 23, 2013 • 46 min
Psst. You want to know how governments and corporations get the drop on one another? The frontline of intelligence is populated by spies. Learn about how spies get and transfer information (and why they do it) in this episode of Stuff You Should Know.
What Would Happen If the World Stopped Spinning?
Feb 21, 2013 • 23 min
Over the last 400 million years, the day has grown longer by two full hours thanks to a slowing of the rotation of the Earth on its axis. While it will be a very long time before it stops spinning altogether, it never hurts to plan. Listen to Chuck and…
How Surfing Works
Feb 19, 2013 • 51 min
You know the Beach Boys and you’ve seen those Hang Ten shirts with the little feet emblem, but there’s a lot more to surfing than appears on pop culture’s surface. From learning how to pop up on the board to the physics of how waves form and break to the…
Myths About the Brain
Feb 14, 2013 • 27 min
As is usual for SYSK, Josh and Chuck go over some, but not all, of the entries in this list of ten common myths about the brain. While it lives there in your noggin you don’t really have much of a grasp on your brain and how it works. You think you do,…
How Jet Lag Works
Feb 12, 2013 • 37 min
It was only since 1958 that the Jet Age began, and jet lag became a real condition. Also known as desynchronosis, jet lag can lead to all manner of ailments, from sleeplessness to irritability to diabetes and cancer. Learn about how the body’s natural…
How Weather Modification Works
Feb 9, 2013 • 35 min
It began with old-timey guys dropping dry ice on clouds. Since then weather modification was used to keep the 2008 opening ceremonies dry and flood the Ho Chi Minh Trail, but does it work? Learn about weather control plans, diabolical or otherwise.
How Willpower Works
Feb 7, 2013 • 32 min
You use it every day to overcome your lower self (which wants you to eat cake until your vision blurs) in pursuit of the goals of your higher self (which wants you to not develop Type-II diabetes). Yet it was only in the 1990s that researchers began to…
How Garbage-powered Cars Could Work
Feb 5, 2013 • 28 min
We’re not so far off from being able to power our cars using beer and banana peels, like Doc in Back to the Future. Rather than solving the energy crisis with Mr. Fusion, though, we’ll be taking advantage of a technique that’s been in use for hundreds of…
How Gold Works
Jan 31, 2013 • 48 min
Only 161,00 metric tons of gold has been mined in the entire history of the world. Considering about 85 percent of the precious mineral is recycled, there’s a chance your jewelry may once have been part of an Incan headdress or Mycenaean face mask. Learn…
How Stuntmen (and -women) Work
Jan 29, 2013 • 42 min
They get blown up, shot, drowned and thrown out of windows on the silver screen - and we don’t even know their names. Stuntpeople are the unsung heroes of the movie industry. Learn the ins and outs of the stunt world and how one becomes a stunt person.
How Bees Work
Jan 26, 2013 • 46 min
With less than a million neurons in their tiny heads, bees shouldn’t be able to do much more than eat, sleep and reproduce. And yet, bees are capable of high functions like population economics and navigating by the sun on overcast days. Learn about these…
How the Frick Fracking Works
Jan 22, 2013 • 48 min
Fracking, the process of breaking trapped resources like natural gas and oil from shale, has led to a revolution in energy production in the U.S. It’s also given rise to increasing worries that the process can have sweeping environmental impacts.
Does the five-second rule work?
Jan 17, 2013 • 36 min
You know when you drop a piece of food and if you pick it up within five seconds it’s still good to eat? Researchers have studied whether that’s true or not and in doing so have inadvertently shone a light on how utterly covered our world is with bacteria…
How Death Masks Work
Jan 15, 2013 • 34 min
One of the earliest civilizations we’ve detected, the Myceneans, kicked off the habit of creating a mask of a deceased person’s face in deathly repose. What began as an ancient rite has only recently fallen out of practice around the world. Learn about…
Can you outrun an alligator in a zig-zag?
Jan 8, 2013 • 28 min
You’ve heard the warning before: If you’re being chased on land by an alligator, run in a zig-zag. Of course, the average person should be capable of outrunning an alligator. Josh and Chuck take the opportunity to explore alligator safety anyway.
What was America’s first terrorist threat?
Jan 3, 2013 • 30 min
From the moment it was established, the United States had headaches with terrorism of the pirate variety. For decades, the federal budget even include bribe money to pay them off. Learn all about this early threat on this episode of Stuff You Should Know.
How Bigfoot Works
Jan 1, 2013 • 38 min
For centuries North American tribes have told stories of a hairy wild giant in the wilderness, and once Europeans arrived they claimed to see it, too. Chuck and Josh examine the claims of believers and the rebuttals of skeptics in this evenhanded episode.
How Dog Shows Work
Dec 27, 2012 • 44 min
You know those shows where people wearing sensible shoes jog dogs around in circles? They actually represent the pinnacle of a long and complex path to glory for dogs and their owners. Join Chuck and Josh as they peek inside the American dog show.
Josh and Chuck’s Christmas Extravaganza 2012
Dec 21, 2012 • 47 min
Kick back and raise a glass of eggnog to Josh and Chuck as they carry on a new holiday tradition of exploring the ins and outs of all things Christmas - and maybe even warm your heart along the way. Happy holidays, everybody!
How Barbie Doll Works
Dec 20, 2012 • 64 min
In this episode, Josh and Chuck explore the history, cultural impact and feminist ire raised by the Barbie doll. The boys are joined by Gordon Javna, the founder of the Bathroom Readers’ Institute and publisher of Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader.
Lab-grown meat: Order up!
Dec 18, 2012 • 28 min
Since Winston Churchill predicted we’d grow meat in a lab by 1981, researchers have considered doing just that. And thanks to the current work of about 30 groups, we may be only years away from mass-produced artificial meat. But will anyone eat it?
How Condoms Work
Dec 13, 2012 • 64 min
The earliest depiction of a condom is found in a 15,000-year-old cave painting. Ever since humans realized sex led to children, we’ve been using condoms to prevent pregnancy. Join Josh and Chuck for this comprehensive tour of all things condom.
Will we reach peak oil?
Dec 6, 2012 • 39 min
A 2012 report showed that the U.S. may be energy-independent in just a few years, but not too long ago the specter of peak oil loomed large on the political and economic landscape. Join Chuck and Josh as they visit the consequences of running out of oil.
How Vampires Work
Dec 4, 2012 • 51 min
Out of obligation, Chuck and Josh mention Twilight, but it is the longstanding vampire lore that gets the most attention in this examination of how the bloodsucking undead evolved from baby-stealing demonesses to suave counts in our collective psyche.
How Caving Works
Nov 29, 2012 • 52 min
Entrances to the underworld have been places of wonder for eons, and humans have ventured into caves to sleep, hunt, create art and explore. Thanks to the hobby of caving, that tradition continues today. Bonus: Chuck discusses his caving experience.
Why do leaves change colors in the fall?
Nov 27, 2012 • 25 min
Ah, autumn - arguably the most beautiful time of the year, thanks to the vibrant colors trees put on display as they close up for the winter. Ever wonder why and how trees change color in the fall? Chuck and Josh have it down pat and explain it here.
Philanthropy: Humankind and Loving It
Nov 22, 2012 • 47 min
Sure the fatcats get all the credit for donating millions, but did you know US households making $20,000 or less contribute the highest percentage of their income to charity? Learn more (not to mention a sexy look at the U.S. tax code) in this episode.
Should we be designing our children?
Nov 20, 2012 • 37 min
In 2009, a fertility clinic controversially offered parents the ability to customize their children. How will society take the idea of designing children? Do we have a moral obligation to design better people? Join Josh and Chuck for this heavy episode.
How Meth Works
Nov 15, 2012 • 49 min
You know how when you do a lot of crystal methamphetamine you get meth mouth, where your teeth decay? Of course you don’t! So check out this in-depth look on the most widely-abused hard drug in the world. Even tweakers will learn something new.
How close are we to holographic environments?
Nov 13, 2012 • 25 min
Star Trek was famous for its holodeck, a completely immersive holographic environment that could be any space a user wanted. Thanks to telemersion technology built for business conferencing, we’re starting to get close to that holodeck after all.
What will happen when we reach the Singularity?
Nov 8, 2012 • 42 min
Futurists have unnervingly predicted an impending moment in human history: the Singularity, when a superhuman artificial intelligence is created. What will become of humans? Enslavement? Extermination? Utopia? Find out with Josh and Chuck.
Yakuza: From Samurai to Slot Machines
Nov 6, 2012 • 39 min
The Yakuza trace their lineage back to the 18th century samurai, left masterless following political upheaval, who turned to lives of crime. After centuries, the Yakuza is still going strong, following both tradition and new avenues of illicit revenue.
SYSK’s Halloween Horror Fiction Winner!
Oct 30, 2012 • 25 min
Josh and Chuck have been planning this thing since spring and it’s finally here! Tune in to hear which listener’s scary story won the SYSK Halloween Horror Fiction Contest — and prepare to have your socks scared off just in time for All Hallow’s Eve.
Exoskeletons: How’s it coming?
Oct 25, 2012 • 32 min
Since the 1960s, the Pentagon has called for a suit that can make a soldier jump higher, run faster longer and generally be a badder dude. It’s only now that the materials needed are coming of age. Listen in to learn the state of exoskeleton technology.
How Commercial Jingles Work
Oct 23, 2012 • 37 min
You probably can recite five right now. Commercial jingles are designed to hijack your working memory and implant a product or service and they really work. Learn about the history of these insidious and catchy advertising vehicles with Chuck and Josh.
How Lion Taming Works
Oct 18, 2012 • 30 min
Bossing a lion around in front of a crowd at a circus has been an attraction for 200 years, but exactly how lion tamers get their captive wild animals to comply has evolved over time. Take a peek in the jaws of this odd profession with Josh and Chuck.
How Black Holes Work
Oct 16, 2012 • 32 min
It wasn’t too long ago when black holes were strictly predictions in theoretical math. Over decades, astronomy has gotten better at uncovering these cosmic phenomena. Learn about how black holes form and their ability to spaghettify you in this episode.
How Pizza Works!
Oct 11, 2012 • 52 min
Sure it’s everywhere and there’s a more-than-90-percent chance you eat it once a month. But we’ll bet you don’t know the full history of that pizza (or tomato pie) you’re about to chow down on. Join Chuck and Josh as they explain it to you, bite by bite.
How Rainforests Work
Oct 9, 2012 • 41 min
It’s been called the world’s lungs, the world’s pharmacy and the world’s air conditioner. It takes up only 6 percent of Earth’s land, yet houses 50% of the world’s species. Find out the math behind why they may be gone in 40 years in this episode.
How Fire Works
Oct 4, 2012 • 31 min
Creating fire was possibly the most important human discovery, but it’s easy to take for granted. But. Josh and Chuck get to the bottom of the chemistry of fire in their quest to explain everything in the universe.
How Whiskey Runners Worked
Oct 2, 2012 • 33 min
Sure, Chuck and Josh have discussed it before, but it’s worth revisiting: Running moonshine led to the creation of NASCAR. Chuck and Josh aren’t even NASCAR fans and they think that’s cool. Join them as the investigate moonshine runnin’.
Subways: HUH! What are they good for?
Sep 27, 2012 • 46 min
As ubiquitous as they’ve become, it’s easy to overlook the marvels of engineering that are subways. Chuck and Josh go boring as they explore these systems of tubes that must circumnavigate rock, rivers, cables and more to get you where you’re going.
Q: Are we in the midst of cyberwar? A: Yes
Sep 25, 2012 • 31 min
There’s a secret war going on around us, and it’s happening on a daily basis. The Air Force recently launched a new unit specifically designed to carry out and defend against cyberwar. Go deep into this new and alarming type of war with Josh and Chuck.
Why does music provoke emotion?
Sep 20, 2012 • 67 min
A well-crafted piece of music can bring us to incredible highs and crushing lows, sometimes within the same song. Why does music affect humans this way? Join Chuck, Josh and special guest cellist Ben Sollee as they get to the bottom of music and emotion.
Are we all Martians?
Sep 18, 2012 • 30 min
There’s a very good question that no one has yet satisfactorily answered: Where did life on Earth come from? Some look to the Red Planet as the source of life here, which, if correct, would make us all Martians. Is there anything to this out there claim?
How Book Banning Works
Sep 13, 2012 • 33 min
If you want to control the masses, control what they read. After all, books are seeds that germinate new points of view. As a result, the struggle against banning books is contentious and continual. Learn more about banning books in this episode.
How Asexuality Works
Sep 11, 2012 • 37 min
When Alfred Kinsey conducted his sex surveys he turned up, but ignored, a fourth sexual orientation: people who don’t experience sexual attraction. It took 60 years for Group X to gain a name and recognition, but with that has come increased scrutiny.
Bioluminescence: A Bright and Shiny Fish
Sep 6, 2012 • 39 min
Science has a handle on fireflies and glowworms, but most bioluminescent animals live in the ocean and are tough to study. Today, researchers are still figuring out why some animals produce light. Dive with Josh and Chuck into this illuminating topic.
Can you test a nuclear weapon without a fallout?
Sep 4, 2012 • 32 min
Over the course of human existence, thousands of nuclear weapons have been exploded on Earth and in space. With all of those tests, one can’t help but wonder how much fallout has been produced. Learn the tricks of the nuke-testing trade in this episode.
How Flesh-eating Bacteria Work
Aug 30, 2012 • 29 min
Possibly the most horrifically-named disease anyone could contract, flesh-eating bacteria can lead quickly lead to amputations and death. Learn about how this disease works and how to prevent it in this episode with Chuck and Josh.
How the Electoral College Works
Aug 28, 2012 • 43 min
When you vote in an American presidential election, you’re not voting for your candidate - you’re voting for a group of people you hope will in turn vote for your candidate. Listen in to learn more about the strange process for electing the president.
What happens to abandoned mines?
Aug 23, 2012 • 29 min
Did you know there are as many as 500,000 abandoned mines in the US, but the federal government knows where only 30,000 of them are? Learn about these places go from money pit to death trap when mine companies simply walk away.
Why You Probably Have a Criminal Record
Aug 21, 2012 • 34 min
If you’re an American adult, there’s a 1 in 4 chance you have a criminal record. While it’s less likely you’ve committed any serious crime, there are still repercussions to having a rap sheet as more employers use them to decide between candidates.
Did Reagan’s Star Wars program win the Cold War?
Aug 16, 2012 • 37 min
Putting lasers in space to blast Soviet missiles out of the air was a very real part of Ronald Reagan’s defense policy. While his “Star Wars” program was derided at home and abroad, historians are beginning to wonder if it didn’t help win the Cold War…
The Shark Diaries
Aug 14, 2012 • 42 min
In this special episode of Stuff You Should Know, Chuck and Josh tip their hats to Shark Week with an old-fashioned radio play. Join the guys (and a few guests) as they present a dramatization of the 1916 Jersey Shore shark attacks.
How Shark Attacks Work
Aug 9, 2012 • 41 min
A shark attack is a terrifying experience for the victim — but are sharks really man-eating monsters with a taste for human flesh? Join Josh and Chuck as they ask why sharks attack, how attacks occur and which sharks are most likely to attack someone.
How Ramadan Works
Aug 7, 2012 • 33 min
It’s the holiest month of the Muslim calendar, and for good reason. It was during the month of Ramadan that Mohammed began to issue the Koran. Learn about the customs and traditions behind observing Ramadan in this episode of Stuff You Should Know.
Can we build an elevator to space?
Aug 2, 2012 • 31 min
With the end of the shuttle program and an International Space Station still in need of supplies, the aerospace industry is working the kinks of out of a century-old idea to build a service elevator from Earth to outer space.
How the Musketeers Worked
Jul 31, 2012 • 32 min
You know and love them as a fluffy chocolate nougat and maybe as a book and a movie, but musketeers were quite real and quite deadly. Visit with Josh and Chuck as they examine the elite special forces of 17th-century France.
How Time Travel Works (Live at SD Comic-Con)
Jul 26, 2012 • 27 min
How does time travel work? Could it ever cross the line from science fiction into science fact? Join Josh and Chuck — along with a live audience at the 2012 Comic-Con — as they explore the ins and outs of time travel.
How White-collar Crime Works
Jul 24, 2012 • 46 min
White-collar crime often involves fraud and other nonviolent acts. For most people, the term “white-collar crime” conjures up images of CEOs conniving their way to fortune. But what is it, really? Listen in as Josh and Chuck break down the facts.
How Lightning Works
Jul 12, 2012 • 42 min
You’ve seen lightning before, and maybe you’re even afraid of it. You should be. The air is ripped apart and a sudden electrical discharge burning six times brighter than the sun connects with Earth. Learn all about it with Josh and Chuck.
Geysers: Nature’s Innuendo
Jul 10, 2012 • 28 min
The spectacular eruptions of steam and water we call geysers are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, the result of thousands of years of specific natural conditions and physical processes. Learn the Stuff You Should Know about geysers in this episode.
How Tabloids Work
Jul 5, 2012 • 51 min
Having started as an egalitarian answer to 19th-century newspapers, tabloids came to peddle shock and sleaze. They’ve cleaned up a bit, but they remain the world’s guilty pleasure. Learn more about the fascinating history of tabloids with Chuck and Josh.
Is the Dead Sea dead?
Jul 3, 2012 • 27 min
An anomaly of geography, the shores of Dead Sea form the lowest dry spot on Earth. It’s been visited by millions, including King Herod and Cleopatra, all seeking the health benefits of this saline lake. Learn about this unusual spot with Josh and Chuck.
What’s the deal with Executive Orders?
Jun 28, 2012 • 36 min
Depending on who’s in office, they’re either a presidential tradition or the acts of a despot. Executive orders are not spelled out in the Constitution, yet every president has issued them. Learn about these controversial edicts with Josh and Chuck.
10 Accidental Inventions: By the Numbers
Jun 21, 2012 • 39 min
Every once in a while Chuck and Josh do things by the numbers and here’s a good example. Turns out a surprising amount of ubiquitous items in our everyday lives were stumbled upon by accident. This episode explores a few of the more noteworthy ones.
How Icebergs Work (Very Cool)
Jun 19, 2012 • 41 min
” Icebergs: floating chunks of ice. True, but whoa there. Scientists are learning that there’s a lot more to icebergs. Appropriately enough, we’ve only come to understand the tip of the iceberg and recent research shows there’s plenty more to uncover.
Whatever happened to acid rain?
Jun 14, 2012 • 33 min
Along with the hole in the ozone layer, acid rain was one of the first international environmental threats. It’s fallen to the wayside in the face of climate change, but we have yet to lick it. Join Chuck and Josh as they revive the 80s drumbeat.
Should we have a fat tax?
Jun 12, 2012 • 38 min
The concept of fighting unhealthy behavior like overeating by taxing unhealthy food has been around since 1994. But as the debate over a fat tax rages on in the U.S., Europe has begun to institute them and there’s talk of taxing overweight people as well.
Fractals: Whoa
Jun 7, 2012 • 37 min
In the 1980s, IBM mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot gazed for the first time upon his famous fractal. What resulted was a revolution in math and geometry and our understanding of the infinite, not to mention how we see Star Trek II.
How Moss Works
Jun 5, 2012 • 35 min
Think you have moss figured out? You probably don’t. Join Josh and Chuck as they explore some of the surprising aspects of these most ancient and important plants on the planet.
Can it rain frogs?
May 31, 2012 • 27 min
If you’ve seen the movie Magnolia, you’ve seen what it looks like to rain frogs. While there are reports of frogs, fish and even squid raining down that are questionable, science has figured out how it can - and does - rain frogs sometimes.
Do video games produce real-life violence?
May 29, 2012 • 35 min
The disturbing trend of school shootings around the world has dragged violence in video games into the hot seat. But are violent video games actually more capable of producing real violence in gamers or is it just the latest victim of societal hysteria?
Are we obsessed with goals?
May 24, 2012 • 43 min
We’ve all been brought up to keep our eyes on the prize and our pedal to the medal when we go for that brass ring, but does the Western interest in goals verge on an insane obsession? Learn how goals work (and if they’re healthy) with Chuck and Josh.
How Labor Unions Work
May 22, 2012 • 51 min
Yes, it’s true: Unions have a shady mob-related past and were originally championed by anarchists. Born from medieval trade guilds, these organizations also helped grow the American economy, and not only protected but established workers’ rights.
What is the future of Earth?
May 17, 2012 • 36 min
What will the Earth be like in 5,000 or 50,000 years? In this far-sighted episode, Josh and Chuck explore how Earth may change over time. Listen in to learn more about humanity’s odds of survival — and how technology just might save us.
Interpol: World Police
May 15, 2012 • 34 min
Interpol is an international police agency that helps other law-enforcement agencies track criminals who operate across national borders — but how does it work, exactly? Join the guys as they delve into the world of global law enforcement.
What is a shotgun house?
May 10, 2012 • 26 min
Shotgun houses are iconic pieces of American architecture: they’re long, narrow, and filled with artistic flourishes. But where did they come from? In this episode, Chuck and Josh explore the mysterious origins of shotgun houses.
Did the Dutch trade Manhattan for nutmeg?
May 8, 2012 • 37 min
Today nutmeg is commonplace, but this wasn’t always the case. In the 17th century, the Dutch and the British fought a trade war over nutmeg. Join Chuck and Josh as they travel across continents and centuries to trace the story of nutmeg and Manhattan.
How Bullfighting Works
May 3, 2012 • 47 min
When the Visigoths ruled Spain, they introduced the idea of battling bulls at festivals. Today matadors get paid $100,000 and perform in front of 50,000 fans. But is bullfighting an antiquated, abusive relic or a cultural tradition above reproach?
How did language evolve?
May 1, 2012 • 30 min
” Sure animals talk in their own way, with chirps and grunts and the like, but only humans can form words. It is this, some evolutionary psychologists contend, that is what truly separates us from the rest of the species on the planet. But why us?”
How Medical Marijuana Works
Apr 26, 2012 • 36 min
Some quarters of the medical establishment endorse it, others abhor it. The DEA is cracking down on it, but the Veterans’ Administration supports it as a treatment for soldiers. Medical marijuana is indeed a contentious issue. Learn all about it here.
How Air Traffic Control Works
Apr 24, 2012 • 42 min
You know how when you fly in an airline you usually don’t die? You can thank the battalion of air traffic control professionals who studiously track every moment of your flight to ensure its safety. Learn all about this unsung field with Chuck and Josh.
Social Security Numbers: Less Boring Than You’d Think
Apr 19, 2012 • 40 min
Do you know that up until July 2011 an ambitious hacker with a good software program could deduce your social security number based on your date and place of birth? In this episode, the boys examine some of the lesser-known details of the Social Security…
How Whaling Works
Apr 17, 2012 • 37 min
Despite its embattled status as brutal and illegal, commercial whaling is a tradition that dates back 1,000 years and served as the economic engine of the Industrial Revolution. Join Josh and Chuck as they explore the whaling life then and now.
Body Odor: You Stink
Apr 11, 2012 • 48 min
Chuck and Josh end up making reduxes of past episodes on things like sweating and deodorant in this all-new episode on the science beneath what makes people smell. Learn all about your odor in this episode of Stuff You Should Know.
Was Atlantis a real place?
Apr 10, 2012 • 34 min
While the search for Atlantis has been pushed to the fringes since the 19th century, archaeologists have quietly pursued cities that may have inspired Plato to fabricate the mythical city. It looks like a team in Greece has found it.
How Diamonds Work
Apr 3, 2012 • 43 min
There’s no denying that diamonds are pretty — but where do they come from, and why are they so expensive? Join Chuck and Josh as they explore everything about diamonds, from their formation to the mining process and the history of the DeBeers cartel.
How Music Sampling Works
Mar 29, 2012 • 47 min
Today music sampling is a common practice, especially in electronic or hip-hop music. But how does it work? After all, other artists made the original music, and most of them would presumably like to be paid. Tune in to learn more about music sampling.
10 Big Cases of Revenge
Mar 27, 2012 • 47 min
Who doesn’t love a good story about comeuppance? Whether served cold or piping hot, revenge is an ancient idea — and history is filled with acts of vengeance. Join Josh and Chuck as they trace the concept of revenge from the bygone days of Hammurabi to…
How Tipping Works
Mar 22, 2012 • 53 min
Tipping is commonly expected in some places, such as U.S. restaurants. Yet this practice varies across cultures. Join trivia gurus (and former waiters) Josh and Chuck as they take a closer look at the history, practice and controversy surrounding tipping.
How Comic Books: Live from SXSW
Mar 20, 2012 • 58 min
Although you might not be a fan of comic books, there’s no denying that they have a fascinating place in American history. And — as if that wasn’t interesting enough — Josh and Chuck decided to break down the story of comic books live at SXSW.
How the Donner Party Worked
Mar 15, 2012 • 39 min
Did they or didn’t they? There is plenty of written evidence that the ill-fated Donner Party resorted to cannibalism - except there are no bones. Learn the details of one of the worst disasters of the early West in this episode of Stuff You Should Know.
Should chimps be used for medical testing?
Mar 13, 2012 • 34 min
If you’ve got half a heart it’s an easy question to answer. But if you’re happy living without polio and hepatitis B you may want to question further. Learn about what makes chimps special and the history of medical testing in this episode.
How Noah’s Ark Worked
Mar 8, 2012 • 34 min
Stories of a great flood and a man who managed to stay afloat while the world drowned abound in ancient traditions. Join Josh and Chuck as they explore the possible evidence of the Great Flood and whether Noah really existed.
Duels: A guide to throwing down the gauntlet
Mar 6, 2012 • 45 min
Pretty much everything you know about duels is true - it’s a challenge to violence to defend honor. But did you know the U.S. Navy used to publish detailed guidelines in its midshipmen’s handbook? Learn all there is to know about dueling in this episode.
How SETI Works
Mar 1, 2012 • 41 min
SETI stands for ‘search for extraterrestrial intelligence,’ and the term is used to describe both the SETI institute and the search for alien life in general. In this spaced-out episode, Josh and Chuck explore the origin, aims and challenges facing SETI.
How Crying Works
Feb 28, 2012 • 42 min
You probably did it around 70 times last year, yet you probably don’t understand the psychological and physiological processes at work when you cried. Don’t feel bad - no one does. Join Chuck and Josh as they poke around your tear ducts in this episode.
Fasting: deadly or what?
Feb 23, 2012 • 37 min
Avoiding food for religious or health reasons has been around for millennia. But while God may appreciate the sacrifice, how does it affect the body? Join Josh and Chuck to find if fasting actually can be healthy or if it’s as bad an idea as it sounds.
How Autopsies Work
Feb 16, 2012 • 50 min
In the 400th episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck take a trip through the morgue and look over the shoulders of the often controversial coroners and medical examiners that open cadavers to determine how someone died.
How Zero Works
Feb 14, 2012 • 33 min
Few numbers have as storied a past as zero. Even fewer have had as great an impact on our ability to understand our universe. Yet zero is a relatively recent arrival in math. Find out all about this surprisingly fascinating number with Chuck and Josh.
How Coral Reefs Work
Feb 9, 2012 • 38 min
Coral reefs are the largest organic structures on Earth, yet they’re created through a symbiotic relationship between creatures about 3 millimeters long. Learn more about the the world’s coral reefs (and how to protect them) in this episode.
Pickpockets: Artists or Crooks?
Feb 7, 2012 • 35 min
There aren’t many criminal pursuits that are as storied as pickpocketing, and some people fondly reminisce over its heyday. Learn why some consider pickpocketing an art form, how to protect yourself from this art and more in this episode.
How Floods Work
Jan 26, 2012 • 35 min
Floods happen when more water is introduced to an area than can be quickly removed. That’s about it, but there’s more to floods, what causes them and the havoc they can wreak. Join Josh and Chuck in this super-saturated episode of Stuff You Should Know.
How Human Trafficking Works
Jan 24, 2012 • 37 min
Despite worldwide prohibitions, slavery still exists. Slaves are forced or coerced into prostitution or made to work in deplorable factory conditions. Yet there’s still debate over how widespread the problem is. Learn about modern slavery in this episode.
How Mexican Wrestling Works
Jan 19, 2012 • 42 min
Perhaps it’s the colorful masks or the high-flying, rapid-fire acrobatic moves. Whatever it is, there’s something uniquely and particularly entrancing about Mexican wrestling, called lucha libre. Learn more about lucha libre in this episode of SYSK.
Are contrails actually chemtrails?
Jan 17, 2012 • 34 min
You know those trails that jets leave in the sky? While science has explained why they happen, plenty of conspiracy theorists believe there’s more to it. Join Josh and Chuck as they channel the guys from Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know in this episode.
What’s the deal with the Bermuda Triangle?
Jan 12, 2012 • 46 min
There’s roughly 500,000 squares miles encompassed in a triangle with points in Miami, Bermuda and San Juan. There shouldn’t be anything different about this area, but some people believe it’s a hotbed of supernatural activity. Tune in to learn why.
Can you vacation in Antarctica?
Jan 10, 2012 • 39 min
The answer is yes, but there’s a lot more to traveling to the southernmost continent. Learn why emperor penguins don’t make eye contact with humans, which country has the best research station and why the chances of your ship sinking are alarmingly high.
Was there a curse on King Tut’s tomb?
Jan 5, 2012 • 40 min
When Howard Carter opened Tutankhamen’s tomb, some believe he unleashed a curse on everyone associated with his expedition. But there’s no such thing as a curse, right? Learn the scientific basis beneath King Tut’s curse as Chuck and Josh Meet the Mummy!
How Yo-Yos Work
Jan 3, 2012 • 33 min
You may have played with a yo-yo before — perhaps you’ve even walked the dog — but do you know about the physics behind what makes a yo-yo sleep and wake up? Learn all about inertia, angular momentum and the history of the yo-yo in this episode of SYSK.
Coffee: The World’s Drug of Choice
Dec 29, 2011 • 53 min
There’s a 98 percent chance you’re drinking coffee right now. Maybe not, sure, but coffee is ubiquitous - about 80 percent of Americans consume coffee and Brazil alone has 3 billion coffee plants. Learn all about the great black brew in this episode.
What happens in the brain during an orgasm?
Dec 27, 2011 • 40 min
Chuck and Josh test the limits of their decorum as they explore the physiology of an orgasm. Learn all about this inexplicably taboo subject (including how even women who are paralyzed can experience orgasms) in this episode of Stuff You Should Know.
Josh and Chuck’s Christmas Extravaganza
Dec 22, 2011 • 44 min
Have you ever wondered why the poinsettia is the official plant of Christmas or why we hang stockings by the chimney with care? Join Chuck and Josh for this very special Christmas episode. Who knows, maybe even St. Nick will make an appearance (he…
How Pepper Spray Works
Dec 20, 2011 • 37 min
Lt. John Pike of the Davis, Calif., police department brought the wrath of the Internet on himself when he casually doused peaceful protestors with pepper spray. Find out what was in the can in this eye-watering episode of Stuff You Should Know.
How Earthworms Work
Dec 15, 2011 • 45 min
Earthworms come in a wide range of sizes: The average U.S. earthworm is 6 to 11 inches long, and the giant worms of Australia and South America can grow to a length of 11 feet. Join Josh and Chuck as they burrow into the weird world of earthworms.
How the Digestive System Works
Dec 8, 2011 • 48 min
The digestive system uses mechanical and chemical processes to absorb and transport all the nutrients your body needs to survive — but how does it work? In this episode, Josh and Chuck take you through all 30 feet of the average digestive system.
How Daylight Saving Time Works
Dec 6, 2011 • 36 min
Benjamin Franklin first came up with daylight saving time in 1748, and people still practice it today. But how does it work? What are the pros and cons? Join Josh and Chuck as they turn back the clock to explore the origins of daylight saving time.
What made the donkey and the elephant political?
Dec 1, 2011 • 36 min
Sure we take it for granted the elephant represents the Republican party and the donkey Democrats, but have you ever wondered why? Josh and Chuck explore the foundation of these bizarre political symbols in this old-timey episode of Stuff You Should Know.
Cash Debit or Credit: Which is best?
Nov 29, 2011 • 30 min
Chuck and Josh take a stab at answering the age old question of whether cash or plastic is the best choice for paying your way through life. Join them as they look at shopping, theft, security and the heartbreak of overdraft fees in this episode.
How Thoroughbred Horses Work
Nov 24, 2011 • 39 min
It’s been just 300 years since the Thoroughbred breed has been around, but it has produced some of the most storied animals humans have ever loved. Chuck and Josh dive into what makes these horses special and the controversy around racing them.
Crossbows: They Look Cool
Nov 22, 2011 • 26 min
Sure, they look cool. It’s as if someone put a bow and a rifle together, but in fact crossbows predate firearms by a few thousand years. Learn all about the advantages crossbows bestow, the physics behind them and how to use one with Josh and Chuck.
How Air Force One Works
Nov 17, 2011 • 34 min
As you might imagine, the President of the United States doesn’t fly coach. But what exactly does he use when traveling from point A to point B, and how does it actually work? join Josh and Chuck as they demystify Air Force One.
How Alcatraz Works
Nov 15, 2011 • 43 min
Sure, you’ve heard stories about Alcatraz. From high-profile escape attempts to tales of notorious inmates, the Rock is unique in American history. But how did it actually work? Join Josh and Chuck as they explain the Stuff You Should Know about Alcatraz.
How Presidential Debates Work
Nov 10, 2011 • 37 min
The first televised Presidential debate had some odd results: The radio audience tended to believe Nixon won, while television viewers supported Kennedy. Today, debates continue weld an enormous influence on public opinion. But how do they work?
How Gene Patents Work
Nov 8, 2011 • 44 min
Should a company be able to own the rights to something found inside your own body? In this episode, Chuck and Josh delve into the complicated, controversial world of gene patents. Tune in to learn more about the history — and future — of gene patents.
What Saved the American Bison
Nov 3, 2011 • 56 min
The pre-colonial range of the American bison stretched from Canada to Mexico. From 1820 to 1880, the population dwindled from 30 million to just over 1,000. Join Josh and Chuck as they explore how bison were brought back from the verge of extinction.
How the Autobahn Works
Nov 1, 2011 • 55 min
The autobahn has an international reputation, and people around the world love the notion of driving on a road with no speed limits — but how true is this reputation? Join Josh and Chuck as they tell you everything you need to know about the autobahn.
Berenice
Oct 27, 2011 • 48 min
It’s Halloween again, and this year Chuck and Josh are ringing in the holiday with a special reading of the short story “Berenice,” by Edgar Allan Poe. Tune in to catch Stuff You Should Know’s Poe-rific Halloween episode.
How Anti-matter Spacecraft Will Work
Oct 25, 2011 • 45 min
There may be a Bizarro World in our universe. Every particle has a mirror image with a reverse electrical charge, and when these opposites meet an energy transfer 300 times stronger than nuclear fusion occurs. Could this reaction power spacecraft?
Do you lose the right to privacy when you die?
Oct 20, 2011 • 36 min
If you live in a place where privacy is protected, the legal system keeps prying eyes from your personal information. But does that privacy extend beyond death? That depends. Tune in to learn more.
The Nile IS Just a River in Egypt
Oct 18, 2011 • 35 min
The Nile River has been flowing south to north for about 30 million years, and the human race’s cradle may have been along the Blue Nile stemming from Ethiopia. Find out some amazing facts about what may be the world’s most important river.
The Wind Cries Typhoid Mary
Oct 13, 2011 • 38 min
In the 19th century, typhoid was considered a disease of the lower classes. When an outbreak occurred in wealthy Oyster Bay, New York, a mystery was afoot. Tune in to learn how this event began an ongoing debate over public safety versus civil rights.
A Podcast on Zoot Suits? Yes
Oct 11, 2011 • 36 min
Few riots can be attributed to passing fashions, but zoot suits are top among them. After originating among the Harlem Renaissance crowd, the zoot suit came to symbolize political defiance. Find out why it’s still illegal to wear a zoot suit in L.A.
How the Peace Corps Works
Oct 6, 2011 • 44 min
Since its inception, the Peace Corps has sent 200,000 members to 193 countries to deliver aid and good will through know-how rather than direct funding. Learn about the successes, criticisms and dangers of the Peace Corps in this gung-ho episode of SYSK.
How Silly Putty Works
Oct 4, 2011 • 39 min
When the Japanese invaded Southeast Asia in World War II, they cut off America’s rubber supply. Luckily, American can-do created a synthetic rubber and saved the War. Learn about the inventor, fluid chemistry and more in this episode of SYSK.
How U.S. Marshals Work
Sep 29, 2011 • 33 min
Thought Chuck and Josh had already covered every law enforcement agency? Think again. The Marshals Service is the oldest law enforcement branch in the land, dating back to 1789. Listen up for how to get a free ride courtesy the Marshals in this episode.
How Sword Swallowing Works
Sep 27, 2011 • 36 min
Houdini suggested that sword swallowing was merely a trick. But there’s no sleight of hand or throat to this ancient practice. Practitioners really do swallow swords, car axles and more. Learn more about sword swallowers in this gag-reflexive episode.
How Family Crests Work
Sep 22, 2011 • 50 min
After 800 years of creating coats and crests, some meaning has been lost to history, but much has been retained and is still in use. Find out what a mullet on field argent with stags rampant means in this Olde English episode of Stuff You Should Know.
How Acne Works
Sep 20, 2011 • 44 min
Over the course of our lives, 80 percent of us will experience acne. Ultimately, acne comes down to one thing, a blockage in the sebaceous gland. Learn what makes a blackhead black, and everything else about zits, in this pus-filled episode of SYSK.
How the Moon Works
Sep 15, 2011 • 40 min
Did you know that science still doesn’t know the exact origin of the moon? Do you know how the moon creates high and low tides? Do you know the difference between a waxing crescent and a waning gibbous? You will after listening to this riveting episode.
How Casinos Work
Sep 13, 2011 • 45 min
Gambling predates the written word; dice made of bones have been discovered at prehistoric sites. Today, the concept of amassing a fortune in moments remains attractive. Join Josh and Chuck as they take a look at the games and the glitz of casinos.
How the World Trade Center Memorial Works
Sep 8, 2011 • 45 min
The World Trade Center was once a global symbol of progress. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, the area has undergone a massive rebuilding process. Chuck and Josh take a look at the World Trade Center, its memorial and its symbolism in this special episode.
10 Scientists Who Were Their Own Guinea Pigs
Sep 6, 2011 • 43 min
Over the centuries, some scientists have concluded that the best test subject is looking at them in the mirror. Join Josh and Chuck as they explore 10 researchers, unsung or otherwise, who put their own health second to the advancement of science.
How Lie Detectors Work
Sep 1, 2011 • 30 min
Instead of actually detecting lies, polygraph machines sense physiological variations, ostensibly brought on by guilt. The results are subject to interpretation, and therefore controversial. Join Josh and Chuck as they investigate the polygraph.
Cryonics: Hi, Frozen Body!
Aug 30, 2011 • 45 min
In 1964 The Prospect of Immortality laid out a plan for placing humans in suspended animation. The first person was placed in cryonic suspension three years later. But how does it actually work? Learn more about cryonics in this chilly episode of SYSK.
How Schizophrenia Works
Aug 23, 2011 • 45 min
Up to 24 million people worldwide have schizophrenia. Despite the vast amounts of research, the disorder remains mysterious. In this episode, Josh and Chuck delve into the nature of schizophrenia, from the history of the disorder to the latest research.
How to Land on a Government Watch List
Aug 18, 2011 • 35 min
The U.S. Government’s Consolidated Terrorist Watch List keeps track of people who are known or suspected terrorists. But what how do people end up on it, and what happens if your name is similar to a suspected terrorist? Tune in to find out.
How Murphy’s Law Works, the Redux
Aug 16, 2011 • 33 min
Years back, Josh recorded this show without Chuck, and the old version’s omitted facts bugged him. In this new version, the pair delve into the people, science and rocket tests behind Murphy’s Law. Join Josh and Chuck for this properly-executed episode.
Laughter: What’s so funny about that?
Aug 11, 2011 • 45 min
The response to humor starts with electrical activity, potentially translating to physical responses that make up laughter. Science still can’t pin down what makes one thing amusing and another not (which is pretty funny). Tune in to learn more.
What’s the future of the internet?
Aug 9, 2011 • 41 min
It’s tough to predict the future. Instead, the future looks a lot like it does now: Faster data transfer rates, more social networking, ubiquitous mobile devices — and possibly dumber people from using all this stuff.
Ethnobotany: How to Get Drugs from Plants
Aug 4, 2011 • 40 min
In 1820, most of the drugs listed in the American Pharmacopoeia were plant-based; by 1960, it was a mere 5 percent. Yet in the late 20th century this trend reversed. Why? Join Josh and Chuck as they get to the root of ethnobotany and plant-based medicine.
Can you sweat colors?
Aug 2, 2011 • 27 min
A condition known as chromhidrosis can be jarring: The sufferer excretes colored sweat from the eccrine or the apocrine sweat glands. Join Josh and Chuck as they explore this somewhat understood, but still bafflingly mysterious medical condition.
How SPAM Works
Jul 28, 2011 • 42 min
SPAM is a canned meat product made from pork shoulder and ham. First introduced in 1937, this iconic food has spread to stores across the world. But what exactly is it, how did it get here — and why is its shelf life “indefinite?” Tune in to find out.
How Wildfires Work
Jul 26, 2011 • 34 min
Wildfires consume an annual average of 5 million acres in the US. But what causes wildfires? How do they become so powerful? More importantly, how do we fight them? Join Josh and Chuck as they take you to the frontlines of the fight against wildfires.
How Karma Works
Jul 21, 2011 • 35 min
While it’s kind of perverted in the West, the concept of karma is a central tenet of several Eastern religions. Karma isn’t just good or bad — it’s a natural law. Join Josh and Chuck to learn more about karma in this religiously respectful episode.
Does smiling make you happy?
Jul 19, 2011 • 31 min
You smile because you’re happy, yet happiness research suggests the opposite can also hold true. Smiling may actually improve your mood. Open interpretation make for the best SYSKs, so prepare for an old-fashioned academia studyfest with Chuck and Josh.
Stuff You Should Know July 4th Extravaganza, Part 2: Baseball and Apple Pie
Jul 14, 2011 • 54 min
What makes America unique? In the second segment of this special two-part episode, Josh and Chuck join up with guests from The Daily Show and The Onion to take a closer look at the Stuff You Should Know About America.
Stuff You Should Know July 4th Extravaganza, Part 1: Mom
Jul 12, 2011 • 56 min
What makes America unique? In the first segment of this special two-part episode, Josh and Chuck join up with guests from The Daily Show and The Onion to take a closer look at the Stuff You Should Know About America.
How Human Cannonballs Work
Jul 7, 2011 • 31 min
There’s no question that human cannonballs are daredevils. They pack themselves into the confines of huge cannons, which shoot them into the air. But how does it work? Join Josh and Chuck to learn more about the bizarre performances of human cannonballs.
How Hate Works
Jul 5, 2011 • 38 min
Hate is generally defined as an extreme hostility to something or someone, usually stemming from fear, anger or a sense of injury. But how does it work? Join Josh and Chuck as they dig into the nature of hate.
Who was America’s first murderer?
Jun 30, 2011 • 30 min
John Billington didn’t just sign the Mayflower Compact — he was also the colony’s first criminal, and had the dubious honor of being the first European to be convicted of murder in this new place. But how did it happen? Tune in to find out.
How Asteroid Mining Could Work
Jun 28, 2011 • 32 min
There may be trillions of dollars’ worth of resources in asteroids, and some scientists believe we could mine nearby asteroids. Join Josh and Chuck as they explore how asteroid mining might work (and why we haven’t done it yet).
How Suicide Bombers Work
Jun 21, 2011 • 28 min
It 1981 the first modern suicide bomber blew himself up. But this was by no means the first suicide bombing. Israeli psychologists evaluated the motivations of suicide bombers and found a number of commonalities. Join Josh and Chuck to learn more.
How Curiosity Works
Jun 16, 2011 • 36 min
Alternately hailed a crucial part of the human condition or accused of killing cats, curiosity remains a subject of debate among researchers. Where does it come from? How does it work? Join Chuck and Josh as they explore the mysterious roots of curiosity.
How Military Snipers Work
Jun 14, 2011 • 39 min
Military snipers always work in pairs, and they’re called force multipliers because of the profound effect a two-man team can have on a rival military. But how do they work? Join Josh and Chuck to learn more about snipers.
Was Malthus right about carrying capacity?
Jun 9, 2011 • 26 min
Thomas Malthus concluded that humanity is bound to outgrow Earth’s carrying capacity. The prediction was based on humanity’s exponential growth and the linear growth of the food supply — but was he correct? Tune in to find out.
How the Underground Railroad Worked
Jun 7, 2011 • 37 min
As early as 1786, groups assembled to help slaves escape lives of bondage. And, as the 19th century progressed, the emergent Underground Railroad grew more sophisticated in aiding escaped slaves. But how did it work? Join Josh and Chuck to learn more.
How Fear Works
Jun 2, 2011 • 46 min
Fear results from your brain’s reaction to a stressful stimulus, and — though it may be unpleasant — it plays a crucial role in the life of every human being. But how does it work (and why)? Join Josh and Chuck as they explore the sensation of fear.
How Nicotine Works
May 31, 2011 • 35 min
Sure, nicotine doesn’t cause cancer, but it does rearrange the brain’s reward system. Humans have been ingesting this plant for more than 6,000 years, but we generally understood little of it. Join Chuck and Josh as they explain how nicotine works.
How do I start my own country?
May 26, 2011 • 37 min
Whether through revolution, colonization or other means, every country has its start somewhere. But how does the process work? Join Josh and Chuck as they explain how countries get created — and why some countries aren’t always recognized by others.
What is terror management theory?
May 24, 2011 • 28 min
Terror management theory isn’t about mid-level bureaucrats in Al-Qaeda — so what exactly is it, and what does it say about human culture and our perception of mortality? Join Chuck and Josh as they explore the implications of terror management theory.
What is parallel evolution?
May 19, 2011 • 30 min
In the process of parallel evolution, two seemingly unrelated species living in isolation can evolve surprisingly similar traits — but how does it work, and why does it happen? Join Chuck and Josh as they break down the process of parallel evolution.
Can the sun kill you?
May 17, 2011 • 35 min
Could the sun, typically known for providing light and warmth, kill us? The Apollo 17 mission almost resulted in tragedy due to a mega-flare — and astronauts aren’t the only ones at risk. Join Josh and Chuck to learn more about the sun.
How Con Artists Work
May 12, 2011 • 40 min
They say you can’t con an honest man, and that’s key to thwarting cons; if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Learn how to avoid everything from small-time scams to the Nigerian money transfer in this captivating episode with Chuck and Josh.
What is mountaintop removal mining?
May 10, 2011 • 51 min
Mountaintop removal mining is (to say the least) a controversial practice. But what exactly is it, how does it work and — most importantly — why should you care? Listen in to learn more about the effects of mountaintop removal mining.
A Podcast to Remember (How Memory Works)
May 5, 2011 • 36 min
How does memory work? How is internet access changing the function of the human brain? In this podcast, Josh and Chuck take a closer look at the science behind memory — and how modern technology may be changing it.
How Parkour Works
May 3, 2011 • 30 min
The art of parkour is an astonishing combination of agility and physical strength pursued across the world — but how does it work? Join Josh and Chuck as they explore the philosophy, history and pursuit of this unique form of artistic expression.
How Rollercoasters Work, Minus the Fun
Apr 28, 2011 • 39 min
Whether you’re a rollercoaster fan or avoid them like the plague, there’s no denying that these contraptions are striking examples of physics at work. So how do they actually work? Join Josh and Chuck as they break down the mechanics of rollercoasters.
How Wills Work
Apr 21, 2011 • 40 min
Whether it’s oral, scrawled in blood or signed on a deathbed everyone should have a will. But how do they actually work? Join Chuck and Josh as they explain that “of sound mind” thing in this episode on wills.
Shoo Fly Don’t Bother Me
Apr 19, 2011 • 37 min
Flies: They’re disgusting, disease-spreading flying machines. They’re also really fascinating. Flies taste with their feet, smell with their antennae and use a pair of eyes as a compass oriented to sunlight. Listen in to learn more.
How Molecular Gastronomy Works
Apr 12, 2011 • 35 min
After botching a particularly tricky dish, molecular chemist Herve This decided to figure out why his recipe didn’t work. He ended up creating a new field of cuisine: Molecular gastronomy. Join Josh and Chuck as they explore this new frontier of cooking.
Does oil speculation increase gas prices?
Apr 7, 2011 • 36 min
In an uncertain economy, investors often flock to commodities like oil, trading oil futures in a derivative market. Some believe this creates an artificially high price. Join Josh and Chuck and learn if this market is responsible for inflating gas prices.
Sherpas: Warm, Friendly Living
Apr 5, 2011 • 31 min
Pop quiz: What word denotes a nation of people, a last name and an occupation? If you guessed ‘Sherpa,’ then congratulations: You’re correct. But what exactly is a Sherpa? Tune in and learn more as Chuck and Josh explore the culture of the Sherpa people.
SYSK Live from SXSW: How UFOs Work
Mar 31, 2011 • 40 min
In this episode, Josh and Chuck ditch the studio and head west — south by southwest, in fact — to record a live podcast in Austin, Texas. Tune in and learn more Stuff You Should Know about SXSW and UFOs.
How Igloos Work
Mar 29, 2011 • 30 min
Igloos were traditionally used by Inuit Indians as temporary shelter while on hunting and fishing trips. In this episode, Josh and Chuck look at the design of igloos, from their impressive heat-catching properties to their ingenious construction.
That Dang-old Goat Fell Over
Mar 24, 2011 • 30 min
Due to a condition known as Thomsen’s disease, the muscles of fainting goats tense up whenever the animal is startled. In this episode, Josh and Chuck break down the science behind this bizarre condition. Tune in and learn more.
How a Nuclear Meltdown Works
Mar 22, 2011 • 38 min
The recent disaster in Japan has caused massive damage and killed thousands — but that’s not all: The Fukushima nuclear plant may possibly be on the verge of a meltdown. Tune in to learn how meltdowns work, and what a meltdown would mean for Japan.
Why’s that dude in that dumpster?
Mar 17, 2011 • 34 min
Freegans prefer scavenging, volunteering and squatting to the more mainstream consumer practices of buying, working and renting a home. But how does this actually work, and why are these people sometimes called ‘Dumpster divers?’ Tune in to find out.
How Mummies Work
Mar 15, 2011 • 41 min
A mummy is a human being whose soft tissue has been preserved after death, and there are mummies around the world — including natural mummies, as well as corpses that have been intentionally embalmed. Join Chuck and Josh to learn more..
Is it legal to sterilize addicts?
Mar 10, 2011 • 40 min
It’s a controversial idea, to say the least: If evidence shows that addicts tend to be irresponsible, abusive parents, then why should they have children at all? In this podcast, Josh and Chuck explore the practice (and legality) of sterilizing addicts.
Cults: Who is this “The Leader?”
Mar 8, 2011 • 56 min
Cults are conventionally understood to be unestablished, non-mainstream religious groups that follow a single leader. So what does it take to be the leader? Tune in as Josh and Chuck take a closer look at cults.
How Fossils Work
Mar 3, 2011 • 38 min
A fossil is a piece of once-living organic material that has undergone a transition from an organic state to an inorganic state. But what exactly is fossilization? Listen in as Josh and Chuck break down the process of fossilization.
Were U.S. citizens in Japanese internment camps?
Mar 1, 2011 • 33 min
During World War II, the U.S. interned more than 100,000 Japanese and Japanese-American citizens. In this episode, Chuck and Josh recount the events that led to these internments, along with the long-term consequences of these events.
What is stagflation?
Feb 24, 2011 • 27 min
When high inflation, slow growth and high employment combine, they result in an unfortunate economic situation known as stagflation. But what exactly is stagflation, and how does it work? Most importantly, how can we prevent it in the future?
How Tickling Works
Feb 22, 2011 • 24 min
What’s the deal with tickling? Why does it make people laugh, and what’s the science behind the reaction? Join Chuck and Josh and listen in as they demystify the curious practice known as tickling.
How Crime Scene Photography Works
Feb 17, 2011 • 29 min
Crime scene photography is a crucial aspect of forensic investigation, but it’s by no means a new part of detective work. In this episode, Chuck and Josh explore the history and modern use of crime scene photography.
How Blood Pattern Analysis Works
Feb 15, 2011 • 39 min
Numerous television shows feature blood pattern analysis — but how do these fictional portrayals measure up to the real thing? Tune in as Chuck and Josh break down the science behind blood pattern analysis.
How the Black Death Worked
Feb 10, 2011 • 34 min
The Black Death was gruesome: Symptoms included tumors, purple splotches, fevers and vomiting. But how did this disease manage to spread from the Gobi desert and kill approximately one-third of the population of 14th-century Europe? Tune in and find out.
How Bartering Works
Feb 8, 2011 • 29 min
Bartering is an ancient practice. With the emergence of money-based transactions, it’s no wonder that people might think bartering is a thing of the past. Tune in to learn more about the bartering process — and where it’s still used today.
How Munchausen Syndrome Works
Feb 1, 2011 • 41 min
Why would someone fake an illness? Here’s an even better question: Why would someone repeatedly make themselves sick? Join Josh and Chuck as they separate the facts from fiction and give you the scoop on Munchausen syndrome.
How to Control a Riot
Jan 27, 2011 • 41 min
It’s no secret that people in crowds will behave differently than they would if they were alone. In a riot, individuals may exhibit a drastic change in their behavior — but why? How? More importantly, how can riots be controlled? Tune in to find out.
What has the world’s deadliest venom?
Jan 25, 2011 • 32 min
Venom isn’t unique to snakes — animals like scorpions, spiders, jellyfish and even platypuses can all use venom. Join Chuck and Josh as they explore the world’s most venomous creatures (and break down the difference between poison and venom).
Can oceans power the world?
Jan 20, 2011 • 31 min
Oceans cover more than 70 percent of Earth’s surface. But could the kinetic power of the tides or the oceans’ thermal energy become the world’s future power source? Listen in as Josh and Chuck break it down.
How the Mafia Works
Jan 18, 2011 • 48 min
Many people are familiar with depictions of the Mafia in film, but what’s the real story? Join Chuck and Josh as they break the infamous code of silence and shed light on some of the most dangerous and mysterious organizations in the western world.
Does acupuncture work?
Jan 13, 2011 • 37 min
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice rooted in the precepts of Taoism, and for thousands of years it has been used to treat a range of ailments. The western world has historically dismissed this treatment — but why? Tune in and learn more.
Little, Fluffy Clouds
Jan 11, 2011 • 36 min
Today every schoolkid learns a fair share of facts about clouds and the water cycle, but this wasn’t always the case. Join Chuck and Josh as they break down the history behind the classification of clouds and the way they form, all in one handy podcast.
How Antiques Work
Jan 6, 2011 • 37 min
At what point does something become an antique? Could that old piece of furniture in the attic be worth millions of dollars? Join Josh and Chuck as they break down all the Stuff You Should Know about antiques.
Should you not eat gluten?
Jan 4, 2011 • 31 min
Since gluten is found in rye, wheat and barley grains, it’s a near-ubiquitous part of many diets. So why do some people avoid this common protein? Tune in as Josh and Chuck break down the concerns surrounding gluten.
How Volcanoes Work
Dec 30, 2010 • 33 min
Volcanic eruptions are destructive and often newsworthy events, but why do they occur? What are volcanoes? In this episode, Josh and Chuck take a look (but not too close) at the forces at work behind Earth’s geological “hotheads.”
How Immigration Works
Dec 28, 2010 • 51 min
Immigration systems regulate the flow of foreign immigrants into any given country. But why is immigration such a controversial topic, especially in the United States? In this episode, Josh and Chuck delve into the details and debate behind immigration.
How Homelessness Works
Dec 23, 2010 • 43 min
Today, millions of people around the world are homeless. In this episode, Josh and Chuck take a look at homelessness in the United States, discussing everything from the factors that lead to homelessness to what you can do to help alleviate the situation.
How Migraines Work
Dec 16, 2010 • 31 min
Most people know what a migraine headache is — some from painful experience — but there’s a lot more to this “neurobiological condition” than an achy noggin. Josh and Chuck explore the symptoms, triggers and mysteries of migraines in this episode.
How Agritourism Works
Dec 14, 2010 • 36 min
Agritourism marries farming and tourism, but why do people pay to pick apples or work on a farm? And who does agritourism benefit? Josh and Chuck explore the history and various incarnations of agritourism, as well as the rationale behind it.
How Hanukkah Works
Dec 9, 2010 • 24 min
Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday, but what’s it all about? And why do some people think of it as “Jewish Christmas”? In this episode, Josh and Chuck share Stuff You Should Know about Hanukkah.
Green Renovation and Construction
Dec 7, 2010 • 33 min
Demolition and construction creates a lot of waste, so renovating your house is generally a “greener” option. In this episode, Josh and Chuck explore some green renovation and construction options.
How the Rules of War Work
Dec 2, 2010 • 37 min
The rules of war are agreed-upon rules that are intended to govern international wars and conflicts. Who developed these rules? And do countries really abide by them? Josh and Chuck take a detailed look at how the rules of war work in this episode.
How Circumcision Works
Nov 30, 2010 • 43 min
Circumcision is a common practice in which the foreskin of a male’s penis is removed, typically as a baby. Josh and Chuck take a look at the origins, practices, and arguments for and against circumcision in this episode.
How Dreadlocks Work
Nov 25, 2010 • 34 min
Dreadlocks are matted coils of hair that form a very distinctive (and often misunderstood) hairstyle. So what’s the deal with dreads? In this episode, Josh and Chuck examine the long history of dreadlocks and walk you through the process of dreading hair.
A Rigid, Sterile Look at Kissing
Nov 23, 2010 • 35 min
A majority of human cultures practice kissing in one form or another. But why do we kiss? Is the behavior instinctive or learned? In this episode, amateur philematologists Josh and Chuck take a look at the biology, sociology and pyschology of kissing.
Can Lifestraw save the world?
Nov 18, 2010 • 36 min
Over a billion people do not have access to clean water, and many die from water-born diseases. With 6,000 people dying each day, this situation is increasingly urgent. Could Lifestraw filters resolve this crisis? Tune in and find out.
Have all the good ideas already been discovered?
Nov 16, 2010 • 35 min
It’s no secret that human beings have an obsession with innovation — but has our species already found every good idea? As Josh and Chuck break down the continuing search for the next great idea, they touch on everything from hand tools to cancer cures.
How Rehab Works
Nov 11, 2010 • 47 min
These days, alcoholics and other people suffering from addictions are often sent to rehabilitation centers to kick their habit. But how long has rehab been around, and how does it work? Listen in as Chuck and Josh present the fascinating process of rehab.
Prohibition: Turns Out That America Loves to Drink
Nov 9, 2010 • 42 min
Prohibition was a 13-year period in American history when selling or producing alcohol was illegal. What led to this astonishing development? Why did it end? Josh and Chuck take a look at Prohibition’s fascinating history in this episode.
Addiction: Why you can’t kick SYSK
Nov 4, 2010 • 46 min
Modern scientists have extensively researched addicts and the things they abuse, but we still don’t understand everything about the nature of addiction. So how does it work? Tune in to learn more about addiction (and why you can’t kick your SYSK habit).
Animal Migration: Where’s that gnu gnoing?
Nov 2, 2010 • 13 min
When you think of animal migrations, you probably picture thousands of animals thundering across the savannah. But where are they going, and why? Josh and Chuck explain why and how animals migrate in this episode.
The Tomb
Oct 28, 2010 • 31 min
In this spooky episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck get you ready for Halloween as they narrate H.P. Lovecraft’s creepy tale “The Tomb.” Tune in to learn more…if you dare!
Jealous much?
Oct 26, 2010 • 47 min
All of us have experienced the feeling of jealousy at some point or another. But why do we get jealous? Are women really more jealous than men? Josh and Chuck get to the bottom of jealousy in this episode.
Can you treat mental illness with psychedelics?
Oct 21, 2010 • 44 min
Hallucinogenic drugs are currently illegal, but they were once commonly used in psychological treatment. In this episode, Josh and Chuck discuss the rise and fall of psychedelics in treating mood disorders — and why they’re starting to gain favor again.
How Gender Reassignment Works
Oct 19, 2010 • 50 min
In this episode, Josh and Chuck take a comprehensive look at gender identity “disorders” and the gender reassignment process.
How House Swapping Works
Oct 14, 2010 • 32 min
Traditionally, house swapping involves temporarily exchanging homes with a stranger for vacation purposes. Tune in to learn more about house swapping, from the traditional version to hospitality exchanges and couchsurfing, in this episode.
Is science phasing out sleep?
Oct 12, 2010 • 39 min
Sleep is a restorative state that’s vital to human functioning — or is it? In this episode, Josh and Chuck explore different ways in which science is trying to minimize or phase out sleep, from pills to genetic research.
How Knights Work
Oct 7, 2010 • 48 min
In medieval times, knights were warriors with specialized skills, extensive training and their own code. In this episode, Josh and Chuck discuss the rise and fall of medieval knights and finish up with a look at the modern institution of knighthood.
Why would anyone want multiple spouses?
Oct 5, 2010 • 35 min
Polygamy, the practice of having multiple spouses, is mostly illegal in the United States but very common in other parts of the world. In this episode, Josh and Chuck discuss polygamy and touch on a host of related topics, from Mormonism to monogamy.
Is tone deafness hereditary?
Sep 30, 2010 • 21 min
If you’re tone deaf, you can’t hear the difference between musical pitches and notes. And it’s probably a hereditary trait, as Josh and Chuck explain in this pitch-perfect episode on tone deafness.
How Roller Derby Works
Sep 28, 2010 • 39 min
Nowadays roller derby is increasingly popular across the US — but how did it get its start, and how does it work? As Josh and Chuck delve into the world of roller derby, they touch on skateboarding, women’s rights and more. Tune in and learn more.
Hypnosis: You’re Getting Sleepy
Sep 23, 2010 • 31 min
The modern conception of hypnosis came into vogue in the late 18th century, and it’s been the subject of much debate ever since. Does hypnosis really work? How? Josh and Chuck discuss the history, practices and feasibility of hypnotism in this episode.
Octopus, Octopi, Octopod, Octopuses
Sep 21, 2010 • 39 min
Whatever you call them, octopuses are amazing creatures. In this episode, octopus enthusiasts Josh and Chuck take a closer look at the unusual anatomy, unique abilities and fascinating habits of octopi.
What is biospeleology?
Sep 16, 2010 • 30 min
Biospeleology is the scientific study of cave organisms and ecosystems. In this episode, amateur biospeleologists Josh and Chuck explore the dark, dank world of caves and the weird and wonderful creatures that live in them.
How Mirrors Work
Sep 14, 2010 • 27 min
Whether using polished metal surfaces or clear glass, human beings have enjoyed admiring their reflections for centuries. In this episode, Josh and Chuck reflect on the types, mind-melting physics, superstitions and rather interesting history of mirrors.
How Customs Works
Sep 9, 2010 • 29 min
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How Crime-Scene Clean-up Works
Sep 7, 2010 • 34 min
Cleaning up crime scenes is a niche industry that’s both lucrative and messy. This episode, Josh and Chuck take a look at how crime-scene clean-up works.
How are college football rankings determined?
Sep 2, 2010 • 34 min
Established in 1998 as a way to determine college football rankings, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) is a complex statistical system. In this episode, Josh and Chuck tackle the complex variables — and math! — behind the BCS rankings.
How Cremation Works
Aug 31, 2010 • 42 min
Cremation is a burial process practiced around the world, but how exactly does it work? Josh and Chuckers take a detailed look at cremation’s history, practices and controversies in this episode.
How Freemasons Work
Aug 26, 2010 • 45 min
There are lots of conspiracy theories about Freemasons, but how much do you really know about this secretive order? In this episode, Josh and Chuck take a comprehensive look at the origins, history, practices, beliefs and famous figures of Freemasonry.
How Sleepwalking Works
Aug 24, 2010 • 26 min
Sleep behaviors are pretty fascinating. Some people snore, some grind their teeth — and some take a little stroll, or perhaps a drive. In this episode, Josh and Chuck investigate how sleepwalking, or somnambulism, works.
How the MARS Turbine Works
Aug 19, 2010 • 10 min
MARS stands for Magenn Air Rotor System, but a MARS turbine isn’t your typical windmill. It’s a blimp floating hundreds of feet in the air. Tune in as Josh and Chuck explain how this turbine works — and whether it will become the future of wind power.
Breathalyzers: Really, Really Complicated
Aug 17, 2010 • 33 min
Breathalyzers work on a simple principle: Alcohol is absorbed into the lungs and present in breath. But the machines that actually measure this alcohol level are really, really complicated. Tune in and learn more in this podcast.
Prisons: Not as Fun as You’d Think
Aug 12, 2010 • 46 min
Most people have a basic understanding of how prisons work, but it’s often heavily influenced by fiction. What’s it really like behind those bars? In this episode, Josh and Chuck reveal the practices, controversies and harsh realities of prison life.
How Grow Houses Work
Aug 10, 2010 • 10 min
As many as one in five houses in Vancouver, British Columbia are used to grow marijuana. Join Josh and Chuck as they step inside indoor grow houses to see what’s going on.
What’s so special about Route 66?
Aug 5, 2010 • 23 min
In this episode, Josh and Chuck hit the open road as they explore the history, allure and decline of America’s most iconic highway: Route 66.
How Quantum Suicide Works
Aug 3, 2010 • 32 min
In this episode, Josh and Chuck tackle a mind-melting topic: quantum physics! They ponder subatomic particles and various quantum theories, focusing specifically on a thought experiment called quantum suicide.
How Presidential Pardons Work
Jul 29, 2010 • 42 min
A presidential pardon is a unique, unchallengable power granted to the president of the United States by the Constitution. In this episode, Josh and Chuck discuss the origins, history and controversial use of the presidential pardon.
Why Ticks Suck
Jul 27, 2010 • 39 min
It’s no surprise that ticks are one of mankind’s least favorite animals. After all, they subsist on blood and spread disease. But how much do we really know about ticks? Tune in to learn more about ticks — and how to get rid of them — in this podcast.
Saunas: More Interesting Than You Think!
Jul 22, 2010 • 40 min
Although they seem pretty mundane, saunas are surprisingly fascinating inventions. Josh and Chuck break out all sorts of sweaty, sauna-related trivia, from the Finnish affinity for saunas to sauna etiquette, in this episode.
Taste and How it Works
Jul 20, 2010 • 36 min
Taste seems like a pretty simple sense, but scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how it works. Josh and Chuck explore the complexities of taste, from definitions and physiology to tongue maps and supertasters, in this episode.
What’s the deal with Bond, James Bond?
Jul 15, 2010 • 42 min
James Bond, the most infamous secret agent ever to grace the silver screen, originated in the pages of British author Ian Fleming’s novels. Amateur agents Josh and Chuck uncover all sorts of Bond trivia in this action-packed episode.
How Reincarnation Works
Jul 13, 2010 • 6 min
A large percentage of the world’s population believes that you will be reborn after you die. So why does the concept of reincarnation seem so paranormal to Westerners? Join Chuck and Josh as they explore the ins and outs of birth, death and birth again.
How do butterfly wings get their color?
Jul 8, 2010 • 29 min
Butterflies’ wings are colored as a result of iridescence; this fascinating optical phenomenon is the result of light refracting off transparent surfaces. Josh and Chuck reveal how pigmentation, iridescence, light and butterfly wings work in this episode.
What’s the deal with Voodoo?
Jul 6, 2010 • 33 min
Voodoo is a religion found in parts of Africa and Haiti that’s often misunderstood. In this episode, Josh and Chuck separate the faction from the fiction as they explore how Voodoo really works.
Did Thomas Jefferson rewrite the Bible?
Jul 1, 2010 • 26 min
Thomas Jefferson is famous for his role in shaping the United States of America — and for creating his own, revised version of the Bible. Learn more about the Jefferson Bible in this episode.
How Traffic Works
Jun 29, 2010 • 33 min
Whether you’ve been stuck in a traffic jam or forced to merge and avoid road construction, everyone’s had a few bad experiences with traffic. But how does traffic actually work? In this episode, Chuck and Josh take a look at traffic waves (and bubbles).
Can quicksand kill you?
Jun 24, 2010 • 26 min
In many films, hapless characters meet their untimely demise in a lethal pit of quicksand. It’s a gruesome, undignified end — but is it realistic? Josh and Chuck tackle the properties of quicksand — and how to escape it — in this episode.
How Ghost Prisons Work
Jun 22, 2010 • 35 min
In this episode, Josh and Chuck discuss the controversial “ghost prisons,” covert prisons created by the CIA after September 11th, 2001 to secretly detain and interrogate terrorist suspects in various locations around the world, including the U.S.
How Samurai Work
Jun 17, 2010 • 35 min
The Samurai were legendary Japanese swordsmen and warriors, known for their loyalty and adherence to a strict code of honor. Josh and Chuck tackle the Samurai in this episode.
How the Innocence Project Works
Jun 15, 2010 • 36 min
The Innocence Project is an American non-profit organization whose mission is to exonerate wrongly convicted individuals and reform the legal system. Josh, Chuck and a special “guest” explain how the organization works — and why it’s necessary.
Can your grandfather’s diet shorten your life?
Jun 10, 2010 • 32 min
Epigenetics is a fascinating field of genetics that studies how the epigenome and environmental, nutritional and social factors affect gene expression. Josh and Chuck explain how epigenetics works in this episode.
What’s the deal with sinkholes?
Jun 8, 2010 • 30 min
Recently, a massive sinkhole opened up in Guatemala City, swallowing a three-story building in the process. In this episode, Josh and Chuck explore sinkholes and the forces that cause them, natural and otherwise.
How Flamethrowers Work
Jun 3, 2010 • 26 min
Who first decided that it would be a great idea to shoot flame at other people from a distance? Josh and Chuck talk about the (very) early origins, history and technology of the flamethrower in this episode.
How do you clean up an oil spill?
Jun 1, 2010 • 26 min
The modern world runs on fossil fuel, and offshore oil drilling powers a large part of the global economy. But what do we do when disaster strikes? Join Josh and Chuck as they take a look at the techniques used to clean up oil spills in this podcast.
Can humans start an earthquake?
May 27, 2010 • 25 min
In this episode, Josh and Chuck discuss reservoir-induced seismicity and the conditions under which human activities and projects like dams can trigger earthquakes.
What makes a serial killer?
May 25, 2010 • 45 min
Serial killers are notorious for their grisly crimes and disturbing behavior, but what makes a serial killer a serial killer? Josh and Chuck discuss the history, psychology and methodology of serial killing and serial killers in this episode.
SYSK’s Guatemalan Adventure, Part Two
May 20, 2010 • 47 min
Josh and Chuck talk more about their experiences in Guatemala and the amazing work that the non-profit group Cooperative for Education is doing there — and how you can help! — in part two of their Guatemala series.
SYSK’s Guatemalan Adventure, Part One
May 18, 2010 • 56 min
Josh and Chuck share the story of their recent eye-opening trip to Guatemala, which was sponsored by a nonprofit organization called Cooperative for Education, in this very special episode of Stuff You Should Know.
5 Successful Counterfeiters
May 13, 2010 • 27 min
Counterfeiting currency successfully takes serious skills, and some consider counterfeiting an art. Josh and Chuck recount the stories of five artful counterfeiters and their successful careers in this episode.
How Twins Work How Twins Work
May 11, 2010 • 38 min
Twin siblings are common enough that most people know a pair or two, but why does twinning occur? Josh and Chuckers explain where twins (and babies) come from, discuss different types of twins and debunk some “twin myths” in this episode.
How hard is it to steal a work of art?
May 6, 2010 • 19 min
In general, stealing valuable items tends to be difficult and dangerous, but stealing works of art can be surprisingly easy. In this episode, Josh and Chuck cite recent art heists as they discuss why stealing art is relatively easy.
How LEGOs Work
May 4, 2010 • 39 min
Most people are familiar with the plastic, interconnecting bricks called LEGO bricks, but what’s their story? In this episode, Josh and Chuck discuss the history, popularity and trajectory of LEGOS — and throw out some serious stats along the way.
How Cliff Diving Works
Apr 29, 2010 • 28 min
As far as sports go, cliff diving doesn’t require much equipment. It does, however, require a certain amount of chutzpah, a dash of derring-do, and a deep body of water to land in. Tune in and learn more about cliff diving in this podcast.
What makes a genius?
Apr 27, 2010 • 36 min
When you hear the word ‘genius,’ names like Einstein and Mozart probably spring to mind. Defining what makes them geniuses, however, is much more complicated. Josh and Chuck discuss the many theories about genius in this episode.
Mirror Neurons: Are there people who feel others’ pain?
Apr 22, 2010 • 35 min
People with a condition known as mirror-touch synesthesia literally feel the pain of others — but why? Josh and Chuck trace the cause of this condition to one culprit: the mirror neuron. Tune in to learn more about mirror neurons and neuroscience.
Are there people who can’t feel pain?
Apr 20, 2010 • 31 min
There are less than a hundred documented cases of people who cannot feel pain and suffer from a condition called congenital insensitivity to pain. Josh and Chuck discuss the dangers and symptoms of CIP and related disorders in this episode.
How Castles Work
Apr 16, 2010 • 16 min
In this episode, Josh and Chuck discuss the most famous fortified structure in the world — the castle. Tune in to learn all about castles, from murder holes to modern fortresses.
How Tourette Syndrome Works
Apr 13, 2010 • 33 min
Gilles de la Tourette syndrome, commonly referred to as Tourette’s, is a neurological disorder characterized by a combination of verbal and physical tics.
Are zoos good or bad for animals?
Apr 8, 2010 • 29 min
Zoos are popular because they allow visitors to see wild animals from all around the world, but how does living in captivity affect the animals? In this episode, Josh and Chuck discuss the pros and cons of zoos.
How Desertification Works
Apr 6, 2010 • 25 min
Josh and Chuck discuss the problem of desertification, from what causes serious degradation of dryland ecosystems to possible ways to repair the damage, in this episode.
How McDonald’s Works
Apr 1, 2010 • 42 min
McDonald’s is arguably the most famous fast food restaurant on the planet. Join Josh and Chuck as they discuss the humble beginnings, menu items, practices and controversies of the fast food giant in this episode.
What the heck is a hiccup?
Mar 30, 2010 • 25 min
In this episode, Josh and Chuck discuss the many theories behind the mysterious phenomenon of hiccups, how long hiccuping bouts can last, and various “remedies” for hiccups.
How Taxidermy Works
Mar 25, 2010 • 31 min
Josh and Chuck tackle taxidermy, the practice of preserving and mounting dead animal skins for display, in this episode.
How Urban Planning Works
Mar 23, 2010 • 30 min
In this episode, Josh and Chuck discuss the origins, philosophies and practices of urban planning.
Who were the Vikings?
Mar 18, 2010 • 32 min
Vikings were fierce, plundering Scandinavian warriors; and even today, their reputation precedes them. Josh and Chuck investigate what the Vikings were really like in this episode.
How Lotteries Work
Mar 16, 2010 • 28 min
In this episode, Josh and Chuck discuss the history, practices and controversies of lotteries.
What exactly is Fascism?
Mar 11, 2010 • 20 min
Fascism is a specific political philosophy that’s often mistakenly used to describe any authoritarian, supressive movement or regime. Josh and Chuck discuss the origins, history and markers of Fascism in this episode.
What’s the deal with carbon trading?
Mar 9, 2010 • 33 min
In this episode, Josh and Chuck demystify carbon trading, discussing everything from cap-and-trade schemes to carbon credits.
How Scabies Work
Mar 4, 2010 • 21 min
Scabies is a contagious skin disease with a bad reputation. Tune in as Josh and Chuck discuss this itchy condition — from the mite that causes it to common cures — in this episode.
Was Mesopotamia the Cradle of Civilization?
Mar 2, 2010 • 30 min
In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck discuss the reasons why Mesopotamia is often considered the first civilization.
How Bounty Hunters Work
Feb 25, 2010 • 23 min
In part two of their series on bail, Josh and Chuck talk about bail enforcement agents, a.k.a. bounty hunters.
How Bail Works
Feb 23, 2010 • 25 min
Bail is a centuries-old practice that allows defendants in criminal cases to be released from jail until their trial convenes. Learn more about the origins of bail and modern bail practices in this episode.
Five Crazy Government Experiments
Feb 18, 2010 • 25 min
Chuck and Josh discuss five of the most bizarre experiments ever undertaken by governments, from transplanted puppy heads to Cold War psychics, in this episode.
Who are the Amish?
Feb 16, 2010 • 42 min
In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuckers discuss the origins and practices of the Amish.
How Braille Works
Feb 11, 2010 • 29 min
Josh and Chuck discuss the Braille alphabet — from its origins in Charles Barbier’s “night writing” system to the many different types of tactile alphabets that exist today — in this episode of Stuff You Should Know.
How Witchcraft Works
Feb 9, 2010 • 44 min
Witches are perhaps one of the most reviled and misunderstood groups in history — but why? Join Josh and Chuck as they break down the Stuff You Should Know about witchcraft in this episode.
Why do we believe in urban legends?
Feb 4, 2010 • 33 min
In this episode, amateur anthropologists Josh and Chuck discuss urban legends, from how they’re defined to some classic examples you’ve probably heard yourself.
How Swat Teams Work
Feb 2, 2010 • 38 min
In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck discuss SWAT teams, elite police units that are specially trained for extreme situations.
Are there undiscovered people?
Jan 28, 2010 • 27 min
In this episode, Josh and Chuck discuss whether there are any truly “undiscovered” groups of people left on the planet, the definition of undiscovered — and why groups might want to avoid modern civilization.
What are ninja?
Jan 26, 2010 • 33 min
Ninja, Japanese warriors famous for stealth, deception and sabotage, were inspired by Chinese military philosophy. Join Josh and Chuck as they explore the origins, history, gear and popularity of the ninja in this episode.
Will the moon save humanity?
Jan 21, 2010 • 23 min
In this disaster-themed episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck ponder ways the world could end — and how projects like the lunar Doomsday Ark propose to save humanity.
Why are honeybees disappearing?
Jan 19, 2010 • 25 min
In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck examine the various factors that have caused honeybee populations to decline — and what you can do to help the honeybees.
How Organ Donation Works
Jan 12, 2010 • 39 min
Tune in as Josh and Chuck take a detailed look at organ donation — from the earliest organ transplants to the organ black market — in this episode of Stuff You Should Know.
How Mercenaries Work
Jan 7, 2010 • 30 min
Mercenaries are soldiers of fortune who fight in wars and conflicts for profit. Join Josh and Chuck as they explore the fascinating history of mercenaries past and present in this episode of Stuff You Should Know.
How Noodling Works
Jan 5, 2010 • 29 min
Noodling is a type of fishing in which the participant uses his or her hand in lieu of fishing gear and bait. Discover the origins and practices of this unusual “sport” in this episode of Stuff You Should Know.
How Human Experimentation Works
Dec 31, 2009 • 28 min
Human experimentation is an age-old practice, dating back to 4 BCE. Listen in as Josh and Chuck give you the low-down on the historic, grisly underbelly of science and medicine — human experimentation.
How Pirates Work
Dec 29, 2009 • 33 min
Although today’s pirates aren’t storming the coast of Florida or other eastern states, piracy is still around in this modern age. Join Josh and Chuck as they look back at the history of piracy — and its successors — in this episode.
How Christmas Worked
Dec 24, 2009 • 30 min
On Christmas eve, Josh and Chuck decide to take that ineffable Stuff You Should Know approach to the celebration known as Christmas. Join the guys as they unravel the mysterious historical roots of the holiday’s evolution in this episode.
Do concussions cause early death?
Dec 22, 2009 • 29 min
In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck discuss the origins and complications of concussions, injuries in which the brain comes into contact with the skull.
How Kleptomania Works
Dec 17, 2009 • 26 min
In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck discuss kleptomania, a disorder in which people have an overwhelming impulse to steal unnecessary items.
How Narco States Work
Dec 15, 2009 • 34 min
In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck discuss Narco States, places where illegal drugs are traded openly with government support — or without government interference.
How the Hells Angels Work
Dec 10, 2009 • 35 min
In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck discuss the notorious Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, more commonly referred to as the Hells Angels.
Will the Large Hadron Collider destroy the Earth?
Dec 8, 2009 • 35 min
In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck discuss the Large Hadron Collider, from its purpose and origins to how likely it is to wipe out all life in the universe.
How Near-Death Experiences Work
Dec 3, 2009 • 27 min
The concept of a near-death experience is well-known in popular culture, but we still don’t know why these seemingly supernatural events occur. Josh and Chuck explore the myriad theories that attempt to explain near-death experiences in this episode.
How Food Cravings Work
Dec 1, 2009 • 29 min
Why do we crave certain foods? Does everyone experience food cravings? In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck explore the delicious topic of food cravings.
How Hostage Negotiation Works
Nov 26, 2009 • 30 min
In this episode, Josh and Chuck explain the finer points of hostage negotiation, including the symbolism of hostages, the negotiator’s goals and tactics, Stockholm syndrome — and what happens when people refuse to negotiate.
What is Mutual Assured Destruction?
Nov 24, 2009 • 27 min
In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck discuss nuclear profliferation, nuclear parity and the Cold War strategic doctrine called Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD).
10 Odd Town Festivals
Nov 19, 2009 • 27 min
The world is full of festivals, some of which are really odd. Tune in as Josh and Chuck take a playful look at ten unusual town festivals in this episode of Stuff You Should Know.
What’s the deal with totem poles?
Nov 17, 2009 • 21 min
If you’ve ever wondered where the expression “low man on the totem pole” comes from, this episode of Stuff You Should Know is a must-listen. Tune in as Josh and Chuck take a look at the origins, symbolism and history of totem poles.
How Population Works
Nov 12, 2009 • 31 min
Population may not seem like the most scintillating topic in the world, but Josh and Chuck beg to differ. Join them as they explore how population works, from demographics to population control, in this episode.
How will the future crime database work?
Nov 10, 2009 • 28 min
The US and England have databases containing DNA from millions of citizens. Originally only criminals were included, but as the programs expanded many more people were added. Learn how these databases work — and why they were built — in this episode.
How Product Placement Works
Nov 5, 2009 • 35 min
In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck take a look at the advertising practice of product placement, from its origins to different types to classic examples in film and television.
Can you remember being born?
Nov 3, 2009 • 23 min
Some people have memories of very early childhood, but how far back can you go? Is it possible to remember your own birth? Josh and Chuck are on the case in this episode of Stuff You Should Know.
The Real How Jack the Ripper Worked
Oct 29, 2009 • 40 min
In this Halloween episode, Josh and Chuck go way back to late 19th century London to examine the grisly details of the Jack the Ripper murders. They also discuss Ripperology, Jack the Ripper suspects and theories, and the legacy of the murders.
How Witness Protection Works
Oct 27, 2009 • 27 min
The Witness Protection Program, or the Witness Security Program, was established in 1970 to protect government witnesses before, during and after a trial. Learn more about witness protection in this episode of Stuff You Should Know.
How the Cannonball Run Worked
Oct 22, 2009 • 31 min
The Cannon Ball Run is a cross-country car race famously portrayed in the campy 1981 movie “Cannon Ball Run.” But it isn’t fictional. Tune in as Josh and Chuck take you on a wild ride through the real (and colorful) history of this infamous race.
What is China’s one-child policy?
Oct 20, 2009 • 28 min
China’s one-child policy, implemented in 1979, was designed to limit population growth. In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck examine the policy’s surprising origins, impact on Chinese culture, and pros and cons.
What is a hangover, really?
Oct 15, 2009 • 32 min
After a night of heavy boozing, many partygoers find themselves the victim of a hangover. But what exactly is a hangover, and what causes it? Join Chuck and Josh as they break down the science behind hangovers — and how to avoid them — in this podcast.
How to Find the History of Your House
Oct 13, 2009 • 28 min
Ever wondered about the history of your house? In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck give listeners some pointers on determining the history of a house.
Who were the first Americans?
Oct 8, 2009 • 30 min
Columbus is often touted as the “discoverer” of the Americas, he wasn’t the first to set foot on American soil by a long shot. Tune in as Josh and Chuck dig deep into the history — and mystery — of the first American inhabitants in this podcast.
Health Care Systems Around the World
Oct 6, 2009 • 34 min
In this final installment of their 4-part suite on health care, Josh, Chuck and Molly take a tour of health care systems around the world, from France to Switzerland.
Is Bhutan on to something with Gross National Happiness?
Oct 1, 2009 • 33 min
How do you measure happiness? How do you measure it on a national scale? Tune in as Josh and Chuck discuss Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness index in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
Rumors, Myths and Truths Behind Obama’s Health Care Plan
Sep 29, 2009 • 35 min
In this third episode of Stuff You Should Know’s health care reform series, Josh and Chuck — and special guest Molly Edmonds — sort through the myths, rumors and truths behind President Obama’s proposed health care plan.
Do zombies really exist?
Sep 24, 2009 • 37 min
In movies and stories, zombies are undead menaces that lurch around mindlessly, in search of flesh — and braaaaaains! Where did the idea for zombies originate? Do they exist outside of fiction? Tune in to this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com to find out.
President Obama’s Health Care Plan: Soup to Nuts
Sep 22, 2009 • 31 min
In this special episode of Stuff You Should know, the second in a four-part series, Josh and Chuck — and a special guest — discuss President Obama’s proposed health care plan in detail.
How do dogs perceive time?
Sep 17, 2009 • 26 min
A dog that knows exactly when its owners will arrive home every day seems to have a human perception of time, but in fact, they perceive time very differently than we do. Find out more about how dogs view time in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How Health Care in the United States Works Right Now
Sep 15, 2009 • 33 min
The United States is abuzz with talk of health care reform, but why does the system need repairs in the first place? Josh and Chuck explore how the current American health care system works (and doesn’t) in this episode, the first in a four-part series.
Could microlending develop the world?
Sep 10, 2009 • 28 min
Microlending is a practice that provides funds for entrepreneurs in developing countries who couldn’t normally get loans. Tune in as Josh and Chuck discuss the pros and cons of microlending in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
What is geocaching?
Sep 8, 2009 • 28 min
Armed with only a GPS and a sense of adventure, geocachers use their wits to locate containers across the world. Join Chuck and Josh as they explore the history, practice and strange origin of geocaching in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
What is an Ig Nobel Prize?
Sep 3, 2009 • 25 min
Each year, the Ig Nobel Prize is awarded to researchers for unusual — and generally humorous — contributions to science. Tune in as Josh and Chuck discuss the highlights of this unique awards ceremony in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
Why is the U.S. so dependent on cars?
Sep 1, 2009 • 33 min
Today, automobiles are undoubtedly the dominant form of transportation in the United States, but that wasn’t always the case. Join Josh and Chuck as they explore the history of public transportation and automobiles in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How Muppets Work
Aug 27, 2009 • 35 min
Jim Henson’s Muppets, including the beloved Kermit the Frog, first came to life in the mid-1950s. Join Josh and Chuck as they explore the history and nitty gritty details of the world’s most famous puppets in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How easy is it to steal a nuclear bomb?
Aug 25, 2009 • 28 min
Nuclear weapons are extremely well guarded, so stealing one would be quite tricky. Join Josh and Chuck as they discuss nabbing nuclear weapons, and some surprising facts about nuclear accidents, in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
Is the Necronomicon real?
Aug 20, 2009 • 32 min
H.P. Lovecraft’s strange, elaborate stories and mythologies have inspired a devoted following. Join Josh and Chuck — and a special guest — as they discuss Lovecraft’s most famous creation, the “Necronomicon,” in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
What’s sarcopenia and what can you do about it?
Aug 18, 2009 • 24 min
Sarcopenia is a form of muscle loss and coordination associated with aging. Luckily, a little extra effort can prevent its onset. Tune in to learn more about sarcopenia — and how to prevent it — in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
Is fluoride making us stupid?
Aug 13, 2009 • 29 min
Fluoride is a common additive in toothpaste and the water supply of some countries. It’s purportedly good for dental health, but some evidence suggests that it’s actually harmful. Discover the dark side of fluoride in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
What are Japanese stragglers?
Aug 11, 2009 • 32 min
During World War II, Japanese soldiers adopted a version of the samurai code of honor. Fiercely commited to this ideology, some continued to fight even after the war ended. Learn more about these “stragglers” in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
What’s up with competitive eating?
Aug 6, 2009 • 31 min
Competitive eating is a modern “sport” that’s very popular in the United States. Join Josh and Chuck as they delve into the fascinatingly gross world of competitive eating in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How Agent Orange Worked
Aug 4, 2009 • 27 min
Agent Orange was a potent herbicide used by the U.S. government during the Vietnam War. Learn more about the origins, use and devastating side effects of Agent Orange in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How Whale Sharks Work
Jul 30, 2009 • 30 min
Whale sharks are the biggest fish in the ocean. Tune in as Josh and Chuck discuss these gentle giants, and recount their experiences swimming with them in the Georgia Aquarium, in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
What are tinnovators?
Jul 28, 2009 • 26 min
Tinnovators are folks who come up with new and innovative ways to use old Altoids mint tins. Learn about some of these “tinnovators” and their art in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
Three Gross Parasites
Jul 23, 2009 • 30 min
There are some pretty disgusting parasites out there, but Josh and Chuck have settled on three particularly gross ones. Tune in to learn more about flesh-eating parasites, guinea worms and tapeworms in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
Are stupid people happier?
Jul 21, 2009 • 20 min
Is there a negative correlation between happiness and intelligence? Is ignorance truly bliss? Josh and Chuck attempt to answer this age-old question by exploring the “science” of happiness in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
What is a body farm?
Jul 16, 2009 • 27 min
Most farms host crops and animals, but body farms specialize in corpses. Join Josh and Chuck as they tackle the fascinatingly gross phenomenon of body farms in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How has toxoplasma turned the world into zombies?
Jul 14, 2009 • 22 min
Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection that favors cats, but it can also be found in humans. Discover the disturbing details of how toxoplasma gondii finds a host — and how it affects human beings — in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How Twinkies Work
Jul 9, 2009 • 28 min
Twinkies have a reputation for being so processed that they can last for years and years, but they’re not as hardy as you’d expect. Uncover the sweet story of Twinkies in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
Is it possible to brainwash someone?
Jul 7, 2009 • 29 min
Brainwashing is an extreme form of “thought reform,” but does it actually work? Tune in to this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com to find out.
How can hypermiling save you gas?
Jul 2, 2009 • 24 min
The EPA tests vehicles for maximum fuel efficiency, but those impressive estimates don’t always pan out in real life. Hypermiling is one sure-fire way to improve your fuel efficiency. Find out how it works in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How Earthquakes Work
Jun 30, 2009 • 28 min
What makes the earth quake? Join Josh and Chuck as they explore the science and history of earthquakes in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How Body Dysmorphic Disorder Works
Jun 25, 2009 • 26 min
People who suffer with body dysmorphic disorder have a distorted, unhealthy view of their bodies. Learn more about this compulsive disorder in the following podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
Can you control your dreams?
Jun 23, 2009 • 27 min
In a lucid dream, the sleeper is aware that he or she is in a dream state. Does that mean you can control these dreams? Where did this concept come from? Tune in to this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com to find out more about lucid dreaming.
What exactly is the Peter Principle?
Jun 18, 2009 • 25 min
The Peter Principle describes how workers who excel in bureaucratic systems are promoted until they reach their level of incompetence. Learn more about the Peter Principle in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
Three Innovations We Need Right Now
Jun 16, 2009 • 27 min
The world’s problems necessitate innovative solutions. Listen in as Josh and Chuck propose some innovations, from teleportation to an international language, that the world needs right now in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How Carbon Capture and Storage Works
Jun 11, 2009 • 32 min
Carbon capture and storage is a way to filter excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it. Tune in as Josh and Chuck discuss current methods of carbon capture and storage — and how feasible they are — in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How did Nikola Tesla change the way we use energy?
Jun 9, 2009 • 28 min
Many people associate Edison with the invention of electricity, but Nikola Tesla heavily shaped the electrical system we still use today. Get the dirt on the electricity wars between Edison and Tesla in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How Biohydrocarbons Work
Jun 4, 2009 • 27 min
Hydrocarbons are simple compounds that help fuel the modern world, but they’re not really a sustainable resource. Explore new energy solutions, starting with biohydrocarbons, in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
What’s a brownfield remediation project?
Jun 2, 2009 • 20 min
The EPA defines a brownfield as land that is abandoned because redevelopment is complicated by possible environmental contamination. Tune in as Chuck and Josh examine the process of redeveloping a brownfield in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
Is spontaneous human combustion real?
May 28, 2009 • 22 min
Scientists have proven that spontaneous combustion, or burning without an external ignition source, can occur in some objects. But what about human beings? Tune in and learn more about spontaneous human combustion in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How Propaganda Works
May 26, 2009 • 37 min
Propaganda, a persuasion tactic typically associated with deception, has been around for centuries. Explore the history of propaganda — and learn how to spot it — in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
Do animals have a sixth sense?
May 21, 2009 • 22 min
People have long believed that animals had mysterious powers of prediction. Do animals have a sixth sense? Is there any proof to back this belief up? Explore the fascinating subject of clairoyant animals in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How Lobotomies Work
May 19, 2009 • 34 min
Lobotomies — brain surgeries to relieve psychiatric problems — are rarely performed today, but they were once fairly common. Tune in to learn more about the controversial history and practice of lobotomies in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
Is it better to buy local or organic food?
May 14, 2009 • 30 min
These days, shopping for food can pose a dilemma. Should you buy regular, organic or local food? Check out this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com to hear Josh and Chuck discuss whether it’s better to buy local or organic food.
What causes rigor mortis?
May 12, 2009 • 21 min
If you’ve ever watched a crime drama, you know that bodies get stiff after death. But why? Explore the biochemistry behind rigor mortis in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How can a lake explode?
May 7, 2009 • 24 min
Lakes are usually tranquil bodies of water, but in rare instances, they can be deadly. Tune in to this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com to hear Josh and Chuck discuss lakes that have exploded — and the factors that create a killer lake.
Why do humans have body hair?
May 5, 2009 • 24 min
Humans aren’t truly naked apes, but other primates put us to shame when it comes to body hair. Why? Tune in to hear Josh and Chuckle discuss the theories and hypotheses behind human hair growth and distribution.
How do credit default swaps work?
Apr 30, 2009 • 24 min
In theory, credit default swaps are simply insurance against failed investments. In reality, these swaps can quickly get complicated. Tune in to this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com to hear Josh and Chuck demystify credit default swaps.
Is high fructose corn syrup bad for you?
Apr 28, 2009 • 19 min
High fructose corn syrup gets a bad rap, but is it deserved? Tune in as Josh and Chuck discuss the origins of this ubiquitous sweetener — and why it’s not so sweet for your health — in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How Face Transplants Work
Apr 23, 2009 • 26 min
Believe it or not, scientists and doctors have discovered a way to transplant part — or all — of a face from one person to another. Tune in to this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com to learn more about the astonishing practice of face transplants.
How much money do I really need to live?
Apr 21, 2009 • 24 min
How much money does a person or a family need to live? Josh and Chuck are curious to find out, too. Tune in to this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com to discover how needs, wants and peer pressure affect the amount of money we need to live.
Do toads cause warts?
Apr 16, 2009 • 25 min
Toads have a reputation as wart-spreaders, but they’re not actually to blame for the unsightly growths. Viruses are. Tune in to this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com to get the skinny on toads, warts and viruses.
How Money Laundering Works
Apr 14, 2009 • 28 min
Money laundering — the practice of disguising illegal funds — can be domestic or international in nature. Join Josh and Chuck as they take a look at the history, practice and future of money laundering in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How Ponzi Schemes Work
Apr 9, 2009 • 29 min
There’s been a lot in the news about Ponzi schemes lately. How do they work? And who’s Ponzi? Check out this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com to discover how an Italian immigrant created a classic con that’s still fleecing investors today.
How can some centenarians lead unhealthy lives?
Apr 7, 2009 • 27 min
You’d think that centenarians — people age 100 and older — would owe their longevity to healthy habits, but that’s not always the case. Tune in to this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com to learn more about genes, longevity and unhealthy habits.
Bizarre Ways to Die
Apr 2, 2009 • 23 min
When it comes to shucking this mortal coil, no two deaths are exactly alike — and some are truly bizarre. Tune in to this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com to hear Josh and Chuck discuss some of the strangest deaths imaginable.
Is the world going to end in 2012?
Mar 31, 2009 • 26 min
According to the Mayan calendar, a new age will begin on December 21, 2012. Will this mean the end of the world, or just a transition? Tune in as Josh and Chuck discuss whether 2012 will be a bad year for the planet or not.
Are there dead bodies on Mount Everest?
Mar 26, 2009 • 26 min
Every year, adventurers brave the elements and attempt to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Yet dangers abound, and more than a hundred bodies litter the mountain. Listen in and learn more about Mount Everest in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How Déjà Vu Works
Mar 24, 2009 • 26 min
Does this episode seem strangely familiar? If so, you might be experiencing déjà vu, a topic that scientists are beginning to study seriously. Discover the myriad theories about how déjà vu works in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
Can anger be a good thing?
Mar 19, 2009 • 21 min
Anger gets a bad rap, but this unpopular emotion can actually be beneficial to us. Tune in to this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com to get Josh and Chuck’s entertaining take on why we lose our cool.
What are microexpressions?
Mar 17, 2009 • 20 min
Microexpressions are brief facial cues that reveal a person’s true intentions. Listen in as Chuck and Josh discuss the subtle art of reading faces in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How Aphrodisiacs Work
Mar 12, 2009 • 24 min
For thousands of years humankind has pursued the enhancement of sexual pleasure and performance through a plethora of medicines and practices — but how many aphrodisiacs actually work? Listen and find out in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
Who owns the oceans?
Mar 10, 2009 • 24 min
International waters cover 71% of the Earth’s surface, and a separate set of laws and regulations govern human activity on the seas. But who actually owns the oceans? Listen and find out in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How Alien Hand Syndrome Works
Mar 5, 2009 • 18 min
When a person has alien hand syndrome, his or her hand can move involuntarily, and seemingly of its own volition. Tune in and learn more about this misunderstood syndrome in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
Could a ‘thinking cap’ make me a genius?
Mar 3, 2009 • 23 min
When Allan Snyder discovered that transcranial magnetic stimulation produces strange cognitive changes, he believed he’d stumbled upon a “creativity-amplifying machine.” Learn more about the real-life thinking cap in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How Junk Mail Works
Feb 26, 2009 • 22 min
Almost no one likes junk mail. It’s seen as wasteful, unproductive and — potentially — harmful. Listen in as Josh and Chuck take a closer look at the nature and effects of junk mail in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
Can people really die of fright?
Feb 24, 2009 • 19 min
Can a human being be scared to the point of sudden death? Listen in as Chuck and Josh explore the physiological possibilities behind dying of fright in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.
How Going Over Niagara Works
Feb 19, 2009 • 26 min
Since 1901, about 16 adventurous souls have gone over the falls in search of fame, usually in a barrel or sphere. Tune in as our resident experts take a look at the history of Niagara Falls in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.
How Squatting Works
Feb 17, 2009 • 23 min
The practice of squatting is usually defined as camping on unused land or moving into an abandoned structure — and it’s more common than you might think. Tune in and learn more about squatting in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.
How Friday the 13th Works
Feb 12, 2009 • 23 min
What is it about Friday the 13th that gives us the collective willies? Discover the surprising roots of this common superstition — and what paraskevidekatriaphobia means — in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
How long can you go without food and water?
Feb 10, 2009 • 23 min
When it comes to survival, food and water are pretty much non-negotiable. How long can you go without them? What happens to your body when you cross that threshold? Lend your ear to this HowStuffWorks podcast to find out.
Why is it so hard to say “toy boat” three times fast?
Feb 5, 2009 • 19 min
If you’ve ever tried to say “toy boat” three times fast, you’ll know that these two words can quickly turn into one tricky tongue twister. But why? Unravel the mysteries of tongue twisters and language in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
Why do some people believe the moon landings were a hoax?
Feb 3, 2009 • 19 min
Three decades after the first reported manned lunar landing, some theorists still believe the landing was faked. Check in as Chuck and Josh take a look at the evidence on both sides of the debate in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.
How Hypoallergenic Cats Work
Jan 29, 2009 • 16 min
One-third of US cat owners are allergic to cats, resigning themselves to years of suffering and expense on their pet’s behalf . Could hypoallergenic cats be the solution these allergic pet-lovers need? Tune in and learn more in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
How Comas Work
Jan 27, 2009 • 27 min
Several conditions can cause comas, including brain tumors and overdoses. Tune in as the crew discusses the causes and treatments of comas — including some miraculous recoveries — in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
How Moonshine Works
Jan 22, 2009 • 26 min
Moonshiners brew illegal alcohol, usually a liquor from corn. In the United States, this practice led to some surprising outcomes — including the deveopment of NASCAR. Tune in to learn more about moonshine and racing in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
Recycling and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Jan 20, 2009 • 26 min
Recycling has come a long way since its debut — and so have landfills. In this twofer HowStuffWorks podcast, discover the realities of modern recycling and find out why the world’s largest landfill might be more aptly described as an “oceanfill.”
How Redheads Work
Jan 15, 2009 • 18 min
Redheads are supposedly fiery, passionate people, but is there any truth to these stereotypes? Find out what studies have to say about redheads — and if they’ll really go extinct soon — in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
What are urban explorers?
Jan 13, 2009 • 18 min
Urban explorers investigate abandoned structures such as hospitals, grocery stores, warehouses and underground systems. Tune into this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about the rules, legality and appeal of this fascinating hobby.
How Body Armor Works: A Special Request
Jan 8, 2009 • 19 min
Body armor has used by bodyguards, celebrities and soldiers for thousands of years. Tune into this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn how the constant innovation in weaponry has led to a similar evolution in defense and armor.
How Exorcism Works
Jan 6, 2009 • 22 min
Is the idea of possession a misunderstanding of physiological and psychological conditions, or has science failed to account for unknown, legitimate factors? Learn whether exorcism and psychology are mutually exclusive in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.
How Midnight Regulations Work
Jan 1, 2009 • 26 min
After the election in November, outgoing Presidents have an opportunity to pass last-minute (often unpopular and unpublicized) legislation as ‘midnight regulations.’ Learn more about midnight regulations in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
How Habeas Corpus Works
Dec 30, 2008 • 24 min
Habeas Corpus is a Latin term meaning “you have the body,” and — in theory — guarantees an incarcerated person the right to have a court determine whether he or she is imprisoned lawfully. Listen to this podcast from HowStuffWorks to learn more.
How to Survive a Plane Crash
Dec 25, 2008 • 22 min
Although you’re much more likely to die in an auto accident, odds are you’re more afraid of flying — but why? Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to find out.
How Flirting Works
Dec 23, 2008 • 20 min
Flirting is an ancient — and, at times, unconscious — form of communication used to indicate interest in and receptivity to another person. Learn about the science of flirting and find out how to flirt in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.
What can be done with a dead body?
Dec 18, 2008 • 16 min
From transforming into a gem to being shot into space, modern technology has created a multitude of possible destinations for the bodies of the deceased. Go beyond the traditional funeral in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.
Where’s the best place on your body to get shot?
Dec 16, 2008 • 20 min
Although no one wakes up in the morning hoping for a gunfight, we all know life can be unpredictable. So check out this HowStuffWorks podcast and learn the best place to take a bullet if you get shot.
Extended Product Warranties: To Buy or Not to Buy?
Dec 11, 2008 • 19 min
Statistically speaking, extended product warranties aren’t generally worth the money, but there are some purchases that warrant extra insurance. Find out when it’s smart to buy — and when you should say “no thanks” — in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
How the Five Day Weekend Works
Dec 9, 2008 • 25 min
What if Congress passed a law mandating a two-day week work? The Friends of the Five Day Weekend want Congress to do just that — sort of. Check out this podcast to find out if their proposal is feasible or just plain farfetched.
How Guerrilla Gardening Works
Dec 4, 2008 • 19 min
You’ve heard of guerrilla fighting tactics, but how much do you know about guerrilla gardening? Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about this “revolutionary” gardening trend.
How OCD Works
Dec 2, 2008 • 17 min
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions. Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about the effects of and treatments for OCD.
How Thanksgiving Works
Nov 27, 2008 • 22 min
Thanksgiving is an unusual holiday in America — there’s no religious connotation, and the only traditions are a good meal and a sense of appreciation for the good things in life. Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about Thanksgiving.
How Albert Einstein’s Brain Worked
Nov 25, 2008 • 21 min
Albert Einstein is one of the world’s most recognizable geniuses. But was his brain any different from that of an average person? Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about Thomas Harvey, the man who set out to decipher Einstein’s brain.
How Corporate Personhood Works
Nov 20, 2008 • 17 min
Corporate personhood is an ancient legal custom tracing back to Roman law, whereby a corporation is legally considered a person.
How Eco-anxiety Works
Nov 18, 2008 • 16 min
Eco-anxiety — a chronic fear of environmental doom — is a recent, specialized type of anxiety disorder gripping an estimated 40 million people in the United States. Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about eco-anxiety.
Why doesn’t the FDA regulate herbal supplements?
Nov 13, 2008 • 16 min
For thousands of years, societies across the globe have used herbs as medicine. While this practice continues today, the FDA does not regulate these potent substances. Find out why the FDA can’t regulate herbal supplements in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
Did the CIA test LSD on unsuspecting Americans?
Nov 11, 2008 • 28 min
As more and more time passes, the Freedom of Information Act provides increasingly disturbing stories of illegal CIA operations. Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about MKULTRA and illegal CIA operations in the United States.
How Mortgage-backed Securities Work
Nov 6, 2008 • 21 min
The 2008 US financial crisis has been blamed on the excessive use of mortgage-backed securities. But what exactly is a mortgage-backed security? Learn more about these securities and how they contributed to the crisis in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
Why do grooms carry brides over the threshold?
Nov 4, 2008 • 14 min
Marriage is an ancient custom, and today’s wedding practices come from age-old traditions. Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about the history behind marriage traditions.
How Prayer Healing Works
Oct 30, 2008 • 18 min
Studies have shown that prayer has a positive effect on individuals, but can your prayer heal someone else? Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to find out how science weighs in on the power of intercessory prayer — and if it should at all.
Is a free market “free” if it’s regulated?
Oct 28, 2008 • 18 min
Prices in a free market are determined by the law of supply and demand, yet the US government has recently given billions of dollars to rescue large corporations. Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn whether or not the US is still a free market.
How do Tibetans avoid altitude sickness?
Oct 23, 2008 • 14 min
Due to the region’s elevation, the average traveler to Tibet often experiences altitude sickness — a condition caused by a lack of oxygen in the blood. Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn how Tibetans have adapted to life in high altitudes.
How the Bailout Works
Oct 21, 2008 • 24 min
The economy imploded as US banks reaped the consequences of subprime mortgage trades. Controversially, Congress has provided emergency funding for the banks. Learn more about the agreement between Washington and Wall Street in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
How Living Off the Grid Works
Oct 16, 2008 • 16 min
If you’re tired of paying utility bills or relying on fossil fuels, it might be time to consider living off the grid. Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about the techniques and strategies used by people living off the grid.
Will we soon be extinct?
Oct 14, 2008 • 13 min
Is Earth due for a mass extinction? Population ecologists think so. Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more mass extinctions.
How Cannibalism Works
Oct 9, 2008 • 21 min
Cannibalism is one of humanity’s near-universal taboos, but it has been practiced in widely varying circumstances throughout history. Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn the difference between the three types of cannibalism.
How Entomophagy Works
Oct 7, 2008 • 15 min
Entomophagy — the practice of eating insects — is common outside of Europe and North America. Despite cultural taboos, you’ve probably eaten insects without knowing it. Check out our HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about entomophagy.
How China’s Pollution Sniffers Work
Oct 2, 2008 • 15 min
In China’s Guangdong province, twelve volunteers have been trained to detect harmful pollution by using their sense of smell. Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about China’s pollution sniffers.
How Delta Force Works
Sep 30, 2008 • 22 min
With the world’s best weaponry, a shadowy legal status, and almost no oversight, Delta Force is the stuff of military legend. Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn why Delta Force was created, and how this group works.
How Graceland Works
Sep 25, 2008 • 19 min
Graceland attracts millions of visitors every year. Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about Elvis and Graceland, which Elvis bought when he was only 22 years old.
Is quitting smoking contagious?
Sep 23, 2008 • 22 min
Everyone knows it’s tough to quit smoking — but did you know quitting can be contagious? Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about smoking.
How Can I Erase My Identity and Start Over?
Sep 18, 2008 • 13 min
Everyone dreams of snagging a fresh start at life. Whether you’ve thought of changing your dull given name, or just disappearing entirely, this HowStuffWorks podcast will tell you what it takes to erase your identity.
What’s the ultimatum game?
Sep 16, 2008 • 14 min
The ultimatum game is an economics experiment that provides insight into the human psyche. Check out our HowStuffWorks podcast to learn about the rules to the ultimatum game.
Why don’t we live underground?
Sep 11, 2008 • 17 min
Humanity has adapted to life on the surface. We like sunlight and fresh air — but do we need it to survive? Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about living underground.
Is sleep that important?
Sep 9, 2008 • 15 min
Sleep is one of those funny things about being a human being — you just have to do it. Have you ever wondered why? Check out our HowStuffWorks article to learn more about the importance of sleep.
What’s the difference between deodorant and antiperspirant?
Sep 4, 2008 • 16 min
The function of antiperspirant and deodorant is to prevent sweat or to mask the scent of body odor. Learn about the function of antiperspirant and deodorant in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
Is there a worst way to die?
Sep 2, 2008 • 15 min
But there’s no consensus among professionals about which method of death is the least desirable. A person’s fears may factor into his own personal worst way to die. Check out our HowStuffWorks article to learn more about the worst way to die.
What are smart mobs?
Aug 28, 2008 • 15 min
With the benefit of wireless technologies like cell phones and text messaging, large groups of people are able to coordinate their actions with amazing precision. Check out our HowStuffWorks article to learn about smart mobs and civil disobedience.
Will robots get married?
Aug 26, 2008 • 15 min
Some researchers believe that weddings between a human and a robot could be possible by the year 2050. Take a look at our HowStuffWorks article to learn more about robot rights.
How Blood Pressure Works
Aug 21, 2008 • 14 min
High blood pressure — or hypertension — is elevated pressure of the blood in the arteries. Hypertension results from two major factors. Check out our HowStuffWorks article to learn more about the causes of and treatment for hypertension.
Are humans wired to survive?
Aug 19, 2008 • 14 min
Are humans born with survival instincts? Check out our HowStuffWorks article to learn more about human instincts and survival.
10 Terribly Bungled Crimes
Aug 14, 2008 • 12 min
Ten terribly bungled crimes throughout history are explored, such as drug deals gone wrong. Find out which ones are at the top of the list for Josh and Chuck in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
How could a cat scuba dive?
Aug 12, 2008 • 14 min
Millions of people across the world enjoy scuba diving — and, unbelievably enough, a few pets have also taken up this hobby. Check out our HowStuffWorks article to learn more about how a cat’s devotion to her best friend got her underwater.
Is there a torture manual?
Aug 8, 2008 • 8 min
In May of 2007, the US military found drawings believed to be part of an Al-Qaida torture manual. However, the seminal manuals on torture are believed to be the work of the CIA. Check out our HowStuffWorks article to learn more about torture manuals.
Are there real-life fight clubs?
Aug 5, 2008 • 8 min
The 1996 Chuck Palahniuk novel, “Fight Club,” has been blamed — and lauded — by various groups for inspiring several real-life fight clubs. Take a look at our HowStuffWorks article to learn more about real-life fight clubs.
Exactly what happens if we run out of water?
Jul 31, 2008 • 13 min
In 1995, World Bank vice president Ismail Serageldin declared that “the wars of the next century will be about water.” Check out our HowStuffWorks article to learn what happens once we run out of water.
Is knife hunting the fairest way to hunt?
Jul 29, 2008 • 7 min
Fair chase is the idea that a balance should be struck between the hunter’s ability to kill prey and the prey’s ability escape. Take a look at our HowStuffWorks article to learn more about knife hunting, and whether or not it’s the fairest way to hunt.
Why do people blush?
Jul 24, 2008 • 7 min
Blushing from embarrassment is governed by the sympathetic nervous system, which governs involuntary processes. Although we know how people blush, we still don’t understand why. Check out the theories of blushing in our HowStuffWorks article.
How Carbon Capture Works
Jul 22, 2008 • 6 min
Carbon capture is the process of trapping carbon emissions and storing them away from the atmosphere to prevent global warming. Check out our carbon capture article at HowStuffWorks.com to learn more about the possibility of reducing carbon emissions.
Are Dogs a Shark’s Favorite Meal?
Jul 17, 2008 • 6 min
In 2005, The Sun reported that dogs were being used as live bait in the Indian Ocean. Is it possible that dogs are a delicacy to sharks? Take a look at our HowStuffWorks article to learn more about the diet of sharks.
Can I Survive a Shark Attack by Gouging Out Its Eyes?
Jul 15, 2008 • 6 min
Although it can be intimidating, a shark is not invulnerable. Punching its nose, gouging its eyes, or grabbing its gills can stun the shark and give victims a chance to escape. Check out our HowStuffWorks article to learn more about shark attacks.
How Ripperology Works
Jul 10, 2008 • 6 min
The unsolved murder spree of Jack the Ripper has captivated generations of amateur investigators, each with their own theory of the killer’s identity. Learn more about one particularly thought-provoking suspect in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
How Personal Rapid Transport Works
Jul 7, 2008 • 6 min
Personal rapid transport combines the best traits of subways and taxis, and costs less to build than light rail. Could this be the future of transportation? Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast and learn more about personal rapid transport.
How Abandoned Cities Work
Jul 1, 2008 • 6 min
Cities can become abandoned for a number of reasons, from economic meltdowns to nuclear catastrophes. Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast and learn more about modern abandoned cities.
How Murphy’s Law Works
Jul 1, 2008 • 6 min
Murphy’s law originates in 1949, and states ‘anything that can go wrong, will.’ Check out this HowStuffWorks to learn more about how the Air Force discovered Murphy’s law.
How Death-Proof Cars Work
Jun 26, 2008 • 6 min
Could high-end digital auto systems such as blind-spot detection and collision prevention overcome the errors of human drivers? Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about the death-proof cars of the future.
How Oil Shale Works
Jun 24, 2008 • 6 min
Oil shale is a term for oil trapped in rock, rather than existing in liquid form. Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about the nature of oil shale.
How Swearing at Work Works
Jun 20, 2008 • 6 min
Swear words are usually considered workplace taboos — yet the debate continues over whether these words are inappropriate, or examples of free speech. Learn more about using swear words at work in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
How Manufacturing Water Works
Jun 18, 2008 • 6 min
The United Nations has found that 22% of the world’s population does not have access to clean drinking water. Could we fix the water shortage by manufacturing water? Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about manufacturing water.
What’s the most expensive toilet in the world?
Jun 12, 2008 • 6 min
The most expensive toilet in the world is made of solid gold and can be found in Hong Kong. Learn more about the world’s most expensive toilet in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
Could salt water fuel cars?
Jun 10, 2008 • 6 min
Salt water fuel could be the next viable alternative to foreign oil. Learn about the ongoing research behind the concept of salt water fuel in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
How The Eye of a Tornado Works
Jun 5, 2008 • 6 min
In recorded history, only two people have entered the eye of a tornado and returned to tell the tale. Learn more about the inside of tornadoes in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
How Contagious Yawning Works
Jun 3, 2008 • 6 min
Yawning is contagious, but why? Check out the leading theories on contagious yawning and empathy in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
Can People Really Get Hysterical Strength?
May 29, 2008 • 6 min
During times of emergency, people have been known to preform feats of great strength. Learn more about going from the dull stare of the dairy cow to the eye of the tiger in seconds flat.
How Antibacterial Soap Works
May 28, 2008 • 6 min
Could the routine use of antibacterial soap increase the presence of drug-resistant bacteria in your home? Learn more about the disadvantages of anti-bacterial soap in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
Does Gum Stay in your Stomach for Seven Years?
May 22, 2008 • 6 min
Does gum really stay in your stomach for Seven Years? Josh and Chuck take on the parental myth of gum swollowing.
Are Dogs Really Man’s Best Friend?
May 20, 2008 • 5 min
Check out the story of Hachiko, a loyal Akita who waited for over ten years for his master to return. Learn more about Hachiko and loyalty in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
How Evolution in Isolation Works
May 15, 2008 • 5 min
How does isolation spur evolution? Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about speciation and evolution.
Why Does Toothpaste Make Orange Juice Taste Bad?
May 13, 2008 • 6 min
Why does toothpaste make orange juice taste bad? Chuck recounts his first-hand experience, and how it works.
How Trolley Problems Work
May 6, 2008 • 6 min
The trolley problem is an ethical dilemma that proposes a difficult decision about choosing whether a group of strangers lives or dies. Learn more about ethics and the nature of sacrifice in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
Can I feel pregnant when my wife is?
May 6, 2008 • 6 min
Sympathy pregnancy is the condition where a man feels pregnant while his wife actually is. Learn more about the symptoms for sympathy pregnancy in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
Are Nazi War Criminals Still At Large?
Apr 30, 2008 • 5 min
After the close of World War II, Nazi war criminals fled Europe and attempted to hide under assumed identities. Some may still be at large. Learn more about Nazi war criminals in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
How Altruism Works
Apr 17, 2008 • 6 min
Is there such a thing as a truly unselfish act? Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast and learn more about the nature of altruism.
How Lame Ducks Work
Apr 17, 2008 • 6 min
In U.S. politics, a lame duck is a president who will not be re-elected because he or she has been passed over for election, or already served the maximum two terms. Learn more about the origin of lame duck presidents in this HowStuffWorks podcast.
How Grassoline Works
Apr 17, 2008 • 6 min
Could switch grass become the car fuel of the future? Learn more about alternative fuel in this HowStuffWorks podcast.