Episodes

  • Swallow the Slime and Wear the Fungus

    Researchers have developed a magnetic slime "robot" that can shift into different shapes to grab objects. It may be used to operate inside humans without the need for surgery. Anthony and Jeff discuss the notion of swallowing the magnetic slime, and the future of soft robots. Then, the nuclear meltdown in Chernobyl has given birth to a new type of slime that thrives in radioactive environments. Scientists hope it may be a biological key to creating ways for humans to survive in deep space. Jeff and Anthony talk about how sometimes awful events can reveal useful information. [more]

  • Swear Words and Boring People

    Words have power - and maybe swear words have the most power. Jeff and Anthony take a look at the data that suggest the best reasons and ways to curse your @$! off. Then, a group of researchers set out to find the most boring person in the world. What makes a person boring? Anthony and Jeff debate the dull. [more]

  • Moon Trees and Watching Memories Form

    One of the Apollo 14 astronauts took a bag of tree seeds to the moon. A few years after the astronauts returned home, some of the seeds were planted across the United States... and then forgotten. Anthony and Jeff discuss the effort to track down these Moon Trees, and if they really mean something. Then, researchers have directly observed what happens inside the brain of a zebra fish when it is being traumatized. Jeff and Anthony talk about what this breakthrough means, and how exactly the scientists traumatized those fish. [more]

  • The Hardest Wood and Hoarding Tendencies

    What is the hardest wood in the world? A simple question with a surprisingly complex answer. Jeff and Anthony take a look at all the factors. Then, is there a tie between ADHD diagnosis and a propensity to collect or horde objects? Anthony and Jeff review a new study that answers that very question. [more]

  • Houdini Birds and the Space Dagger

    Researchers in Australia have been trying to track magpies using tiny, featherweight transmitters, but the birds have banded together to escape the magnetic backpacks that house the signal. This kind of cooperation has never been observed among this species and it raises a whole bunch of new questions. Anthony and Jeff take a look at those wily birds, and what this could mean for their incessant pranks. Then, new analysis of a dagger found in King Tut's tomb reveal that it is made out of iron from a meteorite. Jeff and Anthony step through the incredible process used to make that discovery. [more]

  • The Sour Paradox and Memory Loss is Memory Gain

    Of the classic five categories of taste, sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami, only one of them has no discernible evolutionary purpose. Scientists do not understand why we even sense sour, let alone why it is so pervasive across species. Jeff and Anthony look at the evidence and consider the most prominent theories. Then, what if having a touch time remembering something isn't a bug, but a feature? Anthony and Jeff examine a new paper that suggests that out brain is optimizing for success when it limits recall. [more]

  • Spider Chef and Musical Webs

    Researchers recently witnessed a spider shuttling a droplet of water from a small pond up into its web. They suspect the spider was using the droplet to rehydrate its food, behavior they've never before seen in spiders. Jeff and Anthony discuss food prep in the animal kingdom and why this is so rare. Then, can the natural world be expressed in music? Scientists are applying tonal variations to naturally occurring data to listen to the music of nature. Anthony and Jeff sample the sounds and decide if this is a worthwhile pursuit. [more]

  • Exo Wombs and the Faint Young Sun Paradox

    To combat low population growth, some countries are looking into using artificial wombs to grow new humans. Anthony and Jeff examine this dystopian idea to see if it might actually make sense. Then, we know the sun - and all stars - get hotter and hotter until they die. But what we rarely consider if how a younger sun would have been dimmer and cooler. Jeff and Anthony take a look at the paradox of how life on Earth emerged when it would have been too cold for oceans to flow. [more]

  • Movies in Space and Shared Creativity

    The company co-producing Tom Cruise’s upcoming space movie, has unveiled plans to build a space station module that contains a sports and entertainment arena as well as a content studio by December 2024. Jeff and Anthony discuss the feasibility and application of such a project. Then, a new article in the Academy of Management Journal, finds that handing a mature idea to somebody else for execution harms the creativity of the final product. Anthony and Jeff discuss their own creative ventures, and look at the how data can inform creativity. [more]

  • Lightning Seen and Lightning Round

    Scientists have never been able to adequately explain where lightning comes from. Now the first detailed observations of its emergence inside a cloud have exposed how electric fields grow strong enough to create bolts. Jeff and Anthony step through how scientists have been able to record the spark of lightning. Then, Anthony starts his own lightning - a lightning round of headlines! Paralyzing rats, happiness from marriage, celebrity worship, sleeping in space, and more! [more]

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