All Episodes

Fri. 1/15 - Wikipedia As An MMORPG & A Pigeon on Trial

Jan. 15, 2021

A couple of stories for the birds today. First, ravens at the Tower of London are living up to their collective name of a conspiracy of ravens by possibly foretelling the fall of Britain. And a pigeon in Australia who was almost sentenced to death by government officials. Plus, the many ways in whi…

Thu. 1/14 - How We Narrowly Avoided an Emoji Shortage

Jan. 14, 2021

The workaround the Unicode Consortium used to make sure we still get new emojis in 2021, pandemic or not. Facial hair is biologically useless. So why do some humans have it? And the SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule returning this evening will be carrying on it a case of twelve unopened bottles of red wi…

Wed. 1/13 - Pablo Escobar's Hippos Are Out of Control

Jan. 13, 2021

Pablo Escobar’s pet hippos have multiplied and are ravaging part of Colombia’s capital. An AI that can create very impressive and artistic images from text commands. Maybe a little too impressive. And a discovery in England this week that could’ve been way worse.

Tue. 1/12 - 16th Century Disease Prevention & Beer Can Archaeology

Jan. 12, 2021

The sixteenth-century manual on containing the spread of disease that is eerily reminiscent of current COVID guidelines. Bitcoin millionaires who can’t access their digital wallets due to forgotten passwords. And the guy whose massive beer collection is playing an important role in archaeological s…

Mon. 1/11 - Tim Berners-Lee's Quest to Restore Balance to the Web

Jan. 11, 2021

It’s time for two writers to pay up on a 25-year-old bet about whether tech would destroy civilization. Tim Berners-Lee’s new quest to transform the web into the one he envisioned when he created it. How the most recent COVID-19 Stimulus Bill created a new National Park––and also may reveal previou…

Fri. 1/8 - What Folklore Can Teach Us About Conspiracy Theories

Jan. 8, 2021

What folklorists can teach us about the structure and resilience of conspiracy theories. The genome of the platypus has been sequenced, and it’s just as weird as you’d expect. And a Swedish film festival that’s sending one person to an abandoned lighthouse on a remote island for a weeklong stay wit…

Thu. 1/7 - Dude, IceBots on Mars!

Jan. 7, 2021

A prototype for self-repairing planetary exploration robots made of ice. The surprising history of the word “dude.” And a new Danish children’s cartoon about the misadventures of a man with a huge dong. Yep.

Wed. 1/6 - The 60s Spy Satellite Helping Today's Environmental Scientists

Jan. 6, 2021

Space missions to keep your eye on in 2021. How satellites built to spy on the Soviets have helped unravel environmental mysteries. Why the dark ages aren’t considered so dark anymore. And a completely perplexing auction from David Hasselhoff and his 14 foot replica doll.

Tue. 1/5 - A Nanny Cam to Keep You On-Task?

Jan. 5, 2021

People who are choosing to be surveilled by strangers and productivity nannies in order to stay on task while remote working. A 3D-printed hydrogel inspired by cephalopods that changes shape when exposed to light. And UK officials have arguably messed up a commemorative coin, again.

Mon. 1/4 - Time Confetti & the Quantum Internet

Jan. 4, 2021

What “time confetti” is and how to stop spreading it everywhere. A new development in the teleportation of information that means good things for the possibility of quantum internet. And how TikTokers raised a million dollars for The Actors Fund over the weekend with a crowd-sourced fan-created mus…

Wed. 12/30 - The Cognitive Case for Talking To Yourself

Dec. 30, 2020

Why talking out loud to yourself is actually an important cognitive skill, or so I’m telling myself. A new population of blue whales with a distinct song was recently discovered in the Indian Ocean. And a new AI that will hilariously and viciously judge your taste in music.

Tue. 12/29 - How Humans Began to Read and Write

Dec. 29, 2020

How is it that humans figured out how to read? New cosmological findings that may finally solve the Hubble tension. And, more monoliths continue to pop up, a look at two of the more interesting ones from this past week.

Mon. 12/28 - What If 2020 Was Just One Big MMORPG?

Dec. 28, 2020

How your brain takes out the trash while you sleep. The English man who crossed the Alps on a space hopper. And a subreddit where over half a million people pretend our world is just one big MMORPG.

Wed. 12/23 - Leave Out Porridge for Belligerent Elves on Christmas Eve

Dec. 23, 2020

How Star Wars toys have changed over the years and why it may not be a good thing for kids. What if there were tons of alien civilizations elsewhere in the Milky Way but they’re all long since dead? And the Danish tradition of leaving porridge out on Christmas Eve to bribe mischievous elves.

Tue. 12/22 - The Holy Pooper & the Curse of the Targeted Butt-flap PJs Ad

Dec. 22, 2020

Down the rabbit hole of targeted marketing through the lens of some strange, butt-flap onesie pajamas for adults. Don’t trust the sea foam in Australia. And some Catalonian Christmas traditions that are pretty crappy.

Mon. 12/21 - How Will Movie Theaters Stay Afloat Post-Pandemic?

Dec. 21, 2020

What will movie theaters look like in a post-pandemic world? And what do companies need to do to weather the storm? New research that suggests our early human ancestors could have hibernated. And the pyrotechnic German punch that Atlas Obscura describes as “mulled wine’s metal cousin.”

Fri. 12/18 - The Business of X-Mas Trees & How COVID Changed Science

Dec. 18, 2020

Some ways that COVID could change science forever––both good and bad. The business of Christmas trees and why we’re still seeing the effects of the Great Recession in tree prices today. And a site that plays ambient noise from the forests of the world.

Thu. 12/17 – Snowflake Toast & The Sound of a Perfect Fluid

Dec. 17, 2020

Physicists have measured sound diffusion in a perfect fluid for the first time ever and created a surprisingly popular SoundCloud track. A bunch of new works are entering the public domain in just a few weeks. And the Kellogg brothers are best remembered for inventing cornflakes, but in their time …