Top podcast episodes in Life Sciences

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What better time to explore the world of coronaviruses than amidst an outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus that brings to mind memories of SARS and MERS? On this very special episode of This Podcast Will Kill You, we’ll take you through what we know about this diverse group of viruses, from the mild strains constantly circulating to the epidemic ones that make headlines with their lethality. Want to know how exactly these royal viruses make you sick? Or what went on during the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic? Don’t worry - we’ve got you covered. And to help us get a grasp on the current 2019-nCoV outbreak that’s got the world’s attention, we’ve brought on four experts from Emory University to give us the lowdown: Dr. Colleen Kraft, Dr. G. Marshall Lyon, Dr. Aneesh Mehta, and Dr. Carlos del Rio. *Please keep in mind, we recorded this episode on Sunday, Feb 2 and conducted the interviews between Jan 29 and 30, 2020. Since recording, the statistics on 2019-nCoV that we and our guests reported have changed as the epidemic continues to evolve. The figures are changing fast, but the basic info is still relevant. To follow the 2019-nCoV outbreak, our experts recommend the following as reliable sources of information: WHO 2019-nCoV website, especially the Situation Reports Map Dashboard of 2019-nCoV Cases by Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering CDC 2019-nCoV website And to learn more about the amazing work that our special guests do on the regular, follow them on Twitter! Colleen S. Kraft, MD, MSc (@colleenkraftmd) G. Marshall Lyon, MD, MMSc (@GMLyon3) Aneesh K. Mehta, M.D., FIDSA, FAST (@AneeshMehtaMD) Carlos del Rio, MD (@CarlosdelRio7)
NASA engineer Dajae Williams is using hip hop to make math and science more accessible and memorable for young people.
What is overconfidence? We tend to know it when we see it, but the concept is increasingly hard to nail down the more you think about it. In this Stuff to Blow Your Mind two-parter, Robert and Joe explore the mythic roots of hubris, the psychology of overconfidence and its role in society and business. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Pediatrician Nicole Baldwin posted a video promoting vaccines on TikTok. When it went viral, a group of anti-vaccine activists targeted and harassed her.
Whooping cough, that terrible childhood scourge, has been making an alarming comeback due to lapses in vaccination coverage across the globe. And in this episode, we’ll tell you why exactly its return is a cause for concern. From the devastation it wreaks on the body to the untold tragedy of past epidemics, pertussis is a dreaded disease that was nearly relegated to the past thanks to the amazing efforts of three incredible researchers, Pearl Kendrick, Grace Eldering, and Loney Gordon. But as the provider of our firsthand account illustrates, pertussis is still very much present today. We are joined by the incredible Catherine Hughes, who does us the honor of sharing her story about her son Riley and her efforts to raise awareness about the importance of childhood vaccinations.   Read more about the Light for Riley campaign and the Immunisation Foundation of Australia to see the hugely important work being done.
Predicting landslides used to be impossible. New tools are making it easier — giving scientists ways to analyze the factors that could trigger them, from soil type to rainfall.
Our brains are composed of two hemispheres, but in what ways are they truly separate? In which ways are they one? In this bisected Stuff to Blow Your Mind exploration, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore what we’ve learned from split brain experiments in animals and humans. (originally published 1/15/2019) Learn more about your ad-choices at
Imagine a board game inspired by the natural lives of birds? That's the premise of popular game Wingspan, designed by Elizabeth Hargrave.
We talk to Manu Prakash, the co-inventor of the Foldscope, a low-cost microscope aimed at making scientific tools more accessible.
It’s time for another hefty dose of Stuff to Blow Your Mind listener mail. Join Robert and Joe as they read and answer your emails on facial recognition, gods, volcanoes the future and more. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Some say the case points to larger issues around scientific collaboration in an era of geopolitical rivalry, as well as possible racial profiling of scientists.
Our first vector-borne disease episode of season 3 and our first mosquito-borne pathogen in quite some time, dengue virus proves itself to be more than a worthy topic (and quite a formidable adversary in terms of public health). This week we are joined by Dr. Alex Trillo who drops some firsthand knowledge on the excruciating symptoms that give dengue its colloquial name “breakbone fever”, and then we trace the virus’s path from its evolutionary origins in ancient forests to the inevitable emergence of dengue hemorrhagic fever following modern war. We round it all out with some truly horrifying stats on the prevalence of dengue today as well as some promising research on reducing the prevalence of dengue tomorrow. To find out more about Alex’s incredibly cool research, check out her website at and follow her on Twitter at @Trillo_PA.
It’s time for another movie episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, and this time Robert and Joe consider David Cronenberg’s 1986 sci-fi remake “The Fly.” It’s time to drink deep, or taste not, the plasma spring! Learn more about your ad-choices at
With the leap year upon us, and the rare appearance of Feb 29th, we're "marking time" to find out how time works: from why time seems to go faster when we're older, to the mind-bending warping of time around black holes. Plus, in the news, scientists develop a way to produce electricity from thin air, how old mattresses are feeding refugees, and why bringing back beavers might solve some of our flooding problems... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
It's possible — but it depends on a few key factors. And the story of the scientist who uncovered the importance of zinc for human health in the first place.
Have you missed learning about plant poisons? Well, it’s your lucky day! Today is our first crossover of season three with our friend Matt Candeias of In Defense of Plants. In this episode we delve into the castor bean plant Ricinus communis and its two notorious products: castor oil and the star of the show, ricin. Join us as we learn about ricin’s storied history, which leads us through political assassinations and efficiency in engines, the biology of ricin, which horrifies us with its lethality, and finally, the ecology of the plant, which surprises us with its strategic partnerships. Looking for more ways to cure your plant blindness? Check out In Defense of Plants at and follow Matt on twitter @indfnsofplnts.
It’s a standard tool of skeptical thinking: When presented with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well, choose the simpler of the two. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe discuss the history, nature and complexities of Occam’s Razor. Learn more about your ad-choices at
In 1518 a strange sight could be seen all over the town of Strasbourg. Crowds of people dancing unceasingly, unable to control their movements, seemingly heedless of their blistered and bloodied feet. As the contagious dance grew, so did the body count as the frenzied dancers succumbed to exhaustion. Over 500 years later, this dancing plague leaves us with many questions, first among them being, “What in the heck?”. In this episode, we try to get to the bottom of this mysterious infectious dance by investigating several different hypotheses, which lead us down some wild roads. Tune in, put on your best dancing shoes, and drop that beat.
That’s right, we’re back! And we’re starting off with a bang. Syphilis, aka the Great Imitator, is the subject of today’s long-awaited episode, and it’s got everything you could imagine. When you woke up today, were you hoping to learn about how this spirochete can invade all of your body’s organs? Or how the geographic origins of syphilis are still disputed? Maybe you were wishing to gain some knowledge about a horrific experiment that revolutionized bioethics and defined what it means to give informed consent? One thing is certain - you’re definitely going to want to know about the current status of this ancient disease (yikes, it’s on the rise) and how to cure it (whew, penicillin works). Tune in to have all these wishes granted.
In Episode 1 we're talking all things flu, just in time for the start of flu season! We'll dive into the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed literally millions of people, then talk about the state of influenza in the world today, and tell you everything you need to know about how the flu virus works.
We talk with Adam Cole about his bop "A Neuroscience Love Song," which breaks down what happens in the body as a person falls in love.
E. coli. Such a short name for such a massive topic. This episode we explore the delightful diversity of Escherichia coli, the ubiquitous bacterium that predates humans and can range in virulence anywhere from “you won’t even know I’m there” to “this is really, really, really gonna hurt”. Today we cover the good, the bad, and the ugly: you’ll hear about the innumerable contributions of E. coli to the fields of genetics, evolution, and microbiology, a detailed account of how pathogenic strains can wreak havoc on your guts, and an exploration of one of the most infamous food-borne illness outbreaks in US history. Hoping we’d end it on a happy note? Better luck next time, folks.
In the aftermath of Valentine's Day, join Robert and Joe as they revisit last year's interview with marine biologist and "Sex in the Sea" author Dr. Marah Hardt. It's a chat with STBYM's only four-time guest about all manner of marine invertebrate reproduction. Learn more about your ad-choices at
A peach farmer is suing two big companies, Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) and BASF, for damaging his trees. The trial is underway and could have a big impact on how we farm.
That's right y'all... Today we're talking the GMOAT: The GREATEST MORTALITY OF ALL TIME: BLACK DEATH. This episode we'll cover the biology and history of one of the most epic diseases of all time- Yersinia pestis the causative agent of plague. It's such an epic topic in fact, that you'll have to tune in next week to catch up on the current status of plague around the world!
In the year 79 CE, the Italian volcano Mount Vesuvius erupted with with the thermal energy of 100,000 atomic bombs. Ashen destruction rained down on Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis and Stabiae. In this Stuff to Blow Your Mind two-parter, Robert and Joe explore this terrifying episode in history and what we can learn from it. Learn more about your ad-choices at
You’ve seen the headlines: could this cat-associated parasite be controlling your every move? Is the love you have for cats pure or merely a manipulation? Join us as we discuss Toxoplasma gondii, the feline-associated parasite that infects a whopping one third of all humans. Yes, you read that right. From the behavior-altering effects on rodents to the ancestral origins of the domestic cat, we dive deep into all things toxoplasmosis, the disease that sounds like it comes straight out of a sci-fi novel.
Were you stoked about the history and biology of vaccines we covered in part 1, but left with even more questions? Were you really hoping to hear us talk about anti-vaccine sentiment and address misconceptions about vaccines in detail? Did you want even more expert guest insight?! Well then do we have the episode for you! Today, we delve into the history of the “anti-vaccine movement” which, spoiler alert, is nothing new. With the help of Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and Co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development we address some of the most common concerns and questions that arise about vaccines, their safety, and their efficacy. And finally, we hear from Bill Nye The Science Guy about dealing with the challenges of science communication in the modern world when diseases spread as fast as fake news headlines. Y’all. This is the episode you’ve been waiting for. You can follow Dr. Peter Hotez on twitter @PeterHotez and check out his book “Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism” And you can listen to “Science Rules!” the new podcast from Bill Nye the Science Guy, available now on stitcher or wherever you are listening to this podcast!
Drinking is ubiquitous in American culture today, but there is a burgeoning movement in the opposite direction: Sobriety is having a moment in the spotlight. For the sober-curious crowd, this can mean taking a break from alcohol for a set period or it can mean quitting altogether. Either way, according to addiction researcher and psychologist Katie Witkiewitz, PhD, stopping drinking even for a short period can be beneficial.
In the year 79 CE, the Italian volcano Mount Vesuvius erupted with with the thermal energy of 100,000 atomic bombs. Ashen destruction rained down on Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis and Stabiae. In this Stuff to Blow Your Mind two-parter, Robert and Joe explore this terrifying episode in history and what we can learn from it. Learn more about your ad-choices at
This week we tackle leprosy. That biblical (or is it?) infection that, believe it or not, is still with us today. Leprosy has an ancient history that exemplifies some of the worst of human behavior, and its present day status may surprise you.
Meet the CubeSat: a miniaturized satellite that's been growing in sophistication. Over 1,000 CubSats have been launched for research and space exploration.
Arr, mateys, climb aboard for a swash-buckling tale of when the high seas were full of disease! Today we’re covering a non-infectious but no less terrifying scourge that has wrecked millions of lives and sent even the bravest of sailors quivering in their boots: Scurvy. From the open ocean to the California gold rush to modern times, scurvy has been causing collagen breakdown throughout human history, and we can blame it all on...evolution?
We look at the evidence with cat researcher, Kristyn Vitale of Oregon State University. It's the latest installment of our series, "Animal Slander."
This week's episode is nothing like any of our past episodes, and there will never be another quite like it. How can we be so sure, you ask? Because this week, we're covering prions, the terrifying, genetic material-less infection that is 100% fatal and caused by nothing more than a humble protein. And not just any protein, a protein you already have in your body. Are you sweating yet? Good. Then settle in and listen to the amazing biology of this terrifying twisted proteinacious particle, the fascinating and fraught history that led to its discovery, and the current research on just how scared you need to be of prions in your brain.
When it comes to pseudoscience you might consider yourself to be a sceptic But don’t give yourself too much credit because we’re all vulnerable to believing dubious claims. This is because of powerful cognitive biases in the brain—and we could actually be satisfied with quite shallow explanations for things—and for being suckers for pseudoscience.
You’ve seen the recent headlines and heard the news reports, but they’re only part of this deadly virus’s story. This week we’re covering the rest. We take you on a one-of-a-kind tour of measles, exploring how this vaccine-preventable virus can wriggle its way into your cells and cause short-term misery and long-term damage. Then we trace the history of this notorious killer from its bovine beginnings to the devastation it wreaked on unexposed populations. The tour ends with a look at measles by the numbers around the world today. If you take home one souvenir from this tour, let it be gratitude for vaccines!
The wait is finally over: this week we are very excited to bring you the episode we’ve been teasing for weeks: vaccines! This week and next (you don’t have to wait a full two weeks for the next episode!), we are presenting a two-part series on vaccines. In today’s episode, we dive deep into the biology of vaccines, from how they stimulate your (amazing) immune system to protect you, to how they make you into an almost-superhero, shielding the innocents around you from deadly infections. We take you back hundreds, nay, thousands of years to when something akin to vaccination first began, and then we walk along the long road of vaccine development to see just how massive an impact vaccines have had on the modern world. The best part? We are joined by not one, but two experts from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Gail Rodgers and Dr. Padmini Srikantiah explain the process of vaccine development, highlight the challenges of vaccine deployment, and shine a hopeful light on the future of vaccines. And be sure to tune in next week for part 2 where we’ll focus on vaccine hesitancy and address common misconceptions surrounding vaccines in even more depth. For more information on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation initiatives, visit: For more information on vaccines currently in development, check out: and And, as always, you can find all of the sources we used in this episode on our website:
We're back with another episode all about plague-TGFA: Thank Goodness For Antibiotics! Today we'll focus on the status of plague in the modern world: where it is, where it isn't, and what we can do about it. And as always, we'll let you know whether or not to put on your scaredy pants.
In this episode, we sat down with Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams, a dynamic leader and a luminary who is changing healthcare as we know it. He previously served three terms in the New York State Senate and 22 years in the New York City Police Department. In 2016, after a series of painful symptoms and visual problems, he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. He soon learned about the profound effect of food on his health and adopted a whole food, plant-based diet and successfully reversed his diabetes. Since then, he has been a vocal proponent of a plant-based diet and has encouraged all Brooklynites to eat healthier. He has launched multiple initiatives to provide resources to the community regarding healthy nutrition, and also hosts various events at the Brooklyn Borough Hall to educate citizens on different health topics. He has also prompted the City Council to pass a resolution called "Ban the Baloney," which aims for schools across the city to stop serving processed meats to school kids, based on a 2015 World Health Organization report that labeled these products as Group 1 carcinogens, increasing the risk of diabetes, multiple cancers, and respiratory illnesses. He has also been an avid supporter of "Meatless Mondays" in public schools. He’s dedicating much of his efforts to empowering the community with new models of health. Our entire life has been focused on evidence-based research and translating it to the population, which we believe is the missing link - the translation of preventive medicine to populations in modern medicine. And that is what inspires us so much about Eric’s work, who is making Brooklyn a role model city for other cities in the US. Learn more about his initiative by visiting this link: Follow us on: Instagram: @teamsherzai  Facebook: Team Sherzai Twitter: @teamsherzai YouTube: Team Sherzai      
For our last episode of this season, we’re going out with a bang, or should we say bite? This week we’re tackling the doozy of a disease called Lyme, the most prevalent tick-borne infection in the northern hemisphere. Tune in to hear us navigate the complicated biology of Borrelia burgdoferi, delve into the ancient history of the disease (ice mummy? yes, please!), and trace the tangled ecological web woven by the spirochete, its vector, and its hosts. And to round out this delicious blood-meal of an episode, we are joined by the one-and-only hunter of ticks, ecologist of disease, and PhD advisor of Erins, Dr. Brian Allan! Not only does Brian shine some light on the current innovative research on Lyme disease ecology, but he also details his own experience with the disease. This episode is as full as a tick with information about Lyme disease, making it one you’re not going to want to miss. The clock is already ticking for our third season premiere on October 29, so mark those calendars, people! And in the meantime, wash your hands, ya filthy animals!
A scientific rivalry for the ages, a president with a closely kept secret, and a summertime with no pool time. What do all these things have in common? Well step right up and take a listen- today we're talking about polio, that virus that just won't quit.
Giardia may be the most common intestinal parasite in the US and one of the most common worldwide, but did you know it was only in the last 40 years that it was officially recognized as a human pathogen?! In today’s episode, we’ll travel back to a time before humans knew microbes even existed to discover alongside Leeuwenhoek a whole new world of animalcules like giardia. We’ll find out how seeing these critters for the first time changed everything, and how long it has taken to recognize their impact on the globe. Plus, we’ll tell you all about how giardia gives you such bad poops.
Diabetes is a growing global problem, and insulin prices are skyrocketing. The World Health Organization wants to do something about tit.
This week we delve into the disease that accounts for a quarter of all cancer diagnoses in men: prostate cancer. We'll be finding out how it's picked up and diagnosed, as well as speaking to someone who lives with the condition. Plus, in the news: our update on the coronavirus, from life in quarantine to developing a vaccine; cutting aircraft emissions by flying just a bit higher; and how scientists can take a dinosaur's temperature from its fossilised eggs... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
Imagine this: a sickness where millions fell into a deep slumber from which they never woke. Of those that did, many remained trapped in a cage of their own bodies, unable to move or speak but fully aware of the world around them. Imagine that this sickness appeared suddenly, without warning, and spread across the globe, affecting millions in just a few decades. Then, just as quickly as it emerged it disappeared. Survivors were left to suffer, eventually forgotten, while hundreds of questions remained unanswered. This is the story of encephalitis lethargica, the subject of our first ever medical mystery episode. Encephalitis lethargica was a ‘sleepy sickness’ epidemic which afflicted millions in the early 1910s and 20s but has caused only sporadic cases since the 1940s. This mysterious illness revolutionized the fields of neurology and psychiatry and forced physicians to examine where the brain ends and the mind begins. What could cause such an illness and why haven’t we seen it since? Tune in to hear us tell you the story of this fascinating medical mystery.
It's both a disease of dinosaurs and a plague of people. A gin and tonic might make you forget how much those bites itch, but it won't protect you much from this mosquito-borne monster. That's right people, today we're talking about malaria! We're super excited to tell you about this parasite since it's one of EAU's personal favs (are we allowed to have favorite horrible diseases?). Come along as we travel back millions of years to explore malaria's wee beginnings, trace its path as it shaped human evolution, take a short botanical detour to make that G & T, and end up where we first began--in 2017. Turns out that monster hasn't released humanity from its clutches quite yet.
The accidental discovery that certain storms can cause earthquakes.
This week we pay tribute to one of the gnarliest diseases of all time, and the only human disease that's ever been eradicated (thus far). That's right, people- we're talking smallpox! It's gonna get grody. Smallpox has a depressing history, a fascinating biology, a moderately uplifting present, and a precarious future. We'll cover it all.
This bug deserves a big round of applause and not just because it’s nicknamed “The Clap”. Check out this week’s episode to gasp in wonder at the tricks that Neisseria gonorrhoeae uses to tiptoe past your immune system. Then prepare to cringe at some old-timey treatments for the disease while we trace the history of this ancient pathogen. Finally, make sure you have a quarantini or placeborita in hand for when we chat about the not-so-cheery outlook for this particular sexually-transmitted infection. Believe us, this is one episode you’re not gonn(orrhe)a want to miss.
This episode, our first foray into toxic metals, is heavy in all kinds of ways - metallically, emotionally, informationally, politically. Lead poisoning has been around for about as long humans have been working with lead, but despite its extensive history, it still poses an incredibly huge public health problem today, especially for children. Tune in to hear us chat about the multitude of effects lead exposure can have on your body, the dark and often strange history of lead poisoning (ancient Rome, anyone?), and the alarming extent to which lead exposure affects people around the world today.
Sepsis can be fatal. There is no cure for the condition. Then in 2017, a doctor proposed a novel treatment that included Vitamin C. It's divided scientists from around the world.
That's right.. this is the poop show! Today we talk cholera- the bacterial disease that makes you liquid-poop your pants (and then some). Travel back in time with us to when London was a sewage-filled cesspool until the Original John Snow stepped in to save the day and created the field of epidemiology. But is cholera a thing of the past? Not so much.
Despite being one of the most common genetic disorders, affecting millions of people worldwide, cystic fibrosis evaded medical description for thousands of years after its first appearance. But the last century has led to a revolution in diagnosis, treatment, and our understanding of the disease. This week we talk all things cystic fibrosis, from salty sweaty tests to European folklore, from Bell Beaker culture to gene therapy. And we are honored to be joined by Jay Gironimi, author of “Can’t Eat, Can’t Breathe, and Other Ways Cystic Fibrosis Has F#$%*d Me”, who chats candidly about his experience with CF. Oh, and the best part? Jay, also the talented musician behind All Hallow‘s Evil, wrote a custom song specifically for this episode! We loved it so much we named this ep after it, and we know you’re gonna love it too.  You can find Jay’s book on amazon in both paperback and digital versions, find the audiobook version on audible and more of his writing at You can also find his music at and follow him on twitter @allhallowsevil.
Today we’re taking a bite out of hookworm, our first macroparasite. We start, as all hookworm journeys must, from the dewy grass, where larvae burrow into your exposed flesh and make their long and winding way to your guts, where the eggs of a fortunate few will be immortalized in fossilized poop. It’s a tale of human migration, of failed eradication, and of overburdened populations. So pull up a chair, take off your shoes, and rest your feet in the cool dew-soaked grass. But watch out for the ground itch... Find more from Meramec Valley Girl at and on instagram @meramecvalleygirl
Today, we’re taking a page straight out of Dickens and talking about tuberculosis- a disease as rich in history as it is in bloody sputum. We'll travel the path of an individual Mycobacterium tuberculosis as it makes it way down the respiratory tract of its victim and waits patiently, hidden and untouchable. We’ll learn why Nicole Kidman's skinny physique was so en vogue in Moulin Rouge, talk about ‘The Royal Touch’, which isn’t quite as creepy as it sounds, cover enough of Koch's postulates that you can give yourself an honorary microbiology degree, and oh so much more.
How does the coronavirus spread? Does wearing a face mask help? Why is the virus getting so much media coverage? We answer your coronavirus-related questions.
After a long hiatus we are back with a much anticipated look at one of the most feared diseases of all time: rabies. We cover everything from its evolutionary history to its massive case fatality rate, from why it makes you slobber so much to how Pliny the Elder thought you should treat it (spoiler: don't try it at home, folks). Sit back with a foam-topped quarantini in hand and enjoy our first episode of season 2.
Are you ready to dilate your mind? Or at least your eyes? We hope so, because that means you’re ready for another Poisoncast episode! This week we’re joined by our friend Matt Candeias from In Defense of Plants to chat about Atropa belladonna, a lethal yet beautiful plant that lives up to all of its many names, including deadly nightshade, belladonna, devil’s berries, and naughty man’s cherries (yes, really). We’ll explore the ancient myth, medieval lore, and modern murder that make up this plant’s history, and then we’ll venture into the nervous system to find out what belladonna has to do with fight or flight. Finally, we talk evolution to see how this deadly substance helps out its plant producer. Pour yourself a quarantini and listen up, making sure you’ve added the right berries to the mix, of course. Check out Matt’s website and follow him on twitter @indfnsofplnts!
If science were a candle in the dark, we’d need only spread its light to combat climate change denial and vaccine conspiracy theories. But what if the problem is more complex than that? What if a quirk of human cognition enables us to remain willingly in the dark, even as we hold the very candle? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explore the concept of motivated numeracy. (originally published 11/15/2018) Learn more about your ad-choices at
Are you hungry for braaaaiiiinnnnssss? Or for fugu at the very least? We hope so, because this week we’re talking zombies and tetrodotoxin. In this crossover episode with Dr. Shane Campbell-Staton from The Biology of Superheroes Podcast, we trace the origin of the modern pop culture zombie back to its Haitian roots. We explore the outrageous evolutionary arms races in which tetrodotoxin, the principal component of so-called ‘zombie powder’, has played a major part. And finally, we answer the age-old question: can a pufferfish make you into a zombie? Be sure to check out Part 1 of this crossover episode, Episode 7 of The Biology of Superheroes Podcast, where we discuss the biological basis of death, whether we’re prepared for a zombie outbreak, and behavior-manipulating parasites. You can follow Shane @superbiopodcast on Twitter.
This is an interview with Stanislas Dehaene about his new book How We Learn: Why Brains Learn Better Than Any Machine . . . for Now.  According to neuroscientist Dehaene neuroscience has revealed that human babies are incredible "learning machines" whose abilities exceed those of the best current artificial intelligence. We explore why this is so and how this information could be used to help learners (and teachers) of all ages.
Zika virus may not have as long and storied a history as many diseases we've covered, but in a short time it has managed to make a big impression. Today we'll talk about how Zika wriggled its way out of obscurity and cover its journey from a mosquito's mouth straight to our newspaper headlines. From the first discovery of the virus in a Ugandan jungle, to the heartbreaking effects only recently discovered, to the future of Zika research and vaccine development, we'll fill you in on everything you want to know and then some.
It’s Valentine’s Day again, which summons images of mythic Cupid and his bow. But we often forget that Cupid has TWO arrows in his quiver: the golden arrow of desire and the leaden arrow of aversion. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick discuss the mythic lead-slinger and the nature of his gray metal. (originally published 2/14/2019) Learn more about your ad-choices at
On this very special crossover episode with our friend Matt Candeias from In Defense of Plants, we’re switching things up from poison to remedy, focusing on the plant-derived wonder drug, aspirin! We cover the ancient use of salicylic acid-containing willow bark to relieve pain and fevers and then reveal how such a harsh compound was transformed into a useable pharmaceutical. We also delve into what happens in your body when you pop an aspirin and discuss why on earth so many plants make this incredible compound. Spoiler - it’s not just a wonder drug for humans.
Walking through a forest at dusk, you’ve likely heard the croaks and groans of frogs and toads forming a chorus in the damp undergrowth. But what if the forest were suddenly, inexplicably, silent? In the 1980s scientists started noticing the forests becoming quieter as amphibian populations around the globe began to decline -- rapidly. Today we are joined by Dr. Taegan McMahon from the University of Tampa to discuss our first ever wildlife disease: chytridiomycosis. Chytrid fungus, or Bd for short, has wreaked havoc on amphibian populations for the last several decades, and researchers are still trying to find a way to stop it.  For more information on Chytrid and Taegan’s research, follow her lab on instagram @mcmahon_lab. For more awesome parasitology pics, check out @uoftampa_parasitology, and for gorgeous biology art, Taegan does watercolors @wandering.ecologist!
What do Korea, Slovenia, Finland, and the southwestern US all have in common? If you guessed Hantaviruses, you’d be quite correct. Today we bring you all the details on hantaviruses, from the deadly and terrifying hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, to the less lethal but still horrifying hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome. From its long road to discovery, through the infamous 1993 outbreak and up to the present day, you’ll never look at an adorable little deer mouse the same way again.
Chances are, your face is already part of the database -- and AI is getting better and better at reading one face and finding it in the vast sea of digital images. What does this mean for the future of privacy? How did we get to this point in techno-history and where do we go from here? In this multi-episode look from Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explore facial recognition technology. Learn more about your ad-choices at
What exactly is disease ecology anyway? How did  TPWKY come to be? How do we come up with our quarantinis? What’s our favorite pathogen? In this very special episode, you get to hear exactly what you’ve been asking for -- literally. Today we answer listener questions and don’t hold anything back. From what are the effects of climate change on vector-borne disease to what we were like at age nine, you asked and we answered!
How one scientist is trying to help more service animals and their handlers work in laboratory settings together.
How the mighty mice got their muscles and what it could mean for helping humans.
Farmers around the world share a terror of locusts which can devastate crops. We visit one lab in Arizona where researchers think low-carb crops could help keep these pests away.
A Short Wave guide (with some help from our friends at NPR Politics) to where the top-tier Democratic candidates stand on climate change and the environment.
The thrilling crossroads where science and government intersect: regulations. We promise, it's going to be good.
The science behind recent natural disasters in Australia, Indonesia, and Puerto Rico.
The story of the scientist who's credited with discovering the importance of handwashing.
This week's episode comes with a warning: don't attempt this at home. While self-experimentation has led to many a scientific breakthrough, we're definitely not advocating it. But it happened to work out for the best for Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, even earning them a Nobel prize. That’s right folks, today we’re talking about none other than Helicobacter pylori, the curvy little bacterium identified only a few decades ago to be a causative agent of peptic ulcer disease, a major risk factor in the development of gastric cancer, and a fierce warrior who can survive the harshest of environments: your stomach.
Lalibela, Ethiopia is home to one of the true wonders of the world: a series of 11 rock-hewn monolithic churches -- all interconnected by tunnels and passages that connect to catacombs and hermit caves. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explore the details of these 12th century marvels. Learn more about your ad-choices at
We've gotten pretty graphic on this podcast before, but this episode takes it to a whole new level. The omnipresent Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium that wears many faces. Often that face is harmless, but Staph has the power to invade and infect nearly every organ of the body, leaving destruction (and a lot of pus) in its wake. While Staphylococcus aureus has been wreaking havoc on humans since well before the discovery of antibiotics, Methicillin-resistant Staph aureus (MRSA) has risen to terrifying prominence as resistance becomes the new norm. If any disease could make you run out (or stay in) and wash your hands, it’s this one. As always, you can find all of our sources at
What's the difference between a physician and a pretender, a magician and a poisoner? That's a question we'll try and answer in today's episode! We are very excited to bring you our first botanical poison crossover episode with our good friend Matt Candeias of the awesome podcast and website, In Defense of Plants. This week, we'll talk about Wolfsbane, or Monkshood, or Aconitum, or any of its various common names. The point is, get ready to learn about a pretty gnarly poison, its history, how it affects your body, and why on earth a plant would make such deadly compounds from an ecological and evolutionary perspective. Don't forget to check out our guest spot on In Defense of Plants where we talk about two plants commonly used in herbal remedies. You can find it on itunes or wherever you are listening to this pod. Check out Matt's website  and follow him on twitter @indfnsofplnts!
There’s often a gap between feeling and understanding, but language and classification provide us with tremendous tools for self-reflection. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explore the concept of kama muta, a broad categorization of emotional states that include loved belonging, patriotism, cuteness, spiritual communion and the feels. Learn more about your ad-choices at
This is it, y'all: the season finale. This week we’re talking about HIV/AIDS, one of the biggest pandemics of modern times. We were fortunate enough to speak with three individuals who have had vastly different experiences with HIV/AIDS. Frank Iamelli, who took care of many of his friends throughout the epidemic, Hillel Wasserman, who has been living with HIV since 1987, and Brryan Jackson who was diagnosed with AIDS when he was only 5 years old. In this episode, you'll get a glimpse into their stories and then we'll fill you in on all of the biology, history, and present state of HIV in the world. Don’t forget to tune in next week for our special bonus episode where you will get to hear more of Frank, Hillel, and Brryan's stories in depth. In the meantime, here are a couple of links to Brryan's website and Being Alive LA which you'll hear more about next week!
In this episode, we discuss insulin resistance and energy metabolism in the brain and the rest of the body with brilliant lifestyle experts, Dr. Cyrus Khambatta PhD and Robby Barbaro MPH. Cyrus and Robby are living with Type 1 diabetes, and have been on all kinds of diets and program you can think of to manage their diabetes, and after years of trial and error and studying the evidence, they created the Mastering Diabetes Method to show how you can eat large quantities of carbohydrate-rich whole foods like bananas, potatoes, and quinoa while decreasing blood glucose, oral medication, and insulin requirements. Through their amazing work, they have helped thousands of individuals reverse their insulin resistance, lose weight and master their health.  Over the last decade, cumulative data have established that the brain is an insulin-sensitive organ. Alzheimer's disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity are among the most expensive and disabling disorders worldwide. For a long time, the correlation between cognitive impairment and metabolic diseases was undetected. We now have evidence from several lines of research, including our own, that the incidence of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease is higher in type-2 diabetes patients, pointing to common mechanisms driving these disorders. Please join us on this episode as we go into the details of this very important topic that is extremely useful, whether you’re dealing with diabetes or not. It’s the key to understanding how our body uses glucose as an energy source, and what are the best ways for us to provide this fuel without taxing other systems. Cyrus and Robby have written a book titled Mastering Diabetes, which includes all of this incredibly important information and guides readers how to reverse insulin resistance in all types of diabetes: type 1, type 1.5, type 2, prediabetes, and gestational diabetes. They’ve included more than 800 scientific references and drawing on more than 36 years of personal experience living with type 1 diabetes themselves. Mastering Diabetes Website: Order the Mastering Diabetes book: Follow us on: Instagram: @teamsherzai  Facebook: Team Sherzai Twitter: @teamsherzai YouTube: Team Sherzai    
Friends: we are so excited to present this episode! We had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. David Katz, a remarkable physician-scientist who has changed the paradigm of our understanding of chronic diseases. He is a thought leader, and has authored multiple books. His latest book, The Truth About Food, is an exceptional resource for those who want to get a deeper understanding of the role of nutrition and true health, and how good science that be differentiated from pseudoscience.
Their fossils date back 450 million years and their copper-rich blue blood continues to benefit various medical applications. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explore the science and history of horseshoe crabs. Learn more about your ad-choices at
What was the Ark of the Covenant? A mere ceremonial vessel for sacred items? A radio for speaking to God? The golden chest of the ancient Hebrews has fascinated historians, theologians, scientists, dreamers and Nazi-punching archeologists for ages. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe consider some of the more thought-provoking ideas concerning its nature. (originally published 12/6/2018) Learn more about your ad-choices at
Physicists, chemists and biologists are all working to understand more about why Arctic ice is diminishing, and what it means for the planet.
Ghosting is a heartbreaking fact in the modern dating world. It’s when a friend or someone you’ve been dating disappears from contact with no explanation. Ghosting can shatter self-esteem and hurt just as much as physical pain. Our guest is psychologist Jennice Vilhauer, PhD, who wrote the popular Psychology Today articles “Why Ghosting Hurts So Much” and “Did the Internet Break Love?”
Countries with less money, like Mozambique, have to rely on weather data from weather countries. This can be a matter of life or death as weather becomes more variable and extreme.
Liz Neeley, the Executive Director of Story Collider, breaks down some of the science behind the power of storytelling.
Today we're talking about yellow fever, a disease with a history as colorful as its name, and a vector as pretty as a picture (depending on whom you ask, I suppose). From an epidemic that decimated Memphis, Tennessee in the late 1800s, to the development of the vaccine, to where the offending mosquito hangs out today, we'll cover everything you need to know about this disease. Like for example did you know that A. Ham The Man himself was infected?! Yeah, me neither. Let's learn things together.
Even though winter can be a bear, most of us just bundle up, get through it or embrace it and find ways to get outside and stay active. But as many as six out of every 100 people in the U.S. experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and this stretch of winter, January and February, tends to be the most brutal. Our guest is Kelly Rohan, PhD, a Seasonal Affective Disorder expert who is leading a five-year study on people who suffer from SAD at the University of Vermont.
From its literary origins in the mirror realm of Lewis Carroll to its terrifying appearance in Charlie Brooker's “Black Mirror,” the frumious Bandersnatch is a monster from which it is useless to flee. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe follow its trail through a maze of choice, freewill, advertising and streaming media. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Anxiety among teens and young adults is rising. One study found that the number of girls who often felt nervous, worried or fearful jumped by 55 percent over a five-year period. What factors are behind rising stress and anxiety in girls and what can we do about it? Our guest is Dr. Lisa Damour, a clinical psychologist and author of "Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls." Please take our audience survey at
No discussion of great sci-fi cinema is complete without mention of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The 1968 classic is 50 years old this year, so Robert and Joe figured it the perfect time to board the Discovery One and discuss its many scientific and futurist elements, as well as the legacy of Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke’s creation. (Originally published Aug. 14, 2018) Learn more about your ad-choices at
This week we're donning our kilts and raising our whisky bottles to celebrate Burns Night! The two-century-old Scottish holiday honours the memory of the great poet Robbie Burns, and in this episode we're hosting our very own Burns Supper - but with a special twist of science. We've got haggis, history, and a live science ceilidh! Plus in the news, an update on China's virus outbreak, the Earth's oldest meteor crater, and scientists recreate the voice of a 3000-year-old Egyptian Mummy.... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
This episode is so good that we’re putting it out a full day early. Pour yourself a quarantini and cozy up with us as we tell you a story of a bacterium that slowly strangles children to death, a scientific quest that helped shape the understanding of infectious diseases, and a great dog sled race across wild and frozen lands to stop death in its tracks. The main character of this story is, you guessed it, Diphtheria. This dreaded disease still lingers, infecting children throughout the world today with its stinking pseudomembrane. But don't worry, it's not all bad news... we have a vaccine.
When her husband is close to death from a superbug infection, Steffanie Strathdee scours scientific research for a way to save his life and comes across a 100-year-old treatment.
The Guam Rail is the second bird in history to recover from extinction in the wild. It took a little matchmaking and a lot of patience.
Chances are, your face is already part of the database -- and AI is getting better and better at reading one face and finding it in the vast sea of digital images. What does this mean for the future of privacy? How did we get to this point in techno-history and where do we go from here? In this multi-episode look from Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explore facial recognition technology. Learn more about your ad-choices at
What if the Ark of the Covenant was actually a bronze-age machine capable of storing an electrostatic charge? It almost certainly wasn't, but the idea is a great excuse to explore the understanding of electricity in the ancient world. Join Robert and Joe for another Ark-themed episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind. Learn more about your ad-choices at
This week - tick tock! We're talking body clock science! Whether it's eating, sleeping, or coming down with something - we're taking a look at the biology of our daily rhythms. Plus in the news, doctors begin testing gene editing to treat cancer, and what have honeybees and love hearts got in common? Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
Steph explains how sepsis induces protective immune memory in NK cells, via histone methylation of the interferon gamma enhancer.
Indigenous people in Australia are having a very difficult time finding a psychologist who understands Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history. Sometimes indigenous patients seeking treatment have been denied a voice, and the reality of their situation. There are about 800,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, but only 218 Indigenous psychologists. Australia needs more of them—and we look at what many mainstream psychologists fail to understand about Indigenous patients.
Credits: 0.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ Claim CME/CE credit:   Overview: The incidence and prevalence of prediabetes and Type II Diabetes Mellitus in adolescents and young adults has increased over the past decade. A recent cross-sectional study of 12 years of NHANES data suggests that this population has an associated increased cardiometabolic risk. Listen as our team discusses these findings and some prevention strategies to help improve health outcomes.   Guest: Guest: Susan Feeney, DNP, FNP-BC, NP-C Music Credit: Richard Onorato
Welcome to the second episode of the Brain Health and Beyond Podcast! Our guest for this episode is our dear friend, Adam Sud, who is an international speaker for awareness of mental health and addiction. In 2012, Adam’s life was completely out of control. He was struggling with multiple addictions, serious chronic diseases, and mental health disorders. His life nearly ended when he attempted suicide by drug overdose. He checked into rehab and with the help of his parents and by adopting a plant-based diet, he began a journey that led to a remarkable recovery. He is now a diabetes and food addiction coach for Mastering Diabetes (, which is a program that focuses on reversing insulin resistance using low fat, whole food, plant-based nutrition. He also works with Engine2 and Whole Foods Market’s Total Health Immersion Team. He is an amazing force behind the plant-based movement and has worked in recovery centers using plant-based nutrition as an adjunct tool for recovery and relapse prevention. He has also founded a non-profit that is dedicated to advancing research on diet and mental health/addiction. He firmly believes that the simplest of things, done consistently, can make the most profound change of your life and that self-love is the root of all recovery.   References: Instagram - @plantbasedaddict Facebook – Plant-Based Addict GoFundMe -  Plant Stock: Rip Esselstyn:, Instagram @ripesselstyn @engine2diet
Today we have a very special guest, Dr. Keesha Ewers. She reversed her rheumatoid arthritis within a year of diagnosis and now helps women reverse their autoimmune disease, heal their childhood trauma, and make friends with the woman they see in the mirror. We discuss the connection between our emotions and our physical body. For the full show notes visit: (
In this episode, we a had an amazing conversation with Dr. Mithu Storoni, the author of Stress-Proof. She is a brilliant scientist trained in eye surgery, has a PhD in Neuro-ophthalmology and studied pupillometry looking at the relationship between the pupillary response and stress. We hope you enjoy this conversation and will share it with loved ones who will benefit from her knowledge and experience. Link to Stress Proof:
In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe discuss Doppelgangers, fairy imposters, the brain basis for the feeling of familiarity, and a unique way of understanding the impact of social media and modern communications technology. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Americans spend nearly half of the day interacting with screens of all kinds -- smartphones, televisions and computers, according to a recent Nielsen report. While these technologies have made our lives better in many ways, it is easier than ever to become addicted to screens. Guest Adam Alter, PhD, author of "Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology discusses the dark side of screen time. Help us learn more about you. Please take our audience survey at
NPR Correspondent Geoff Brumfiel catches us up on Iran's nuclear program — how it began, the impact of the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, and where it is now.
Scientists might pop champagne if they see signs of a supernova in the sky.
The cherry on top of our first season, this bonus episode features more of Frank, Hillel, and Brryan's stories. Frank and Hillel, who live on opposite coasts of the US, share what it was like for them to live through through the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 90s. Brryan and Hillel also share their experiences living with HIV today. We were incredibly moved by all three of their stories and are so honored to get to share them with you. We hope you enjoy it!  If you'd like to hear more from Brryan, you can find him on social media @BrryanJackson, and also find his website here.   If you'd like to learn more about Being Alive LA, the speaker's organization Hillel mentioned, you can find their website here.
Suicide rates in the U.S. climbed in all but one state from 1999 to 2016, according to the CDC. Samuel Knapp, EdD, discusses the factors that cause people to die from suicide, the effects of past trauma on mental health and how psychologists can successfully treat suicidal patients. Suicide is the cover story for the July/August issue of the Monitor on Psychology. Read the story at Help us learn more about you. Please take our audience survey at
Welcome to This Podcast Will Kill You, your new favorite way to learn about disease biology, history, and stuff to gross out your dinner party guests. Join us October 31st for Episode 1 of Season 1- "The Plagues You Know"!
So many critters and plants in places they should not be.
While television shows about hoarding are quite popular and the term has now been embedded into our general lexicon, there is still a lot about hoarding disorder that is not well understood. Hoarding disorder is complex, difficult to treat and causes a lot of pain and suffering for people who have it and their loved ones. Our guest is Julie Pike, PhD, a clinical psychologist in private practice who treats people with hoarding disorder. She has appeared on the Discovery/TLC show, “Hoarding: Buried Alive.” She helps explain more about hoarding disorder, what treatment options are available and how people can take the first steps to clearing the clutter.
Talking sci-fi films with astrophysicist (and movie fan) Adam Frank.
In today's episode Dr. Lisle & Dr. Howk answer the following questions: 1. My brother never does anything in moderation, for example if he starts working out, he'll organize his life around it, stop all social drinking and the like. Then he will eventually feel empty and complain he's burnt out. My question is, is he destined to live in this open-unstable roller-coaster ride, or can I give him some advice (perhaps Harry Browne style) that will help him find his place? 2. I've heard Dr. Howk talk about social media as a potential pleasure trap, and I was wondering if she could go into more depth on that. What are the circuits being hijacked? What advice would you give to a low-key social media addict?
Smart people are not only just as prone to making mistakes as everyone else—they may even be more susceptible to them. This idea has been dubbed the Intelligence Trap. It explains the flaws in our understanding of intelligence and expertise, and how the decisions of even the brightest minds and talented organisations can backfire.
Michael Mina joins the Immune team to explain his findings that measles diminishes pre-existing antibodies that protect against infection with other pathogens.
Why silicosis is emerging among workers who cut quartz countertops.
Let's face it. This is the episode you've been waiting for. Are you ready for one of the most publicized epidemics of the century? Because we're ready to tell you about it. Ebola has been in the scientific consciousness since 1976, but why did it take an outbreak of epic proportions for you, dear listeners, to hear about it? Well, listen closely for the answer. Special guests this episode include badass scientists Lauren Cowley, Nell Bond, and Sarah Paige, who will share their first-hand experiences with the 2014 Ebola epidemic.
You might think you know squirrels, but what do you REALLY know about these woodland tree rodents? In this special two-part episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe discuss their appetite for meat, their alleged acts of savagery and various other facts that will make you reconsider the skugg and respect its kingdom. Up first, let’s talk about their bloody diet... (Originally published Aug. 28, 2018) Learn more about your ad-choices at
Volcanologist Alison Graettinger explains the science behind a hydrothermal eruption and why they can be especially difficult to predict.
Why are humans so fascinated by lists? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore the reason we can’t pass a top 10 clickbait headline and are forever haunted by incomplete lists. Learn more about your ad-choices at
The Microbial Comrades present the oldest osteosynthesis in history, and how a small molecule produced by stressed bacteria is a warning signal that repels healthy populations to promote their survival.
Mongolia has a many-thousand year history of herding livestock. But an increasingly frequent natural disaster called "dzud" has been impacting livestock.
Christof Koch returns to Brain Science for the 3rd time and in this episode he shares his new book The Feeling of Life Itself: Why Consciousness Is Widespread but Can't Be Computed. He tells us why he doesn't think the Neural Correlates of Consciousness (NCC) are enough to explain subjective experience and he gives us a brief overview of the Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of Consciousness.
What we see, hear, and feel as a child affects us later in life—and our brain is changed by childhood traumas. A leading Canadian psychiatrist is working to understand how childhood harm can impair brain development and affect mental health, in the hope of effective treatment. And we hear about an intervention which can improve educational outcomes for vulnerable children.
Every day in America, 130 people die from overdosing on opioids and an estimated two million people around the country are grappling with opioid addiction and it is devastating families and communities. In the face of these grim statistics, APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, explains how psychologists can offer new solutions to help end the opioid epidemic, including non-pharmaceutical treatment for pain and other interventions. Please take our audience survey at
Starting in May, it'll be legal to compost a human body in Washington state. Soil scientist Lynne Carpenter-Boggs tells us about this alternate way to put your loved ones to rest.
In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe continue the month’s journey through human CULINARY techno-history -- this time with the story of the turnspit dog. This now-extinct breed of dog turned the meat in many a European kitchen, before it was replaced by machines. (originally published 11/11/2019) Learn more about your ad-choices at
For too long we have been looking at stress in a completely wrong way. In fact a tremendous wealth of research is pointing to a completely revolutionary way to manage stress. And if you wan to change your life, you can’t do anything with nutrition, exercise, or sleep without addressing stress in its true form. Join us as we speak about the anatomy of stress, how it affects every system in the body, and how you can structure your life around good stress. Follow us @teamsherzai
We used to believe that babies and young children had irrational and naive thinking skills. Developments in psychology and neuroscience now reveal that infants are actually smarter, more thoughtful, and have a different consciousness to adults. Children’s exploratory and creative style of thinking may even inform improved AI design.
What's a white hole? Why don't we use brain scans to diagnose mental health and why was cyanide Agatha Christie's poison of choice? All this and more as our panel of experts answer your questions. Joining Chris Smith this time are: Astronomy specialist Matt Bothwell, forensic toxicologist Lorna Nisbet, neuroscientist Camilla Nord and physiologist Sam Virtue... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
When Karen Lips started studying frogs in Central America as a grad student, she had no idea she'd have a front-row seat to a catastrophic animal die-off.
The time has come. Once more, Stuff to Blow Your Mind reaches into the depths of TV horror anthology history, pulls out a handful of episodes and spins science and wonder out of the monstrosities therein. For this year’s installment, Robert and Joe discuss episodes The Outer Limits and The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Dairy farmers in Massachusetts are using food waste and manure to create renewable energy.
Welcome to the first episode of the Brain Health and Beyond Podcast with Ayesha and Dean Sherzai. We are neurologists, scientists, parents, authors and speakers, with a focus on public health and community empowerment. In this episode, we sit down to chat about our story - how we met, why we chose neurology, why we focus on public health and prevention, and about the future of neuroscience. We hope you enjoy our conversation. Thanks for joining us on our quest to achieve better brain health and beyond!
The TWiM team reviews the coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, and the finding that an TLR4 deficiency underlies Whipple’s disease.
Fear about the coronavirus has gripped the world. This new illness certainly is frightening and needs attention, but it’s important to note that far more people die from an illness that’s all too familiar – the seasonal flu. Why are we so afraid of this novel coronavirus when we are much more likely to catch the flu? Our guest, Baruch Fischhoff, PhD, explains why we worry about new risks more than familiar ones, how to calm our anxiety and what are the psychological effects of being quarantined.
Today's questions: 1. Does the myelin sheath development also apply to more purely mental abilities like reading and comprehension, or the ability to imagine and come up with inventive solutions to a problem?  For example, how much can learning and practice be helpful in growing infants and children? Will a baby that is spoken to for 5 hours a day learn to speak significantly faster than one exposed to only an hour of language a day? Or are parents kidding themselves when they spend so much effort to give their child an edge in cognitive development? 2. I'm a private person: I cringe when people air their dirty laundry or have what to me are very private conversations in the facebook comment section. I don't signal affiliation or loyalty the way most people do, and tend to minimize advertising even when it would be seemingly beneficial: I recall declining someone wanting to write an article about me back in high school because "it's nobody's business". I realize I'll always be like this, but the way you and Geoffrey Miller talk about advertising opened it a new perspective. Do you think I'm missing out, and if so, how could I improve where it matters? 3. How do scientists go about measuring genes? How do they identify and associate them with human behavior? Is this something they can see with Petri dishes and a microscope? What would a behavioral scientists day look like?
Dementia affects around 450,000 Australians, and it comes in hundreds of forms. New research reveals that one form of dementia takes away the ability to daydream, and this has implications for improved care. Sleep disruption in middle age also emerges as another risk factor. And we hear how, after diagnosis, one person found a meaningful role in breaking down the stigma of dementia.
Water vessels serve the humans who made them, but that doesn’t mean other lifeforms don’t benefit as well. In this pair of Stuff to Blow Your Mind episodes, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore the various organisms that thrive aboard functional, abandoned and sunken ships Learn more about your ad-choices at
It’s a tragic fact: many jaw-dropping, eye-opening, and heart-pounding research results never makes an impact on the scientific community. And it’s partly your fault. By “your,” of course, I mean all of us.  Because when we waste the opportunity to share our results in their best light at a scientific conference or poster session, our viewers may overlook this valuable insight. But we can do better!  With a little planning, collaboration, and hard work, we can make even a humble poster presentation a vehicle for inspiring the next discovery and building our scientific network. Let’s get started! Poster Perfect A poster session is a unique opportunity for a young scientist. As a viewer, you get the chance to engage in a casual conversation with other scientists, often one-on-one, about a topic that interests you.  It’s an opportunity to ask for clarity, pose a question, or offer ideas without an audience of 200 staring at the back of your head. As a presenter, you get all of those benefits, as well as an opportunity to build your network and identify collaborators.  You also get many chances to practice your ‘pitch’ as new visitors step up every few minutes.  It will sharpen both your skill as a communicator and your research plan. And while there are probably some guidelines for being a good poster-viewer, in this episode, we focused our discussion on the best ways to prepare and present a poster. Before You Begin As with any presentation, answering a few questions before you get started will save you hours in front of the computer. Know Your Audience If you are presenting to the Microbiology Conference, you may want to include more detailed background information than if you’re presenting to other experts in your sub-field at a Malaria Symposium.  Space is limited, and thinking ahead about what your audience may, or may not, know will help you prepare for the proper range of visitor experience. Start Early You may be a wizard of poster creation and can put off your design until the night before you fly to the conference, but that’s a bad idea.  Instead, leave extra time before printing share your file with collaborators for review.  They need time to look over your work and offer feedback before it’s committed to (gigantic) paper. Practice, Practice, Practice You’ll also need time to practice presenting the poster.  More on this later, but sometimes the act of presentation lets us see where we have gaps or mistakes in the logic or design.  It’s a good idea to practice with people from outside your lab because if they are already familiar with your work, they won’t notice when you skip steps or fail to explain a concept clearly. Find Your Story It may sound odd, but poster presentation is a form of story-telling.  The best posters make that story clear and concise. Even if you have multiple projects in the lab, choose ONE to present in your poster.  Start by jotting down a central question you’re trying to answer, or a hypothesis your lab is testing.  Keeping this key idea in mind as you prepare the presentation will give you a firm structure on which to hang the other elements. Making a Poster Guidelines
Where does guilt come from? Why do some people have 'body issues'? What's the difference between empathy & compassion? Specifically, in the context of a sociopath? Is there a link between highly-open people & reduced genetic preference?
When you’re waiting in a queue there are various ways to bide your time: chat to someone, gaze off into the distance, or check your phone. The science of human interaction tells us that the impact on your brain and body is vastly different depending on your choice. Live person-to-person connection changes us and the society we live in, so it’s in our best interests to use technology sensibly. This program was first broadcast in June 2019.
In 1966, as a reaction to disturbing reports of people having bad trips, the psychedelic drug LSD was banned in the U.S. Now some scientists are seeing promising results from studies into the therapeutic benefits of using psychedelic drugs to treat mental illness.
What is toxic stress is? What effects can it have on a child's body and development, and how can those effects be prevented? What does it mean to be resilient in the face of toxic stress? This episode of The Brain Architects explores what toxic stress means, and what we can do to counteract its effects. Host Sally Pfitzer is once again joined by Center Director Dr. Jack Shonkoff as they dive into the different types of stress, including what makes certain stress "toxic," while other stress can be tolerable or even positive for children. They discuss the effects that toxic stress can have on developing brains, as well as what it means to be resilient to sources of stress, and how parents and caregivers can help encourage that resilience in children. Dr. Shonkoff also emphasizes the point that, even for those who may have experienced toxic stress, "it's never too late to make things better." Then, listen to a panel discussion featuring Pediatrician Dr. Kathleen Conroy, Community Mental Health Worker Cerella Craig, Professor and Researcher Dr. Megan Gunnar, and Training Director for Rise Magazine Jeanette Vega, as they discuss the various ways in which they encounter toxic stress and its effects in their work. The panelists speak openly about how toxic stress can affect families and children—including ways in which the systems set up to help can be the cause of further stress—and how to talk about toxic stress in a way that doesn't make things feel hopeless to those who have experienced it. They also dig into strategies they employ in their various fields to help children and families deal with stress, and move what might be toxic stress back to tolerable levels. Download the episode and subscribe to the podcast today.
There are rare chemical elements, and then there is tennessine.
If a lie is repeated often enough, are we more likely to believe it? Sadly, the answer is yes. Psychologists call it the illusory truth effect and it influences both our daily lives and the larger movements of politics and culture. Join Robert and Joe for a two-part discussion of untruths, the human mind and just what you can do to fight the big lies at work in your world. (Originally published July 12, 2018) Learn more about your ad-choices at
In this episode, we'll talk all about what it's like working with a Sell-Side Representative.
A three-year mission to Mars will have profound effects on bodies—and brains. The recent NASA study of twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly provides a new understanding of how life in space can alter cognition, heart health, and even gut bacteria. Dr. Christopher Mason of Weill Cornell Medicine and Dr. Mathias Basner of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine reveal their findings about long-term space flight and explain why using a “free-range astronaut” as a control was uniquely helpful to their work.
Short Wave takes on shortwave radio. How it works, how far it travels, and the use of shortwave radio for science. Plus, a tale of Antarctic Christmas caroling via shortwave!
What purpose does nostalgia serve? Is it good or bad? Are we more nostalgic today in our hectic, connected world? Is there such a thing as the “good ‘ol days”? Here to help explain is Dr. Krystine Batcho, professor of psychology at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York. She’s an expert on nostalgia and developed the Nostalgia Inventory, a survey that assesses proneness to personal nostalgia. APA is currently seeking proposals for APA 2020 sessions, learn more at
This week: food waste. Worldwide, a third of the food we buy ends up in the bin. Why? And what can science do to help? Plus - will 2020 be another climate record-breaker, and what are the climate-change consequences for future food production here? A new way to treat type 1 diabetes. And why, nutritionally-speaking, packed lunches for many children leave a lot to be desired... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
The spaces we are in every day influence our mood and well-being whether we are aware of it or not. Creating spaces to make us feel our best is a hot topic – in community planning, in the office and on HGTV. Sally Augustin, PhD, an environmental psychologist who is a principal at Design with Science, a design consultation firm, discusses how to design spaces to optimize well-being. APA is currently seeking proposals for APA 2020 sessions, learn more at
Are women harder on themselves, Stuttering,  Marriage problems, Is there a limit to esteem
The story of how a father and son team - one a physicist, one a geologist - used iridium to help solve a big scientific mystery. What brought the reign of dinosaurs to an end?
Elizabethan scholar Dr. John Dee was one of the most learned men of the 16th century, applying his intense mathematical intellect to matters scientific, political, alchemical and occult. He advised Queen Elizabeth, sought communion with angelic beings, advocated British expansion and plunged the depths of human knowledge in age of great change. In this first of two episodes on the topic, Robert and Christian discuss the world, life and magic of the enigmatic Dr. Dee. (Originally published Dec. 6, 2016) Learn more about your ad-choices at
There's been a great deal of media attention focused on police shootings in recent years. Psychology has long performed research to determine whether racial hostility plays a role in such shootings. Our guest for this episode is John Tawa, PhD, of Mount Holyoke College who has developed a new and perhaps more realistic method for testing the influence of race in such tragic incidents. APA is currently seeking proposals for APA 2020 sessions, learn more at
Author, podcaster, content creator, and OG nurse blogger, Kati Kelber, sits down with The WoMed to discuss the unwritten rules of medicine, how to be OK with not knowing all the answers, and the importance of self-compassion.
Whether you draw your wisdom from 18th century poems or experience in the surf, you probably know that drinking seawater is a terrible idea. But exactly why shouldn’t you drink saltwater? What happens if you do? Can it really drive you mad with hallucinations? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick look to the world of biology for answers. (Originally published Jan. 16, 2018) Learn more about your ad-choices at
Belief in UFOs is very much like a religion. It can fulfill the same purpose in an individual's life, give them a community of believers and provide grander framework for mundane life. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick consider the similarities between the so-called “men in black” and the devil. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Throughout history, humans have faced the inexorable process of aging and death. We’ve dreamt up countless myths to explain why we age and what comes of seeking immortality, but what does science tell us about the process? Why do we age? What purpose does it serve in natural selection? Indeed, what can science offer us in the way of eternal youth? Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick seek to find out in this two-part Stuff to Blow Your Mind exploration. (Originally published Jan. 4, 2018) Learn more about your ad-choices at
If a technological civilization manages to survive itself, how will it fare against the larger challenges of a changing and hostile universe? If humanity ascends the Kardashev scale, how will our unrecognizable and godlike descendants cope with the end of the universe itself? Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick for an exploration of the cosmic end times. Learn more about your ad-choices at
You've consumed enough science fiction to know something the average red shirt doesn't: Never take your space helmet off on a foreign planet. But if you're still tempted to breathe deep the gathering gloom, how about five compelling scientific reasons not to? Join Robert and Joe as they discuss "Alien: Covenant" and explore some very compelling biological and radiological reasons to remain helmeted on an alien hell world. (Originally published May 25, 2017) Learn more about your ad-choices at
It sounds like a simple question. What is obesity? But like most simple questions, the answer is not as obvious as it may seem. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls obesity "A national epidemic causing higher medical costs and a lower quality of life." The CDC also notes that obesity is a contributing cause of many other health problems, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some types of cancer.Understanding the relationship between obesity and breast cancer can become located. Not only is there the question of measurement. Is the traditional view of body mass index always accurate or sufficient? But also, important questions around assessing risk. How might the measurement of body composition and blood based factors associated with fat inflammation help develop more precise cancer risk assessments and prognostic strategies? Dr. Neil Iyengar is at the forefront of researching and addressing these questions. He studies obesity, and in particular its relationship to breast cancer. Dr. Iyengar is an assistant member and attending physician in the Breast Medicine Service of the Department of Medicine at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.He is also an associate attending physician at the Rockefeller University. In our conversation, Dr. Iyengar noted that he grew up in a family that certainly emphasized science, but where the human component was also central. You'll hear both sides of him in our talk. What is obesity? That's where we started.
Among the many powerful and intriguing things that Dr. Karen Anderson told me during our terrific conversation: Vaccines have changed the course of human events. This line – combined with the inspiration Dr. Anderson felt when completing her studies – helped lead her to the important and challenging work she does now: Breast cancer vaccine development, with a long-range goal to deliver vaccines to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence after surgery. Her research focuses on how the immune system can be harnessed to detect and alter cancer development. Dr. Anderson, also, is a current member of the NCI Cancer Biomarker Study section, and has published over 40 peer-reviewed publications. Let's get to the obvious question. What's a translational researcher? That's where our conversation began.
Q1:  What makes certain people do more for others than they would for themselves? Q2: What's the scoop on altruism? Q3: What's wrong with socialism? Q4: Why do internet trolls say mean/harsh thing online? One caller has a question about her special needs son.  Second caller has a question about identity politics in 2018.
Why is it so hilarious when robots and artificial intelligence fail? What does it reveal about comedy itself and our technological anxiety? Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore in this Stuff to Blow Your Mind two-parter. Learn more about your ad-choices at
The clothes we put on everyday tell a story about who we are to the world and can have a major impact on our emotions and mood. Cognitive psychologist Carolyn Mair, PhD, who created the psychology of fashion department at the London College of Fashion, explains the psychology behind our fashion choices and why psychologists are needed to help solve some of the biggest challenges facing the fashion industry now and in the future. Please take our audience survey at
Tweet The gene editing explosion has accelerated discovery, food and therapies by defining a new toolbox of useful ways to manipulate DNA.  The “Cas” series of enzymes are the core machinery of the editing process, and now scientists are identifying new molecules that inhibit these molecular scissors. Dr. Joseph Bondy-Denomy rides at the front edge of this discovery, and his program is characterizing the naturally-occurring factors in a bacteria/virus arms race that play a role in modulating Cas activity. Follow Dr. Bondy-Denomy on Twitter: @joebondydenomy The Bondy-Denomy Lab website:  Here. Conclusion music is Sleepwalk by Santo and Johnny, 1959.
Dan Stickler, MD joins us on the podcast for another episode on an emerging trend in medicine--peptides. Dr. Stickler is our medical director here at Neurohacker Collective, and is also cofounder of the Apeiron Center for Human Potential and the Apeiron Academy. In this episode we discuss what peptides are, how to use them, and how they will fit in to a new paradigm of health care. Here are some points we cover: * Complex vs. complicated systems * Why peptides can’t be patented * Discussion about BPC-157, thymosin beta 4, thymosin alpha 1, and epitalon * Risks of using peptides on your own * How Dr. Stickler personally measures his epigenetic age and the length of his telomeres * Senescent/zombie cells and aging * Gene editing * Effects of pesticides, plastics, and other endocrine disruptors * A look at how we treat our health will affect future generations * How to measure the success of health protocols and treatments For full show notes visit: (
Chances are, your face is already part of the database -- and AI is getting better and better at reading one face and finding it in the vast sea of digital images. What does this mean for the future of privacy? How did we get to this point in techno-history and where do we go from here? In this multi-episode look from Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explore facial recognition technology. Learn more about your ad-choices at
It's a story about climate change, ecology, and politics.
Brain Science 166 features the return of neuroscientist Stephen Macknik. We talk about his recent work that is focused on developing a new visual prosthesis based on recent discoveries and techniques like optogenetics. This episode is more technical than usual but Dr. Macknik makes the material accessible to all listeners.
Host Maddie Sofia and reporter Emily Kwong evaluate what truth there is to the popular phrases "blind as a bat" and "memory of a goldfish."
Experiencing positive transformation after trauma is known as post-traumatic growth. People may develop a new appreciation of life, newfound personal strength, see an improvement in their relationships, see new possibilities in life and undergo spiritual changes. Why do some people experience such profound positive changes after enduring something terrible and others don’t? Our guest is Richard Tedeschi, PhD, who developed the academic theory of post-traumatic growth with Lawrence Calhoun, PhD.
This week we're unraveling the science behind the ancient art of origami - paper folding - and how scientists are even doing it now with DNA. The new virus that's appeared in China, news of the Australian bush fires, and why running a marathon can take years off the age of your arteries... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
What is yoga? How can it heal our bodies and minds? And where do we draw the line between spiritual models of the human condition and proven biology? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Ann Swanson, author of “Science Of Yoga: Understand the Anatomy and Physiology to Perfect your Practice” drops in for a chat about yoga research and the benefits of mindfulness. Learn more about your ad-choices at
The Smithsonian's National Zoo is bidding farewell to Bei Bei. The 4-year-old giant panda will be sent to China on Tuesday, November 19th.
In this episode, I discuss how we manage our goat kids during the first 1-3 days of their lives, what we do immediately after birth, the MOST IMPORTANT 2 THINGS to do with your neonatal kids, and talk about a few things that people tend to want to do with goat kids, that mostly don't do anything to help the goat kids.
As satellites have increased, so, too, has space junk. On today's show, we talk about how space junk could pose a serious problem to the final frontier.
A view from above helps solve one of the biggest challenges in archaeology: where to start digging.
How can you tell if you have the flu or a cold? Why does your arm hurt after a flu shot? Can getting the shot give you the flu? We answer your flu-related listener questions.
It's a long time for a short podcast, but we tried!
Dr. Richard Isaacson, Director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine, shares the just-published results of his groundbreaking clinical trial which show that a personalized prevention plan can dramatically lower the risk or progression of Alzheimer's. Also joining the discussion is one of Dr. Isaacson’s patients who is living proof that this new approach works.
Human-to-human transmission has been confirmed, but there's a lot we still don't know.
Chronic pain is a national epidemic. Journalist Melanie Thernstrom, author of The Pain Chronicles, explains the difference between chronic and acute pain, how chronic pain rewires the brain, and the brain’s ability to modulate pain.
We're all wired to enjoy different forms of music, but for some of us the wiring is missing entirely. Join Robert Lamb and Christian Sager as they explore the curious conditions of amusia and auditory agnosia in this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast. (Originally published July 28, 2016) Learn more about your ad-choices at
We know that people with Alzheimer's often have sleep problems. But does it work the other way? Do problems with sleep set the stage for this degenerative brain disease?
This month, we're dipping our toes into addiction. What exactly is addiction? Who is likely to become addicted? And what's going on in the brain? Plus, stimulating better short term memory, and linguistic tricks that might make us more susceptible to fake news... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
Be it burnt orange, millenial pink, inky black, dusky, deep purple, colour is everywhere! Over the February and March 2020 episodes of Naked Neuroscience, we're opening up the paint box of colour. In this episode Katie Haylor will be putting her retinas to the test at the optometrists, and finding out about how we actually see colour in the first place. Plus, some neuroscience news from our local experts... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
Do blood groups affect mosquito preference for who they bite? What else do mosquitoes eat when they are not drinking blood? What is anger? How do blood groups work? Why do things like smoke and dirt seem to preferentially aim for our eyes? Is wildlife thriving around Chernobyl? And how far aloft is the sky blue? Join Kieno Kammies and Dr Chris Smith for the answers... Like this podcast? Please help us by supporting the Naked Scientists
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