Stuff You Should Know

1266 EpisodesProduced by iHeartRadio & HowStuffWorks

If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

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SYSK Selects: How Marijuana Works

April 20th, 2019

For millennia people used marijuana for fun and medicine. Not until the 20th century that was it vilified, unfairly say many. Weed has done lots of good things, from alleviating cancer symptoms to unlocking secrets of …

How the Hoover Dam Works, Part II

April 18th, 2019

And now for something completely different. Just kidding – tune in to hear the thrilling conclusion of America’s most amazing public works project in the 20th century.

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Short Stuff: Emu Wars

April 17th, 2019

Did Australians really wage war on a group of emus? YES. Learn all about it in today's short stuff. 

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How the Hoover Dam Works, Part I

April 16th, 2019

It’s one of America’s biggest accomplishments in the 20th century, a slab of concrete holding back one of the country’s most finicky rivers, …

SYSK Selects: How Yo-Yos Work

April 13th, 2019

You may have played with a yo-yo before -- perhaps you've even walked the dog -- but do you know about the physics behind what makes a yo-yo sleep …

How the Electric Chair Works

April 11th, 2019

The electric chair is an all-American invention. It spread almost nowhere else in the world as a capital punishment but worked overtime in the States. Despite the terrible sights and sounds an electrocution produces, it …

Short Stuff: Lake Peigneur

April 10th, 2019

In 1980 something catastrophic happened to the quiet town of New Iberia, Louisiana. Their wide, shallow lake grew much deeper after it underwent an apocalyptic transformation. 

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How Free Range Parenting Works

April 9th, 2019

Free range parenting is all about giving your child the freedom to play and explore life on their own. Are there benefits? Sure. Do some people hate the concept? Yes! Listen and learn right here. 

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SYSK Selects: How Pollen Works

April 6th, 2019

For about 375 million years, plants have been using pollen (aka plant sperm) to propagate their species. And the technique has stuck around because …

Were Nazis Drug-Fueled Crankheads?

April 4th, 2019

Nazis were bad people. And it turns out a lot of them were high as kites on speed. Was this a recipe for disaster? Yes it was. 

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Short Stuff: Unspent Campaign Money

April 3rd, 2019

Have you ever wondered what happens to all those campaign donations when a political campaign goes belly up? Or, even worse, is in debt! Wonder no …

How Rape Kits Work

April 2nd, 2019

Rape kits are simple forensic evidence collection kits used when someone is sexually assaulted. But the story is deeper than this. Learn all about …

SYSK Selects: How Immigration Works

March 30th, 2019

Immigration systems regulate the flow of foreign immigrants into any given country. But why is immigration such a controversial topic, especially in …

Etch A Sketch!

March 28th, 2019

The Etch A Sketch is yet another classic toy that Josh and Chuck love and respect. Learn all about this Hall of Fame entry today. 

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Short Stuff: When Elvis Met Nixon

March 27th, 2019

Elvis really did meet with Richard Nixon. Because Elvis wanted to help fight the drug trade. True story. Hear about it in today's short stuff. 

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How Druids Worked

March 26th, 2019

Anyone who likes Led Zeppelin, plays Dungeons & Dragons, or worships the rising sun at Stonehenge on the vernal equinox can tell you druids are …

SYSK Selects: How Sign Language Works

March 23rd, 2019

It wasn't until the was developed and despite its co-existence alongside English, a user would be hard-pressed to sign with a British person. Find …

How Disgust Works

March 21st, 2019

Disgust is an odd thing. It makes sense that we would feel a sense of revulsion at the thought of putting rotten meat in our mouths – that’s pure …

Short Stuff: The Sandman

March 20th, 2019

Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream! But who is the sandman? We'll tell you in today's edition of short stuff. 

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Desert Survival: Josh and Chuck Save Your Tookus

March 19th, 2019

The chances are pretty low that you’ll find yourself lost in the desert, but on the off chance you do you’ll thank yourself that you listened to this episode, where we guide you to safety. 

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SYSK Selects: Was Atlantis A Real Place?

March 16th, 2019

While the search for Atlantis has been pushed to the fringes since the 19th century, archaeologists have quietly pursued cities that may have …

The Great Stink: The Stench So Bad They Gave It A Name

March 14th, 2019

In the summer of 1858, a heatwave dried up the Thames River to a trickle in London. As centuries’ worth of human waste, animal carcasses and other nasty things cooked in the sun, a stench arose that was so horrific it …

Short Stuff: Bedbugs

March 13th, 2019

We eradicated bedbugs so thoroughly in the 50s that generations who came later suspected they weren’t anymore real than jackalopes and snipes. But since we banned DDT, the pesticide that kills bedbugs best, they’re back …

The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti

March 12th, 2019

The trial of Sacco and Vanzetti, two anarchists accused of murder, was one of the first "crimes of the century." But did they do it? To this day …

SYSK Selects: How Wildfires Work

March 9th, 2019

Wildfires consume an annual average of 5 million acres in the US. But what causes wildfires? How do they become so powerful? More importantly, how do …

How Dyslexia Works

March 7th, 2019

For a learning disability that everyone seems to know about, dyslexia is maybe the most commonly misunderstood and controversial cognitive difficulty …

Short Stuff: Wigs in English Court

March 6th, 2019

What's the deal with the wigs in the English court system? Learn all about it in today's short stuff. 

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What's the deal with ASMR?

March 5th, 2019

ASMR is soothing to some, maddening to others. Learn all about these whisper tones in today's episode. 

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SYSK Selects: How the Panama Canal Works

March 2nd, 2019

It's on more than one list of the Seven Wonders of the World and for good reason - the Panama Canal is one of the great feats of engineering ever undertaken. First conceived of in the 1580s and finally completed in …

Tuskegee Airmen: American Heroes

February 28th, 2019

The Tuskegee Airmen braved racism and brutally tough training in order to secure their spot in American history as the first African-American military pilots. Listen in today to the story of their determination and …

Short Stuff: Black Loyalists

February 27th, 2019

The Black Loyalists were a group of Colonial slaves who fought for their freedom alongside the British. Learn all about this nearly forgotten group …

The Science of Break-Ups

February 26th, 2019

Breaking up is hard to do. Your brain might even think you're getting over a cocaine addiction. Learn all about the science behind break-ups today!

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SYSK Selects: How Lewis and Clark Worked

February 23rd, 2019

They may be the most famous explorers in U.S. history, but there are plenty of interesting details to the Lewis and Clark expedition that history has allowed to fade. Learn about the origin and the aftermath of …

How Galaxies Work

February 21st, 2019

In the universe things tend to cluster. This means there’s a coherent structure to the universe and learning about clusters of stars – galaxies - helps us figure out what that structure is. Join Chuck and Josh on an …

Short Stuff: Turbulence

February 20th, 2019

If you’ve ever had a bumpy airplane ride, you know it’s nothing fun. But have you ever noticed that the pilots sometimes tell you ahead of time to …

Yeti: The Asian Bigfoot

February 19th, 2019

We've covered Nessie and Bigfoot, so why not tackle the Yeti? Listen in today and Josh and Chuck cover what used to be known as the Abominable Snowman. 

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SYSK Selects: Interpol: World Police

February 16th, 2019

Interpol is an international police agency that helps other law-enforcement agencies track criminals who operate across national borders -- but how …

Elephants: The Best Animals?

February 14th, 2019

Elephants are pretty much the best. Why? Josh and Chuck will let you know in great detail in today's episode. 

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Short Stuff: War of Jenkins' Ear

February 13th, 2019

In the 18th century, Spain and England fought each other in the colonies of Georgia and Florida, a war kicked off by an English sea captain who was …

Could There Be A Loch Ness Monster?

February 12th, 2019

People have believed something strange lives in Loch Ness for at least 3500 years. Thousands of people have sighted the Loch Ness Monster and dozens of expeditions have been launched. But does the fact that nothing’s …

SYSK Selects: How Coral Reefs Work

February 9th, 2019

Coral reefs are the largest organic structures on Earth, yet they're created through a symbiotic relationship between creatures about 3 millimeters long. Learn more about the the world's coral reefs (and how to protect …

The True Story of BlacKkKlansman

February 7th, 2019

In 2018, director Spike Lee brought the story of Ron Stallworth to the big screen to great effect. Today, Josh and Chuck discuss the true story behind the Oscar nominated film. 

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Short Stuff: Ellen Richards

February 6th, 2019

Who is Ellen Richards? One of the most unsung scientists of all time, that's who. Her contribution? Bringing real science into the household and …

The Insidious Abuse of Stalking

February 5th, 2019

Stalking has only recently been recognized for what it is – a profound form of psychological abuse where the victim’s life is “infected” by the …

SYSK Selects: Saunas: More Interesting Than You Think!

February 2nd, 2019

Although they seem pretty mundane, saunas are surprisingly fascinating inventions. Josh and Chuck break out all sorts of sweaty, sauna-related trivia, from the Finnish affinity for saunas to sauna etiquette, in this …

How Central Park Works

January 31st, 2019

Central Park in Manhattan was America’s first landscaped public park, built at a time when New Yorkers’ only option for getting some fresh air was …

Short Stuff: Johnny Appleseed

January 30th, 2019

Johnny Appleseed was real! And he was about as amazing as the legend paints him. He really did plant apple trees all over America and if the feds hadn’t chopped them down during Prohibition, they’d still be around. …

How Ping Pong Works

January 29th, 2019

While Asia is well-known for being cuckoo for Ping Pong, the game was actually invented by bored British Victorian aristocrats. Go back and forth about Ping Pong’s place in the world with Chuck and Josh.

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SYSK Selects: Bioluminescence: A Bright and Shiny Fish

January 26th, 2019

Science has a handle on fireflies and glowworms, but most bioluminescent animals live in the ocean and are tough to study. Today, researchers are …

The Legend of Betsy Ross

January 24th, 2019

Betsy Ross is an American icon to many, the seamstress who sewed the first U.S. flag because of a personal commission from George Washington. But is it true? Sort of. Learn all about this fascinating story today.

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Short Stuff: Thread Count

January 23rd, 2019

Is thread count all it's cracked up to be? Listen in and find out in today's edition of Short Stuff!

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SYSK Live: The Kellogg Brothers’ Wacky World of Health

January 22nd, 2019

There’s no way you haven’t had one of their breakfast cereals, but we bet you don’t know the story behind the two brothers who brought the world corn flakes. Buckle in for a lot of talk about poop, religion and …

SYSK Selects: How Lobotomies Work

January 19th, 2019

Lobotomies -- brain surgeries to relieve psychiatric problems -- are rarely performed today, but they were once fairly common. Tune in to learn more about the controversial history and practice of lobotomies.

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The July 20th Plot to Assassinate Hitler

January 17th, 2019

A lot of people in Hitler's inner circle wanted him dead toward the end of the war. But he proved impossible to kill from within. Listen in today as …

Short Stuff: Olestra

January 16th, 2019

In the 90s a fat free miracle food came out that promised we could eat all we wanted and not gain weight. But there was a caveat: it could also make …

How Airbags Work

January 15th, 2019

It turns out that the inflatable bag of air that shoots out of your steering wheel or dashboard is the result of a controlled explosion of solid …

SYSK Selects: How Schizophrenia Works

January 12th, 2019

Up to 24 million people worldwide have schizophrenia. Despite the vast amounts of research, the disorder remains mysterious. In this episode, Josh and Chuck delve into the nature of schizophrenia, from the history of …

The Great Finger in the Wendy’s Chili Caper

January 10th, 2019

In 2005 a woman named Anna Alaya discovered a length of human finger – nail and all – in her Wendy’s chili. Her cries of disgust would set off a …

Short Stuff: How Often Do You Need To Change Your Oil?

January 9th, 2019

First things, first: Take that oil change reminder sticker off your windshield and throw it away forever and never look back! 

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How the Spanish Flu Worked

January 8th, 2019

The Spanish Flu killed anywhere from 20-100 million or more people over 1918/1919. All of this played out with World War I in the foreground, one big reason why the flu spread so far, so fast. Learn all about this …

SYSK Selects: How Munchausen Syndrome Works

January 5th, 2019

Why would someone fake an illness? Here's an even better question: Why would someone repeatedly make themselves sick? Join Josh and Chuck as they …

What was the Tunguska event?

January 3rd, 2019

In 1908, the most powerful meteoroid explosion in recorded history happened over a remote area of Siberia. But the weird thing is there was no impact …

Short Stuff: Khipu

January 2nd, 2019

Listen in to learn all about the fascinating "language" of the Incan khipu knotted ropes. 

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Rockettes: Still Kicking After All These Years

January 1st, 2019

Tune in today to learn all about the legendary NYC Rockettes, who actually got their start in Missouri. 

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SYSK Selects: How Fossils Work

December 29th, 2018

A fossil is a piece of once-living organic material that has undergone a transition from an organic state to an inorganic state. But what exactly is fossilization? Listen in as Josh and Chuck break down the process of …

Dr. Seuss: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

December 27th, 2018

The Seuss is loose in this episode about legendary children's book author Ted Geisel. The funny thing is, he didn't ever want children of his own, and his past work was a bit problematic.

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Short Stuff: The Brain-Bladder Connection

December 26th, 2018

How much do you know about the brain-bladder connection? In about 15 minutes, it'll be a lot more. 

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SYSK Live Christmas Spectacular!

December 25th, 2018

This year, Josh and Chuck go live for their annual Christmas Spectacular. Recorded from the Center Stage Theater in Atlanta, pour up some eggnog, …

SYSK Selects: The Star Wars Holiday Special of 1978

December 22nd, 2018

Long ago, in a galaxy not so far away, George Lucas allowed the Star Wars Holiday Special to be made. What happened on the night of November 17, 1978 …

E.T.: Is It Really the Worst Video Game of All Time?

December 20th, 2018

If you play video games you probably have an easy answer to worst game of all time: ET. But it turns out there are no easy answers, especially when you’re talking about a game so terrible it’s blamed for bringing the …

Short Stuff: Unique Snowflakes

December 19th, 2018

Amazingly, it turns out that every snowflake truly is unique. Math backs it up. 

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Geodesic Domes: The Wave of the Future That Wasn't

December 18th, 2018

Sometimes a good idea doesn’t pan out in real life. Take Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome: It requires less energy to heat and cool, it’s cheap, …

SYSK Selects: How Igloos Work

December 15th, 2018

Igloos were traditionally used by Inuit Indians as temporary shelter while on hunting and fishing trips. In this episode, Josh and Chuck look at the design of igloos, from their impressive heat-catching properties to …

Are good samaritan laws effective?

December 13th, 2018

Good samaritan laws have been around for many years, helping to provide legal protections for people who try to help other people. But do they work? Decide for yourself today!

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Short Stuff: Laughing Buddha

December 12th, 2018

Did you know that the friendly, smiling Buddha we all know from bars and restaurants isn't really Buddha?

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How Ayahuasca Works

December 11th, 2018

One day in the Amazon Basin, a shaman put together a plant containing DMT with a vine that allows the body to absorb DMT. The combination, a …

SYSK Selects: That Dang-old Goat Fell Over

December 8th, 2018

Due to a condition known as Thomsen's disease, the muscles of fainting goats tense up whenever the animal is startled. In this episode, Josh and Chuck break down the science behind this bizarre condition.

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Was the PMRC censorship in disguise?

December 6th, 2018

The Parents Music Resource Center in the 1980s was really just censorship in disguise. But it kind of backfired. Learn all about Tipper Gore's crusade in today's episode. 

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Short Stuff: Dolphin Detectors

December 5th, 2018

They don’t actually disarm mines, but navies around the world use dolphins to find and tag sea mines so humans can disarm the mines themselves. But …

How Search and Rescue Dogs Work

December 4th, 2018

All dogs are great, but some dogs work harder than others. Or play harder, depending on your view. Learn all about the good boys and girls who find lost people and recover bodies to bring humans peace and closure.

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SYSK Selects: Can Your Grandfather's Diet Shorten Your Life?

December 1st, 2018

Epigenetics is a fascinating field of genetics that studies how the epigenome and environmental, nutritional and social factors affect gene expression. Josh and Chuck explain how epigenetics works in this episode.

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Adidas v. Puma: A Sibling Rivalry

November 29th, 2018

Join Josh and Chuck today as they go down the sport shoe rabbit hole, detailing the strange tail of the brothers who brought Puma and Adidas to the …

Short Stuff: iSmell

November 28th, 2018

Two men once had a dream - to add smell to the internet. And they almost gave it to us.

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How the Navajo Code Talkers Worked

November 27th, 2018

In WWII the US Marines devised an unbreakable code-within-a-code made from Navajo, one of the most linguistically difficult languages in the world. A …

SYSK Selects: How Black Friday Works

November 24th, 2018

On the day after Thanksgiving, Americans go kind of crazy for the deep discount sales that kick off the holiday shopping season in stores. So crazy, …

Fire twucks! Fire twucks! (sic)

November 22nd, 2018

Who doesn't love fire engines? We certainly do. So much that we geeked out on this one in a big way. Enjoy!

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Short Stuff: Safety Pins

November 21st, 2018

Safety pins are so ubiquitous, we take them for granted. But that’s the genius of their design – they work so intuitively they might as well have come from nature. Instead, they were invented by a man who never went to …

Finders Keepers: Real Law

November 20th, 2018

You know that heartbreak of the schoolyard – finders keepers, losers weepers? That’s actual law in a great many grown up places. Enter the murky …

SYSK Selects: How Kleptomania Works

November 17th, 2018

In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck discuss kleptomania, a disorder in which people have an overwhelming impulse to steal …

Olive Oil: Mother Nature's Gift

November 15th, 2018

Olive oil is one of Mother Nature's greatest gifts to humanity. Learn everything you ever wanted to know about the NUMBER ONE OIL, right here, right now. 

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Short Stuff: Lemonade

November 14th, 2018

Ever wonder where lemonade came from? Let’s up the stakes a little, what about pink lemonade? Well wonder no more! Join Josh and Chuck as they (briefly) cover the history of putting lemons together with sugar and water …

Pando: Earth’s Oldest, Hugest Organism Is Trees!

November 13th, 2018

In Utah, lives a 106-acre stand of Quaking Aspen trees that are all genetically identical because they are all growing from the same massive root …

SYSK Selects: How Pizza Works

November 10th, 2018

Sure it's everywhere and there's a more-than-90-percent chance you eat it once a month. But we'll bet you don't know the full history of that pizza …

Is yogurt a miracle food?

November 8th, 2018

Yogurt has been touted as a health food, but is it? Maybe. If you eat it every day. We get into the rich and creamy history of this supposed miracle food in today's episode. Take a listen!

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Short Stuff: Vomitoria

November 7th, 2018

A vomitorium was a place where ancient Romans went to make themselves throw up after gorging themselves at a sumptuous banquet. Everybody knows that. Except that’s not true at all. Learn about what vomitoria were in …

What were war masks?

November 6th, 2018

War masks were made for soldiers in WWI who had horrible accidents that left their faces sometimes unrecognizable. Though it may seem rudimentary …

SYSK Selects: How Grief Works

November 3rd, 2018

You can probably name the five stages of grief - from denial to acceptance - they've become pretty well known since being proposed in 1969. But later researchers are finding that grief is rarely that cut and dried, and …

How Easy Bake Ovens Work

November 1st, 2018

Easy Bake Ovens are as iconic as a toy can get, as American as apple pie or baseball. Learn all about these light bulb cooking, working ovens that …

Short Stuff: Labor Day

October 31st, 2018

Labor Day, the day when most people in America paradoxically take off work, is actually rooted in some deeply radical and anarchistic thinking. Learn …

SYSK’s 2018 Super Spooktacular

October 30th, 2018

It’s Halloween again and Chuck and Josh want to creep you out. Listen to two great classic horror stories, dripping with Jeri’s creeptastic audio …

SYSK Selects: What's with the Winchester Mystery House?

October 27th, 2018

After her daughter and husband died, heiress Sarah Winchester became obsessed with the idea that spirits haunted her and to appease them she had to have a house continuously built for them. So she did - 24 hours a day …

How the Amityville Horror Worked

October 25th, 2018

In early 1975, the world was introduced to George and Kathy Lutz, a couple who had fled their home in Amityville, NY to escape a powerful, evil …

Short Stuff: Exploding Manholes

October 24th, 2018

If you live in a big city in a cold climate, you should keep an eye out for 100-pound cast-iron manhole covers suddenly launching 50 feet into the …

How Epilepsy Works

October 23rd, 2018

A seizure is like an electrical overload in the brain – when it gets overwhelmed, it just shuts down and resets itself. But imagine being susceptible …

SYSK Selects: How Aphrodisiacs Work

October 20th, 2018

For thousands of years humankind has pursued the enhancement of sexual pleasure and performance through a plethora of medicines and practices -- but how many aphrodisiacs actually work?

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Waterbeds: The Sexiest Bed?

October 18th, 2018

Waterbeds came and went pretty quickly in the United States, but despite their marketing as sex beds, they were actually invented to deliver a great night's sleep. Learn all about these super 70's beds in today's …

Short Stuff: Korean Fan Death

October 17th, 2018

There’s a commonly-held belief in Korea that if you fall asleep with a fan blowing on your face you may die in your sleep from it. And while this …

Was There A Real Robin Hood?

October 16th, 2018

Is it true that Robin Hood hung out in Sherwood Forest and stole from the rich to give to the poor? No. No, it’s not. Find out the real story in this …

SYSK Selects: How Homelessness Works

October 13th, 2018

Today, millions of people around the world are homeless. In this classic episode, Josh and Chuck take a look at homelessness in the United States, discussing everything from the factors that lead to homelessness to what …

When inventions kill!

October 11th, 2018

Few things are more ironic than an invention killing its creator. The stories behind real life cases of death-by-invention are pretty interesting …

Short Stuff: William King

October 10th, 2018

Did you know that the United States has had one Vice-President who was sworn in on foreign soil? Well it turns out that may be the least interesting part of the story of William Rufus King. 

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How Marathons Work

October 9th, 2018

You’d have to be crazy to try to run 26.2 miles in a single stretch, right? Right. But people still try it anyway. And a lot of them even survive! Find out all about the pitfalls of marathons and the obsession they can …

SYSK Selects: Is lethal injection humane?

October 6th, 2018

Since the Supreme Court's ban on capital punishment was reversed, states have sought a humane method of killing sentenced criminals. They settled on lethal injection, but is this quasi-medical means of killing as quick …

Algae: Food, Fuel, What?

October 4th, 2018

Just a couple years ago, algae was touted as the green, plentiful biofuel of the future. But that didn’t pan out. Why? And is algae down for the …

Short Stuff: Grandfather Clocks

October 3rd, 2018

If you've ever wondered why a grandfather clock is called a grandfather clock and you have 12 minutes to spare, this is your lucky day. Listen in to the brand new Short Stuff series. It's everything you want from Josh …

How the Concorde Worked

October 2nd, 2018

The concorde was a wonderful thing, a super fast commerical airliner that got you across the pond in half the time. But it was small and cramped, …

SYSK Selects: Does the five-second rule work?

September 29th, 2018

You know when you drop a piece of food and if you pick it up within five seconds it's still good to eat? Researchers have studied whether that's true or not and in doing so have inadvertently shone a light on how …

Seriously, What Is Dark Matter?

September 27th, 2018

Chuck and Josh take on astrophysics again and this time it pans out well. It turns out that there simply isn’t enough matter in the universe to account for its mass. Which is super weird. What is this missing matter? …

What is colorblindness?

September 25th, 2018

Being colorblind doesn't mean you see in black and white, although in severe cases it can look a bit like that. The condition is on a spectrum …

SYSK Selects: Was Malthus right about carrying capacity?

September 22nd, 2018

Thomas Malthus concluded that humanity is bound to outgrow Earth's carrying capacity. The prediction was based on humanity's exponential growth and the linear growth of the food supply -- but was he correct? Tune in to …

How Ranked Choice Voting Works

September 20th, 2018

In the US, winner-take-all voting has created A LOT of political polarization. But what if rather than voting for one candidate, you could rank all …

Roundabouts: The Problem Is You

September 18th, 2018

They’re as American as Washington, DC yet most people in the US are terrified of them, hate them or both. What is it about traffic circles and roundabouts - which do nothing but safely, inexpensively and greenly direct …

SYSK Selects: How Commercial Jingles Work

September 15th, 2018

You probably can recite five right now. Commercial jingles are designed to hijack your working memory and implant a product or service and they really work. In this classic episode, learn about the history of these …

What are think tanks all about?

September 13th, 2018

Think tanks? More like stink tanks! We're kidding. Think tanks do valuable work, when they operate in a non-partisan way of course. Learn all about the history of these heady institutions today. 

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SYSK Live: How Game Shows Work

September 11th, 2018

Join Josh and Chuck and a whole bunch of great people at the Gothic Theatre in Denver for this live show on game shows and their place in cultures …

SYSK Selects: How Circumcision Works

September 8th, 2018

Circumcision is a common practice in which the foreskin of a male's penis is removed, typically as a baby. In this classic episode, Josh and Chuck take a look at the origins, practices, and arguments for and against …

The Lava Lamp: Goes Great With Acid

September 6th, 2018

What started out as an egg timer at a London pub became a furnishing for bachelor pads before it took its rightful place as the most recognizable …

How Police Lineups Work

September 4th, 2018

Police lineups are something most people have never had any firsthand experience with. What you see on TV and in movies isn't so far off though. …

SYSK Selects: How Patents Work

September 1st, 2018

What was originally designed to encourage innovation by rewarding the people who create technological advances, the U.S. patent system has become a …

How Elimination Diets Work

August 30th, 2018

Elimination diets are all about whittling down what you eat, then building it back up again in order to identify foods that don't work for your body. Is it safe? It can be. Learn all about this process in today's …

Why There Aren't So Many Hotel Fires Anymore

August 28th, 2018

1946 was a particularly deadly year for hotel fires in the US. Fires killed hundreds of people in Chicago, Dubuque, Dallas and, in Atlanta, the worst …

SYSK Selects: What's the deal with Voodoo?

August 25th, 2018

Voodoo is a religion found in parts of Africa and Haiti that's often misunderstood. In this episode, Josh and Chuck separate the faction from the fiction as they explore how Voodoo really works.

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Pterosaurs: Not Flying Dinosaurs

August 23rd, 2018

Almost everything you know about pterosaurs is wrong. They weren't birds, they weren't flying dinosaurs and they weren't all pterodactyls. Which makes this a great episode for you to learn some new and amazing stuff …

Ballpoint pens? Heck yes, ballpoint pens!

August 21st, 2018

Get ready, folks. The ballpoint pen is far more interesting than you could ever imagine. For real. Brilliant in its simplicity. Took the world by …

SYSK Selects: How Electroconvulsive Therapy Works

August 18th, 2018

With the exception of lobotomies, no other psychological treatment has a worse reputation. But thanks to some thoughtful tweaks, ECT has lately …

Who is The Man of the Hole?

August 16th, 2018

In 2018, there's a man from a lost tribe still living deep in the jungles of Brazil who has been all alone since the mid 1990s. He's referred to as …

How Board Breaking Works

August 14th, 2018

If you’ve ever seen someone break a stack of boards or concrete blocks with a single karate chop you know what it means to experience awe. Board …

SYSK Selects: How Traffic Works

August 11th, 2018

Whether you've been stuck in a traffic jam or forced to merge and avoid road construction, everyone's had a few bad experiences with traffic. But how does traffic actually work? In this episode, Chuck and Josh take a …

How Attila the Hun Worked

August 9th, 2018

If you go to the Internet you'll see a few people championed as all-time greatest conquerors - Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Atilla the Hun. Listen in today as Josh and Chuck dive into number three on this list, …

How Search and Rescue Works

August 7th, 2018

There are thankfully about as many ways to look for someone as there are ways to get lost. And the people who dedicate themselves to saving the lives …

SYSK Selects: How Miranda Rights Work

August 4th, 2018

Back in 1966, the Supreme Court decided that suspects in criminal cases had the right to be reminded that they didn't have to talk to the fuzz if …

How the U.S. Military Draft Works

August 2nd, 2018

The U.S. military draft is far more interesting than you'd think. The process of conscription can get quite complicated, but we're here to clear it …

How the Pony Express Worked

July 31st, 2018

For as long a shadow as it casts across the history of the Old West, the Pony Express was a failed business venture, doomed from the start, that only lasted 18 months. But since the last rider headed out with his bag of …

SYSK Selects: How the Cannonball Run Worked

July 28th, 2018

The Cannon Ball Run is a cross-country car race famously portrayed in the campy 1981 movie "Cannon Ball Run." But it isn't fictional. Tune in as Josh …

The Dyatlov Pass Mystery

July 26th, 2018

The incident at Dyatlov Pass is one of the more enduring wilderness mysteries of all time. Russian hikers found in various states of undress, frozen. What happened to them? Why were there weird internal injuries and no …

Recycling Update: How’s It Going?

July 24th, 2018

It’s been about a decade since Josh and Chuck last checked in on recycling and since then a lot has changed. A global commodities market dealing in recyclables has developed and recently crashed. Jump back into the …

SYSK Selects: How Foot Binding Worked

July 21st, 2018

Once in a while, all the necessary factors converge to produce a peculiar nationalized sexual fetish. In China, that fetish was foot binding and over …

How Attorney-Client Privilege Works

July 19th, 2018

One of the oldest protected forms of speech comes from when a lawyer speaks with their client. Over centuries, this legal privilege has been …

Jobs of Bygone Eras

July 17th, 2018

Join Josh and Chuck today as they take a fun look at some of the strange jobs that our ancestors did. It's a SYSK top 10, meaning there will only be eight or so. 

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SYSK Selects: How Twinkies Work

July 14th, 2018

Twinkies have a reputation for being so processed that they can last for years and years, but they're not as hardy as you'd expect. Uncover the sweet story of Twinkies in this classic SYSK.

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Gerrymandering: How to Stifle Democracy

July 12th, 2018

No matter which side of the political spectrum you fall on, you should be outraged about the practice of gerrymandering. Redrawing voter district …

The Disappearance of the Yuba County Five

July 10th, 2018

In 1978, five friends set out for home from a basketball game. The next day, their car was discovered in a lonely mountain road. The next spring, their bodies began to turn up. What happened that night remains a mystery …

SYSK Selects: Did Reagan's Star Wars program win the Cold War?

July 7th, 2018

Putting lasers in space to blast Soviet missiles out of the air was a very real part of Ronald Reagan's defense policy. While his "Star Wars" program …

How the Stanford Prison Experiment Worked

July 5th, 2018

The infamous Stanford Prison Experiment wasn't really much of an experiment as it turns out. It was more like a poorly thought out exercise conducted by a professor who didn't dot the i's and cross the t's. Listen in as …

How Diabetes Works

July 3rd, 2018

Diabetes is one of the biggest killers of people on the planet. And yet, it also seems to be tied to diet and exercise, which makes it preventable. Learn about the fascinating mechanisms that can make your body go …

SYSK Selects: How Ponzi Schemes Work

June 30th, 2018

Ponzi schemes. How do they work? And who's Ponzi? Join Josh and Chuck in this classic episode to discover how an Italian immigrant created a classic con that's still fleecing investors today.

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Narwhals: Unicorns of the Sea

June 28th, 2018

Narwhals are the unicorns of the sea. They're also whales with tusks. The tusks are really long tooths. Are you confused? Let us guide you! 

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Can Anarchism Work?

June 26th, 2018

Teenage punks going through a phase probably come to mind when you think of anarchists, but anarchism is a legitimate political philosophy based on …

SYSK Selects: How Condoms Work

June 23rd, 2018

The earliest depiction of a condom is found in a 15,000-year-old cave painting. Ever since humans realized sex led to children, we've been using …

Genghis Khan: Madman or Genius?

June 21st, 2018

Depending on who you talk to, Genghis Khan was either a sadistic madman or one of the great leaders in world history. One thing is sure, he was one of the most advanced military minds of all time.

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How The Pill Changed the World

June 19th, 2018

When the birth control pill hit the market in 1960 it landed like a social bomb. Almost overnight, women gained the ability to separate sex from …

SYSK Selects: How Bullfighting Works

June 16th, 2018

When the Visigoths ruled Spain, they introduced the idea of battling bulls at festivals. Today matadors get paid $100,000 and perform in front of …

Skyscrapers: 'Scuse me while I kiss the sky

June 14th, 2018

Skyscrapers are much more than tall buildings. They're world wonders as far as we're concerned. From design to construction, these babies are …

How Tsunamis Work

June 12th, 2018

Tsunamis are amazingly devastating natural disasters. They're miles tall and wide, travel as fast as a commercial airliner and can wipe out entire coastal towns. And if the last couple decades are any indication, they …

SYSK Selects: How The Hum Works

June 9th, 2018

There is a mysterious droning sound often described as like a diesel engine idling that is severely impacting the quality of life of 2 percent of people in places around the world. The thing is, no one knows what's …

Frida Kahlo: Painter, Icon, Genius

June 7th, 2018

Frida Kahlo was a painter who transcended her own work to became an icon. Learn all about her fascinating and inspiring life and work in today’s episode. 

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The Max Headroom Incident

June 5th, 2018

In 1987, a very strange broadcast intrusion occurred in the city of Chicago. For just a couple of minutes, the odd TV character Max Headroom appeared onscreen in the middle of an episode of Dr. Who. He spoke in garbled …

SYSK Selects: Was there a real King Arthur?

June 2nd, 2018

The legend of King Arthur is very old and very established. By the time the king who saved Britain and united it was first written about, his story …

Is the Pied Piper About a Real Historic Tragedy?

May 31st, 2018

In the German town of Hameln a tragedy that took place on a specific date in 1284 and befell specifically 130 children is commemorated every year. Aside from those two details, the event is cloaked in mystery. What …

How Drug Courts Work

May 29th, 2018

If you aren't in the know, you may think drug courts are set up to quickly prosecute drug users and get them into prison in short order. Turns out it's just the opposite - they're empathetic courts set up to give people …

SYSK Selects: How Pinball Works

May 26th, 2018

Pinball was actually illegal until the 1970s in NY and other cities, hidden in the backs of pornography shops. The game was finally legalized, thanks to a Babe Ruth-style shot by the best player in the world. Learn all …

How Occam's Razor Works

May 24th, 2018

You know the rule that says the simplest explanation is probably the correct one? That’s called a razor and it’s meant to guide logic. But over time …

A List Of Games You Would Surely Lose to a Computer

May 22nd, 2018

We live in a time where computers can beat the best humans in the world at chess, checkers, poker and video games. But these games are really just demonstrations of how intelligent our machines are growing. They’re …

SYSK Selects: Is brain size related to intelligence?

May 19th, 2018

The idea that the larger the brain, the higher the intelligence is an old one, but it's pretty much utterly false. Modern investigation into how the …

The Collar Bomb Heist

May 18th, 2018

The collar bomb heist is the crime caper that keeps on giving. Every time the story seemed like it was figured out, another layer appeared. Tune in …

What's a quinceañera anyway?

May 15th, 2018

A quinceañera is the celebration of a girl of Hispanic heritage becoming a young woman on her 15th birthday. It involves family, friends, music and a …

SYSK Selects: How Cremation Works

May 12th, 2018

Cremation is a burial process practiced around the world, but how exactly does it work? Josh and Chuckers take a detailed look at cremation's history, practices and controversies in this episode.

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How Drowning Works

May 10th, 2018

Hundreds of thousands of people drown around the world every year, and yet it can be easily prevented and is widely misunderstood – like how you can officially drown but live to tell the tale, or how you can drown but …

PT Barnum: More Complicated Than You've Heard

May 8th, 2018

When your life is as outsized as the World’s Greatest Showman PT Barnum it’s pretty easy to - you know - gloss over the grimmer aspects when you turn it into an uplifting musical movie. But the way to understand a …

SYSK Selects: Are there undiscovered people?

May 5th, 2018

In this classic episode, Josh and Chuck discuss whether there are any truly "undiscovered" groups of people left on the planet, the definition of …

North Korea: What's the Deal?

May 3rd, 2018

For almost 70 years, North Korea has been the bane of South Korea, Japan and the US or has stood as the sole defenders of the Korean homeland from …

Nepotism: When Hiring the Best Just Won't Do

May 1st, 2018

Nepotism is something that is very hard to avoid, and very hard to resist, even if you know it may be the wrong thing to do. We all love helping out families get ahead, but you're also costing someone else an …

SYSK Selects: Who killed JFK?

April 28th, 2018

For the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Josh and Chuck delve into the killing, the investigations and the conspiracy theories to get to the bottom of an enduring national …

Does Pyromania Actually Exist?

April 26th, 2018

A fascination with fire is part of every kid’s childhood, but it’s meant to be passing. For some people, fire becomes the central focus of life, and …

Emojis: A New Language? Nah.

April 24th, 2018

Believe it or not, there's a lot more to Emojis than meets the eye. Turns out their history is pretty interesting stuff. Join Josh and Chuck today as they tell the tale of the little faces that we all love to hate. 

SYSK Selects: How Mirrors Work

April 21st, 2018

Whether using polished metal surfaces or clear glass, human beings have enjoyed admiring their reflections for centuries. In this episode, Josh and …

Two Times In the 70s When People Buried Ferraris

April 19th, 2018

Not once, but twice in the 1970s people buried amazingly valuable Ferraris, arguably the greatest sports cars ever built. One was dug up after being secretly buried; the other was put in the ground forever. These are …

The Unabomber: Misguided to say the least

April 17th, 2018

The Unabomber was one of the most notorious and longest lasting cases in the history of the FBI. Just because the manifesto reads like he was a fortune teller doesn't make his actions any less deplorable. Learn all …

SYSK Selects: What happens in the brain during an orgasm?

April 14th, 2018

In this classic episode, Chuck and Josh test the limits of their decorum as they explore the physiology of an orgasm. Learn all about this …

How Paramedics Work

April 12th, 2018

Paramedics are not EMTs. Or fire fighters. Or cops. But they do ride around in ambulances (and drive) to help to save lives. It's a stressful job and …

Why Landmines Are The Deadliest Legacy Of War

April 10th, 2018

One of the worst legacies of war are the millions of landmines left behind. They hide for decades after a conflict is over, exploding beneath unsuspecting civilians and children. To many, removing mines and banning new …

SYSK Selects: Sherpas: Warm, Friendly Living

April 7th, 2018

Pop quiz: What word denotes a nation of people, a last name and an occupation? If you guessed 'Sherpa,' then congratulations: You're correct. But …

Project Azorian: The CIA's Super 70s Mission To Steal A Sunken Soviet Sub

April 5th, 2018

In 1974 the CIA undertook one of its most brazen operations – secretly raising a sunken Soviet submarine lost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean right under the noses of the Russian Navy. With the help of billionaire …

When Words Take on New Meanings

April 3rd, 2018

Historical words often morph and change to take on new meanings. Today on the podcast, Josh and Chuck sit down and talk about a handful of them, …

SYSK Selects: How Guide Dogs Work

March 31st, 2018

You know how when you see a guide dog leading a blind person to their destination and you think, "There goes a truly great dog?" It turns out you are …

What are false positives?

March 29th, 2018

When getting a medical diagnosis, it's important to understand the terms. Negative is good, positive is bad, false positive is great in a way, but false negative is the worst. Learn all about false positives, when your …

How Meals on Wheels Works

March 27th, 2018

Meals on Wheels is one of the great charitable organizations in the world, providing much-needed nutrition for elderly people in need. It also has a …

SYSK Selects: Subways: HUH! What are they good for?

March 24th, 2018

As ubiquitous as they've become, it's easy to overlook the marvels of engineering that are subways. Chuck and Josh go boring as they explore these systems of tubes that must circumnavigate rock, rivers, cables and more …

How the Framingham Heart Study Works

March 22nd, 2018

In the 1940s, a tiny town outside Boston volunteered to be test subjects in a study that would become one of the longest and broadest in the history …

How the New England Vampire Panics Worked

March 20th, 2018

In the 19th century, in isolated villages and godforsaken towns in rural New England, people began to suspect their deceased family members had …

SYSK Selects: How Trickle-Down Economics Works

March 17th, 2018

The concept of trickle-down economics is tied to Ronald Reagan, but the idea's been around and in use since the 20s. It's simple: Give more money to …

Is Vaping Really Bad For You?

March 15th, 2018

E-cigs, vapes, whatever you call them they have been touted as a safer alternative to tobacco and even a way for people to quit smoking. But recent studies have found that perhaps they’re not so harmless after all. So …

The Huggable, Lovable Walrus

March 13th, 2018

When it comes to the animal kingdom, SYSK has covered a wide range. This week, the guys dive into the frigid waters of the Arctic to delight in everything that is the huggable, lovable walrus. From their tendency to …

SYSK Selects: How Cockroaches Work

March 10th, 2018

You've seen them in your home and probably squealed in terror, but now it's time to learn all about cockroaches. From their ability to run incredibly fast to the appendage that alerts them when you're about to whack …

Why Do People Believe In Faith Healing?

March 8th, 2018

Since a 1906 revival in Los Angeles, people around the world say they’ve been cured by the Holy Spirit after preachers with the Gift of Healing laid …

The Strange Story of Sea Monkeys

March 6th, 2018

Anyone who ever picked up a comic book as a kid probably marveled at the ads for the mysterious Sea Monkeys. In reality, they are just brine shrimp, not fantastical beings with magical powers. But the story behind the …

SYSK Selects: Is there treasure on Oak Island?

March 3rd, 2018

Off Nova Scotia, the tiny spit of land called Oak Island has been host to waves of treasure hunters for more than 200 years. Some of them lost their lives in the search for a treasure reputedly buried in a deep pit. But …

SYSK Live: Back When Ford Pintos Were Flaming Deathtraps

March 1st, 2018

For this special live benefit episode recorded in Atlanta, Josh and Chuck go back to the 70s and look at the decidedly ungroovy course of events that led to Ford recalling its Pinto after people started burning up in …

Knife Throwing: Super Cool

February 27th, 2018

Sure knives can cut through a steak or slash through jungle vines, but probably the coolest thing you can do with a knife is throw it. At a person …

SYSK Selects: How the MPAA Works

February 24th, 2018

You may be surprised to learn those ubiquitous ratings, from G to NC-17, put on movies in America are actually handed down by anonymous employees of a secretive organization that serves as a lobbying firm for …

Rosa Parks: Agent of Change

February 22nd, 2018

Rosa Parks finishes out our Black History Month episodes in grand fashion. While most know her from that fateful day on the Montgomery city bus, she …

Are Feral Children Real?

February 20th, 2018

For millennia people have been amazed by legends of wild children found in the forest or jungle, sometimes raised by animals like wolves or apes. But …

SYSK Selects: How the Underground Railroad Worked

February 17th, 2018

As early as 1786, groups assembled to help slaves escape lives of bondage. And, as the 19th century progressed, the emergent Underground Railroad grew more sophisticated in aiding escaped slaves. But how did it work? …

The Harriet Tubman Story

February 15th, 2018

Harriet Tubman is a legendary figure in history, but the details of her life are even more remarkable than what you may have learned in school. …

How Pompeii Worked

February 13th, 2018

What must be one of the most famous natural disasters in history took place when Mt Vesuvius buried Pompeii in 79 CE. But when the town was resurrected 1700 years later, a new chapter in its history was written.

Learn …

SYSK Selects: How Narco States Work

February 10th, 2018

In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck discuss Narco States, places where illegal drugs are traded openly with government support …

The Mystery of The Grand Canyon Newlyweds

February 8th, 2018

In 1928 Bessie and Glen Hyde attempted to navigate their way through the belly of the Grand Canyon in a homemade boat. They disappeared without a trace and their mystery endures all these years later. Listen in today to …

What is a Mold-A-Rama?

February 6th, 2018

In the 1960s, a very cool machine debuted at the Seattle World's Fair - the Mold-A-Rama. It made real plastic toys on-demand from melted plastic …

SYSK Selects: How Lion Taming Works

February 3rd, 2018

Bossing a lion around in front of a crowd at a circus has been an attraction for 200 years, but exactly how lion tamers get their captive wild …

Marijuana Vs. Alcohol: Which Is Worse For You?

February 1st, 2018

It's been the subject of teenage conversation for decades already, but now you can join Josh and Chuck as they dive into the science of how pot and booze affect your body, mind and behavior and learn which one comes out …

The Manson Family Murders Part II

January 30th, 2018

Listen in today for the conclusion of the story of the Manson Family Murders.

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SYSK Selects: Prisons - Not as Fun as You'd Think

January 27th, 2018

Most people have a basic understanding of how prisons work, but it's often heavily influenced by fiction. What's it really like behind those bars? In this episode, Josh and Chuck reveal the practices, controversies and …

The Manson Family Murders Part I

January 25th, 2018

The '60s ended with a lot of turbulence, not the least of which was the Manson Family Murders. What made Charles Manson so alluring to his family? …

How Hoarding Works

January 23rd, 2018

You may be familiar with compulsive hoarding from TV, but something that’s often missing from those shows and the news is the deep and overwhelming …

SYSK Selects: Lab-grown meat: Order up!

January 20th, 2018

Since Winston Churchill predicted we'd grow meat in a lab by 1981, researchers have considered doing just that. And thanks to the current work of about 30 groups, we may be only years away from mass-produced artificial …

How Hang Gliding Works

January 18th, 2018

It’s a super 70s thing, sure, but hang gliding is a thrill ride for the ages. So strap in with Josh and Chuck and learn all about the earliest method of human flight, originally created by a German man who flew over …

How Removing Public Monuments Work

January 16th, 2018

Public monuments can be removed for a variety of reasons, from public sentiment changing, to governments being overthrown, to just being downright ugly. Learn all about this hot button topic today.

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SYSK Selects: The Wind Cries Typhoid Mary

January 13th, 2018

In the 19th century, typhoid was considered a disease of the lower classes. When an outbreak occurred in wealthy Oyster Bay, New York, a mystery was afoot. Tune in to learn how this event began an ongoing debate over …

What is an invasive species?

January 11th, 2018

Invasive species can mean a lot of things, from fungus to feral pigs and European starlings to kudzu vines. Basically, it's anything brought to a place, either by humans or nature, that didn't originate there. They …

The Mystery of the Mary Celeste

January 9th, 2018

When the Mary Celeste was discovered floating and abandoned in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean one day in 1872, the legend of the ghost ship was born. Why did the Mary Celeste’s crew disappear? Was it pirates? Mutiny? …

SYSK Selects: What Makes a One-hit Wonder?

January 6th, 2018

The term "one-hit wonder" gets thrown around a lot, and - yes - you probably are using it correctly, but Chuck Bryant went to the trouble to really define what makes a one-hit wonder in the article this episode is based …

How Impeachment Works

January 4th, 2018

Impeachment is does not necessarily mean a president is removed from office. But it could. It's a fascinating procedure that has been crafted and …

How Orchids Work

January 2nd, 2018

Ever since Victorian orchid hunters ravaged the tropics in search of unique specimens to sell for ludicrous amounts of money, the West has been gripped by orchidelirium. Small wonder since orchids are not only …

SYSK Selects: How Willpower Works

December 30th, 2017

You use it every day to overcome your lower self (which wants you to eat cake until your vision blurs) in pursuit of the goals of your higher self (which wants you to not develop Type-II diabetes). Yet it was only in …

How the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World Works, Part II

December 28th, 2017

We finish our tour of the best sights of the ancient world when we get deep into the history of a lighthouse that stood for 1200 years, an unsettling …

How the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World Works, Part I

December 26th, 2017

Long before slide rulers and pocket protectors, civilizations across the world used their noggins to build some impressive structures. Almost all …

SYSK Selects: The Star Wars Holiday Special of 1978

December 23rd, 2017

Long ago, in a galaxy not so far away, George Lucas allowed the Star Wars Holiday Special to be made. What happened on the night of November 17, 1978 …

The 2017 SYSK Christmas Extravaganza!

December 21st, 2017

It's the most wonderful episode of the year! Join Josh and Chuck as they ride their sleigh through the debate over whether Die Hard is a Christmas …

Narcissism: But what about me?

December 19th, 2017

This week Josh and Chuck dive into the world of narcissism, one of the most perplexing and disturbing disorders humans can have. Learn all you ever cared to know about people who largely are centered on the self, lack …

SYSK Selects: How Population Works

December 16th, 2017

Population may not seem like the most scintillating topic in the world, but Josh and Chuck beg to differ. Join them as they explore how population …

How the Globe of Death Works

December 14th, 2017

The Globe of Death – el Globo de la Muerte to our Spanish-speaking friends – is perhaps the greatest of all the circus arts. It requires no smoke, no mirrors, only motorcycles, a giant sphere and fearless riders with …

The Deal With Doulas

December 12th, 2017

The word doula in Ancient Greek might mean "female servant" but it's really not a great description of the 21st century job. Doulas are birth coaches …

SYSK Selects: How much money is there in the world?​

December 9th, 2017

There are few things more futile than trying to count all of the money in the world. Even many governments have no idea how much currency they have issued. But that won't stop Chuck and Josh from trying and explaining …

How Flight Attendants Work

December 7th, 2017

Flight attendants have come a long way. From having to put up with rampant sexism, to the current incarnation as your first line of defense in case of an incident, they are valued airline employees. Learn all about this …

How Vomit Phobia Works

December 5th, 2017

No one - no one - likes to vomit, but there are some people who would prefer to die rather than vomit, people who spend their days worrying they will …

SYSK Selects: How Crime Scene Cleanup Works

December 2nd, 2017

Cleaning up crime scenes is a niche industry that's both lucrative and messy. In this episode, Josh and Chuck take a look at how crime-scene clean-up works.

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Cake: So Great. So, So Great

November 30th, 2017

Cake has been around for a long time, but mostly less than great forms. It took the Industrial Revolution, the advent of plentiful sugar, and some …

How Toy Testing Works

November 28th, 2017

It's every kid's dream - a job playing with toys that pays in toys. It's a real thing and has been around for a long time. Then there's the other side of the testing process, companies who ensure that toys are safe. It …

SYSK Selects: How Organ Donation Works

November 25th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, tune in as Josh and Chuck take a detailed look at organ donation -- from the earliest organ transplants to the organ black market.

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What is nuclear forensics?

November 23rd, 2017

Nuclear forensics is a lot of things - from UN sponsored inspections to tasks more on the down low. But either way, the job of these men and women is to root out possible nuclear weapon threats. It's a fairly unknown …

Bath Salts: Steer Clear

November 21st, 2017

Although much of the media-fueled hysteria over the designer drug called bath salts has been utterly unfounded, especially when it comes to driving users to eating people's faces, you'll still want to pass on them. …

SYSK Selects: How Daylight Saving Time Works

November 18th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, Benjamin Franklin first came up with daylight saving time in 1748, and people still practice it today. But how does it work? What are the pros and cons? Join Josh and Chuck as they …

Can movies be cursed?

November 16th, 2017

First of all, movies can't be cursed because curses aren't real. However, that can't stop Josh and Chuck from taking a look at some movies throughout history that have had a disturbing number of bad things surrounding …

How the Flu Works

November 14th, 2017

Every year the flu virus makes the rounds, laying up young and old alike for days before moving on to another hapless victim. But flu viruses can …

SYSK Selects: How Silly Putty Works

November 11th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, when the Japanese invaded Southeast Asia in World War II, they cut off America's rubber supply. Luckily, American can-do created a synthetic rubber and saved the War. Learn about the …

What's permaculture all about?

November 9th, 2017

Permaculture is a growing trend in the world of farming and home landscaping. It's basically a design principle that emphasizes sustainability and …

How Restaurant Health Inspections Work

November 7th, 2017

If you've ever worked in a restaurant, you know the feeling that occurs when the health inspector pays a visit. While nerve wracking, it's the best insurance patrons have that their food will be prepared and served in a …

SYSK Selects: How Exorcism Works

November 4th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, is the idea of possession a misunderstanding of physiological and psychological conditions, or has science failed …

Movie Crush: Tig Notaro on Mask

November 3rd, 2017

Episode two of Movie Crush is a very special one. Comedian Tig Notaro dropped in minutes after a very important, life changing phone call to chat with Chuck about the movie Mask. Have a listen!

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Movie Crush: Janet Varney on Tron

November 3rd, 2017

This week Movie Crush launches with two great episodes. Up first, actress Janet Varney talks with Chuck about the movie Tron and how much it means to her.

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How Global Warming Works

November 2nd, 2017

It's a confusing part of climate change when it seems winter is as cold as ever, but as global temperatures creep ever so slightly higher, a cascade …

SYSK's 2017 Super Spooktacular!

October 31st, 2017

In this year's super scary Halloween episode, Chuck and Josh read two great works of horror fiction: Gifts, by our very own Ed Grabianowski, and the classic The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Learn more …

SYSK Selects: How SPAM Works

October 28th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, SPAM is a canned meat product made from pork shoulder and ham. First introduced in 1937, this iconic food has …

Episode 1,000: The Simpsons Spectacular Part II

October 26th, 2017

Today concludes our two part celebration of one of the greatest TV shows of all time - The Simpsons! It also officially marks our 1,000th episode. Can you believe it? We sure can't. So join us today as we wrap up our …

Episode 999: The Simpsons Spectacular Part I

October 24th, 2017

For our 999th and 1,000th episodes, we go down the rabbit hole on a TV show that quite literally altered popular culture as we know it. The Simpsons …

SYSK Selects: The Cheesiest SYSK Episode Ever

October 21st, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, cheese is often overlooked as a one of humanity's great achievements. Making cheese is surprisingly easy: It's …

How Internships Work

October 19th, 2017

The term intern comes from the medical community, but virtually every industry now uses them. From real world training to coffee fetchers, interns can be used and misused in many different ways. Dive into the world of …

SYSK Live: The DB Cooper Heist

October 17th, 2017

Join Josh and Chuck live from Seattle as they (sky)dive into one of the most brazen robberies in the annals of crime and the only unsolved airline …

SYSK Selects: Is there such a thing as a truth serum?

October 14th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, ever since people have had secrets, other people have been looking for ways to get it out of them. Law enforcement and chemistry alike have searched for a drug that can remove the …

How Buildering Works

October 12th, 2017

Up until recently we had no idea buildering was a word. Or that people scaling buildings has been a thing since the turn of the 20th Century. Learn along with us, and don't try it at home.

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How the Rolling Jubilee Works

October 10th, 2017

Everyone thought it was the pits that banks were bailed out by taxpayers in 2008 while those same people weren't given any relief by the banks. So some Occupy Wall Street members did something about it.

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SYSK Selects: Did a cow start the Great Chicago Fire?

October 7th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, Josh and Chuck find who's probably to blame for the Great Chicago Fire. The newspapers of the day reported that a cow (or perhaps its owner) was responsible for a fire that burned …

How Giraffes Work

October 5th, 2017

Even though giraffes are one of the most recognizable animals on the planet, it wasn't until the 21st century that biology really set about studying …

How Police Body Cameras Work

October 3rd, 2017

Cops wearing cameras is a new thing. So new that we aren't entirely sure of all the ramifications that go along with them just yet. In theory they …

SYSK Selects: What was the most peaceful time in history?

September 30th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, there is a lot of debate about whether pre-agricultural humans existed in a more harmonious state than we do …

How Nude Beaches Work

September 28th, 2017

Probably all beaches were nude early on, but as society developed and body shame became all the rage, people started wearing bathing suits. Some, though, liked the way it was before.

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How FOIA Works

September 26th, 2017

In the 60s, Congress worried the White House was operating too much in secret and passed the Freedom Of Information Act, opening the government to public questioning. It has been an ongoing struggle to pry those secrets …

SYSK Selects: Fecal Transplants: You Gonna Drink That Poop?

September 23rd, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, there's an emerging field in health care called medical ecology that's concerned with understanding how the 100 …

A Nostalgic Look at Crayons

September 21st, 2017

Mixing wax with pigment is something artists have been doing since DaVinci. These little implements would later go on to be called crayons and gained …

How Frogs Work

September 19th, 2017

They survived the extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs, but unfortunately frogs seem to be no match for humans and are losing species in droves. This is not good for anyone.

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SYSK Selects: How Handwriting Analysis Works

September 16th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, one of the fields of forensic investigation, handwriting analysis is based on the principle of uniqueness - that …

How the Secret Service Works

September 14th, 2017

The U.S. Secret Service began after a mandate from President Lincoln called for a service to combat counterfeiters. Since then, they have become more …

How Psychopaths Work

September 12th, 2017

There are people who walk among us who seem normal, maybe even more charming or intelligent than average, yet they hide disturbing and at times dangerous personalities behind what one researcher called a 'mask of …

SYSK Selects: How Hip-hop Works

September 9th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select, what you hear is not a test, instead it's Chuck and Josh discussing the cultural history of the Hip-Hop movement. Born …

Are crickets the future of food?

September 7th, 2017

Crickets are part of a larger insect-based diet enjoyed in most parts of the world. Loaded with vitamins, minerals and protein, and green to boot, …

The Baffling Case of the Body On Somerton Beach

September 5th, 2017

Since his corpse was found in 1948, wearing a nice suit in summer on an Australian beach, an unidentified man has refused to fade into obscurity, gripping the imagination of sleuths around the world.

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SYSK Selects: How Shrunken Heads Work

September 2nd, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, although U.S. museum collections are rife with counterfeits, shrunken heads are far from fiction. The Shuar tribe …

How Satanism Works

August 31st, 2017

Satanism may be the most misunderstood "religion" in the world. Part of that is because there are, and have been, many offshoots of Satanism, from The Church of Satan to The Satanic Temple. One thing is sure though, …

A Lip-Smacking Look at Barbecue

August 29th, 2017

Barbecue, or for the lazy, BBQ, is a Southern cooking tradition, but also much more than that. It's a cultural touchstone of the South where people …

SYSK Selects: Is Stockholm Syndrome real?

August 26th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, since a hostage standoff in Sweden took place in 1972 a peculiar and mysterious psychological phenomenon has had …

How Personality Tests Work

August 24th, 2017

For millennia, we have tried to put human personalities into neat types, an effort psychology took up early in its history in an effort to legitimize …

Is the Uncanny Valley Real?

August 22nd, 2017

In 1970, roboticist Masahiro Mori wrote an essay that said the closer robots come to lifelike, the more they unsettle humans. His theory became the Uncanny Valley, and science has been evaluating it – and what makes …

SYSK Selects: How Exploitation Films Work

August 19th, 2017

In today's SYSK Select episode, we learn about exploitation films. During the 1930s-80s, the work of directors operating in the shadows of Hollywood …

What's the deal with accents?

August 17th, 2017

Accents are truly fascinating. Put simply, they are how a person sounds when they talk. From England to America and all over the world, the way …

How Stuttering Works

August 15th, 2017

Despite as much as one percent of the adult population having the condition, science doesn't actually know how stuttering works. The best it's come …

SYSK Selects: How McCarthyism Works

August 12th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, if you're accusing someone of disloyalty or subversion without decent evidence, then you may be guilty of McCarthyism. In this episode, Josh and Chuck explore the origin of the term, …

How Bioarchaeology Works

August 10th, 2017

Thanks to advancements in fields like genetics, and molecular chemistry, archaeology is undergoing a renaissance and opening up new understanding of …

Do motivational speakers motivate people?

August 8th, 2017

There are all kinds of motivational speakers, from people who have overcome incredible hardships to those who hold pep-rally style events in …

SYSK Selects: Why do men have nipples?

August 5th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, they're always right there, taunting you: why do you have me, they ask? Why do men have nipples? It turns out there's a good answer why and nipples on men aren't entirely useless …

Who Committed the 1912 Villisca Ax Murders?

August 3rd, 2017

In a small town in Iowa in 1912 eight people were murdered in the grisliest of ways while they slept. Local reputations were ruined when accusations …

How Public Broadcasting Works

August 1st, 2017

Public broadcasting works a bit differently depending on where you are in the world. American TV made the leap more toward commercial broadcasting in the early days, yet PBS and NPR still remain a vital part of our …

SYSK Selects: How Disco Works

July 29th, 2017

In today's SYSK Select episode, fly, robin, fly indeed. No musical genre has risen and burned out as quickly as disco, and historians are still trying to unravel the animosity aimed at it. Join Chuck and Josh as they …

A Dry Look at Toilet Paper

July 27th, 2017

Over or under? One ply or two? How about six? TP has not been around that long, but is has been embraced in a big way by the United States. Learn all about the interesting history behind this decidedly dry product.

What is Ghost Fishing?

July 25th, 2017

It sounds cool, but ghost fishing is actually a tragic byproduct of modern fishing practices, where abandoned nylon nets can trap and kill sealife …

SYSK Selects: How the Sun Works

July 22nd, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, amateur astrophysicists Josh and Chuck break out the stats and attempt to explain the complex, boiling ball of gas that we call the sun.

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All We Know About Guessing

July 20th, 2017

Guessing is a weird thing. For millennia, it could have meant the difference between life and death. Now it's not as vital, but we still do it every …

Sunburn, Suntans and Sunscreen

July 18th, 2017

It's pretty obvious something's gone wrong when you get a sunburn, but did you know a tan means you've damaged your DNA? Dive into the three Ss of summer and learn all about how to protect yourself from the sun.

Learn …

SYSK Selects: Why can't we find Amelia Earhart?

July 15th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, famed aviator Amelia Earhart's disappearance in 1937 is a mystery that endures to this day. Why don't we know what happened to her? In this episode, Josh and Chuck examine the facts …

How Fever Dreams Work

July 13th, 2017

Fever dreams can be unsettling experiences. These ramped up nightmares are vivid, detailed and only happen when the human body experiences a fever. What is it about the combination of fevers and dreams that make these …

Why is There a Battle Over Net Neutrality?

July 11th, 2017

Net neutrality is the idea that the internet is a public good and that everyone should have equal, unfettered access to it. Though the FCC strongly …

SYSK Selects: How HeLa Cells Work

July 8th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, after she was diagnosed with the cervical cancer that shortly killed her, a tissue sample was taken from …

Josh and Chuck's List of Horror Movies that Changed the Genre

July 6th, 2017

Once in a while a movie comes along that's so forward-thinking it changes the way that horror is done. A new subgenre is spawned, new tropes are established, and audiences are more terrified than ever.

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What exactly is stoicism?

July 4th, 2017

The word stoic has taken on its own meaning apart from the philosophical movement which gave it life. Learn all about the early stoics, what the philosophy is all about and where the movement stands today.

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SYSK Selects: Why isn't the U.S. on the metric system?

July 1st, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, the U.S. stands proudly defiant and the world looks at Americans as dopes for the U.S.'s stubborn refusal to go metric. However, the States have been going metric for about 150 years. …

How Standardized Patients Work

June 29th, 2017

Even the most brilliant medical minds need a good bedside manner, and thanks to standardized patients, they can improve their skills. What are they? Part-time workers who pretend to be real patients so doctors can …

Remembering Stonewall

June 27th, 2017

One of American history's darker moments, the Stonewall Riots were also the event that galvanized the gay rights movement in the United States. Today there's a monument in NYC to memorialize this important time. Learn …

SYSK Selects: Scooby Dooby Doo, Where Are You?

June 24th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, for decades, Scooby Doo has captivated children across the world. It's been translated to multiple languages and …

How Ketchup Works

June 22nd, 2017

Little-known fact: Ketchup, possibly the most all-American of condiments, evolved from fermented fish sauce people in Southeast Asia have been making …

How Seed Banks Work

June 20th, 2017

Since the advent of agriculture, humans have been storing seeds. But as sea levels rise and climates change around the world, our reasons for banking …

SYSK Selects: Do you stay conscious after being decapitated?

June 17th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, historically speaking, decapitation was a popular means of execution -- it's been used by everyone from ancient …

What was Camp X?

June 15th, 2017

In the early days of World War II, there was a secret training program in Canada that taught Allied saboteurs everything from espionage and bridge blowing to karate chops to the neck of an enemy. It was called Camp X …

How the Beagle Brigade Works

June 13th, 2017

If you've ever been to an international airport, you've probably seen one of the keenest spotters of illegal contraband - The Beagle Brigade! These …

SYSK Selects: How Maps Work

June 10th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, yes, your brain may have just flash-dried from boredom at the thought of learning about maps, but it turns out …

Why Are Whale Strandings Still a Mystery?

June 8th, 2017

For millennia, mass strandings of whales have confounded us. Why should dozens or more whales come onto shore only to die a terrible and lengthy …

How Coelacanths Work

June 6th, 2017

Coelacanths are incredibly interesting as far as fish go. For one, they were thought to have gone the way of the dinosaur, along with the dinosaur. They also give birth to live fish and tend to dwell more than 800 feet …

SYSK Selects: What's the deal with Rasputin's death?

June 3rd, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, Grigori Rasputin, the Russian charismatic cleric and political adviser to the ruling Romanovs, is said to have …

The Stories Behind A Few Food Fads

June 1st, 2017

America loves to go nuts over new food trends and it turns out that the 20th century was a boon time for them.

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Are Election Laws Designed to Suppress Voting?

May 30th, 2017

Are laws that are meant to protect the sanctity of the polling place in reality designed to make it harder for groups that traditionally vote …

SYSK Selects: How Beer Works

May 27th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, at long last, Josh and Chuck take on perhaps their most important topic ever. Learn about the history of beer, …

How Schoolhouse Rock Rocked: Featuring Bob Nastanovich of Pavement

May 25th, 2017

Schoolhouse Rock is possibly the best children's program of all time. Join Josh and Chuck as they tell the story of SR, featuring an interview with …

Is a head transplant really a thing?

May 23rd, 2017

"Head transplant" is a bit of a misnomer, because it's more like a body transplant. But either way, the idea is that one human will wake up from surgery with a decidedly different look. Is it possible? Probably not. But …

SYSK Selects: How Magic Mushrooms Work

May 20th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, for thousands of years, humans have used hallucinogenic mushrooms for spiritual reasons. Today, however, having them can get you thrown in prison. How do magic mushrooms do what they …

How the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis Work

May 18th, 2017

It wasn't too long ago that humans thought the polar lights were signs from the afterlife. Thanks to a 19th century Norwegian, we now understand that …

How Champagne Works

May 16th, 2017

Sure we can all agree that champagne is probably the greatest thing humans have or ever will invent, but how much do we understand how it's made?

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SYSK Selects: Gesundheit! How Allergies Work

May 13th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, about 30-40 percent of humans suffer from some sort of allergy. The big joke, though, is that every sufferer is …

How Charismatic Megafauna Work

May 11th, 2017

Charismatic Megafauna is not just a great band name. It's really just a fancy word for the cutest and most personality plus animals at the zoo. We're talking pandas, elephants and anything else you might see on a …

How Itching Works

May 9th, 2017

It was only in the last few decades that science became aware that itches aren't just low-level pain. And in that time, the mystery of how we itch and why we scratch has gotten even more baffling.

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SYSK Selects: What's the 10,000 Year Clock?

May 6th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, in a desert in Texas a 200-feet-tall clock is being constructed deep inside a mountain. Once completed, it will keep time for the next 10,000 years, even if there are no humans around …

Some Nutso Fan Theories

May 4th, 2017

It turns out that the characters in your favorite TV shows and the like are actually dead, dreaming, dying or don't exist.

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How Poetry Works

May 2nd, 2017

Poetry is a broad and expansive art form. From dramatic verse to haiku, rhyming poetry and spoken word, there are many hats a poet can wear. Join Josh and Chuck today as they break down the history of poetry, a dive …

SYSK Selects: How Revisionist History Works

April 29th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, perhaps you equate the term to conspiracy theories and Holocaust denials, but revisionism is a genuine discipline …

How Multiple Sclerosis Works

April 27th, 2017

When the immune system mistakes the tissue covering neural connections as foreign invaders, the result can devastate the body. There is hope, …

How the National Security Council Works

April 25th, 2017

Until recently, most people probably never paid much attention to the National Security Council. It's been around a long time though, and the president has quite a bit of leeway as to who sits at the table. Learn all …

SYSK Selects: How Breast Implants Work

April 22nd, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, the first attempt at breast augmentation surgery was on a dog. The second on a woman who went in for tattoo removal. From those weird origins hundreds of thousands of breast implant …

How Swearing Works

April 20th, 2017

Swearing is something that's been done across all cultures, virtually since humans began speaking. What is it about these taboo words that offend …

How Corsets Work

April 18th, 2017

Sure, we're doing an episode on corsets. Why do you ask?

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SYSK Selects: Lying Liars: How Lying Works, Liar

April 15th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, studies find that absolutely everyone lies - some have found as much as a quarter of our daily interactions …

How Supervolcanoes Work

April 13th, 2017

Until recently, volcanologists thought supervolcanoes were simply massive volcanoes. But further research has revealed that they are far different - …

How Supreme Court Nominations Work

April 11th, 2017

Being nominated as a Supreme Court Justice is no small thing, and it doesn't always go as planned. With this week's confirmation of Justice Gorsuch, Josh and Chuck take a look at the process of getting named to …

SYSK Selects: Can you die of a broken heart?

April 8th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, in the early 1990s, Japanese researchers found a strange anomaly in their study subjects, five people who had inexplicable heart attacks. From this first investigation has come a …

How Empathy Works

April 6th, 2017

Empathy can often be confused with sympathy and regular old compassion. But it's not exactly either one of those. Some say a lack of empathy can …

Composting: Nature's Most Interesting Process

April 4th, 2017

You may think composting is just a bunch of old banana peels rotting away into dirt but, friend, you're not looking closely enough. Inside that …

SYSK Selects: How Filibusters Work

April 1st, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, although lots of people incorrectly believe the filibuster was an intentional rule created by the founders of the …

The Shroud Of Turin: No Ordinary Bed Sheet

March 30th, 2017

The Shroud of Turin is no ordinary bed sheet. Some think it's the burial cloth of Jesus. Others think it's an amazing piece of artwork. The truth is, we'll probably never know what it really is. The mystery of the …

How Foreign Accent Syndrome Works

March 28th, 2017

Foreign accent syndrome isn't when your mom talks funny when she goes abroad. It's an actual condition where people wake up one day with an entirely different accent, usually from some kind of head trauma. Learn all …

How the Hyperloop Will Work

March 23rd, 2017

If you’re out there, Elon Musk, this one’s for you (although you already know everything in this episode). Everybody else, buckle in and sit back for a 700 mph thrill ride from LA to SF in 35 minutes - coming soon!

Solitary Confinement: Cruel and Unusual

March 21st, 2017

In our continuing exploration of crime and punishment, we take a look at the practice of solitary confinement. To be sure, it has its place in …

Southerners Aren’t Lazy and Dumb, They Just Had Hookworm

March 16th, 2017

There was a time when the lower classes of the American South were considered lazy and dimwitted, a stereotype that still somewhat survives today. But this stereotype was rooted in fact. Hookworms, it turns out, were …

Pain Scales: Yeeeow!

March 14th, 2017

Pain is subjective; it is whatever the person experiencing it says it is. But to effectively treat pain, it helps to quantify it, which is why medicine came up with pain scales.

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History of the Trail of Tears, Part II

March 9th, 2017

In the second of two parts, what was once a voluntary resettlement program becomes a violent, forced relocation under the leadership of President …

History of the Trail of Tears, Part I

March 7th, 2017

In this first of two episodes on the Trail of Tears, learn about the forces that converged to create the series of events that formed the basis of what may be the most brutal decade in American history.

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How Optical Illusions Work

March 2nd, 2017

Now you see it, now you don't — optical illusions can fool us into seeing what's not actually there. But what causes that disconnect between …

How Free Speech Works

February 28th, 2017

Freedom of speech and the press are values vital to American democracy. But the First Amendment doesn't really define free speech, and plenty of expressions are restricted. Learn all about the ins and outs of this …

How Famines Work

February 23rd, 2017

It’s common knowledge that famines are usually caused by major droughts: Rain doesn’t fall, crops don’t grow, and people go hungry. But recent research suggests that while weather may trigger famines, they may actually …

The ins and outs of the DEATH TAX

February 21st, 2017

The estate tax, also known as the death tax, is not new. It's actually been around in some form since ancient Rome. Some say it's a necessary tax to help prevent resting on your inheritance laurels. Others say it's …

The Black Panther Party

February 16th, 2017

The Black Panther Party was a complex political movement that was unfairly painted as a militant group who hated white people. Far from it, they were …

Tardigrades: Nature's Cuddly, Indestructible Microanimal

February 14th, 2017

You can burn them, freeze them, shoot them into space – they wouldn’t bat an eyelash, even if they had eyelashes. Go into the microcosmos and learn …

Live from San Francisco: How Malls Work

February 9th, 2017

In this show recorded live on January 5, 2017 at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre, Josh and Chuck delve into the history and the heyday of the church of consumerism and what it means for local communities and our …

The Quinoa Revolution!

February 7th, 2017

Quinoa is a trendy food, right alongside kale and anything else farm to table. But it's really an ancient grain. Although it's not exactly a grain at all. Technically it's a pseudo-cereal. But it is tasty and …

What's the future of virtual sex?

February 2nd, 2017

In the not too distant future, sex may not involve being in the same room as your partner. In fact, your partner may not even have to be a human. …

Elastics: Where God and Science Smooch

January 31st, 2017

You could be forgiven for thinking the story behind elastics was boring. You’d still be wrong, though. The story of what’s holding up your underwear …

How Pacifism Works (And Could It?)

January 26th, 2017

There is deep disagreement over whether humans are essentially peaceful or essentially warlike. Depending on your view you may see pacifism as either …

How Dictators Work

January 24th, 2017

There are many types of dictators, from so called "benevolent" ones to the kind who rule with an iron fist. There are also many ways they can come …

How Soylent Works

January 19th, 2017

Soylent is a meal replacement drink, but not really. So what is it? Total sustenance in a glass? Some say so. Is it made from humans? No, that's just a movie. Learn all about this odd concoction in today's episode.

Are Artificial Sweeteners Really Bad For You?

January 17th, 2017

Artificial sweeteners have gotten a bad rap in the press for as long as they’ve been in use. But is it just the result of a fear of science or do …

How Watersheds Work

January 12th, 2017

Unless you happen to be standing on a hilltop or swimming in the ocean right now, you are on a watershed. These unsung wonders of topography and …

What's the deal with Baby Boomers?

January 10th, 2017

Baby Boomers are probably the most talked about generation in American history. But who are these people and how did they help shape the country we know today? Find out all about the big boom in today's episode.

Learn …

How Feeding Babies Works: The Bottle

January 5th, 2017

The decision to bottle feed a baby instead of breast-feeding is a weighty one these days, fraught with supposed developmental pitfalls and very real social implications. But is bottle feeding a bad thing? And are …

How Feeding Babies Works: The Breast

January 3rd, 2017

Breast milk is considered a perfect food for infants, so much so that for the first four to six months of life, a baby can subsist on mother’s milk alone. Learn all about the most fascinating milk around and the science …

Human Blockheads: A Real Thing

December 29th, 2016

Human blockheads are performers who hammer nails and things into their noses. Yup. That's a thing. And it isn't a trick either - anyone can do it. Just please don't try to.

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Can you live without a bank account?

December 27th, 2016

Seems like it would be nearly impossible to live without a bank account these days. But it is possible! Learn all about banking and personal finance …

The Stuff You Should Know 2016 Christmas Extravaganza in 3-D!

December 22nd, 2016

It’s the most wonderful time of year again! Time for Josh and Chuck to take you on a cozy, hall-decked ride full of glad tidings right into the heart …

The Golden Age of Grave Robbing: Stuff You Should Know Live in London

December 20th, 2016

There was a brief period in the US, UK and Ireland when a dead body could fetch a pretty penny for a person willing to dig it up and sell it to …

How Porta-Potties Work

December 15th, 2016

Despite our lengthy history of evacuating our bowels and bladders, it wasn’t until the relatively recent 1940s that we began to construct portable, self-contained toilets to accept our waste. Dive into the world of …

Will We Find Evidence of Aliens by Their Engineering Projects?

December 13th, 2016

In 1960 physicist Freeman Dyson suggested that in the hunt for alien life, we should search for evidence of massive engineering projects that …

Is computer addiction a thing?

December 8th, 2016

Computer addiction is really an umbrella term for the various addictions that can come along with the computer. We're talking video games, porn, gambling and the like. We dive deep into the world of digital addiction in …

Horoscopes: Written in the Stars?

December 6th, 2016

A lot of people read their daily horoscopes, but does anyone really take stock in them? Turns out the answer is yes, even though there is no evidence of their accuracy. Learn all about horoscopes today.

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How a Flea Circus Works

December 1st, 2016

If you've ever seen a flea circus, then count yourself among the few. It's a dying art, but back in the day they thrilled and delighted young and old …

Frostbite: Yeeeow!

November 29th, 2016

Up to the 1950s most reports of frostbite came from the world’s militaries, but as outdoor sports have gotten more popular, so have frostbite cases. …

Should Advertising to Kids Be Banned?

November 24th, 2016

As kids’ buying power in America has exploded in recent decades, so too has the amount companies spend advertising to them. But because of a quirk of brain development, kids aren’t equipped to understand ads are …

The Kitty Genovese Story

November 22nd, 2016

Most people have heard of the story of Kitty Genovese. She was murdered near her apartment in 1964 and her neighbors didn't do much to help. It caused a nationwide outcry, but the story has often been misrepresented. …

What's the Deal with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy?

November 17th, 2016

Concussions are bad enough for football players, but research has found all of those smaller hits can add up to massive brain trauma later in life too, leading to a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a …

How Fireplaces Work

November 15th, 2016

They are dirty, harmful to your health, bad for the environment and utterly charming. Wood-burning fireplaces have been with us for centuries and, …

How Monty Python Worked: SYSK Live from LA Podfest

November 10th, 2016

Things get awesome when Josh and Chuck do a live show on Monty Python at the LA Podcast Festival. Hang out as the duo dives into the "Beatles of …

Do sin taxes work?

November 8th, 2016

Taxing things like alcohol, tobacco and gambling is big money and has been for a long time. But are these "sin taxes" keeping people from indulging …

A Partial History of Action Figures

November 3rd, 2016

Action figures have a long and glorious history. From GI Joes to Star Wars figures, these offshoots of dolls came along at just the right time to …

Ham Radio and the Hams Who Use Them

November 1st, 2016

If you thought that Ham Radio enthusiasts were (mostly) men and boys who sit alone late at night in order to scan frequencies searching for a human …

SYSK The Podcast: Special Halloween Bonus Episode 2016, The Sequel – From Hell

October 31st, 2016

Lock your doors and grab something heavy to defend yourself, like a candlestick or something, because Josh and Chuck are going to scare the wits out of you, courtesy of a story from The Grabster and listeners who …

The Hinterkaifeck Axe Murders

October 27th, 2016

In 1922, a little farm in the woods of Bavaria became the site of what would become Germany’s most famous unsolved murder, when six people were …

How Sleep Paralysis Works, or The Worst Thing That Can Happen While You're Sleeping

October 25th, 2016

For as long as people have been sleeping, about half of us have probably suffered from sleep paralysis. Thanks to an unusual fluke in the sleep cycle, the sufferer feels paralyzed and consumed by fear as something on …

Living Underground in Beijing

October 20th, 2016

Chairman Mao’s paranoia of a Soviet invasion led to hundreds of thousands of Beijing residents put to work for a decade building an 85-square-km underground city to serve as a massive bomb shelter. Instead it’s illegal …

What's the What with Fish Fraud?

October 18th, 2016

Fish fraud, misrepresenting a fish as a more expensive one, costs Americans $25 billion a year. And because less than 100 inspectors check for fraud …

How the Census Works

October 13th, 2016

Counting humans has been happening for a long, long time. It usually had to do with taxing them, but now census data can reveal a lot about a …

Hibernation: Not a Snooze

October 11th, 2016

When animals are faced with scarce food in the winter, they have two choices to stay alive: migrate or hibernate. For hibernators, their bodies …

Why Did Easter Island's Civilization Collapse?

October 6th, 2016

When the first Europeans landed on Rapa Nui, which they renamed Easter Island, they were puzzled by what happened there. Only a few thousand people lived there but there were signs of a massive civilization that once …

The Amazing History of Soda

October 3rd, 2016

The soda we get instantly mixed at a fast-food joint owes a lot to a rich history going back to the Roman baths, that features drugs, diseases and explosions. Learn all about soda and soda fountains in this surprisingly …

How Polar Bears Work

September 29th, 2016

Polar bears are more than just lovable creatures that roam the ice in search of food. They're one of the most fascinating animals on planet Earth. …

How Ice Ages Work

September 27th, 2016

Believe it or not, we live in an ice age. The polar glaciers give it away. Those glaciers used to come clear down to New York. We now know the traces …

All we know about Zika so far...

September 22nd, 2016

Zika is all over the news these days, yet in America, people don't seem to be too concerned just yet. Some say it's a case of the media crying wolf. …

How Cerebral Palsy Works

September 20th, 2016

Cerebral palsy isn’t a disease, but an umbrella term for conditions arising from brain damage suffered in the womb or shortly after birth. The …

What's the deal with Stradivarius violins?

September 15th, 2016

The Strad violin is noted for its tonal qualities and superior craftsmanship. And for its price tag. There are many theories why the Strad sounds so …

Alexander Hamilton: Most Influential American?

September 13th, 2016

Alexander Hamilton, the "ten dollar founding father," is more than the toast of Broadway. In fact, he just may be the most influential American in …

Do Animals Have Natural Rights?

September 8th, 2016

Animals have had legal protection from unnecessary harm since the 19th century. Yet what harm is necessary is open to interpretation and animals …

How Animal Testing Works

September 6th, 2016

The use of animals for commercial and scientific testing is a quietly controversial topic. That we humans have advanced as a species because we use animals as literal and figurative guinea pigs is undeniable. But do we …

How the Negro Leagues Worked

September 1st, 2016

A decade before the U.S. officially segregated in 1896, baseball banned black players. A decade before the US integrated, baseball broke the color …

How Food Tasters Work

August 30th, 2016

Some people might think that tasting food for a living is the best job in the whole wide world. But think again! The reality is, it can be a tedious, …

This Custom of Customs

August 25th, 2016

Customs may be a pain when you're traveling, but it's a necessary instrument the government uses to regulate trade. And it has a very fascinating …

Jellyfish: Even Cooler than Octopi?

August 23rd, 2016

Jellyfish are among the most adaptable, competitive organisms on the planet. They can grow back into their juvenile stage when resources are scarce, …

The Delightful History of Steam Technology

August 18th, 2016

One of the coolest things humans have ever figured out is how to use steam as power. It made the Industrial Revolution possible and even today, 88% …

How Woolly Mammoths Worked

August 16th, 2016

It was only 11000 years ago that the last true woolly mammoths died out, close enough to the modern age that humans lived alongside them. But were …

Evel Knievel Part II

August 11th, 2016

In today's episode, we cover part two of our Evel Knievel suite. The man, the myth, the legend. Check in and listen to the latter stages of Evel's career as the world's most legendary daredevil.

Learn more about your …

Evel Knievel Part I

August 9th, 2016

Evel Knievel was perhaps the world's most legendary daredevil. He came along at a time when the world ate up this kind of entertainment, partially in hopes that he crashed. And crash he did. A lot. Learn all about this …

Mermaids: Not a real thing

August 4th, 2016

Mermaids aren't real. That much we know. But the history and lore of these magical and sometimes menacing creatures of the sea is pretty interesting stuff. Learn all about these half women/half fish today.

Learn more …

How Night Terrors Work

August 1st, 2016

Night terrors, an uncommon sleep disorder, happen when the brain doesn't transition correctly to deep sleep. The result is terrifying, with the …

What is exploding head syndrome?

July 28th, 2016

Exploding head syndrome isn't nearly as weird as it sounds, and there are no brain parts being damaged. But if you suffer from it, you will definitely be freaked out. The good news is, despite its name, it's not …

How Triage Works

July 26th, 2016

Triage is a system that provides immediate attention and categorization for medical emergencies that hopefully will never be a big part of your life. …

How the Moonwalk Works

July 21st, 2016

When Michael Jackson debuted the moonwalk in 1983 the world was enrapt. The dance goes back farther, to the 1930s, and pops up again in the 50s, …

How Chaos Theory Changed the Universe

July 19th, 2016

Since the age of Descartes, science has put all of its eggs in the basket of determinism, the idea that with accurate enough measurements any aspect …

The Gettysburg Address: Short and Sweet

July 14th, 2016

The Gettysburg Address is one of the most famous speeches in political history, despite only being a few hundred words long. What was so special …

How Radiation Sickness Works

July 12th, 2016

Fortunately, science has very few instances where humans have been exposed to acute radiation poisoning to study for clues to treating radiation sickness. They have found, though, that those few instances have been …

What's with this "Internet of Things"?

July 7th, 2016

You may have heard about the Internet of Things and not known what the term meant. It's basically a collection of object conected to your life and …

Research tips from SYSK

July 5th, 2016

People often ask us how we do our research. We're not going to disclose all of our secrets, but we'll give you some tips on how to root out the bad studies from the good ones. Learn all about shady studies and reporting …

How Lighthouses Work

June 30th, 2016

People have been burning fires on cliffs as long as other people have used boats, but after the Age of Exploration, lighthouses took their unmistakable form and the great stories of the people who kept the lights around …

How Underground Mining Works

June 28th, 2016

People used to use deer antlers to beat the minerals out of rock hidden in the earth. Luckily, they got better at it, and now modern mining is a mind-boggling process for efficiently removing stuff we want from inside …

What's the misery index?

June 23rd, 2016

Economists love their data because somewhere in the numbers lies the answer to the ills of the country. They also love to frame data in a way people can relate to. Such is the case with the famous "misery index."

Learn …

How Space Stations Work

June 21st, 2016

It seems like we largely take it for granted these days, but the fact that we have humans living in space is the realization of a scientific dream a …

How Steadicams Work

June 16th, 2016

There have been many inventions that have advanced filmmaking, but maybe none as important as the steadicam. Invented in the mid-70s, it literally changed the way movie making happened, and made the impossible possible. …

Why Are So Many Disembodied Feet Washing Ashore In British Columbia?

June 14th, 2016

Between 2007 and 2016, 17 disembodied feet - still wearing shoes - have washed ashore between Washington and British Columbia. What's behind the …

What's the deal with controlled burns?

June 9th, 2016

Starting a fire to prevent fire seems counterintuitive, but it makes a lot of sense once you understand it. But controlled burns aren't just to help …

How Motion Sickness Works

June 7th, 2016

Motion sickness is the worst and hits about 25 to 40 percent of humans when they ride in cars, boats, or simply watch the wrong 3-D movie. Join us as we break down the science behind this nausea-inducing affliction.

How Gene Editing Works

June 2nd, 2016

With the discovery of a surprising immune response in E coli bacteria, we are facing a new era of freedom from genetic mutations that lead to disease …

How SuperBalls Work

May 31st, 2016

You can thank Wham-O's SuperBall for inspiring the name of the NFL's Big Game (buh) and you can thank the fear and the Soviet launch of Sputnik aroused in America for the invention of SuperBall! Learn the history and …

How Crumple Zones Work

May 25th, 2016

If you've ever been in a bad accident in a newer car, you probably have crumple zones to thank for your life. Much more interesting than you think, these zones are designed to break apart and absorb impact, so you don't …

Chiggers: The Phantom Menace

May 23rd, 2016

Chiggers are tiny little mites capable of making your life miserable. Worse than mosquitoes? Maybe. But they aren't insects - mites are actually part of the arachnid family and behave a little like ticks. Learn all …

The Unsolved Mystery Disappearance of the Sodder Children

May 18th, 2016

In 1945 a house fire took the lives of five children - except that no trace of their bodies was ever found. Dive into the longstanding mystery of the odd circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the Sodder …

How Bonsai Works

May 16th, 2016

For thousands of years people have been taking normal trees and forcing them into miniature. Learn all about the history and art of this strangely engrossing pastime.

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True stories of survival cannibalism!

May 11th, 2016

Cannibalism is the macabre practice of eating other humans. But sometimes, people have no choice if they want to survive. It's called survival cannibalism and it tastes like chicken.

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How Snake Handlers Work

May 9th, 2016

Snake handling ranges from professional snake milkers for antivenin to religious handlers who tend to get bitten and sometimes die from it. Either way, it can be a dangerous business. Learn all about snake handling …

How LSD Works

May 5th, 2016

In 1943 Swiss chemist Albert Hofman discovered he'd created what may be the most potent hallucinogen known to humankind. Then he took a bike ride. …

How Megalodon Worked

May 3rd, 2016

Between 2 to 20 million years ago, the biggest shark with perhaps the most devastating bite of any animal ever ruled the oceans with an iron jaw. …

What was Operation Plowshare?

April 28th, 2016

America had already used two nuclear bombs to devastating effect when researchers thought "maybe we can use these bombs to dig big holes instead." …

Myths and Truths About Tornadoes

April 25th, 2016

Tornadoes can make mincemeat out of houses, people, cars, you name it. So do you know what to do - and what not to do - when there's one headed your way?

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Does Kin Selection Explain Altruism?

April 21st, 2016

There's a curious puzzle unanswered by the theory of evolution: why do some animals give up their chance to reproduce to help others reproduce …

What Makes Lead So Poisonous?

April 19th, 2016

The people of Flint, MI were horrified to find their drinking water was poisoned with lead. As we learn more about lead's effects and realize how persistent it is, the more worrying it becomes. What makes lead so toxic?

How Big Bang Theory Works, with Neil deGrasse Tyson

April 14th, 2016

There are a number of theories for how the universe evolved but none are more widely accepted than the Big Bang theory. Learn about the mind-boggling …

How the Gender Pay Gap Works

April 12th, 2016

The gender pay gap is the amount of time into the next year a woman must work to earn as much as a man did the previous year. And it's narrowing at a snail's pace.

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How Labor Strikes Work

April 7th, 2016

Labor strikes are the last resort of a workforce frustrated with low pay or dangerous working conditions. A big part of winning a wage war is having the public in your side. Learn all about strikes in today's episode.

Our cats episode - right here, right meow

April 5th, 2016

Cats are the most popular pet in the United States, despite the fact that we've only been keeping them indoors for 50-60 years. Learn about more cat …

Nostalgia is not the most toxic impulse

March 31st, 2016

Nostalgia is a funny thing. It's not home sickness, it's more connected to emotions and a time in your life. But is nostalgia worthwhile? Nascent science says it just might be.

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What Was the Deal With the Hatfields and McCoys?

March 29th, 2016

It was America's most famous family feud, but the history of the Hatfields vs the McCoys is fraught with bias and inaccuracies. Dig into a disagreement in 19th-century Appalachia that became a very big deal around the …

How TED Talks Work: Featuring Roman Mars

March 24th, 2016

TED Talks have been around longer than you think. They became really popular once YouTube came along to bring their often inspirational messages to …

Who Gets to Name Continents?

March 22nd, 2016

America is named after Amerigo Vespucci, right? Maybe not. And who named Australia? Find out the unusually uncertain origins of the continents and other interesting stuff in this episode.

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How Makeup Works

March 17th, 2016

Humans have been wearing makeup for a few thousand years now and yet, here in the US the chemicals used in them are still not understood and not …

Some Really Interesting Cases of Mass Hysteria

March 15th, 2016

Around the world and across time, people have fallen victim to one of the strongest contagions of all - the power of suggestion. Here are just a few examples of these bizarre cases.

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How Dark Money Works

March 10th, 2016

Since the Supreme Court ruled in 2010 in the Citizens United case that political contributions are speech and should be protected, the floodgates of …

How The Iditarod Works

March 8th, 2016

Each year hundreds of dogs haul humans in sleds as part of the 1,100 plus mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. It's grueling and not without …

How Freak Shows Worked

March 3rd, 2016

Not too long ago, people would pay money to gawk and stare at a performer with a physical disformity. They were called freakshows and they began in …

How El Nino Works

March 1st, 2016

El Nino may mean "the little boy" or "Christ Child" in Spanish, but this weather phenomenon really means crazy things for Planet Earth. We're talking rain where it's typically dry and drought where it's usually wet. …

(Approximately) 10 Things That Vanished Mysteriously

February 25th, 2016

Sometimes things - like dentures, airplanes or even people - go missing. And when they never turn up again they become enduring, and engrossing, mysteries.

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The Future of Renewable Energy, Featuring Bill Gates

February 23rd, 2016

Renewable energy could be the key to ensuring the future prosperity and health of Planet Earth and humankind. In this very special episode, we sit …

How Nitrous Oxide Works

February 18th, 2016

For about 175 years people have been huffing nitrous oxide for everything from vision quests to anesthetic to get plain old high. And after all that …

How Jackhammers Work

February 16th, 2016

It's likely that without the invention of the pneumatic jackhammer, the Industrial Revolution wouldn't have hummed along quite so smoothly. Certainly …

What's the Deal With Poop?

February 11th, 2016

We are going to get down and dirty with all things poop in this episode: What a healthy poop looks like, how to poop your best, the history of using poop to survive in the Canadian wild and lots more interesting stuff.

How Rabies Works

February 9th, 2016

Rabies may have gotten a lot of attention in the U.S. in the 70s and 80s, but it's still an issue in developing countries. Learn all about this nasty virus in today's episode. And stay away from racoons and bats.

Learn …

How Land Diving Works

February 4th, 2016

On Pentacost Island the ritual that preceded bungee jumping is alive and well. Just why do these tribesmen risk life and limb? To ensure a hearty yam harvest. Great reason.

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Operation Mincemeat: How A Corpse Fooled the Nazis

February 2nd, 2016

In World War II, a secret department of British 'corkscrew thinkers' hatched a plan to use the cadaver of an unclaimed homeless man to turn the tide of the war in the Allies' favor. It worked.

Learn more about your …

Does Whole-Body Cryotherapy Work?

January 28th, 2016

Forty years after a Japanese doctor began using whole body cryotherapy to treat patients with arthritis; the technique has made its ways to med-spas …

How Personalized Medicine Works

January 26th, 2016

Hippocrates realized that it is even more important to understand the patient than to understand the disease and now, 2000 years later, we are coming back to that way of thinking with personalized medicine. ?

Learn more …

Timber! How Timber Works

January 21st, 2016

Throughout much of the world, the forests are being managed through sustainable timber harvesting practices. This has come at the cost of much legal battling and a century of practice. ?

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Sir Isaac Newton: Greatest Scientist of All Time?

January 19th, 2016

There have been a lot of great scientist throughout history, but Sir Isaac Newton might just take the cake. But while he was a certified genius, he was also a little screwy. Dive into the life of this fascinating chap …

The Duality of Caffeine

January 14th, 2016

Caffeine is a heck of a drug - at the same time it's both good and bad for you. Learn the good, bad and ugly about this everyday stimulant in today's …

How Futurology Works

January 12th, 2016

Science fiction writers have made some amazingly accurate predictions over the years, but in 1945 the pace of technological change created a field …

Body Language!

January 7th, 2016

Body language is how you communicate without words. Some say it bears more impact in communication than speaking words. Learn about how you say what …

The "Satanic Panic" of the 1980s

January 5th, 2016

In the late 1980s, the United States experienced a "Satanic Panic," leading parents to fear for the safety of their children. But were there any real examples of Satanic ritual abuse? Find out this and more in today's …

How Lizzie Borden Worked

December 31st, 2015

Everybody knows how many whacks Lizzie Borden gave her mother and father with that axe, but there is plenty about the infamous double homicide that …

The Great Wall of China Episode

December 29th, 2015

The Great Wall of China is one of the most visited tourist desinations in the world. How'd it get built? How old is it? What's the current condition? …

The Stuff You Should Know 2015 Jolly Christmas Extravaganza

December 24th, 2015

It's the most wonderful time of year again! Join Chuck and Josh as they explore Christmas traditions around the world, tidbits about Elf, holiday …

How Gossip Works

December 22nd, 2015

You know what I heard? That Josh and Chuck hate each other and they're just faking being friends for the show. That's called gossip, folks and it can …

The Star Wars Holiday Special of 1978

December 17th, 2015

Long ago, in a galaxy not so far away, George Lucas allowed the Star Wars Holiday Special to be made. What happened on the night of November 17, 1978 …

How the Antikythera Mechanism Works

December 15th, 2015

In 1900 sponge divers found the wreck of a 2000 year-old treasure ship that contained within it a machine that should not exist. Learn of the device …

How Reverse Psychology Works

December 10th, 2015

You have very likely used reverse psychology before, trying to persuade someone to do something you want by suggesting they do the opposite. What's …

Carl Sagan: American Hero

December 8th, 2015

Carl Sagan was the world's first mainstream media super scientist, capapble of breaking down complex ideas for the common folk. But what made him …

How HIV/AIDS Works, Part II

December 3rd, 2015

In part two of the series on HIV/AIDS, Chuck and Josh explore how the battle against the disease is being fought and won thanks to new treatments and possible cures.

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How HIV/AIDS Works, Part I

December 1st, 2015

AIDS is one of the most well-known and most misunderstood diseases humans are susceptible to. In part one of this two-part series, Josh and Chuck explain how the disease is contracted and how it works.

Learn more about …

Live in Chicago: How Public Relations Works

November 26th, 2015

After a year of taking it on the road, Josh and Chuck are releasing their show on public relations. Learn all about the ways you're manipulated on a …

The Lowdown on Anonymous

November 24th, 2015

Anonymous is an amorphous group of hacktivists with no single leader or power structure. Some call them heroes, others call them criminals. Can they be both?

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How Dementia Works

November 19th, 2015

The number of people suffering from dementia is expected to explode in the coming decades and, in a pleasant surprise, countries around the world are taking steps to plan for the increase in friendly, caring ways.

Learn …

How Rodney Dangerfield Worked, Live From LA

November 18th, 2015

Other comedians cry on the inside, but Rodney Dangerfield built his entire act around his sad life. Get to know this legendary comic who was nearing 50 when he got his break.

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What's the Deal With Staring?

November 17th, 2015

Gazing too long upon another person is almost universally viewed as anywhere from impolite to hostile, which is odd considering science isn't fully …

How The Voynich Manuscript Works

November 12th, 2015

Since its re-discovery in the early 20th century, the Medieval codex the Voynich Manuscript has thoroughly puzzled anyone who has tried to unlock its secret language and bizarre drawings. Will it ever give up its …

Maggots: Good For Healing Wounds, Turns Out

November 10th, 2015

Cultures around the world over the years have been inspired by, then repulsed, then inspired by maggots' ability to heal persistent wounds. We are in …

How Grimm's Fairy Tales Work

November 5th, 2015

Unless you were raised alone in a basement (in which case you may be the subject of one), you probably grew up on fairy tales. That's appropriate because they may be humanity's greatest psychic projection screen.

Learn …

The Dark Origins of Fairy Tales

November 3rd, 2015

Fairy tales are for kids right? Well not at first they weren't. They were dark tales of murder, rape, incest, cannibalism and mayhem geared toward …

Josh N Chuck's Hallowe'en Spooky Scarefest

October 29th, 2015

Each year, Chuck and Josh read a couple of scary stories and this year they have a pair of truly frightful tales about a haunted bog and a terrifying …

How Passports Work

October 27th, 2015

The concept of passports - that people should enjoy protected freedom of movement - is an ancient one. It wasn't until WWI that they became …

Vocal Fry and Other Speech Trends

October 22nd, 2015

You've heard lots of complaints about vocal fry, mostly from older white men. But it's not exclusive to the Kardashians. Learn all about vocal fry, …

Please Listen to How Plasma Waste Converters Work

October 20th, 2015

There is a way to not only sustainably get rid our household waste, but also produce enough energy from it to power the process and even create …

How Wine Fraud Works

October 15th, 2015

Wine fraud may be a case of rich con artists tricking wealthy people into parting with money, but it's still a crime. Learn all about this weird, widespread practice in today's episode.

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How Vestigial Organs Work

October 13th, 2015

Darwin asserted that seemingly useless organs and behaviors are left over from our evolutionary history. But as more are found to have a function, …

What was the Philadelphia Experiment?

October 8th, 2015

The Philadelphia Experiment is a bad movie from the 1980s, and also the conspiracy theory that refuses to die, despite virtually zero evidence of its occurrence. Learn all about this strange non-event in today's show.

How Lobbying Works

October 6th, 2015

Lobbying is an entrenched part of American politics and one that many people think is breaking government. But petitioning the government is …

How PEZ Works

October 1st, 2015

PEZ began in Vienna as a mint meant to help people quit smoking. But once American kids got ahold of it, the candy took off and a symbol of childhood …

Chuck and Josh Make It Through Female Puberty

September 29th, 2015

In part two of the SYSK puberty saga, Josh and Chuck venture into new territory as they explore all of the amazing changes girls face when they come of age.

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Geothermal Energy: Earth's Gift to Mankind

September 24th, 2015

Green energy is good for all, and it doesn't get much greener than using the Earth's own heat to warm your home or office. Learn all about geothermal energy in today's new episode.

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How Cult Deprogramming Worked

September 22nd, 2015

The fear of cults in the 1970s drove Americans to look the other way on kidnappings, abuse and torture of cult members by deprogrammers - but did it …

The Great Nuclear Winter Debate of 1983

September 17th, 2015

At the height of the Cold War, a group of concerned scientists promoted their findings on the horrific aftereffects of nuclear war and were accused …

How Publicists Work

September 15th, 2015

Some people call them flacks. Other people call them liars. But if you're in the public eye and suddenly have an image problem, you'll call them your best friend.

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How Chili Peppers Work

September 10th, 2015

Born and raised in South America, chilis were the earliest crop domesticated in the continent and among the first items brought back to Europe by …

How Police Dogs Work

September 8th, 2015

Police dogs have been used since the 19th century - one WWI German defector became a major movie star. But in the US the post-9/11 era has seen a K9 …

How Alcoholism Works

September 3rd, 2015

In the US, 17 million people are alcoholics. Not merely abusing alcohol, these sufferers become physically dependent on it, forming a chronic …

How to Donate Your Body to Science

September 1st, 2015

Donating your whole body to further science and medicine is probably the best thing you could do with your corpse. Which is why the industry that …

Nirvana: Not The Band

August 27th, 2015

Hinduism and Buddhism are closely related in a number of ways, including their vision of what comes after we exit this mortal coil. Learn about the religions' interesting interpretation of the state of existence outside …

How Hot Air Balloons Work

August 25th, 2015

Arguably the most beautiful objects in the entire world, hot air balloons take advantage of some interesting physics and have a long history of …

How Umami Works!

August 20th, 2015

For millennia humans have recognized four tastes, but in the 1980s a fifth taste first isolated in Japan gained worldwide acceptance - and took off …

Pigeons: Homing, Passenger, Carrier and Otherwise

August 18th, 2015

Pigeons can get a little confusing. Passengers, messengers, carriers, homing - the list goes on. But when it comes down to it, they're all variations of the same smart bird with a knack for getting home to roost. Learn …

Hula-Hoops: The Toy That's A Shape

August 13th, 2015

We've covered our fair share of pop-culture icons and here is another - Hula-Hoops. They've been around since ancient time in some form or another, …

How Auto-Tune Works

August 11th, 2015

What began as a challenge to an oil engineer to make a terrible singer into a pitch-perfect one, Auto-Tune has become a ubiquitous (and, to many, obnoxious) part of the musical soundscape.

Learn more about your …

How Droughts Work

August 6th, 2015

Droughts can be an inevitable feature of a local climate or a catastrophic result of human meddling. Learn the ins and outs of droughts including the …

How Earth-Like Planets Work

August 4th, 2015

Since the Kepler telescope went online, astronomers have found there may be an estimate 40 billion planets like Earth in the Milky Way galaxy alone. What does it take for a planet to be considered Earth-like?

Learn more …

How Bats Work

July 30th, 2015

They are creepy, sure, but they are also useful, cute and in great danger of extinction. Get a new lease on life from a new view of bats in this …

How Profiling Works

July 28th, 2015

At its base, criminal profiling is a legitimate investigatory tool. The Supreme Court has drawn a clear line that bans profiling when it includes …

Road Rage: GRRRR!!!

July 23rd, 2015

About half of all people experience rage on a daily basis when they get behind the wheel. What is it about driving that ticks us off so badly?

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How Citizen's Arrests Work

July 21st, 2015

In some states, it is not only your right but your duty to arrest someone you see committing a crime. Learn all about why you should basically never …

The Time Nazis Invaded Florida

July 16th, 2015

During World War II, Nazis invaded the United States with saboteurs bent on fomenting chaos. Three times.

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How the Terracotta Army Works

July 14th, 2015

In 1974, Chinese farmers discovered the first of what would number 7,000 terracotta soldiers meant to protect China's first emperor in the afterlife.

How Brickfilm Works

July 9th, 2015

What began as a pair of teens who made a film for their grandparents has exploded into its own art form. Learn all about how stop-motion Lego films are made.

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How Egypt's Pyramids Work

July 7th, 2015

Pyramids can be found in ruins around the world, but no civilization perfected the feat of engineering like Pharaonic Egypt. Learn about the mysteries that still surround these giants.

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How Circus Families Work

July 2nd, 2015

Don't be confused - this one is about actual circus acts made of family members, not the controversial comic strip.

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How Audience Testing Works

June 30th, 2015

Did you know some of our most beloved movies originally had different, sometimes better, endings? That is until they were tested in front of focus groups.

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Mosquitoes: The Worst

June 25th, 2015

Sun Tzu said know your enemy, and so it is in this spirit that we present this episode on one of the worst airborne pests in the world.

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How Landfills Work

June 23rd, 2015

Well-planned landfills have only recently come into widespread use. Recently, waste managers have found that they work a little too well and now the landfill is being reinvented.

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Are You My Mother?: How Animal Imprinting Works

June 18th, 2015

What do little baby ducklings have to do with Nazis? A lot actually. Find out about animal imprinting experiments and the debate over their ethics.

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How BASE Jumping Works

June 16th, 2015

You should never BASE Jump. It is one of the most genuinely dangerous sports on the planet. But with that out of the way, you should definitely learn …

Bridges: Nature Abhors Them

June 11th, 2015

From prehistoric logs across streams to the 102-mile Kunshan Grand Bridge, nature works ceaselessly to take down spans. Learn about the fascinating ins and outs of bridge design and building and the mind-boggling …

How the Wow! Signal Works

June 9th, 2015

In 1977, Ohio State astronomers discovered a radio transmission from space that was 30 times louder than the cosmic background noise. Since then every explanation of what it was has fallen short and the Wow! Signal …

How Ocean Currents Work

June 4th, 2015

It's easy to overlook the importance of ocean currents - they move along out at sea, while we stay mostly on land. But we are globally affected by them every day. Currents form the base of the food chain, drive weather …

How Street Gangs Work

June 2nd, 2015

The street gang problem in America peaked in the 1990s, but recent FBI reports find that gang membership doubled from 2006-2011. What's driving this increase, and gangs in general? Wander into gang territory with Josh …

How Tupperware Works

May 28th, 2015

Tupperware won immediate design acclaim when it was released in 1947, but it took a pioneering female executive to make a line of plastic food storage into an icon of the American postwar boom. Learn about the …

How Junk Food Works

May 26th, 2015

Junk food is literally that, empty calories of energy that provide little nutritional value and usually are stored as fat. Yet junk food is irresistible and for good reason - companies spend tens of millions engineering …

How Color Works

May 21st, 2015

Science doesn't have a good explanation for why we sense color, yet it is everywhere and affecting us all the time. But why should minutely different …

How Internet Censorship Works

May 19th, 2015

Some of it seems innocuous enough: protecting kids from unseemly sites or intellectual property from piracy. But the tools to protect these things …

How Pinewood Derbies Work

May 14th, 2015

Tens of millions of Scouts, and their parents, have taken standard blocks of wood and turned them into cars that zip along at up to 20 mph. Learn about the origin, physics and more of Pinewood Derbies in this episode.

Does the FDA Protect Americans?

May 12th, 2015

The FDA was the first consumer protection agency in the US. Since 1906, it's been issuing regulations meant to protect Americans from tainted food, …

Josh and Chuck Make It Through Male Puberty

May 7th, 2015

Around ages 9 or 10 a boy will begin to undergo a magical, surprising, weird, amazing, totally bonkers transformation from childhood to adulthood. To …

How Therapeutic Hypothermia Works

May 5th, 2015

Physicians noticed centuries ago that people exposed to cold temperatures often have amazing recoveries from serious medical emergencies. Now …

How Spiders Work

April 30th, 2015

Spiders are second only to snakes in the dread departemnt, but they're actually very helpful arachnids who are only deadly to humans under the worst …

How Water Slides Work

April 28th, 2015

Water slides have been around in one form or another since the Romans. But back then they didn't know what they had on their hands. With the birth of the waterpark in the 1970s, these rides have only gotten more …

Oh No, Snakes!

April 23rd, 2015

If you think snakes are legless reptile carnivores, then you are exactly right. If you think snakes are here to kill you then you are exactly wrong. Learn more about these fascinating and undeservedly condemned animals …

How Clowns Work

April 21st, 2015

Jesters of some sort have been around since ancient Egypt and China. Our modern clown was invented around 1800 and ever since they have been getting steadily creepier.

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How Zero Population Growth Works

April 16th, 2015

In 1968, Paul Erlich published The Population Bomb, predicting coming famine and mass death. Erlich's predictions didn't pan out but his ideas …

How Slinky Works

April 14th, 2015

It has been called a "glorified spring", but Slinky is one of the best selling toys of all time. From accidental origins to an unlikely resurrection, Slinky has a pretty great back story.

Learn more about your …

What's the deal with blood types?

April 9th, 2015

Blood types have one of the more interesting backstories in medical history. But as much as we've figured out about them and how they work, we still don't know much about why we even have different blood types. Listen …

Polyamory: When two just won't do

April 7th, 2015

In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, Josh and Chuck dive into the world of polyamory. Turns out polyamorists aren't weirdos and deviants, …

Thanks, Easter Bunny! Bock Bock!

April 2nd, 2015

Happy Easter from Stuff You Should Know! Learn all about Easter, from its humble beginnings as a pagan holiday to the multi-billion dollar industry …

Does the body replace itself?

March 31st, 2015

Does the human body really replace itself every few years? The answer is yes, but different parts of the body do so at different rates. Learn all about which parts of your body are the speediest, and which take the …

How Desalination Works

March 26th, 2015

Why would people want to remove salt from water? To solve the world's water problem, that's why. Learn all about the efforts to desalinate H2O in …

10 Bizarre Medical Treatments

March 24th, 2015

Medical science has a long and storied history of trying out cures and procedures that later strike us as wacky. And they're still at it today! Learn about bizarre treatments, from opium for children to tobacco smoke …

Earwax: Live With It

March 19th, 2015

Despite tons of people using cotton swabs each day to clean the earwax from their ears, cerumen (as earwax is clinically known) is actually quite beneficial to the health of your ears - and even kind of ingenious as …

How Anesthesia Works

March 17th, 2015

The use of general anesthesia is less than 200 years old. Before doctors were able to cause unconsciousness in patients, surgery was brutal for all …

How Tea Works

March 12th, 2015

Legend has it that tea was discovered by a curious Chinese emperor after leaves blew into his boiled water. Now tea is the second only to water in …

How Fleas Work

March 10th, 2015

Fleas are the bane of the existence of pet owners. From their eggs to their lifespan to their feeding habits, fleas are practically designed to be a nuisance. They are parasites, after all. Get down on flea level with …

How Stonehenge Works

March 5th, 2015

Even as far back as the Roman invaders, people have had absolutely no idea just what the massive monument complex in England known as Stonehenge was …

How ESP Works(?)

March 3rd, 2015

Even though almost half of Americans believe in it, ESP usually is treated as a load of bull by skeptics. But some respected researchers have dared …

Some Movies That Changed Filmmaking

February 26th, 2015

An estimated 50,000 films were made worldwide in 2009 alone. Many are surely clunkers, but in this episode Chuck and Josh talk about the ones that emerged throughout cinema history to change the course of all movies …

Why Do Lefties Exist?

February 24th, 2015

For at least the last 200,000 years, between 10-15% of the human population are left-handed and this fact has utterly left science baffled. In …

How Perfume Works

February 19th, 2015

Women consistently rate scent as the most important factor in a man's attractiveness and men have been manipulating that for centuries with scents of …

Is there treasure on Oak Island?

February 17th, 2015

Off Nova Scotia, the tiny spit of land called Oak Island has been host to waves of treasure hunters for more than 200 years. Some of them lost their lives in the search for a treasure reputedly buried in a deep pit. But …

What is folklore?

February 12th, 2015

What is folklore? Turns out it's just about anything you can think of that's shared by more than two people. Art, literature, stories, dance, music, …

How Feng Shui Works

February 10th, 2015

Feng Shui is an Asian concept that strives to unlock your chi by how your home or office is arranged. Or at least that's the simplified "Western" version. It's a little more complicated than that in reality. We'll …

How Ice Cream Works

February 5th, 2015

We all scream for ice cream, sure, but did you know we're all technically screaming about a colloidal foam? Prepare for deep cravings that will …

Rainbows: Delighting humanity since forever

February 3rd, 2015

Rainbows seem to defy nature, but they're really pretty simple when it comes down to it. Turns out it's just light reacting to water droplets in the …

How Hot Wheels Work

January 29th, 2015

If you're an American who had a childhood, you probably have some nostalgia for Hot Wheels. Get your engines revved for this trip down memory lane as we discuss these fun and iconic toys.

Learn more about your …

How Poison Ivy Works

January 27th, 2015

Poison ivy, oak and sumac are all variations of the same plant and they all can make you itch... if you're susceptible that is. In this episode, you'll learn just about all there is to know about this itch-causing …

Nostradamus: Predictor of the future? Not so much.

January 22nd, 2015

Nostradamus delighted us all in grade school, but it turns out the real guy wasn't quite as prescient as we were led to believe. In truth, he wrote a …

How the March on Washington Worked

January 20th, 2015

1963 was a huge year of conflict and progress for the American Civil Rights Movement and the March On Washington was the high water mark of that …

Juggling: What the Heck

January 15th, 2015

There is a lot - A LOT - to juggling and Chuck and Josh go over the lion's share of it. Delve into the deep history, physics, how-tos and different types of juggling in this surprisingly sweeping look at a putatively …

How the Scientific Method Works

January 13th, 2015

It evolved over centuries to become the gold standard for conducting scientific inquiry. Yet many people - including some scientists - don't fully …

How Online Gambling Works

January 8th, 2015

Pretty much immediately after the Internet was opened to the world online gambling sites sprang up. Over the last couple decades, U.S. law and online gambling have had an unusual and complicated relationship. Learn the …

How Jim Henson Worked

January 6th, 2015

We've already recorded an episode on The Muppets, but Jim Henson was such a neat guy we delved into him even further. Learn all about the man behind the Muppets who was so much more than just a master puppeteer in this …

SYSK Live: How Bars Work

January 1st, 2015

Join Josh and Chuck live from Vancouver as they dive in to the ins and outs of one of the oldest businesses in the world - the bar! Learn about the …

How Sea Monsters Work

December 30th, 2014

Legends of sea monsters are as old as humanity, and some ancient cultures even credited with creating the universe. Even today when the sea washes …

Josh and Chuck's 2014 Christmas Extravaganza!

December 25th, 2014

It's that time of year again! Time to get cozy and tuck in with Josh and Chuck as they spread glad tidings and warm Christmas cheer. Tune in to hear …

How the GED Test Works

December 23rd, 2014

The GED test was once part of a non-profit organization. That all changed in 2014, when it was privatized, made more expensive and more difficult to …

How Cinnamon Works

December 18th, 2014

In another commodities edition of SYSK, Josh and Chuck dive into the world of cinnamon, once the world's most prized and pricey spice. But did you know it was really just dried up tree bark?

Learn more about your …

Boomerangs: Magic Sticks of Physics

December 16th, 2014

The physics behind returning boomerangs literally may be the most difficult concept to understand in the entire body of science. Join Josh and Chuck …

Homeschooling: Not Just For Hippies and Religious People Anymore

December 11th, 2014

Back in the 1970s, homeschooling was illegal in the U.S., but after activists of all stripes lobbied lawmakers, schooling kids at home has become a …

How The Hum Works

December 9th, 2014

There is a mysterious droning sound often described as like a diesel engine idling that is severely impacting the quality of life of 2 percent of people in places around the world. The thing is, no one knows what's …

How X-Rays Work

December 4th, 2014

Like many huge discoveries, X-rays were accidentally stumbled upon. That serendipity led to a medical breakthrough still in use today. Learn about …

How Leper Colonies Worked

December 2nd, 2014

Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, used to mean a one-way ticket to banishment. But once medicine trained its sights on wiping out what might be the most ancient disease to afflict humans, it has become treatable …

How Terraforming Will Work

November 27th, 2014

A lot of great thinkers are warning that if humans are to survive as a species we are going to have to find another planet to live on. Terraforming, or engineering a planet to maintain all of the ingredients to sustain …

How Kickstarter Works

November 25th, 2014

With billions of dollars raised, Kickstarter has singled itself out as the go-to site for creative crowdfunding. But not without some controversy …

What is Collective Hysteria?

November 20th, 2014

Throughout the history of the world, there have been many cases of what is known as collective hysteria - groups of people, usually young women, who …

How the Enlightenment Works

November 18th, 2014

The Enlightenment stands as the moment the West withdrew from superstition and found its faith in reason. Did it shift too far? Learn about this massive shift in thinking which we are still sorting through and coming to …

What's the deal with crop circles?

November 13th, 2014

For a while in the 1980s, people were fascinated and confused about what exactly crop circles were. Now we know that they aren't signs left from aliens, but art made by humans. Learn all about these stunning, large form …

How Patents Work

November 11th, 2014

What was originally designed to encourage innovation by rewarding the people who create technological advances, the U.S. patent system has become a …

How Limousines Work

November 6th, 2014

The first limousines weren't even cars! Learn all about the history of limousines, how they're made and some of the most creative and expensive amenities you can find inside them in this episode with Josh and Chuck.

Can Nuclear Fusion Reactors Save The World?

November 4th, 2014

The world's energy consumption is ruining the planet but for decades physicists have been working on what could solve the world's energy and climate …

SYSK's Halloween Scare Fest

October 31st, 2014

Get ready to be creeped out and join Chuck and Josh as they read you with two spooky classic horror stories, The Striding Place and The Pale Man in this special bonus Halloween episode.

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How Haunted House Attractions Work

October 30th, 2014

Ever since the Egyptians, humans have been evolving toward haunted house attractions. The level of sophistication in the scares and gore effects …

Is there a disease that kills by preventing sleep?

October 28th, 2014

The strange disease of fatal familial insomnia was first recorded in the 18th century. Its victims lose their ability to sleep, slip into coma and die. The more we understand about FFI, the more mysterious it becomes.

How Animal Camouflage Works

October 23rd, 2014

The wild kingdom is filled with examples of animals that can camouflage themselves into their environment, but the means and the methods are also wildly varied. Learn about the ins and outs of blending in through this …

How Extinction Works

October 21st, 2014

Scientists believe that 99% of the estimated 50 billion species that have ever lived on Earth have disappeared through extinction. This is a natural process typically, but it can also be cataclysmic and it's becoming …

How The Great Train Robbery Worked

October 16th, 2014

In 1963, 15 men got together in England to pull off one of the most daring heists in history. The Great Train Robbery was the crime of the century, …

Virus Talk with Josh and Chuck

October 14th, 2014

Viruses are big jerks that invade regular cells and hold them hostage, making you sick while they're doing it. Learn everything you ever needed to …

How Skywriting Works

October 9th, 2014

Back in the 1920s, skywriting was invented to communicate with troops, but it quickly found its footing as a popular way for companies to advertise. …

How Karate Works

October 7th, 2014

Karate, meaning "open" and "hand", was developed in Okinawa before being exported to Japan and then the rest of the world. It is one of the most …

How Panic Attacks Work

October 2nd, 2014

Almost three percent of Americans suffer from a debilitating disorder that causes them to suffer intense fear seemingly without reason and science hasn't yet figured out what causes it. Join Josh and Chuck as they get …

How Rogue Waves Work

September 30th, 2014

Rogue waves come out of nowhere and tower as much as 100 feet over hapless ships they encounter, breaking across the boat and frequently breaking the boat and its inhabitants. Investigate the mystery of rouge waves in …

How Animal Domestication Works

September 25th, 2014

It's strange to hear, but the transition from hunting-gathering to agriculture, including the domestication of wild animals, is the single biggest …

How Police Interrogation Works

September 23rd, 2014

Every year, police across the U.S. get thousands of criminals to confess to their crimes. The trouble is, the procedure that almost all departments …

How Currency Works

September 18th, 2014

Even if you entirely eschew the concept of money, we'll bet you'd be hard pressed not to trade in some form of currency. Learn how everything from cows to cacao beans to tiny shells from Maldives have served as currency …

How Socialism Works

September 16th, 2014

In America it's virtually a dirty word, but after being dragged through the mud for a century, socialism is still a part of the U.S.'s national character. Learn about this foil and complement to capitalism and why it …

How Royalty Works

September 11th, 2014

In some nations royals are so ingrained in the national fabric they are considered part of the country. Join Josh and Chuck as they take a look backward in time at the ancient tradition of despotism and unbridled …

How Stem Cells Work

September 9th, 2014

Since scientists realized there is a type of cell that can grow into any other type, they have worked to use them to heal human conditions like Parkinson's and immune disorders. But because stem cells often come from …

How TV Ratings Work

September 4th, 2014

Ever wonder why some great shows go off the air after a season or less? Blame it on the Nielsen company, which has for more than 60 years been the almost exclusive decider of what goes and what stays on TV.

Learn more …

How Pinball Works

September 2nd, 2014

Pinball was actually illegal until the 1970s in NY and other cities, hidden in the backs of pornography shops. The game was finally legalized, thanks to a Babe Ruth-style shot by the best player in the world. Learn all …

How Blimps Work

August 28th, 2014

After newsreels captured the Hindenburg erupting in fire in 1937, the promising development of airship aviation was cut short. Today companies and militaries are taking another look at blimps and the unique qualities …

What's the deal with headstones?

August 26th, 2014

Headstones have quite an interesting history. From the beginnings of marking graves with simple wood carvings to the elaborate tombstones that would …

How the Berlin Wall Worked

August 21st, 2014

It's hard to believe now, but just over 25 years ago there was a giant concrete wall separating East and West Germany. In this episode, Chuck and Josh get into the fascinating story of the Berlin Wall.

Learn more about …

Going Up: Elevators

August 19th, 2014

Elevators are way more interesting than you might think. In this week's episode, Chuck and Josh board the lift to enlighten everyone as to the ins and outs, and ups and downs, of these handy people movers.

Learn more …

How Ebola Works

August 14th, 2014

A disease that was discovered and contained to Central Africa in the 1970s has revived and spread in 2014. Now there is an Ebola outbreak that has …

How the NSA Works

August 12th, 2014

Chuck and Josh dive into the secret world of the National Security Agency, from the origins of the snooping outfit, to the recent revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

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What is a Numbers Station?

August 7th, 2014

If you think secretly coded messages sent via short wave radio is Cold War relic, think again. Chuck and Josh are here to dispel that myth, along …

How Play-Doh Works

August 5th, 2014

Do you love Play-Doh? Chuck and Josh certainly love to talk about it, from its interesting history as a wall cleaner, to its more scientific chemical properties. It's everything you ever wanted to know about the pliable …

How Morgellons Disease Works

July 31st, 2014

There is a condition that can cause people to feel bugs crawling beneath their skin so acutely that they will use tweezers to pluck them from their eyeballs. It's a terrible disorder made worse by medicine's insistence …

Is there a dark side of the moon?

July 29th, 2014

Josh and Chuck explore the old notion that there's a dark side of the moon. There is, but it turns out it's not always the same side. And yes, …

The Skinny on Probiotics

July 24th, 2014

You can find probiotics - bacteria thought to have healthful benefits for humans - in everything from pills to yogurt. But does any of it work? …

How Trickle-Down Economics Works

July 22nd, 2014

The concept of trickle-down economics is tied to Ronald Reagan, but the idea's been around and in use since the 20s. It's simple: Give more money to …

How In Vitro Fertlization Works

July 17th, 2014

In the U.S. alone, more than 6 million people are affected by infertility and science has taken up the mantle of helping them to conceive. Learn about the clever, though intuitive, methods of assisting infertile couples …

How Sushi Works

July 15th, 2014

Sushi grew out of a way to ferment fish a couple thousand years ago and in the late 20th century began to take the world by storm. What began as …

How Grass Works? Yes, How Grass Works

July 10th, 2014

There's nothing more boring than watching grass grow, which is why Josh and Chuck aren't asking you to do that. Instead, you can learn about all sorts of neat things about grass - like how America became obsessed with …

Is brain size related to intelligence?

July 8th, 2014

The idea that the larger the brain, the higher the intelligence is an old one, but it's pretty much utterly false. Modern investigation into how the …

How Monopoly Works

July 3rd, 2014

Since more than 1 billion people have played it, you're probably familiar with the board game Monopoly, but we bet you don't know its secret origins …

How The Louvre Works

July 1st, 2014

The most famous museum in the world, France's Louvre, has been the seat of high art and culture for several centuries. Its history goes back farther …

How the MPAA Works

June 26th, 2014

You may be surprised to learn those ubiquitous ratings, from G to NC-17, put on movies in America are actually handed down by anonymous employees of a secretive organization that serves as a lobbying firm for …

How the La Brea Tar Pits Work

June 24th, 2014

It's surprising that a few 12-feet-deep pools of asphalt have proven to be one of the most significant troves of Pleistocene fossils, but the La Brea …

How Soccer Works

June 19th, 2014

Maybe you hail from a soccer crazed country - or from the U.S. Either way, there's lots to discuss about "the beautiful game", from its prehistory, …

Is your employer spying on you?

June 17th, 2014

Your employer may be secretly reading your emails, watching what websites you visit and tracking your whereabouts through your phone. And because of …

Sugar: It Powers the Earth

June 12th, 2014

Since sugar spread from Polynesia a few thousand years ago, the world has been crazy for it. Insanely high prices, wars and even slavery couldn't …

How the Placebo Effect Works

June 10th, 2014

For centuries, doctors have prescribed drugs they knew weren't real - but that still somehow worked. It wasn't until the 1980s that the placebo effect, the phenomenon where an inert substance can have a genuine impact …

How the Space Race Worked

June 5th, 2014

In the 1950s and 60s, the United States and the Soviet Union battled it out to see who would dominate the race for outer space. The Soviets got out …

Why is Venice so wet?

June 3rd, 2014

Venice, Italy has a problem. It's sinking, and the water around it is rising. Thankfully, some engineers are working hard on the MOSE project - huge …

Archaeology in a Nutshell

May 29th, 2014

If you thought Indiana Jones was the model archaeologist, you're pretty much right. Archaeologists are one part scientist, one part scholar, and one …

How Temper Tantrums Work

May 27th, 2014

When your kid boils over in the grocery store, it can be tough to stay calm and ignore it, but that's precisely what experts prescribe parents do to deal with temper tantrums. Learn about the anatomy of a tantrum and …

How Avalanches Work

May 22nd, 2014

Each year, as snow builds on peaks across the world's mountain ranges, the potential for avalanches builds. Learn about the science of how these natural disasters develop and are triggered - and how to survive one if …

8 Reasons Why Your Body Is So Gross

May 20th, 2014

Your body right now is home to a liter of mucous, countless fat-loving mites, acid that can dissolve metal and plenty of other gross and interesting …

How the Paleo Diet Works

May 15th, 2014

You may have heard of the Paleo Diet, also known as the Caveman Diet, but do you know the science it's based on? And did you know that the saturated fat it and other diets avoid may be healthier than you were taught in …

How the Human Microbiome Project Works

May 13th, 2014

If it was possible to take a full scan of all of the DNA of every cell in and on your body the results would be startling: Only 1 percent would be …

How Bipolar Disorder Works

May 8th, 2014

Suffering from bipolar disorder means a lot more than your garden variety mood swings. Bouts of mania and depression are just the headlines. There …

How Gypsies Work

May 6th, 2014

Gypsies were called that because they were long ago mistaken as Egyptians. Even their more appropriate name, Roma, is a misnomer since they're not from Romania. Find out about the mysterious history of this nomadic and …

How Marijuana Works

May 1st, 2014

For millennia people used marijuana for fun and medicine. Not until the 20th century that was it vilified, unfairly say many. Weed has done lots of good things, from alleviating cancer symptoms to unlocking secrets of …

How the ACLU Works

April 29th, 2014

Being a card-carrying member of the ACLU is tantamount to being a super liberal to some, but the ACLU ultimately displays no allegiance to any …

Halitosis: Worst Smell Ever?

April 24th, 2014

Occasional bad breath is one thing, halitosis is another. Or is it? From its odd origins as a marketing ploy to modern weight loss diets that can induce this embarrassing condition, you can learn all about bad breath …

How Mars Works

April 22nd, 2014

Sure today Mars would kill you with its thin, toxic atmosphere and cold desert temperature swings of 100 degrees, but early on it and Earth were …

How Burlesque Works

April 17th, 2014

What's old is new again as far as burlesque is concerned. Come explore what was an old-timey outlet for empowering women that later gave rise to the …

How Dissociative Identity Disorder Works

April 15th, 2014

Dissociative Identity Disorder was known as multiple personality disorder until a case of mass hysteria brought on by the movie-mad public and …

How Natural Selection Works

April 10th, 2014

While evolution gets all the spotlight for moving species into better versions of themselves, but really it's natural selection that is the engine …

How Charles Darwin Worked

April 8th, 2014

Charles Darwin wasn't the first or only scientist to grasp the theory of evolution through natural selection, but he became its father and icon. …

How Income Taxes Work

April 3rd, 2014

They are among the more reviled concepts of modern life, and yet they are as inevitable as death. Join Josh and Chuck as they look into the history and the basis of income taxes in the U.S. in this episode.

Learn more …

How 3D Printing Works

April 1st, 2014

With 3D printing you can print not just pictures and words, but actual objects from files. And as costs come down, the list of things you can print expand: from food, to organs, to guns.

Learn more about your ad-choices …

How Landslides Work

March 27th, 2014

Landslides are a form of mass movement of the Earth, and with the amount of death and destruction they wreak on the people and towns they cover, …

How Amnesia Works

March 25th, 2014

Those movies where someone gets hit on the head and can't remember who they are anymore? They're actually not too far off from the reality of amnesia. Learn everything about this bizarre and life-robbing condition with …

How Electricity Works

March 20th, 2014

It is literally all around you (and even inside you) - electricity makes up the basis of modern life. But what exactly is electricity and how does it work? Josh and Chuck chase away the darkness and explain electricity …

Tattoos: Not Just For Dirtbags Anymore

March 18th, 2014

Most Europeans first encountered tattoos after sailors visiting the South Pacific returned covered in them. From then on, with a few notable exceptions, tattoos have been associated with fringe dwellers in the West. …

How Black Boxes Work

March 13th, 2014

Black boxes are designed to be the only survivor of plane crashes so they can live to tell the tale of what went wrong to prevent future accidents. Learn about how these grim devices are made, how they're tested and the …

How Skateboarding Works

March 11th, 2014

Skateboarding started out as something bored surfers did when the waves weren't breaking, but after a few improvements to the design, it took off …

How Online Dating Works

March 6th, 2014

No longer weird, possibly still desperate and approaching normal, online dating's been around almost as long as the Internet itself. So what exactly is the best way to find love online if one were so inclined to do so? …

How the Spanish Inquisition Worked

March 4th, 2014

The idea of pious monks imbued with unbridled power and with a penchant for dealing torture and death is a scary one indeed, and one both Spain and …

What happened at Kent State?

February 27th, 2014

On May 4, 1970, four days of anti-war protests at Kent State University in Ohio culminated in the unthinkable when Ohio guardsmen opened fire on …

Termites: They Bore But They Aren't Boring

February 25th, 2014

Their soft white bodies look creepy and, to be sure, they are, but termites are pretty amazing bugs. They build ventilation systems into their mounds, poop on their enemies and grow mushrooms. Learn all the neat stuff …

How Amputation Works

February 20th, 2014

Amputation is one of the oldest surgeries and an even older punishment for crime, but it wasn't until the American Civil War and its 50,000 …

How Salt Works

February 18th, 2014

A Roman senator once said, "Mankind can live without gold, but not without salt." Right he was. The human body needs salt so much we have developed a …

How Cave Dwellers Work

February 13th, 2014

You know the cavemen, a race of human cousins who lived exclusively in caves? They didn't exist. Sure prehistoric hominids used caves sometimes but they lived in other places too. Luckily the time they spent in caves …

Do objects or experiences make us happier?

February 11th, 2014

Since Sartre classified things that make us happy into the categories of having and doing, science took up the investigation into materialism and …

How Sign Language Works

February 6th, 2014

It wasn't until the was developed and despite its co-existence alongside English, a user would be hard-pressed to sign with a British person. Find …

Will computers replace doctors?

February 4th, 2014

With savvy and health-conscious people taking control of their wellbeing through apps and sites, technology is meeting the desire for individuals' …

What are crystal skulls?

January 30th, 2014

Back in the early 20th-century mysterious skulls made from polished crystals began to enter the collections of private enthusiasts of the occult. …

What's the deal with the debt ceiling?

January 28th, 2014

Lately it's been common news fodder that Congress uses its ability to raise the debt ceiling to hold the executive branch hostage to its demands, but …

How the Deep Web Works

January 23rd, 2014

Perhaps you didn't realize that when you search the web you're only skimming the surface. In fact, the types of web pages that turn up in your search …

Chuck and Josh Bust a Few Everyday Myths

January 21st, 2014

There are lots of common "facts" that everyone knows, but it turns out a lot of them are actually false. Join Josh and Chuck as they put on their berets and suspenders and take the hot air out of some common everyday …

How Pet Psychics Work

January 16th, 2014

In the early 21st century a trend of people who claim to be able to telepathically and clairvoyantly communicate with animals has grown. Today, the concept of visiting a pet psychic to find a lost pet, find out why a …

Was there a real King Arthur?

January 14th, 2014

The legend of King Arthur is very old and very established. By the time the king who saved Britain and united it was first written about, his story …

Your limb is torn off - now what?

January 7th, 2014

Were you to be the unfortunate victim of a limb removal of any sort, you could take hope. Here in the 21st century, doctors have gotten pretty handy …

Could you live without a refrigerator?

January 2nd, 2014

Do you know that hulking refrigerator in your kitchen emits CO2 thanks to the electricity it uses each year? It's a comparatively small amount, in …

Will solar sails take us to the stars?

December 31st, 2013

We have within our grasp here on Earth the technology that could make interstellar travel a reality within as little as a few decades and it doesn't …

How Fire Breathing Works

December 26th, 2013

As part of their strange, ongoing suite on circus arts, Chuck and Josh discuss one of the more dangerous crowd favorites, aspirating extremely flammable chemicals from one's mouth onto a flame, creating a ball of fire. …

Josh and Chuck's Warm and Cozy Christmas Extravaganza 2013

December 24th, 2013

It's finally here, the best episode of the year! It's time to settle in by a nice fire, wrap up in a blanket, heat up a toddy and gather your loved ones around the mp3 player to hear Chuck and Josh talk about all of the …

Is lethal injection humane?

December 19th, 2013

Since the Supreme Court's ban on capital punishment was reversed, states have sought a humane method of killing sentenced criminals. They settled on lethal injection, but is this quasi-medical means of killing as quick …

How Manhunts Work

December 17th, 2013

When a suspect or prisoner goes on the lam there are plenty of ways to hide: in plain sight, in the mountains, in another country. There are as many types of ways law enforcement uses to track wanted people as their are …

How Underwater Tunnels Work

December 12th, 2013

It's a pretty amazing feat to dig a tunnel beneath a body of water that's big enough (and safe enough) to drive a train through. While humans have been digging underwater tunnels for thousands of years, it wasn't until …

How Maglev Trains Work

December 5th, 2013

Thanks to the amazing properties of magnets, clever engineers have figured out how to make entire trains levitate above their tracks, letting them move frictionlessly and allowing them to reach incredible speeds. Learn …

How Castration Works

December 3rd, 2013

In this episode, Josh and Chuck teach you everything you ever wanted to know but were too freaked out to ask about castration. Learn about the history of removing male genitalia, why some parents had it done to their …

How Black Friday Works

November 28th, 2013

On the day after Thanksgiving, Americans go kind of crazy for the deep discount sales that kick off the holiday shopping season in stores. So crazy, …

Is there a scientific formula for funny?

November 26th, 2013

Recorded live at the Los Angeles PodFest, this episode of SYSK delves into the longstanding attempt to break down what humans find funny into a …

Who killed JFK?

November 21st, 2013

For the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Josh and Chuck delve into the killing, the investigations and the conspiracy theories to get to the bottom of an enduring national …

How Chocolate Works

November 19th, 2013

People have been consuming chocolate for at least a couple thousand years, but it's only been in the last hundred that humanity has arrived at its …

How Werewolves Work

November 14th, 2013

If you've ever been bitten by a wolf, you're probably familiar with the anxiety of waiting for the next full moon to see if you become a werewolf. …

Some Interesting Things You Didn't Know About Stephen Hawking

November 12th, 2013

Everybody knows that cosmologist Stephen Hawking has an enormous brain, but did you also know he has an equal wit? Learn about some of the …

How Lewis and Clark Worked

November 7th, 2013

They may be the most famous explorers in U.S. history, but there are plenty of interesting details to the Lewis and Clark expedition that history has allowed to fade. Learn about the origin and the aftermath of …

How Chess Works

November 5th, 2013

Despite its knights, bishops and castles, the game of chess has been around a lot longer since the Medieval Age. And it wasn't even invented in Europe - chess comes from 2nd-century India, when some unknown inventor …

What's with the Winchester Mystery House?

October 31st, 2013

After her daughter and husband died, heiress Sarah Winchester became obsessed with the idea that spirits haunted her and to appease them she had to have a house continuously built for them. So she did - 24 hours a day …

The Empty House

October 30th, 2013

It's Halloween, and Josh and Chuck are ready to creep you out with this year's spooky story, Algernon Blackwood's scary short story, The Empty House. Tune in, turn down the lights and prepare for chills to run down your …

How Ouija Boards Work

October 29th, 2013

Although most people who've used Ouija boards don't think they're communicating with the beyond, there is something mysterious about how it works. …

How Guide Dogs Work

October 22nd, 2013

You know how when you see a guide dog leading a blind person to their destination and you think, "There goes a truly great dog?" It turns out you are …

10 Easy Ways to Save Money

October 17th, 2013

Times are still kind of tough, but there are some time-tested and easy ways to get ahead and in this episode Josh and Chuck explore them. Learn about not only how to save, but also how to make your new-found dough grow.

How the Maori Work

October 15th, 2013

It's a familiar theme, an indigenous group's culture falls apart when exposed to European ideals, weapons and disease. For the Maori of New Zealand, …

Did Archimedes build a death ray?

October 8th, 2013

During the siege of Syracuse in 214 BCE, the city-state's resident genius, Archimedes, built a number of clever war machines to thwart the invading Roman fleet. One invention, the death ray, has been considered the …

Can NASA predict natural disasters?

October 3rd, 2013

The US has developed some great equipment for peering into deep space that can also be used to great effect when trained on Earth. Now NASA is using satellites to track natural processes around the globe in an effort to …

What's the deal with diplomatic immunity?

October 1st, 2013

You've heard all about diplomatic immunity, but we'll bet you don't really know how it works. Take some time to get into the nuts and bolts of this …

Does owning a gun change your behavior?

September 26th, 2013

Back in the 1990s, Congress effectively banned the scientific study of gun violence. Still, a handful of researchers plugged on and produced a small …

How Crack Works

September 24th, 2013

Back in the mid-1980s a new and extremely potent drug hit the scene: crack cocaine. In short order, America was in the grip of both a sweeping addiction and a state of hysteria over use of the drug and the social …

How Dying Works

September 19th, 2013

Chuck and Josh have covered just about every aspect of death except dying itself. Here, they fulfill the death suite of podcasts with an in-depth …

How IEDs Work

September 17th, 2013

Improvised explosive devices were the primary killer of American troops in Iraq and continue to top the list in Afghanistan. Their use is so prevalent among guerrillas and insurgents because they are so effective. They …

How much money is in the world?

September 5th, 2013

There are few things more futile than trying to count all of the money in the world. Even many governments have no idea how much currency they have issued. But that won't stop Chuck and Josh from trying and explaining …

How the Rosetta Stone Works

September 3rd, 2013

Sometimes providence smiles on historians. Thus is the case with the Rosetta stone, an ancient Egyptian tablet that served as the key for unlocking hieroglyphics, lost to time for a millennia. Learn about the …

How did 168 conquistadors take down the Inca empire?

August 29th, 2013

Just before Francisco Pizarro arrived in South American in 1532, the Inca empire covered 350,000 square miles and boasted a million inhabitants. Yet …

How Broken Bones Work

August 27th, 2013

It's a pretty miserable thing to break a bone. There's the initial blinding pain, all of the medical procedures during a trip to the hospital and then, in the best case example, you have to wear a cast for four months. …

History's Greatest Traitors

August 22nd, 2013

The annals of history hold a special place for people who have carried out treachery and betrayed their own. Thousands of years later, their names …

How Ejection Seats Work

August 20th, 2013

When the Jet Age came about, pilots found they had a brand new problem with their brand new planes: how to bail out when they found themselves in a pinch at 700 mph. In the mid-1940s, aerospace engineers got to work …

How Cockroaches Work

August 15th, 2013

You've seen them in your home and probably squealed in terror, but now it's time to learn all about cockroaches. From their ability to run incredibly fast to the appendage that alerts them when you're about to whack …

Why was Davy Crockett king of the wild frontier?

August 13th, 2013

If there is an American legend who is both real-life and larger-than-life it is Davy Crockett. While he may not have ""kilt him a b'ar"" when he was three, he definitely did personify both the best and the worst of …

How does a diving bell work?

August 8th, 2013

About 2,400 years ago Aristotle mentions the use of diving bells, apparatuses that convey divers to the bottom of the sea -- or at least below the surface of the water -- and allows them to breathe -- at least until the …

The Shark Diaries

August 7th, 2013

In this special episode of Stuff You Should Know, Chuck and Josh tip their hats to Shark Week with an old-fashioned radio play. Join the guys (and a …

How Horseshoes Work

August 6th, 2013

That laziest of backyard games, horseshoes, is also a very ancient one, developed by people following Greek armies more than 2,000 years ago. Since …

How Fingerprinting Works

August 1st, 2013

The Babylonians, one of the earliest civilizations, were the first to use fingerprints to differentiate people, but it wasn't until the 19th century that prints were used for crime fighting. Ever since, analyzing, …

How LARP Works

July 30th, 2013

Dressing up in duct tape-covered cardboard suit of armor and pretending you're an elf warrior for a weekend at a state park might sound like a pretty embarrassing thing to do, but that probably just means you've never …

Why should you never scare a vulture?

July 23rd, 2013

Being ravenous eaters of decaying flesh, vultures have long been shunned by humans. But because of their disgusting habits, vultures provide a …

Who owns an abandoned house?

July 18th, 2013

Ever since the real estate bubble in the U.S. burst in 2008, American cities have had to deal with a substantial uptick in abandoned houses. Faced with hundreds of thousands more than usual, new questions have arisen …

How Building Implosions Work

July 16th, 2013

When you need to take down a 20-story building, a wrecking ball won't do. Instead, you'll need to turn to the handful of companies in the world that …

How Hip-hop Works

July 11th, 2013

In this week's SYSK Select, what you hear is not a test, instead it's Chuck and Josh discussing the cultural history of the Hip-Hop movement. Born …

10 Medieval Torture Devices

July 9th, 2013

Warning: This episode on instruments designed solely to produce extreme human suffering during the Middle Ages in Europe is very graphic in nature. …

How Miranda Rights Work

July 4th, 2013

Back in 1966, the Supreme Court decided that suspects in criminal cases had the right to be reminded that they didn't have to talk to the fuzz if …

How Pollen Works

July 2nd, 2013

For about 375 million years, plants have been using pollen (aka plant sperm) to propagate their species. And the technique has stuck around because …

How Burning Man Works

June 27th, 2013

You've probably heard about Burning Man, it's a week-long party in the middle of a desert made of 50 thousand people living pretty much without …

How Ghosts Work

June 20th, 2013

According to a 2009 poll, more Americans believe in ghosts than don't. But what are ghosts exactly? If they do exist, what are they made of and why …

How Bitcoin Works

June 17th, 2013

In 2008 Bitcoin, the world's first decentralized, anarchistic all-digital currency, was introduced to the world. Its value has risen, fallen and …

Capgras Syndrome: You Are Not Who You Think You Are

June 11th, 2013

There is an extremely rare condition where the sufferer is convinced that everyone around him is an impostor posing as their friends and family. …

How Drag Queens Work

June 11th, 2013

You can trace the origin of men dressing as women in public back to classic Greek theater, but modern drag queens owe their real inception to …

How do trees affect the weather?

June 6th, 2013

Sure, you know that trees have an impact on climate change: to wit, fewer trees mean more atmospheric CO2. But did you know that trees can actually …

What happened to the lost colony at Roanoke?

June 4th, 2013

Before Jamestown became the first successful English colony in the New World, an entire group of settlers vanished. For the last 430 years, Roanoke …

How Coffins Work

May 28th, 2013

Sure, you've probably laid in one at the store or a funeral home, but how much do you know about receptacles used to bury the dead? We'll bet you'll learn plenty - like the difference between a coffin and a casket - in …

How Police Chases Work

May 28th, 2013

Entire TV shows are dedicated to them and Americans love to watch a live one, but police chases aren't as routine as they seem. While police assert …

How PTSD Works

May 23rd, 2013

With Post-traumatic Stress Disorder the sufferer relives, over and over again, the worst moment of his life. What's worse is medicine still doesn't know how to treat it. Learn about this condition and how it's leading …

How Cicadas Work

May 21st, 2013

Cicadas are crawling out from underground, where they have been hiding in the darkness for almost two decades. As of May 2013, they're invading the …

How Aerosol Cans Work

May 16th, 2013

In the 87 years since they were invented aerosol cans have protected soldiers, temporarily fixed flat tires, killed a boy who used too much deodorant …

How Electroconvulsive Therapy Works

May 14th, 2013

With the exception of lobotomies, no other psychological treatment has a worse reputation. But thanks to some thoughtful tweaks, ECT has lately …

How Foot Binding Worked

May 9th, 2013

Once in a while, all the necessary factors converge to produce a peculiar nationalized sexual fetish. In China, that fetish was foot binding and over …

How Fair Trade Works

May 7th, 2013

The West has gotten rich off the backs of underpaid labor living elsewhere; people who are dedicated to Fair Trade feel it's time people at a …

How Dungeons and Dragons Works

May 2nd, 2013

Despite what you've heard, Dungeons and Dragons isn't just for geeks, it isn't satanic and it's actually a pretty great way to exercise your …

What makes us yawn?

April 25th, 2013

What is it that makes us suddenly draw in a deep breath through a wide-open mouth? The beautiful thing about yawning is that researchers really don't …

How Magnets Work

April 23rd, 2013

You can stick them to the fridge or use them to transpose sound to tape, whatever they are used for magnets are surprisingly interesting. And knowing just exactly how and why magnets work will make you more interesting, …

Uses of the Insanity Defense

April 18th, 2013

The idea that a person who can't understand the crime they've committed is wrong lets them off the hook from culpability for their actions is a …

How Marriage Works

April 16th, 2013

You can tell a lot about a culture through marriage statistics: what age people get married, how many divorce, who is excluded from legal marriage. …

Do men and women have different brains?

April 11th, 2013

It's a pretty touchy subject because of the possible implications - if you find differences between the brains of men and women, does that mean there are differences in their intellect? Surprisingly, though there are …

What's the deal with duckbill platypuses?

April 9th, 2013

It is pretty much impossible to describe duckbill platypuses without using the word "hodgepodge" and for good reason. These mammals also share features with birds, reptiles and even sharks. Learn about the these weird …

How Grief Works

April 4th, 2013

You can probably name the five stages of grief - from denial to acceptance - they've become pretty well known since being proposed in 1969. But later researchers are finding that grief is rarely that cut and dried, and …

How the Panama Canal Works

April 2nd, 2013

It's on more than one list of the Seven Wonders of the World and for good reason - the Panama Canal is one of the great feats of engineering ever undertaken. First conceived of in the 1580s and finally completed in …

How No-fly Zones Work

March 28th, 2013

They have become such a ubiquitous tool used by the UN and NATO to intervene in international crises, that it seems like no-fly zones have been …

How Apartheid Worked

March 19th, 2013

After WWII, while the rest of the world grew more socially progressive, the government of South Africa turned inward to focus its attention on domination of the white minority over the non-white majority. It took an …

How the U.S. Postal Service Works

March 14th, 2013

The USPS is currently teetering on the edge of going under and there are a lot of plans to save it, from cutting Saturday service to creating federally-protected email addresses linked to individuals at birth. Join …

How Police Sketches Work

March 12th, 2013

Creating composite drawings of suspected criminals from eyewitness accounts has been around since a Frenchman introduced it in the 19th century. Despite the introduction of new techniques and software it hasn't changed …

Can We Build an Elevator to Space?

March 9th, 2013

With the end of the shuttle program and an International Space Station still in need of supplies, the aerospace industry is working the kinks of out …

Do People Really Run Off to Join the French Foreign Legion?

March 7th, 2013

Anyone who knows anything about Jean-Claude Van Damme knows he played a French legionnaire in the movies. He was just one of many actors to star in films that romanticized this mercenary force. Check out the details in …

What Makes a One-hit Wonder?

March 5th, 2013

The term "one-hit wonder" gets thrown around a lot, and - yes - you probably are using it correctly, but Chuck Bryant went to the trouble to really define what makes a one-hit wonder in the article this episode is based …

How the Papacy Works

February 28th, 2013

In February 2013, Pope Benedict said he would become the first pope to retire in 600 years. Check out this episode of Stuff You Should Know to find …

How CPR Works

February 26th, 2013

You have a golden opportunity to make yourself into a worthwhile human being simply by learning how to perform CPR. The chances are you'll never need …

How Spies Work

February 23rd, 2013

Psst. You want to know how governments and corporations get the drop on one another? The frontline of intelligence is populated by spies. Learn about …

What Would Happen If the World Stopped Spinning?

February 21st, 2013

Over the last 400 million years, the day has grown longer by two full hours thanks to a slowing of the rotation of the Earth on its axis. While it …

How Surfing Works

February 19th, 2013

You know the Beach Boys and you've seen those Hang Ten shirts with the little feet emblem, but there's a lot more to surfing than appears on pop …

Myths About the Brain

February 14th, 2013

As is usual for SYSK, Josh and Chuck go over some, but