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The Hottest Fashion

The mid-19th century vogue for flowing, diaphanous women’s garments made from open-weave fabrics, combined with gas lighting, candles, and open fires meant that it was extremely common for women to literally burst into flames: on stage, at parties, at home. It wasn’t just the fabric, but also the shape of the dresses that caused women’s clothing to erupt in flames. The popular silhouette in the 1850s was a giant bell shape, like Scarlett O’Hara in her curtain dress. Jeff and Anthony discuss how this problem was eventually (and unintentionally) solved.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Heroes of Blight and Tragic

At first glance, Miles Traer seems like any other scientist, but this Stanford University geologist has an alter ego. He beats back the forces of environmental destruction and holds the super-powerful to account. Traer and two colleagues have calculated the carbon footprint for nine superheroes — and realized that Earth might be better off if they stopped trying to save it. Jeff and Anthony discuss whether or not this was worth the effort of some of our greatest thinkers.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Quantity Time

Despite not being at the end of your life, you may very well be nearing the end of your time with some of the most important people in your life. The majority of the time spent with your parents is front loaded in your life – most likely you only have 5 % of your life’s in person parent time. Jeff and Anthony discuss why this might be okay.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Fool Poisoning

The year was 1902. With funding and consent from Congress, Harvey Washington Wiley was about to embark on an experiment he dubbed the “hygienic table trials,” but the Washington news media called his volunteers “the Poison Squad.” Wiley’s staff would put borax in their butter, milk, or coffee. Formaldehyde would lurk in their meats, copper sulfate and saltpeter in their fruit pies. Jeff and Anthony wonder why anyone would sign up for this.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Halve A Seat

At the University of Chicago in the early 1920s, psychology grad student William Blatz built a remote-controlled trick chair that would collapse when he pressed a switch. (It was padded to avoid injury.) Then he had subjects sit in the chair while wearing electrodes to measure heart rate and other vital signs. Blatz’s goal was to “study the physiology of fear under controlled, repeatable conditions.” Jeff and Anthony take a seat and discuss Blatz and his life’s work.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Bottled Potter

A writing team at Botnik Studios used a ‘predictive keyboard’ – a text generator that tries to guess what the next word typed will most likely be – to create a truly hilarious piece of Harry Potter fanfiction. Anthony and Jeff take a look at the new chapter of the Potter-verse and decide if they’re ready to read AI created novels.  More Details/Download MP3 →

A Fish Shout of Water

A species of Mexican fish amasses in reproductive orgies so loud they can deafen other sea animals, awed scientists have said, calling for preservation of the “spectacle” threatened by overfishing. Certainly a lot to unpack there, and Jeff and Anthony do their best.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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When Aliens a Tax

Since 2007, the $600 billion annual Defense Department budgets included $22 million spent on the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. The Defense Department has never before acknowledged the existence of the program, which it says it shut down in 2012. For years, the program investigated reports of unidentified flying objects. Jeff and Anthony discuss this state sponsored UFO investigation and whether that constitutes a real-life X-Files.  More Details/Download MP3 →

BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 20:  Venus fly traps sit on display at a presentation of carnivorous plants at the Berlin-Dahlem Botanical Garden on July 20, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. Carnivorous plants derive most of their nutrients by consuming animals, most commonly flying, foraging, or crawling insects, and have adapted to grow in places where the soil does not contain enough nutrients for them to survive.  (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

Plantesthesia

Researchers from the journal Annals of Botany report that, just like humans, plants can succumb to the effects of general anesthetic drugs. The finding is striking for a variety of reasons—there’s the pesky fact that plants lack a central nervous system, for one thing. Jeff and Anthony examine the problem and come up with some theories as to what is going on.

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A child with batman costume has fun during the street carnival. Street carnival in Sao Paulo, many groups, called blocos, has bands and thousands of revelers , costumed or not, following as a parade through the city streets, singing, dancing by the route on February 6, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Batman Doesn’t Need Super Vision

Psychologists have reported in Child Development that when four- to six-year-olds pretended to be Batman while they were doing a boring but important task, it helped them to resist distraction and stay more focused. The experts don’t know exactly why this works so well, but Jeff and Anthony have a few ideas.  More Details/Download MP3 →