Do Not Pass Go

AlphaGo the AI developed to play the ancient board game, Go, crushed 18-time world champion Lee Sedol and the reigning world number one player, Ke Jie. But now, an even more superior competitor is in town. AlphaGo Zero has beaten AlphaGo 100-0 after training for just a fraction of the time AlphaGo needed, and it didn’t learn from observing humans playing against each other – unlike AlphaGo. Anthony and Jeff discuss how it did it, and what it means for the future of AI.  More Details/Download MP3 →


Star Crash

For the first time, scientists have caught two neutron stars in the act of colliding, revealing that these strange smashups are the source of heavy elements such as gold and platinum. Anthony and Jeff discuss what this discovery means, and how excited we should be.  More Details/Download MP3 →

Headache Teenage Girl. (Photo by: Media for Medical/UIG via Getty Images)

Downside Effects

When a harmless placebo becomes effective, it becomes harmful, too, causing side-effects seen in actual therapies. In a new study exploring this mysterious “nocebo effect,” researchers pinpoint regions of the brain that seem to be behind phantom injuries. They also assess factors—framing and price—that can increase the potency of the effect. Jeff and Anthony discuss this phenomenon and what it means for skeptical thinking.  More Details/Download MP3 →


Space Mutants

NASA is considering the possibility of actually modifying the DNA of Mars astronauts in order to make their bodies more resilient to the dangers of the trip. Jeff and Anthony discuss whether this is a good idea, and how it might trickle down to personal use. Also, Jeff almost dies in this episode.  More Details/Download MP3 →


Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On

Chris Ufere, is the founder and CEO of the dream-interpretation app uDreamed, which allows people to record dreams, connect with other dreamers and consult with psychologists to find more resolution and meaning in their nightly visions. He contends at rather than being universal, dreams are influenced by a combination of psychology, culture, and individual circumstances. Anthony and Jeff delve into some of the data to find out what all these dreams mean.  More Details/Download MP3 →


When Pigs Die

A team at Mississippi State University conducted an unusual ecological experiment with 3 actual tons of pig carcasses. Jeff and Anthony dig into the gory details to determine if it was worthwhile.  More Details/Download MP3 →


Occupational Vehicle

In the mid-2000s, Amazon had a problem. Every year, the company scrambled to find temporary workers during the peak months of hectic commerce leading up to Christmas. In some areas of the country, reliable on-demand labor was so hard to come by that it resorted to busing in workers from three to five hours away. Then, in 2008, a staffing agency came up with something new: inviting a team of migrant RVers to work at the facility in Kansas. Pleased with the results, Amazon  expanded the program and gave the new initiative a name—Camper­Force—and a logo. Anthony and Jeff discuss the camper force and decide if it is a good thing.  More Details/Download MP3 →

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Slumber Partly

A trio of Caltech grad students noticed some laboratory jellyfish were acting differently when the lights were turned off, and set about determining if they were sleeping. If so, these are the first animals discovered who sleep and have no brain. Anthony and Jeff discuss why a brainless animal would need to sleep, and what that might mean for how we understand our basic human need for it.  More Details/Download MP3 →


Cave Story

Indiana University freshman Lukas Cavar was on a spelunking trip to Sullivan Cave about 10 miles south of Bloomington when he became separated Sunday afternoon from 12 other members of the university’s Caving Club. When he eventually reached the cave entrance, Cavar found club members had padlocked its gate, unaware that he remained inside. He couldn’t get a cellphone signal and screamed for hours, hoping motorists passing on a nearby road might hear him. Jeff and Anthony discuss their fears of being left in a cave, and how best to survive.  More Details/Download MP3 →


The Dark Night Returns

Researchers say 80 percent of North Americans live in areas where light pollution blots out the night sky.  Central Idaho officials are proposing the first International Dark Sky Reserve in the United States.  Anthony and Jeff discuss seeing stars, and whether it is worth curbing light pollution.  More Details/Download MP3 →