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Stuff You Should Know

HowStuffWorks

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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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How the Flu Works

53:41 | Nov 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 mutate and once in awhile they turn into something much deadlier, a pandemic that can kill millions.

How the Secret Service Works

57:13 | Sep 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 well known as the agency that guards and protects the president and the first family, along with tha...Show More

How Schoolhouse Rock Rocked: Featuring Bob Nastanovich of Pavement

1:05:21 | 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 Pavement's Bob Nastanovich, contributor to the '90s Schoolhouse Rock tribute record.

Ballpoint pens? Heck yes, ballpoint pens!

51:29 | Aug 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 storm. We love our ballpoint pens and you should too. Listen in today!

Who is The Man of the Hole?

40:05 | Aug 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 the Man of the Hole, and has had no face-to-face with modern humans. Who is he? We'll answer that ques...Show More

The Max Headroom Incident

51:33 | Jun 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 tones, brandished a marital aid...Show More

Emojis: A New Language? Nah.

50:26 | Apr 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. 

How Hoarding Works

1:05:14 | Jan 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 shame that this disorder creates in its victims who are neurologically incapable of parting with their...Show More

How Removing Public Monuments Work

50:31 | Jan 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.

What is an invasive species?

54:09 | Jan 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 aren't always a problem, but many t...Show More

The Mystery of the Mary Celeste

1:05:00 | Jan 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? UFOs? Well, probably not that l...Show More

Narcissism: But what about me?

1:03:41 | Dec 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 empathy and don't understand wha...Show More

How Flight Attendants Work

44:32 | Dec 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 cool job in today’s episode.

SYSK Selects: How Daylight Saving Time Works

38:23 | Nov 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 turn back the clock to explore th...Show More

What's permaculture all about?

55:12 | Nov 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 the would-be, natural ecosystem of an area. Simple concepts like planting downhill from a pond and usin...Show More

Movie Crush: Tig Notaro on Mask

1:14:34 | Nov 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!

SYSK Selects: How SPAM Works

43:32 | Oct 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 spread to stores across the world. But what exactly is it, how did it get here -- and why is its shelf l...Show More

Episode 1,000: The Simpsons Spectacular Part II

1:04:05 | Oct 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 tribute to America's favorite TV ...Show More

Episode 999: The Simpsons Spectacular Part I

53:46 | Oct 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 has been around since Josh and Chuck were in grade school, and is still cranking out episodes today. ...Show More

How Internships Work

42:23 | Oct 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 internships with us today. And f...Show More

How Giraffes Work

57:21 | Oct 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 them. They've found giraffes are even more amazing than they appear.

How Nude Beaches Work

48:35 | Sep 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.

How FOIA Works

54:05 | Sep 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 loose ever since.

How Psychopaths Work

51:14 | Sep 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 sanity.'

How Satanism Works

55:55 | Aug 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, none of them are filled with evil ...Show More

A Lip-Smacking Look at Barbecue

54:22 | Aug 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 of all classes and races can sit and break bread with one another. In today's episode, you'll learn al...Show More

How Personality Tests Work

1:00:28 | Aug 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 itself. But is the idea of types – which all personality inventories are based on - flawed to begin ...Show More

What's the deal with accents?

59:51 | Aug 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 people speak in their native tongue can vary drastically. What are the influences? When do accents begin t...Show More

SYSK Selects: How HeLa Cells Work

30:30 | Jul 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 Henrietta Lacks in 1951 without her knowledge. Those cells would go on to become the first immortal line of h...Show More

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

39:54 | Jul 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. Find out what’s the haps in th...Show More

How Poetry Works

1:08:11 | 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 into what's so great about it.

The Black Panther Party

1:07:16 | Feb 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 actually men and women trying to affect change in their community. Their history is one of the more ...Show More

How Pacifism Works (And Could It?)

1:16:31 | Jan 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 hopelessly naïve or the unsung response to conflict that’s kept us from wiping ourselves out.

How Soylent Works

44:37 | Jan 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.

What's the Deal with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy?

44:06 | Nov 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 condition the NFL sought to cove...Show More

How Animal Testing Works

54:40 | Sep 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 have the right to do that?

SYSK Live: The Kellogg Brothers’ Wacky World of Health

1:14:11 | Jan 22nd

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 masturbation, live from Sydney, Austral...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Lobotomies Work

36:04 | Jan 19th

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.

The July 20th Plot to Assassinate Hitler

49:18 | Jan 17th

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 Josh and Chuck dig into the infamous July 20th plot to blow up Der Führer.

Short Stuff: Olestra

12:23 | Jan 16th

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 your bowels unpleasantly loose.

How Airbags Work

42:33 | Jan 15th

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 fuel, just like in a rocket – aimed for your face.

SYSK Selects: How Schizophrenia Works

46:30 | Jan 12th

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 disorder to the latest resear...Show More

The Great Finger in the Wendy’s Chili Caper

46:47 | Jan 10th

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 media firestorm, a criminal investigation and a prison sentence for her and her husband. 

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

15:15 | Jan 9th

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

How the Spanish Flu Worked

1:00:37 | Jan 8th

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 devastating pandemic in today's epis...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Munchausen Syndrome Works

42:32 | Jan 5th

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 separate the facts from fiction and give you the scoop on Munchausen syndrome.

What was the Tunguska event?

44:44 | Jan 3rd

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 crater and no asteroid to be found – so was it an asteroid? (Yes.)

Short Stuff: Khipu

16:25 | Jan 2nd

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

Rockettes: Still Kicking After All These Years

47:57 | Jan 1st

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

SYSK Selects: How Fossils Work

39:28 | Dec 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 fossilization.

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

54:11 | Dec 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.

Short Stuff: The Brain-Bladder Connection

15:06 | Dec 26th, 2018

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

SYSK Live Christmas Spectacular!

1:15:45 | Dec 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, light a fire and enjoy this live show with the whole family. 

SYSK Selects: The Star Wars Holiday Special of 1978

57:08 | Dec 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 can never be fully explained, but we make our best effort in a very special edition of SYSK. May the...Show More

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

44:18 | Dec 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 entire video game industry with i...Show More

Short Stuff: Unique Snowflakes

13:35 | Dec 19th, 2018

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

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

52:28 | Dec 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, and it’s durable enough to withstand a hurricane – but it’s also godawful ugly and that was its undoing...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Igloos Work

31:13 | Dec 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 their ingenious construction.

Are good samaritan laws effective?

48:51 | Dec 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!

Short Stuff: Laughing Buddha

13:37 | Dec 12th, 2018

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

How Ayahuasca Works

47:40 | Dec 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 foul-tasting, wildly hallucinogenic brew called ayahuasca, has changed cultures throughout the Americas. 

SYSK Selects: That Dang-old Goat Fell Over

32:02 | Dec 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.

Was the PMRC censorship in disguise?

58:03 | Dec 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. 

Short Stuff: Dolphin Detectors

15:51 | Dec 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 even if it’s safe, is it ethical?

How Search and Rescue Dogs Work

53:39 | Dec 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.

Introducing Alchemy This

6:46 | Dec 3rd, 2018

Award-winning comedian Kevin Pollak has gathered five of his favorite, extraordinarily-talented improvisors. In each episode, he presents uniquely bizarre scenarios for he and them to hilariously bring to life.

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

33:18 | Dec 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.

Adidas v. Puma: A Sibling Rivalry

44:09 | Nov 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 world. Sibling rivalry, Nazis, shoes - there's a lot to unpack here.

Short Stuff: iSmell

14:45 | Nov 28th, 2018

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

How the Navajo Code Talkers Worked

47:38 | Nov 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 handful of Navajos sent messages on the frontlines in a language they’d been forbidden to speak as s...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Black Friday Works

43:26 | Nov 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, in fact, at least four people have lost their lives and as many as 63 others have been injured during...Show More

Fire twucks! Fire twucks! (sic)

51:53 | Nov 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!

Short Stuff: Safety Pins

13:22 | Nov 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 the trouble of patenting them. 

Finders Keepers: Real Law

41:15 | Nov 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 legal world of finding something that belongs to someone else, from buried treasure to a misplaced ring.

SYSK Selects: How Kleptomania Works

29:26 | Nov 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 unnecessary items.

Olive Oil: Mother Nature's Gift

1:03:15 | Nov 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. 

Short Stuff: Lemonade

14:45 | Nov 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 and coming up with something gr...Show More

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

45:34 | Nov 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 system. It’s Pando, the most massive, and almost certainly oldest (by far) organism on Earth.

SYSK Selects: How Pizza Works

54:00 | Nov 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 (or tomato pie) you're about to chow down on. Join Chuck and Josh as they explain it to you, bite by b...Show More

Is yogurt a miracle food?

48:16 | Nov 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!

Short Stuff: Vomitoria

14:04 | Nov 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 this episode and impress your frie...Show More

The End Of The World with Josh Clark - EP01: Fermi Paradox

42:28 | Nov 7th, 2018

Ever wondered where all the aliens are? It’s actually very weird that, as big and old as the universe is, we seem to be the only intelligent life. In this episode, Josh examines the Fermi paradox, and what it says about humanity’s place in the univer...Show More

What were war masks?

42:04 | Nov 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 today, they went a long way in restoring their dignity. Learn all about them today. 

SYSK Selects: How Grief Works

43:12 | Nov 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 it may not be as widely experie...Show More

How Easy Bake Ovens Work

38:47 | Nov 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 endanger children to this day. 

Short Stuff: Labor Day

14:04 | Oct 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 all about this most subversive of American holidays in this episode of Short Stuff.

SYSK’s 2018 Super Spooktacular

51:17 | Oct 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 stylings. Guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit.

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

33:32 | Oct 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 for 38 years.

How the Amityville Horror Worked

55:22 | Oct 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 supernatural presence living there. And this being the 70s, the world went nuts for their story.

Short Stuff: Exploding Manholes

15:06 | Oct 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 air. It’s unnervingly common and we’ll tell you why. 

How Epilepsy Works

56:46 | Oct 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 to these overloads, where one could come at any time with little or no warning. That is epilepsy. 

Hell and Gone Trailer

2:44 | Oct 22nd, 2018

Hell And Gone is a new podcast that follows writer and private investigator Catherine Townsend as she moves back to the Arkansas Ozarks to solve the 2004 murder of 22-year-old college student Rebekah Gould. 

SYSK Selects: How Aphrodisiacs Work

24:23 | Oct 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?

Waterbeds: The Sexiest Bed?

41:40 | Oct 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 episode. 

Trailer: The End of the World with Josh Clark

2:12 | Oct 17th, 2018

We humans could have a bright future ahead of us that lasts billions of years. But we have to survive the next 200 years first.

Short Stuff: Korean Fan Death

15:15 | Oct 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 idea is found nowhere else in the world, Korean culture has come up with some interesting explanations.

Was There A Real Robin Hood?

51:49 | Oct 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 episode. 

SYSK Selects: How Homelessness Works

44:36 | Oct 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 you can do to help alleviate t...Show More

When inventions kill!

47:10 | Oct 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 too. Pull up a chair and hear about a few from Josh and Chuck. 

Short Stuff: William King

14:08 | Oct 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. 

How Marathons Work

1:07:58 | Oct 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 inspire in this episode. 

SYSK Selects: Is lethal injection humane?

47:26 | Oct 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 and painless as we think?

Algae: Food, Fuel, What?

54:38 | Oct 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 count? Don’t bet on it. Only a fool would bet against green water. 

Short Stuff: Grandfather Clocks

14:10 | Oct 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 and Chuck, and less!

How the Concorde Worked

59:02 | Oct 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, noisy and a big money loser. Climb aboard and get ready for Mach 1. 

Introducing: Unobscured With Aaron Mahnke

2:18 | Oct 1st, 2018

History is full of stories we think we know. They are old and dark, but time has robbed us of perspective and clarity. They've become obscured and misunderstood. Which is why this series exists: to dig deep and shed light on some of history’s darkest...Show More

SYSK Selects: Does the five-second rule work?

37:22 | Sep 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 utterly covered our world is with bac...Show More

Seriously, What Is Dark Matter?

45:48 | Sep 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? Does it even exist?

What is colorblindness?

38:32 | Sep 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 ranging from dulled colors to shades of grey. Learn all about what colorblindness means in today's episode....Show More

SYSK Selects: Was Malthus right about carrying capacity?

27:39 | Sep 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 this classic episode to find ou...Show More

How Ranked Choice Voting Works

45:49 | Sep 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 of them so if your first choice doesn’t win, your vote goes to your second choice? So long, polarizati...Show More

Roundabouts: The Problem Is You

1:00:56 | Sep 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 traffic – that America can’t st...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Commercial Jingles Work

38:25 | Sep 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 insidious and catchy advertising ve...Show More

What are think tanks all about?

47:38 | Sep 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. 

SYSK Live: How Game Shows Work

1:10:49 | Sep 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 around the world, recorded on June 28, 2018. You just come right on down, why don’t you?

SYSK Selects: How Circumcision Works

45:00 | Sep 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 circumcision in this episode.

The Lava Lamp: Goes Great With Acid

49:01 | Sep 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 icon of psychedelia. The lava lamp became popular with people on LSD not once, but twice, decades apart.

How Police Lineups Work

55:00 | Sep 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. Learn about how these tropes work for real in today's episode. 

SYSK Selects: How Patents Work

1:04:24 | Sep 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 big mess. Wade into this surprisingly interesting mire to learn how to save this important institution...Show More

Happy Face Trailer

3:39 | Aug 31st, 2018

We have something new and truly different to introduce. What would it be like to be raised by a serial killer? The newest podcast on our network comes straight from Melissa Moore, the daughter of the Happy Face Serial Killer, because not all victims ...Show More

How Elimination Diets Work

46:32 | Aug 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 episode. 

Why There Aren't So Many Hotel Fires Anymore

46:44 | Aug 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 hotel fire in American history broke out. Find out how they made staying in hotels safe.

SYSK Selects: What's the deal with Voodoo?

36:25 | Aug 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.

Pterosaurs: Not Flying Dinosaurs

40:45 | Aug 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 about terrifying prehistoric beast...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Electroconvulsive Therapy Works

29:21 | Aug 18th, 2018

With the exception of lobotomies, no other psychological treatment has a worse reputation. But thanks to some thoughtful tweaks, ECT has lately emerged from the dark ages and toward the respectable forefront of treatment for major depression.

How Board Breaking Works

47:37 | Aug 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 breaking is indeed cool but there’s also a lot of physics to help it along. Learn all about this secret a...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Traffic Works

37:02 | Aug 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 look at traffic waves (and bubble...Show More

How Attila the Hun Worked

45:15 | Aug 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, Atilla the Hun. 

How Search and Rescue Works

1:03:01 | Aug 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 of people who are missing take their job seriously. Learn about this fascinating world in this episo...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Miranda Rights Work

32:30 | Aug 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 they didn't want to, as stated in the 5th amendment. Since that ruling, scores of other cases have shape...Show More

How the U.S. Military Draft Works

57:26 | Aug 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 up for you. We'll also talk a bit about whether or not this could ever happen again. 

How the Pony Express Worked

47:14 | Jul 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 mail, its legend has only grow...Show More

SYSK Selects: How the Cannonball Run Worked

35:13 | Jul 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 and Chuck take you on a wild ride through the real (and colorful) history of this infamous race.

The Dyatlov Pass Mystery

42:19 | Jul 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 outward signs of distress? We'l...Show More

Recycling Update: How’s It Going?

1:07:12 | Jul 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 fascinating world of recycling. 

SYSK Selects: How Foot Binding Worked

31:01 | Jul 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 a millennia three billion Chinese women's feet were brutally disfigured for men's pleasure.

How Attorney-Client Privilege Works

39:25 | Jul 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 protected and defined and still stands stronger than ever. Find out why a person’s ability to speak freely to...Show More

Jobs of Bygone Eras

1:02:50 | Jul 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. 

SYSK Selects: How Twinkies Work

29:48 | Jul 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.

Gerrymandering: How to Stifle Democracy

39:20 | Jul 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 maps to ensure political dominance is about as undemocratic as it gets. Please enjoy Josh and Chuck gett...Show More

The Disappearance of the Yuba County Five

54:41 | Jul 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 to this day. 

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

38:12 | Jul 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 was derided at home and abroad, historians are beginning to wonder if it didn't help win the Cold Wa...Show More

How the Stanford Prison Experiment Worked

48:48 | Jul 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 Josh and Chuck give this exper...Show More

How Diabetes Works

58:06 | Jul 3rd, 2018

Type 2 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 haywire and lead to this dise...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Ponzi Schemes Work

30:59 | Jun 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.

Narwhals: Unicorns of the Sea

38:32 | Jun 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! 

Can Anarchism Work?

1:03:56 | Jun 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 the idea that governments are unnecessary and do more harm than good. Could we actually live without t...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Condoms Work

1:03:59 | Jun 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 condoms to prevent pregnancy. Join Josh and Chuck for this comprehensive tour of all things condom.

Genghis Khan: Madman or Genius?

53:10 | Jun 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.

How The Pill Changed the World

48:02 | Jun 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 pregnancy and everything from feminism to patients’ rights centered on it. 

SYSK Selects: How Bullfighting Works

48:50 | Jun 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 50,000 fans. But is bullfighting an antiquated, abusive relic or a cultural tradition above reproach?

Skyscrapers: 'Scuse me while I kiss the sky

54:54 | Jun 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 beautifully simplistic in all the best ways. Listen in today!

How Tsunamis Work

49:43 | Jun 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 seem to be getting worse.

SYSK Selects: How The Hum Works

40:54 | Jun 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 causing it - or if it actually exis...Show More

Frida Kahlo: Painter, Icon, Genius

49:58 | Jun 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. 

SYSK Selects: Was there a real King Arthur?

46:15 | Jun 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 was already hundreds of years old. And while many of the details of his life and adventures, from the ...Show More

Is the Pied Piper About a Real Historic Tragedy?

43:22 | 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 about the Pied Piper fairy tale is ...Show More

How Drug Courts Work

54:16 | 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 a second and sometimes third c...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Pinball Works

47:49 | 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 about it with Josh and Chuck.

How Occam's Razor Works

44:05 | 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 it’s become a broadsword used to disprove opposing arguments. Learn how to spot a faux skeptic in thi...Show More

A List Of Games You Would Surely Lose to a Computer

58:43 | 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 growing more intelligent by the hou...Show More

SYSK Selects: Is brain size related to intelligence?

37:34 | 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 brain works suggests there's a lot more to take into account when comparing brain biology to intellec...Show More

The Collar Bomb Heist

44:46 | 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 today to hear Josh and Chuck detail this very odd and twisty story. 

What's a quinceañera anyway?

42:23 | 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 lot of great food. Join Josh and Chuck as they don their favorite pink dresses and go over this wond...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Cremation Works

46:02 | 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.

How Drowning Works

54:13 | 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 die days later. 

PT Barnum: More Complicated Than You've Heard

1:01:05 | 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 person is to look at them, warts and...Show More

SYSK Selects: Are there undiscovered people?

29:09 | 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 undiscovered -- and why groups might want to avoid modern civilization.

North Korea: What's the Deal?

1:10:07 | 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 the American hordes, depending on who you ask. 

Nepotism: When Hiring the Best Just Won't Do

44:32 | 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 opportunity when you play ball. Learn all...Show More

SYSK Selects: Who killed JFK?

48:08 | Apr 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 question.

Does Pyromania Actually Exist?

37:43 | Apr 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 the urge to set a fire becomes an irresistible impulse. We think.

SYSK Selects: How Mirrors Work

30:59 | Apr 21st, 2018

Whether using polished metal surfaces or clear glass, human beings have enjoyed admiring their reflections for centuries. In this episode, Josh and Chuck reflect on the types, mind-melting physics, superstitions and rather interesting history of mirr...Show More

Two Times In the 70s When People Buried Ferraris

48:28 | Apr 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 their stories.

The Unabomber: Misguided to say the least

48:52 | Apr 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 about this fascinating case in toda...Show More

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

40:10 | Apr 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 inexplicably taboo subject (including how even women who are paralyzed can experience orgasms).

How Paramedics Work

51:34 | Apr 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 we're here to shine a light on this noble profession. 

Why Landmines Are The Deadliest Legacy Of War

54:11 | Apr 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 ones is of paramount importance...Show More

SYSK Selects: Sherpas: Warm, Friendly Living

33:02 | Apr 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 what exactly is a Sherpa? Tune in and learn more as Chuck and Josh explore the culture of the Sherpa peo...Show More

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

53:29 | Apr 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 recluse Howard Hughes, obviously.

When Words Take on New Meanings

1:00:06 | Apr 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, their original meanings, and how they changed over the years to reflect almost nothing about their origin...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Guide Dogs Work

43:42 | Mar 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 absolutely correct. Guide dogs are about as special as dogs can get and it's through years of hard w...Show More

What are false positives?

47:13 | Mar 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 tests indicate you have a disea...Show More

How Meals on Wheels Works

50:27 | Mar 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 pretty interesting backstory, starting in multiple places in different countries almost simultaneousl...Show More

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

48:22 | Mar 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 to get you where you're going.

How the Framingham Heart Study Works

54:29 | Mar 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 of medicine. Originally designed to study heart disease, it's revealed things about plenty else too: ...Show More

How the New England Vampire Panics Worked

50:46 | Mar 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 become undead. Thus began everything we know today about killing vampires.

SYSK Selects: How Trickle-Down Economics Works

46:17 | Mar 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 the wealthy and they can use it to rev up an economy. But is the whole thing just a scam?

Is Vaping Really Bad For You?

44:32 | Mar 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 who’s right?

The Huggable, Lovable Walrus

53:53 | Mar 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 sticking together in tough times, ...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Cockroaches Work

47:30 | Mar 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 them with your shoe, cockroaches a...Show More

Why Do People Believe In Faith Healing?

56:45 | Mar 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 their hands on them. Skeptics scoff, but science’s explanations are kind of vague. So what’s going on...Show More

The Strange Story of Sea Monkeys

55:59 | Mar 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 invention of the Sea Monkey is t...Show More

SYSK Selects: Is there treasure on Oak Island?

40:36 | Mar 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 is anything really there?

SYSK Live: Back When Ford Pintos Were Flaming Deathtraps

1:18:42 | Mar 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 them.

Knife Throwing: Super Cool

45:42 | Feb 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 mounted to a wooden wheel. Spinning around. While you’re blindfolded. Learn all about the impalement ar...Show More

SYSK Selects: How the MPAA Works

47:32 | Feb 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 Hollywood's six biggest studios.

Rosa Parks: Agent of Change

54:30 | Feb 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 actually had a long life as an advocate, protestor and agent of change. Join us today as we celebrate...Show More

Are Feral Children Real?

45:31 | Feb 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 it turns out these stories may actually be true in some cases and may actually have been children wi...Show More

SYSK Selects: How the Underground Railroad Worked

39:41 | Feb 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? Join Josh and Chuck to learn more...Show More

The Harriet Tubman Story

50:49 | Feb 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. Listen in today as Josh and Chuck pay tribute to a true icon of African-American history.

How Pompeii Worked

53:55 | Feb 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.

SYSK Selects: How Narco States Work

36:01 | Feb 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 -- or without government interference.

The Mystery of The Grand Canyon Newlyweds

55:40 | Feb 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 hear all about the tragic and ...Show More

What is a Mold-A-Rama?

42:48 | Feb 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 pellets, to the delight of children and adults alike. They didn't last too long, but can still be found a...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Lion Taming Works

31:47 | Feb 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 animals to comply has evolved over time. Take a peek in the jaws of this odd profession with Josh and Chuck...Show More

Marijuana Vs. Alcohol: Which Is Worse For You?

55:12 | Feb 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 on top.

The Manson Family Murders Part II

44:01 | Jan 30th, 2018

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

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

48:00 | Jan 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 harsh realities of prison life.

The Manson Family Murders Part I

49:43 | Jan 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? What makes one person kill for another? And what did The Beatles have to do with it all? Learn all this...Show More

SYSK Selects: Lab-grown meat: Order up!

29:47 | Jan 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 meat. But will anyone eat it?

How Hang Gliding Works

45:02 | Jan 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 2000 times before dying in a crash...Show More

SYSK Selects: The Wind Cries Typhoid Mary

39:54 | Jan 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 public safety versus civil rights...Show More

SYSK Selects: What Makes a One-hit Wonder?

31:28 | Jan 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 on. Join him and Josh as they ge...Show More

How Impeachment Works

55:05 | Jan 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 shaped over the years because of a lack of detail in its initial definition. Listen in today to learn al...Show More

How Orchids Work

54:09 | Jan 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 beautiful, they’re among the most intere...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Willpower Works

34:11 | Dec 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 the 1990s that researchers began ...Show More

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

49:09 | Dec 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 statue of Zeus, the world’s first mausoleum, and Chuck’s favorite, the Colossus of Rhodes!

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

46:27 | Dec 26th, 2017

Long before slide rulers and pocket protectors, civilizations across the world used their noggins to build some impressive structures. Almost all have crumbled to ruins over the millennium, but thanks to the earliest tourists, we admire them still to...Show More

SYSK Selects: The Star Wars Holiday Special of 1978

58:23 | Dec 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 can never be fully explained, but we make our best effort in a very special edition of SYSK. May the...Show More

The 2017 SYSK Christmas Extravaganza!

55:07 | Dec 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 movie, the Rockefeller Center tree, a boozy holiday recipe and plenty more great holiday tidings!

SYSK Selects: How Population Works

33:00 | Dec 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 works, from demographics to population control, in this episode.

How the Globe of Death Works

46:06 | Dec 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 will to bend physics.

The Deal With Doulas

41:32 | Dec 12th, 2017

Doulas aren't midwives or nurses, but they can provide an invaluable service as advocates. Learn about the deal with doulas right now!

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

38:59 | Dec 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 why we can't be sure how much mo...Show More

How Vomit Phobia Works

33:05 | Dec 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 vomit at any moment and become so obsessed they curtail their lives to prevent it from happening.

SYSK Selects: How Crime Scene Cleanup Works

36:02 | Dec 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.

Cake: So Great. So, So Great

1:13:56 | Nov 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 good old American know-how to come together to make the cake we know and love today.

How Toy Testing Works

50:17 | Nov 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 takes both of these testing tec...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Organ Donation Works

40:39 | Nov 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.

What is nuclear forensics?

51:15 | Nov 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 and thankless task, so allow us t...Show More

Bath Salts: Steer Clear

44:03 | Nov 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. Learn why.

Can movies be cursed?

55:51 | Nov 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 their production and release. Di...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Silly Putty Works

41:17 | Nov 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 inventor, fluid chemistry and m...Show More

How Restaurant Health Inspections Work

57:45 | Nov 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 proper environment. Learn all ...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Exorcism Works

23:52 | Nov 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 to account for unknown, legitimate factors? Learn whether exorcism and psychology are mutually exclu...Show More

Movie Crush: Janet Varney on Tron

53:51 | Nov 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.

How Global Warming Works

1:03:26 | Nov 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 of catastrophic events will almost surely follow. The ball is in humanity's court.

SYSK's 2017 Super Spooktacular!

58:09 | Oct 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.

SYSK Selects: The Cheesiest SYSK Episode Ever

48:43 | Oct 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 been accidentally created by more than one culture at different times. Tune in to learn more about chee...Show More

SYSK Live: The DB Cooper Heist

1:34:28 | Oct 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 hijacking in American history.

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

40:11 | Oct 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 ability to lie. Join Josh and Chuc...Show More

How Buildering Works

50:01 | Oct 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.

How the Rolling Jubilee Works

49:38 | Oct 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.

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

32:15 | Oct 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 half of Chicago in 1871. Yet in 19...Show More

How Police Body Cameras Work

48:14 | Oct 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 should protect both police and citizens, but as we learned, they are no magic pill police against bruta...Show More

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

32:04 | Sep 30th, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, there's a lot of debate about whether pre-agricultural humans existed in a more harmonious state than we do today. Did we slip out of Eden when we began building large scale societies? Or is it possible that the mo...Show More

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

37:03 | Sep 23rd, 2017

In this week's SYSK Select episode, medical ecology is concerned with understanding how microbes living inside us keep us healthy. The field’s first breakthrough is the fecal transplant, moving poop from a healthy person and into the gut of a sick pe...Show More

A Nostalgic Look at Crayons

55:32 | Sep 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 popularity among the elementary school set. Learn all about crayons in today's episode.

How Frogs Work

54:07 | Sep 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.

SYSK Selects: How Handwriting Analysis Works

44:33 | Sep 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 each person writes in their own peculiar way. Learn about this interesting area of crime fighting and...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Hip-hop Works

55:23 | Sep 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 out of the South Bronx, by way of Jamaica, Hip-Hop culture grew up suddenly as DJs learned to use two t...Show More

Are crickets the future of food?

47:18 | Sep 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, crickets could help solve some of the world's food problems if Europe and America get on board. Learn a...Show More

The Baffling Case of the Body On Somerton Beach

1:07:58 | Sep 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.

SYSK Selects: How Shrunken Heads Work

58:42 | Sep 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 of Ecuador has shrunken heads for centuries. Learn the methodical process of shrinking a head and ho...Show More

SYSK Selects: Is Stockholm Syndrome real?

37:27 | Aug 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 a name. But is Stockholm Syndrome real? And what conditions have to be present? Join Chuck and Josh a...Show More

Is the Uncanny Valley Real?

1:11:02 | Aug 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 something creepy - in recent years...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Exploitation Films Work

51:55 | Aug 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 led to explorations in sexuality and violence that mainstream cinema wouldn't touch. Join Chuck and J...Show More

How Stuttering Works

54:07 | Aug 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 up with so far: there seems to be an issue between the physical process of speaking and the thought pr...Show More

SYSK Selects: How McCarthyism Works

45:46 | Aug 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, starting with the infamous Comm...Show More

How Bioarchaeology Works

58:25 | Aug 10th, 2017

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

Do motivational speakers motivate people?

53:32 | Aug 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 stadiums. But do these speakers actually help anyone? Science can't prove it out, but people who take part sw...Show More

SYSK Selects: Why do men have nipples?

28:47 | Aug 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 after all.Join Chuck and Josh for t...Show More

Who Committed the 1912 Villisca Ax Murders?

49:23 | Aug 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 flew, but could a drifting serial killer working across the Midwest have been behind it?

How Public Broadcasting Works

1:00:02 | Aug 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 national fabric. In England and man...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Disco Works

53:37 | Jul 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 dig into disco’s underground root...Show More

A Dry Look at Toilet Paper

55:44 | Jul 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?

48:29 | Jul 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 for hundreds of years.

SYSK Selects: How the Sun Works

30:30 | Jul 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.

All We Know About Guessing

1:00:58 | Jul 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 day, whether behind the wheel of a car, or judging what another person might be feeling. From wild gu...Show More

Sunburn, Suntans and Sunscreen

51:33 | Jul 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.

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

31:59 | Jul 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 and evidence behind the famous c...Show More

How Fever Dreams Work

39:59 | Jul 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 night terrors so hellish? Learn ...Show More

Why is There a Battle Over Net Neutrality?

1:04:53 | Jul 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 supported it with new rules in 2015, today’s FCC is under new leadership and has other ideas.

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

1:03:48 | Jul 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.

What exactly is stoicism?

1:01:02 | Jul 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.

How Standardized Patients Work

54:03 | Jun 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 practice on live humans. If you're r...Show More

Remembering Stonewall

58:53 | Jun 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 all about this often overlooked ...Show More

SYSK Selects: Scooby Dooby Doo, Where Are You?

44:19 | Jun 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 remains as popular as newer programs. But why? Join Chuck and Josh as they shed light on the seemingl...Show More

How Ketchup Works

56:43 | Jun 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 for more than a thousand years.

How Seed Banks Work

54:38 | Jun 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 seeds have become more desperate.

SYSK Selects: Do you stay conscious after being decapitated?

33:24 | Jun 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 Romans to French revolutionaries. But is there any truth to claim that victims retain their consciousn...Show More

What was Camp X?

53:21 | Jun 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 and was so secret that not even t...Show More

How the Beagle Brigade Works

53:02 | Jun 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 cute dogs aren't after drugs or bombs, they're carefully trained to sniff out agricultural products. L...Show More

SYSK Selects: How Maps Work

42:47 | Jun 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 they are a lot more than just tools for navigation. Maps are two-dimensional representations of how we ...Show More

Why Are Whale Strandings Still a Mystery?

47:20 | Jun 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 death?

How Coelacanths Work

43:42 | Jun 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 below the ocean's surface. And ...Show More

The Stories Behind A Few Food Fads

51:21 | Jun 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.

Are Election Laws Designed to Suppress Voting?

1:13:13 | 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 Democrat to cast their ballots?

Is a head transplant really a thing?

47:06 | 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 there are a couple of surgeons...Show More

How the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis Work

46:10 | 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 they are a fascinating interplay with Earth's magnetic field and wind from the sun.

How Champagne Works

1:03:10 | 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?

How Charismatic Megafauna Work

50:05 | 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 poster. Their mission? To help raise ...Show More

How Itching Works

48:17 | 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.

Some Nutso Fan Theories

56:23 | 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.

How Multiple Sclerosis Works

46:14 | Apr 27th, 2017

When the immune system mistakes the tissue covering neural connections as foreign invaders, the result can devastate the body. There is hope, however, in a new radical treatment that resets the immune system.

How the National Security Council Works

57:12 | Apr 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 about this important group of ind...Show More

How Swearing Works

51:55 | Apr 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 some, and are beloved by others? Does it help to relieve stress to swear? Are there general rules of thu...Show More

How Corsets Work

41:41 | Apr 18th, 2017

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

How Supervolcanoes Work

33:45 | Apr 13th, 2017

Until recently, volcanologists thought supervolcanoes were simply massive volcanoes. But further research has revealed that they are far different - and far more dangerous - than previously imagined.

How Supreme Court Nominations Work

49:24 | Apr 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 America's highest court.

How Empathy Works

56:14 | Apr 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 indicate sociopathic tendencies, but that's not always true either. So what is empathy and what makes som...Show More

Composting: Nature's Most Interesting Process

55:16 | Apr 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 compost pile is a microcosmic universe doing some magical stuff.

The Shroud Of Turin: No Ordinary Bed Sheet

48:19 | Mar 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 Shroud of Turin awaits you...

How Foreign Accent Syndrome Works

50:58 | Mar 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 about this decidedly rare afflicti...Show More

How the Hyperloop Will Work

1:05:21 | Mar 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

50:34 | Mar 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 prisons, sometimes for protection of the inmates themselves. However, leaving people in solitary for weeks,...Show More

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

51:35 | Mar 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 sapping Southerners’ life force.

Pain Scales: Yeeeow!

46:53 | Mar 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.

History of the Trail of Tears, Part II

46:14 | Mar 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 Andrew Jackson.

History of the Trail of Tears, Part I

56:03 | Mar 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.

How Optical Illusions Work

44:23 | Mar 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 perception and reality? Learn all about this visual trickery in today's episode.

How Free Speech Works

1:07:42 | Feb 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 cherished right in today's episode.

How Famines Work

54:03 | Feb 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 be more of a human-made catastr...Show More

The ins and outs of the DEATH TAX

52:41 | Feb 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 straight up double tax robbery. Lea...Show More

Tardigrades: Nature's Cuddly, Indestructible Microanimal

37:08 | Feb 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 about the tiny animals that are so astoundingly durable, they can survive conditions not found here on...Show More

Live from San Francisco: How Malls Work

1:08:33 | Feb 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 capitalist society at large when malls ...Show More

The Quinoa Revolution!

47:19 | Feb 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 nutritious, a true superfood. Learn all a...Show More

What's the future of virtual sex?

1:00:25 | Feb 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. We're talking virtual sex here. Couple VR with high tech, smart sex toys and intercourse as we know it m...Show More

Elastics: Where God and Science Smooch

54:59 | Jan 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 is a global drama, replete with war, industrial espionage, colonialism, destitute inventors – everyth...Show More

How Dictators Work

48:53 | Jan 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 into power, and they don't all include violence. Learn all about dictators past and present in today's ...Show More

Are Artificial Sweeteners Really Bad For You?

59:41 | Jan 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 artificial sweeteners cause real harm? A mounting body of studies is starting to paint a pretty grim pic...Show More

How Watersheds Work

32:14 | Jan 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 hydrology are an important contributor to the rain cycle and yet we humans tend to abuse them.

What's the deal with Baby Boomers?

52:43 | Jan 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.

How Feeding Babies Works: The Bottle

1:13:34 | Jan 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 benefits of breast-feeding overestima...Show More

How Feeding Babies Works: The Breast

1:12:10 | Jan 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 behind it in this episode.

Human Blockheads: A Real Thing

49:30 | Dec 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.

Can you live without a bank account?

53:55 | Dec 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 in today's riveting episode.

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

57:49 | Dec 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 of the holiday spirit!

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

1:19:04 | Dec 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 surgeons for dissection. It turns out that there was no shortage of ghoulish types willing to do just that...Show More

How Porta-Potties Work

47:05 | Dec 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 porta-potties in this episode.

Will We Find Evidence of Aliens by Their Engineering Projects?

51:58 | Dec 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 encapsulate stars with solar arrays to harness their energy. Could we humans ever make one ourselves?

Is computer addiction a thing?

53:39 | Dec 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 today's episode.

Horoscopes: Written in the Stars?

55:32 | Dec 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.

How a Flea Circus Works

50:53 | Dec 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 alike. Learn all about the tiny big tops in today's episode.

Frostbite: Yeeeow!

42:10 | Nov 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. Learn about how frostbite wreaks havoc on your extremities, even literally freezing off your tookus.

Should Advertising to Kids Be Banned?

1:11:53 | Nov 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 manipulating them. Should they be bann...Show More

The Kitty Genovese Story

43:27 | Nov 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. We'll set the record straight.