Can changing your body, even just for a few minutes, change your mind? Can a psychological body transfer melt away your long-held opinions and unconscious prejudices? Maybe so.Read the rest
In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll explore Benjamin Franklin's self-improvement plan and find out which vices gave him the most trouble.
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This week Mark and Jason compare tea makers and Xeni talks about her Hario Japanese coffee products.Read the rest
Join Tom Merritt and Veronica Belmont for the Sword and Laser Podcast.
We wrap up The Sparrow. We loved it and it made us sad. We're also blown away at the quality of books being made into TV shows. Well, only a pilot and a trailer but so far so good. But should you risk reading a book and seeing a movie or TV show too? Maybe not! Plus, we get a hint at a sequel to Ready Player One!
Our guest this week is Maggie Tokuda Hall. She writes books for children and stories for adults.Read the rest
Peter Rojas is the founder Engadget, gdgt and Gizmodo. He currently co-hosts MVP, a podcast about new tech products, alongside Ryan Block (previously interviewed on the Cool Tools Show). Peter focused his picks for this episode on personal impact, his philosophy being that truly worthy tools not only change your life, but they also change the way you think about the world.
In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll tell how Spanish authorities found an ingenious way to use orphans to bring the smallpox vaccine to the American colonies in 1803. The Balmis Expedition overcame the problems of transporting a fragile vaccine over a long voyage and is credited with saving at least 100,000 lives in the New World.
We'll also get some listener updates to the Lady Be Good story and puzzle over why a man would find it more convenient to drive two cars than one.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
What happened when a naked man literally appeared out of thin air inside a couple’s apartment while they were getting ready for work?Read the rest
Author and robotics engineer Daniel H. Wilson chats with us about his new story/app called Mayday: Deep Space about a person trapped on a ship full of monsters. Only you can help him survive! But of course we have to ask Daniel when the robots will rise up and kill us all.
This week Mark, Xeni and Jason recap their holidays and current favorite gadgets — a remote controlled color changing light bulb, Xbox joystick extender, and a multi-USB charger.Read the rest
The American bomber Lady Be Good left North Africa for a bombing run over Italy in 1943. It wasn't seen again until 15 years later, when explorers discovered its broken remains deep in the Libyan desert. In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll review the strange history of the lost aircraft and trace the desperate last days of its nine crewmen.
We'll also climb some twisted family trees and puzzle over the Greek philosopher Thales' struggles with a recalcitrant mule.
In 1872 the British merchant ship Mary Celeste was discovered drifting and apparently abandoned 600 miles off the coast of Portugal. In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll review this classic mystery of the sea: Why would 10 people flee a well-provisioned, seaworthy ship in fine weather?
We'll also get an update on the legal rights of apes and puzzle over why a woman would not intervene when her sister is drugged.
Psychologist Laurie Santos trains monkeys how to use money, and has learned that they attempt to solve the same sort of financial problems humans have attempted.Read the rest
A growing body of evidence is revealing that our guesses and our confidence in those guesses don’t come from the same place in our minds.Read the rest
In 1768, Catherine the Great ordered her subjects to move a 3-million-pound granite boulder intact into Saint Petersburg, a task that seemed flatly impossible with the technology of the time. In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll learn how some inspired engineering moved the Thunder Stone 13 miles from its forest home to Senate Square, making it the largest stone ever moved by man.
We'll also learn whether mutant squid are attacking Indiana and puzzle over why a stamp collector would be angry at finding a good bargain.
This week we almost wrap up The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, discuss the intricacies of eBook DRM and try to decide just how high a price our integrity would fetch. We also wonder the same about Neal Stephenson and Steven Hawking. Join us, won't you?
When faced with complex information, why do we turn the volume down on what’s hard to quantify ?Read the rest
This week we're busy. We congratulate the winners of several year-end awards. We kick off our December book pick, The Night Circus, a beautiful novel by Erin Morgenstern. And we dive into some of the most wretched and hated terms and phrases in the professions of authorship. Mary Sue is under siege!
For most of the 20th century, a man in black appeared each year at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe. In the predawn hours of January 19, he would drink a toast with French cognac and leave behind three roses in a special pattern. No one knows who he was or why he did this. In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we review the history of the "Poe Toaster" and his long association with the great poet's memorial.
We'll also consider whether Winnie-the-Pooh should be placed on Ritalin and puzzle over why a man would shoot an unoffending monk.
This week, Mark, Xeni and Jason talk about their favorite wearables, Native Jefferson shoes, Fit Flops and the Bell Bullitt Motorcycle Helmet.Read the rest
In 1835 the New York Sun announced that astronomers had discovered bat-winged humanoids on the moon, as well as reindeer, unicorns, bipedal beavers and temples made of sapphire. The fake news was reprinted around the world, impressing even P.T. Barnum; Edgar Allan Poe said that "not one person in ten" doubted the story. In this episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll review the Great Moon Hoax, the first great sensation of the modern media age.
We'll also learn why Montana police needed a rabbi and puzzle over how a woman's new shoes end up killing her.
For this Thanksgiving episode of the Futility Closet podcast, enjoy seven lateral thinking puzzles that didn't make it onto our regular shows. Solve along with us as we explore some strange scenarios using only yes-or-no questions. Happy Thanksgiving!
It’s likely very easy for you to explain your motivations for going to work. David McRaney is not sure he believes you.Read the rest
This week, Mark, Xeni and Jason talk about their new gadgets for archival scanning and e-reading.Read the rest