51. The First Life on Earth

It’s 4.5 billion years ago. The Earth is a hot, bubbling sphere of lava  & hostile gases. And then suddenly… THERE IS LIFE!

But how did this first Earthly organism show up on our planet? And who was (s)he? A Giant Virus? An archaea cell?

Meet your Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandmother, Luca. 

If our earliest ancestor was indeed, as research suggests, a simple strand of chemicals that randomly happened to smush together in the perfect shape for fabricating its own decedents (also strands of chemicals) floating in a swamp of primordial ooze that was randomly struck by lightning… how did it evolve into the extremely complex multi-cellular plants and animals that exist today?

50. Hibernation: sleep ’til the pizza trees bloom

We’ve all been there: winter gets dark and cold, and the urge to curl up in bed and sleep through the harshest of seasons grows strong.  Unfortunately, if that’s how you tried to cope, you’d go from cold as a stone, to stone cold dead. Human biology just isn’t cut out for the task. Bears on the other hand, are masters of hibernation.

With the help of guest host David Zimelis, K + K show you why hibernation is more than just a snooze, and explore the incredible things bears do that allow them to curl up for months on end without food, water, or bathroom breaks (yikes!).

All songs heard on this episode were used with permission from composer Ed Curtiss. You can purchase the album “Underwrought Works” at shut-ins.bandcamp.com.

49. Una-peel-ing Produce, Lettuce Help You

Are you afraid to admit to your friends that you don’t REALLY like kale? Do you only eat tomatoes once they’re boiled into a sauce? We’ve all come across tough, bitter vegetables and flavorless, mealy fruits. No matter how dedicated you are to getting all your vitamins, you just don’t want to eat unappetizing produce!

But fear not, science is on your side! There are pretty easy ways to alter the physical and chemical properties of these plants to make them far more aPEELing… and we’re gonna tell you what they are!

48. DMT & Dying -with Dr. Rick Strassman

Many years ago, Keera almost died. We’re glad she didn’t, but we have always been curious about the biological basis of what she experienced. Was her “journey outside of this reality,” really real? Or was it a vivid hallucination caused by DMT, the psychoactive molecule theorized to flood your brain at the time of death?

To find the answer, K+K talked to Dr. Rick Strassman, author of the book DMT: The Spirit Molecule, and one of the leading experts on how the molecule affects our moods, thoughts, and perceptions. Together, they explore how DMT works, the probable function it has in our lives and in our deaths, and what DMT has to do with near-death experiences.

Find more about Dr. Strassman’s work, or delve deeper into the science of DMT and the mystical experience with his incredibly fascinating books, at Rickstrassman.com

Weirdly, we couldn’t find any actual photos of the afterlife.

47. Death: La Frontera Final (Part I )

Yes ladies, he is single!

Today is a day about Death. It’s Día de los Muertos, the Latin American holiday that honors the souls of loved ones that have passed away, and celebrates death as an essential and natural part of life. For a science show, death is a tricky subject to tackle, because no one has really been able to define what it is. But that won’t stop K+K from trying! In this episode, they explore

  • Creatures whose existence blurs the line between living and nonliving
  • How we know our bodies are meant to die, and why we can’t stop it from happening
  • Why death is essential for the continuation of life on Earth

46. You Myoclonic Jerk! (The Hiccups Episode)

When’s the last time you experienced a synchronous diaphragmatic flutter? Or your diaphragm underwent a myoclonic jerk?

On today’s show, K+K take a look at hiccups: why we get them, what’s happening in our bodies when we do, and what the scientific reasoning is behind those crazy cures that seem to work.

45. Polyamorous Progeny – Can a Baby Have 3 Biological Parents?

We’ve all learned about the birds and the bees at some point: when a man and a woman reeeaally love each other, they deposit chromosomal genetic material into a recipient egg cell to create another, smaller human.

But what happens when THREE humans decide to make a baby? Is it possible to possess DNA from more than two parents? (Spoiler: Yes. Yes it is.)  Join K+K in their first of many explorations into the weird world of human genetic anomalies.

We’ve made contact!

44. Disc-World

A scientist’s greatest dream is to change the way humans understand reality, by deriving new theories and debunking old ones. But for this dream to come true, the theories have to be backed up by a lot of measurements & evidence, and also be mathematically provable.

NASA’s most accurate depiction of Earth, to date. (Note: some researchers maintain that it’s actually turtles all the way down.)

Journey with K+K across the surface of a scientifically impossible Flat Earth… and see why it belongs in Fantasy Fiction novels, not textbooks.

43. He’s One Fungi

They’re not animals, they’re not plants, and they’re delicious in stir-fry.  Despite the fact that mushrooms have been used in medicine for thousands of years, they still remain a bit of mystery to us humans.  The more research we do, the more we realize that fungi might be our greatest tool in the quest for saving the world.

Disclaimer: These ones are poison.

A special thanks to Dr. Ann Rasmussen from Oregon State University for lending us her mycological expertise!

42. When a Wolf Swallows the Sun (The Solar Eclipse)

Chances are you’re just as excited as we are for the Total Solar Eclipse coming up on Monday, August 21st.  So, here’s some handy science knowledge to help you make the most of the experience:

How does an eclipse happen?

Here’s a super zoomed out visual of what will be happening in space during Monday’s total solar eclipse.

How should I watch the eclipse?

First of all: DON’T LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN.  

Except if you’re in the path of totality. Then you can look at the sun, with your naked eyeballs, for 120-ish seconds the sun is completely eclipsed.  At all times and in all other places,  you need special eclipse glasses. Regular sunglasses, even really dark ones, let thousands of times too much sunlight into our eyes, which can cause serious damage. 

Also, don’t look at the sun through binoculars, a camera, or your phone, EVEN when you have the glasses on. Apparently the concentration of sunlight through a lens can damage your glasses and your eyes. This recommendation comes directly from NASA, so you have to do it.

If you can’t get a hold of eclipse glasses, you can still participate in this historic event by crafting some sort of pinhole projection device. We prefer the tried and true shoe box device we all made in grade-school. Here’s a link to some DIY instructions. With a pinhole projector, you face away from the sun, and watch the shape of a circle of light become a crescent as the eclipse happens.

But again, if you’re in the path of totality, where the body of the sun will be completely blocked out at the time of eclipse, go ahead and take off the glasses (for the duration of total eclipse only! 2.5 minutes if you’re in the center of the path of totality, less if you’re anywhere else in the path.)  Fully experience how the colors of your surroundings change, how the stars come out, just how incredibly weird the world is during a solar eclipse. But of course, before even a sliver of the sun is visible again, make sure your glasses are back on if you’re gonna look up.