54. Artisanal Bug Soup – the Life of Carnivorous Plants

Science Fact or Science Fiction (the quiz game™) is back! On today’s episode, K+K test Keiren Bond on her carnivorous plant knowledge, with questions like:

  • Can a Venus Fly Trap count?
  • Would any plant eat bugs if you mushed them into an artisanal organic soup?
  • Would a pitcher plant prefer to eat a Montane Tree Shrew, or its poop?
“Today’s my day, I can just feel it!”

53. Black Holes Part 2 – Slow Motion Somersaults in Space

In part 2 of their exploration of these space oddities, K+K talk to guest host Emily Gilliland about what would happen if our sun spontaneously imploded, how anyone falling into a black hole would turn into spaghetti, and what it means to exist in time, but not in space. They even attempt to explain how, to an observer moving faster, time (literally!) moves slower, by making Emily do (proverbial) back-flips in space.

If you can’t tell which way is up, are you ALWAYS mid-somersault?

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.

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.

41. It’s A Gas, Gas, Gas

It’s all around you, in your lungs, inside that balloon, it even comes out of your youknowwhere…  It’s gas! The invisible, but incredibly important, substance that makes life on Earth possible!

Kira makes a cloud!

But what exactly is a gas? So glad you asked! K+K have the background story on why gas behaves the way that it does, and the fun things you can do with it. They even get Jefferson to let them make a cloud, and light a fire, IN THE STUDIO. Man, this job is awesome.

40. Did We Start the Fire? If Not, How Long HAS It Been Burning?

Humans love fire, in the form of BBQ or combustion engines.  A raging forest fire, however, can be devastating for our flimsy wooden human houses. Why then, is it so important that we let them burn? In this episode, the Science Ladies uncover:

  • How fire has been shaping ecosystems since long before any human ever lit a match
  • The forest-dwelling pyromaniacs that thrive in the flames, and why these species need fire to survive
  • What fire really is, and how it burns
  • The science behind putting out a fire (or, “How to not burn down your kitchen”)

39. The Placebo Effect

It’s not just conjecture: placebos work. The question is… how? Why is it that many diseases and physical ailments can be cured just as well with a sugar pill as they can with clinically tested medicine? K+K examine a case of mysteriously healed Parkinson’s Disease, talk about a doctor curing chronic pain with peppermint candies, and take a look at what happens in a person’s brain when they believe they’re receiving medical treatment… but aren’t.

Yum.