Creating God

If you've taken part in a religious service, have you ever stopped to think about how it all came to be? How did people become believers? Where did the rituals come from? And most of all, what purpose does it all serve? This week, we explore these questions with psychologist Azim Shariff, who argues that we can think of religion from a Darwinian perspective, as an innovation that helped human societies to survive and flourish.


The mission to create a searchable database of Earth's surface | Will Marshall

What if you could search the surface of the Earth the same way you search the internet? Will Marshall and his team at Planet use the world's largest fleet of satellites to image the entire Earth every day. Now they're moving on to a new project: using AI to index all the objects on the planet over time -- which could make ships, trees, houses and everything else on Earth searchable, the same way you search Google. He shares a vision for how this database can become a living record of the immense physical changes happening across the globe. "You can't fix what you can't see," Marshall says. "We want to give people the tools to see change and take action."


Lost Graphics Vol. 3 (Web Exclusive): Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

John Oliver shares another collection of his favorite graphics that never made it onto the show.


July 15, 2018 - Cross-border special: Trump! Trudeau! Trade!

Live from Madison, Wisconsin, Cross Country Checkup takes calls from both sides of the border. Who is doing a better job on trade - Trump or Trudeau? Has the Canada-U.S. relationship changed? How do we avoid a trade war? This is a co-production with WPR - Wisconsin Public Radio and PRI - Public Radio International.


How to have better political conversations | Robb Willer

Robb Willer studies the forces that unite and divide us. As a social psychologist, he researches how moral values -- typically a source of division -- can also be used to bring people together. Willer shares compelling insights on how we might bridge the ideological divide and offers some intuitive advice on ways to be more persuasive when talking politics.


SYSK Selects: How Twinkies Work

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.Learn more about advertising on the HowStuffWorks podcasts at www.howstuffworks.com/advertisers.htmAnd to learn about your ad choices when listening to podcasts, visit https://www.howstuffworks.com/privacy.htm#ad-choices


An honest look at the personal finance crisis | Elizabeth White

Millions of baby boomers are moving into their senior years with empty pockets and declining choices to earn a living. And right behind them is a younger generation facing the same challenges. In this deeply personal talk, author Elizabeth White opens up an honest conversation about financial trouble and offers practical advice for how to live a richly textured life on a limited income.


The South Pole’s IceCube detector catches a ghostly particle from deep space, and how rice knows to grow when submerged

A detection of a single neutrino at the 1-square-kilometer IceCube detector in Antarctica may signal the beginning of “neutrino astronomy.” The neutral, almost massless particle left its trail of debris in the ice last September, and its source was picked out of the sky by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope soon thereafter. Science News Writer Daniel Clery joins host Sarah Crespi to discuss the blazar fingered as the source and how neutrinos from this gigantic matter-gobbling black hole could help astronomers learn more about mysterious high-energy cosmic rays that occasionally shriek toward Earth. Read the research. Sarah also talks with Cornell University’s Susan McCouch about her team’s work on deep-water rice. Rice can survive flooding by fast internodal growth—basically a quick growth spurt that raises its leaves above water. But this growth only occurs in prolonged, deep flooding. How do these plants know they are submerged and how much to grow? Sarah and Susan discuss the mechanisms involved and where they originated. This week’s episode was edited by Podigy. Listen to previous podcasts. [Image: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab; Music: Jeffrey Cook]


A new way to monitor vital signs (that can see through walls) | Dina Katabi

At MIT, Dina Katabi and her team are working on a bold new way to monitor patients' vital signs in a hospital (or even at home), without wearables or bulky, beeping devices. Bonus: it can see through walls. In a mind-blowing talk and demo, Katabi previews a system that captures the reflections of signals like Wi-Fi as they bounce off people, creating a reliable record of vitals for healthcare workers and patients. And in a brief Q&A with TED curator Helen Walters, Katabi discusses safeguards being put in place to prevent people from using this tech to monitor somebody without their consent.


Gerrymandering: How to Stifle Democracy

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 getting unusually worked up about this abhorrent practice. Learn more about advertising on the HowStuffWorks podcasts at www.howstuffworks.com/advertisers.htmAnd to learn about your ad choices when listening to podcasts, visit https://www.howstuffworks.com/privacy.htm#ad-choices


Strong Verbs, Short Sentences

“She was Joan of Arc, Madame Curie, and Florence Nightingale—all wrapped up in one.”Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices


People Aren’t Dumb. The World Is Hard.

You wouldn’t think you could win a Nobel Prize for showing that humans tend to make irrational decisions. But that’s what Richard Thaler has done. The founder of behavioral economics describes his unlikely route to success; his reputation for being lazy; and his efforts to fix the world — one nudge at a time.


12 July 2018: Rats, reefs, and career streaks

This week, rats and coral reefs, charting successful careers streaks, and Cape Town’s water crisis.


How to build synthetic DNA and send it across the internet | Dan Gibson

Biologist Dan Gibson edits and programs DNA, just like coders program a computer. But his "code" creates life, giving scientists the power to convert digital information into biological material like proteins and vaccines. Now he's on to a new project: "biological transportation," which holds the promise of beaming new medicines across the globe over the internet. Learn more about how this technology could change the way we respond to disease outbreaks and enable us to download personalized prescriptions in our homes.


How we study the microbes living in your gut | Dan Knights

There are about a hundred trillion microbes living inside your gut -- protecting you from infection, aiding digestion and regulating your immune system. As our bodies have adapted to life in modern society, we've started to lose some of our normal microbes; at the same time, diseases linked to a loss of diversity in microbiome are skyrocketing in developed nations. Computational microbiologist Dan Knights shares some intriguing discoveries about the differences in the microbiomes of people in developing countries compared to the US, and how they might affect our health. Learn more about the world of microbes living inside you -- and the work being done to create tools to restore and replenish them.