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Right Now in Stuff You Should Know

In this week's SYSK Select episode, in the early 1990s, Japanese researchers found a strange anomaly in their study subjects, five people who had inexplicable heart attacks. From this first investigation has come a scientific mystery: Is it possible that the sudden loss of a loved one can be so difficult to bear that it can actually cause a heart attack and maybe kill you? Could the romantics be right? See more »

How Empathy Works

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 someone prone to empathize? Listen in to find out. See more »

Composting: Nature's Most Interesting Process

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. See more »

SYSK Selects: How Filibusters Work

In this week's SYSK Select episode, although lots of people incorrectly believe the filibuster was an intentional rule created by the founders of the U.S., this ancient method of stalling legislation was actually brought about in America by accident. Learn the ins and outs of this contentious quirk of parliamentary rules that allows a single senator to hijack the proceedings of the entire legislative body in this episode. See more »

The Shroud Of Turin: No Ordinary Bed Sheet

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... See more »

How Foreign Accent Syndrome Works

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 affliction today. See more »

How the Hyperloop Will Work

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! See more »

Solitary Confinement: Cruel and Unusual

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, months and even years is another thing. We explore this cruel and unusual punishment in today's episode. See more »

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

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. See more »

Pain Scales: Yeeeow!

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. See more »

History of the Trail of Tears, Part II

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. See more »

History of the Trail of Tears, Part I

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. See more »

How Optical Illusions Work

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. See more »

How Free Speech Works

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. See more »

How Famines Work

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 catastrophe. See more »

The ins and outs of the DEATH TAX

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. Learn all about this controversial tax today. See more »

The Black Panther Party

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 effect change in their community. Their history is one of the more interesting American stories, from the early stages of policing the police to their community service efforts to their inevitable fall. Learn all about the Black Panther Party right now... See more »

Tardigrades: Nature's Cuddly, Indestructible Microanimal

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 Earth. See more »

Live from San Francisco: How Malls Work

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 die. See more »

The Quinoa Revolution!

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 about the food with the funny name in today's episode. See more »