Right Now in Stuff You Should Know

Ventriloquism – where a skilled performer “throws” their voice, making it seem like a dummy on their knee is talking – has taken a long, circuitous road from early prophets, to witches, then finally to the stage. Get to the bottom of this uncanny trick.

Short Stuff: Horseshoe Crab Blood

Perhaps the most expensive liquid on the planet is the blue blood that comes from horseshoe crabs. Researchers realized that horseshoe crab blood could indicate the presence of pathogens and the massive, ongoing horseshoe crab harvest began. 

Nuclear Semiotics: How to Talk to Future Humans

The nuclear waste we produce will be dangerous for a very long time. We’ve figured out how to safely store it in the earth until it’s no longer a biohazard. Now we just have to figure out how to warn humans 10,000 years in the future to stay away from it.

SYSK Selects: Are We in a Cyberwar?

There's a secret war going on around us, and it's happening on a daily basis. The Air Force has a unit specifically designed to carry out and defend against cyberwar. Go deep into this alarming type of war in this classic episode.

How Peyote Works

Josh and Chuck have tackled a lot of drugs on the show, but peyote has loomed like a bad Jim Morrison poem. Learn all about this plant today. 

Short Stuff: Petrichor

You know that amazing smell when it rains? Kind of clean, kind of earthy, one of a kind? It turns out that a miracle of nature produces it.

Solar Power: The Future or What?

We’ve been promised solar energy for a while now – where is it? Turns out, it’s been quietly and steadily growing across the world. And with a few breakthroughs, we just may be able to say goodbye to fossil fuels. Learn about sun-based energy in this episode.

SYSK Selects: What Is a Shotgun House?

Shotgun houses are iconic pieces of American architecture: they're long, narrow, and filled with artistic flourishes. But where did they come from? Join Chuck and Josh and explore the mysterious origins of shotgun houses.

Iran-Contra Affair: Shady in the 80s, Part 2

As the operation expands it also begins to unravel. Word starts to leak out of the illegal stuff the Reagan administration was up to, Congress and the press investigate and people start to point fingers. Spoiler alert – they all got off scot free.

Short Stuff: Time Zones

Time zones are a pain. Let's get rid of them! Can we? Sure!

Iran-Contra Affair: Shady in the 80s, Part 1

When Ronald Reagan was president, America got involved in some deeply shady stuff, not the least of which was the Iran-Contra scandal – a convoluted operation that managed to combine an illegal covert war in Nicaragua with secretly selling arms to Iran.

SYSK Selects: How the Black Death Worked

The Black Death was gruesome: Symptoms included tumors, purple splotches, fevers and vomiting. But how did this disease manage to spread from the Gobi desert and kill approximately one-third of the population of 14th-century Europe? Find out in this classic episode.

What Were the BONE WARS?

A pair of old timey fossil hunters had a rootin’ tootin’ rivalry that spilled from academic journals into the American Wild West - where fossils were dynamited and employees turned double agent. Learn about the two-fisted origins of American paleontology.

Short Stuff: The Man Who Didn’t Eat for a Year

In 1965, a 456-pound man walked into a hospital in Scotland and asked for help with a fast. That was the last day he ate for more than a year. Learn about the medical marvel that was Angus Barbieri.

Will Deepfakes Ruin the World?

Very recently, thanks to a new type of AI, it’s gotten much easier to create convincingly realistic videos of people saying and doing things they’ve never said or done. Will fake videos undermine our shared sense of reality and lead to the death of truth?

SYSK Selects: How Human Cannonballs Work

There's no question that human cannonballs are daredevils. They pack themselves into the confines of huge cannons, which shoot them into the air. But how does it work? Join Josh and Chuck to learn more about the bizarre performances of human cannonballs.

How Eyewitness Testimony Works(?)

Few things are more compelling than a witness pointing out a defendant in the courtroom as the perpetrator. But few things are also more unreliable than eyewitness testimony. Our memories can be pretty terrible, which matters when you’re facing death row.

Short Stuff: Aristides de Sousa Mendes

This week we highlight another little known historical hero. In this case, a Portuguese diplomat who rescued people from Nazi Germany, at his own peril. Dig in and spread the word of Aristides de Sousa Mendes. 

MOVE: Or When the Philly Police Dropped a Bomb on a Residential Neighborhood

Believe it or not, in 1985 the Philadelphia Police Department dropped a bomb from a helicopter onto a residential building in an African-American neighborhood. The fact that this story isn't more widely known says it all. Listen and learn about MOVE today.

SYSK Selects: How Crack Works

Back in the mid-1980s a new and extremely potent drug hit the scene: crack cocaine. In short order, America was in the grip of both a sweeping addiction and a state of hysteria over use of the drug and the social consequences of crack, like crack babies. Let's take a look back at the receding wave of the crack epidemic and its lasting legacy on America in this classic episode.