Right Now in Stuff You Should Know

Short Stuff: Honorary Degrees

Honorary degrees are not real degrees. They are marketing opportunities for universities. They make us mad, but we want one. Learn all about them in the next 12-15 minutes. 

How Trampolines Work

The world’s loved trampolines since they were invented by a pair of acrobats in Iowa in the 30s – so much so, trampolining is now an Olympic event. What people don’t love about trampolines is their propensity to cause paralysis, brain injuries and death.

SYSK Selects: How Lie Detectors Work

Instead of actually detecting lies, polygraph machines sense physiological variations, ostensibly brought on by guilt. The results are subject to interpretation, and therefore controversial. Join Josh and Chuck as they investigate the polygraph.



Do Dietary Supplements Work?

The world takes $40 billion of dietary supplements – from vitamin A to yohimbe bark – every year. Yet, the jury is still out on whether most of them work. In America, the FDA isn’t allowed to approve supplements, and no one can say what is in your pills.

Short Stuff: Nicknames

What's in a nickname? Sometimes they make sense, sometimes they don't. Let's get our shorty on and find out the deal. 

Remembering Live Aid

Live Aid was a revolutionary concert event in two countries in 1985 that spanned the world via satellite. The brainchild of musician Bob Geldof, it really did help change the world in many ways, but its direct impact on Ethiopian famine relief remains in question. Listen and learn today! 

SYSK Selects: How Does a Diving Bell Work?

About 2,400 years ago Aristotle mentions the use of diving bells, apparatuses that convey divers to the bottom of the sea -- or at least below the surface of the water -- and allows them to breathe -- at least until the air runs out. Learn about the physics of this clever and ancient invention and how it's been used to sabotage enemy boats and build the Brooklyn Bridge.

What Happens When the Government Thinks You're Dead?

It’s bad enough when the government knows you’re alive – there are taxes to pay, laws to be followed, all sorts of boring and unpleasant things. But each year, thousands of Americans find out life is far, far worse when the government thinks you are dead.

Short Stuff: The Number 23

There are people out there who believe that there’s something special about the number 23. Exactly what? Who knows. Exactly why? Because it pops up a lot. But does it? Who knows. 

Michael Dillon: Trans Pioneer

Michael Dillon was a lot of things - author, doctor, and most importantly, trans pioneer. Learn all about his story in today's episode. 

SYSK Selects: How Zero Works

Few numbers have as storied a past as zero. Even fewer have had as great an impact on our ability to understand our universe. Yet zero is a relatively recent arrival in math. Find out all about this surprisingly fascinating number with Chuck and Josh. 

What Were Human Zoos?

One of the off-putting byproducts of 19th century European colonialism were human zoos, living dioramas of people from far-away places made to be gawked at. Listen in to what the deeper meaning of humans zoos held people on both sides of the glass.

Short Stuff: Fear of Public Speaking

Speaking in public is frequently cited as people’s number one fear, even more fearful than death. Most people go through life avoiding public speaking, but it turns out that only makes things worse. The best medicine? Public speaking.

Is birth order important?

There have been a lot of studies over the years regarding birth order. Some conclude that it's a big deal, while others more or less discount its importance. Learn all about it today.

SYSK Selects: How Marijuana Works

For millennia people used marijuana for fun and medicine. Not until the 20th century that was it vilified, unfairly say many. Weed has done lots of good things, from alleviating cancer symptoms to unlocking secrets of the brain. Learn all about pot here.

How the Hoover Dam Works, Part II

And now for something completely different. Just kidding – tune in to hear the thrilling conclusion of America’s most amazing public works project in the 20th century.

Short Stuff: Emu Wars

Did Australians really wage war on a group of emus? YES. Learn all about it in today's short stuff. 

How the Hoover Dam Works, Part I

It’s one of America’s biggest accomplishments in the 20th century, a slab of concrete holding back one of the country’s most finicky rivers, providing water and electricity to a swath of majors cities that otherwise couldn’t exist.

SYSK Selects: How Yo-Yos Work

You may have played with a yo-yo before -- perhaps you've even walked the dog -- but do you know about the physics behind what makes a yo-yo sleep and wake up? Learn all about inertia, angular momentum and the history of the yo-yo in this episode of SYSK.

How the Electric Chair Works

The electric chair is an all-American invention. It spread almost nowhere else in the world as a capital punishment but worked overtime in the States. Despite the terrible sights and sounds an electrocution produces, it was created out of humaneness.