Right Now in Stuff You Should Know

How Area 51 Works

The secret military base Area 51 is inextricably linked to every secret, shady project the US government is rumored to be involved in – from reverse-engineering alien technology to coordinating a one-world government. The truth is much more mundane.

Short Stuff: Smoke Signals

Were smoke signals real or a Hollywood invention? Turns out, they were indeed a thing and invented by the Chinese, even. 

What's the gig economy?

The gig economy is not new, but it's bigger than ever. Is that a good thing? We'll discuss that today!

SYSK Selects: How Capgras Syndrome Works

There is an extremely rare condition where the sufferer is convinced that everyone around him is an impostor posing as their friends and family. Learn about the neurology behind this strange and sad mental disorder in this episode.

Introducing Unpopular

At times when people accepted the status quo without question, some rebels have dared to resist. When a cause is noble, it often pays to be unpopular. Listen to Unpopular every Tuesday. 

What is perfect pitch?

Perfect pitch, or absolute pitch, is when you can sing a note with no reference from other notes, perfectly on key. Is it an asset? Chuck says yes. Learn all about this musical rarity today. 

Short Stuff: Robert Johnson and the Devil

Did the legendary blues singer really sell his soul to the devil in exchange for amazing musical skills? Probably not! But there’s still an interesting story there and it features the Coen Brothers.

How Barcodes Work

Barcodes are everywhere. Those little lines and numbers that make up one of the most recognizable barcodes, the UPC, was designed to make going to the grocery a lot less miserable. It ended up becoming the central symbol of the global economy. 

SYSK Selects: How TV Ratings Work

Ever wonder why some great shows go off the air after a season or less? Blame it on the Nielsen company, which has for more than 60 years been the almost exclusive decider of what goes and what stays on TV.

The Tylenol Murders, Part II

The panic that began in Chicago spreads and begins to change the world. The investigation into the murders turns up leads and suspects, but still no one has ever been charged with the murders. It remains unsolved to this day. 

Short Stuff: Look-Alike Old Couples

You know how some older married couples (sorry, senior adult married couples) start to look alike over time? That’s a really weird phenomenon if you think about it. So science has looked into it and they think they kind of have it figured out.

The Tylenol Murders, Part I

On one terrible day in Chicago in 1982, seven people died suddenly and mysteriously. In just a matter of hours, it becomes clear, someone has poisoned bottles of Extra-Strength Tylenol, one of the most trusted and widely-used products in America.

SYSK Selects: How Acne Works

Over the course of our lives, 80 percent of us will experience acne. Ultimately, acne comes down to one thing, a blockage in the sebaceous gland. Learn what makes a blackhead black, and everything else about zits, in this pus-filled episode of SYSK.

What was Tin Pan Alley?

Tin Pan Alley was an area of New York around the beginning of the 20th Century that served as ground zero for the earliest iterations of the music publishing industry. Learn all about this unique place and time right now. 

Short Stuff: James Polk, Disinterred

Did you know that former president James Polk had his final resting place moved twice? It's true! And almost a third time even. Let's go listen to some short stuff. 

How Crystals Work

In a new age shop or on display at the Smithsonian, there are varying interpretations of what crystals can be used for. But at their base, they are a thumb in the eye to entropy, a perfectly ordered piece of matter. 

Introducing Ephemeral

Lost materials, dropped threads, forgotten stories. Ephemera in the way that it’s intertwined in our lives. All those things, tangible and intangible, that you wish you could take just one more look at before they vanish into the past. Listen wherever podcasts are found and learn more at www.ephemeral.show

SYSK Selects: How Dying Works

Chuck and Josh have covered just about every aspect of death except dying itself. Here, they fulfill the death suite of podcasts with an in-depth look at just how people die, what happens to the body during the dying process and how people accept death -- and what they regret not having done while they lived.


10ish Cases of Really Bad Luck

Some guys have all the luck, some guys have all the pain. So said Rod Stewart. And if this list is any indication, “guys” is gender neutral. Listen to this episode as Chuck and Josh cover some instances of amazingly bad fortune, most of it true! 

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.