France

How Wine Fraud Works

Wine fraud may be a case of rich con artists tricking wealthy people into parting with money, but it's still a crime. Learn all about this weird, widespread practice in today's episode.

How Hot Air Balloons Work

Arguably the most beautiful objects in the entire world, hot air balloons take advantage of some interesting physics and have a long history of killing their occupants. Find out more.

The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Nostradamus: Predictor of the future? Not so much.

Nostradamus delighted us all in grade school, but it turns out the real guy wasn't quite as prescient as we were led to believe. In truth, he wrote a lot of purposefully confusing riddles that people have twisted into meaning exactly what they want them to mean. Learn all about Nostradamus in today's episode.

How the Enlightenment Works

The Enlightenment stands as the moment the West withdrew from superstition and found its faith in reason. Did it shift too far? Learn about this massive shift in thinking which we are still sorting through and coming to understand today.

The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Every week we read tons of articles and a lot of them are really good. Here are the best of the bunch.

How The Louvre Works

The most famous museum in the world, France's Louvre, has been the seat of high art and culture for several centuries. Its history goes back farther than that, beginning in the 1200s as a fort and prison. Tour the Louvre and its collections in this episode.

How the Rosetta Stone Works

Sometimes providence smiles on historians. Thus is the case with the Rosetta stone, an ancient Egyptian tablet that served as the key for unlocking hieroglyphics, lost to time for a millennia. Learn about the international intrigue, rivalry to translate it and the luck that led to the founding of Egyptology.

It's the Science, Dummy: Why Americans Hate the Metric System

We Americans are known for our strong sense of national pride toward our insane stubbornness to adopt the metric system. We haven't always been so intractable toward what has become the international standard for measuring distance, mass, temperature and other things we need to describe to one another from time to time. We came very close to officially adopting the metric system, just after France did in 1800.

Man, that psychology tirade was heavy. How about something a bit lighter today, like a post on how the CIA dosed a village in France in 1951 which resulted in, among other things, an 11-year-old boy with a head full of acid trying to strangle his aged grandmother? Oh, CIA, how your shady past continues to enthrall us today and makes us wonder what horrific things you're up to currently in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Alabama. Chuck and I recorded a podcast awhile back -- my favorite one of all time, in fact -- on how the CIA dosed unsuspecting Americans in the 1950s and 60s with LSD. While researching, I ran across the story of an American named Stanley Glickman who lived in his early 20s as an upcoming painter in Paris. He met up with a few fellow American expats in a cafe one night in 1952 and things began to get a bit strange, you could say. He grew inexplicably terrified, which kicked into overdrive when one of the shady characters, a man with a club foot, told him he could probably perform miracles if he tried.