howstuffworks

SYSK Selects: The Star Wars Holiday Special of 1978

Long ago, in a galaxy not so far away, George Lucas allowed the Star Wars Holiday Special to be made. What happened on the night of November 17, 1978 can never be fully explained, but we make our best effort in a very special edition of SYSK. May the force be with us all.

SYSK Selects: How much money is there in the world?​

There are few things more futile than trying to count all of the money in the world. Even many governments have no idea how much currency they have issued. But that won't stop Chuck and Josh from trying and explaining why we can't be sure how much money exists and the problems with flooding the world markets with bread.

SYSK Selects: Fecal Transplants: You Gonna Drink That Poop?

In this week's SYSK Select episode, there's an emerging field in health care called medical ecology that's concerned with understanding how the 100 trillion microbes living inside us keep us healthy. The field's first breakthrough is the fecal transplant, taking poop from a healthy person and putting it into the gut of a sick person. It's a real thing and it actually works.

SYSK Selects: How Maps Work

In this week's SYSK Select episode, yes, your brain may have just flash-dried from boredom at the thought of learning about maps, but it turns out they are a lot more than just tools for navigation. Maps are two-dimensional representations of how we imagine our world, with imagine being the operative word since every map in existence is riddled with errors.

SYSK Selects: What's the deal with Rasputin's death?

In this week's SYSK Select episode, Grigori Rasputin, the Russian charismatic cleric and political adviser to the ruling Romanovs, is said to have been poisoned, shot, shot again, bludgeoned and drowned. Exactly how did he die and how would such a legend grow around a modern figure?

SYSK Selects: How Breast Implants Work

In this week's SYSK Select episode, the first attempt at breast augmentation surgery was on a dog. The second on a woman who went in for tattoo removal. From those weird origins hundreds of thousands of breast implant procedures are now carried out each year. Find out all about the advancements and techniques in increasing your bust.

SYSK Selects: Can you die of a broken heart?

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?

This Custom of Customs

Customs may be a pain when you're traveling, but it's a necessary instrument the government uses to regulate trade. And it has a very fascinating history. Your passport please?

The Delightful History of Steam Technology

One of the coolest things humans have ever figured out is how to use steam as power. It made the Industrial Revolution possible and even today, 88% of America's electricty comes from steam turbines.

Evel Knievel Part II

In today's episode, we cover part two of our Evel Knievel suite. The man, the myth, the legend. Check in and listen to the latter stages of Evel's career as the world's most legendary daredevil.