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Cabinet of Curiosities

Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 04:12 PM

(Photo: Eleaf/flickr/CC-BY-2.0)

Radiolab wants something from you. Your questions.

The Radiolab team is looking to build a cabinet of curiosities. A clearing house, if you will, of questions. Your questions.

See, we already know what nags at us. Krulwich is all torn up about free will. Does it exist? Jad's become a grease-monkey at this point, who just wants to open the hood of anything to figure out how it works—cities, brains, aging cells, chaos. Lynn Levy's got a nagging question about a dolphin. Pat Walter's all brooding about the possibility of redemption. Tim Howard wonders where the cookie truck is parked today.

But what about you? What's irking you? Is there some question about how the world works. Not broad ideas for a show topic, but a specific question. That weird thing you've always wondered about. What's the difference between a feeling and an emotion? Why does caffeine make some people sleepy? Does time pass more slowly in different places, or at different speeds?

We here at Radiolab are here at your service; we'll cull through the questions, and take some of the best (the most itchy and pokey) ones to scientists, and present the answers on the blog.

What kind of things are we looking for?

We don’t know exactly. Whatever little thing seems to keep itchin’ at ya.

For instance, I’ve got a question about Alzheimer's disease. Could knowing the name of it—“Alzheimer's," if that word is locked in the safety of your early childhood memories— change the experience of having it? I’ll explain more in a future post, if and when I can get the question answered. But what we’re really interested in is your question.

So keep your ears pricked for the moment you hear yourself thinking, “Wait. How does that work?” And then jot it down. And then get it to us by posting it right here, in the comments section of this post.


More in:

Comments [247]

Polyamory. A thorough look into it. Interviews with those who practice, the science of relationships, the history. All of it.

Jun. 05 2016 11:17 PM
Natalia from Warwick, NY

Why do I like sour apples as opposed to sweet apples? A sour apple being like a pink lady. Which I'm eating right now, which feels so good as if its disinfecting whats left from the huge bite I took out of my bottom lip. Anyway, somewhere along the lines of neuroscience, taste buds, how my brain is wired compared to how your brain is wired, which I guess is neuroscience. Do I always like sour things over sweet things? When I'm amidst my cycle, (sorry gentlemen) does that change? Why? Fizzy O Logy. Like a radio lab episode. I should be on your team right. Yea, I know it.

Nov. 10 2015 04:55 PM
Tara from Florida

Why do we have regret? What is it, where does it come from, and are humans the only animals that experience it?

Nov. 29 2014 07:30 PM

Challenge Questions for Science on Minerals/Metals

What will be the MOST important metals for tomorrows new technology", and why?

Electro-positive elements are what make metals. How many electro-positive elements are there on the periodic table? How many of the remaining elements’ are negative-charged?

How many element’s (located on the periodic table) can be found, processed and be present, and exist in all three states, i.e. gas, liquid and solid?

What other elements other than hydrogen, oxygen, and mercury acts as an agent, to break down the sub-atomic structure of the other elements it is in contact with?

What sub-atomic bond is present and acts on the elements to form their unique and separate mineral assemblage?

When minerals decay in their natural state, do they give off a unique sub-atomic frequency that can be measured?

How many elements’ are considered naturally radioactive?

How would you define the geological conditions that must exist to form a perfect cube and/or sphere?

How would you determine how much natural energy is compressed inside a diamond?

Do all metals act the same way when subjected to extreme sub-freezing temperatures?

Sep. 11 2014 02:23 PM
W.White from San Francisco

Right and Left?

What are the earliest examples of the directions - go right, and then take a left?

How have we evolved handedness, left handed people and right handed people?

How strong is the left brain right brain association really - is it 'pop neuroscience'?

When was right and left applied to political views - right wing versus left wing?

Aug. 05 2014 10:50 AM

When a space shuttle goes into space, how do they make sure it doesn't hit any satellites? Is it just radar? Is there a complicated system that tracks them all. Is this an area where all nations cooperate?

May. 28 2014 01:54 AM
Scott Little from Los Angeles, CA

is there a reason that coconuts look a lot like chimpanzee heads or is that just a coincidence?

May. 27 2014 05:12 PM
Steve from Newton, MA

I just listened to 'What's Left when you're Right', and the piece about left-handedness in birds seemed to miss an obvious point.

If a bird with well developed language skills requiring mastery of small muscle control in the head and throat eats primarily with its right claw, while perched or standing, perhaps the enhanced skills which come with acquisition of such language are devoted to the small adjustments needed in the left claw or leg to balance the bird. After all, as its weight shifts because of the constant movement of and manipulation with the other claw, constant changes are needed to not tip over. I suggest this as a deeply uncoordinated person.

If the above is true, the 10/90 split of parrots is actually quite consistent with the 90/10 split among humans.

So I'm curious about the handed-ness of birds which perch on one foot for long periods or while eating, and comparing those with and without language skills requiring complex fine motor control.

In the interests of further disclosure, I'm a strongly right handed person who is allergic to feathers. I think the possible biases wash out.

Mar. 05 2014 11:17 AM
Vaughn Brown from Boston, MA

I heard this great show on Amazon and its intense internal competition of workers, creating an unhealthy environment. Since then I switched to eBay. But now, I wonder, for the larger sellers, how much of the same tactics are applied? For smaller sellers, it is usually the seller who handles picking the items and shipping it.

Feb. 24 2014 10:49 AM
Amy Meya

The number five has me very curious. I have always loved math, and the invention of math and all the progress that has been made because of the laws of math have me interested in a recurring number in nature: the number five.
We each have five fingers and toes, but starfish also have five limbs, sea urchin skeletons have five lines radiating out from the center point, a pine cone has a pinnacle that is shaped like a pentagon and all the little pine cone "leaves" branch out from that. Last summer I took apart some hollyhock seeds, and they radiate out from a perfect pentagon center, I took a picture if you would like. Anyway, my point is that the number five is across flora and fauna, and why? Has anyone ever researched this?
Five is so very important in math as well... it makes everything even, since it is half of ten, and so on and so on....
I am not a scientist, but love science and studying the properties of nature for my ceramic artwork.

Thanks for any answers, I listen to your show when I work, and you inspire me to no end!

Feb. 07 2014 05:05 PM
Jane Zimmerman from Arlington, VA

My family and I play a lot of Monopoly. We keep observing that during a game, there are some properties we keep landing on, over and over again. Next game, the same thing happens, but with different properties. Since we always start from "Go" and play according to the same rules each time, what accounts for this strange phenomena? How do that stats and odds work out to produce simultaneous consistency and variation? Thank you, and we LOVE the show!

Dec. 03 2013 10:08 PM
Azra from New York

Why is it that people who lead social lives on social networking sites, such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter suddenly become speechless in real life? They become your friend, comment on your pictures, like your every post and then nothing! It’s like they suddenly forget how to say hi when they see you at the mall - they hurry to look away, turn and walk away as fast as they can. Then suddenly they’re your best friend again on social media. Is it because they’re shy, think they’re ugly in real life, or they simply don’t want to approach you? When you ask, they deny they ever saw you. What is it?

Nov. 11 2013 01:05 AM
Justin Brown from Albany, NY

Recently my mission has been to realize the moment I fall asleep. As far back as I can remember, sleep came when it was ready. It’s not something I could rush, activate, or control… It simply happened. I always wanted to be aware when sleep hit me. Every time I try to capture that awareness, I either can’t sleep or jump up awake. Is it possible to be aware of the moment we go to sleep? Thanks Radiolab!

Nov. 08 2013 12:32 AM
Kim from New York

My curiosity stems around dreams. Why is it that I can wake up in the morning shower, get dressed and pursue the events of the day without realizing that I had a dream? Often times, mid day something will happen that will trigger my memory and I will realize I had a dream the previous night. The details become very vivid. Why is there such a delay in remembering the dream? What triggers the reflection mid day? I often have dreams that build upon one another consecutively night after night. The longest has been three consecutive nights. Am I the only one who has consecutive nightly dreams that keep building off the original dream?

Nov. 02 2013 04:59 PM

Considering parenthood, new fathers seem to be turn to the new mom to ask how to take care of babies. The moms seem to know 'instinctively' what to do. Is it truly instinctive or do we just have repressed memories from growing up and seeing it modeled? If so, why do men not have the same repressed memories?

Oct. 29 2013 10:48 PM
Kate from Brooklyn, NY

I'm interested in the act of crying--is there an evolutionary origin? Do animals besides humans do it? How has the cultural connotation of crying changed throughout history? Who is "allowed" to cry according to social standards and who is not? Does fMRI reveal anything different between tears of joy and tears of suffering?

I wrote my senior thesis in college about tears in female characters of 17th century French theater, so I'm somewhat informed on this topic. But it's something I still think about, and I'm curious to hear about tears in a more scientific, historical way than my approach.

Oct. 29 2013 04:45 PM
mari from Brooklyn, NY

What is it about humanity that we always have some notion of a god. Is it in the brain or something else? all civilizations from all over the world including hidden tribesman believe in a higher being. Is this mere coincidence? ( forgive me if you've covered this topic)

Oct. 28 2013 03:11 PM
Camille Du

This week-end my colleagues and I wondered why there were so many dead worms every morning on the roofed terrace (15m²) of the restaurant we work in. It's incredible, because the terrace is 10 cm above the ground, so they would have to make a hard climb. The other way to get on the terrace is to make a 10 meters walk from the grass to the ramp for wheelchairs, and then, to go to the middle of the terrace. So, if you have one worm specialist at Radiolab, we would be glad to know the answer :).

Oct. 28 2013 12:32 PM
D Mc from SE Utah

How does the brain DO religion? What does the cognitive science of religion know about how our underlying neural structures support religious experience -- both at the personal (phenomenal) level and at the practical (institutional) level.

-Why do supernatural beings resonate with humans?
-How do the social aspects of our psyches influence religious behavior at its very core?
-What benefits do human beings derive from tendencies that also make us prone to religious experience?
-How can religious experiences be created through manipulation of the brain?

Science has made some progress in answering these questions. It would be wonderfully illuminating to hear an interview with Pascal Boyer and Justin Barrett on this subject.

Oct. 15 2013 11:51 AM
eyeguy99 from Canada

A couple of burning questions that keep me up at night:

1) Why don't hibernating bears develop blood clots in their extremities?

2) If deer tend to come out from resting during the evening hours and into the night, why don't they all end up blind from getting their eyeballs inadvertently poked while walking through bushes at night?

3) How did language first evolve? If a caveman spoke the first "word", someone had to understand what was said and then make the leap to "speak back" without having a reference base of words to draw from.

4) What determines taste preference in babies? Why do some kids take to broccoli while others hate it? Is it genetic?

Sep. 13 2013 08:40 PM

Why do songs get stuck in our heads, some for as long as years? Is it because the song has tapped into a particularly "sticky" melody or rhythm? Or is my brain just formed like a catcher's glove to absorb and hold on to certain things, while your brain may be uniquely formed to grab others? Or is it all about the first time you hear a song and the circumstances that allow it to stick or not? Maybe it is all that and more!!

Sep. 10 2013 04:24 PM
Larry Furman from New Jersey

Can we measure pain? Well not today, we don't seem to have the technology but theoretically, of course! All we need to do is build an interface between a meter that can measure electric potential and nerve endings.

Actually, we could probably do this very expensively. Take a brain scan of a person when he or she is not in pain, then compare it to a brain scan of the same person when in pain.

Or take brain scans of 1000 or 5000 people - a representative sample - we would probably need separate scans of men and women and boy and girls of different ages - 500 boys and 500 girls under 10, 1000 children under 14 or 15, 1000 children under 21, etc. Then when someone comes in with pain, compare his or her brain scan to that of the control group. / /

Sep. 04 2013 12:35 PM
Ulises from Worcester, MA

Every time I put my ear bud headphones into my backpack zippered pocket, head home, then pull them out later to use, the wires are all tangled up. This also happens to my laptop battery charger. I loop it really nicely then put it in my backpack, and it’s always a pain to untangle it when I want to use it. Why is that? I know there's movement and friction, etc.

Is there some scientific explanation? Entropy perhaps? A name for this?Maybe a mathematical formula or law that could help shed some light on this phenomenon?

Sep. 03 2013 01:51 PM
Jewels from Kutztown, PA

Hey RadioLab, I have been thinking of two topics for a while: Anonymity - what is it and why? Some people use it for good, and some evil; but why? Has it changed history? How is it helpful? I find anonymity fascinating. Especially today with the ability to be anonymous on the internet. But history as well - how much literature has been written this way? Has it ever had serious repercussions? It is illegal to not state your identity to the law, what if it wasn't? Tall tales: Everyone loves a good story, sometimes even tall tales. Where do they come from? Why do they get so exaggerated? How much is actually true and are there ever stories that date way back that never change? Thanks guys!

Jun. 28 2013 09:35 AM
Gary from Big Bear Lake, CA

Even though I'm not all that clear on the Big Bang Theory, the concept of infinity rather baffles me, I would like to know what the theory was before the BBT. What was the consensus among the scholars pre BBT?

May. 31 2013 07:49 PM

As a proud new mom to a 3 month old baby girl, I am naturally concerned about the possible occurance of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). I recently came across a website (linked below) that seems to attribute this mysterious phenomenon to chemical gases that are released when a reaction occurs between fungus and manufacturing materials of certain matresses. What do you think about this theory? Have you come across any other radical ideas for what may cause SIDS and ways it can be prevented?

Mar. 08 2013 09:56 PM
Brian K

Why are numbers so connected language? Today I was counting a numbers of items and I noticed I preferred to count out loud even if it was under my breath. Even when I tried to count silently, I would still "say" the words in my head. It seems impossible to count without language. Further, I was later looking at a small collection of cups and realized I could intuitively understand the cups and what they were without verbalizing, but if I wanted to understand how many there were I had to think five out loud in my head, ie verbalizing. I would love to know the science behind this phenomenon. Thanks and keep up the great show!

Feb. 10 2013 03:44 PM
M.J. Kiran from Lawrence, KS

Having lived in New York City, and now Kansas, I compared the hair parting results within 100 miles between 66046 (where I am) and 10027 (where I went to school). The results were almost the opposite of each other, or flipped to the other side, if you will. People in the midwest were more likely to part on the right (Red State?) and people in NY were to part on the left (Blue State?).

My question: Does the data show a strong correlation between direction of hair part and political affiliation? If so, what explains that?

Feb. 06 2013 05:10 PM
Lindsey from Peoria, IL

According to Wikipedia, 5 out of the last 7 presidents have been left handed including Obama....and a crazy number of presidential candidates have been left handed. What does it mean, radio lab????

Feb. 02 2013 10:08 PM

I heard this show (or at least, I think it was this episode) on the radio a couple of weeks ago. This would have been the weekend before Thankgiving. It was the first time I heard this quirky little Radiolab show, and I kinda liked it. What I found to be riveting was the discussion regarding time, what it is and what can affect the manner in which it passes. I'd dearly love to hear this episode again, but I'm afraid I cannot find it anywhere on the website. Is anyone able to help???

Nov. 24 2012 09:42 PM

What does a scientist consider valuable? For context, there is difficulty finding universal agreement on value, because we pick it up from different places, in religion and in culture. While some people may say that values or principles may only be taught by religion or upbringing, I think it enlightening and valuable in its own way to know what a scientist may value, coming from an individual who has some hand at universality (objectivity) and appreciation for nature and the universe.

Nov. 19 2012 03:36 AM

Hi guys! Just some updates: we're working on some of your questions now, and a few have already been answered. For foodie listeners (and @David from New York and @Becky from Los Angeles), check out !!

Nov. 08 2012 06:45 PM

Why are we so much more sensitive to the pain of minor injuries (a stubbed toe, for example) when we're very cold?

Nov. 07 2012 04:55 PM
nonm from Berlin

this is an illusion of collaboration

Nov. 04 2012 03:50 PM
kk from the desk

one of my quest in parts answered :D

nice research

Oct. 27 2012 05:26 AM

I know the purpose of this thread is to collect nagging little questions, but it seems as good a place as any to post episode suggestions as well, so here I go and thanks for reading!

You guys should do an episode that explores the way science fiction and real science have influenced each other over the years (for example, George Orwell?). You could call the episode "Science Fact"?

You should also consider maybe doing entire episodes dedicated to biographing some of the great minds of history, such as da Vinci, Newton, Einstein, Freud, Darwin, Tesla, etc. and really showing how their life stories are an important piece of their contributions to human history. After all, that piece about the life of Turing was absolutely incredible; I could definitely go for more.

You could do an episode on the parenting styles of many different species in comparison to each other and, of course, ourselves. You could do an episode about our greatest intelligent competitors in the animal kingdom, such as apes, elephants, dolphins, octopuses (octopi?), etc. and what their strengths and weaknesses are in comparison to us, and what the world might look like through their unique experiences.

You could do an episode on the things that all our vastly different cultures have in common despite lack of communication with each other until the last few centuries; for example, every culture has its own dragons and has always had its own dragons, each unique but each still essentially a dragon: a gigantic, supernaturally equipped, intelligent, greedy, short-tempered flying reptile. And it's not even like they just make vague appearances in the culture. They are extremely important to all mythologies (that I've looked into anyway)! WHAT IS UP WITH THAT? Okay, so I guess there is one of those nagging questions in this post then: what is the deal with dragons?

Lastly, I think you should do an episode in which you talk to some scientists about where our culture is going in the future; perhaps try and paint a picture of what our day to day lives might look like in fifteen years based on interviews with the experts of technology, medicine, statistics, etc. Our world is changing quite rapidly and it could be a lot of fun to project.

Oct. 24 2012 03:31 PM

Is Alzheimer a personality desorder, I mean is it caused by type of personality; does it occur mostly in certain personas....yup?

Oct. 16 2012 10:40 PM
kk from work

i guess theres no ?s anymore...
there is another one:
Is Alzheimer a personality desorder?
yes it is, yes it iis (in a cute manner) lol

Oct. 16 2012 08:07 PM

Have you considered doing something with Randall Munroe at XKCD? His What-If section is rather like a Radiolab program. . without the neat effects or timing. I know he's worked with NPR in the past.

Some of his recent topics have been simply riveting. . . such as how much force can Yoda output, or the Glass Half Empty scenario (if water were right in the middle, 1/4 air on top, 1/4 water, the glass would explode).

Oct. 04 2012 08:09 AM
Kimberly from Livingston, MT

Why does the world and the people in it tend to lose it when there's a full moon? Does the moon really cause people to act differently? They say that women naturally cycle according to the lunar cycle, so is it possible that our moods and behaviors can be effected by the moon as well?

Oct. 03 2012 12:42 AM
Kimberly from Livingston, MT

My mom and I recently listened to the Loops episode in which the woman had transglobal amnesia. My mom had this happen to her about five years and in fact I sent an email to you shortly after it happened and suggested a show about this very thing. Anyway... She had since met three other people who had this happen to them and she has now become fixed on one question. She's been asking the other people and herself it for a while. She wonders if people feel changed afterwards. She says that her life feels different for some reason.

Oct. 03 2012 12:29 AM

Why does your arm or leg feel tingly after it has been numb?

Oct. 02 2012 02:16 AM
Chris Mathers from Panama City, FL, USA

Here's one that I ponder sometimes. It may be beyond the scope of a short and tend towards a full episodes worth of question.

I have heard it suggested that because you think in words, your language shapes and limits the thoughts you have and the range of thoughts you can have. My question is, if this is true would expanding your vocabulary literally broaden your mind? Would learning a second language make you a better thinker? Do "true" multilinguals (those born into a multilingual household who grow up speaking more than one language natively) think differently than those people who are natively unilingual?

Oct. 01 2012 10:27 AM

These comments are great, guys! The Radiolab staff is in awe at your inspiration and thoughtfulness (though we really didn't expect any less). We're working behind the scene to start answering (some of) them, so keep your eyes peeled on our blog site, and we'll also letcha know via the comments thread here as answers are posted. And if you have more questions, keep 'em coming in the weeks and months ahead!

Sep. 25 2012 01:08 PM
Brenna from dc

Ive always had this curiosity with why i have the instinct to care for things that are small or cute. I will break this down. It does not matter the species or if it belongs to someone else I think basically this instinct exists in us all. I know Ive heard or interspecial instances this has happened..i.e a dog taking care of a baby bunny or the infamous child raised by wolves...i find this so interesting would love to hear a show on this and would love to contribute my personal experiences thanks love you guys!!

Sep. 25 2012 06:28 AM
Mike Wang from Palo Alto, CalifornIA

Do fundamental particles such as photons and nutrinos, which travel at the speed of light, experience time? I've been told ever since middle school that as we approach the speed of light, time begins to dilate, but we've never been told what happens to those particles that reach that all-important velocity.

Then comes the issue of what happens when light leaves a vacuum and slows down. Does it experience time then? What are its implications?

This question's been bothering me for a while, and I think it would be a compelling issue to talk about on a segment. I think public knowledge of our subatomic world is definitely lacking (after all it doesnt stop with protons and neutrons!) and this would be a great way to fill that gap and possibly revive the discussion of Time.

Sep. 25 2012 02:59 AM
chris and meredith from Pburgh

Why can we smell the seasons? Why do I smell the coming of cold evenings in Autumn and the loosening of frigid ground in Spring before I see and feel the changes? And why can we agree on a subjective set of scents as the presage of weather and time? What are these scents?

Sep. 23 2012 09:23 PM
Kevin's Evil Twin from CounterEarth Boston from Your back yard

Also, (COMMENT 200!) I would love to see an episode on culture and how it works.

Sep. 23 2012 10:49 AM
Kevin's Evil Twin from CounterEarth Boston from Your front yard.

You guys should go back and do a recap series of episodes where you hit upon some of the topics in the first few seasons, like The Ring and I, Stress, Sperm, Race, Sleep, Laughter, Space, oops etc. Esp the Space episode withe the discovery of the Higgs Boson and landing on mars (war of the worlds? Haha yes) Anyway, I love Radiolab and can't wait for the next episode. Thanks for all your hard work!

Sep. 23 2012 10:44 AM
Lani from Lakeland, FL

Why does cookie dough taste so much better than fully baked cookies? Does the baking process make them less sweet or something?

Sep. 22 2012 07:42 PM
kk from at work

what are the main problems with control laboratory tests? either brain scans or placebo checking. Imagine that an event having effect when in natural setting and lacking effect when in lab! the same task in two different environments will most probbly having different effects, or not having at all.
so how shall we trust here?

Sep. 21 2012 10:04 PM

I'm mostly seconding a couple suggestions.

1) Unified Theory Show. Gravity, Magnetism, and all that. The history and minds involved in the quest for unified theorem and what it means. - Brian from Minneapolis, MN

2) Genius Show. Physiological and psychological differences between a genius like Gauss, and someone, perhaps, like my lousy neighbours. The physical effect of learning on the brain. Menza tests. Idiot savants. Are you just born with it? - Liz from Washington, DC

3) Language show. I'm learning latin right now and have had experience in German, French, Chinese, and Japanese - yet I still speak one language. Laziness can account for some of it, but are there any other differences between us and the polyglots. Is there a *best* language? A universal language? - Suggested by several people.

And my own suggestion.

4) Monkey See Monkey Do Show. The same part of the brain lights up when I smile as when I see someone smiling, care of mirror neurons. It would follow that that would explain the contagiousness of yawning, no? Does this explain the contagiousness of action (a la the Arab Spring) or mob mentality (a la the classic village mob at Frankenstein's door) as well? If so, how much of our own actions are ... our own?

Sep. 21 2012 11:50 AM

i forgot oneish

is seeing black actually not seeing anything?
like cut outs of the pattern

Sep. 19 2012 04:47 PM
Lulu Miller

BTW. A quick lunchtime unscientific analysis finds top trends in what radiolab listeners want to know about are: Why there aren't memories from early childhood, how long human civilization will be around, perception riddles: what we are detecting in another person and is there an objective reality, is true selflesness possible (and why when we witness it does it move us so), complicated stuff about time and physics, lots of dream questions, oh, and also déjà vu.

Sep. 19 2012 01:54 PM
Lulu Miller

oh, and also déjà vu.

Sep. 19 2012 01:47 PM
Josh from Texas

What does what makes us laugh reveal about us? What is humor?

Sep. 18 2012 10:00 PM
Lulu Miller

No way, Marie! OK. Send it to it will get to me.

Sep. 18 2012 12:06 PM
Blake from St. Louis

How well do children learn without established schooling? At what rate do children advance into literary understanding or complex mathematics without that structure? I've recently come across the trend of 'unschooling' and find it very interesting that some parents eschew traditional education (public, private, home) entirely.

Sep. 17 2012 11:37 AM
Brian from New York City

Hey Radiolab,

My question is what is the mind/body connection? I am also interested in how it is changing modern healthcare? What is fibromyalgia and why is it helped so much by alternative therapy for instance?


Sep. 16 2012 03:05 PM
Marie from Portland, ME

Lulu - We have made a video of a sparking pepper! I can't find an email address for you on the site. Please contact me so I can send it to you!
-Marie from Portland

Sep. 15 2012 09:25 PM
Aaron from Portland, OR

Hi Radiolab, I hope it's not too late to post my question.

I was sitting on the couch with my cat, when suddenly I found myself yawning. Then I noticed my cat had just finished yawning. I had just caught a yawn from a different species.

I'm curious to know whether only mammals yawn, or if it's a more universal phenomenon.

So my question is: Which animals yawn, and which are contagious to yawning?

Have a great day!

Sep. 15 2012 06:26 PM
Lulu Miller


Radiolabbers have begun churning on these questions and working up future posts. But in the meantime, a few scatterbrained thoughts:

@Jim Victor: going from space into the human body. Have you ever watched the short film, Powers of Ten. It's "an adventure in magnitudes" from 1977. And it's a delight

@Michael Rasmussen: value of freezing? Yes! I once remember reading something by Carl Sagan that the value of freezing could come down to carbon dioxide omissions. The less CO2 you emit, the less detectable you are to some animals. So in freezing, or falling asleep out of fear-- as some animals are known to do-- you don't breathe as hard (as you would during fight or flight), and thus make yourself less detectable. More to look into there, but a neat start...

@Casey McGrath: bubble gum? makes me think of best Halloween costume I've heard of lately. Girl dressed all in pink. Wore a sneaker on her head. Chewing gum. Not a useful answer, but a darn great idea, aye?

@Marie from Portland: sparking pepper? if you or some filmmakery type will make us a video of this phenomenon, and send it in, we hereby pledge to answer it. The more awesome the video, the more awesome the answer.

Sep. 13 2012 03:09 PM
Lulu Miller

I couldn't resist directing a few of you to Radiolab segments we've done in the past:

@Drew Dean: which human buildings will still be around in 1 million years? Afterlife

@Nickie from Colorado: how does lack of sleep affect brain? the same way a teenage boy affects his brain. Sleep Deprivation

@John Clevdence: why do we laugh more with others. LAUGHTER show.

@Chelsea from Venice: why do humans see patterns where there are none-- Slot Machine segment in Stochasticity

@Xiaohan: Can we harness the power of Placebo Effect? Placebo show!

Sep. 13 2012 03:05 PM
Hannah from Washington, DC

We seem to only be able to describe the experience of emotion in physical terms, and I wonder if the ONLY experience of emotion can a physical one--after all, emotions originate in our bodies and we feel them. But where is the line between the emotion itself, and its physical effect?

I mean to distinguish between simply identifying emotion, and describing what the emotion actually feels like: the difference between saying "I feel sad" and knowing that a heaviness in the body, a slowness, maybe a tightening in the chest, is sadness.

What is anger, but the release of the right chemicals and their effects on the body? Embarrassment? Joy?

I guess my essential question is: is there really a difference between sensuous feeling and emotional feeling? Is this all maybe just a limit of language? I don't know....

Sep. 11 2012 04:48 PM

Have there been any documented incidents of human children raised by other animals (a la Jungle Book)?

I just recently learned of the idea of segmented sleep and how electricity allegedly changed our sleeping patterns, making it one long night's sleep instead of parts. What's the evidence for this? How would sleeping like this affect health/brain activity and functioning? Has anyone in the modern day tried this? How did they like it?

Sep. 11 2012 09:53 AM
Sapana from Chicago, IL

Hi Radiolab!

What I'm curious about is why people find it so difficult to maintain eye contact when talking with someone. I've noticed that I have a hard time keeping constant eye contact even with close friends much less with people I've only just met.



Sep. 09 2012 11:04 PM
Maura from Brownsville, TX

I'm an 8th grade science teacher in the state of Texas. I mentioned evolution one day and my kids were totally fascinated by it and had like a bajillion questions on how it works, is it true, how do you know, are we really related to monkeys, etc. I had to continue with the lesson, but I'd really like to give them a simplified, educational run-down on evolution. Can you help?

Sep. 09 2012 09:39 PM
David from Northampton, MA

Is it theoretically possible for an environment to be so cold that light cannot travel through it?

Sep. 09 2012 09:35 PM
zoe from Richmond, MA

Why is it that when you ask most people how old they feel it is usually considerably younger than their chronological age? Doing an informal study I have found only fewer than 10 of more than 150 people who have said they feel older. A certain percentage also feel their actual age. This question started when I asked it of my father then in his early 80s and a few hours before his death (which was expected not he knew he was dying) and he responded, "y'know I think I'm 46." So even that close to death when one is certainly not feeling his best are we more apt to feel younger than our years?

Sep. 09 2012 07:39 PM
Gina from Stevens Point, WI

If our body temperature is supposedly around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, why does it feel so unbearable to be in ambient temperatures in the 90's or even 80's?

Sep. 09 2012 03:41 PM
Michele from NJ/NYC

What's the deal, really, with afterlife?

As a kid, I first was spooked by, then really enjoyed, a good ghost story, but I didn't really buy the post-life existence thing growing up. As a young woman, I didn't accept such a thing at all.

But then my mother died from cancer, and for a time, I was caught between a sense of feeling as though she- or her energy- was still nearby and that my want for her was a way of perceiving that energy, and a feeling that I was grasping for straws as a way to soothe myself in my bereavement. Over time, that all receded alongside my grief, and I went back to not really believing in an afterlife beyond what happens to exist in memory.

But then, three weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk working and feeling vaguely annoyed about this persistent indigestion and stickiness in my swallowing, when an image of my mother describing some incidental symptoms of her own illness years ago leapt into my mind with such clarity and force that i felt like a stack of books had just been thrown hard into my chest. i was compelled to reach for my phone and call my doctor, to start watching the clock and pushing for the earliest appointments. I am glad that I did-- it turns out that my symptoms are the ones that my mother did not catch in time. I, knock wood, have.

So what's up with that? Part of me wonders if perhaps my mother is still looking out for me, if she reached out across the ether to smack me with a memory and a message: GO.

I like that idea, but really I think something just happened to jiggle that memory loose at the right time.

So my question/s: what jiggles those sorts of connections at such supernatural-seeming times? What happens in our Hamlet-y brains to channel our dead parents, their warnings and misgivings? What part of memory/personhood is so self-protective in this way, that it can call upon details and snippets which had been lost in the fog of so many, many details and emotions over the years? Especially when the mind has made such an earnest attempt to bury them? Why don't they stay buried? And is this the same thing that over generations and across cultures has fed the idea of ghosts and walking ancestors?

So many wonderful questions on this comments thread. I'd be happy to ponder any single one with you. Thank you!

Sep. 09 2012 01:45 PM
David Lacey from Australia

I don't know if you have already covered this as I am new to Radiolab. Happiness. What is it. Can it be measured. How does Bhutan measure Gross Domestic Happiness. Is there a modern equivalent of soma of Brave New World. Can you buy happiness. Are there brain light up areas for happiness contentment fulfillment and are they the same.

Sep. 09 2012 10:25 AM
Drew Dean from London, England

What will the world (possibly) look like in a million years? What are mankind's chances of still being around then? With improvements in healthcare and changes in lifestyle over the past several hundred years, what (if any) evolutionary pressures are acting on people now, and how might those have played out on our genetic code by the time we reach 1.002 million AD? Will the continents have shifted, what might the climate be like, and of all the human edifices on earth right now, which might stand a chance of surviving that long?

Sep. 09 2012 09:57 AM
Penny from Melbourne, Australia

One more question. We can't remember our early years of life; is it because we don't have the capacity to form memories, or is it because we can't, well... think?

Sep. 09 2012 01:19 AM
Penny from Melbourne, Australia

I have always wondered about the origins of imperial units of measurement. They seem so inconsistent compared to the metric system that I imagine there must be some interesting stories behind the origin of various imperial units.

Sep. 09 2012 01:16 AM
Jillian from San Francisco

Is it possible to remember being born? Or have a memories in utero?

Sep. 09 2012 01:04 AM
Sheri Byers from Jamestown, North Carolina

I would like to know why people tend to consider it necessary to retain old things like high school yearbooks, old photos, diaries, magazine clippings, etc. It seems that people generally find tangible evidence of their past somewhat painful, even if the memories they are recalling might be positive, i.e. a photo of your great grandparents who have since passed. If this is so, why are we compelled to keep this stuff around?

Sep. 09 2012 12:37 AM
Kevin from Massachusetts

On occasion, when I scratch an itch on one part of my body, I feel the sensation of the scratch in another part. I scratch my shoulder and I feel it on my lower back. Or, I itch my elbow and I feel it on my foot. What's going on there?

Sep. 08 2012 11:12 PM
Helen from Philadelphia, PA

Question: Why do friends pick each other's tics, phrases and other modes of expression? Is it an evolutionary need (staying part of the tribe through familiarity) or a psychological need for acceptance? Thanks!

Sep. 08 2012 08:57 AM
Ben from DC

I have a couple questions.
1) Why does our perception of time change over time? That is, it feels as though minutes, hours and days pass by faster as we age. Is this a component of cognitive development, or of our sense of identity (i.e. do our lives become routine so we pay less attention)? Would an amnesiac experience time more slowly?
2)The piece on the Tanzanian laughing disease made me think about whether mental illness has a cultural component. If that's the case, have we seen the proliferation of western mental illnesses throughout the world, and the decline of native mental illnesses do to globalization?
3)The Earth is whizzing through space in orbit around the sun, while the sun itself is hurtling around the milky way, and even the milky way is traversing the universe. Due to general relativity, the speed an object moves effects how time flows. I understand that the closer an object approaches the speed of light, the slower time moves for that object when compared to a slower moving outside observer. When understood in these terms, it seems then that spaceship Earth is also a time machine, transporting us farther into the future. So my question is, how much slower does time flow on earth compared the time of an observer 'at rest'? Conversely, is it possible for an object to exist completely 'at rest' in the universe? And what is the fasted moving celestial body we've observed?
4) Historically, the costs in both resources and effort for producing major scientific breakthroughs have increased significantly . For example, the societal costs of Isaac Newton going into his room and discovering the fundamental laws of motion and gravity are a lot less than the international effort and resources necessary to produce the large Hadron Collider at CERN. Does this imply that there may be a limit to how science can advance because the necessary resources needed may be greater than those a society can produce?

Sep. 07 2012 07:49 PM
Tim from Pittsburgh

Can people really tell when they are being watched?

Sep. 07 2012 04:44 PM
Maral from Azerbaijan

Are you born smart, or do you become smart eventually?

Sep. 07 2012 08:05 AM

I'd like to know if it's possible to be able to be truly selfless in any action we perform.
I also like your show a lot. Thanks!

Sep. 07 2012 01:03 AM

(Elizabeth from Boston created an account shortly after posting)

In response to Marie from Portland, ME:

Holy crap, thank you!! You rock!

See that Jad and Robert and crew? The fans step up to the plate too. Now get on that page-disappearing thing, it's killing me. <3

Sep. 06 2012 11:27 PM
Jim Victor from Santa Fe, NM

Your recent podcast on Space described how vast and 'growing' it is; What if you took this to a reversed direction and look at how small you could go in the human body. Like the expanding universe, our cells are constantly reproducing and they are just a speck on a speck on a speck. Are these cells wondering the same things we are? Does their behavior, activities, jobs, etc. reflect some of the same paralells as the body as a whole? Could our bodies be a form of its own universe? If our footprint per say is an example of the atom's complexity and comparable structure, where are we on the scale of things?

Sep. 06 2012 10:53 PM
Dave Wayne from Atlanta, Ga

I think you should do a segment about the psychology of celebrity. Not just the way that some people "freak out" when they see one, but what happens when people go to extremes trying not to "freak out". I got this idea when listening to Here's The Thing when David Letterman said he went to a party and people avoided him like the plague. He concluded, "people hate me." But we don't. But to him it meant that such behavior must mean this, when I think that . . . well . . . people just don't know what to think.

Sep. 06 2012 10:39 PM
Claire from Philadelphia

On longevity in humans:
Would it be possible to breed people for better and better longevity genes? Maybe select until people could live as long as tortoises?! Maybe we can select some very old people and mix up their genes with some lovely young ladies, and then take their oldest living children..... Okay, the experiment is a little f'ed... But it's a theoretical. Do male sperm become less functional just as women's egg cells do with age? Are the contributors to longevity able to manipulated on the genetic scale? What are the limitations to human longevity, and why can't we be more the the old tree featured in your "oops" segment?

Sep. 06 2012 05:29 PM
Keith from Minneapolis

How about a show on the famous advice from the Japanese poet Basho: Don’t imitate the masters, seek what they sought.

Sep. 06 2012 04:35 PM
Dylan from Montreal

Hi Radiolab,

I'd like to know what exactly is happening, at the molecular level, when a piece of paper is folded. Which elements and forces are interacting, and how? What makes a fold a fold? Why is it impossible to 'uncrease' the paper? I imagine being very tiny, beyond microscopic, standing close to the action. A behemoth finger - unrecognizable from my perspective - descends from the soupy sky and begins to exert unfathomable pressures on this thick slab of stuff nearby. Suddenly, there are violent and spectacular things happening all around me. Molecules are being torn apart from one another and flying off in every direction. There are explosions, massive static discharges, structural compressions and warps, and all sorts of destruction. This goes on for a while, and eventually, at a level I cannot possibly comprehend, a paper swan is created.

Sep. 06 2012 04:14 PM
Adrienne from NYC

Is there a scientific/physiological explanation for the feeling of deja vu?

Also, since it is the subject of a reoccurring nightmare of mine, is there any way a zombie epidemic could ever take place (outside of behavior associated with "bath salts" or other substances)?

And, you may have covered this at least in part before, but are there real hard-wired psychological/emotional differences between men and women? I've always leaned more towards nurture over nature, but would like to hear any evidence to the contrary (or that makes me right!).

Sep. 06 2012 04:07 PM
Sayre from Oakland

Why do we get tingles when we listen to or see something moving?

Sep. 06 2012 03:53 PM
Marie from Portland, ME

In response to Elizabeth from Boston:

Seriously, WHAT is fire?? I recently saw a great answer to that question. Alan Alda (of MASH and numerous PBS-type science shows) recently created a contest for scientists about that very issue. He asked scientists to create a video or some way to explain fire in a way that an 11 year old could understand and then had the submissions judged by kids. The winning video and more info about the contest are posted here:

Sep. 06 2012 02:33 PM

I recently spent a few months traveling through the Amazon in Brazil; hiking and canoeing were part of the daily routine but during a one week portion of the trip I spent time in the welcoming home of a family in a river dwelling community. I was accepted with open arms. The family had me sharing a bed with their daughter, helping them with daily chores anywhere from carrying gallons of water to and from the river to cleaning the clothing which seemed to accumulate into massive piles on a daily basis to sweeping the small house after every crumb.
I contemplated and contemplated what it was that made first world countries consider these completely self sufficient regions poverty stricken but not once in my time did I feel bad for this community or think that I did not have everything I could possibly want right there with these people. They were passionate about religion, deeply engaged with each others families, and lived perfect simple lives without any of the chaos or clutter first world countries have.
The one portion of their life that troubled me was how each family had a TV to watch their Novella's. It seemed like this was creating the a stigma within the communities of a "better life" one they saw on TV but had no way of obtaining.

I would like to listen to a show on the mentality of have and have not's. Why first world countries think every other region needs to be up to speed with them and how this impacts the psyche of these third world countries.

Sep. 06 2012 02:11 PM

Based on this article...

...what other animals show apparent grief/distress at finding another of their kind dead? Does it ever happen across species?

Sep. 06 2012 02:06 PM
Mike Decker

My question has to do with global warming- whether its cause is human related or due to increased solar activity. I think that a great way to settle the debate would be to observe ice loss in other easily observable objects in the solar system (deposits on the moon and Mercury, the moons and rings of Jupiter and Saturn, comets, etc...) Has anyone ever compared past pictures with current ones to see if the ice is receding at the same rate at on Earth? That might let us stop arguing about the causes and look for a solution.


Sep. 06 2012 12:58 PM
Rachel from Minnesota

What makes an itch itch? Why does scratching (kinda) relieve it? What's going on in the itchy spot and brain and rest of my body?

Sep. 06 2012 11:23 AM
Mike Decker from Santiago, Dominican Republic

As I was reading about the Voyager 1 spacecraft reaching the end of our solar system, it just go me thinking about the movements of the planets around the sun. We always see the same setup when looking at a mobile of the solar system: perfectly horizontal orbits moving in the same direction. My question is: how are the orbital planes really situated in relation to each other? Are they all moving in the same direction? If so, why? Also, why can't we perceive the rotation of the earth and its free-fall motion around the sun?

These might seem basic to some folks, but I;d love to know more about the motion of our insignificant little planet.

Sep. 06 2012 11:15 AM
Elizabeth from Boston

1) I don't know about you, but I really love to read a good novel. There is something really special to me about this minimum-external-stimulation maximum-internal-stimulation activity, where you're doing literally nothing but staring at a bound pile of papers for many hours and yet your mind couldn't be more active. My question is, what exactly is happening there? How is it that we can go from interpreting little symbols to acquiring an experience that we didn't even actually experience? WHAT MAKES THE PAGE DISAPPEAR?

2) What is fire? No, seriously-- what is it?

3) This isn't really a question for your list here but since I have your attention I'll throw it out there: I was absolutely riveted by the multi-universes short, and it even inspired me to write about inflationary cosmology for a class. This summer the Higgs Boson incident contributed to supporting that theory, and I was hoping (and now, as a die-hard fan, suggesting) that you do a follow-up short of some kind with this new evidence in the limelight.

Thanks guys, keep the science coming! Always waiting with baited breath for the next episode!!


Sep. 06 2012 11:00 AM
Clare from Boston

Human infants take a long time to make sense of their perceptions of the world (eg. sight). Kittens who are only allowed to see, for example, vertical lines during their first few weeks/months of life won't be able to perceive horizontal lines later on. The brain uses the stimulus of the outside world to wire itself for perception of what it sees.

So my question is, for precocial animals like horses or antelope that are off bounding across the savannah within hours of their birth, how do they deal with the rewiring necessary to make sense of their visual perceptions? Are they born with these perceptual cells more intact? Can they do in hours what it takes altricial animals weeks or months to do?

Sep. 06 2012 10:13 AM
Shane from Pennsylvania

How large is our Solar System's boundary if you flew a spaceship "up" or "down" from the poles of the earth? Is it considered a sphere and the same distance as if you were traveling away from the equator?

Sep. 06 2012 09:52 AM
Matt Kent from Ct

Why do we cry when we are sad?
Do other creatures cry?
Why do we feel better after a good cry?
Ps- from my nephew - do unicorns ever get dirty?

Sep. 06 2012 09:22 AM
Bertie Wooster from London

These questions comes from my little cousin who spends more time than he'd like running away from moths: Why are some people afraid of moths? And why do people find butterflies beautiful? Both are flying insects with strange wings.

My own question: Is the body merely 'hardware' for the brain? Where does the soul come into the mind/body debate? Can one measure someone's soul?

Sep. 06 2012 09:16 AM

Why are chimpanzees "10 times stronger than a human"?

In documentaries/podcasts involving chimpanzees (e.g. 'Lucy') someone always mentions that an adult chimp is actually quite dangerous because they are "N times stronger than a human" although they are a similar size and shape to humans. (And how do they measure this anyway?)

Is the difference in strength inherent to our genetics - are chimp and human muscles now fundamentally different after several million years of separte evolution from our common ancestor? Why have humans become such weaklings compared to chimps?

Sep. 06 2012 07:33 AM
Craig Rudman from Denver, CO

What is gravity like at the center of the earth?

Sep. 06 2012 07:27 AM
kk from homy

i.v got few more

-how come the meaning of something you don't consciously/attentionally attend to can influence your behavior…i.e. how come a business suitcase in a room can influence people to be more competitive in their relation (science fact) ?

-how exactly the brain blows-out our visual perception?
you could ask mr. Markram, who's probably still looking for the math :P

am stopping….

Sep. 06 2012 05:42 AM
Jeffrey Montano

Why do some of us have "faith," and others dont't?

Sep. 06 2012 05:33 AM
Jackie from California


1- Zombies (because, let's be real. who doesn't perk up at zomblies?)

2- Geekdom (of which there are many to choose from)

3- Ancient Alien Astronauts (comon, you know your curious)

4- Video gaming culture (isn't odd to be so intimate with people you've never seen and for whom the goal is to try to destroy ever time you met online?)

Sep. 05 2012 11:59 PM
Chris from St. Louis, MO

If time is aspect movement (ie: the closer to the speed of light the slower time is) then any movement would be a function of time. So would the vibration of atoms that make up our physical universe have a constant rate in which time could be a base level. Also time is also part of frame of reference (ie: The Blackbird aircraft has been able to show through an atomic clock a change in time during a flight in comparison to an matching clock on the ground). So would the speed in which our universe is expanding be a base level of the speed of time in which we experience. (and if this has fluxuated then would we even be able to notice it since our experience of time would fluxuate in equal measure)

Sep. 05 2012 10:15 PM
Marian from Harvey, La.

This is more of a technological question. It is generated by the experience of inserting batteries in numerous devices during an extended power outage.

Why are batteries cases configured the way they are? Why are some of them configured so that the batteries are exactly parallel? Why, in some cases, most the batteries be organized so that the positive and negative poles alternate in the case? Where did the current sizes (9v, etc) come from? Why are those the standard sizes?

Sep. 05 2012 10:15 PM

What within the brain causes OCD? What is the biological root of this illness? What about bi-polar disorder? Or the anxiety/depression cycle? Where are these things coming from? Are they more common now?

Sep. 05 2012 06:52 PM
Will from Summit, NJ

So if water, just plain water is clear, then why does it make things darker? Why is it, that when we wet our hair it gets darker? Just curious, that's all.

Sep. 05 2012 06:14 PM
Chandler from Tennessee

My question is about time. They say the faster you are moving through space the slower time passes, what does that mean exactly? Do the aging effects on my body cease? That is how I measure time biologically. So just because I am traveling out of the atmosphere, doesn't mean that my body is aging any slower, does it? My cells are still dying, right? So is time really relative? hope that makes sense. Thanks

Sep. 05 2012 05:15 PM
Elizabeth from Kingsburg, California

I've long wondered exactly how we recognize other people. How does someone recognize me when we meet on the street? What if we haven't seen each other in years? What characteristics are there that we recognize despite the changing shape of faces? Along the same lines, We've all heard someone say about another people group, " They all look alike." This is some sort of a lack of recognition. How does that work?

Sep. 05 2012 05:05 PM
TS from Boston MA

I have always wondered about the social cost of dishonesty. From locks on doors to file encryption...the manpower needed to prevent chaos that we create for ourselves is emmense. But then, I have often argued that a perfect world would be boring without being challenged. A segment on the value of being challenged (whether by honest means or not) would be interesting.

Sep. 05 2012 04:47 PM
David from Reno, NV

Sports drinks are famous for replacing the sodium and potassium that we lose when sweating.

Why do we jettison such a large amounts of the ions? Does it help cool us, or are they the chemical byproducts being jettison?

Sep. 05 2012 04:44 PM

Why do dreams seem real when we're in them but nonsensical once we're awake? In other words, why does the nature of a dream change so drastically (realistic to absurd) when we wake up, even though the dream itself does not change?

Sep. 05 2012 04:06 PM

I am wondering about social phenomena such as fads, trends, social norms, and accepted truths. When and how does a fad become a trend, a trend become a social norm, and a norm become a truth? How many people must accept for a social phenomena to happen? Who decides? How does this differ from culture to culture?

Sep. 05 2012 04:01 PM
Kayla Ritchie from Seattle

It's already known that if you manually stimulate parts of the brain, say, with a finger, it will cause the person whose brain it is to experience something that is normally a function of that area of cortex. So, if you poke the portion of their motor cortex responsible for movement of their left arm, the arm with switch or move in some way.

My question is: what would it sound like to have someone glide their finger along your auditory cortex?

Sep. 05 2012 01:14 PM
Lulu Miller

@Julie from Los Angeles
R-Lab has once explored a bit on perfect pitch. Check out this segment in our Musical Language show.

it doesn't answer everything you asked, but it's a start!

Sep. 05 2012 01:09 PM
Lulu Miller

[Snarfs coffee all over computer screen!] Woa guys, this is incredible! Just a few comments in-- and already nodding my head vigorously with "YES! I KNOW... HOW DOES THAT WORK?" Questions about body language and friendship-- what are we detecting with a glint in an eye? Is it real? how does it work?-- and so many more. We'll be taking some time over the next few days to fully absorb. But keep the questions coming and stay tuned for... gulp... answers??

Sep. 05 2012 01:07 PM

Good lord I'm addicted.

When I'm pouring a large pot of boiling hot water (say, from cooking pasta) into my sink, I feel like it sounds *different* from pouring a pot of very cold water, like the hot water has less of a splashy sound and more of a velvety. Maybe I'm imagining things, but is there any truth to that? I could see temperature of the water and energy of particles as a medium for the sound wave being affected...or maybe I'm making the whole thing up.

Sep. 05 2012 12:48 PM

Oh, a few more...

1.) Connections and globalization: dust from the Sahara are carried along at high altitude and provide the mineral nutrients to the canopy of the Amazon. How else are we and other natural systems connected in invisible ways?

2.) Everyone knows that petting (say) your beloved cat or dog can calm and soothe you, as shown by self-report and physiological measures. I've also heard of recent research showing that there are physiological indications that the cat or dog does better too (I think they were looking at immune response). What about other domesticated animals - cows, horses, parrots? What about wild equivalents, like wild birds? What about plants? I once heard of a study in Japan (never saw the actual paper itself) that alleged that these similar indications of physiological benefits were shown between a person of an indigenous tribe and plants - that physical contact gave a mini boost to the health/functioning of the person, but also to the plant. Being in nature (especially with lots of plants and water, like a pond) has been shown to decrease stress and improve functioning, so does it go the other way around? To what extent?

3.) Experience shapes the brain and understanding, but as we move to a globally connected world and trend toward homogenization of culture (e.g. the rate that various languages are disappearing around the world) what else might we be losing? For example, "extra" senses (like that aboriginal community with the mental compass), literally different (or altered) modes of perception?

4.) Microbiomes! Kind of a more recent area of research, but Scientific American just did an article on it a few months ago, with all the different bacterial species in your skin, mouth, gut, etc. We have a great mutually beneficial relationship with them and they perform necessary services for us, but how do we impact them? E.g. Finding a significant other from a very different part of the world (with presumably different microbiome makeup). After having been together for a while, do your microbiomes start to be more similar? Do folks in highly international cities (e.g. NYC) have very different microbiomes from someone in a more rural, isolated, homogenous area?

5.) Bobby McFerrin has does some cool demonstrations of crowds understanding scales (see: ) What's going on there? How does that work? Is it more common in Western culture or more universal?

There's a high likelihood, by the way, that I'm just going to keep sending you questions. :)

Sep. 05 2012 12:32 PM
Adam Carr from Milwaukee, WI

Are there more or less or exactly a trillion living fish on earth?

Sep. 05 2012 12:31 PM
Sidra from Phoenix, AZ

Why are we friends? When two people meet, what is it that makes them want to meet again or go their separate ways? Do other animals have similar bonds? Is it chemical?

What's going on during deja vu?

We can point at a color and agree that it's yellow. But how do I know that what yellow looks like to me is the same as what yellow looks like to you?

What appears in the reflection of a mirror to a parallel mirror?

Are we born pre-wired for a particular language? Does a French baby pick up French more easily than a baby of English-speaking parents would?

Sep. 05 2012 12:18 PM
Alex from California

I was listening to The (Multi)Universe(s) episode when I heard Brian Greene say we can see about 42 billion lightyears in any given direction in space. How can we see that far if the universe is only supposed to be around 13.75 billion years old? If light travels at a fixed speed throught the universe, shouldn't we only be able to see around 13.75 billion lightyears?

Sep. 05 2012 12:10 PM
Brad from Virginia

I honestly would love a show about nothing.

If you look at it on an atomic level, over 99% of my body is empty space. What is separating me from the rest of space then? Why am I not passing right through the chair I'm sitting on (which is also 99% empty space) or rushing to the core of the earth?
For that matter, what is "empty" space? Particles always fly through it, so it is really empty? Is there a difference between "nothingness" and "empty space"? Like outside the universe exists "nothing", so does that mean in order for "empty space" to be "nothingness" it has to exist outside of time? If I was sent in a space suit into nothingness, could I tell a difference between it and empty space?

Does "nothing" even exist?

Sep. 05 2012 10:43 AM
Lani from Lakeland, FL

A few questions I've wondered:
1.) Body language: What are we reading? What are we communicating? What part of the brain (and how old is that part) does biological motion work? How do choreographers distill strong emotion into dance? How do liars fool us and do micro-expressions really have scientific, empirical, support? What about voice - how do we "read" and "communicate" so effectively beyond the specific words we choose?

2.) Life and death of an atom: Ok, so we are star stuff - are we all from the same group of stars? How do those atoms get from the center of a star to the water from my tap? What will happen to them when our sun turns into a red giant and swallows up the Earth? And then what after that? What will be the "death" of that atom?

3.) How are we constantly scanning our environment for important cues - what part of the brain is involved, when did that part evolve? How does a mother pick out her baby's cry amidst a sea of babies and how do we hear someone say our name from that corner, when we're in a loud room? How do we "feel" someone's eyes on us or sense a presence in the room (say, someone coming up behind you)?

4.) You can tell if someone is looking in your eyes, versus just to the side. How do we tell with such precision? When you lock eyes with someone, sometimes you feel that connection - are our heartbeats synching and brainwaves synching, or not yet? What is the basis for that preliminary feeling of connection with another?

I will probably have more, but there's a start. :) Thanks so much for doing this! I can't wait for more shows. :)

Sep. 05 2012 09:59 AM
Wendy Van W from Brussels, Belgium

The chemistry of cooking!
Why and when does hard pasta become soft? What happens when you make a bechamel sauce? When is a vegetable cooked - and what happens to it's structure? etcetcetcetcetcetc!

Sep. 05 2012 09:44 AM
Donna from Berkshire County, MA

Whenever I pass an animal in the road that has been run over (in addition to feeling at first sad) I wonder...Do you say, "That 'is' a skunk?" or "That 'was' a skunk?" That is to say, is it only the physical body that defines that skunk? If you say "that 'is' a skunk." When do make the transition to saying "That 'was' a skunk." Because at some time it really does cease to be a skunk. AND how does this extend to humans?

Sep. 05 2012 09:09 AM
Ben Eastwood from London, UK

I've always wandered where does conscience come from? Because if you look at us scientifically we are really just a load of motos and sensors and yet emotions, ideas and conscience seem to come about unlike a furby which in essence is a group of connected motors and sensors like us. So at what point are we so complex we become conscience and seem to fit the title of living and are these emotions real or are they just our sensors synthesing a feeling for survival?

Sep. 05 2012 06:24 AM
Johnathan Arriola from South Eastern Utah

What's in a zit? Some are gooey and others come out like hard bits of whatever it is. Why are they different. And why are they different in different people?

Sep. 05 2012 05:43 AM
Johnathan Arriola from South Eastern Utah

Psychology's guide book, the DSM, lists everytihing from dyslexia to sociopaths as differnt levels of disorder.
While including past versions of the book, what are some of the disorders out there that have advantages and why?

Sep. 05 2012 05:24 AM

Why is there no tuberculosis in the US even though it kills millions of people in Africa and Asia and S. America? Are American's genetically that different? We don't even bother to vaccinate!

Sep. 05 2012 03:18 AM
the conservative radiolab fan from Sioux Falls, SD

What's gonna happen to Lehrer??

I'm posting here since I know , someone on your staff will read this.

Jonah was a great guest, and is a great radio performer. It would be such a waste to dump him like everyone else is doing. Perhaps you could keep him on as a permanent sort of arrangement. The man may need an editor to double check his work; but he is still very intuitive.

Please help him, I'm sure he feels the world is crashing on top of him, he may deserve it. But he also deserve's some mercy. He is a great asset to the show and is almost as iconic to Radio Lab as Jad or Robert themselves. Seriously , PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE KEEP LERHER ON!!! Thankyou- the Conservative

Sep. 05 2012 02:03 AM
Pat from California

What's the latest on radio waves. They are definitely still around, think cell phones, wifi, satellite tv, etc...

Way back when, Lucille Ball claimed she heard radio through the fillings in her teeth. I don't think metal fillings are used any more and morse code has gone away, but not long ago I heard someone's cell phone broadcast morse code through a conference room speaker phone (I think).

I would be interested in what is going on today with radio waves.

Sep. 05 2012 12:43 AM
aek from New England

Why is there no evidence-based treatment for suicidality and its causative distressors?

It isn't listed in the DSM as a mental disorder, and all of the suicide prevention efforts are aimed at removing or restricting the means (bridge barriers, gun laws) but none address treating the causes of the distress, which are known to be hopelessness, thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness.

The national crisis hotline doesn't provide treatment or referrals, either - it simply acts as an ear to allow people with impulsivity to take the time for that urge to abate.

This explains why the biggest risk factors for completed suicides are previous attempts and hospitalizations - attempters learned from those experiences and the aftermath that there was no help for the causative unbearable distress, which in itself promotes hopelessness and despair.

Sep. 04 2012 11:47 PM
john how from Terrace, British Columbia

An optical prism will differentially bend the various-coloured components of white light into a spectrum. What happens to the coherent light of a laser that is passed through a prism? Can any thing or process cause a laser beam to disassociate into different "bundles"?

Sep. 04 2012 11:31 PM

I've heard that our heart pumps blood up, against gravity? Is this true? If so, how is that possible?

Sep. 04 2012 11:31 PM
James from Dallas, Texas, USA

What chance does man stand of surviving the next 50,000 to 1 million years? Is it possible to get out of this solar system without it taking nearly a lifetime? I know you guys did an episode on space but I really wonder how would man ever conquer the stars? In a sense they are our only salvation yet today we seem to care so little about our survival. This goes beyond space this is more like are we even contributing to mankinds future survival in anyway right now or are we just contributing to the comfort of the present? do we have it in us to make the sacrifices we need to get to a point where there isn't just one planet with all the hopes and dreams of our people? it seems pretty bleak to rely on earth I mean at any second everything could be wiped out by some huge cosmic event. While 50,000 to a million years might seem excessive in terms of the space around us it really isn't.

Sep. 04 2012 11:08 PM
Janine from Minnesota

Another one - not sure how to explain what exactly I would like discussed, but I found it very interesting that my husband had a negative reaction to the Long Island Medium lady telling a young boy that his Dad was speaking to him...from the other side (dun...dun...). My husband's statement was, "That's just wrong." I thought it was interesting because he's agnostic and sometimes Catholic and believes in things I don't believe in (I'm an atheist), but he declared that that was wrong but couldn't see how that could be so right for the right type of person, just as religion is right for the right type of person. I guess I'm not so interested in paranormal vs. religion, but just beliefs in general - where do they come from, why do we take them so personally, and why is it hard for us to view the flip side.

When I told him that it was probably what the kid needed, regardless of it being "wrong" or "right" or fake or real, etc. etc., it probably helped him move on and asked why it was so wrong? He had a hard time answering but wouldn't fully give in.

Sep. 04 2012 11:05 PM
Janine from Minnesota

Brian Greene has done a tremendous job of explaining string theory on your show. But I still don't get it. And I want to. String theory for dummies, maybe? I'm not sure it can be done, but what I wouldn't do to just get it one of these days.

Sep. 04 2012 10:56 PM
Steve from Kansas City, KS


Why does some hair seem to grow non stop, like facial hair and hair on your head, while other hair, leg and arm hair, seem to stop? What is the purpose?

Why do some forms of cancer grow hair?

Why are the locations of hair important/useful?


Sep. 04 2012 10:14 PM
Colin L. from NY

I know a few were stated before but these are the questions I'd love to hear answered, or just explored:

- Are humans self-domesticated?

- Neotenous traits in humans are always attributed with physical traits, what about the retention of behavioral traits (i.e. like how adult dogs bark yet adult wolves do not)? Is this where language came from?

- Science has dominated humankind's worldview and above all it is a proponent for curiosity (wanting to know the unknown) and doubt (disbelief of previous claim). Does this make us happier finding the answers than never knowing there were the questions?

- Is ignorance bliss?

- Is curiosity a neotenous trait?

- Was curiosity and doubt once treated as a negative attribute?

- Do we really only have five senses? What about people with broken or replaced bones that can sense it's going to rain, don't they technically have a barometer in them?

- Is telepathy real? Can anyone be telepathic? How exactly does telepathy work? And why don't we teach it in school?

- What power do our dreams have? Can we predict the future? Is this deja vu?

- What exactly is deja vu?

I think that's enough for now. Thanks for asking.

Sep. 04 2012 09:53 PM

Every year I hear more and more about polyamory and more liberal sex lives. The book Sex at Dawn actually gives some really interesting information/perspectives about how humans have been sexual in the past in sociological as well as evolutionary ways. A Radiolab episode about this would be informative, entertaining, and super hot! Pretty please??!!

Sep. 04 2012 09:32 PM
Jack from Berkeley

In the memory and forgetting episode, we learnt that memory is reconstructed every time we live it again. Are all memories created equal? Do all memories deteriorate at the same rate if they are reconstructed equally often? Do we remember the images associated with sadness and pain more than we remember those associated with happiness and love? What about the feelings themselves?

Sep. 04 2012 09:19 PM
David from New York

Here's another one:

I understand how our body knows that we're hungry. But how does it know what we're in the mood for? Why can I love Chinese food and Italian food equally, but know at a particular moment that I'd rather have Italian for dinner? And what about unnecessary foods that don't satisfy hunger, like ice cream after a big meal. How do I know that I'd rather have, say, Pralines and Cream than Rocky Road? (I wouldn't, actually, but who would really?)

I understand that we have evolved to crave fatty foods to keep us insulated from the cold, sweet foods to help put on the fat, etc. But day-to-day preferences? How on Earth do I know that I could really go for some pizza right now? (I could, actually, now that I mention it).

Is it just a gut feeling that makes me decide on one food or another? Or is there actually something in my gut that needs pepperoni right now?

Sep. 04 2012 08:38 PM


I wanted to know if you could do something on spontaneous human combustion. Also, did you listen to the radiolab I created as my 5th grade class project on spontaneous human combustion? I messaged it as an attachment on facebook. Let me know if you liked it.

Sep. 04 2012 08:22 PM

Why do tastebuds go dead when you're sad?

Sep. 04 2012 08:19 PM
sarah rose

Hi Radiolab! I just want to start by saying how much I love the show it is the best thing on the radio.
One thing that I have been wondering about is the relationship between language and how we perceive and experience the world and also how this affects our personalities and how we think about things. In the Lost and Found episode you touched on this a little bit when you interviewed Dr. Lera Boroditsky about the people in Australia who always know which way they are going and how the huge role language plays. I think it would be interesting to delve into this further. Thanks for the show!

Sep. 04 2012 08:07 PM
Carol from Chicago

Love the show.

1) Why is it that we don't hear the accent when British people sing? And when Americans sing, do British people hear it with an accent, or do Americans sound British to them when they sing? And why is that? Is it that we actually sound different, or that we hear different in music than in spoken word.

2) Also, why is it that we can remember musical things so much better than others? I can still remember every word to random songs I haven't heard in 20 years, but have trouble remember the name of friends I spent lots of time with. I can also remember something very complicated if put to song. (There's a Welsh town with an extraordinarily long name, that we learned with with a little ditty, I would never remember it if I had learned it without notes.)

Sep. 04 2012 07:36 PM
Nickie from colorado

why is it that some people can sleep like a baby while others have trouble getting any sleep at all? How does the lack of sleep affect the brain? what type of sleep disorders are out there? can acupuncture help with the disorders?

Sep. 04 2012 07:23 PM
Casey McGrath from Underwood, WA

Bubble gum. I wanna know its history what it's been made of throughout the years, who chews it and why. Kinda silly, i know but I think it would be interesting.

Sep. 04 2012 07:22 PM
Becky from Los Angeles

-Food! Cooking and altering food in an artistic way seems to be a uniquely human activity and I love that we don't just eat to survive, we play with flavors and food combinations. When did we start doing this and why? Masterful pieces of art can last centuries, but food is meant to be consumed. Why is cooking and combining flavors so pleasurable to us and why do certain foods and tastes appeal to so many people (ie- chocolate)?

-As someone who suffers from anxiety and stress, I'm very curious about positive and negative emotions and how they can effect us physically. I know there have been scientific studies done on perception and how our brain will literally view the world differently depending on our emotions-- I'd love to hear more about this and how extreme that differing perception might be. For example, there was a study done where positive and negative words changed the make-up of water molecules. Is this really possible?

- My mother and sisters are obsessed with astrology. I've always thought it was nonsense but recently I've become very interested in finding out if there might be some scientific basis to it. I don't believe astrology can predict the future, but can the time of year we're born and the alignment of the planets have an effect on who we are or our emotions?

Sep. 04 2012 06:09 PM
Rebecca Schuh from Chicagoland

You know how babies have certain features that theoretically aid them in survival by encouraging caregiver attention? Here, I am thinking of big eyes, big head, diminutive features, etc... the "cuteness factor." So, there's a lot of mammals out there with offspring that boast the same feature set (think: kittens, puppies, etc.). What, if anything, does this say about what we might share with other species regarding cuteness or beauty perception, and/or motivation?

Sep. 04 2012 06:00 PM
Rebreitz from NYC

Why do girls have hymens? Is there a biological or evolutionary reason?

Sep. 04 2012 05:55 PM
Mamudu Ikharo from Reynoldsburg, Ohio

Why are there so many things that seem to come naturally to other animals we as humans need to study to learn how not to screw up? For instance having kids was such a difficult and dangerous prospect for humans for such a long time and now we have manuals to tell us how best to do something imperative in our makeup. Is human nature just flawed in that way and we've traded things like the innate knowledge of how to care for offspring for other advantages?

Sep. 04 2012 05:31 PM
spudart from Chicago, IL

What if dirt was sentient?

Sep. 04 2012 05:29 PM
Chris J. Rock from Los Angeles

Are there universal "laws" of art like there are in science? Are there rules that we all agree must be followed for music or paintings to be of quality? Are there rules governing how we react to art in some other way?

Sep. 04 2012 05:26 PM
George from Los Angeles

I've heard over and over how conditions needed to be absolutely perfect (and how improbable it was) for life to begin and exist here on Earth. My question is "How big is the cosmic machine that sustains life on Earth?" How far out into the universe would you have to go where forces don't have an impact on us? To the edge of the solar system? To the edge of the milky way? OR is it possible that in order for life to exist here, the universe has to be infinite? All of it is one giant machine that creates... us.

Sep. 04 2012 05:26 PM

T from Canada's question 2 is pretty neat (so I'd second it), but it's something I think about not something I wonder. When I was a linguistics student we went over the experiments that proved not all thought is verbal--rotating images in your head, etc. Things that you can't quite get into grammatical phrases because the grammar structure in your working memory breaks under the load. Those were pretty fun experiments to think about and do.

My own interest was on the perception of foreign accents--not quite the foreign accents themselves, but what made a person sound "Spanish" or "Russian." In other words, something more to do with stereotyping and perception. Which makes me wonder about Foreign Accent Syndrome, which is the thing where a person wakes up from a brain injury with a "foreign" accent. Have they puzzled out the different bits of that yet? (I had my own theories, of course.)

Sep. 04 2012 05:19 PM
Jon Loldrup from Copenhagen

Yes, why do people so often come up with strawmen when there having a discussion with me. It's as if the have an unconscious desire to just JUMP to conclusions. sigh

Sep. 04 2012 05:16 PM
Tom Wright from York (Old)

When you're watching theatre is anything happening differently neurologically from when you're watching cinema? Let's pretend that it's *really* good theatre so the answer isn't 'You get bored and can't eat popcorn.' But does being in the same room as someone create a different effect? Are there body language, pheromone, temperature cues you might pick up on? Does the brain respond differently when it knows something is recorded as opposed to live in front of them?(No pressure, but my career as a theatre director depends on your answer!)

Sep. 04 2012 05:14 PM
Chris J. Rock from Los Angeles, CA

What if science was different? Could the laws of physics, for example, be different, but consistent laws? Have they been different? Will they be different? What if they were different?

Is it good to be bad? Assuming we evolved them for a reason, what roles do "good" and "evil" behaviors play? Is it more profitable to be good or evil? Why do we have the power to discern between them? Why do we associate certain states with goodness or badness? Happiness, innocence, rage and obsession have positive and negative associations tied to them even though their value to us depends entirely on our context. How do different cultures judge different emotional states?

How is an idea communicated between 2 minds? Can we rely on words as a means of reproducing an idea in different minds? How do other mediums of communication compare to each other? What are the mechanisms at play when communicating ideas (technical in terms of linguistic or nervous, and mental in terms of how we interpret and generate thoughts)? Would we benefit from a more direct means of copying ideas between minds or is society improved by the variation of thoughts that come with misunderstanding and disagreement?

How do thoughts or self-confidence actually influence one's actions or physical limitations?

Do animals have religion? How do animals perceive reality? How might aliens perceive reality?

Sep. 04 2012 05:14 PM

Was driving back from Nebraska last weekend - and it was raining, first rain in many, many, many weeks - the highway was littered with toads and of course being the highway "parts" - there were hundreds, it went on for miles - I tried to straddle them, You could feel them decapitate when they hopped as I passed over - it really was "end of days"..... Migration? Survival Instinct? (Drowning)?

Sep. 04 2012 05:11 PM
Graham from Portland, OR, USA

What was it like--the emotional/spiritual/etc reaction--when the artistic concept of perspective discovered? Did it flatten (ha ha) the artist? Were their eyes suddenly opened with an "ah ha" moment? Or was it just a technical problem artists couldn't figure out how to render?

Follow up: How do you "discover" something that we all walk around living with? Is it the kind of thing you don't know you know until you try to replicate or explain it?

So curious...

Sep. 04 2012 05:11 PM
Julie from Los angeles

Im interested in a show on perfect pitch. I have perfect pitch, and it fascinates me to discuss how that affects the way I relate to the world and how I experience sound in comparison to how others do. Most people I've spoken with who share this phenomenon see colors when they hear a note. I feel the vibration in my neck. I've played the violin practically since birth, so I'm sure it's related to that. But if I experience sound tactilely, and others visually, do some people taste or smell sound? And does this in turn affect the way I feel things, as those two senses are intertwined for me, or how someone who sees sound, do they experience visuals sonically?

Sep. 04 2012 05:10 PM
T from Canada

I love radiolab and have three questions for you.
1. I always wondered about David from New York's question. It kind of reminds me of that finger trap toy where the harder you pull the harder it is to get your fingers out.
2. I know (from personal experience) that you think in a language and you can think in a different language as well. English is my first language. But I can think in French. However, if my thoughts become too complicated, my brain switches to English so quickly I don't know what happened in between. So happens when a young child can't think in a language because they don't have a large enough vocabulary? Do they think in no language? Can they think about it at all?
3. Everyone know saying like "a gut feeling" or "my heart broke" and other things like that. Do they have a basis in actual medicine? How did they come about? Are these things universal across humans? Or just arbitrary?
Thank-you! love to hear back if you have time.

Sep. 04 2012 05:09 PM
Christina from Oregon

How does time work outside of Earth? How do we measure life spans of other celestial bodies in years when a year is relative to our rotation around the sun? Is time just about us?

Sep. 04 2012 05:05 PM
Evan Samek from Marseille, France

Wow, so many possibilities!

1. John Boyd's OODA loop (military) and how it applies in our daily life in situations where we become experts at something. In other words, the nature of expertise.

2. How 'tinkering' becomes more difficult with the miniaturization of electronics (and electrification of drive trains in cars). We have a growing distance between us and the technology we use on a daily basis. Ways to close those gaps.

3. The nature of curiosity. What is it, how does it come about, and why did it kill the cat?

4. Chopsticks vs. Hands vs. Silverware. How did we decide how we eat?

5. Ideas remixed... further examples how mundane concepts from certain disciplines totally transformed other subjects when applied in the new context.

6. Ben Franklin's Glass Armonica and other obscure musical instruments that had their day in the (18th Century) spotlight.

Sep. 04 2012 05:01 PM
Jessie from Wild West Nebraska

Why do some artists attract enormous critical acclaim followed by similarly enormous critical disdain? Two examples: Peter Frampton and M. Knight Shamalayan.

I suspect their art is no "worse"-- rather I suspect it is some sort of contagious social "crowd" shift of critical/audience opinions and attitudes.

Sep. 04 2012 04:59 PM
Deborah Shepherd from Phoenix, arizona

I work with patients with whom I frequently discuss terminal brain cancer diagnoses, treatments, prognosis, etc. Patients frequently feel like they may be "the one" outlier that is cured from their disease. Is there any support to the idea that hope is neurochemical or biological? Or is it human nature? Or something more?

Sep. 04 2012 04:55 PM
Raina from Queens, NY

How can parenting be both so rewarding and so frustrating?

Sep. 04 2012 04:54 PM
Bruce Davenport from Cramlington, Northumberland, UK

Years ago, I worked in a local art museum. A lot of the time I did object handling sessions with young children using contemporary craft objects. The question, which still interests me, is what was going on inside the child in the moment when I put a precious object quite unlike anything they'd ever encountered before into their hands and encouraged them to explore it.

Sep. 04 2012 04:51 PM
Jon Mizrachi from New York, NY

This video is just about the most fascinating and simultaneously baffling thing I have ever encountered:

It talks about error correcting computer codes which were found in the theoretical equations related to string theory. Since these codes are meant to explain the universe, it suggests that perhaps there is some sort of correlation between the natural world and the computer world. Maybe it is evidence that the universe is a computer generated mirage just like in "The Matrix". Or maybe someone forgot to carry the one.

I am not really sure about how real this is since it's all conveniently buried in complex theoretical equations, but nonetheless I think it would be a fascinating for Radiolab to discuss and dissect. Also, the potential for bloopy sound effects is considerable.

Sep. 04 2012 04:47 PM
kk from at home where is comfy

Hello, wots up and finally :D
i.v got few ?s

-why my friend Florance looks(physical features) pretty similar as her grandmother when they are not blood related, her granny infact isn't her biological granny, there is biological influence?

-you know this moments, when engaging a conversation with a friend, in the back of your mind you think of something and your friend in the next instant or so responds or says something related to this- you.v back-thought, out of the blue...
... so is there unconscious influence or link between two people in private situation? (and this is related to situations(thoughts/responses) that are not due to the environment influence, where the two persons are)

-is Placebo part of our natural mechanism for directional mutation?

Sep. 04 2012 04:42 PM
Sarah from Ann Arbor, MI

We would love a show about drinking and being drunk.

Sep. 04 2012 04:40 PM
Sandra from NYC


Let's hear your take on astrology! Ehat are planetary retrogrades, ascending/ descending signs and how is time and humanity tied to it?

Sep. 04 2012 04:39 PM
Johan from Stockholm from Stockholm

Why do we fall in love in a particular person and how does it work? This most wonderful and painful thing in life. How does biology contribute? Some say that Pheromones passing through our nose play a role in helping us find a DNA match. If DNA is key, does that also explain why some say they are attracted to a certain kind of look? What role does values and personalities play? Is it less than most might think or more?

If we learn this, could it even help us find true love? Could it help the doubting one to know if to stay or to leave, knowing what to look for and what to exclude?

Thank's for an awesome show by the way!

/ Johan

Sep. 04 2012 04:38 PM

Why do people vote against their own interests?

Sep. 04 2012 04:35 PM
Elisavet Christou

When I'm traveling by plane does the space around me exist as an actual space? Is then the space around me more relevant to time than usual?

Sep. 04 2012 04:33 PM
Tanja from Oslo, Norway

I have epilepsy and is curious about what happens to the brain when I have a seizure, before and after the seizure I am disoriented and do not trust reality and believe I am somewhere else and have visions. so the other question is also what happens to the brain in other extremes such as "out of body" experience and meditative/spiritual or near death when it seems we are in an alternate reality? I am an artist and have for many years been working with the theme liminality with my drawings, and so my dream come true would be if you guys made a show about liminality ;)

Sep. 04 2012 04:27 PM
Maggi from Missouri

Se people say all the best things in their life happen by accident, they stumbled into the best job or husband whatever. Other says charge full steam ahead at your goals and hope and make them happen. Is reaching your goals and future happen or made?

Sep. 04 2012 04:24 PM
Laurenz from Austria

We experience four dimensions. Three geometrical, one temporal. Maybe there are no more dimensions; according to string theory there are. But what if one of these additional dimensions was temporal, rather than geometrical. What would be the nature of time if we actually live in more temporal dimensions? (I stole that question from the movie Mr. Nobody, haha.)

Sep. 04 2012 04:18 PM
Andreea Vrabie

I've been reading many books about the creative process, and almost everybody attributes it to the the state of being curious. But this is not an explanation in itself, at least not for me. I've been looking for books or papers that study curiosity, but I haven't been able to find any meaningful ones. So, my question is: what is curiosity? We are all born with it, but we lose it more or less during our adolescence. How do you nurture it? And how do you go about studying it? Be it a psychological, or a neuroscientific approach. Thanks for your awesome work.

Sep. 04 2012 04:17 PM
Chris Allison from Atlanta, GA

Do dreams really mean anything? Are there identified patterns, causes, or primary systems of thought about how to interpret dreams?

Sep. 04 2012 04:13 PM
Catherine from Minneapolis, MN

First off, I love Radiolab! I love how you all come up with stuff that I would never even dream of asking!

Have you done an episode about siblings? I listened to a very interesting segment on Science Friday about siblings, but all the "subjects" were typical siblings. What about not typical siblings (one has a disability, mental illness, significant age difference, etc).

And being the parent of a three year old, an early childhood development topic would be really interesting.

Oh, and dreams. I have always had very vivid dreams (it came to me as a shock that not everyone dreams in color) and as an adult I started taking an SSRI, which has a side effect of vivid dreams. I've gotten used to it now, but I would be curious to learn more about dreaming and the effects of drugs on dreams (specifically prescription drugs.)

Sep. 04 2012 04:12 PM
Sarah from Richmond, VA

I've always wondered why we cry, specifically, why do tears come from our eyes when we're very sad? And why do some people cry more than others? And why when some men say they "cried very hard" what that means is that 2 or 3 teardrops fell, and not a cup full as when I sob (I'm a woman)?

Mucus is another topic, more related to tears than one might think: it is the only other substance that I can think of that our bodies produce exclusively under a specific circumstance that exits from the body. (Blood when one is cut does not count, to my thinking.) Why do our noses run? Wherefore art thou, snot?

Sep. 04 2012 04:11 PM
Doug T. from NY

My question is simple: What can be done to bring about more empathy in the world?

Sep. 04 2012 04:07 PM
Elizabeth Ann Duffy from Scotland

Something I've always wondered - did our brains change at all when we developed written communication? I know there was a massive shift in culture, but what went on in the grey matter?

Sep. 04 2012 04:03 PM
Tim from Tokyo

What is deja vu? We've all experienced it before, and often attribute it to some mystical force at work in the universe. But it is merely a neurological glitch, kind of like a brain hiccup? I read somewhere it happens when new information gets processed by the wrong neurons, triggering a memory reflex. The converse phenomenon, jamais vu, is also intriguing. What makes us feel that a familiar object or person is totally unfamiliar? How well understood are these phenomena? Keep up the great work!

Sep. 04 2012 04:03 PM
Eric S.

How do very young children understand science?

Here's a question that my 4-year-old laid on me in the car the other day: "Why do rivers have rocks at the bottom?" Try answering that for a kid that age, I didn't know if the answer he needed was "because rocks don't float," or something else. I started to tell him about how shifting continents formed the mountains where we live, but he quickly cut me off and said, "If I were God, I would put rapids everywhere in the rivers."

Sep. 04 2012 03:58 PM

When is a child no longer a child? Aside from age, and life milestones, what makes a child an adult, a parent, or a grandparent? The death of a parent -- or grandparent? Can we all be the children of our parents forever?

Love you guys. Best stuff on the radio!

Sep. 04 2012 03:57 PM
Nikki Sylianteng from New York, NY

Can we make teleportation possible? I've read that it's impossible because you'd have to die (disassemble) in one spot and reassemble in another.

I'm interested in making a Feeling Chip. Putting yourself in someone else's shoes is not always easy, no matter how much you want to understand, sometimes you can't really ever understand what someone else is going through / how someone else really feels. A long time ago, I read this piece in one of those giant books Reader's Digest used to come out with, that when you die, you go through your whole life in fast forward and you feel everything you've made other people feel. For some reason, that always stuck with me. I think it was a piece on near death experiences, and I think the book was on the "Bizarre but True" or something like that. More recently, I've wondered whether there was a way to somehow transfer your feelings to someone else so they can truly understand. I'm imagining it could be used in the medical field so doctors can better assess symptoms and patients can better "communicate" them.

Sep. 04 2012 03:56 PM
Michael Rasmussen

We've all heard of "fight or flight." But what about the third F option, freeze? Where is the research, the thoughts surrounding freezing? It is easily observable in animals that rely on camouflage. Their initial response is to stay hidden until that choice isn't viable. It is semi-visible in procrastinators. Surely there are other human situations where freezing is a response.

What can you dig up on this?

Sep. 04 2012 03:56 PM
Luisa from Los Angeles

Do you think there is a correlation between our advances in technology and the increasing depression and anxiety rates? Is there truth to the theory of depression as evolutionarily beneficial, and if so, has society outgrown the need for this adaptation while the human species itself has not evolved into creatures fit for the civilization it has created.

I actually began thinking about these things when I first heard the "Lucy" story. The fact that Lucy was able to learn enough about how to be "human" that she could not successfully live in the wild anymore made me wonder how well we truly live in modern society (increasing mental health issues suggests that perhaps we don't do "civilization" very well, though, we obviously don't do wilderness so well anymore either). Has our technology advanced beyond our own evolution?

I hope all that makes sense.

Love Radiolab so very much. Thanks for making it.

Sep. 04 2012 03:56 PM
Xiaohan from Seattle

I'll do you guys a favor and only ask two of the billion questions I have!

1. I understand that not all thoughts require speech/sound, but when we speak to ourselves we "hear" ourselves in our minds, which leads me to the question, how do people who are deaf speak to themselves in their minds? How do they "speak" to themselves?

2. How effective is the placebo effect? Would we be better off taking sugar pills for every ailment? If so, how can we harness the power of the placebo effect and/or train people to remove the perception of the expensive "treatments" that could have otherwise been cured by our own minds?

Sep. 04 2012 03:55 PM
Kaet from New York

I find myself having very realistic dreams where my sensory experiences are so sensitive, I think its real. I can hear someone's voice ringing in my head, I can feel the rattle of bombs blowing up behind me. For me, it becomes less about a projection of my subconscious and more a curiosity regarding multi-verse scenarios. If every action we take causes a different timeline in our lifetime, could these realistic dreams that we have in our primary life be an indicator of a passageway into a parallel world? Could the people we converse with in our dreams, people we've never met, exist on a different plane of our reality?

Sep. 04 2012 03:54 PM
Jim from Pennsylvania

What is fire? As I firefighter, I know the standard answer about chemical chain reactions, heat, and light. But what IS fire? It is something we all know it when we see it, we've felt it, we used it as a tool. But what is it? How did we tame it so many years ago. But as a firefighter, I know we've never fully controlled it. We see the tragic effects when it is uncontrolled. So, what is fire? The history of fire too.

Love the show!

Sep. 04 2012 03:52 PM
Shawn from New Zealand via Colorado

As an American living abroad, I've always wondered why Americans appear to be so jingoistic?

Is it our culture, our education? As a nation dominated by Christians, shouldn't that mean the majority of our population should be trying to remain humble?

I know this applies to many nationalities, but us yankees seem to revel in it.

Anyway ... An American Jingo ... thats the show I'd like to listen to.


Sep. 04 2012 03:51 PM
Shawn from New Zealand via Colorado

As an American living abroad, I've always wondered why Americans appear to be so jingoistic?

Is it our culture, our education? As a nation dominated by Christians, shouldn't that mean the majority of our population should be trying to remain humble?

I know this applies to many nationalities, but us yankees seem to revel in it.

Anyway ... An American Jingo ... thats the show I'd like to listen to.


Sep. 04 2012 03:50 PM
Marie from Portland, ME

I discovered, quite by accident, that bell peppers (green ones in particular, I think) will spark and light on fire in the microwave. In reporting the phenomenon to my husband, I said that there must be some sort of metallic component to peppers that causes the spark. He assures me that is impossible, and then tried the experiment himself, and let the poor veggie spark until it almost caught on fire! He believes me now that it happens, but thinks there must be a more logical explanation than metal. We are both stumped and huge Radiolab fans. Please help us find the answer to this mystery!

Sep. 04 2012 03:50 PM
Josh from Dallas

Daniel Wegner's _The Illusion of Conscious Will_ describes some neurological experiments that suggest that free will is an illusion because the mental process that results in action occurs *before* the conscious thought that leads to the action - i.e. that action and idea to act are a product of something else that's not understood.

I'd love to hear about the current state of these ideas, get some insight into how it all works, and some exploration of people who are affected by the issues.

Sep. 04 2012 03:50 PM
Rodan from Venice, CA

JEALOUSY - Where does it live in the Brain? Why is it such a powerful and all consuming emotion? Has it been studied? Has anyone devised an experiment to see it in the Brain while it occurs? Why does it exists? What purpose does it serve? Is it Darwinian? Does it fuel such a burning resentment as to drive our competitive nature? Does it serve some other purpose? Was it essential to our early ancestors survival? Does it fuel the race for the Alpha?

Sep. 04 2012 03:49 PM
K from NY

How can I be in love with a dead woman?

Sep. 04 2012 03:49 PM
Colin from Edmonton, AB

It would be very interesting to shed some light on the latest scientific research on DMT and other psychadelic drugs, and the effect it has on the person. I would absolutely love to hear a radiolab episode dedicated to consciousness, the mind's eye, ect... I realize this is also somewhat of a taboo subject, but I feel that radiolab could pull it off very well.

Sep. 04 2012 03:49 PM
Keith from Minneapolis

How does identity shape how we think? For example, a lot of Americans vote with their "tribe" (Democrat, Republican) regardless of practical considerations of how the policies of each party will affect them. Or religious faith, as when people say "I am a Christian [or Muslim, etc.]," and automatically believe what their "tribe" believes. Does a *lack* of a stable identity drive people to become the center of attention at any price, e.g. mass shootings? What about Buddhist enlightenment, when the conscious self falls away, and one lives directly in the world, without perspective or preferences?

Thanks, and keep up the good work!

Sep. 04 2012 03:48 PM
Jon from Milwaukee

Sexual attraction, what's that about? Male/female, straight/gay. Anything & everything in between.

As a straight male, why do I always look when there's a beautiful woman walking by (which happens a lot in the Summer)? They're all the same (just another beautiful woman), but I have to look ... and I always appreciate.

Seriously … what's going on there?

Sep. 04 2012 03:48 PM
Chelsea from Venice, CA

Cosmology: How big is the universe, really? Does it keep going on forever and ever? If so, how do we even wrap our minds around that? How can something have no end? And if it has an end, what's past the end? If nothing, what exactly is nothing? (mindbender!)

Neuroscience: Why do humans see meaning and patterns where there are none? What about the brain makes us so inclined to put a story and meaning to things that are essentially random and meaningless?

Faith/Reason: What is the value of faith, versus a view of the universe/world/life that requires evidence before belief? Is faith as a virtue an asset to humanity?

Love: What is love? Is it a feeling? An emotion? A relationship? An ideal? Does everyone fall in love at some point in their lifetime?

Sexuality: Why is homosexuality increasing in the 21st century? Is it a result of more openness in society/culture, or more homosexuals? Does sexuality exist on a spectrum or do people fall into certain categories (homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, etc)? Are some people asexual, and if so is that a result of experience (e.g. early trauma) or biology?

Sep. 04 2012 03:47 PM

Being from an African country where atheism is a completely alien concept; and having studied and lived in North America in a society where creationism is often ridiculed, i have often wondered the following:

If we got here by evolution and our universe has nothing to do with a "God" entity; is religion quite simply the most monumental fraud in history? If it's indeed the opium of the masses, then who first concocted it? Are billions of people around the world wasting their time hoping for an eternal reward that might be non-existent?

Sep. 04 2012 03:45 PM
David from New York

Okay, this is one that I think about a lot:

It sometimes happens that we can't recall a piece of information we really do know: a person's name, a phone number, why we walked into this room just now, the famous actor from that movie, etc. I'm not talking about esoteric trivia or things learned long ago. I mean things that we knew yesterday and will know tomorrow, and sometimes knew just a minute go. But for whatever reason we can't remember it right now.

We think really hard, trying to recall the answer. "Oh, what was that guy's name? I know it. I went to high school with him and I saw his name just a minute ago. What the heck was it?" We spend a few minutes in frustration. And then suddenly out of nowhere, we shout, "Tom Franklin! His name is Tom Franklin!" and are overcome with relief.

My question: What the hell changed between a second earlier, when I couldn't remember Tom Franklin's name (or whoever), and just a second later, when Tom Franklin's name is as easy to recall as my own name? I didn't look him up. I didn't do any research. I didn't scan my list of Facebook friends. My brain just went "I don't know; I don't know; I don't know; I don't know; I don't know; Tom Franklin."

So what's happening there? And how can I *force* it to happen when I need it to?

Sep. 04 2012 03:45 PM

There is so much research telling us that things are good for us. No, wait, they're bad! No, sorry, we were wrong, they're good for you. How do I know what isn't going to kill me?

Sep. 04 2012 03:43 PM
Patrick Ryan from Richmond, VA

I've heard it said that political conservatives have brains with bigger fear centers than political liberals. What's the science behind this? What comes first? Do the political views cause the size of the fear center or the opposite? Can brain scans then predict the political views of an individual? If political views do have something to do with our biology, is there hope for better tolerance of views other than our own? Or will discovery of a correlation between brain wiring and political views cause even more tribalism inside the political arena?

Sep. 04 2012 03:43 PM
Ella from Madison, Wisconsin

Is there an objective reality or does each individual create their own subjective reality? (The same question could be asked for truth)

Sep. 04 2012 03:42 PM
Liz from Washington, DC

Why do some people exhibit creative genius (or even talent) at an early age, while others bloom later in life?

Why do some people learn most easily by doing, others by watching, others by reading or listening?

Can creative ability be forced/cultivated, or is it really innate?

Will printed books really disappear?

Sep. 04 2012 03:42 PM
Mari from Norway

What colour is the universe? I've heard somewhere that it supposedly is beige, but is this correct? And if that is the case, how is it possible that it even has a colour?

Sep. 04 2012 03:39 PM
Brian from Minneapolis, MN

light — electricity — magnetism — gravity

all are related to the other in some way, and we all 'understand' them on some level, but do we really Understand them?

what is the binding force between these 'mystical' phenomenon? are they all the same thing, just in different states? different 'angles'?

can you shed any light or find those at the forefront in understanding how these things work [in concert]?

always good to hear what y'all come up with.

i'll be listening—

Sep. 04 2012 03:39 PM
Katie from England

Out of everthing that is going on around us how does the brain decide what to attend to? How much of attention is under conscious control? How much DON'T we see/hear/feel? How do we ignore things?

Sep. 04 2012 03:38 PM
Andy from East Lansing, Mich.

Okay, this is nothing mind-blowing, but: Every winter I notice that auto exhaust really stinks. But in the summer, when it's warmer, I don't smell it. I can't remember if it's diesels specifically or just all exhaust, but I'll remember when it gets cold in a couple of months. Ever notice this? What's going on there? Thanks!

Sep. 04 2012 03:33 PM
Pierce from Scottsdale, AZ

Infrastructure - from pipes to electrical wires to roads, and everything else.
How does infrastructure affect our lives?
At what point does our current infrastructure begin to fail and we have to replace the old wiring and the corroding pipes and the pot-hole roads?
How much will it take to completely revamp the infrastructure of the US?
How are some communities surviving with minimal or no infrastructure?

Sep. 04 2012 03:33 PM
Ian Leslie from London, UK

Why do people get curious about things?

Sep. 04 2012 03:32 PM

Cognitive dissonance

Sep. 04 2012 03:29 PM
Emily from France

Please please please do a show about dark energy (what it might be, its presumed impacts on the universe, etc...)
Also, I second the question about early childhood memories.
Keep the incredible podcasts coming, guys! Love them all!

Sep. 04 2012 02:59 PM
NEill from nyc

What if there is a god?

Who are the happiest creatures and why??

Does every other animal nap and why?

Why are the beatles so good??

If reincarnation is real, who is Jesus?

What does sex do to the ego? Doe sit abolish the ego (cause your merging with someone else) or does it boos the ego?

Is there a death drive (see freud)

Sep. 04 2012 01:50 PM
Jennifer from Hamilton, Ontario

Red wine vs. white wine. Is it just the tannins that give me headaches and night sweats after only a glass or two? Or is there something else in the grape skins that lead to this? Why do I not see these effects after drinking white wine, or gin, or Manhattans?

Memories--first memories. What can children remember from when they were 3 or 4? Why don't memories start earlier? (have you done this already?)

Weird and quirky monuments to things, eras, people. (I'm sure they're out there)

Performance-enhancing drugs. We know they're out there, what is the science, what are the stories behind the doping?

I could go on and on. . . Love you guys!

Sep. 04 2012 12:44 PM
Sonya from Vancouver

Social phobia...why does it affect some people more than others?

Sep. 04 2012 12:27 PM

Guys, these are great questions! Keep 'em coming. We're excited to start trolling through, and finding answers. Rock on.

Sep. 04 2012 10:54 AM

I'd love to listen to a show about speaking to god(s); exploring the brains of prophets and mad men. I've heard of naturally-occuring chemicals in the brain like DMT that can cause the feeling of speaking to a higher power, people with epilepsy who believe they are gods because of the way their brains cope with their seizures. I guess this isn't so much a specific question but some interesting things I'd love to hear you guys research and discuss.

Sep. 04 2012 10:01 AM

We hear a lot today about "normal" families, but there is a whole subculture of people in open relationships that also seem very happy. Are people meant to be monogamous? What do our brains say about it and how much of this answer is determined by biology vs society? Thanks!

Sep. 04 2012 09:55 AM
Lucy from London

Why does putting your foot outside of the blanket work so well at cooling you down on a warm night?

Sep. 04 2012 08:02 AM

I was talking to a friend while camping this weekend and got on the topic of prions. I was instantly fascinated by the idea of this stange protein floating around in our brains. I guess my question is why would our body not be able to ingest the same protein that our own body produces from another animal without well...dying!

Sep. 04 2012 02:40 AM
Ana Roselle from Philippines

What causes fear? What (positive and negative) effects do fear have on ones body and mind? Is it possible to die instantaneously because of fear? I saw an article back in 2010 about a woman who is unable to feel fear. I was wondering what happened to her. How did her condition affected her life? Would losing fear also affect ones morality? What would a world without fear be like?

Sep. 04 2012 01:48 AM
Vladimir Sanchez from San Francisco

My question is regarding learning different languages. Why is it that some persons can catch a second, third or fourth language with not much problem, while other battle so hard with that.
My daughter is bilingual and sometimes is funny when I realize I am speaking to her in Spanish and she's answering back in English and we have been talking that way for 5 minutes. Sometimes I catch myself thinking in English and answering in Spanish, or viceversa.
Is there any brain connectivity difference between people who speaks only 1 language and multi-lingual people?


Sep. 04 2012 01:48 AM
John Clevdence from Seville Ohio

My son and I noticed and wondered why....If You watch a real funny show and someone is watching it with you,you will openly laugh louder and much more then if you are watching it yourdelf....why is that

Sep. 04 2012 01:08 AM
Rick from New Jersey

Is it possible to be truely, 100% healthy?

Is it possible for a human being to be "perfect". Can we know for sure what makes a persons body/mind flawless?

Sep. 04 2012 12:04 AM
Emma from Durham, NC

Tom Cruise in MI3 acts like he has the most boring job as a traffic analyst... but I'm legitimately fascinated! What are the dynamics of traffic flow? How do people calculate traffic signal timing to expedite traffic flow -- and why doesn't it always work? Could society get rid of traffic by changing driving behaviors? Or changing city planning or road conditions?

Sep. 03 2012 11:24 PM

What was the first person who ever milked a cow and/or drank the milk of another animal thinking? Baby animal X makes it look good, so now I want to try it? And which came first - the domesticated for some other purpose animal that people then started milking, or the animal that produced tasty milk so people worked to domesticate it? I can't imagine that it's the latter for logistical reasons, though the mental image of hunters running down wild cattle to try to milk them is pretty great.

Why do we seem to be innately interested in other animals? Little kids love investigating living things. I can see how evolution could promote domestic dogs (hunting help/protection) or cats (pest control), but children being interested in all living things seems potentially maladaptive.

When people are born without one of the five senses but later have that sense given to them for the first time, how is their mind blown? I'm mostly thinking about being bestowed with sight later in life (there are charities that do congenital cataract surgery in developing countries), since I feel like that's the sense that I could most "replace" with another sense. It seems like blind people build a representation of their world through their sense of touch, but if they've never seen before, what does that representation "look" like, and how does it compare to the real world? When we say something is sharp, and we can feel that something is sharp, but we've never seen sharp, does sharp look like what we'd expect?

Sep. 03 2012 11:10 PM
Nickie from Colorado

How does Chocolate Affect Your Brain and what neurotransmitters are involved in the process? Is there a way to break the chocolate habit?


Sep. 03 2012 10:41 PM
Jessica from Pittsburgh, PA

1. Are some tastes/smells universally bad, or is that something that's learned? For example - if I never scrunched up my nose or said "Ew" or "stinky" while changing a baby's diaper, or while taking out the garbage in front of the kid - and nobody had these reactions in front of the child, either - is it possible that he/she would they come to the conclusion that these were neutral, or perhaps even good smells?

2. What's the difference, in the brain, between someone who's really squeamish and someone who seems not to be bothered by sights/smells/sounds that bother others?

3. Is anyone studying the genetics of hazel eye color? I want to know what scientists are thinking right now about how it occurs.

Sep. 03 2012 09:11 PM
Jess Taylor from UK

Would the world be better or worse without religion? Why do teeneagers feel the need to rebel? Why do men have nipples :P ? Why are people fat? What is dark matter/ higgs boson/ quantum theory (e.g. Physics made easy to understand!) , unexplained signals from space e.g. the WOW signal,

Sep. 03 2012 09:03 PM
missy from seattle, wa

What causes chronic pain?

Sep. 03 2012 07:13 PM
Jesse Quattro from Brooklyn

I've often wondered. Why does the heart and chest actually hurt when you're terribly sad, or terribly in love, or terribly distraught.
I assume there are certain chemicals and hormones flying around....but why does it hurt in the heart?

Sep. 03 2012 05:59 PM
David Ploskonka from Ohio

Time travel.

Do a show on time travel.

Sep. 03 2012 05:29 PM
Scott from Pennsylvania

1) Are all religions really the same? 2) Why do we cry when we see compassion? 3) Why can some people draw and others can't? 4)If Einstein's theory of relativity in how mass is energy and does not die but is simply transformed into new energy is true, where does that energy go when we die?

Sep. 03 2012 05:27 PM
Angel Rodriguez from San Antonio TX

Is Déjà vu real? How can the feeling of "knowing" an event happened be so real? Is there a scientific explanation?

Sep. 03 2012 02:37 PM
Ernie from Pittsburgh, PA

I have a couple of questions, actually:

1. What is physically different in the brain of someone who meditates v. someone who never mediates. Or maybe a three-way-comparison between a Buddhist monk who meditates for hours and hours every day, a casual mediator (someone a listener could realistically become) and someone who never meditates.

2. Every day, thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of image macros and memes are created. Why? What makes these people do what they do, for no recognition? No payment. Nothing. Minutes after a major news story, there are hundreds of memes posted to sites like Reddit, Tumblr, 4chan, YouTube, ect. Why?

3. Eye witness accounts are unreliable because everyone in a room full of people experience the events happening in that room differently. A murder could happen in the room, and some might say it happened in self defense, some might say it was out of no where, some might describe the killer as black, others white. I assume this is because everyone has lived a life and the combined experiences of that life cause them to view the world (slightly?) differently than everyone else. Could this be expanded upon? I'm sure studies have been done, and I would like to know about the topic.

4. A lot of people become uncomfortable when reminded that humans are animals. Why? Just the other day I mentioned to a friend that we are animals, and she disagreed. I said "there are chimps, gorillas, and humans" We're all primates, and we're all animals. She couldn't disagree, but, she didn't like to think about it and the thought made her so uncomfortable she changed the subject. What is it that makes people think this way? Also, when did humans start thinking of themselves differently?

Sep. 03 2012 01:55 PM
Elizabeth from Puerto Rico

Does 'acceptance' change the outcome of being diagnosed with a serious disease?

Sep. 03 2012 01:20 PM
Nic from Washington DC

Ok, my questions are about orgasms. To begin with- is there a functional purpose to them. I'm a nursing student and so far I've learned that almost every aspect of our body has a function and purpose- even eye lashes. But do orgasms have a purpose/function? And IF they really are just to bind us, through oxytocin, to someone, then why does that only rarely happen? And what about masturbation- am I bonding myself to myself ??!
Lastly- why is it that some orgasms are so intense that they actually hurt my brain?!! I don't know how to explain it other than to say that sometimes they are just too intense and it feels like a stab deep in the middle of the brain- so my question is, what is actually happening with my neurons on a chemical level to cause that pain??!

I know this is a taboo subject, but I hope you will take the questions seriously!

Sep. 03 2012 01:17 PM

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