The Disappearing Spoon: a science history podcast with Sam Kean podcast

The Disappearing Spoon: a science history podcast with Sam Kean

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  Sam Kean  

A topsy-turvy science-y history podcast by Sam Kean. I examine overlooked stories from our past: the dental superiority of hunter-gatherers, the crooked Nazis who saved thousands of American lives, the American immigrants who developed the most successful cancer screening tool in history, the sex lives of dinosaurs, and much, much more. These are charming little tales that never made the history books, but these small moments can be surprisingly powerful. These are the cases where history gets inverted, where the footnote becomes the real story.

A topsy-turvy science-y history podcast by Sam Kean. I examine overlooked stories from our past: the dental superiority of hunter-gatherers, the crooked Nazis who saved thousands of American lives, the American immigrants who developed the most successful cancer screening tool in history, the sex lives of dinosaurs, and much, much more. These are charming little tales that never made the history books, but these small moments can be surprisingly powerful. These are the cases where history gets inverted, where the footnote becomes the real story.

 

#90

How the “Worst Serial Killer in Holland’s History” Went Free

Patient after patient died under the care of a single nurse in Holland. So why did so many statisticians think Lucia de Berk was innocent? Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

09 Apr 2024

20 MINS

20:58

09 Apr 2024


#89

The Eclipse that Killed a King

Rama IV of Siam (from the “King and I” musical) used an eclipse to save his kingdom from greedy colonial powers. But it cost him his own life in the end. Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

02 Apr 2024

19 MINS

19:33

02 Apr 2024


#88

When Generosity Turns Pathological

One Brazilian man’s brain damage transformed him into a selfless giver. So why did he infuriate so many people—and what does his case say about the biological roots of generosity? Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

26 Mar 2024

18 MINS

18:46

26 Mar 2024


#87

The Sex-Cult “Antichrist” Who Rocketed Us to Space (part 2)

Jack Parsons was a devil-worshipping FBI rat who led a sex cult and was bosom buddies with L. Ron Hubbard. He was also one of the most important rocket scientists in history. (Episode 2 of 2) Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

19 Mar 2024

21 MINS

21:47

19 Mar 2024


#86

The Sex-Cult “Antichrist” Who Rocketed Us to Space (part 1)

Jack Parsons was a devil-worshiping FBI rat who led a sex cult and was bosom buddies with L. Ron Hubbard. He was also one of the most important rocket scientists in history. (Episode 1 of 2) Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

12 Mar 2024

19 MINS

19:43

12 Mar 2024


#85

Don't Drink the Milk bonus episode - Milk: From mutations to mustaches

Who put the cheese in your stuffed-crust pizza? Or cows on a Caribbean island? And when more than half the world&#39;s population can&#39;t actually digest milk, is it really essential for a healthy diet? On a trip through time and taste—to dairy-obsessed Bulgaria, colonial Trinidad and Tobago and the ‘Got Milk?’ era—we explore humanity&#39;s millennia-long relationship with milk. Listen to Don&#39;t Drink the Milk wherever you get your podcasts! [https://pod.link/1704462801] (https://pod.link/1704462801) Also on YouTube! [https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLpBAZYDqAE8nzvIRx2dApgkDi3zkSe3GS] (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLpBAZYDqAE8nzvIRx2dApgkDi3zkSe3GS) Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

16 Jan 2024

42 MINS

42:06

16 Jan 2024


#84

Was Darwin a Murderer?

In 1878, two Paris dandies murdered an old woman—and blamed Charles Darwin for their crime. But the wild scandal that followed only solidified Darwin as the greatest scientist of his age... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

14 Nov 2023

20 MINS

20:15

14 Nov 2023


#83

Mass Psychosis in Food Science

Americans happily ate monosodium glutamate for decades. Then one (possibly fake) letter sparked mass hysteria over “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”, and the bogus MSG scare was born... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

07 Nov 2023

19 MINS

19:41

07 Nov 2023


#82

Accounting for Taste

Scientists have confirmed five basic human tastes—sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami. But is that all? Debate now rages about adding a sixth or seventh or even eighth(!) to the Big Five... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

31 Oct 2023

18 MINS

18:14

31 Oct 2023


#81

The British Tobacco Empire

He helped launch the British Empire and spawned a public-health epidemic that killed hundreds of millions of people. Blame him for the lost colony of Roanoke, too. Thomas Harriot has a lot to answer for... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

17 Oct 2023

19 MINS

19:16

17 Oct 2023


#80

"Moldy Mary," The Forgotten Mother of Penicillin

She helped discover arguably the most important drug in history. And she got zero credit. They called her Moldy Mary—but she turned that insult into triumph... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

10 Oct 2023

21 MINS

21:04

10 Oct 2023


#79

The Most Exclusive Club in the World

As recent submersible tragedies reveal, it’s harder to reach extreme ocean depths than the Moon. Meet the people who got there first—and barely lived to tell to the tale... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

03 Oct 2023

19 MINS

19:20

03 Oct 2023


#78

Death-Defying Science at 75,000 Feet

You wouldn’t think a lanky, awkward balloon geek would inspire Hollywood. But the death-defying Auguste Piccard was a worthy namesake for Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek fame... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

26 Sep 2023

20 MINS

20:24

26 Sep 2023


#77

Proving Einstein Right

Albert Einstein’s relativity was just another theory at first, speculative and unproven—until Arthur Eddington and a special eclipse. Meet the weirdo scientist who made Einstein into *Einstein*... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

20 Sep 2023

19 MINS

19:54

20 Sep 2023


#76

Einstein's Golden Moment

It was the most powerful emotional moment of Albert Einstein’s life—the instant he knew he was a genius. But in confirming his theory of relativity, it also opened him up to attacks, sometimes rather vicious, from around the world... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

12 Sep 2023

20 MINS

20:00

12 Sep 2023


#75

Why Do We Obsess Over Charles Darwin’s Health?

Is it serious historical work? Respectable gossip? Blatantly prying into people’s lives? Retro-diagnosing historical celebrities like Darwin and Lincoln and Hitler and Poe is all of the above and more... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

27 Jun 2023

20 MINS

20:48

27 Jun 2023


#74

The Seeds of Starvation

During the Nazi invasion of Russia during World War II, nine Soviet scientists starved to death surrounded by millions of delicious fruits, seeds, and nuts. Were they mad? No. They wanted to save humankind from doomsday... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

20 Jun 2023

21 MINS

21:09

20 Jun 2023


#73

When Scientific Brilliance Isn’t Enough

William Halford thought he had a surefire vaccine to stop herpes. And he wasn’t going to let anything—laws, ethics, his patients’ well-being—stop him from saving the world... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

13 Jun 2023

19 MINS

19:46

13 Jun 2023


#72

The Curse of Knowing Too Much

Paul Stoutenburgh knew more atomic secrets than anyone on Earth. So was that why he killed himself? And if not, why was the government (seemingly) so uninterested in getting to the bottom of his death? Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

06 Jun 2023

19 MINS

19:06

06 Jun 2023


#71

The Enigmas of Foreign Accent Syndrome

Can you really collapse and wake up speaking a totally new language? Not quite. But “foreign accent syndrome” is a real, frightening—and bizarre—neurological disorder... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

30 May 2023

18 MINS

18:14

30 May 2023


#70

How New DNA Sleuthing Can Expose Dangerous Killers—and You

Genetic genealogy can catch brutal killers. It can also unmask affairs, secret adoptions, and other dark secrets. As well as expose you—yes, you—to the unholy alliance of Big Tech and shady police work... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

16 May 2023

20 MINS

20:06

16 May 2023


#69

The Real Tragedy of Robert Oppenheimer

He coulda would shoulda been the next Einstein. Instead, Robert Oppenheimer fritted away his talents on trendy science and political gamesmanship—and it burned him deep in his soul... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

09 May 2023

20 MINS

20:39

09 May 2023


#68

The Brilliant, Groundbreaking, and Wildly Overrated Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci was brilliant, groundbreaking—and especially with regard to his science—wildly overrated. All because he lacked one all-important quality: sitzfleisch... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

02 May 2023

20 MINS

20:24

02 May 2023


#67

Death Squared

The “mouse utopia” experiment showed just how quickly animal heaven can turn into animal hell—and revealed how eager human beings are to interpret science through the lens of extremist politics... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

29 Nov 2022

20 MINS

20:17

29 Nov 2022


#66

Death by Nutrition

Polar explorer Douglas Mawson made several mistakes on his harrowing journey across Antarctica. But the biggest blunder involved eating animal livers oversaturated with vitamin A, a sure death sentence... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

22 Nov 2022

20 MINS

20:26

22 Nov 2022


#65

The Roadside Apocalypse

Automobiles kill several million animals every single day. Scientists are still coming to grips with the carnage... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

15 Nov 2022

20 MINS

20:14

15 Nov 2022


#64

The Blind Visionary

Thomas Schall was first blind member of Congress. There, he envisioned a better, smarter, more efficient world—brought about by his radical new calendar. Too bad the rest of us couldn’t see the future as clearly as he did... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

08 Nov 2022

21 MINS

21:41

08 Nov 2022


#63

The Scariest Paradise on Earth

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Korea is a place of guns and heartache and anger—and also one of the most thriving natural wildlife habitats on Earth... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

01 Nov 2022

18 MINS

18:41

01 Nov 2022


#62

The Naked Shibboleth

Naked mole-rats are medical marvels—impervious to cancer and immune to old age. Too bad they’re also vicious murderers... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

25 Oct 2022

20 MINS

20:56

25 Oct 2022


#61

The Debaucherous Legacy of Johnny Appleseed

The Johnny Appleseed of Disney fame was complete bunk. He brought not wholesome apples to people, but liquor—and lots of it, all thanks to the bizarre biology of this misunderstood fruit... Advertising Inquiries: <a href='https://redcircle.com/brands'>https://redcircle.com/brands</a>Privacy & Opt-Out: <a href='https://redcircle.com/privacy'>https://redcircle.com/privacy</a> ... Read more

18 Oct 2022

21 MINS

21:48

18 Oct 2022