Play The True Origin of Killer Clowns

Well, sure the answer is partly from 1980s horror movies like IT and Killer Klowns from Outer Space, but the reality is much deeper than that. From the Middle Ages through the Renaissance to 19th Century England, clowns have always been around to bring a little chaos. And the truth is, up until the late 1800s they were NEVER for kids. The truth is, terrifying killer clowns are nothing new.

Play How did Makeup, WWII, & Communism Create U.S. Healthcare?

If there's one debate you can't avoid today it's what do about the US health insurance. While many countries around the world have some form of nationalized, government run healthcare most people in the US have their healthcare provided by their employer. Why is that the case?

Play Why are 18 Year Olds Considered Adults?

While you might not personally consider your average 18 year old a full-fledged adult, 18 is a pretty magic number in the US. It’s the the age when you can vote, go to war, work full time, and move out of their parents house. Why is this the case? Well while you might think there’s some sort of biological or traditional explanation, that’s not the case.

Play Where Does the #Hashtag Symbol Come From?

It’s gone by many names, (the pound sign, the number sign, the octothorpe and the hashtag symbol) and it’s had many meanings, but what is the origin of this # mysterious symbol? Well the truth is it goes back all the way to ancient Rome. But what’s even stranger is that the hashtag symbol can help us understand the always changing nature of the abstraction that is language itself.

Play How Columbus Invented Cannibals

While evidence of people who eat other people existed long before Columbus, the idea of tribes of “savages” in the jungle who hunt other people for food was truly birthed with Columbus. He is even the first person to ever use the word “Cannibal” to describe such people. The problem is, no such people really existed in the Caribbean islands where Columbus landed.

Play How WWII Created Godzilla & Mecha Robots

Underneath the surface of fearsome monsters we can see that Godzilla is closely linked to the fears of atomic radiation and mecha robots emerged from the extremely rapid industrialization of Japan during the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Play Why is there a North and South Korea?

While the short answer is the Korean war, the reality is that seeds for the separate Republic of Korea and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea goes back much further and has to do with the late 19th century Chinese imperialism and the formation of different resistance factions to the early 20th century Japanese annexation of Korea.

Play Is Poisoned Halloween Candy a Myth?

Is Poisoned Halloween Candy a Myth? Every year around Halloween, we hear the same concern: you gotta check the candy for poison because strangers put laxatives in Tootsie Rolls, Razor Blades in Apples and heroine in Snickers. But is this trick or treat dilemma an actual reality or just a clever way for your parents to steal your candy?

Play Why Do We Get Grades in School?

Will you get a B+, C, an A-, a D+ or the dreaded F? We’ve all had that moment of sheer panic while waiting for your report card. But when you step back, it’s worth asking why do we get letter grades at all? And whatever happened to E? Find out in this week's episode!

Play How Your Rubber Ducky Explains Colonialism

Rubber is an extremely important part of modern living, from tires to clothes to building materials to adhesives. And though we don’t often think of it in the same league as oil or cotton, industrialization drove the demand for rubber which drove into intense competition between world powers hell bent on imperial expansion. How did it happen? Watch the episode to find out.

Play Why Do Women Give Birth Lying Down?

When it comes to giving birth, the first image that comes to mind is a woman lying down on her back, but this wasn’t always the case. In fact the origin of the position we now most associate with women giving birth started as a procedure to remove gall stones in 18th century France. So how did this position become the gold standard for bringing newborns into the world?

Play Where does the Nuclear Family Come From?

If your family is in the traditional nuclear family formation (2 parents + kids living in a single home) then you’re in a pretty common formation. But if your family ISN’T a traditional nuclear family, then you’re also in a pretty common formation.

Play Why Do We Eat Artificial Flavors?

Where do artificial flavors come from? Well whether it’s your average store bought yogurt, granola bar, or even butter, a lot of food we eat today is full of artificial flavoring. Why did this happen? Well it actually has to do with the strange history of vanilla (yes! boring old vanilla) and the human perception of taste. How does it all work? Watch the episode to find out!

Play Why Are There So Few Women in Computer Science?

Today, we think of computer science as a field dominated by men, but women have a long and important history in the field. Ada Lovelace is considered the first computer programmer, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, & Mary Jackson played a hugely important part in the development of computing during the space race, and Elsie Schutt ran one of the first computer software companies. So what changed?

Play Why Does Santa Wear Red?

It’s the holiday season and we all know that means seeing old St. Nick in his big red suit. But have you ever stopped to wonder why he doesn’t wear any other color? Because he used to be seen wearing blue suits, purple suits, yellow suits and sometimes he was even skinny! So how did we end up a jolly bearded Santa who only dresses in red? Watch the episode to find out.

Play How Did Martin Luther King Jr. Get a Holiday?

Did you know Martin Luther King Jr Day wasn’t celebrated in all 50 states until 2000? And that in order to create the holiday honoring the civil rights leader we needed help from Stevie Wonder and the National Football League. Why was this the case? Well MLK Jr, wasn’t beloved by everyone during his life and winning the battle to create a holiday in his honor took a lot of work. How did happen?

Play Why Do Kids Have Their Own Bedrooms?

“Go To Your Room!” might be the most well known parental demand in America, but why do kids have their own sleeping area at all? Because while a bedroom might just seem like a “normal” thing for people who can afford a certain amount of living space, the history of separate sleeping spaces is actually the result of European colonialism, clocks, Victorian modesty and post-war Suburban expansion.

Play Does the Rorschach Inkblot Test Work?

A psychiatrist holding up an inky blob and saying “what does this look like?” might be the most famous psycholigical test of all time. Originally developed by Hermann Rorschach as means of detecting schizophrenia, this little known and abstract test went on to become a pop culture staple featured in everything from The Golden Girls to Armageddon. But why? And more importantly, can those weird litt

Play Why was Pink for Boys and Blue for Girls?

Pink for Boys and Blue for Girls might seem strange to modern eyes and sensibilities, but up until the 1940’s a lot of people thought pink was the more masculine color and blue was clearly more feminine. So how did we end up in a world where it’s 100% confirmed that pink is the marker of all things girly and blue denotes boyhood? Well it’s a long strange story, so watch the episode to find out!

Play Is the Rosa Parks Story True?

We all know Rosa Parks as the tired old lady on a bus who unknowingly sparked a civil rights firestorm by refusing to give up her seat in Montgomery, Alabama. But is that true? Not entirely. Rosa Parks was a radical, civil right activist who spent years fighting for justice and she knew exactly what she was doing. In fact, she wasn’t even the first black woman to refuse to give up her seat.

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