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Prologue

We hear two stories of everyday life which are more easily understood if one knows some of the laws of physics, specifically the Mediocrity Principle and the Casimir Effect. Then Particle Physicist and Planet Money correspondent David Kestenbaum explains why physicists hate it when non-scientists try to apply these laws and principles to their daily lives.

Act One: Baby Scientists With Faulty Data

More stories like the one in the prologue, where kids look at something going on around them, observe it carefully, think about it logically, and come to conclusions that are completely incorrect. Includes a story set at Christmastime, where a father tells his daughter about the baby Jesus being born, and all the "good stuff." Then the daughter notices a picture of Jesus on the cross, and asks why they killed him.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass tells the story of a time capsule project designed to document our lives so that people a thousand years from now can know what we were like. Ira explains that when a friend of his got involved in the time capsule, Ira realized that he hates the people of the future.

Act Three: You Don't Have To Be An Einstein

After he died, Albert Einstein became a figure of international kitsch: Appearing in computer and Pepsi ads, showing up a comic character in movies with Meg Ryan, and until very recently his brain was on the loose without his family's consent...in the unauthorized possession of the doctor who did the autopsy, a man named Thomas Harvey. Mike Paterniti took a cross-country roadtrip with Dr Harvey and the brain.

Act Four

Producer Nancy Updike tells the story of scientists who simply made up an invisible, weightless subatomic particle called the neutrino. Then they set out on the task of finding it, using tools that sound positively crude: A mineshaft and 100,000 gallons of dry cleaning fluid.

Act Two: Guinea Pig Zero

Ira interviews Bob Helms, creator of the zine Guinea Pig Zero, which is about people who make their living by donating their bodies to science for medical experiments. Bob says he wouldn't do spinal tap studies or psychoactive drugs (he calls the people who do the latter "brain sluts").

Act Two: Dinosaur Exhibit

Writer Jack Hitt discovers that the world of dinosaurs is a man-made creation, a simulated world that may or may not accurately reflect what happened on earth 100 million years ago. Talking with dinosaur experts like Jack Horner (whose work was the basis of much of the film Jurassic Park), Hitt finds that most of what you think you know about dinosaurs is probably wrong, and that Americans' ideas about dinosaurs go through "fashions" that reflect the national mood: We believed dinosaurs were more aggressive when we were on the brink of World Wars One and Two.