In this special episode, we've asked two rock star ornithologists to answer a flock of listener questions about birds. Drew Lanham and Corina Newsome talk flying, feathers, eggs, poop and how we humans can help birds. Plus: we test their ears with the Mystery Sound and their obscure bird knowledge with a game called Real Birds or Just Words.
And many, many thanks to for providing the bird sounds you hear in this episode.
This episode is sponsored by Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and iD Tech (idtech.com/brains). You can support the show at brainson.org/donate
Books: How they're made and how your brain reads them
There is so much happening in your brain when you read. From recognizing shapes as letters to discovering empathy, our brains really get a workout when we read books.
In this episode, Ben Bergen from the Language and Cognition Lab at UC San Diego drops by to shed some light on how our brains process the meaning of words. We also learn how printing books has evolved and how the invention of the printing press brought worldwide change. And Newberry Award-winning author Kelly Barnhill shares a little of what’s going on in HER brain as she’s writing a story.
This episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brains), Quip (getquip.com/brainson) and Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. You can support the show at brainson.org/donate.
Why do we like getting scared?
Spooky stuff may make you cover your eyes in fright, but many of us find ourselves peeking through our fingers to get another glimpse. Why are we drawn to things that make us jump? In this episode, we'll find out how fear can actually be fun. We visit a scientist who helps design haunted houses for ultimate scares, chat with an author who writes ghost stories about how he crafts the creepy crawlies, and play a rousing game of Name That Phobia! Plus we help Gungador get rid of his hiccups and answer the Moment of Um question: "Why do raspberries have little hairs?"
This episode is sponsored by Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner (bona.com/brainson), Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, and MEL Science (text BRAINS to 64-000).
Wonderful Wool: The secrets of this amazing fluff
Wool is warm, absorbs water and odors, plus it’s flame resistant. In short, wool is amazing!
In this episode we explore how wool is different from hair. We go on a sheep safari at and catch up with our favorite wooly hero Alpaca Jack.
Plus a wool-worthy mystery sound and an Moment of Um that answer the question: If Earth had rings like Saturn would we be able to see them through our windows?
This episode is sponsored by Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner (bona.com/brainson), Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, Quip (getquip.com/brainson) and Stitch Fix Kids (StitchFix.com/KIDS/brains).
How does the internet get to us?
In this episode, we find out how a system of cables around the globe (and deep in our oceans) brings websites, songs, videos and podcasts to our phones and computers, almost at the speed of light. The internet can seem vast and intangible but there’s a very physical system of cables, servers and exchange points across the globe (and yes, even under the oceans). We’ll find out how a video shows up nearly instantly on our screens and about insanely thin, clear glass tubes are the key to our digital communication.
You can join the Brains On Fan Club at brainson.org/fanclub. This episode is sponsored by America’s Test Kitchen Kids (atkkids.com/brainson and promo code ATKKIDS10), Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner (bona.com/brainson), Hello Products (helloproducts.com and promo code HELLOBRAIN), and KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brains). You can support the show at brainson.org/donate.