Author Archives: supersciencehappyhour

Episode 011: Jurassic Cat Park SHOW NOTES

Tagline: You have now been subscribed to cat facts.

(Reference for tagline: )

Look at that! Show notes posted within just a couple days of the episode release! Amazing! Hopefully this trend will continue and the next episode might even, dare we say, post the episode and the show notes ON THE SAME DAY?!?!

Topics discussed: You like animals? We got animals! Smart animals like chimps! Dumb animals like koalas! Crows that can recall a face and geckos making love in space! Not to mention superb fairy-wrens, cuckoo birds, sponges, woodpeckers, turkeys, cats, guinea pigs, sea otters, and many more! Plus, some stuff about humans, I guess. Also we bang jars together.

How to get us in your heads: Subscribe on iTunes; see the About page for a link to the RSS feed; stream/download this episode directly from this link; check us on YouTube (only a few episodes are there now, but more are coming); follow us on Twitter; or throw a sheep at us on Facebook (the kids still do that, right?).

And if you enjoy our show, please remember to rate/review/share/etc.! You can also send us money (PayPal link at right) or buy some of the stuff below that is linked to our Amazon affiliate account — but if you don’t want to do any of that, ratings and reviews are freeeeee and help the show too!


– another article with the “new black” reference:
– None More Black:
– the story on Ivory soap purity (sorry, in the podcast we misspoke and said Dove):
– Ken Jennings on Twitter, if you are inclined to follow:
– the true origins of the “is the new black” phrase:
– also, a related Wikipedia article that is just a cool term:
– in case you’re now wondering about India ink:

Superb fairy-wren:
– doesn’t look much like a cuckoo to us:
– the cuckoo bird vs. superb fairy-wren battle:
– – the short story: apparently lots of birds can recognize cuckoo bird eggs and kick them out of the nest, but if they fail to do so, they then can’t tell the chicks from their own; superb fairy-wrens are the opposite, unable to tell the eggs apart but they can kick out the chicks based on the vocal “password”
– actual scientific article on embryonic learning of passwords:
– a bit on bird names:
– – and some more?
– – some particularly awesome ones:
– shibboleths — just a cool word/concept/origin story:
– babies’ language learning shaped in womb (popular press coverage):
– – actual Current Biology paper (link to academic article PDF):
– good summary of the memory-transfer-through-feeding experiments; the original (discredited) ones were in flatworms:
– – a recent (good) paper on the topic, summarized — mice inherit smell memories:
– – the actual paper (link to academic article PDF):
– all about Lamarckian evolution:
– – including a good summary of current thoughts:
– – a summary including the giraffe idea:
– a good (longish) Discover Magazine article on epigenetics in humans, including effects of stress:

Russia lost a satellite full of lizards having sex:
– and recovered it — but they died; RIP, sexy geckos:
– awesome iguana mohawk:

Smart animals / dumb humans:
– crystallized vs fluid intelligence:
– chimpanzee better than humans at short-term memory:
– magical number seven:,_Plus_or_Minus_Two
– – the actual paper (link to academic article PDF):
– history of 7-digit phone numbers in North America:
– memory for digits is indeed limited by the number of syllables / time to pronounce — several studies
– – academic article PDF; third page, see ref. 27:
– – one such study in Welsh and English — link to abstract:
– – another one in several languages — link to paper PDF:
– – and one more, in Chinese and English, as discussed — Chinese got ~2 more digits (link to paper PDF):
– – number pronunciation in Chinese is, of course, more complicated than as we discussed, but we got the essence:
– – but NPR gives basically the same simplified summary as us, suggesting language as the reason behind the Chinese math advantage:
– – Malcolm Gladwell too:
– – both of the above two links reference this book — we haven’t read it but it looks interesting (Amazon link):
– Baddeley’s model of working memory:’s_model_of_working_memory
– – in his own words (same link as above, academic article PDF):
– – link above references the 2-second limit in rehearsal, here’s the actual study (link to academic paper abstract):
– a bit on chunking, including telephone number example:
– – if you really want to dive deep into different countries’ phone number representation schemes:
– subitizing — we may not have used the term exactly correctly, but the idea is related:
– – one academic article reviewing the concept (PDF embedded in page):
– magical “mystery” number 4 (ha; link to academic article PDF):
– – visual memory capacity differs according to item complexity (link to academic article PDF):
– one paper referenced in regard to memory for conjunctions of features being remembered automatically, even when instructed just to remember a single feature (link to academic article PDF):
– – (although, of course, later studies have complicated that story…)
– chimps better than humans at a game theory task:
– the Nobel-Prize-winning research of Kahneman and Tversky into some of the psychological heuristics and biases underlying economic decision making:
– – Judgement Under Uncertainty (academic paper PDF but a relatively easy read even for non-academics):
– – Prospect Theory (ditto):
– – Daniel Kahneman’s book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow” — we haven’t read it but people seem to like it (link to Amazon):
– dumping a bunch of babies on a desert island with no societal influence = “the forbidden experiment”:
– Aesop’s crow fable:
– – Aesop fabulist bio:
– – the PLOS ONE paper MK described of crow’s doing the Aesop’s fable task:
– – 4chan crow war story:
– – crows remember faces of “dangerous humans” — popular article:
– – actual academic paper for the above finding (link to abstract, with link to download full text for free):
– – this is nuts — some of the same authors as above later scanned crows’ brains with positron emission tomography (PET) while looking at familiar human faces:
– – Wikipedia (citing Snopes) claims the MIT pigeon prank has never been verified:
– – David Attenborough narrates this video of crows using traffic to crack nuts:
– – (although see the following dissenting view:
– – related/overlapping crow facts from our scientific brethren at
– a bunch of links on the possible origins of the silly “ten percent of your brain” myth embraced by Limitless [ ], Lucy [ ], etc.:
– –
– –
– –
– – in short: Lucy (2014 film), you’ve got some ‘splaining to do!

Dumb animals
– all about koalas:
– William Sleator, awesome author of young adult sci-fi:
– – Strange Attractors, the book where MJ learned the word “bifurcation” (link to Amazon):
– – some of his other best works, all links to Amazon:
– – House of Stairs:
– – The Boy Who Reversed Himself:
– – The Green Futures of Tycho:
– – Interstellar Pig:
– overview of lateral/radial symmetry, asymmetric sponges:
– – other animals, including fish, that are asymmetric:
– the Pleistocene epoch:
– lissencephaly:
– story on the couple days of real-time Old Spice commercials:
– – a playlist thereof:
– – or, if you just want the highlights:
– RIP Richard Attenborough (aka John Hammond of Jurassic Park, aka brother of crow-narrator Richard Attenborough) — he died after we recorded the podcast but before we released it:
– visual neuroscientist Horace Barlow:
– about 20% of your calories are used by your brain:
– –
– –
– it’s true — pandas really ought to be carnivores. Stupid pandas:
– – although they’ll still eat meat occasionally:
– red pandas — indeed, not closely related to giant pandas:
– some links on why woodpeckers are protected from brain damage:
– –
– –
– – one academic article cited by the above popular articles:
– – and one more:
– contrecoup injuries:
– macaque monkeys — sadly, not Shakespeares:
– –
– –

Random facts:
– sea otter pouches with favorite rocks:
– see! Cat kidneys really do make it possible for them to drink sea water:
– – remember, don’t forget to give your cat its Red Bull (or meat)!
– – the lysine contingency (again — RIP, Richard Attenborough):
– turkey and tryptophan — the Thanksgiving sleepiness myth debunked:
– – foods with more tryptophan than turkey:
– – MK’s top tryptophan foods source from the show:
– – although this tryptophan content data might be the most reliable (mmm… sea lion):
– – a review of tryptophan depletion studies and depression (link to academic article abstract):
– – (although the role of serotonin in depression has been increasingly challenged, e.g.
– – don’t throw out the soy just yet — phytoestrogens are probably not a huge problem:
– – (unless you’re a rat, in which case watch out for that pancreatic-cancer-causing raw soy flour:
– Tommy Westphall hypothesis of TV — warning, possible rabbit-hole!
– – overview:
– – origin:
– – site with a map (see lower down on final post):
– Vitamins and such
– – vitamin C immune myth:
– – … and other vitamin supplements have issues as well:
– – animals that can’t synthesize vitamin C: bats, guinea pigs, and the primate suborder that contains humans, apes, monkeys, and tarsiers (third paragraph of
– – vitamin naming history:
– – a slightly longer bit on vitamin names:
– – just a random link off the above page — why there are no B batteries:
– – … which leads us to this classic Demetri Martin bit:
– – crazy-ass looking vitamin B12 molecule:
– – vitamin C loss and rediscovery blog post:
– – as it turns out — dietary experiments on guinea pigs actually serendipitously yielded an animal model for studying scurvy:
– – retraction of papers claiming to synthesize stem cells by exposing regular cells to acid:
– – history of the guinea pig as a research animal (and why we say “guinea pig” to mean research subject):
– – Maniac Mansion, the NES game that allowed you to microwave a hamster (not a guinea pig):
– – video of said hamster microwavery:
– – the “creepy Xenopus frogs” MK hates: (in particular this species:
– – why rats (and horses) can’t vomit:
– – Snopes confirms: the carrots-improving-vision story is a myth started during World War II:
– – an amazing (and long) history of the carrot myth, with some great pictures, at the World Carrot Museum — WHO KNEW THERE WAS A WORLD CARROT MUSEUM?!?!
– – the specific role of vitamin A in vision and how it is used to make light-sensitive opsins in the retina:

Cool sound videos:
– Euler’s disk spinning:
– MK and MJ trying to explain the disk spinning reminds us of this classic Calvin & Hobbes strip:
– another closely related cool thing — Hurricane Balls:
– the original jar-bouncing video that they want people to license the sound from:
– inelastic collisions:
– screenshot of our the waveform of our audio during the (successful) jar-bouncing replication:

Episode 010: All the Things She Said SHOW NOTES

Tagline: You don’t have to feed a half-dead cat.

Hey, we’re getting a little better, right? Only a couple of weeks between posting of episode and show notes… and you’ll be glad to hear that we have already recorded Episode 11 and are nearing a release. Maybe even with timely show notes! And we’ll probably record ANOTHER new episode a few days after that! Amazing!

Anyway, on to the show notes for Episode 10…

Topics discussed: Bad science and crackpot theories abound! We click the Dislike button on Facebook and its research, weather a hurricane of bad statistics, and teach you how to see in the dark through the miracle of brain damage! Plus, what other podcast gives you coverage of both Jennifer Aniston AND 13-year-old Ukrainian boys?

How to get us in your heads: Subscribe on iTunes; see the About page for a link to the RSS feed; stream/download this episode directly from this link; check us on YouTube (only a few episodes are there now, but more are coming); follow us on Twitter; or throw a sheep at us on Facebook (the kids still do that, right?).

And if you enjoy our show, please remember to rate/review/share/etc.! You can also send us money (PayPal link at right) or buy some of the stuff below that is linked to our Amazon affiliate account — but if you don’t want to do any of that, ratings and reviews are freeeeee and help the show too!


Facebook emotion manipulation study
– actual academic article:
– the Nuremberg code:
– and its successor, the Declaration of Helsinki:
– xkcd comic “Research Ethics”:
– turns out no one ever wrote a check on a cow, but the principle is sound — it even fooled the Straight Dope for a while:
– by the way, in regard to MJ’s awful pun — cow tipping is fake too:
– Tuskegee syphilis experiment:
– after we discussed this, OkCupid did a blog post about their experimentation on humans:
– study on the spread of happiness from the Framingham Heart Study:
– – and also depression:
– – the study itself:
– the comedy stylings of Yakov Smirnoff:
– Armenian Radio / Radio Yerevan jokes:
– – a bit more:
– – and yet more:
– Reddit Latvia jokes:
– – and a few more:

Nature News blog on crazy caterpillar hypothesis:
– the actual paper in question:

Male vs female hurricane names:
– actual academic article:
– history of hurricane naming:
– the book “Nudge” MK mentioned (link to Amazon):
– Richard Dawkins website takedown of the study:
– Tucker and Dale versus Evil (Amazon link to stream/buy):
– Jeremy Freese takedown in 16 points:

Computer passing the Turing test?
– one example of pop news coverage:
– Turing test definition:
– Ray Kurzweil dialogue with the chatbot:
– a bit on ELIZA:
– one implementation of ELIZA if you want to talk to her:
– Kevin Warwick and his various ridiculous claims:

Pod-person politics and other delusions:
– Politician claims his opponent was replaced by robot duplicate:
– Obama’s alien shape-shifter in the Secret Service:
– and maybe Obama himself is a lizard king?
– Capgras delusion:
– Anton-Babinski syndrome:–Babinski_syndrome
– Capgras syndrome review MK read from (link to academic article abstract):
– Three Christs of Ypsilanti book (link to Amazon):
– the V.S. Ramachandran book briefly mentioned with some crazy stories of confabulating patients (link to Amazon):
– Blindsight:

Jennifer Aniston cells (link to academic article):
– the idea of a “Grandmother cell”:
– Koch/Crick: “What is the function of the claustrum?” (link to academic article):
– Jim Watson’s various controversial remarks:
– Rosalind Franklin got the shaft with regard to DNA structure discovery credit:
– consciousness on/off switch in claustrum?
– – the actual academic article (research not actually conducted by the Koch group, as we may have erroneously suggested):
– John Searle’s “Chinese room” thought experiment:

(Community picked up by Yahoo!, for anyone who didn’t get the news:

The cold dwarf star alluded to in the outtakes but never gotten around to discussing:

OK, maybe hot beverages can cool you down… with some caveats:

Wikipedia’s Manhattan recipe vindicates MJ:

Apparently there have been some efforts to market sweet alcohol to men, at least in Australia/the UK (nod to Ian Stephen for links):


Episode 010: All the Things She Said

As is becoming our pattern of late, we’re releasing the latest episode without posting the show notes yet to get it out to you quicker — show notes for this episode hopefully coming soon!

Get the episode now via iTunes or your favorite podcatcher; see the About page for links/additional info.

FYI, we have already recorded Episode 11, so if all goes according to plan, that will be headed your way soon as well…

Thanks for listening!

Episode 009: The Major Axis of the Dog SHOW NOTES

Alternate summary text: Matt Krause’s browser history gives new meaning to the term “streaming video”

Sorry once again for the delay, folks! Things CONTINUE to crazy here in SSHHMM-land! But here are your show notes for Episode 009. Rest assured that Episode 010 has already been recorded and we’ll be working on editing/releasing that just as soon as these notes are posted!

(You may notice that the above paragraph is almost identical to the belated-show-notes update from the previous episode. Which is because the circumstances are nearly identical. But we will be releasing Episode 010 in a much more timely fashion [hopefully], as we already have plans for recording Episode 011…)

Topics discussed: Cleopatra and woolly mammoths; a grand u(ri)nified theory; bloody salty sharks and potty-mouthed turtles; the magnetic declination of canine defecation; and a wetness down under leads us to contemplate whether Les Cousins Dangereux is obscene. Clearly, our classiest episode yet!

How to get us in your heads: Subscribe on iTunes; see the About page for a link to the RSS feed; stream/download this episode directly from this link; check us on YouTube (only a few episodes are there now, but more are coming); follow us on Twitter; or throw a sheep at us on Facebook (the kids still do that, right?).

And if you enjoy our show, please remember to rate/review/share/etc.! You can also send us money (PayPal link at right) or buy some of the stuff below that is linked to our Amazon affiliate account — but if you don’t want to do any of that, ratings and reviews are freeeeee and help the show too!


Reddit — historical things that were at the same time
– president that sent 1 email (it was Bill Clinton, and it was actually 2 emails):

Urination law
– Nat Geo article:
– paper/movie on arxiv:
– do fish pee and/or excrete through their gills?
– –
– –
– – semi-related: whale bladder cancer article:
– – fun fact: whales’ bladders are somewhat smaller than might be expected, around 5-6 gallons for larger whales (
– shark blood salinity:
– –
– – academic review article (PDF):
– – more info:
– turtles peeing through mouths:

Dogs pooping in line with magnetic fields
– actual paper (PDF):
– pop coverage 1:
– pop coverage… #2:
– German studies of magnetoception in European robins (by Wolfgang Wiltschko):
– – original studies were published in German, but here’s a later one:
– – also summarized here:
– Magnetic field strengths
– – junkyard magnet: 1-2 Tesla (see and FSU link below)
– – research/hospital MRI: 1.5-3 Tesla
– – world record (as of 2011): 97.4 Tesla (
– Wikipedia magnetoception:
– caged wisdom:
– cows lining up while grazing, from the same research group:
– –
– – actual academic paper:
– Andrew Gelman post:

– the drug Sugammadex:
– a bit on how Febreze works:
– more of the Febreze story (starts mid-page):
– cyclodextrins in general:

How many oceans does the Earth have?

UK vs Europe:
– tectonically, they’re on the same plate (although so is most of Asia):

New islands:
– Wikipedia has a bit on definitions:
– the proposed Krause/Johnson island definition standard:
– the “Far Side” Island on TV Tropes (WARNING: likely wastage of life minutes if you click):

Supreme Court pornography/obscenity ruling:

– effectiveness study (by them):
S*** Duolingo says subreddit (NSFW URL, FYI)

Are you there God? It’s me again, Margaret’s_Me,_Margaret.
– Amazon link:
– “It’s Me Again, Margaret” video:

Just in case you haven’t seen The Princess Bride:
– stream it:
– buy on disc:
– the book is good too:

Episode 009: The Major Axis of the Dog

Sorry again for the long delay; this seems to be a recurring theme for us. It’s been a busy late winter/spring for MJ and MK. We recorded this episode in January but it’s only now getting released (late-ish April). Hope you’ll still find it interesting even if some of the science is old news by now.

Get the episode now via iTunes or your favorite podcatcher; will post show notes with links soon in a separate post.

Thanks for listening!

Quick note: Episode 006 show notes (slightly) updated!

I know, I know, promises, promises… but eventually, we kept our word. It’s been months since Episode 006 (“Circling Uranus”) and its corresponding show notes were released, but the one of us who puts these up here had to get on a plane and fly all the way to the other side of the world as he was finishing up the notes, and a couple of links/pictures didn’t quite make it before boarding time.

Anyway, they are there now. I’m almost sure nobody will read this or care, but I just had to close that thread — I have had an email sitting in my Inbox for months with those last few things to attach. So, anyway, if you share BOTH my tendency for obsessive completism AND my procrastination skills, feel free to check out the updated show notes and enjoy them in all the glory of their (hopefully) final form.