Spotify has ended our show. But Flora was able to record this short message before the door slammed shut. Thank you to everyone who listened, who left messages, who agreed to be interviewed, who shared their stories and their time. We loved making Every Little Thing with you.
Caller Janice accidentally flushed a favorite earring down the toilet and she wants to know where it ended up. Sewer experts Ted Gogol and Bruce Todd take us on a journey down the pipes, and historian Andrew Wallace Hadrill digs up a tale about the ancient jewelry that shared a similar fate.
This week we’re pulling on an old favorite, one leg at a time: When did pants become a thing? Clothing researcher Ulrike “Rike” Beck and historian Adrienne Mayor unravel how this relatively recent invention turned the clothing world upside down. With special guest Emily Spivack.
Listener Ben couldn’t stand baby talk — until he had a baby of his own. Now he can’t stop talking in a cutesy wootsy voice. Why did he go googoo for his baby, and is this something people do all over the world? Baby talk researcher Cody Moser breaks it down, and ecologist Mirjam Knörnschild tells us about another animal that talks to its young in a special widdle way.
This week, we’re diving into a favorite episode. Caller Liana wants to know: How did goldfish come to dominate our fish bowls and pet stores? Pet historian Kasey Grier goes deep into the history of America’s favorite finned pet. Plus, goldfish freak Dave Mandley introduces us to the fanciest fish money can buy.
Today’s episode comes from our friends at How to Save a Planet. They’re answering a question lots of ELT listeners have asked: What’s the deal with lawns? HTSAP’s Daniel Ackerman talks to lawn expert Peter Groffman, who shares some surprising findings from his 20 years studying lawns. Plus, some tips for creating a climate-friendly yard. To hear more climate-change stories that inspire, check out H...
Caller Clay has a problem: when she hears bad news, she can’t help but smile. What’s causing Clay’s chagrined grin, and can she learn to tame it? Social psychologist Oriana Aragon tells us why Clay’s face might not mesh with her feelings, and professional smile-stifler Jacques Bailly spells out how he keeps a straight face.
Caller Christy needs to know if she’s lying to her kid. She’s been reading a children’s book about chameleons to her daughter, and she’s wondering if it’s accurate. Chameleon expert Russell Ligon gives us the real story on chameleons and color change. Plus, biologist and head of Skype a Scientist Sarah McAnulty tips us off about nature’s top doyens of disguise.
Caller Kelli has an issue: whenever she daydreams about her crush, she sneezes. Kelli wants to know why her steamy thoughts trigger projectile snots, and whether other people fanta-sneeze. We dig around for answers with ear, nose and throat surgeon Mahmood Bhutta and neuroscientist and daydreaming expert Chantel Prat.
We asked you for stories about your most extreme animal run-ins, and we got a flock of them. From a tangled antlers conundrum, to a toothy underwater panic, and a life-altering encounter with jellyfish, your animal stories made us laugh, sweat and want to stay on the boat. Thanks to Cory, Sara, Geoff and everyone who called in with a wild animal tale.
This week, we’re revisiting caller Sadera’s burning question: When there’s a wildfire, how do we figure out what caused it? Fire investigator Paul Steensland tells ELT what he searches for in the burnt landscape, and the clues that can lead him to the cause.
This week, a tangled tale from the archives. Kate, a “hair is life” kind of person, asks about the invention that keeps her hair out of her face. Hair stylist and archaeologist Janet Stephens takes us into the history of hair care, and scrunchie queen Rommy Revson tells the story of an invention that changed up-do’s forever.
This week, we’re resurfacing a favorite episode. Caller Jessica wants to know what lives under our city streets. Urban evolutionary biologist and rat expert Jason Munshi-South takes us into the subways and sewer systems of NYC to meet the creatures who live there. Plus, animal behavioral scientist Jennifer Verdolin delivers the 411 on another underground underdog: prairie dogs.
This week, we’re revisiting a favorite episode. Caller Elle wants to know: how did we decide that pink is for girls and blue is for boys? Textiles and clothing historian Jo Paoletti and cultural historian of medicine, gender and the body Hanne Blank tell us how pink and blue got gender-coded.
Caller Lindsay wants to know: Why the flock do pigeons seem to prefer grimy city streets over picture-perfect pastures and wide open spaces? Urban wildlife researcher and pigeon stalker Elizabeth Carlen helps us get to the bottom of this perplexing paradox. Turns out, we’re partly to blame.
Caller Sarah had a question about the ghosts of birth control past. Lawyer-turned-historian Elizabeth Koester tells us a haunting tale about the Canadian woman who was arrested for talking about contraception and the man who wanted to see her put on trial.
We asked you to share your most cherished voicemails, and you flooded the ELT hotline with hilarious and heartfelt messages. Thanks to everyone who shared their stories. And if you have a voicemail you can’t delete, it’s not too late to call and tell us about it. Call 833-RING-ELT.
The Westminster Kennel Club dog show is approaching and we dug up one of our favorite episodes to celebrate. Terriers have won Best in Show at Westminster 48 times. Dachshunds? Never. Listener Yona wants to know why terriers triumph and dachshunds never get their due. Dog show judge Laurie Williams and dachshund-diehard Kim McCalmont take us behind the scenes of the dog show world.
We're working on an upcoming show about animal encounters, and we want to hear yours. Have you had a memorable, up-close-and-personal experience with a wild animal? Did you gain new respect for snapping turtles after one fell into your canoe? Did you visit the latrine on your last camping trip and find yourself asshole to eyeball with an assertive porcupine? Did you strike up an unlikely friendship...
This week’s episode comes from our friends at Not Past It, who uncovered a document about a secret medical conference in the 1950s that set the stage for changing abortion laws in the U.S. For more stories from the past that shape our world today, check out the show on Spotify.
Listener Anna has spotted a problem: ladybugs are invading her home. Why? Beetle researcher and curator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History Ainsley Seago gives us an answer, and pulls back the cute polka-dotted curtain on these vicious little predators. Plus, do wolves really howl at the moon? Wolf biologist Tom Gable takes us deep into the woods to find out.
When the president flies overseas, who picks him up at the airport? Listener Letitia wants to know if the presidential motorcade that whips around Washington, D.C. is the same one that’s used abroad. Former Secret Service agent Christopher Albanese shares the limo-gistics of how the big boss rolls around.
Listener Pedro wants to know: are real-life roadrunners as fast as their cartoon counterparts? Roadrunner researcher Tina Guo gets us up to speed on this avian escape artist and the special feet-ure that makes these birds hard to track.
Listener Silas asks: why do courtroom sketch artists exist? Why not photograph trials instead? Media professor Thomas Doherty tells us about the trial that made a case for sketch artists, and veteran courtroom artist Christine Cornell sketches out what it’s like to do this job. Archival audio via CriticalPast, British Pathé and FOX MOVIETONE NEWS.
Speaking style is just one part of the news anchor archetype. Sia Nyorkor, a TV news anchor and reporter in Cleveland, talks about the pressure anchors feel to look a certain way — especially when it comes to their hair. Duke professor Ashleigh Shelby Rosette has studied attitudes towards hair in the workplace and gives us the wide shot.
Caller Mallory wants to know: why do all news anchors sound the same? ELT breaks down anchor voice with linguists Dennis Preston and Valerie Fridland. We also talk with reporter Deion Broxton about his struggle to develop his news voice, and how accent bias makes it harder for some people to break into the news business.
In honor of this week’s festivities, we’re taking a trip back to black hole country. Listener Kyle wants to know: are black holes really holes? Professor of physics at the University of Southern California Clifford Johnson has answers that will loosen your third eye and blaze up your mind.
When scuba divers go deep, it can take a full day to resurface. Caller Daniela wants to know: how do they drink, eat and excrete while underwater? Fish biologist Richard Pyle gives us the lowdown on deep diving. Plus, saturation diver Michael Meusel lives in an underwater chamber for a month at a time for his job. He tells us about the challenges of deep sea work, like hammering underwater and brea...
Listener Brittany has a problem. No matter where she goes, strangers open up to her. She can’t get through the grocery store without a heart-to-heart. ELT consults a panel of experts to understand why this happens to Brittany, and what she can do about it. Pixar character designer Deana Marsiglese performs a facial analysis; celebrity presentation coach Glenn Kinsey offers repulsive communication t...
Do you have a voicemail you just can’t delete? Maybe it’s from your ex, or it’s a butt dial from your best friend that makes you cry-laugh every time you hear it. Maybe it’s a message your mom left when you went into labor. Maybe it’s a message you listen to when you need a pick-me-up, or when you want to remember the person who left it, or when you just want to fuel your rage. No judgment! If you ...
Listener Garrett wants to know how Elvis impersonators and Las Vegas weddings tied the knot. Las Vegas-torian Larry Gragg tells us how Vegas became a wedding hot spot, and how Elvis rose to royalty in Sin City. The singer and the city seemed like a match made in heaven. Plus, Garrett and Swiggs say “I mew” with help from Mobile Minister Roland August.
This week, we’re revisiting a favorite episode. From “Crawfishin’ for a Compliment” to “Gouda Gouda Two Shoes,” how do nail polish colors get their quippy names? ELT digs into this FAQ with fashion historian Suzanne Shapiro and OPI co-founder Suzi Weiss-Fischmann.
The images NASA publishes of outer space seem too good to be true – are they? Joe DePasquale, the star-tist who prepares the cosmos for its close-ups, paints us a picture of how those images are made. Plus, NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller describes NASA’s brand new eye-in-the-sky. She says it’s about to blow our earthly little minds.
This week, we’re bringing back one of our favorite episodes. Listeners Marmie and Ryan want to know — how many times should you shuffle a deck of playing cards? Marmie says three, but Ryan says four or more. The couple places their bets and goes all in with applied mathematician Steven Strogatz and a full house of card-world VIPs.
We asked for your Valentine’s Day fail tales, and our heart-shaped voicemail box is full. From a poisoning to a wax-museum meltdown, you exposed Valentine's Day for the helliday it is. Thanks to callers Candace, Sam, Reina, Lauren, Ronni and everyone who helped us give Valentine's Day a big F you.
Get ready for football season with a behind-the-scenes peep at what it's like to be a professional ref. While most fans focus on the players, listener Erika wants to know about the other people on the field – the officials. How do referees get the job? What’s it like to be at the center of the action? And what does it take to make it to the Super Bowl? Retired NFL official and Coordinator of Footba...
Listener Alberto wants to know how handshakes became the go-to greeting in many parts of the world, and why extended shakes often take center stage when world leaders meet. Paleoanthropologist and handshake expert Ella Al-Shamahi hands us some answers, and deconstructs a handshake so bad it’ll leave you shook.
Today, we’re rerunning one of our favorite episodes. Listener Gab is clumsy: white sweaters, stemmed wine glasses and sharp edges are off the table. Can Gab learn to be less clumsy? Professional steady-hand Bryan Berg and kinesiologist Priscila Tamplain share tips for foiling fumbles. Special thanks to Carl Gabbard and Michael Wade.
To honor this Hallmark helliday, we want your stories of Valentine’s Day fails. Did you suffer third-degree burns from your vanilla-scented candle tower? Or discover your rose petal allergy… the hard way? Maybe you found out your friend with benefits was actually your friend with bedbugs? Call us with your best bad Valentine’s Day story: 833 RING ELT, or send a voice memo to email@example.com.
Today’s episode comes from our friends at the podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz. They investigated the Netflix “ta-dum” – the sound effect that rings out when you queue up a Netflix show. It’s so iconic you probably can hear it in your head, but it almost sounded very, very different (think bleating goats). Find more episodes from Twenty Thousand Hertz here.
During a late-night internet search, caller Brenna stumbled across an ancient super-sized snake. It got her wondering: why doesn’t it slither among us today? Where’d it go? Snake hiss-perer Jason Head tells us about the life and times of Titanoboa, the biggest snake ever found.
We’re revisiting one of our favorite episodes this week. A few years ago, listener Annie asked ELT to settle a longstanding family debate: exactly how old is Winnie-the-Pooh? To hunt down an answer, we consult with professional age-guesser Ben Ramey, bear biologist Rae Wynn-Grant, and Sarah Shea, a professor who has studied this question.
Listener Taylor is back with a question about dining on ancient finds. Mary Lee Guthrie tells us about the 1980s dinner party that served up Ice-Age-era meat. Special thanks to Dale Guthrie, Eirik Granqvist, Julie Meachen, and Grant Zazula.
After unearthing a 10-year-old bottle of maple syrup in his pantry, listener Taylor wants to know: What sorts of ancient foods do archaeologists find? Pothead and biomolecular archaeologist Julie Dunne cracks the case on ancient diets and tells us how we know what people ate thousands of years ago. Warning: the answers are NSFL (not safe for lunch).
Caller Sophia needs to know: What’s it like inside a kangaroo pouch? We get the inside scoop from marsupial expert Robin Beck. Plus, should Flora’s sister Ruth fear her squash? Professional pumpkineer Steve Reiners has a tip: if it smells like cat urine, beware.
This week, an episode from the archives: Why do auctioneers talk the way they do? And what are they actually saying? Professional auctioneer Junior Staggs tells us about the psychology behind auction-speak, and gives caller Katie some tips for developing her own auctioneer chant.
Listener Jake wants to know if he can bury a body in his tiny, suburban backyard. Grave expert and archaeologist Hal Hassen has the scoop on how we went from burying grandpa out back to the giant park-like cemeteries we have today. Plus, local zoning officer Sonya Abt walks Jake through the red tape.
This week, we brush off an ELT favorite on the gory history of tooth care. For most of human history, chomper maintenance has been bloody and brutal. So how'd we go from charlatans yanking teeth in a public square to the soft light and high-tech of the modern dentist's office? ELT asks retired dentist and dental historian J. Henry Clarke and historian Richard Barnett to open up and say how. Plus Ch...
Every evening at dusk, listener Tara watches clouds of tiny birds dive-bomb into her boyfriend’s chimney. What are these creatures, and are they going to destroy the house? Ornithologist Margaret Rubega introduces us to these notoriously mysterious birds, and to the stubborn 19th-century artist-turned-scientist who was determined to study them. Special thanks to Barbara Boyle. Thanks also to songwr...
This week, we dug up a favorite episode on the secret life of squirrels. The average tree squirrel can bury up to 10,000 nuts every fall. How do they keep tabs on that stash? Animal behaviorist and pro squirrel watcher Mikel Maria Delgado exposes the secrets of squirrel pantry maintenance. Thanks to caller Cayra. This episode of Every Little Thing was produced by Stephanie Werner, Emily Forman, Pho...
This week, an encore of a favorite episode: What happens behind the scenes at the symphony. Does a triangle player get the same pay as a violinist? Do conductors ever fall off their podiums? Which section do the other musicians love to hate? ELT dishes symphony secrets with violinist Akiko Tarumoto and conductor Rob Kapilow. Special thanks to Nathan Cole and danke schön to caller Laszlo.
This week, we’re revisiting an intergalactic favorite: Preparing for a mission to space takes astronauts years, but listener Daniel wants to know — what does the other end of that journey look like? Record-holding NASA astronaut Christina Koch tells us what happens when space travelers come home.
Caller Jessica lives on a street with an unwieldy name, and she wants to know: Who gets to name the streets? Deirdre Mask, author of “The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power,” tells us about a project to name all the streets in rural West Virginia, and why having a street address matters.
Hey ELT fans! There’s a new Gimlet podcast that we think you’ll love. It’s called Not Past It, and it’s the kind of deep-dive into history that we live for at ELT. This episode, Rated PG-13 for Sex and Violence looks at the birth of the PG-13 rating, and how the movie rating system came to be. It’s a story about Indiana Jones and Gremlins, and hidden Puritan agendas. Enjoy! And don’t forget to foll...
This week we’re hitting repeat on one of our favorite episodes: Listener Elizabeth wants to know if it’s weird to say “please” and “thank you” to her Google voice assistant. ELT talks to former Alexa insider Daren Gill (now senior director of product at Spotify), and human-robot interactions expert Leila Takayama to find out whether people are typically polite to machines. Thanks to caller Elizabet...
This week, we’re re-heating one of our ooey-gooey all-time favorite eps to re-trace the delicious and X-rated history of... cheese. With cheese biochemist and historian Paul Kindstedt. Plus, tips on how to make the most of the dairy aisle from processed cheese expert Lloyd Metzger. And a cicada killer update from cicada killer wasp biologist Chuck Holliday. Thanks to callers Kurt and Judy.
Who put the tension in reality TV? ELT tracks down the man behind the nail-biting sound you can’t unhear. Plus, a listener’s backyard horror story turns into an intervention, with cicada killer wasp expert Chuck Holliday. Thanks to callers Caitlin and Stephanie.
What’s life really like in the White House? How does the president get snacks? Who walks the first dogs? What happens when the first family fights? Reporter and writer Kate Andersen Brower takes us behind-the-scenes. Thanks to callers Lauren, Rachel, Iris, Zach and everyone who sent in a question.
Listener Corey needs to know if a goose named Dave is targeting him. Goose expert Tony Fox tells us why Dave’s feathers may have gotten ruffled, and offers his advice for dealing with unhappy geese. Special thanks to Casey Williamson, Steve Davis, and Dan Potoczak.
Listener Megan wants to know who writes the bizzaro lyrics for her son’s talking toys. Toy experts Jay Elkinton and Patrick Feaster spill the talking toy tea — from modern plastic jabber-jaws to the nightmare-inducing doll who started it all. Special thanks to Toby Phillips.
We’ve dug up one of our favorite episodes this week: Caller Hank wants to know where the sand on his central California beach came from. Beach buff Kiki Patsch gives us the surprising scoop on how beaches are born. Special thanks to Gary Griggs.
While Flora’s away, we’re shining a light on some of our favorite episodes. Listener Erik saw a mysterious glow in the water during a trip to the beach, and he wants to know more. ELT talks to the “Jacques Cousteau of glow,” a scientist who has spent decades deep diving for answers. Guest: biologist and ocean researcher Edie Widder. Thanks to Eelke Dekker for the seagull and ocean sounds we used in...
While Flora’s out, we’re revisiting an old favorite — caller Megan’s cat has zero empathy and tries to trip her on the stairs. Could he be a psychopath? Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test, and cat psychologist Eva Waiblinger help Megan assess if she's got a killer just a whisker's length away.
While Flora's out on parental leave, we're unswaddling some of her favorite babies. Favorite podcast babies. Like this one! Caller Lisa wants to know why her butt hurts whenever she sees someone else get injured. Pain researcher Stuart Derbyshire shares the painful truth about whether some people really can feel your pain. Thanks to queen of Chapped Cheeks Lisa, and to researchers Natalie Bowling, ...
Caller Liz has a cherished childhood memory about a special meal with her great-grandmother. But she isn’t sure it really happened. How can she tell? Memory researcher Charan Ranganath, director of the Dynamic Memory Lab, fills in the blanks about the memory in question.
Listener Gĩtaũ has a serious problem: every so often his home in rural Kenya is invaded by an army of ants. They coat the floors, climb the walls, and rain down on Gĩtaũ and his family while they sleep. Gĩtaũ wants to know: Why are these ants torturing us? Entomologists Dino Martins and Piotr Naskrecki have ant-swers. Special thanks to Caswell Munyai, Caspar Schöning, and Daniel Kronauer.
Terriers have won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show 48 times. Dachshunds? Never. Listener Yona wants to know why terriers triumph but dachshunds don’t get their due. Dog show judge Laurie Williams and dachshund-diehard Kim McCalmont take us behind the scenes of the dog show world.
Caller Leña had COVID-19 last October and temporarily lost her sense of smell. As it started to come back, she noticed something strange — fruity things smelled like burnt hair and condoms. Where are Leña’s mystery smells coming from? Rhinologist Simon Gane fills us in on COVID-related smell loss.
The Earth is surrounded by a halo of trash — defunct satellites, discarded fuel tanks, one of Elon Musk’s Teslas. Listener Ryan wants to know: Does any of it ever fall down to Earth? ELT talks trash with Lottie Williams, the only person known to have been hit by falling space debris, and Ted Muelhaupt, director of the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Study.
It’s spring-cleaning time! To help get you in the mood, we’re dusting off an episode from our archive. Cleaning expert Jolie Kerr tells us when it’s OK to use your own saliva as a cleaning agent, and addresses some listener “cleanspiracies” like: Will vodka clean my clothes? For more cleaning tips, check out Jolie’s podcast Ask a Clean Person.
Listener Paige heard a rumor: we only breathe through one nostril. Can it be true? ELT gets an answer from someone in the nose — rhinologist Simon Gane. Plus, Science Vs. host Wendy Zukerman joins Flora for an important wombat-butt update.
Listener Charlotte has been rewatching “The Sopranos” and the punches keep hitting her ear. Why do Hollywood wallops sound so punched up? Foley artist and Emmy Award-winning sound editor Joanna Fang shares her punch recipe. Plus, do real-life investigators actually connect the dots with red string and thumbtacks? Retired FBI agent Jerri Williams solves the evidence board mystery.
Listener Malenia wants to know how her favorite word game came to be. It turns out it took a while for Scrabble to score big. Stefan Fatsis, author of Word Freak, fills in the blanks. Plus, can you beat Flora's most embarrassing story?
We’re revisiting one of our favorite episodes this week. A few years ago, listener Annie asked ELT to settle a longstanding family debate: exactly how old is Winnie-the-Pooh? To hunt down an answer, we consult with professional age-guesser Ben Ramey, bear biologist Rae Wynn-Grant, and Sarah Shea, a professor who has studied this question.
Listener Taylor was making a medieval stew when she noticed a prominent ingredient was missing from the recipe: potatoes. Potato biologist Maria Scurrah and journalist Charles Mann explain the potato’s twisting route to stewpot domination. Special thanks to Graham Thiele, Bruce Owen, Alan Covey, and Gary Urton.
Listener Christina gets ruffled by a stiff breeze and wants to know if she’s alone in her wind rage. Atmospheric science historian Vladimir Jankovic introduces Christina to her people, and iconic couples therapist Esther Perel, host of “How’s Work” and “Where Should We Begin,” helps Christina rethink her relationship with the wind.
How are essential workers doing now? We check in with some of the essential workers we talked to back in April and hear what it’s been like to teach, fly on planes, ship packages, and drive a truck during a pandemic. Thanks to Rob, Justin, Tamasha, Lucy, Jacob, Kaleb, Ian, and Dawn.
Listener Gab is clumsy — white sweaters, stemmed wine glasses, and sharp edges are off the table. Can Gab learn to be less clumsy? Professional steady hand Bryan Berg and kinesiologist Priscila Tamplain share tips for foiling fumbles. Special thanks to Carl Gabbard and Michael Wade.
Attention all you #hortihotties, this week caller Esther asks about houseplants: When did we start keeping them, and has there ever been another houseplant heyday? Guests Catherine Horwood, author of Potted History, and Charlotte Salter-Townshend of the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin sift through the facts and expose the shady side of houseplant history.
This week, some comfort food. For a lot of us, the holidays won’t be the same this year. Instead of arguing around the table with our extended families, we’ll be stuck at home with a single-serving of mashed potatoes, face-timing the people we love. So we invited ourselves to your place. We asked you to tell us about a meal you can't forget. And you delivered. Your stories made us laugh, cry and ge...
Flora’s sister Ruth claims last year’s jack-o’-lantern seeds sprouted... a litter of decorative gourds. ELT gets to the bottom of this pumper stumper. Plus, a spooky Face ID mystery, and a peek under the husk of corn mazes. Guests: professor of horticulture and pumpkin expert Steve Reiners; farmer and corn maze designer Angie Treinen.
Listener Lily called in about a crying shame: She thinks she cries too much. ELT investigates why we cry, and whether wet cheeks were once très chic. Ad Vingerhoets, crying researcher and clinical psychologist, and Tom Lutz, author of Crying: The Natural and Cultural History of Tears, talk through tears.
Caller Juanita wants to know if her cats are southpaws. ELT calls in animal behavior researcher Deborah Wells and neuroscientist Sebastian Ocklenburg for an answer. Plus, why would slugs ditch the shell? Biologist Robert Cowie fills us in.
After their dad served 4-year-old fish for dinner one night, listener Max wants to know how long you can safely keep food in the freezer. Food safety expert Haley Oliver serves up the juicy details. Plus, can tiny eyes see things we can’t? Spider expert Sebastian Echeverri takes us behind some of the most impressive peepers in the animal kingdom. Thanks to listener Miles. In the original version of...
Listeners Marmie and Ryan have a quarantine quibble: How many times should you shuffle a deck of playing cards? Marmie says three, while Ryan says four or more. The couple place their bets and go all-in with applied mathematician Steven Strogatz and a full house of card-world VIPs.
Listener Erik saw a mysterious glow in the water during a trip to the beach, and he wants to know more. ELT talks to the “Jacques Cousteau of glow,” a scientist who has spent decades deep diving for answers. Guest: biologist and ocean researcher Edie Widder. Thanks to Eelke Dekker for the seagull and ocean sounds we used in this episode. Thanks also to Steven Haddock, Michael Latz, Matt Davis, Vinc...
Caller Hank wants to know where the sand on his central California beach came from. ELT gets the surprising scoop on how beaches are born. Guest: Kiki Patsch, California State University Channel Islands. Special thanks to Gary Griggs.
Flora is out this week force feeding her niblings flamingo facts, so we’re rerunning one of our favorite episodes. Does swearing make you more powerful? Plus, we talk to someone who turns the “mother f*ckers” into “manhole covers” for the TV versions of movies. Guests: Cognitive scientist Ben Bergen, author of What the F***; Gwen Whittle, supervising sound editor at Skywalker Sound. Thanks to calle...
Flora is away this week, so we’re revisiting one of our favorite episodes — about a summer visitor no one wants. Caller Jeremy has a problem: fruit flies have moved into his apartment, and he needs to know how they got there. ELT finds out where Jeremy’s freeloading flatmates came from. Guests: Biologist Marcus Stensmyr, Lund University. Chemical ecologist Kevin Cloonan, Acadia University, Nova Sco...
Flora is away this week at a flamingo fanciers convention, so we’re revisiting one of our favorite shows — a two-part, deep dive into cheerleading. It’s not all smiles and ponytails. Guests: Cheerleading researcher and professor at the University of Alabama Natalie Adams; Barbara Hazlewood; Sharita Richardson, cheerleading researcher, instructional coach at North Carolina A&T State University, and ...
Listener Amy gets lost a lot. She wants to know if some people are naturally better at finding their way, and whether there’s hope for her. An expert locates some answers. Plus, how the best navigators in the world get around. Guests: navigation and orientation researcher Giuseppe Iaria; former London cab driver David Styles. Thanks to caller Amy.
The average tree squirrel can bury up to 10,000 nuts every fall. How do they keep tabs on that stash? Guest: animal behaviorist and pro squirrel watcher Mikel Maria Delgado exposes the secrets of squirrel pantry maintenance. Thanks to caller Cayra.
This weekend, SpaceX and NASA successfully launched the first crewed spacecraft from U.S. soil in almost a decade. Preparing for a mission to space takes astronauts years, but listener Daniel wants to know — what does the other end of that journey look like? What happens when space travelers come home? Guest: record-holding NASA astronaut Christina Koch.
We’re celebrating the little things you miss from life before quarantine. Those small joys you can’t stop thinking about, in the midst of such big sadness. Thanks to listeners Ron, Sophia, Karen, Hayden, Priyanka, Melissa, Kim, Kai, Will, and everyone who called in to share, shout, and sob into the void.
Listener Natalie had a dreamy question: Can you change something in your waking life by dreaming about it? ELT talked to a lucid dream expert to find out if we can optimize our snooze time. Guest: Daniel Erlacher, sports scientist at the University of Bern, Switzerland. Thanks to Natalie for the call.
In the time of “puzzle and chill,” listener Myco needs to know: how are jigsaw puzzles made? Plus, why are clouds of terrifying black birds gathering in listener Amanda’s neighborhood every evening? ELT puts the pieces together. Guests: Thomas Kaeppeler, President of Ravensburger North America, Inc.; bird expert Judith Bailey. Thanks to callers Myco and Amanda.
If a baby couldn’t nurse, what did prehistoric parents do before baby bottles? Julie Dunne, a biomolecular archaeologist and pot lady, analyzed some adorable ancient artifacts to answer the question. Plus, a big day for niblings. Thanks to callers Kate and Michael. Guest: Pot lady Julie Dunne.
Fear, pride, relief, anger — ELT listeners who deliver packages, stock shelves, and drive buses share how their lives have changed during the pandemic. Thanks to Jacob, Megan, Ian, Lucy, Tamasha, Justin, Kaleb, Jane, Dawn, Rob, and everyone who called in to tell us how their jobs and lives have changed. And a gigantic thank you to everyone risking their own health to keep the rest of us safe.
Listener Elizabeth always says “please” and “thank you” to her Google voice assistant, and her husband says she’s weird. ELT talks to former Alexa insider Daren Gill and expert in human-robot interactions Leila Takayama to find out just how weird Elizabeth is. Plus, we right a #noboe wrong. Thanks to caller Elizabeth. Guests: Daren Gill, director of product at Spotify; human-robot interaction resea...
Does an orchestra’s triangle player get the same pay as a violinist? Do conductors ever fall off their podiums? Which section do the other musicians love to hate? ELT dishes symphony secrets from two orchestra insiders. Guests: violinist Akiko Tarumoto and conductor Rob Kapilow. Special thanks to Nathan Cole and danke schön to caller Laszlo.
A troubling image of a flamingo family has the flam world in a frenzy. ELT’s resident flamingo expert tells us what’s really happening in that viral pic. Plus, listener Paul goes in for an appendectomy, and wakes up with a bizarre craving. What happened when he went under the knife? Guests: Flamingo expert Felicity Arengo and anesthetist Kate Leslie. Thanks to caller Paul.
A police sketch artist reveals how she turns your fuzzy memory into a sharp drawing. Sketch artist Kelly Lawson from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation walks us through the process. Thanks to Gary Wells, Gil Zamora, and caller Lex.
Listener Emily is dying to know: what are actors actually using when they do drugs on screen? A prop czar takes ELT behind the scenes. Plus, a tribute to percussionist Emil Richards. Guest: prop master Lynda Reiss. Thanks to caller Emily.
We asked you, the ELT family, to share your favorite underutilized words -- words that you love and want other listeners to love too. And you delivered. Now, with your help, we want to get one of those words into the dictionary. A professional word nerd tells us which of your submissions have the best chance of making it into the big book. Guest: former Merriam-Webster Dictionary editor Kory Stampe...
Did cavemen really carry clubs? Live in caves? Wear leopard-print one-shouldered dresses? Paleoanthropologists Melanie Chang and Genevieve von Petzinger help bust our biggest cavemen myths — and tell us what our ancestors were really like. Special thanks to caller Lauren, and to historian Matthew Goodrum.
We’re clearing out our inbox and answering some of your burning follow-up questions for our last episode of 2019. Guests: Captain Nick Anderson, retired Virgin-Atlantic airline pilot, Airline Pilot Guy Show; Microbiologist Jenny Hayden, Cedar Crest College; Jason Torchinsky, senior editor at Jalopnik. Thanks to callers Mattie, Toku, Piper, Aviv, Meghan, Anna, Liz, Kathi and Carl.
Caller Shannon is at a loss for words when it comes to describing her favorite vegetable -- corn. ELT enlists a professional food describer to help Shannon expand her tasting vocabulary. Guest: sensory specialist Gail Vance Civille of Sensory Spectrum. Special thanks to Shannon for venturing outside of her palate’s comfort zone.
Caller Lisa wants to know why her butt hurts whenever she sees someone else get injured. ELT finds out whether some people really can feel your pain. Guest: pain researcher Stuart Derbyshire. Thanks to queen of Chapped Cheeks Lisa, and to researchers Natalie Bowling, Melita Giummarra, Helena Hartmann, Marina López-Solà, Bridget Rubenking, Jamie Ward, Scott Vrana, and Jamil Zaki. May your cheeks be ...
Wendy Zukerman, host of Science Vs, has a burning question: Do ants help each other out? ELT goes down the anthole to find the antswer. Guests: ant researchers Erik Frank at Université de Lausanne and Christina Kwapich at Arizona State University.
Do twins communicate in the womb? Can they read each other’s minds? ELT tackles listeners’ twin questions and investigates some burning twin-spiracies. Guest: Nancy Segal, psychology professor at California State University, Fullerton, and author of Twin Mythconceptions. Thanks to twins Kelly and Kristina, Reply All’s Phia Bennin, and everyone who called with twin questions.
ELT tackles some animal, vegetable, mineral mysteries with special guest Amy Sedaris. Plus, caller Maria is troubled by a hole in front of her condo — will she be swallowed by the earth? And the scoop on spinach tooth. Guests: Comedian and rabbit expert Amy Sedaris; Jim Correll, plant pathologist, University of Arkansas; geologist and sinkhole expert David Wilshaw. Thanks to callers Anthony, Eddie ...
A mass spider invasion at his office left accountant Steven with a burning question: How many can there be? ELT does some spider number-crunching, and meets the man who discovered one of the largest spider gatherings on record. Guests: Freddie Gowin, retired park ranger, Lake Tawakoni State Park, Texas; Linda Rayor, arachnologist at Cornell University. Thanks to caller Steven.
How do nailpolish colors get their names? ELT digs into this FAQ, and finds out how painting our nails became a thing. Plus, an update on Jeremy’s reported fruit fly infestation. Guests: Fashion historian Suzanne Shapiro, author of Nails: The Story of the Modern Manicure; Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, co-founder and Brand Ambassador of OPI Products Inc., and author of I’m Not Really a Waitress. Chemical ec...
Images of little green aliens are everywhere: Area 51, bongs, your ‘90s chain wallet. But why did we start depicting extraterrestrials that way? ELT uncovers the moment that beamed little green aliens into our homes (and hearts).
Caller Jeremy has a problem: fruit flies have moved into his apartment, and he needs to know how they got there. ELT finds out where Jeremy’s red-eyed roommates came from. Plus, please help caller Austin name that tune.
Every year the TSA confiscates millions of pounds of pocket knives, sunscreen and snow globes from airport travelers. Where does it all go? ELT investigates. Plus, tips for sneaking your weed onboard from a former TSA agent.
When did organ music and baseball become an item? ELT talks to some pro organ players to find out how organs and ballparks got together. Plus, meet Nancy Faust — the legendary organist who brought trolling to modern baseball music.
For most of human history, tooth care has been pretty bare bones. How did we go from charlatans pulling teeth in a public square, to the modern dentist’s office? ELT exposes the roots of tooth care. Plus, meet the technician who makes movie stars’ teeth look terrible.
Does swearing make you more powerful? Caller Mark’s dad thinks a well-timed “word of power” is the key to efficient yardwork. ELT asks a swearing expert about that theory. Plus, we talk to someone who turns the “mother f*ckers” into “manhole covers” for the TV versions of movies.
Through the 1800s, babies in the U.S. were dressed in gender neutral clothing — you couldn’t tell the girls from the boys based on their outfits. So why did parents start color-coding their kids in pink and blue? Plus, ELT’s long quest to get a sports team to have a flamingo as their mascot is finally over… or is it?
When you fly do you really need to put your phone in airplane mode? Should you fear the tray table? What’s happening in the cockpit while you’re fighting over the armrest? Two airline pilots answer your burning air travel questions.
If you found millions of dollars worth of buried treasure, what would you do next? Take it to the bank? Sell it on eBay? Call 60 Minutes? ELT unearths the tale of the largest buried treasure ever found in North America. Plus, practical tips for dealing with new-found millions, and a nationwide treasure hunt, ELT-style.
How did one style of cheerleading come to dominate in so many American schools? In part one of a two-part episode, ELT flips through the history of cheerleading and meets the man who held cheerleading in the pompom of his hand.
When did organ music and baseball become a thing? ELT talks to some pro organ players to find out how organs and ballparks got together. Plus, meet Nancy Faust — the legendary organist who brought trolling to modern baseball music.
ELT gets to the bottom of a familiar aroma -- thrift store smell. Why do thrift shops all smell the same? Plus, is washing your clothes better than freezing them? ELT investigates listener cleanspiracies with expert cleaner Jolie Kerr.
Flora is hosting the Chapped Cheeks Book Club this week, so we’re revisiting one of our favorite episodes: How do U.S. postage stamps come to be? ELT explores the secret world of the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, the group that decides what gets stuck on America’s envelopes. Guests: Bill Gicker, manager of stamp development at USPS; Jessica, ex-CSAC member; Kam Mak, artist and stamp illustrat...
Every year the TSA confiscates millions of pounds of pocket knives, sunscreen and snow globes from airport travellers. Where does it all go? ELT investigates. Plus, tips for sneaking your weed onboard, from a former TSA agent.
Why is pumpkin spice a thing? Flavor scientists explain why this particular combination is so appealing -- or not. Plus, how to make a new flavor, and ELT listeners pitch their ideas for the next flavor fad.
A Bulletin Board of Glory™ nomination from comedian Josh Gondelman takes ELT down a trashy rabbit hole, to a time before sanitation workers, when pigs roamed the streets. Plus, we meet the man who defied all odds to bring us the bag that cinches. Warning: Explicit.
Where does bubblegum flavor come from? A bubblegum bush? A beaver’s butt? We track down the original bubblegum flavor formula, and find out what’s in there. Plus, why turkey eggs aren’t a thing.
How did goldfish come to dominate our fish bowls and pet stores? We dive into the history of America’s favorite finned pet. Plus, the fanciest goldfish money can buy, and the best pet in a vocal performance.
If you dug up the graves of our founding fathers, what would you find? Tri-corner hats and puffy shirts? A grave expert fills us in on what remains. Plus, a terrifying sea creature that lurks in the waters off northern Australia.
When did “the wave” become a staple of stadium crowds? ELT talks to the professional cheerleader who first got fans out of their seats. Plus, the egg-laying mammal that is not a marsupial; we give monotremes their due.
Tucked into your car’s dashboard is a tiny arrow that points to the side of the car with the gas tank cap. Who came up with it? ELT tracks down the inventor of this tiny, brilliant car hack. Plus, do you really need to warm up your car?
How did they make the dinosaur roars in the Jurassic Park movies? Flora talks with the sound engineers behind the bellows. Plus, ELT goes deep into the Mesozoic to find out what dinosaurs looked (and tasted) like.
When did someone first see a cheese curd and think, “Yeah, I’m going to eat that"? ELT traces the delicious and X-rated history of cheese. Plus, a processed cheese expert on making the most of the dairy aisle.
There are mysterious symbols inside your tee-shirt -- do you know what they mean? ELT reveals the secrets of The DaLaundry Code. Plus, lobsters pee from their faces, koalas have human-like fingerprints, and other cocktail party fodder from our fact buddy exchange.
Some birds can fashion tools and create tiny works of art, so why do we always underestimate their bird brains? In this panel discussion, recorded at the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival, Flora talks with writer Jennifer Ackerman and crow expert Alex Taylor about the genius of birds.
The history of the world’s most iconic movie scream. Hollywood's most iconic scream has a name—and over the course of the past seventy years, it has made an appearance in hundreds of films, television shows, and commercials. But what makes it so good? And how did it become a favorite inside joke for so many filmmakers?