Never explore the final frontier without your trusty, white, puffy space suit! But why is it puffy and white? And why do astronauts need them? Turns out space is super dangerous and these suits can save your life.
We’ll give you a tour of all the features of NASA’s iconic EMU suit and explain why it looks like a squishy marshmallow. Plus, we’ll interview an engineer working on the next generation of space suits and hear a funky new space jam by singer .
Add in a mystery sound, a Moment of Um looking at knuckle cracking and some rad ideas for super suits of the future and you’ve got an action packed episode of Brains On.
This episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (KiwiCo.com/brainson), Panama City Beach (VisitPanamaCityBeach.com), The Great Courses Plus (TheGreatCoursesPlus.com/brainson) and Quip (GetQuip.com/brainson). You can support the show at brainson.org/donate
What is dyslexia? And how do our brains read?
Have you heard the word dyslexia before? It's a term used to describe when people have a hard time learning to read. It's actually very common because reading is a fairly new skill that humans have developed.
In this episode we do a deep dive on dyslexia. We'll look at how our brains have cobbled together the ability to read by re-purposing parts of the brain that evolved for other functions. And we’ll learn what scientists think might be going on in the brains of people with dyslexia when they learn to read. We also talk to Ann Bancroft, a Polar explorer and educator who also has dyslexia, about why getting lost can be fun.
Plus we’ll hear a new Mystery Sound and find out if mice actually do love cheese in our Moment of Um.
This episode is sponsored by Sun Basket (sunbasket.com/brains), Old El Paso, and Panama City Beach (VisitPanamaCityBeach.com). You can support the show at brainson.org/donate
How do elevators work?
Elevators are like magic. You walk in, the door shuts and when it opens again, you are suddenly someplace new! Ta da! But it’s not magic that does this trick, it’s science and engineering.
In this episode we explain how elevators work and we talk about how they’ve changed over time. For instance, did you know the first elevators had no walls?
We also speak with historian Lee Gray about two elevator innovators who both happen to be named Otis. Speaking of Otis, Vijay Jayachandran with the Otis Elevator company, joins us to drop some high level elevator facts. Plus, we hear your ideas for the elevators of the future! And listen to the end to our Moment of Um for an answer to this question: Why do crickets chirp?This episode is sponsored by Old El Paso, Sun Basket (sunbasket.com/brains), Panama City Beach (VisitPanamaCityBeach.com) and The Great Courses Plus (thegreatcoursesplus.com/brainson). You can support the show at brainson.org/donate
Hey, where did you get those genes?!?
Today we’re talking genes - the recipe for you! We’ll go microscopic and check out how traits like hair color are passed down through your family. We’ll also hear the story of genetics pioneer Nettie Stevens and find out how current-day geneticist Janina Jeff unlocks the information packed in genes. And if you have ever wondered how two black Labrador retrievers can be the parents of a yellow Lab, you’re not alone. We have the answer to that too. All this and an especially rambunctious Mystery Sound. Don’t forget to listen to through to the end, where the Moment of Um tackles the question: do we sneeze in our sleep?
This episode is sponsored by:Discount Tire - Visit to find out more.
KiwiCo - Visit for a free trial to this subscription service of hands on art and science projects.
Panama City Beach - Go to to find out more
Plastic: Why it's everywhere
Human-made plastics are super useful -- they're lightweight, can be molded into anything, and they don’t break down. And because plastic is so versatile, we humans have found lots of uses for it. But the fact that it last forever means we find ourselves with a plastic problem. In this episode, we'll learn about the invention of plastic, how it's made and recycled and what you can do to help handle plastic waste. Plus: A very special appearance by Gungador, a tricky mystery sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question: "How do glow in the dark things glow?"
One thing you can do now to help with plastic pollution is use Jenna Jambeck's to report where you're finding plastic in the environment.
Today’s episode is sponsored by Old El Paso, Panama City Beach (VisitPanamaCityBeach.com) and Madison Reed (madison-reed.com and coupon code BRAINSON). You can support the show at brainson.org/donate