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The Disappearing Spoon: a science history podcast with Sam Kean
The Disappearing Spoon: a science history podcast with Sam Kean
Sam Kean

A topsy-turvy science-y history podcast by Sam Kean. I examine overlooked stories from our past: the dental superiority of hunter-gatherers, the crooked... more

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Episodes

The Science of D-Day

Ahead of the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, a look at the surprisingly important role science played in shaping—and... more

14 May 2024 · 19 minutes
Can Plastic Surgery Keep You out of Prison?

One doctor’s controversial crusade to keep men and women out of prison through nose jobs, eye lifts, and other plastic... more

07 May 2024 · 20 minutes
The Russian Roswell

In 1959, nine Russian hikers mysteriously died on a trek through the snowy wilderness—fueling a half-century of hysterical conspiracies. Has... more

30 Apr 2024 · 21 minutes
When Tenure Means Life and Death

After a tenure dispute, mechanical engineer Valery Fabrikant murdered four colleagues in cold blood at his university in Montreal. So... more

23 Apr 2024 · 20 minutes
A Deadly Soup for Babies

Chemist Justus von Liebig was perhaps the most famous scientist in the world in the mid-1800s—but quickly became infamous for... more

16 Apr 2024 · 20 minutes
How the “Worst Serial Killer in Holland’s History” Went Free

Patient after patient died under the care of a single nurse in Holland. So why did so many statisticians think... more

09 Apr 2024 · 20 minutes
The Eclipse that Killed a King

Rama IV of Siam (from the “King and I” musical) used an eclipse to save his kingdom from greedy colonial... more

02 Apr 2024 · 19 minutes
When Generosity Turns Pathological

One Brazilian man’s brain damage transformed him into a selfless giver. So why did he infuriate so many people—and what... more

26 Mar 2024 · 18 minutes
The Sex-Cult “Antichrist” Who Rocketed Us to Space (part 2)

Jack Parsons was a devil-worshipping FBI rat who led a sex cult and was bosom buddies with L. Ron Hubbard.... more

19 Mar 2024 · 21 minutes
The Sex-Cult “Antichrist” Who Rocketed Us to Space (part 1)

Jack Parsons was a devil-worshiping FBI rat who led a sex cult and was bosom buddies with L. Ron Hubbard.... more

12 Mar 2024 · 19 minutes
Don't Drink the Milk bonus episode - Milk: From mutations to mustaches

Who put the cheese in your stuffed-crust pizza? Or cows on a Caribbean island? And when more than half the... more

16 Jan 2024 · 42 minutes
Was Darwin a Murderer?

In 1878, two Paris dandies murdered an old woman—and blamed Charles Darwin for their crime. But the wild scandal that... more

14 Nov 2023 · 20 minutes
Mass Psychosis in Food Science

Americans happily ate monosodium glutamate for decades. Then one (possibly fake) letter sparked mass hysteria over “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”, and... more

07 Nov 2023 · 19 minutes
Accounting for Taste

Scientists have confirmed five basic human tastes—sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami. But is that all? Debate now rages about... more

31 Oct 2023 · 18 minutes
If Indiana Jones Were a Swindler

James Mellaart discovered one of the most important archaeological sites ever, Çatalhöyük in Turkey. But his lust for treasure—and a... more

24 Oct 2023 · 19 minutes
The British Tobacco Empire

He helped launch the British Empire and spawned a public-health epidemic that killed hundreds of millions of people. Blame him... more

17 Oct 2023 · 19 minutes
"Moldy Mary," The Forgotten Mother of Penicillin

She helped discover arguably the most important drug in history. And she got zero credit. They called her Moldy Mary—but... more

10 Oct 2023 · 21 minutes
The Most Exclusive Club in the World

As recent submersible tragedies reveal, it’s harder to reach extreme ocean depths than the Moon. Meet the people who got... more

03 Oct 2023 · 19 minutes
Death-Defying Science at 75,000 Feet

You wouldn’t think a lanky, awkward balloon geek would inspire Hollywood. But the death-defying Auguste Piccard was a worthy namesake... more

26 Sep 2023 · 20 minutes
Proving Einstein Right

Albert Einstein’s relativity was just another theory at first, speculative and unproven—until Arthur Eddington and a special eclipse. Meet the... more

20 Sep 2023 · 19 minutes
Einstein's Golden Moment

It was the most powerful emotional moment of Albert Einstein’s life—the instant he knew he was a genius. But in... more

12 Sep 2023 · 20 minutes
Everything You Know About Phineas Gage Is Wrong

Despite what you’ve heard, neuroscience’s most famous patient did not turn into a lying, drunken psychopath. He’s actually an amazing... more

11 Jul 2023 · 19 minutes
Why Do We Obsess Over Charles Darwin’s Health?

Is it serious historical work? Respectable gossip? Blatantly prying into people’s lives? Retro-diagnosing historical celebrities like Darwin and Lincoln and... more

27 Jun 2023 · 20 minutes
The Seeds of Starvation

During the Nazi invasion of Russia during World War II, nine Soviet scientists starved to death surrounded by millions of... more

20 Jun 2023 · 21 minutes
When Scientific Brilliance Isn’t Enough

William Halford thought he had a surefire vaccine to stop herpes. And he wasn’t going to let anything—laws, ethics, his... more

13 Jun 2023 · 19 minutes
The Curse of Knowing Too Much

Paul Stoutenburgh knew more atomic secrets than anyone on Earth. So was that why he killed himself? And if not,... more

06 Jun 2023 · 19 minutes
The Enigmas of Foreign Accent Syndrome

Can you really collapse and wake up speaking a totally new language? Not quite. But “foreign accent syndrome” is a... more

30 May 2023 · 18 minutes
The World’s Only Natural Nuclear Reactor

What a bizarre site in Africa—a 1.7-billion-year-old, completely natural nuclear reactor—says about the future of energy production on planet Earth...Advertising... more

23 May 2023 · 21 minutes
How New DNA Sleuthing Can Expose Dangerous Killers—and You

Genetic genealogy can catch brutal killers. It can also unmask affairs, secret adoptions, and other dark secrets. As well as... more

16 May 2023 · 20 minutes
The Real Tragedy of Robert Oppenheimer

He coulda would shoulda been the next Einstein. Instead, Robert Oppenheimer fritted away his talents on trendy science and political... more

09 May 2023 · 20 minutes
The Brilliant, Groundbreaking, and Wildly Overrated Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci was brilliant, groundbreaking—and especially with regard to his science—wildly overrated. All because he lacked one all-important quality:... more

02 May 2023 · 20 minutes
Spring update and "Innate" trailer

An update on the spring season of Disappearing Spoon (early episodes for Patreon subscribers!), plus a trailer for the new... more

06 Feb 2023 · 4 minutes
Death Squared

The “mouse utopia” experiment showed just how quickly animal heaven can turn into animal hell—and revealed how eager human beings... more

29 Nov 2022 · 20 minutes
Death by Nutrition

Polar explorer Douglas Mawson made several mistakes on his harrowing journey across Antarctica. But the biggest blunder involved eating animal... more

22 Nov 2022 · 20 minutes
The Roadside Apocalypse

Automobiles kill several million animals every single day. Scientists are still coming to grips with the carnage...Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brandsPrivacy &... more

15 Nov 2022 · 20 minutes
The Blind Visionary

Thomas Schall was first blind member of Congress. There, he envisioned a better, smarter, more efficient world—brought about by his... more

08 Nov 2022 · 21 minutes
The Scariest Paradise on Earth

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Korea is a place of guns and heartache and anger—and also one of the most... more

01 Nov 2022 · 18 minutes
The Naked Shibboleth

Naked mole-rats are medical marvels—impervious to cancer and immune to old age. Too bad they’re also vicious murderers...Advertising Inquiries: https://redcircle.com/brandsPrivacy... more

25 Oct 2022 · 20 minutes
The Debaucherous Legacy of Johnny Appleseed

The Johnny Appleseed of Disney fame was complete bunk. He brought not wholesome apples to people, but liquor—and lots of... more

18 Oct 2022 · 21 minutes
The Most Evil Molecule

It fueled slavery, as well as the Nazi death machine. It kills millions of people every year through cancer and... more

11 Oct 2022 · 18 minutes
The Disappearing Spoon: a science history podcast with Sam Kean
The Debaucherous Legacy of Johnny Appleseed
The Disappearing Spoon: a science history podcast with Sam Kean
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Description

The Johnny Appleseed of Disney fame was complete bunk. He brought not wholesome apples to people, but liquor—and lots of it, all... more