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Every Little Thing

Every Little Thing

Why do we cry? Did cavemen really carry clubs? Can swearing make you stronger? On ELT, you call with a question, we find you an answer. Our helpline is open 24-7. Call 833-RING-ELT or send an audio message to [email protected]

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Vodka, Spit, and Coke: How to Spring-Clean Like an Adult

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.
2021-03-01
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A Nasal-Gazing Mystery Solved

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.
2021-02-15
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How Did Dogs Land in Our Laps?

Listener Malik wants to know how wolves became pugs, poodles, and chihuahuas. Zooarchaeologist Angela Perri digs up the answers. Special thanks to Michael Worboys.
2021-02-01
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Hollywood Punches: How to Make a Knockout Sound

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.
2021-01-18
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Scrabble?s Scramble to the Top

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?
2021-01-11
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How Old is Winnie-the-Pooh?

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.
2020-12-28
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How Potatoes Took Over the World

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.
2020-12-21
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Why Does the Wind Make Me Angry?

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.
2020-12-14
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Essential Workers 8 Months Later

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.
2020-12-07
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How To Be Less Clumsy

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.
2020-11-23
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The Dirt on Houseplants

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.
2020-11-16
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Crashing Your Most Memorable Meals

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 get very hungry. Thanks to callers Margaret, Janae, Brandon, Johnny, Jameson, and Oz, and all of you who left us a message.
2020-11-02
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WTF Happened to My Pumpkins?

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.
2020-10-26
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A Meal You Can't Forget: Tell Us

Maybe it?s the spaghetti you ate sitting on the kitchen floor in your first real apartment. Or the congee your best friend made you when your heart got broken. Call and tell us the story about a home-cooked meal that you can?t forget. 833 RING ELT.
2020-10-15
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What Sparked That Wildfire?

Caller Sadera has a 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.
2020-10-05
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Why Do We Cry?

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.
2020-09-28
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Is Your Pet a Righty or a Lefty?

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.
2020-09-21
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Frozen Food: How Long Is Too Long?

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 this episode, we made an error about the types of light jumping spiders can see. All jumping spiders that have been studied are able to see UV and green light. Some species, including Oregon?s paradise jumping spider, can see red as well. We apologize for the error and have corrected it in this version of the show.
2020-09-07
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Cards: Solving a Shuffle Kerfuffle

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.
2020-08-31
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Introducing How to Save a Planet

ELT introduces How to Save a Planet, a new Gimlet Media podcast hosted by journalist Alex Blumberg and scientist and policy nerd Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson. How to Save a Planet asks the big questions: what do we need to do to solve the climate crisis, and how do we get it done?
2020-08-24
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Why Is the Ocean Glowing?

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, Vincent Pieribone, and Severine Martini.
2020-08-17
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Sand: What?s It Really Made Of?

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. 
2020-08-10
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F*ck Yeah: Can Cursing Make You Stronger?

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 caller Mark for the monkey flippin? question, and to Mark?s dad Steve. 
2020-07-27
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Stamps: Tiny Squares Full Of Secrets

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 illustrator. Thanks to caller Elizabeth. ?Mr. Stampman? performed by Bobby Lord, Matthew Boll, MR Daniel, and Julia Kaplan. Mail your stamp idea to: Stamp Development / Attn: Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee / 475 L?Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3300 / Washington, DC 20260-3501. Remember: One idea per letter!
2020-07-20
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Fruit Flies: Seriously, Where Do They Come From?

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 Scotia, Canada. Thanks to Jeremy and all the listeners who shared their gnat knowledge.
2020-07-13
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Tell Us Who Should Be On a Monument

As monuments glorifying white supremacy are taken down, we want to hear from you: Who do you want to see celebrated in their place? Call the helpline and tell us who you?d like to see on a monument. 833-RING-ELT.
2020-07-08
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Behind the Pompoms: Cheerleading?s Checkered Past

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 founder of Black Girls Cheer. Thanks to caller Jessica for the question. Special thanks to Vonciel Baker, one of the original seven Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and to Dee Brock, former manager of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
2020-07-06
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Is a Sense of Direction a Thing?

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.
2020-06-29
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How Squirrels Track Their Nuts

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.
2020-06-08
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When Astronauts Come Home

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.
2020-06-01
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Old Life, This One?s For You

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.
2020-05-18
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Dream Your Way to a Better You

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.
2020-05-11
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Inside the Jigsaw Puzzle Factory

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.
2020-05-04
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Tell Us What You?re Missing Most

After weeks of social distancing, call us and tell us the thing you?re missing most and why it?s important to you. 833-RING-ELT. 
2020-04-27
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Black Holes: Free Your Mind

Are black holes really holes? In honor of 420, ELT takes a trip to black hole country. Thanks to caller Kyle. Guest: Clifford Johnson, professor of physics at the University of Southern California. Happy 420, dudes.
2020-04-20
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How Did Prehistoric Parents Feed The Kids?

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.
2020-04-13
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Essential Workers Call In

Fear, pride, relief, anger ? what?s it like for the people out working so the rest of us can stay inside? Listeners who deliver packages and stock shelves tell us how their lives have changed. Thanks to Jacob, Megan, Ian, Lucy, Tamasha, Justin, Kaleb, Jane, Dawn, Rob, and everyone else who called in. And a gigantic thank you to everyone risking their own health to keep the rest of us safe.
2020-04-06
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ELT Wants to Hear From You

Are you manning a cash register, stocking shelves, delivering pizzas? Are you out working to make sure those of us stuck at home have what we need? We want to hear from you. Call us at 833-RING-ELT.
2020-03-19
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Is It Weird to Be Nice to Alexa?

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 researcher Leila Takayama; oboe player Marcus Phillips.
2020-03-16
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Symphony Secrets: Dirt from the Pit

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. Correction: This episode has been updated to replace the #noboe music with oboe music. Additional thanks to Marcus Phillips for helping us right this wrong.
2020-03-09
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Anesthesia and a Mysterious Chili Cheese Fry Craving

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.
2020-03-02
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How Police Sketch Artists Read Your Mind

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.
2020-02-17
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Meet the Scrunchie Queen

Kate, a ?hair is life? kind of person, asks about the invention that keeps her hair out of her face. Guests: Hair stylist and hair archaeologist Janet Stephens; Scrunchie queen Rommy Revson. Thanks to caller Kate.
2020-02-10
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Drugs on Screen: A Prop Master Tells All

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.
2020-02-03
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America?s Next Top Word

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 Stamper. Thanks to everyone who called in with a word.
2020-01-20
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Caveman Confidential

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.
2020-01-13
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Travel Secrets: Airplane Seats, Cheap Gas, Dirty Toilets

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.
2019-12-23
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Can You Learn to Taste Better?

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 expand Shannon?s tasting vocabulary. Guest: sensory evaluator Gail Vance Civille of Sensory Spectrum. Special thanks to Shannon for venturing outside of her palate?s comfort zone.
2019-12-16
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Ever Felt Someone?s Pain? In Your Butt?

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 ever free ? hashtag booboobottom.
2019-12-09
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Ants: Tiny Brains, Full Hearts

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.
2019-11-25
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En liten tjänst av I'm With Friends. Finns även på engelska.
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