The Wholesome Show

A podcast

Animals on Trial!

Bartholomew Chassenée, a distinguished French jurist of the sixteenth century, made his reputation at the bar as counsel for some... rats. That's right, he successfully defended some rats in court.

How did he get the rats off? What loophole did he find? These are interesting questions...

But perhaps the more interesting question is why were the rats on trial in the first place?

We explore the weird habit of the Middle Ages of putting animals in court room trials!

The Wholesome Show is Dr Rod Lamberts and Dr Will Grant, proudly brought to you by The Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science!

The 1947 Children's New Illustrated Encyclopedia!

The past - they say - is a different country. They do things differently there...

And the best way to see those differences (and laugh and cry at them) is to flick through old time encyclopaedias. So we sat down with the 1947 Children's New Illustrated Encyclopedia, and explored how the world was explained to children in 1947. Join us to find out!

The Indiana Pi Bill!

The number pi (π) is... rather unwieldy. It starts with a fairly simple '3', but then continues past the decimal place with a collection of basically random digits... Here's the first one hundred or so digits: 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825342117067

Edward J Goodwin didn't like this messiness, so he had an idea: legislate a much simpler definition of pi! Instead of that long collection of numbers, just use 3! (Or 3.2, or 4...)

Well, that was a dumb idea. But we love dumb ideas at The Wholesome Show, so we explored!

Searching For A Truth Serum!

It's been the stock of movies for decades - and dreams for centuries - but do truth serums exist?

Spoiler alert (you already knew this): they don't. But that's not for the lack of trying! We explore the heroes (or villains) of science trying to bring this mythical chemical into being!

The Pseudo Science of Generations

What 'generation' are you, listener? Too cool Gen X? Permanently bottom of the economic hierarchy Millenial? Or plutocrat Baby Boomer?

You may have been born during one of these time periods, but it turns out when you look at any actual science, the idea of 'generations' is pretty damn flimsy. So we explored!

The Wholesome Show is normally Dr Rod Lamberts and Dr Will Grant, but in this episode we're led by substitute teacher Sam Vilkins!

Tumblr For Old People!

In recent weeks the popular website Tumblr made radical changes to it's terms of use - basically, banning rude and naughty content!

To celebrate / explore / commiserate this milestone, we old science communicators brought in our Senior Generation Z correspondent Sam Vilkins to explain to us what this crazy website is (was) all about...

The Trial Of The L'Aquila Seven

In April 2009, the Italian city of L'Aquila was hit by a devastating earthquake. 309 people were killed. More than 1,500 were injured, some 20,000 buildings were destroyed and 65,000 were temporarily displaced. Some estimates put the damage at $16 Billion.

Less than a year later, six leading Italian scientists and one government official were charged with manslaughter in connection with the case.

Did they fail to predict the unpredictable? Were they scapegoats blamed by an angry public? Or were they foolhardy in the face of fear?

We explore the trial of the L'Aquila Seven, joined today by Sam Vilkins!

Open Plan Offices!

Listener, how do you feel about your co-workers? Do you love them deeply, or would you describe them like this?

"I have inevitably come to despise my co-workers with every molecule of my stressed and wretched being."

Well... I hope not the latter.

But someone out there does feel this way, and they feel this way because of OPEN PLAN OFFICES.

This episode we explore the nightmarish hellscape of our 9 to 5. Enjoy!

Tabby's Star!

Every now and then scientists hit on something weird - something in the wide world out there behaving not quite as you'd expect. Astronomer Dr Tabetha S. Boyajian discovered one of these weird things: a star with something strange orbiting it. Could it, just possible, be home to super advanced aliens???

We explore the potential (but, in all fairness, not super likely) alien megastructures surrounding KIC 8462852, or Tabby's Star!

The Murderous Doctrine of Trofim Denisovich Lysenko

Between the 1930s and the 1960s, Trofim Denisovich Lysenko was heralded as a hero of the Soviet Union - a champion of science, a legend of agriculture, a feeder of the nation.

But it was all bullshit: Lysenko was a charlatan, a fraud whose pseudoscience saw millions starve to death and legitimate scientists executed. It was a dark time indeed.

So we explore!

The Magical (Scientific) World of Ants!

Temnothorax albipennis - or rock ant - has a unique ability in the tiny animal world: to act like a SUPERORGANISM!

Here's a description from our friends O'shea-Wheller, Sendova-Franks and Franks:

"...removing [Temnothorax albipennis] individuals from directly within the nest causes an evacuation response, while removing ants at the periphery of scouting activity causes the colony to withdraw back into the nest. This suggests that colonies react differentially, but in a coordinated fashion, to these differing types of predation. Our findings lend support to the SUPERORGANISM concept, as the whole society reacts much like a single organism would in response to attacks on different parts of its body." (Emphasis added to cool word).

This episode we explore the magical (scientific) world of ants!

***Please note we made no jokes about the name of the Temnothorax albipennis, we apologise for this astonishing lapse in judgement.

Should we regulate the algorithm?

Everyone's using Artificial Intelligence these days! Why if you aren't machine learning your police stats, generative adversarial networking your shark spotting, or automating your video game design, you're just not with it!

But not all artificial intelligence is as good as its boosters might argue... and in fact, we should probably start to think about regulating the machine, before it decides to regulate us.

We explore!

The Wholesome Show is Dr Rod Lamberts and Dr Will Grant, proudly supported by the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at ANU!

Subliminal Messages!

Tiny messages, hidden in screens... Backwards lyrics, instructing you to worship Satan... (rate us 5 stars in the iTunes store)

Subliminal messages! Do you think you're immune to them? Or are you deeply worried that the devil is going to get in through a backwards bit of music? (rate us 5 stars in the iTunes store)

Whether they work or not, they've certainly made some people stupid - so we explore! (rate us 5 stars in the iTunes store)

Why Does Australia Gamble So Damn Much?

It's great to be number one at some things - who wouldn't want to have the world's longest toes, the world's fastest pet fish, or the world's grandest collection of wood? For countries it can be great too - the world's craziest TV game shows, the world's most efficient beetroot growing system, or the world's coolest academics!

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But sometimes being number one sucks... No one wants to have the most murders, the most unhappiness, or the most car crashes...

Well guess what Australia: we're number one at something that sucks too.

Problem gambling.

Even worse - there's daylight between us and number two.

We investigate why Australia gambles so damn much!



A Million And One Uses For Sperm!

Most people think there's just one use for sperm - making babies, taking part in the miracle of life!

But guess what listener, those most people are wrong! There's actually hundreds of weird uses for sperm, including as an awesome suit of armour wearing delivery mechanism for cancer drugs!

We investigate these uses, and the weird scientists who are so fascinated by the stuff...

The Wholesome Show is Dr Rod Lamberts and Dr Will Grant, proudly supported by the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at ANU!

The Placebo Effect!

It's an odd thing, but modern scientific medicine depends on doctors occasionally - just occasionally - lying to your face.

In this episode we explore the bizarre world of the placebo effect, and its crucial role in modern medicine...

The Schmidt Pain Index!

OMG it's a Tarantula Hawk Wasp! Quick question, what body part would you get stung on, for science? Or if you're a little terrified of the Tarantula Hawk Wasp, which other stinging thing would you let sting you?

Now sensible people would say 'nowhere' and 'none of them', but Justin O. Schmidt ain't sensible people... Instead, he's a hero of science, happy to get stung by every stinging thing that nature can throw at him!

We explore the Schmidt Pain Index!

Capturing Carbon! With Klaus Lackner

I hate to break it to you, but if we're going to keep this world even vaguely liveable, we not only need to stop pumping carbon into the atmosphere (though we should definitely do that), we're going to need to suck it back out. 

We explore how, with 'the grandfather' of negative emissions solutions to climate change, Professor Klaus Lackner!