Brains On!

Brains On! is a science podcast for curious kids and adults from American Public Media. Co-hosted each week by kid scientists and reporters from public radio, we ask questions ranging from the science behind sneezing to how to translate the purr of cats, and go wherever the answers take us.

Chop: The science of cooking, pt. 3 (6/2018)

Our knives are drawn and ready to mince and dice our way through the science of chopping. In this episode we'll find out what happens to that carrot you're chopping on a molecular level (spoiler alert: the knife never actually touches it!). We also visit a knifemaker's studio and talk to Splendid Table host Francis Lam to get his chopping tips. This is the third in a five part series on the science of cooking, made in collaboration with America's Test Kitchen Kids. For more recipes and information for young chefs, head to americastestkitchen.com/kids to sign up for their newsletter. And to to make a donation to Brains On, visit brainson.org/donate.

Chill: The science of cooking, pt. 2 (6/2018)

From ice cubes to ice cream, cold things are a crucial part of cuisine. How do we use chill to our advantage? This is part two of our series on the science of cooking, a collaboration with the brilliant foodies at America's Test Kitchen Kids. This episode is (literally) super cool. We're figuring out how refrigerators work and why some of their parts are hot. We're traveling back in time to find out how selling ice became a very big business (for a while anyway). And we'll learn why ice cream makes people thirsty and how to make incredibly delicious paletas. Plus: Our Moment of Um tackles the question, "Why do mints make your mouth feel cold?" For more recipes and information for young chefs, head to americastestkitchen.com/kids to sign up for their newsletter. Brains On is sponsored today by Children’s Cancer Research Fund (ccrf.org/brainson)

Heat: The science of cooking pt. 1 (6/2018)

We’ve teamed up with America’s Test Kitchen Kids to delve into the scrumptious science of cooking. You’ve sent in so many great cooking questions that we had to spread the answers over four episodes. This is our first installment: HEAT. What crazy chemical reactions does heat trigger in food? How do microwave ovens work -- and why can’t you put metal in them when they’re lined with metal? We’ll answer those questions, find out how feeding squirrels helped profoundly change how we prepare food and learn the recipe for a perfect grilled cheese sandwich. Plus: our Moment of Um tackles the question, “How does coffee keep you awake?” For more recipes and information for young chefs, head to americastestkitchen.com/kids to sign up for their newsletter. Brains On is sponsored today by Children’s Cancer Research Fund (ccrf.org/brainson) and KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson).

Boogers and sun sneezes: Know your nose (5/2018)

In this encore mash-up episode, we revisit some fascinating facts that will help you get to know your nose. Why does the sun make some people sneeze? And where do boogers come from anyway? Plus: A brand new moment of um answers the question: "Why do sloths move so slow?"

The wonderful weirdness of water (5/2018)

One of the weirdest substances in the universe is right under your nose. No, not boogers. Water! Water seems ordinary, almost boring, but take a closer look and you’ll find a wonderfully weird molecule that behaves like nothing else in the universe. It can move up against gravity. It can absorb lots of heat energy without getting super hot. It can dissolve almost anything. It carves canyons and quenches our thirst. Why is water so weird, and why does that matter? Listen to find out! Today’s episode is sponsored by: KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson); Children’s Cancer Research Fund (ccrf.org) and ModCloth (modcloth.com and offer code BRAINSON)

Smash Boom Best: Bats vs. Owls (new show alert!) (5/2018)

For the past few months, we’ve been working on a top secret project and we’re so excited we finally get to share it with you! It’s a new show called Smash Boom Best and it’s nothing but debates. Sort of like the ones you’ve heard on Brains On, but with a few new twists. It’s a little faster paced, a little sillier and we hope you’ll think it’s a lot of fun. Today: Wings out, eyes wide -- we’re swooping in on a battle between a perfect pair of creatures of the night. Which is cooler: Bats? Or owls? We’re going to hear lots of facts and feelings from our debaters: Brandi Brown and Katie McVay. Who will be chosen the Smash Boom Best? Listen to hear what our judge decides and then head over to smashboom.org to share your opinion with us! And subscribe to Smash Boom Best wherever you get your podcasts to hear the rest of this season's debates.

What was the first robot? And more from Robotstravaganza (5/2018)

What was the first robot? What is artificial intelligence? How do robots "learn?" In this special episode, we have pieces from our live Robotstravaganza show in Boston. We meet some awesome robots (including one that's very cuddly), debate whether robots are good for humanity or bad, and find out what robots can learn from nature. Plus a mystery sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question, "How do oysters make pearls?"

What's in your water? (5/2018)

What’s in your water, and how did it get there? Clean water is a must, but modern living can put a lot of bad stuff in it. Road salt, fertilizer, dog doo-doo, heavy metals - how do these things get in our water? Why should we care? And how can we tell if our water is healthy? In this episode we hitch a ride on the water cycle with a pair of water drops. We learn about what caused the Flint water crisis. And we hear about one young girl’s award-winning idea for a faster way to test lead in water - spoiler alert - it involves carbon nanotubes! This is the first in a series of water-related episodes we’re working on over the next few months. We hope it makes a splash with you! Want to learn if you have a lead pipe carrying water into your home? Check out this helpful link from NPR: https://apps.npr.org/find-lead-pipes-in-your-home/en/#intro

What makes paint stick? (4/2018)

Paint goes on wet, then it dries — and it’s stuck there. But how does it stick? We’re going to zoom way in to find out. We’ll visit a forensic chemist, a painter who makes his own paint and a party happening at the molecular level.

Allergy Attack: How our bodies can overreact (4/2018)

Pollen, peanuts, dust mites. These things aren't poisonous - so why do some people's bodies act like they are? In this episode, we'll find out what happens during an allergic reaction, explore why only some people have allergies and hear about new treatments. Plus: a brand new Moment of Um answers the question "Why do sunsets have so many colors?" and we'll read a new group of listeners to be added to the Brains Honor Roll! Brains On is sponsored today by Acer Swift 5 (visit acer.com, click on "Store", and enter coupon code BRAINSON at checkout to receive 10% off) and Mabel's Labels (mabelslabels.com/brainson)