Brains On! A podcast featuring science for kids and curious adults.
Brains On!

Brains On!

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Most Recent Episodes

Allergy attack: How our bodies can overreact (Encore)

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, click on "Store", and enter coupon code BRAINSON at checkout to receive 10% off) and Mabel's Labels (

Mystery Sound Extravaganza 2018

Sounds abound all around. Do you think your ears are up to the task? We have an episode chock full of nothing but mystery sounds to challenge and stretch your listening powers. Also, did you hear that the Brains On store is open? We couldn't be happier with the t-shirts and other goodies we have to offer. Have a look! Brains On is sponsored today by: • ButcherBox ( and enter "BRAINSON" at checkout) • Squarespace (enter offer code BRAINSON)

How do animals breathe underwater? (Encore)

Our lungs are great at getting oxygen out of the air, but if we needed to do that underwater, we'd be sunk. So how do fish, shrimp, jellyfish and other marine animals breathe underwater? And what happens when there is no oxygen in the water for them to breathe? We answer those questions plus a brand new Moment of Um tackles this sticky one: "Why do we have earwax?" And a new group of listeners gets inducted into the Brains Honor Roll! Give a listen!Today Brains On is sponsored by: • Acer Swift 5 ( — enter BRAINSON at checkout for 10% discount) • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser ( Music in this episode by Good Old Neon.

'The Rice Cakes and the Oni': A story from Circle Round

Sometimes we're in the mood for a good story, so we're turning our show over to Circle Round this week. It's a podcast produced by WBUR in Boston that tells folktales from around the world. These stories are funny, surprising, suspenseful and downright charming. Here's one we think you'll dig. It stars a kid who loves making jokes, so you know it's up our alley. In the meantime, we're hard at work on some exciting new episodes — including a brand new show. We'll be able to tell you more about in a few weeks and we CAN'T WAIT to share it with you. We are really, really excited.

Video game music: From 8-bit to orchestras (encore)

You know how important music can be when it comes to gaming. But what if you choose to play without music? Or, what if you replace the music with your own soundtrack? How does that affect your playing? We're going to dig into the psychology of video game music, explain how the interactivity of video game music works and figure out what "8-bit" means. You can find all of that in this episode, plus a new group of names added to the Brains Honor Roll and brand new Moment of Um answers the question, "How do cheetahs run so fast?"

The tick-tock of our circadian clock

Our bodies are filled with tiny clocks. Down to the cellular level, they tick and tock and stay in sync with the light and dark cycles of the sun. These near 24-hour-cycles are known as our circadian rhythm. Do you want to know the best time of day to be productive... or exercise... or do your homework? In this episode, we'll take a look at the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) — the great conductor of our circadian rhythm. Plus, the number of screens we look at every day keeps growing. Find out how light from these screens might affect circadian rhythms and what you can do about it. What if every 24 hours, you saw the sun rise and set 16 times? That's what happens to astronauts orbiting the earth. Doug Wheelock (@Astro_Wheels) gives a first-hand account. Throughout history, cycles of light and dark have been celebrated, revered and commemorated. Archeoastronomer Anthony Aveni guides us through a few of these events. All that plus a listener-submitted Mystery Sound from down under. This episode is the first of a two-parter looking at circadian rhythm. The second part will look at how these cycles affect plants and animals too!

'Is it opposite day?' and other mind-bending paradoxes

Think about it: the answer to the question "Is it opposite day?" will always be no. It's a head-scratcher. So how do you figure out if it is, in fact, opposite day? We talk to two philosophers who walk us through how questions like these can bend and twist the truth — and our minds. We learn about the sinister-sounding "Liar Paradox." And we find out that it's not only our brains that use logic, it's used by the machines all around us too. Plus: A brand new mystery sound and an answer to the question: How do erasers erase?

Our 100th episode! What's the big deal?

In this milestone of an episode, we ask why people seem to love the number 100 so much. We also learn some amazing tricks involving the number 100 from a mathemagician. And fan favorite Gungador goes from Most Epic Fighting Battle Realm to a much more challenging setting: high school.

Meet Sandy, the left-handed mutant snail

Sandy is a mutant snail whose shell coils to the left instead of the right. For humans, being left-handed or right-handed can definitely affect the way we experience life, though that mismatch is usually just a minor nuisance. But sometimes, sidedness can change the future of an entire species.

Dolphins vs Octopuses: Showdown in the sea!

Two of Earth's most amazing animals go head to head in our latest debate. We're asking you to decide which animal reigns supreme. Is it the eight-armed, three hearted, shape-shifting octopus? Or the speed swimming, echo-locating, super-jumping dolphin? Listen along as Marc argues for #TeamOctopus and Sanden fights for #TeamDolphin. We'll learn amazing facts about both sides along the way. Plus an aquatic Mystery Sound, some deep-sea stand up comedy and a Moment of Um answering why flamingos are pink... featuring Flora Lichtman from Gimlet Media's Every Little Thing.

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