High voltage! How electric power reaches your outlet

We use electricity all the time, but where exactly does it come from? How does it get to our homes? It's a fascinating journey that can start hundreds of miles from your outlet. We'll trace the path electricity takes from the power plant to your light bulb. We'll also learn what it's like without electricity and we'll hear about the rivalry between two great inventors, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla.

Shocking! The science of static (Electricity Series pt. 1)

What makes your hair stand on end? Why does your skirt stick your tights? Why do you get zapped by electric shocks when you go to touch a doorknob? We answer those questions as we explore the science of static electricity. We'll also learn about the 18th-century parties where the goal was to shock, very literally, yourself and your loved ones. Plus: The first event in the first-ever Brains On Electric Games! It's a dramatic tennis match between Benjamin Franklin and Jean-Antoine Nollet.

Word don't fossilize: The origins of language (encore)

Where did language come from? Is it possible to know without traveling back in time? And how do babies learn to speak? In this episode we have the answers to those questions and we'll hear how the word "silly" has evolved over the last several hundred years. Plus: A brand new Moment of Um answers the question, "Why is blood red if it looks blue in your veins?" And you'll hear the latest group to be added to the Brains Honor Roll!

Smash: When continents collide!

How are mountains made? What causes an earthquake? How does hot lava come bubbling up? The answer in each case is... tectonic plates! These are giant, moving slabs of rock covering the Earth's surface. When they slide past or smash into each other it shakes the planet. But, they also helped shape the land we live on. Find out how they work with an extreme cooking demonstration (you'll never see peanut M&Ms the same way). Meet the scientist who thought long ago all the continents were smushed together in a super-continent (spoiler: he was right!). Plus an interview with a USGS scientist about what our planet might look like in a million years. All that plus a mystery sound and a Moment of Um about stinky breath. Listen up and rock on!

Curio: The flies on the bus

A few weeks ago, we got two emails that were so similar and so intriguing we had no choice but to investigate. They both basically asked this: Is a fly on a bus flying as fast as the bus is moving? Or is just hovering? And why doesn't it need a seatbelt? Turns out Einstein wondered about the same kind of things.

Smaller than small

Molecules make up everything around us and they are very, very small. But those molecules are made of atoms, which are even smaller. And then those atoms are made up of protons, neutrons and electrons, which are even smaller. And protons are made up of even smaller particles called quarks. Quarks, like electrons, are fundamental particles, which means they can't be broken down into smaller parts. Or can they? In this episode we parse out the subatomic by talking with a physicist from Fermilab. We also hear how scientists' love for glass tubes aided in the discovery of electrons. Our Moment of Um tackles this puzzler: why is chocolate poisonous to dogs? All that and a smoking hot Mystery Sound.

Healing skin and regrowing limbs: The science of regeneration (Encore)

We all know what happens when you get a cut or scrape. You get a scab, you try not to pick at it, and then after a little while it heals. But what's really going on under that scab? What superpowers does our skin have to repair itself? And what about other animals like salamanders that can do some pretty extreme healing? We're going under the skin for this one. Plus: A brand new Moment of Um answers this question: "How do frogs' tongues stretch so far?" And listen for a new Brains Honor Roll!

What is Down syndrome?

You may have heard of Down syndrome, but what is it exactly? In this episode, we'll break down the science of chromosomes and how having an extra one leads to this fairly common condition. Plus, we'll learn some tips for making friends with someone who might seem different than you. We'll also swing by a farm staffed by ranchers with Down syndrome. And in our Moment of Um we'll find out why eggs go from clear to white when cooked.

Bonus: Kidcast sampler

Looking for more awesome podcasts to listen to? We're bringing you a special bonus episode today to let you know about some of the other podcasts that you might want to check out. And if you want to find lots of other podcasts for kids you can always head to applepodcasts.com/kids

Curio: Vampire of the Great Lakes

Creepy crawly insects and creatures with big teeth and bigger roars can be scary. In preparation for Halloween, here's a tale of one of the scariest creatures around: the sea lamprey. At about 3-4 feet long, the lamprey slithers through the water like an eel and uses concentric circles of sharp teeth to suction onto its prey. As if that weren't enough, it then pokes its tongue into its victim and sucks the life out of it. Part vampire, part alien invader, the sea lamprey originally thrived in the Atlantic Ocean. In the early 1900s we forged a path for sea lamprey to swim into the Great Lakes (silly humans). Since fish in the Great Lakes did not evolve with the lamprey, they were not prepared for the attacks. Lampreys have annihilated lake trout and other fish in the Great Lakes — one can eat up to 40 pounds during its lifespan. How far would you go to stop this invasive species? How about turning the tables and dining on lamprey and pasta? That is one possible solution and conservationists are working on more. Take a listen!

Narwhals: Unicorns of the sea?

Narwhals are whales, and super cool ones at that. But that cool thing coming out of their heads is a tusk, not a horn. Which means it's a tooth! And it's the only known spiral tooth to boot! In this episode, we learn all about narwhals (what that tusk is for and how they're connected to the myth of the unicorn) and the evolution of teeth (from scale-like nubbins to the versatile chompers we have today). Plus our Moment of Um explores whether or not water has a taste.

How do volcanoes erupt? (Encore)

There are all kinds of volcanoes all over the world, but how are they formed? And how do they erupt? To find out, we'll travel to the center of the Earth, and we'll meet a NASA robot that went on a very special volcano mission. Plus: A brand new Moment of Um answers how ballet dancers stand on their toes and we read the latest list of names to be added to the Brains Honor Roll.

For crying out loud: All about tears

It's something so natural that we take it for granted — but when you think about it, it's a little strange. Why does water come out of our eyes? And why does it happen when we're happy? Or sad? Or scared? Or exhausted? In this episode we dive into our mysterious emotional tears, find out why onions make us cry (and how to stop it), and hear about the eye-protecting trio of tears that makes Eyetropolis a safer place. Plus: Our Moment of Um explores why we sweat when we're nervous.

Curio: Quindar tones and talking in space

If you've ever heard an old recording of a NASA space mission, then you've heard a Quindar tone. Those are the beeps that we hear behind the voices of mission control and astronauts orbiting space. Today we find out why these tones exist and how they've inspired a couple modern-day musicians. This episode is the inaugural Brains On Curio - a shorter episode that we're adding to our weekly feed. Today's Curio features Mikael Jorgensen and James Merle Thomas, of the band Quindar. Listen in as they embrace some lesser-known historical NASA audio and turn it into music. Plus: a story from space that shows just how smart spiders are. For more information about Quindar (the band), check out their website quindar.net.

Mars: Our next home planet?

Would you like retire to Mars? It may be possible in the not-so-distant future. Mars is more Earth-like than any other planet in our solar system. In fact, billions of years ago it was warmer and wetter and life may have developed there. Scientists are trying to figure out why it changed and if we could change it back so humans could live there. In this episode you'll learn about Mars' ancient past, you'll meet an architect hoping to build cities there and you'll hear from Mars itself, thanks to the planet's video blog, of course. Plus: In our Moment of Um we answer this question: "Why is money valuable? It's just paper."

Thunder, lightning and tornadoes: Where do they come from? (Encore)

There are some basic ingredients to make thunderstorms and tornadoes. We'll find out what they are - and how to observe these powerful and amazing storms safely. Plus: A brand new Moment of Um will tackle the question, "How do zippers work?"

Animal farts: A mighty wind

Just like humans, most animals have to fart. Some use their gas as a warning to predators, while others use it to dive in the water. And beware, there is a real-life killer fart out there. It gives a whole new meaning to silent but deadly. With help from zoologists Dani Raibiotti and Nick Caruso, who have compiled the "Does it Fart" database, we'll explore the hows, whys and why-nots of animal farts. And we've got a brand new song from Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band all about, you guessed it, animal farts. This episode is truly a gas!

Sunburns: The why behind the ouch (and how to avoid them)

We're taking a look at skin cells, and molecules and electrons to understand how the sun causes our skin to burn. And we explore the different ways to prevent burning in the first place. Plus, in our "moment of um" we tackle this question: What is the farthest that a human can see?

Total solar eclipse: Everything you need to know

On Monday, August 21, a total solar eclipse will be visible on a path that crosses the U.S., from Oregon on the west coast to South Carolina on the east coast. In this episode, we cover all your eclipse essentials: What causes an eclipse? What happens during an eclipse? How do you safely view it? Spoiler alert: Don't stare at the sun without special eyewear. Please don't. Really. Nope. Don't do it. All that plus a mystery sound and our Moment of Um: Why are bugs attracted to light?

Deep Sea vs. Outer Space

It's time for the next Brains On debate! Our listeners sent in over 100 possible matchups and we whittled the list down to ten. You voted and chose this intense matchup from the depths of darkness, under the water and beyond our earth's atmosphere. Who will prevail? This epic episode includes three rounds of heated debate, two mystery sounds, and one winner. Make your own scorecard and then share your opinion with us at brainson.org.

Fart Smarts: Understanding the gas we pass (ENCORE)

Just in time for fireworks, we're bringing back one of our most-requested episodes. It's a blast from the past encore show. Enjoy! Is farting good for us? Where do farts come from? Why do only some make sounds? And what's up with the smell? We tackle your questions about the gas we all pass - plus the mystery sound (it's not what you thing)!

Riding in the car: Motion sickness and optical illusions (Road Trip pt. 5)

In the final leg of our road trip, we explore what happens to our bodies when we travel in cars. Why do some people feel queasy during the ride? Why do cars far away look like they're moving slower than they actually are? Why do roller coasters feel faster than cars? And how do seat belts keep us safe? Bob and Sanden take an epic drive in search for answers and popsicle sticks.

Riding in the car: Motion sickness and optical illusions (Road Trip pt. 5)

Traffic: Phantom jams and chicken soup (Road Trip pt. 4)

On the fourth leg of our road trip, we figure out where traffic comes from and what it would take to make it finally go away. We learn how far back in history traffic jams were happening (spoiler: very far) and how "phantom jams" occur. We visit a room deep underground Los Angeles, the traffic capital of the US, where engineers are trying to ease the city's traffic woes by synchronizing traffic lights. Finally, we explore how, if ever, we can make traffic jams disappear. Are self-driving cars the answer?

Monster and car design

From the headlights to door locks, cars are obsessively designed. But that hasn't always been the case. Find out about innovations like windshield wipers, rearview mirrors and fancy paint. Ralph Gilles knows a thing or two about the look and feel of cars. He's the head of design at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Designing for cars off the road brings us two guests: Rosalee Ramer and Jay Shuster. Rosalee started professionally driving her monster truck at age 14 — she's 20 now, and has added a full load of mechanical engineering classes to her monster truck schedule. Jay Shuster has imagined some of the most iconic cars ever. Too bad we'll never get to ride in them. He's the production designer for Pixar's "Cars 3," and he gives us some insight into designing a universe of talking cars.