Podcasts

London Made a Train for the Dead

When London was in the grips of a cholera epidemic, the already-overfilled cemetaries couldn't handle the extra bodies. So when there's literally no room in the soil for another dead body, what's a city to do? To the creators of the London Necropolis Railway, the answer was simple -- build a train for the dead.

Roald Dahl: Children's Author and Secret Agent

Today author Roald Dahl is best-known for his prolific writing career -- but, as it turns out, he lived an entirely different life before he ever put pen to paper to create children's stories. Learn more about Roald Dahl's earlier life as a fighter ace, a legendary ladies man, and a World War II-era spy (seriously, like a real-life James Bond!) in this episode.

When did ALL-CAPS type become YELLING?

You've seen them before, whether in a forwarded spam email, a strangely passionate Facebook post or a weirdly emphatic comment on your favorite website: THE DREADED ALL-CAPS TYPER. But where does this practice come from? How did everyone agree that typing in ALL CAPS means you're yelling at someone via text? Tune in to... FIND OUT.

Why does the Guinness Beer Company Track World Records?

Odds are you've heard about the Guinness Book of World Records, the famous, often inaccurate compilation of various impressive, important, and ridiculous feats from people across the planet. But how did it come about? How on earth did a brewer become the repository of all this strange knowledge? Tune in for a surprising peek behind the keg -- and into the cups -- of Guinness history and human ambition.

Digging Up James K Polk (For the Third Time)

The average American may not hear much about James K Polk in school today, but during his time in office the 11th U.S. President was responsible for a number of tremendously significant policy movements. Today he and his wife are interred in the Tennessee State Capitol, but this was neither their first resting place nor, if certain lawmakers succeed, their last. So why do people keep digging up this President's remains? Join Ben and Noel to learn more about the posthumous journey of President Polk.

Presidents Love Their Ridiculous Pets

It's no secret that, until very recently, US Presidents were known as huge fans of pets -- and they didn't limit themselves to cats and dogs! Join Ben and Noel as they explore some of the strangest pets in presidential history, from warhorses and cows to bears, raccoons and much, much more.

The Atomic Whoops: When the US Air Force Bombed South Carolina

During the height of the Cold War, both the US and the USSR constantly ran drills in anticipation of a possible nuclear conflict. While the Gregg family of Mars Bluff, South Carolina knew the Cold War was in full swing, they had no idea that they would become the first American family bombed -- accidentally -- by the US Air Force. Join Ben and Noel as they explore one of the most bizarre atomic slip-ups in history.

Waging War With Hallucinogenic Honey

Honey is popular around the world, and for good reason. This addictively sweet substance is a common ingredient in hundreds of recipes, and people historically believe it has medicinal properties in addition to, well, being delicious! But in certain areas of the world honey is much more than a sweet ingredient -- it's a disturbingly effective weapon of war.

Ben Franklin Tried To Reinvent the Alphabet

For such a popular, well-known language, English is full of strange, seemingly arbitrary rules. Most people just accept these various idiosyncracies... but Benjamin Franklin was not most people. Tune in as Ben and Noel explore Franklin's strange quest to revise the English language by cutting out old letters (and inventing new ones).

The Strange History of Antarctic Fruitcake

Nowadays fruitcake is considered a stereotypical, often comical holiday punchline, but even in the modern day people across the planet can agree on at least one fruitcake fact: Those things are pretty darn durable! So how long could a fruitcake really last before it becomes inedible? Join Ben and Noel as they travel to Antarctica to find out.