Elevators are like magic. You walk in, the door shuts and when it opens again, you are suddenly someplace new! Ta da! But it’s not magic that does this trick, it’s science and engineering.
In this episode we explain how elevators work and we talk about how they’ve changed over time. For instance, did you know the first elevators had no walls?
We also speak with historian Lee Gray about two elevator innovators who both happen to be named Otis. Speaking of Otis, Vijay Jayachandran with the Otis Elevator company, joins us to drop some high level elevator facts. Plus, we hear your ideas for the elevators of the future! And listen to the end to our Moment of Um for an answer to this question: Why do crickets chirp?This episode is sponsored by Old El Paso, Sun Basket (sunbasket.com/brains), Panama City Beach (VisitPanamaCityBeach.com) and The Great Courses Plus (thegreatcoursesplus.com/brainson). You can support the show at brainson.org/donate
Hey, where did you get those genes?!?
Today we’re talking genes - the recipe for you! We’ll go microscopic and check out how traits like hair color are passed down through your family. We’ll also hear the story of genetics pioneer Nettie Stevens and find out how current-day geneticist Janina Jeff unlocks the information packed in genes. And if you have ever wondered how two black Labrador retrievers can be the parents of a yellow Lab, you’re not alone. We have the answer to that too. All this and an especially rambunctious Mystery Sound. Don’t forget to listen to through to the end, where the Moment of Um tackles the question: do we sneeze in our sleep?
This episode is sponsored by:Discount Tire - Visit to find out more.
KiwiCo - Visit for a free trial to this subscription service of hands on art and science projects.
Panama City Beach - Go to to find out more
Plastic: Why it's everywhere
Human-made plastics are super useful -- they're lightweight, can be molded into anything, and they don’t break down. And because plastic is so versatile, we humans have found lots of uses for it. But the fact that it last forever means we find ourselves with a plastic problem. In this episode, we'll learn about the invention of plastic, how it's made and recycled and what you can do to help handle plastic waste. Plus: A very special appearance by Gungador, a tricky mystery sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question: "How do glow in the dark things glow?"
One thing you can do now to help with plastic pollution is use Jenna Jambeck's to report where you're finding plastic in the environment.
Today’s episode is sponsored by Old El Paso, Panama City Beach (VisitPanamaCityBeach.com) and Madison Reed (madison-reed.com and coupon code BRAINSON). You can support the show at brainson.org/donate
Ants: Who's in charge here?
We have a lot to learn from ants. This episode digs into the hierarchy of ant colonies (spoiler alert: there is none) and why they walk in a straight line (spoiler alert: they don’t). We’ll also find out about epic ant battles and how the study of ants is teaching us about how cancer spreads, how the internet can be improved, and could even give us new ways to explore Mars. Plus: Our Moment of Um answers the question: Why do the mountains look blue from far away? This episode is sponsored by Old El Paso, KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson), The Great Courses Plus,(thegreatcoursesplus.com/brainson), and Sun Basket (sunbasket.com/brains). You can support the show at brainson.org/donate.
Tree, Myself and I: All about our leafy green friends
Trees are the strong, silent type but that doesn’t mean they can’t communicate. In this episode we’ll explore how trees send each other messages above ground and below. Plus we’ll learn how a seed goes from a tiny sapling to a towering plant. We find out some fruit facts and hear an all new Mystery Sound. Oh, and our Moment of Um answers the question: why does the moon sometimes change color? This episode is sponsored by Discount Tire (discounttire.com) and Raddish, a cooking club for kids (RaddishKids.com/brains and coupon code BRAINS). You can support the show at brainson.org/donate.