6 episodes

Learn about the history around and science about your favourite tales, as researched by Sarah-Jayne Robinson and Tee Newport.

Crumbs of Science Sarah-Jayne Robinson and Timothy (Tee) Newport

    • Science
    • 5.0, 2 Ratings

Learn about the history around and science about your favourite tales, as researched by Sarah-Jayne Robinson and Tee Newport.

    The Emperor's New Clothes, or, Why No One's Told You You're Naked

    The Emperor's New Clothes, or, Why No One's Told You You're Naked

    Join us this week as we pull back the loincloth on this classic tale of swindling and subservience. Learn why our big human brains make us susceptible to delusion, why children always say the darndest things, and how to make sustainable clothes! In the studio this week: psychology researcher Holly Blunden and fabrics enthusiast Stephanie Terwindt.

    Recorded by Sarah-Jayne Robinson and Tim Newport at CPAS Podcast Studio.
    Edited and transcribed by Tim Newport.

    Intro music sampled from "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
    Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    --
    Transcript

    SJ: Many years ago, there was an Emperor so exceedingly fond of new clothes that he spent all his money on being well dressed.
    [Intro Music]

    S: Hi , everyone . My name's SJ

    T: And my name is Tee.

    SJ: And we're Crumbs of science. And this week, if you couldn't tell, we're talking about the Hans Christian Andersen tale the Emperor's New Clothes. This is one that you've probably heard about before in school and it's really quite a simple tale, very easy to tell the morals in this one.

    T: There's no Disney version of the Emperor's New Clothes, although there is the Emperor's New Groove, which has similar morals?

    S: You've got an emperor who is not that nice .

    T: Yeah , quite vain . And he learns to -- I don't know if this one learns anything.

    S: He does! He's learned something at the end. The tale goes that the Emperor didn't care anything about caring for the kingdom or making sure that he was being a good ruler. The only thing he cared about was making sure that he had a good looking outfit on. They had a lovely saying, which was "The king's in council, the Emperor's in his dressing room." He lived in a place where everything was good, so it's all right that he was a bit of a sucky ruler because life was going okay for them. One day there came to town two swindlers who said that they were weavers, and that they could weave the most magnificent fabrics imaginable. And there was something very special about these clothes: Not only were their colours and patterns uncommonly fine, but clothes made of this cloth had a wonderful way of becoming invisible to anyone who was unfit for his office or who was unusually stupid.

    T: "Those will be just the clothes for me," thought the Emperor. "If I wore them, will be able to discover which men in my empire are unfit for their posts! And I could tell the wise man from the fools! Yes, I must certainly get some of the stuff woven for me right away." So he forks over a large sum of money to start work immediately.

    S: And the swindlers, they've got him, hooked him in. They set up their looms, which is what they used to use in olden times to weave and they put nothing on there. They demanded all the exciting materials to make this cloth, so fine silk and gems, gold. But they put all that into their bags and still just set up on this empty loom. Clickity clack going ahead, weaving nothing, which really is a great deception, it seems.

    T: And so the emperor thought I'd like to know how those weavers are getting on with their cloth, but felt slightly uncomfortable because he remembered that those who were unfit for their position, would not be able to see the fabric. Now it couldn't be that he doubted himself. Yet he thought he'd rather send someone else to see how things were going. The whole town knew about the cloth's particular power now, and they're all impatient to find out how stupid their neighbours were.

    S: So the first person that the emperor decides to send is his minister because he thinks he's very smart, fit for his job. Minister turns up, can't see anything. But the swindlers, because seems like they were pretty good actors, described the cloth to...

    • 35 min
    Snow White, or, Youth and Beauty: Just Add Blood!

    Snow White, or, Youth and Beauty: Just Add Blood!

    Tired of the same old skincare routine? Have you considered bathing in the blood of the young? Or perhaps eating a seven-year-old's liver? Join us this week as we learn about poison apples, anti-aging science, and "nutritional cannibalism"! Featuring pediatrician Dr Jake Barlow and vascular scientist Dr Hannah Thomas.

    Recorded by Sarah-Jayne Robinson and Tim Newport at CPAS Podcast Studio.
    Edited by Tim Newport.

    Intro music sampled from "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
    Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    • 30 min
    Rumpelstiltskin, or, Making Gold Using this One Weird Trick

    Rumpelstiltskin, or, Making Gold Using this One Weird Trick

    This week, we're Scrooge McDuck, diving into a big pile of science around making gold, from the 16th century to the present day, and the odds of guessing a stranger's name. Joining us in the studio is green chemist Len Gordon and chemical engineer Nicole Delaroca.

    Our source text: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/oct/13/fairytales-rumpelstiltskin-brothers-grimm

    Gold nanoparticles from wheat: https://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0829/p02s02-usgn.html

    Bismuth into gold: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-lead-can-be-turned-into-gold/

    Recorded by Sarah-Jayne Robinson and Tim Newport at CPAS Podcast Studio.
    Edited by Tim Newport.

    Intro music sampled from "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
    Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    • 39 min
    The Pied Piper of Hamelin, or, Training Rats for Fun and Profit

    The Pied Piper of Hamelin, or, Training Rats for Fun and Profit

    Follow us down the garden path as we explore the history of ratcatching, the science of training rats, and how gullible children are.

    Recorded by Sarah-Jayne Robinson and Tim Newport at CPAS Podcast Studio.
    Edited by Tim Newport. Transcribed by Sarah-Jayne Robinson.

    Intro music sampled from "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
    Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    --

    SJ: [Fairytale music underneath] In the year 1284 a mysterious man appeared in Hameln. [Fairytale music continues]
    SJ: Hi, my name's SJ
    Tee: And my name's Tee
    SJ: And we're Crumbs of Science, a podcast about the science in and around fairytales
    Tee: So today we're talking about the Pied Piper of Hamelin, a Brothers Grimm fairytale which was first published in 1816 but the story dates back well before that.
    SJ: There's a lot of evidence showing that this event that occurs in the Pied Piper of Hamelin, actually happened. So to give you a rough idea of what was happening around the world in the late 13th Century - Marco Polo was making his journeys around the globe, the Ottoman empire had just been founded and King Edward the First was on the throne in England. The story of the Pied Piper continues - he was wearing a coat of many coloured, bright cloth, for which reason he was called the Pied Piper. He claimed to be a ratcatcher and he promised that for a certain sum that he would rid the city of all mice and rats. The citizens struck a deal, promising him a certain price. The ratcatcher then took a small fife from his pocket, which is a little musical instrument a bit like a flute or a recorder today, and began to blow on it. Rats and mice immediately came from every house and gathered around him. When he thought that he had them all, he led them to the river Wesser, where he pulled off his clothes and walked them into the water. The animals all followed him, fell in, and drowned.
    Tee: So here's the thing about, uh, training rats to do things - uh, they can be, rats can be trained. But the, I mean, people do train rats for all sorts of things, uh scientists use them in labs, they, the rats are really smart and they're used for analogues for humans, um, because we have quite similar physiology...physiological reactions to things, um, and they can be trained.
    SJ: Could I train rats to follow me when I played my flute?
    Tee: You could train rats to follow you, yes, but you couldn't train them to follow you because you're playing a flute or a fife or uh, whatever you've got on hand, um, because when you're training rats, um, it's all about quite simple stimuli and quite simple commands. So, there's an article in the New York Times, uh, from 2016, by Malia Wollan and she interviewed a guy called Mark Harden, from Animals for Hollywood. And the way they train the rats, is they reward them with food and they, uh, when they perform an action after a simple trigger like a click or a light going on, something like that.
    SJ: Do you think, that if I laid food in front of rats, that they would run, if I put enough food in, they'd run into water and die?
    Tee: I don't think so, like we said, they're actually quite smart, they're not as, yeh, they're not that dumb.
    SJ: So, they couldn't sew me a dress and they probably wouldn't follow me when I play my flute, that's very unexciting.
    Tee: Music does actually affect rats though. It does, you can, it's not so much useful for training them, but if you want to change the way rats behave or their physiology, a 2018 review of 42 different studies on rats found that rats really were affected...music, listening to music increased the neuroplasticity of the brains, so the brains ability to reprogram itself, um, it improved their ability to learn, it reduced their anxiety. Uh, it also affected them physically as well, and,...

    • 16 min
    The Little Mermaid, or, How to Get on Land If You Are a Fish

    The Little Mermaid, or, How to Get on Land If You Are a Fish

    Join us down where it's wetter to learn all about the history of mermaids and the science of land-fish!

    Recorded by Sarah-Jayne Robinson and Tim Newport at CPAS Podcast Studio.
    Edited by Tim Newport, transcribed by Sarah-Jayne Robinson.

    Intro music sampled from "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
    Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    ---

    Transcript:

    SJ: Far out in the ocean where the water is as blue as the prettiest cornflour and as clear as crystal, it is very, very deep, so deep indeed that no cable could fathom it. Many Church steeples piled one upon another would not reach from the ground beneath to the surface of the water above. There dwell the Sea King and his subjects.
    [intro music]
    SJ: Hi everyone, my name is SJ.
    Tee: And my name is Tee.
    SJ: And we're Crumbs of Science and this week if you couldn't tell by the introduction we are talking about The Little Mermaid. But, not your Disney Little Mermaid, gosh no, that's a way too pleasant. Instead we want to talk about the original Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, published in 1837.
    Tee: Yeh, we're real hipsters like that we're going for the, uh, the OG Little Mermaid.
    SJ: Now often when we've mentioned fairy-tales on here there's been heaps of previous versions and it's come through. But Hans Christian Andersen was, I think a little bit more original than the Brothers Grimm because they just collected the fairytales, whereas Hans wrote it himself. So there are some previous versions of this fairytale such as Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, very fancy name, published in 1811 where a watersprite marries a knight named Huldebrand in order to gain a soul. Very popular German folktale. There's also a French folktale, Melusine where a watersprite marries a knight, on the condition that he shall never see her on Saturdays, when she becomes a mermaid again. Casual Saturday, as you do. And there's also a theory that he was perhaps inspired by the occultist Paracelsus whose full name, get ready for this one, was Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, who was around til 1541 and he was pretty big in the medical industry and he believed that sickness and health in the body relied upon the harmony of humans and nature. So if plants looked like part of the body they could cure that part of the body, for example one that I found was that orchid roots look like testicles so they can cure any testicle-associated illness of course and he thought that the four elements of a body had to be in-line with each other and the four elements corresponded to four elemental beings. Salamanders for fire, gnomes for earth, sylphs for air and undines or mermaids for water. So these might have been some of the inspirations for Hans Christian Andersen. But also at this time, it was relatively well-believed that mermaids were actually real and we'll discuss that a little bit later. There was lots of evidence out there that mermaids existed. Many well-renowned thinkers believed in mermaids and there were even exhibitions of mermaids that would tour around England and around Europe at the time displaying mermaids or mermaid bones or artifacts from mermaids.
    Tee: So Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid opens in a similar way to the Disney version. There is the Sea King at the bottom of the ocean who lives in a beautiful, beautiful castle. The Sea King is a widower and in this story, the Sea King's mother is also around the home. She, the Sea King and the six daughters of the Sea King, uh, all live in this huge castle at the bottom of the ocean. Each of the daughters is told by their grandmother that 'When you've reached your 15th year, you'll have permission to rise up out of the sea to sit on the rocks in the moonlight, while the great ships are sailing by and then.

    • 22 min
    Hansel and Gretel, or, How to Cook a Child

    Hansel and Gretel, or, How to Cook a Child

    Welcome to Crumbs of Science!

    Join us in our very first episode, where we learn all about building with gingerbread, making fat birds, and the best way to make sure a child is cooked all the way through. Special guests: structural engineer Will Horton and pediatrician Dr Jake Barlow.

    Recorded by Sarah-Jayne Robinson and Tim Newport at CPAS Podcast Studio.
    Edited by Tim Newport, transcribed by Sarah-Jayne Robinson.

    Intro music sampled from "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
    Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    ---

    Transcript:
    SJ: Next to a great forest, there lived a poor woodcutter who had come upon such hard times that he could scarcely provide daily bread for his wife and his two children, Hansel and Gretel.
    [intro music]
    SJ: Hi everyone, my name is Sarah-Jayne
    T: And my name is Tee
    SJ: And we're Crumbs of Science, a podcast about the science in and around fairytales. Now because this is our very first episode, we thought we'd give you a little bit of a background about ourselves. SO my name is Sarah-Jayne or SJ and I think that I decided at about five years old that I was going to be a fairy princess in my future to the extremes where my 21st birthday I had, it was themed 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' and I went as a fairy princess. But I also have a science background, I have an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering and arts from the University of Western Australia and after I graduated I spent five years travelling around the world working on oil rigs and I've worked on six continents so far, so almost made it to all the continents, so almost made it to all the continents of the world, one more to go.
    T: Is that one more Antartica?
    SJ: It is Antartica - it's very hard to get to. But I have experienced at least a little of all the others so far. So I've also done a fair bit of science and now I've left that job and I'm currently studying a Masters of Science Communication (Outreach) at the Australian National University, which is why we're doing this podcast.
    T: Ah, and so my name's Tee and I'm also studying this, the Masters of Science Communication (Outreach) at, uh, the Australian National University. Um, and I'd just like to thank the Australian National University for their facilities in recording this podcast today. I studied journalism and geology at university and I actually worked for several years putting on science kids parties, where I'd go to children's birthday parties and instead of a clown, I would be a scientist and everyone would get to do science experiments, um I've also done ...
    SJ: What was your favourite? Your favourite science experiment that you did at a kids birthday party?
    T: Um, so one of my favourites was definitely, uh, making little rockets, where you mix alka-seltzer and water in little pointy test tubes and then put them on a little base and you just put it on the ground and count down 5...4... and then it just goes off. Uh, great experiment, definitely need safety glasses for everyone though, those thing uh, move very fast. Um, but I also did a bunch of science as well, during my geology degree, I did a three week field trip out to the, out to Broken Hill, um, out to the desert where they filmed Mad Max and got to camp for three weeks uh, and stare at the ground, it was great.
    SJ: I think that's most of geology isn't it?
    T: Yeh, it's really, [sigh], it's really tough to make sound exciting.
    SJ: Is geology a real science, oh, who knows? So, our podcast is about fairytales and this week, if you couldn't tell from that opener, we're discussing Hansel and Gretel, which is the, one of the most famous fairytales, originally published in 1812 by the Brothers Grimm and a fun little fact, this story was told to them by Dorchen Wild, who later on actually...

    • 30 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
2 Ratings

2 Ratings

Top Podcasts In Science