Volcanoes. Trees. Drunk butterflies. Mars missions. Slug sex. Death. Beauty standards. Anxiety busters. Beer science. Bee drama. Take away a pocket full of science knowledge and charming, bizarre stories about what fuels these professional -ologists' obsessions. Humorist and science correspondent Alie Ward asks smart people stupid questions and the answers might change your life.
Indigenous Pedology (SOIL SCIENCE) with Lydia Jennings
Soil! Dirt! Earth. Dr. Lydia Jennings, aka Native Soil Nerd, breaks down the stuff under our feet and explains everything from mining to why soil can be different colors. Also: medicine from microbes, giving back to the land after extractive processes, collecting samples in urban rivers, elders’ ecological knowledge, planting hot Cheetos, potting soil mysteries, lung fungus, the smell of rain and why gardening makes you happy. Oh and running hundreds of miles for your science.
Smologies #18: FEASTS with Katherine Spiers
Kid-friendly and quick! It’s another Smologies G-rated cut of a classic episode. Loosen your belts and tuck a napkin under your chin because feasting season is here. Katherine Spiers -- journalist, food anthropologist, editor of HowtoEatLA.com and host of the culinary history podcast Smart Mouth -- lets Alie belly up for a buffet of questions about winter gatherings, Thanksgiving myths, green bean casseroles, the hazards of deep frying, holy eels and more.
Bryology (MOSS) Encore with Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer
It’s November and you need chill vibes. And Native American Heritage Month is the perfect time to encore this classic. World-renowned author, botanist, Indigenous ecology professor and bryologist Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of “Gathering Moss” and “Braiding Sweetgrass,” talks about her passion for moss. Cozy up for the most beautifully doled-out information about hidden worlds, overlooked mysteries, botanical drama, forests in miniature, Native peoples’ uses for moss and philosophies about science and ecology. Dr. Kimmerer will change the way you see mosses forever, will inspire you to wear a loupe on a rope, and will soothe your soul with her beautiful voice and prose. Also bathmats, lawns and smoothies made of moss? We discuss.
Discard Anthropology (GARBAGE) with Robin Nagle
Landfills! Treasures in the trash! Corporate conspiracies! Composting! An instantly classic conversation with the incredibly knowledgeable, frank and wonderful Dr. Robin Nagle of New York University’s Liberal Studies! She is a clinical professor, author, TED speaker and former New York City sanitation worker and truly the best person on Earth to trash talk with. We cover what you can and can’t actually recycle, sticky mustard bottles, drugs in the trash, Swedish Death Cleaning, mobsters and landfills, Bitcoin in the dump, the future of garbage and exactly how screwed we are. Enjoy.
Smologies #17: FLAGS with E. Tory Laitila
A kid-friendly, shortened version of our classic episode on …flags! E. Tory Laitila, a textile expert who has also handled Honolulu's flag protocol, gives the skinny on the oldest flags, skull and crossbone Jolly Rogers, his favorite state flag, Scandinavian simplicity, the hardest flags to draw, who designed our modern American flag and how you too can have ... fun with flags all year round.
Vampirology (VAMPIRES) Part 2 with Jeff Holdeman
Start with Part 1 for all the folkloric history, superstition, and Dracula basics. And then this Part 2 has vampire finches, fang straws, vegan bloodsuckers, threshold invites, horniness, grain alcohol, garlic breath, psychic vampires and all our questions answered by Dr. Jeff Holdeman, professor and Vampirologist in Indiana University’s Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures department. Also: I think you should write a novel.
Part 1: alieward.com/ologies/vampirology
Donations went to Myeloma.org for blood cancer research in honor of your Grandpod, Larry Ward and NaNoWriMo.org. Go write your book.
More episode sources and links
Other episodes you may enjoy: Our whole Spooktober catalog, FIELD TRIP: I Go France, Taphology (GRAVESITES), Osteology (SKELETONS/BODY FARMS), Thanatology (DEATH & DYING) Updated Encore, Desairology (MORTUARY MAKE-UP), Anthropodermic Biocodicology (HUMAN LEATHER BOOKS)
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Sound editing by Jarrett Sleeper of MindJam Media
Transcripts by Emily White of The Wordary
Website by Kelly R. Dwyer
Theme song by Nick Thorburn