Moment of Um

By American Public Media

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Category: Education for Kids

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Subscribers: 139
Reviews: 3
Episodes: 326

Science Fiction Guy
 Jan 16, 2023

ogs929
 Jun 20, 2022
I love moment of Umm on brains on 😍

adelie
 Mar 20, 2022
Its a great podcast!5stars!

Description

Moment of Um is your daily answer to those questions that pop up out of nowhere and make you go… ummmmmmm. Brought to you by your friends at Brains On at APM Studios.

Episode Date
Why do beavers have tails?
00:06:40

Quick! Imagine a beaver. Did you picture a furry, water-loving creature with long teeth and a pancake-flat tail? Us, too! A beaver’s thick, wide tail is one of its most iconic features, but why does it have one? We asked naturalist and science communicator Lucy Lapwing to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s really gnawing at you? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact – we wood love to help you answer it!

Jun 02, 2023
Why is “junk food” so yummy and what’s up with that term?
00:06:02

“Junk food” is a term you might have heard before that refers to foods that have a lot of calories but not much nutritional value - like cookies, candy and chips. But why does food that is often referred to as “junk” taste anything like junk, and what’s up with that term anyway? We asked registered dietitian Eva Haldis to help us find the answer.

Got a question that makes you snicker? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and – donut worry – we’ll help you out. 

Jun 01, 2023
How do baby frogs jump so high?
00:04:38

Human babies are born not knowing how to do a whole lot, besides eating, crying and pooping. But frog babies are born with a special power - they can jump really high! So how do they do it? We asked naturalist Lucy Lapwing to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s toad-ally confusing? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll hop to it!

May 31, 2023
Why do cats purr?
00:03:38

Have you ever wondered why cats make that delightful, soft rumbling sound? Is it because they’re happy? Relaxed? Trying desperately to tell us it’s dinnertime? We asked animal expert Courtney Daigle to help us find the answer.   

Got a question that’s just purr-fect for Moment of Um? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, because we’re feline pretty paw-sitive that we can help. 

May 30, 2023
How do people predict the weather?
00:04:54

Weather forecasts can be super helpful. They can tell you how to dress for the day, whether to bring an umbrella to the park or if you’ll need extra sunscreen for your beach day! But how on Earth do the people who predict the weather know how to work their magic? We asked meteorologist Alan Sealls to help us find the answer.

Got a question blowing around in your mind? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help forecast an answer!

May 29, 2023
How do cows make milk ?
00:04:48

Got milk? Cows sure do! Baby cows drink 10% of their body weight in milk everyday! That means some babies are guzzling more than a gallon of milk per day. But how do mama cows make it? We asked animal expert Courney Daigle to help us find the answer.   

Got a question that’s udderly confusing? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll steer you in the right direction.

May 26, 2023
How is wind created?
00:05:00

Whooooosh! Wind can rush in quickly and blow things all out of whack! But where does it come from, and how is it created? We asked meteorologist Alan Sealls to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s wind-ing you up? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find the answer with gust-o. 

May 25, 2023
Why do we crave certain foods?
00:05:22

Do you ever get a hankering for something sweet? Or maybe you crave a super salty snack, like crunchy dill pickles! Lots of people crave different kinds of foods when they’re hungry – but why? We asked dietitian Ana Veloso to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s eating you up inside? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find a satisfying answer!

May 24, 2023
How do worms take care of the Earth?
00:05:38

Worms are the superheroes of the underground world! But what do these tiny titans do that makes them so special? We asked naturalist Lucy Lapwing all about the ways our incredible, slimy friends make the planet a better place to live!

Got a question that’s wriggling around in your mind? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll dig up the answer!

May 23, 2023
How does rain stop?
00:04:09

Do you like rainy days? Or would you prefer to have fun in the sun? Either way, no rainstorm lasts forever. But what makes it stop? We asked meteorologist Alan Sealls to help us find the answer.

Got a question you’ve been pouring over? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help clear it up!

May 22, 2023
When do lions lose their spots?
00:04:35

Baby lions are adorable! They’re small and fluffy, and they have spots. But adult lions don’t have any spots. So what happens? Do the spots fall off? Do birds steal them? We asked animal researcher Courtney Daigle to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s just lion around? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you spot the answer!  

May 19, 2023
Do animals get goosebumps?
00:04:02

The bumps on our arms and legs that show up when we’re cold or scared are called  goosebumps in honor of the bumpy skin underneath a goose’s feathers. But do animals besides humans get goosebumps? We asked animal expert Courtney Daigle to help us find the answer.

Exgoose us, but do you have a question bumping around your brain? Just give us a honk at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find the answer!

May 18, 2023
How do ice skates work?
00:04:33

Ice skates are amazing! Think about it: you put them on, lace them up and suddenly you’re walking on water! Well, frozen water. But how do these magic things work? We asked Olympic speed skater Erin Jackson to help us find the answer. 

Got a question twirling around your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll figure it out.

May 17, 2023
Why can some people sing better than others?
00:05:48

Are you a karaoke king who loves to sing for anyone and everyone? Or a shy songstress who saves your talents for your family? Or a sneaky, private pop star who only serenades the clothes in your closet? Most of us are able to sing, but why are some of us better than others? Voice teacher Kristy Bissell helps us understand why some people can sing sweeter than a songbird.

Got a question that’s got you singing the blues? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help provide an answer that’s music to your ears!

May 16, 2023
Do animals go through puberty?
00:04:44

Puberty is a time of big changes for humans. Our bodies change, our voices change, even our moods change! But do animals go through puberty, too? We asked veterinarian Lena Provost to help us find the answer.

Got a question you think is too hairy to answer? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help change your mind!  

May 15, 2023
Are elephants really afraid of mice?
00:05:35

Happy Elephant Week! Every episode this week answers a different question about our magnificent and ginormous elephant friends. It’s a cartoon tale as old as time. Giant elephant sees a tiny mouse. Eeek! Elephant is frightened, jumps up onto comically small chair. CLASSIC. But what actually happens when an elephant comes across a mouse in the wild? We asked psychology professor and elephant expert Joshua Plotnick to help us find the answer.

Got a jumbo-sized question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll unpack our trunk full of answers.

May 12, 2023
Do elephants get boogers?
00:05:12

Happy Elephant Week! Every episode this week answers a different question about our magnificent and ginormous elephant friends. Elephants use their long, flexible noses to sniff out food, take baths and even hug other elephants. But do they ever get boogers in their trunks? We asked psychology professor and elephant expert Joshua Plotnik to help us find the answer!

Got a question that’s snot easy to answer? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help pick out the answer.

May 11, 2023
Why do elephants suck up water and spit it out with their nose?
00:04:43

Happy Elephant Week! Every episode this week answers a different question about our magnificent and ginormous elephant friends. Have you ever accidentally gotten water up your nose? Imagine if you could slurp up a whole bunch of water with your snoot! You’d probably want to spray it around, right? That’s something that elephants do all the time – but why? We asked psychology professor and elephant expert Joshua Plotnick to help us find the answer.

Got a pachyderm puzzler?  Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find an elephantastic answer! 

May 10, 2023
Why are elephants so big?
00:04:26

Happy Elephant Week! Every episode this week answers a different question about our magnificent and ginormous elephant friends. You may have seen elephants at zoos and marveled at their size. Maybe you’ve seen nature programs about these ponderous pachyderms. It’s no secret: Elephants are big. But why do they grow so large? We asked psychology professor and elephant expert Joshua Plotnick to help us find the answer.

Got a HUGE question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find the answer. No biggie!

May 09, 2023
What do elephants eat?
00:05:27

Welcome to Elephant Week! Every episode this week answers a different question about our magnificent and ginormous elephant friends. Have you ever wondered what elephants eat? Because we have! We asked psychology professor and elephant expert Joshua Plotnik to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s eating away at you? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find an answer that satisfies your hunger for knowledge!

May 08, 2023
Why don’t some people like to eat veggies?
00:05:50

Everybody has different preferences when it comes to food. Some people don’t like squishy textures or spicy flavors. And others avoid entire food groups, like vegetables! Have you ever turned up your nose at a turnip? Refused a radish? Pooh-poohed a pepper? Ever wondered why? We asked nutritionist Ana Veloso to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s bean puzzling you? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and lettuce help you find the answer. 

May 05, 2023
Why are giraffes so tall?
00:04:47

With their graceful necks and long legs, giraffes are the tallest mammals in the world! These spotty, plant-eating giants roam the African savannah, towering over their fellow creatures. But why are they so tall? We asked psychology professor Joshua Plotnik to help us find the answer.

Got a gigantic question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find an answer that measures up!

May 04, 2023
Are chickens related to the T. rex?
00:05:31

If you’ve ever looked at a chicken – like, really looked at one – you might have noticed that our feathered backyard friends look like mini dinosaurs. Think about it: their scaly toes look just like tiny T. rex feet! But are chickens actually related to the mighty T. rex? We asked paleontologist Shaena Montanari to help us find the answer.

Got a dino-mite question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we promise we won’t chicken out!

May 03, 2023
How do musical instruments make sound?
00:05:26

Strings, woodwinds, percussion, brass…every instrument has its own unique voice. But have you ever wondered how each instrument actually makes sound? What makes a harp go plink plunk, a clarinet go bwaaahhh or a tuba go oompah? We asked musician Jennifer Christen to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s instrumental to your happiness? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help compose an answer.

May 02, 2023
Do dogs remember someone they haven't seen in a long time?
00:04:42

Humans remember the people we meet by recognizing faces, voices, or with the help of a handy-dandy name tag. But do our canine companions do the same? Can a dog recognize someone they haven’t seen in a long time? We asked Barnard College dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s keeping you pup at night? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll search doggedly for the answer!

May 01, 2023
Can cats or dogs be left “handed” or right “handed”?
00:05:06

Humans tend to prefer using one hand over the other. How you write, throw a ball or play an instrument might depend on whether you’re right or left-handed. But what about critters who don’t have hands? Do dogs and cats have preferred paws? We asked veterinarian Lena Provost to help us find the answer.

Got a left-over question that’s right up our alley? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll hand you an answer!

Apr 28, 2023
Why are beards sharp?
00:05:45

A beard is nature’s face-sweater. And just like a regular sweater, it can be scratchy and itchy and just plain uncomfortable. So what makes some people’s facial hair so sharp? We asked beard expert Greg Berzinsky to help us find the answer.

Got a question whose answer you haven’t been able to stubble upon? You mustacheBrainsOn.org/contact. After all, we’re pretty sharp

Apr 27, 2023
Can dogs from different countries communicate with each other?
00:05:46

Dogs communicate in a bunch of ways, from tail wags to barks. But can dogs from different parts of the world understand each other? We asked dog behavioral scientist Alexandra Horowitz to help us find the answer.


Got a question that’s really hounding you? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, because we woof love to help you!

Apr 26, 2023
Why do snails have shells, but slugs don’t?
00:05:09

Have you ever followed a slimy, iridescent trail in the garden or park and found a snail, munching on a tasty plant? Or maybe a slug was helping itself to your snap peas! Snails and slugs look pretty similar, so why does only one have a shell? We asked biologist Teresa Rose Osborne to help us track down the answer.

Got a question that has you retreating into your shell? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll try not to answer it at a snail’s pace!

Apr 25, 2023
How does a steel drum make sound?
00:05:27

A steel drum is a musical instrument that’s traditionally made out of an oil barrel or other metal objects. So how does it make its iconic sound? We asked steel drum expert and band leader Jeremy Kunkel to help us find the answer.

Steeling yourself for a great question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help drum up an answer.

Apr 24, 2023
How do 3D glasses work?
00:04:43

3D glasses. Those little paper spectacles with one red lens and one blue. Put ’em on, and suddenly, POW! Images seem to leap right off the screen! Do these glasses play magical mind tricks on our brain? Do they give our eyeballs multi-dimensional superpowers? For a lens into how it all works, we talked to UW-Madison physicist Pupa Gilbert.

Got a question that’s really jumping out at you? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you put it into focus.

Apr 21, 2023
What is the strongest glue?
00:07:38

Most of us have used a glue stick or Elmer’s, but what about the strongest glue in the WORLD? We got a fantastic question from a couple of listeners who wanted to know what the strongest glue is, so we reached out to biomedical engineer Danna Sheridan to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s sticking in your mind? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help unglue the answer!

Apr 20, 2023
Why is being right-handed more common?
00:07:14

Are you left-handed or right-handed? Chances are you’re right handed, because more people are (though if you’re left-handed, that’s cool too!). So why are more people right-handed? We asked paleontologist Alexander Claxton to help us get to the bottom of this question. 

Got a question whose answer you can’t quite put your finger on? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help point out the answer.

Apr 19, 2023
Why do beehives look like hexagons?
00:05:13

If you’ve ever taken a close look at a beehive you can see that it is covered in tiny hexagons! But why is that? We asked bee researcher Jessica Kevill to help us find the answer.

Got a Moment of Um question that’s buzzing around in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help get it all sorted out.

Apr 18, 2023
Do fish have tongues?
00:03:39

Even though fish can be very small, it’s obvious that they have mouths. But what’s inside that mouth? Tiny teeth? A little tongue? A uvula hangy ball at the back of their throat? Tierney Thys, a marine biologist and National Geographic explorer, helps us understand at least one element of a fish’s mouth - whether they have tongues! 

Got a burning Moment of Um question that you just can’t lick? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you get a taste for knowledge!

Apr 17, 2023
What happens if a tornado goes through a hurricane?
00:05:32

Hurricanes are huge, destructive storms that suck up heat from tropical ocean waters, while tornadoes are smaller, funnel-shaped columns of air that form over land. But what would happen if these two weather titans happened at the same time? We asked meteorologist Rosimar Rios-Berrios to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s left your head spinning? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll shed some lightning on it for you!

Apr 14, 2023
How is the speed of tornadoes measured?
00:04:36

Buckle up, because today’s “Storm Week” episode is going to be a whirlwind! A tornado is a super fast tunnel of wind that touches the ground. Its twisting, turning winds can reach 300 miles per hour – faster than an airplane when it’s taking off! But how do we know that? We asked meteorologist Alan Sealls to help us find out how a tornado’s speed is measured. 

Got a question that’s got you all twisted? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact. It’ll be a breeze!

Apr 13, 2023
Why is lightning zig zaggy?
00:04:00

Happy Storm Week! Today’s episode is all about lightning – that big spark of electricity that illuminates the sky during a storm. If you’ve ever drawn lightning on a piece of paper, you probably sketched it as a zig zag. So how does lightning get its iconic shape? We asked meteorologist Alan Sealls to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s zig zagging around in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you discover a bolt of knowledge

Apr 12, 2023
Why are storm clouds dark?
00:04:37

Happy Storm Week! Let’s talk about clouds today. There are lots of different types of clouds: fluffy ones, wispy ones, even little puffballs that look like a rabbit’s tail! But when a storm rolls in, the clouds often get darker – sometimes even turning deep gray. So what’s going on? We asked meteorologist Rosimar Rios-Berrios to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s clouding your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll rain down answers on you!

Apr 11, 2023
How do hurricanes form?
00:05:35

Happy Storm Week! Storms can be scary, but they can also be beautiful and awe-inspiring. Every episode this week explores the power and majesty of nature's most dynamic weather patterns. Today's question comes from a listener who was wondering “How do hurricanes form?” We asked atmospheric scientist Rosimar Rios-Berrios to help us find the answer.

Got a question spinning around in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find an answer that will blow you away

Apr 10, 2023
Where is the end of a rainbow?
00:04:58

Rainbows are created when sunlight hits tiny water droplets in the air. They may not lead to an enchanted treasure or a newborn baby unicorn, but they’re still pretty magical! So where do they start and end? We asked atmospheric scientist Rosimar Rios-Berrios to help us find the answer.

Got a question that you’re reflecting on? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help color in the details.

Apr 07, 2023
How do snails give birth?
00:05:13

Snails are fascinating creatures. They’re tiny, they’re slimy and they make their own beautiful shell houses! But how are they born? We asked biologist and snail expert Teresa Rose Osborne to help us find the answer.

Got a question that has a lot of poten-shell? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll hatch a plan to find the answer!

Apr 06, 2023
How do ants climb on the ceiling?
00:05:02

Ants are the acrobats of the insect world. Lots of them spend their days climbing on just about everything – even the ceiling! So how do they do it?  We asked biologist Teresa Rose Osborne to help us find the answer. Thanks to the National Science Foundation for helping fund her research!

Got a question that’s really bugging you? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find the ant-swer!

Apr 05, 2023
What is an elephant's fart like?
00:04:46

Farting! Humans do it. Lots of animals do it. But what does it sound like when elephants do it? What’s it like to eat grass and pass gas? Would elephants care if a fart stunk in their trunk? We asked Joshua Plotnik from Hunter College to help us find the answer.

Got a question that really toots your horn? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll look far(t) and wide for an answer!

Apr 04, 2023
How old is the oldest story?
00:05:20

Stories can do so much for our world. They inspire and motivate us, pass down knowledge and entertain us. Stories can even help us connect with each other and make sense of the world. So how far back does the tradition of storytelling go? And what is the earliest story we know about? We asked Brains On producer and archaeologist Anna Goldfield to help us find the answer. 

Got a question that has you by the tale? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find the moral of the story.

Apr 03, 2023
A message from Molly!
00:00:28

Hi friends! For the next two weeks we’re taking a little break. We’re headed to Moment of Um camp, where we organize your questions, interview experts and get ready for more amazing episodes for you. We’ll be back on April 3 with a super fun episode about the oldest story ever told. See you then!

Mar 20, 2023
What is the part of an earthworm that looks like a Band-Aid?
00:06:37

Happy Worm Week! Every episode this week will dig deep into the wonderful world of worms. Have you ever looked at an earthworm and wondered why some of them have a segment that looks like a tiny Band-Aid? Us, too! Luckily, biologist Andrew Gordus of Johns Hopkins University is here to help us find the answer.

Got a question that you’re wound-ering about? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help put a Band-Aid on your curiosity! 

Mar 17, 2023
How do silkworms produce silk?
00:04:54

Happy Worm Week! Every episode this week will dig deep into the wonderful world of worms. Today's question comes from a listener who was wondering, “How do silkworms produce silk?” We asked biologist Andrew Gordus of Johns Hopkins University to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s cocooned around your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help spin out the answer.

Mar 16, 2023
Do worms make sounds?
00:05:06

Happy Worm Week! Every episode this week will dig deep into the wonderful world of worms. Today's question comes from a listener who was wondering “Do worms make sounds?” We asked biologist Andrew Gordus of Johns Hopkins University to help us find the answer.

Got a question that you can’t keep quiet about? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll check the Worm Wide Web for the answer. 

Mar 15, 2023
What do worms do in the winter?
00:03:32

Happy Worm Week! Every episode this week will dig deep into the wonderful world of worms. Today's question comes from a listener who was wondering “What do worms do in the winter? Do they hibernate?” We asked biologist Andrew Gordus of Johns Hopkins University to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s making you freeze up? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help wriggle out an answer. 

Mar 14, 2023
Why do worms come out only at night?
00:06:29

Happy Worm Week! Every episode this week will dig deep into the wonderful world of worms. Worms are everywhere – slithering in your compost pile, wriggling in the forest, even tunneling through farm fields!  But have you noticed there are more of them at night? What’s up with that? We asked biologist Andrew Gordus of Johns Hopkins University to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s worming around in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we won’t try to wriggle our way out of answering it!

Mar 13, 2023
Why does your breath smell worse in the morning?
00:05:28

Good morning! Rise and shine! Time to stretch and yawn and…blech! What is that taste? What is that smell?? Morning breath can be especially stinky, even if you brush your teeth the night before. What’s up with that? We asked Dr. Michael Eggert, who teaches in the dental school at the University of Alberta to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s really stinkin’ good? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll sniff out an answer. 

Mar 10, 2023
Why do we sweat when we're nervous?
00:04:46

When we’re nervous our bodies react in a bunch of different ways. Our hearts might beat faster, our breathing speeds up and sometimes we get all sweaty! But why do we perspire when we’re perturbed? Or get clammy when we’re concerned? We asked Yana Kamberov, a geneticist who studies skin at the University of Pennsylvania, to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s gotten under your skin? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll help find the answer, so you don’t have to sweat it anymore!

Mar 09, 2023
Why does the clear part of the egg turn white when it's cooked?
00:05:00

Have you ever seen an egg cooking on a griddle? When you first crack it, it’s clear and gloopy with a yellow yolk in the middle. But as it cooks, the clear part of the egg turns white! So, what gives? We asked Paul Adams, science research editor at Cook’s Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen, to help us crack this eggy mystery. 

Got an egg-ceptional question?  Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll scramble to find the answer!

Mar 08, 2023
Why does money have value?
00:06:12

Most things cost money, whether it’s a box of cereal, new underwear or sunglasses for your dog.  But how do people decide  what the value of money is? Does it ever change? We asked Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood to help us find the answer.

Got a question that you really value? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help change your perspective! 

Mar 07, 2023
Can jumping make you taller?
00:04:28

Did you know that basketball hoops in the NBA are 10 feet off the ground? That means if you want to dunk, you have to jump really high! Of course, it’s easier to reach if you’re taller, but can working on your jump help you gain more height? Or can tall people just already jump higher? We asked sports doctor Ed Laskowski to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s just out of reach? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll jump on it for you!

Mar 06, 2023
Why do volcanoes erupt only occasionally?
00:05:31

Volcano eruptions are a spectacular sight and a reminder of how powerful nature is. Rivers of molten lava can destroy forests, but they can also create new islands and mountain ranges! So why aren’t volcanoes erupting all the time? We asked volcano expert Lissie Connors to help us find the answer.

Got a burning question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and find someone who would lava to answer it!

Mar 03, 2023
Why does chickenpox have that weird name?
00:04:54

Have you ever had chickenpox? It can be itchy and annoying, but it usually clears up after a week or so. Kids get chickenpox from other kids (definitely not from chickens), so why does it have that weird name? We asked dermatologist Julie Schultz to help us find the answer!

Got a question that you’re itching to know more about? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll scratch out the answer.

Mar 02, 2023
Why do we have birthmarks?
00:05:13

A birthmark is a special spot on your skin that you’re born with. Birthmarks can be different colors and shapes, and can be found anywhere on your body. But how did they get there in the first place? We asked dermatologist Dr. Julie Schultz to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s made a mark on your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help get the skinny on that topic.

Mar 01, 2023
How do whales filter seawater from their food?
00:05:12

Want to hear something wild about whales? Even though they’re some of the biggest creatures in the ocean, they eat some of the smallest sea life out there! Certain types of whales get their food by sucking in big gulps of water along with tiny shrimp – millions of them per day! But how do they filter out the seawater from the food? We asked marine biologist Leanna Matthews to help us find the answer.

Got a whale of a question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll sea about an answer.

Feb 28, 2023
Why are clouds white?
00:03:45

Looking for pictures in the clouds is so fun. After all, they come in an infinite number of shapes and sizes! But, most of the time, they all look white to us. Why is that? We reached out to atmospheric scientist Deanna Hence to help us find the answer. 

Got a question that’s clouding your thoughts? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll clear up the answer. 

Feb 27, 2023
Do elephants kiss?
00:04:47

Elephants use their trunks for everything: sipping water, plucking leaves from trees, even hugging other elephants! But do they kiss each other? We asked elephant scientist Joshua Plotnik to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s a real mouthful? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we promise we won’t tell you to zip your lip!

Feb 24, 2023
Why do bananas make other fruit ripen faster?
00:05:14

Have you ever noticed that a bowl of fruit will ripen faster if it has a banana as part of the bunch? Why is that? We asked nutritionist Sara Farhat Jarrar to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s appealing to you? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll go bananas all over that answer. 

Feb 23, 2023
How do sunshowers happen?
00:05:54

A sunshower is a rare and beautiful thing. Imagine a day when the sun is shining brightly in the sky, but at the same time, light rain is falling from the clouds. Think of it as a surprise rain party in the middle of a sunny day! So how can we get two types of weather at the same time? We asked weather scientist Rosimar Rios-Berrios to help us find the answer.

Is your brain lighting up with a great question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll shower you with answers. 

Feb 22, 2023
Why do people think bugs and spiders are so creepy?
00:05:46

If you think bugs and spiders are a bit on the creepy side, you’re not alone. But where did these feelings come from? We asked wildlife ecologist Thaddeus McRae to share a bit of insight into this question.

Got a question that’s creeping you out? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact. We promise, it won’t bug us!

Feb 21, 2023
Do squirrels get poison oak rash?
00:05:19

If you’ve ever gotten a rash from poison oak, you know it’s no walk in the park. Your skin might get itchy, red or even swollen – no fun! But can squirrels get a poison oak rash? Wildlife ecologist Thaddeus McRae helps us dig into this issue in today’s episode.

Got a question that’s driving you nuts? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll squirrel away an answer for you! 

Feb 20, 2023
Why did snakes lose their legs?
00:04:13

Happy Snake Week! Every episode this week explores a different question about our slithery friends. Here’s a mind blower for you: did you know the ancestors of snakes used to have legs?   Somewhere along the zigzag path of evolution, they traded in their lizardy legs for a more streamlined look. But why did snakes go legless? We asked biologist and snake researcher Emily Taylor to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s snaking around your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find a fangtastic answer!  

Feb 17, 2023
How do snakes make venom?
00:04:08

Happy Snake Week! Every episode this week explores a different question about our slithery friends. Did you know that, out of the roughly 3,000 total species of snakes, only about 10-15% are venomous? But how do those snakes make venom in their bodies? We asked snake scientist Emily Taylor to help us find the answer. 

Got a question that’s biting at you? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll search for the answer-dote!

Feb 16, 2023
Why are snakes shaped like a stick?
00:04:47

Happy Snake Week! Every episode this week explores a different question about our slithery friends. Snakes come in all sizes and colors, but they have one thing in common: no arms or legs! In fact, one might argue they kind of look like sticks. We asked snake expert Emily Taylor why our reptilian neighbors are twig-shaped. 

Got a question that’s slithering around your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll promise we won’t throw a hisssss-y fit!

Feb 15, 2023
What do zoos feed big snakes, such as pythons?
00:04:05

Happy Snake Week! Every episode this week explores a different question about our slithery friends. Zoos have to have all kinds of foods available to feed the different species that they care for. Animals like elephants, zebras and buffalo eat plants. Predators like lions, foxes and bears have a much meatier diet. But what’s on the menu at the snake house? Snake cake? Snake steak? Snake grapes? We asked biologist Emily Taylor to help us find the answer.

Got a question snaking throughyour brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help squeeze out an answer.

Feb 14, 2023
What do snakes do when they hibernate?
00:04:56

Happy Snake Week! Every episode this week explores a different question about our slithery friends. Did you know snakes hibernate in the winter just like bears, chipmunks and geckos? But what do they do while they’re hibernating? Do they have dreams? Do they wake up for mid-hibernation snacks? We asked snake scientist Emily Taylor to help us find the answer! 

Got a question you just can’t ssssssleep on? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and maybe we’ll bite!

Feb 13, 2023
Why are some people scared of snakes?
00:06:14

Exciting news! Next week on Moment of Um is Snake Week, where every episode will explore a different question about our slithery friends. Not very excited about that? Feeling maybe…a bit apprehensive? We understand. To help us get to the bottom of this fear of snakes (and maybe even overcome it?) we reached out to wildlife ecologist Thaddeus McRae.

Got a question that you’re afraid is very difficult? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help scare up an answer. 

Feb 10, 2023
Do flies have siblings?
00:05:16

Lots of different animals have siblings: humans, cheetahs, frogs – even spiders! But what about flies? Do they have brothers and sisters?  Thanks to science journalist Cara Giaimo, Annette Parks and Kevin Cook at the Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center at Indiana University for helping us find the answer.

Got a question that you came up with on the fly? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find a relative-lysatisfying answer!

Feb 09, 2023
Why is snow white?
00:04:19

Who doesn’t love a good snow day? Snowball fights! Sledding! Making snow-people! The powdery white stuff is like nature’s amusement park. But why is it white? Why not pink or blue or tangerine? We asked atmospheric scientist Deanna Hence to help us find the answer. 

Got a question that’s snow tricky? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll shovel out the answer. 

Feb 08, 2023
Why can’t birds taste spicy things, but squirrels can?
00:05:33

It’s not just humans who eat spicy foods – other animals do, too! But can all animals taste spicy things the way we do? We asked wildlife ecologist Thaddeus McRae to help us find the answer.

Got a question on the tip of your tongue? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find a spicy answer for you.

Feb 07, 2023
How does fruit ripen?
00:05:52

Peaches and strawberries and mangoes, oh my! There’s nothing like biting into a juicy, perfectly ripe piece of fruit. But how does fruit know when to ripen? And how do farmers know when to pick it so that it’s ready and delicious by the time it finally gets to us? We talked to Philadelphia farmer Angel Papineau to get the answer.  

Got a question that you’re berry curious about? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll FIG-ure it out!

Feb 06, 2023
Why aren't spiders counted as insects?
00:05:32

Spiders come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They can be smaller than a grain of sand or larger than a dinner plate. Some have fuzzy, rainbow-colored bodies, while others are black and shiny. But even though they sometimes look like insects, spiders are in their own special group! We asked wildlife ecologist Thaddeus McRae how spiders and insects are different.

Got a question that has your spidey senses tingling? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we promise we won’t tell you to bug off!

Feb 03, 2023
How do the holes form in the top of volcanoes?
00:05:15

If there’s one thing most people know about volcanoes, it’s that stuff explodes out of the top. But where did that hole come from? We asked volcanologist Lissie Connors to help us find the answer.

Got an explosive question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find someone who will volca-KNOW the answer!

Feb 02, 2023
Do butterflies ever bump into each other when they're flying?
00:05:54

The flight of a butterfly is beautiful, if not erratic. How the heck do those graceful creatures know to avoid each other mid-flight? Science journalist Cara Giaimo and her pal Jeff Dawson at Carleton University in Ontario helped us dig into this question.

Got a question that’s fluttering around your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll wing it

Feb 01, 2023
How many nuts can a squirrel store in its mouth?
00:05:05

If you’ve ever seen a squirrel munching on nuts or seeds it looks ADORABLE! But it also looks efficient, as they seem to pile the food in their mouths and move it from place to place. Just how much can they store in there? We asked wildlife ecologist Thaddeus McRae to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s making you nuts? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and don’t worry - we won't squirrel away the answer.

Jan 31, 2023
Why do flies like poop so much?
00:05:22

Have you ever seen a fresh pile of poo in the grass and wondered why there were so many flies around it? If so, we have just the episode for you! We asked science journalist Cara Giaimo why flies are the dung devotees of the animal kingdom. 


Doo you have a question that’s left you a little scat-terbrained? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll help find the answer, even if we’re feeling pooped.

Jan 30, 2023
How do animals keep their teeth clean?
00:04:36

Humans do a lot to keep our teeth clean! We brush them twice a day, we (hopefully!) remember to floss, and we visit the dentist regularly. But what about animals? Do they have to clean their teeth, too? And if they do…how do they do it? We talked to Barbara Toddes from the Philadelphia Zoo to find the answer. 

Got a question that’s on the tip of your tongue? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll brush up on the answer.

Jan 27, 2023
Where in the ocean do dolphins and whales sleep?
00:04:31

Every animal needs to rest, but they do it in lots of different ways. Some sleep in beds, some on the ground, some in trees, and some … in the ocean! But how do animals like dolphins and whales catch their zzz’s at sea? We asked marine biologist Roxanne Beltran to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s making waves in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll fish out the answer!   

Jan 26, 2023
Why do ginkgo trees smell bad?
00:04:51

Ginkgo trees are seriously impressive. They’re the oldest plant on earth – even older than dinosaurs! They can grow up to 100 feet tall, and in the fall their leaves turn a brilliant golden color. There’s just one drawback – sometimes, they really stink! But why are these majestic trees so smelly? We reached out to tree researcher Natalie Love to get the answer. 

Got a question you’ve been stink-ing hard about? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll sniff out the answer!

Jan 25, 2023
Why do we blush?
00:05:58

Do you ever blush? Most of us do! Maybe it happens when you’re excited, or angry or embarrassed. But what causes our cheeks to turn pink, and why do we do it? We talked to pediatrician Kathryn Less to get the answer!

Got a question that you’re ready to face? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll blush up on the answer.

Jan 24, 2023
What happens when stars explode?
00:06:27

A star is a big, glowing ball of hot gas that is held together by its own gravity. But what happens if that big ball of hot gas explodes? We asked space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock to help us find the answer.

Got a super hot question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help explode your mind with the answer! 

Jan 23, 2023
How do planets form?
00:06:35

Happy Planet Week! There are so many incredible planets out there, from giant Jupiter with its swirling storms to Saturn and its mesmerizing rings. Plus, there are countless other planets that humans have yet to discover! But how exactly do these cosmic wonders come to be? We asked geologist Yesenia Arroyo to help us find the answer.

Got a question forming in your mind? Launch it over to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and it’ll be the center of our universe!

Jan 20, 2023
Is there a north, south, east and west on other planets?
00:04:47

On Earth, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. But what about other planets? Do they have cardinal directions like north, south, east and west, too? We asked geologist Yesenia Arroyo to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s left you feeling lost? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help point you in the right direction!

Jan 19, 2023
If you dropped a lit match onto Jupiter, what would happen?
00:03:56

Happy Planet Week! Jupiter has a lot going for it. It’s the biggest planet in the solar system and NASA even has a spacecraft named Juno orbiting it to learn more about the hugest of the gas giants. But there’s still a lot we don’t know about it. Which made us wonder, what would happen if we lit a match on Jupiter? We asked geologist Yesenia Arroyo to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s orbiting your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help propel it to the nearest answer. 

Jan 18, 2023
Is Earth the only planet with tectonic plates?
00:05:55

Happy Planet Week! Did you know the Earth’s outer layer has big rocky sheets called tectonic plates that move back and forth up to six inches every year? As they move, these wiggly jiggly plates can create mountain ranges, cause volcanoes to erupt, and sometimes trigger earthquakes! But do other planets have tectonic plates, too? We asked geologist Yesenia Arroyo to help us find the answer.

Got a question shifting around in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll plate up the answer!

Jan 17, 2023
Why does Saturn have rings?
00:05:02

Happy Planet Week! Everybody knows Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, Venus is the hottest and Saturn is the best accessorized! It boasts seven gorgeous, gassy rings. But do they serve a purpose other than scoring style points? We asked geologist Yesenia Arroyo to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s ringing in your head? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help b-RING you the answer.

Jan 16, 2023
How does hypnosis work?
00:05:27

Have you ever been to a hypnotist show where someone “puts people to sleep” and then their behavior is changed in some way? Is that real, and if so, how does it work? We asked counselor Enakshi Choudhuri to help us find the answer.

Hypnotized by a great question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll blow your mind with the answer!

Jan 13, 2023
Why are paper cuts painful if they're so tiny?
00:04:40

You wouldn’t think a simple piece of paper would be anything to worry about. It’s flimsy and harmless, right? Not if it cuts you! OUCH! Even though paper cuts are so tiny, they hurt like the dickens! Why is that? We asked pediatrician Kathryn Less to help us find the answer.

Have you putyour finger on a great question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help cut it to the core

Jan 12, 2023
How intense does light have to be to make a laser?
00:06:23

Lasers are very powerful beams of light. You can't just turn on a flashlight or lamp to make a laser. So how intense does the light have to be? We asked mechanical engineering professor Sayan Biswas to help us find the answer.

Got a question that you’re laser-focused on? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll beam with joy at the thought of helping you! 

Jan 11, 2023
How many types of spiders are there?
00:05:38

Big ones, small ones, cute ones, leggy ones. Is that the extent of your spider knowledge? Then this is the episode for you! We asked biologist Andrew Gordus of Johns Hopkins University to help us figure out how many types of spiders there are. 

Got a question that’s just your type? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll search the web for someone to answer it!

Jan 10, 2023
Why do seals arf?
00:06:43

Seals and sea lions are closely-related, ocean-dwelling mammals that have a lot to say! They make all kinds of noises, from barks to roars to grunts and squeaks. But what does all that mean? Are they communicating with other species? Are they telling secrets about crabs? We asked marine biologist and animal behavioral scientist Roxanne Beltran to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s swimming through your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help seal the deal with an answer. 

Jan 09, 2023
Why are robin eggs blue?
00:04:33

Bird eggs come in lots of different colors: white, brown, green, lavender, pink, and more. Splotches and speckles abound, too. If you’re in North America, maybe you’ve seen tiny bright blue robin’s eggs in a springtime nest. But did you ever wonder what makes that blue color? And why are robin’s eggs blue in the first place? We talked to biologist Bob Montgomerie about the reason for the hue. 

If you’ve got a Moment of Um question that’s cracking you up, send it to the egg-heads at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll scramble to find the answer.

Jan 06, 2023
Why do things glow in the dark?
00:03:48

From glow-in-the-dark stickers to bioluminescent bacteria, twinkling fireflies to radiant jellyfish, the world is full of things that have the power to shine a light in the darkness. But how do glow-in-the-dark things actually work? We asked chemistry professor Aleeta M. Powe to illuminate this question for us. 

If you’ve got a question that we could shine some light on, send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll do our best to brighten your day.

Jan 05, 2023
How does pencil lead stick to paper?
00:04:40

We take pencils for granted. They’re kicked around, thrown in the garbage and chewed on like yesterday's fast food. But think about how integral they are to our lives. They help us create art and write letters. They are vital tools of communication. With the help of Joya Cooley, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Cal State Fullerton, we pay respect to the humble pencil. Not only does she reveal how it sticks to paper, but she also tells us the secrets of erasing too.

We’d love to hear your Moment of Um question too! Just go to BrainsOn.org/contact to submit it, and you could hear the answer in a future episode.

Jan 04, 2023
Why are T. rex arms so tiny?
00:04:23

The T. rex is the embodiment of ferocious: razor sharp teeth, claws and a taste for blood. If you were running away from one of these beasts, you might not even notice its tiny arms. But there they are, in every recreation, almost comically small arms. So what gives? Paleontologist Bhart-Anjan Bhullar sets us straight on this not-so-tiny question.

Do you have a head-scratcher you want us to answer? Unlike T. rex, you can scratch your head, and when you’re done, submit your Moment of Um question at BrainsOn.org/contact.

Jan 03, 2023
Why are giraffe tongues blue?
00:03:50

Giraffes are known for a few key features: their long necks, beautiful camouflage and the dark tongue they use to strip leaves off branches. Steve Gerkin, interpretive programs manager at the North Carolina Zoo, visits the show to tell us why we think their tongues are that shade. Hint: humans share this trait with giraffes!


Do you have a head-scratcher you want us to answer? Submit your own Moment of Um questions atBrainsOn.org/contact.

Jan 02, 2023
Why do house numbers start high?
00:05:40

Have you ever been out for a stroll in your neighborhood and noticed that the house numbers are in the hundreds, like 526, 528, 530 instead of 1, 2, 3? Why is that? We asked urban planner Brittany Simmons to help us find the answer.

Do you have a question that’s number 1 on your mind? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help address the answer. 

Dec 30, 2022
Do penguins sit down?
00:04:27

Did you know there are 18 species of penguin in the world? Each species has its own differences and quirks, but one thing all penguins have in common is that it can be tricky to tell if they’re standing up or sitting down. One curious listener wondered if they even sit down at all. We asked Dr. Michelle LaRue from the University of Canterbury to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s knocked you off your feet? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll stand up and find the answer. 

Dec 28, 2022
Why are video games addictive?
00:04:39

Aliens! Zombies! Tiny guys with big mustaches who can jump super high! Video games let you immerse yourself in new and fantastic worlds. But why is it so hard to stop playing, once you’ve started? We asked science journalist Christina Couch to help us find the answer.

Got a question that won’t stop replaying in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find an answer that’s a real game changer. 

Dec 27, 2022
What happens when you crack your knuckles?
00:04:14

Do you crack your knuckles? You know, you pull back on your fingers until you feel a pop or a snap? Some people will tell you that cracking your knuckles is actually bad for your hands, but one of our listeners wondered if that’s really true. We asked Dr. Rowland Chang, who studies joints like knuckles, what’s happening inside your body when you crack your knuckles, and if it’s causing any harm.  

If you’ve got a great Moment of Um question at your fingertips, send it our way at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll do our best to handle it.

Dec 26, 2022
Do bears poop and pee in hibernation?
00:05:25

Every winter, sleepy bears across the world crawl into their dens and take a very long nap, called hibernation. But what happens when nature calls? Do bears wake up to pee and poop?  We asked science journalist Christina Couch to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s a wee bit difficult? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll dig our claws into this subject for you!

Dec 23, 2022
How do we get hiccups?
00:04:00

They can strike out of nowhere, forcing you to make funny noises when you least expect it. We’re talking about hiccups and boy can they be annoying. Why do we have them and can we do anything to get rid of them? We asked pediatrician Kathryn Less to help us find the answer.

Got a nagging question that just won’t go away? Don’t hold your breath waiting for an answer, send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact!

Dec 22, 2022
Can you 3D print a 3D printer?
00:05:21

The world of 3D printers seems limitless. People can create anything, from dollhouses to entire cars. But how are these 3D printers made? Do they 3D print themselves? We asked software engineer and 3D printing enthusiast Joseph Bozarth to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s jamming up your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll ink out an answer. 

Dec 21, 2022
What is a supervolcano?
00:03:59

A volcano is a break in the crust of Earth that allows hot lava, ash and gas to escape. But what’s a supervolcano? Is it a really, really big volcano? Is it a volcano with super powers? We asked volcanologist Lissie Connors to help us find the answer.

Got a question that you’d lava to know the answer to? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll try super hard to find the answer.

Dec 20, 2022
Why do we have fingerprints?
00:05:02

If you look at the tips of your fingers really closely, you can see a unique pattern that belongs just to you! So what are those patterns for, besides looking cool? We asked biologist Roland Ennos from the University of Hull in the U.K. to help us find the answer. 

Got a question whose answer you can’t quite put your finger on? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll knuckle down to find the answer!

Dec 19, 2022
Do sharks fart?
00:05:58

Humans fart. Orangutans fart. Even zebras fart. But what about sharks? We asked science journalist Christina Couch to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s a real gas? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find an answer that isn’t full of hot air.

Dec 16, 2022
Why do gorillas pound their chest?
00:03:02

Across the animal kingdom, you’ll find all sorts of communication methods! Screeching, stomping, dancing, singing and, if you encounter a gorilla, maybe some chest pounding. But what’s a gorilla trying to say when it thumps its chest? We asked Michael Stern, curator of primates at the Philadelphia Zoo, to help us find the answer. 

Got a question that ape-peals do you? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help pound out the answer.

Dec 15, 2022
How do trees get so tall?
00:05:04

Trees come in all shapes and sizes. Some are tiny, like the dwarf willow that’s less than an inch tall – half the size of a paperclip!  Others are massive, like the redwoods in California, which can grow hundreds of feet tall. But what factors go into making a tall tree so tall? We asked tree researcher Natalie Love to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s a tall order? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we won’t leaf you hanging! 

Dec 14, 2022
Do fish get thirsty?
00:05:16

You know what’s perfect on a super sweaty, scorching hot, melt-your-pants-off summer day? A tall glass of ice water! Water helps cool you down and quench your thirst – and that’s true for everyone from your mom to your mail carrier to your dog. But what about your goldfish? Do fish drink water if they live in water? Do fish even get thirsty? Curious for an answer, we asked science writer Cara Giaimo to help us out.

Is there something that you’re gill-ty of not knowing? Send us a question and we’ll get you off the hook! Just find us at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll track down the  answer no matter how fishy the question is.

Dec 13, 2022
Why do people have fears?
00:06:00

Everybody’s afraid of something: scorpions, thunderstorms, making a joke and – gulp! – nobody laughs. But why do certain things make us feel scared? We asked science journalist Christina Couch to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s terrifyingly difficult? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we promise we won’t ghost you!

Dec 12, 2022
Why do we have friends?
00:05:30

Friends rule! The best ones are those that are always there to help you out, embark on a strange adventure,  make you laugh so hard you cry and appreciate all the weird and wonderful things that make you… you! We love our friends! But do we humans need them as a species? We talked to psychologist/biologist Lauren Brent to find the answer.  

Do you and your BFF have a question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll be a friend and help find the answer!

Dec 09, 2022
How do seashells form and why are they so beautiful?
00:05:46

Seashells are like the artwork of the ocean! With their whirly twirly spirals and flashy patterns, each one is beautiful in its own unique way. But how exactly are they made? We asked marine biologist Sophie Wolvin to give us the lowdown on seashells. 

Got a question that has a lot of poten-shell? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll sea if we can answer it! 

Dec 08, 2022
How are spider webs made?
00:05:27

If you’ve ever seen a spider web up close, you’ve probably noticed how beautiful and intricate it is. How can a creature so tiny make something so elaborate? We asked biologist Andrew Gordus of Johns Hopkins University to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s been crawling around your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll search the web for the best person to answer it!

Dec 07, 2022
Do cats know their names?
00:05:02

Cats are notoriously independent and sometimes it can be tough to get them to respond when you call out their name. But is your cat purposely ignoring you, or does it not even know its name? We asked science writer Cara Giaimo to help us find the answer.

Got a question you want answered right meow? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you pounce on the answer.

Dec 06, 2022
What are bones made of?
00:05:34

Ever wondered what bones are made of? We have, too! We asked biological anthropologist Habiba Chirchir to help us answer this humerus question.

Got a question that’s tickling your funny bone? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you dig up the answer!

Dec 05, 2022
How do trumpets make that bbbbrrrrrrr sound?
00:07:10

Did you know that trumpets are the oldest brass instruments? Orchestras rely on them to play the highest notes in the brass section! But how do they make that bbbbrrrrrrr sound? We asked trumpet player and teacher Jim Boyle to help us find the answer.

Got a question you’ve been wanting to brass-k? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find an answer that’s music to your ears.

Dec 02, 2022
How do people make movie trailers?
00:06:24

Remember the last time you were really, really, really excited to see a movie? That might have been because you saw a trailer that showed you amazing scenes from the movie, gave you a little preview of what it was going to be about, and got you pumped to see the full thing. But who puts this mini version of the movie together, and how? We asked Travis Abels, who makes movie trailers, to help answer this question.

Got a question that’s Singin’ in your Brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll give you lights, cameras, ANSWERS!

Dec 01, 2022
Do trees poop or pee?
00:05:50

Humans poop and pee. So do many animals – even fish! (In fact, the ocean is full of fish poop!) But what about trees? Do they create and release waste in the same way we do? We asked tree researcher Natalie Love to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s leaf-ing you confused? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help poop out the answer.

Nov 30, 2022
Can you hear when you're asleep?
00:05:04

Your body does a lot of things while you’re asleep. Your brain recharges, your muscles rest, you drool charmingly onto your pillow…but do you hear things? We asked sleep scientist Ketema Paul to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s too good to sleep on? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find the answer of your dreams.

Nov 29, 2022
Can you get sunburned in outer space?
00:04:49

Most of us have been there: you’re having a roasty toasty day in the sun, making sand castles on the beach or playing at your favorite playground. But then you realize, oops – you forgot the sunscreen! And all that sunshine gives you a not-so-fun sunburn. But could this happen in outer space too? We asked space scientist and communicator Maggie Aderin-Pocock to help us find the answer.

Got a burning question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you get the skin-ny on that topic.

Nov 28, 2022
How do people freeze-dry food?
00:06:08

Happy Food Week! We’re excited to bring you a whole week of delicious Moment of Yums leading up to Thanksgiving. Freeze-dried food seems like something that was invented for space travel, but this technique for preserving food is actually more than a hundred years old! Nowadays you might see freeze-dried mangos or strawberries in many grocery stores. You know, the ones that are dry and crispy and light as a feather? But how exactly do you make them? We asked food scientist Dave Dominguez to help us find the answer.

Got an appetite for knowledge? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and we promise we won’t give you the cold shoulder!

Nov 25, 2022
What's the sourest thing in the world?
00:03:29

Most of us are familiar with the taste of something sour – that tart feeling that makes your eyes close and your facial features squint. Lemons, lime juice, kimchi are all sour - but what is the sourest thing in the world? We asked Janelle Clepper who has a Masters of Public Health in Nutrition from the University of Minnesota to help us figure it out.

And if YOU have a question, we can help with that! Submit your Moment of Um question at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll help find the answer.

Nov 24, 2022
Why does cotton candy dissolve in your mouth?
00:05:37

Happy Food Week! We’re excited to bring you a whole week of delicious Moment of Yums leading up to Thanksgiving. Today’s question was sent in by a curious listener who wondered why fluffy, sugary-sweet cotton candy dissolves on your tongue. We asked food scientist Craig Sherwin to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s cotton you all confused? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find a sweet answer for you.

Nov 23, 2022
How does popcorn pop?
00:05:27

Happy Food Week! We’re excited to bring you a whole week of delicious Moment of Yums leading up to Thanksgiving. If you’re a movie lover, a snack lover, or just a lover of things that go “POP!”, you might be wondering what makes a kernel of corn pop. We asked food scientist Dave Dominguez for the deets on this tasty treat.

Got a question that’s popped up in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you feel butter about the answer.

Nov 22, 2022
How does cheese get its color?
00:05:56

Happy Food Week! We’re excited to bring you a whole week of delicious Moment of Yums leading up to Thanksgiving. First up: cheese! Cheese is delicious! It can be stringy, stretchy, stinky, salty, or sweet. It can be eaten fresh or aged for more than a decade.  But it only comes in a few different colors. We asked food scientist Craig Sherwin to help us find out why.

Got a question on your rind? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help cut through to the answer.

Nov 21, 2022
If you took enough vitamins everyday, could you live without food?
00:05:53

Many people take vitamins along with the normal food they eat in a day. But what if you ate ONLY vitamins? Could you survive? We asked Craig Sherwin from the biotechnology company Novozymes to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s vita-l to your life? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help feed you the answer.

Nov 18, 2022
What are calories?
00:05:03

Food gives us energy, so we can bounce! Run. Wiggle! Jiggle!! But all that energy… does it have a name? We talked with food scientist Dave Dominguez about it and he served up a very satisfying answer!

Got a question that’s eating you up? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll whip up an answer that’s easy to digest!

Nov 17, 2022
How do contortionists train?
00:03:44

Have you ever been to the circus and seen the super-bendy performers that can move their bodies in all sorts of amazing ways? You might be wondering, how did they get so flexible? We were wondering that too, so we asked Cami Biggar, a contortionist at Circus Juventas, to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s a real brain bender? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you wrap your head around it.

Nov 16, 2022
How much sleep does a person need?
00:04:52

Ah, sweet sleep. From the quick catnap to the full drool-and-snore session, we humans cherish our sleepy time. But how much sleep is enough? Does everybody need the same amount? Does a person’s amount change as they age? Is it nap time yet? We asked sleep scientist Ketema Paul to help us find the answers.

Got a question that’s keeping you up at night? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help put it to bed.

Nov 15, 2022
What are the seeds in cabbages?
00:04:30

Growing fruits and vegetables looks pretty easy, right? Poke a hole in the dirt, drop in a seed, add a little sunshine and water — and violà! But how do farmers grow veggies that don’t seem to have seeds, like cabbages and broccoli? We asked Annie Klodd, fruit and vegetable expert from University of Minnesota Extension, to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s eating away at you? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help produce the answer!

Nov 14, 2022
How do volcanoes blow?
00:06:31

Volcanoes can lie dormant for thousands of years without erupting – almost like they’re sleeping. But how do they decide when it’s time to blow? We asked volcanologist Lissie Connors to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s erupting from your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help blow your mind with the answer.

Nov 11, 2022
How do starfish regrow an arm?
00:05:27

Sometimes bad things happen – to starfish arms. A hungry bird takes a nibble and suddenly, that starfish is missing an arm! But in many cases, these resilient creatures can regrow a brand new one. We asked marine biologist Sophie Wolvin how that works.

Got a question that’s left you in limb-o? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and if the stars align, we’ll find an expert to answer it! 

Nov 10, 2022
Is there a purpose for hair?
00:04:10

How do you like to wear your hair? Do you cut it short? Get it braided? Dye it every color of the rainbow? Hair can be an amazing tool for self-expression, but does it also serve another purpose? We asked biological anthropologist Habiba Chirchir to help us find the answer!

Have a hairy question you’ve been thinking about? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll comb around for the answer.

Nov 09, 2022
How did the solar system and all the planets get their names?
00:04:56

The Milky Way! Neptune! Uranus! Halley’s Comet! There are so many cool features in our solar system – but how did they get their names? We asked space scientist and communicator Maggie Aderin-Pocock to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s out of this world? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll make space for an answer.

Nov 08, 2022
Can you control your dreams?
00:05:24

Have you ever had a scary or weird dream and wished you could switch your brain-television to another channel? Great news! You can learn to use “lucid dreaming,” a technique that helps you realize when you’re in a dream. Once you know you’re dreaming, you can teach yourself to shape your own storyline. So how does that work? We asked Dr. Ketema Paul, Professor, Integrative Biology And Physiology at the University of California, Los Angeles to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s keeping you up at night? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help put it to bed.

Nov 07, 2022
How do mood rings work?
00:06:43

Have you ever heard of a mood ring? It’s a little piece of jewelry that supposedly tells you what kind of a mood you’re in. But how the heck can it know? We asked scientist Edwin Thomas to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s getting you in the mood to learn? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help w-ring out an answer.

Nov 04, 2022
Are brains really pink?
00:05:01

Quick, picture a brain! Did you imagine a rosy-colored little meatball? Us too! But are brains actually pink when they’re inside our skulls? We asked brain expert Gwenaëlle Thomas to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s giving you a real headache? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll wrap our brains around it!

Nov 03, 2022
Does space affect an astronaut’s digestion?
00:04:08

We chew our food, swallow it, and our stomach goes to work on digesting! Our bodies absorb the nutrients they need and then we poop out the rest. Here on Earth, the whole process takes somewhere between one to three days. But what about in space? Do astronauts digest food as quickly as they do on Earth? We reached out to space scientist and science communicator Maggie Aderin-Pocock to get the answer!

Got a question you’re chewing  on? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we'll spit out the answer

Nov 02, 2022
How does the earth support heavy buildings?
00:03:50

Did you know the tallest building in the world is a skyscraper in Dubai called the Burj Khalifa? It has 163 floors and weighs as much as 100,000 elephants! But how can the Earth even support such a huge building?! Why doesn’t the ground just collapse underneath it? We asked geologist Rónadh Cox to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s weighing heavily on your mind? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll help build you up with a great answer!

Nov 01, 2022
Why are there prank calls?
00:05:42

Decades ago, making a fake phone call to someone used to be a hilarious prank to play, such as, “Is your refrigerator running? Well, you better go catch it!”. But where did this trend come from and why did people think it was so funny? And what about caller ID? We asked science writer Cara Giaimo to help us find the history behind it all.

Got a question that’s calling to you? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find the answer - no joke!

Oct 31, 2022
Introducing Smarty Pass: Your ticket to the Brains On! Universe
00:04:20

Become a Smarty Pass subscriber today to access bonus episodes and ad-free episodes of Brains On!, Smash Boom Best, Moment of Um, and Forever Ago -- all right here in your favorite podcast player.

Visit smartypass.org/momentofum to get your Smarty Pass! It's $4/month or $36/year (a three-month discount!)

Don't worry: This feed will stay free and we’ll be posting new episodes just like we always have.

Whether you choose to subscribe, or keep listening in our free feeds, we so appreciate you listening to our shows and being a part of the Brains On universe.

Thank you so much for your support!

Oct 28, 2022
What kind of blood do insects have?
00:05:12

If you’ve ever smacked a mosquito on your arm, you might have seen a little smear  of red blood on your skin afterward. But just whose blood was it? Do we have the same blood as insects? We asked biologist Claire Rusch from the University of Washington to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s buzzing around in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, because we’re the type to help you find an answer!

Oct 28, 2022
Why can you see the moon sometimes during the day?
00:03:34

Quick: close your eyes and picture the moon! I bet you imagined it at night, didn’t you? That’s because we’re used to associating the moon with nighttime. But why is it that sometimes we can see the moon during the day? We asked astronomer and planetarium educator Sarah Komperud from the Bell Museum in St. Paul, Minnesota to help us find the answer.

Got a question that you’re over the moon for? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help shed some light on the topic.

Oct 27, 2022
Why don't spiders get caught in their webs?
00:05:20

If you’ve ever seen a spider’s web up close, you probably noticed its intricate pattern and level of detail. It’s like a work of art! Spiders use their webs to ensnare flies and other insects, but why don’t they  get caught in their own sticky traps? We asked biologist Andrew Gordus of Johns Hopkins University to help us find the answer.

Stuck on a question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll search the web for the best expert to answer it.

Oct 26, 2022
Why do we have nightmares?
00:04:34

Ahhh! There is nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night after a nightmare.  Your heart is pounding, you’re all sweaty and suddenly your room seems so dark. Sometimes, you’re almost too scared to close your eyes and try to fall back asleep.  What’s the point of these scary dreams anyway? Is there a reason we have them at all?  We reached out to sleep scientist Ketema Paul to get the answer.  

Got a question keeping you up at night?  Send it to us at brains on dot org slash contact and we’ll wake you up with the answer.

Oct 25, 2022
Why are bugs so attracted to light?
00:03:54

Mwa ha ha ha! Welcome to Eeek Week – a whole week of spooky, creepy, crawly episodes to get you in the mood for Halloween! Listener Emery wanted to know why bugs are attracted to light, and Pam Welisevich from the Dodge Nature Center in St. Paul, Minnesota helped us find the answer.

Got a question that’s really bugging you? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help shed light on the truth. 

Oct 24, 2022
How did pirates communicate from different ships?
00:05:40

Avast, ye seafaring scallywags! Have you ever wondered how pirates communicated with each other?  Walkie-talkies hadn’t been invented yet, and even the world’s biggest megaphone wouldn’t have been very helpful. So how did they do it? We asked Mary K. Bercaw Edwards from the Mystic Seaport Museum to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s shivering your timbers? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll follow our treasure map to the answer. 

Oct 21, 2022
Why are flamingoes pink?
00:04:46

Flamingos are bird fashion icons. Those long legs! That distinctive beak! The glorious pink hue! But why do they have pink feathers? It’s not to blend into their environment, since they don’t live among clouds of cotton candy. What gives? We asked Flora Lichtman, science journalist and host of Every Little Thing from Gimlet Media, to help us find the answer.

Got a question that you can’t stop pinking about?? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you find the answer that’s pig-meant to be.

Oct 20, 2022
Can jellyfish sting each other?
00:05:58

If you’ve ever seen a jellyfish, you’ve probably noticed its long, trailing tentacles. Or maybe you’ve accidentally touched one – ouch! In the ocean, jellyfish often swim together in big groups and touch each other’s stinging tentacles. So can they sting each other? We asked marine biologist Sophie Wolvin to help us find the answer.

Got a question, but you just can’t sea the answer? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find an intere-sting answer for you.

Oct 19, 2022
Why do shadows bend?
00:04:13

As long as there’s a light source, your shadow is with you wherever you go. If you jump, your shadow jumps. If you do the funky chicken, your shadow will flap its wings, kick its feet and bob its head right along with you. But there’s something your shadow can do that you can’t – depending on where you are, your shadow might bend and stretch from one surface onto another. How does it do that?! We asked science writer Rebecca Boyle to help us find the answer.  

Got a question following you around? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll shed some light on the answer.

Oct 18, 2022
Why do our bodies look like this?
00:07:13

Human bodies are all so different. But how did our skeletons evolve to be the way they are? We asked biological anthropologist Habiba Chirchir to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s hard to handle? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find someone whose body of work reflects that topic.

Oct 17, 2022
If pumpkins are heavy, why do they float?
00:05:24

The largest pumpkin ever grown was over 2,700 pounds – the same weight as four adult grizzly bears! Even though lots of pumpkins are heavy, they can still float! How is that possible? We asked Annie Klodd, fruit and vegetable expert from University of Minnesota Extension to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s weighing heavily on you? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll help you out, pumpkin!

Oct 14, 2022
Can a Black Hole get you to another universe?
00:05:20

Black Holes seem like the stuff of science fiction. Their gravity is so strong that once anything, even light, is sucked in, it can’t get back out. But what would happen if a person went through? Would you end up in a different place, a different time, or even a different universe? We asked space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock to help us find the answer.

Got a question taking up space in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll explore the answer!

Oct 13, 2022
How are deserts so sandy?
00:05:09

We know deserts have sand, but why oh why is there so much of it? And how oh how did all that sand get there? We asked Georgia State University scientist Katy Sparrow to help us solve the mystery.

Got a question that’s making you thirst for knowledge? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you under-sand.

Oct 12, 2022
Why are pretzels shaped like that?
00:06:00

Pretzels are yummy, fun to eat, and even more fun to look at! What other object in the world is shaped like that? And how did the shape come to be? We asked historian Dr. Ashley Rose Young from the Smithsonian to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s twisting your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we won’t be salty about it.

Oct 11, 2022
Why are you cold if your insides are 98 degrees?
00:05:21

We’ve all been there: you’re poking your head into the freezer at the grocery store, trying to pick out the perfect popsicle flavor, and suddenly — brrrrr! Your body is covered in goosebumps! But why do we feel cold if our bodies are always 98 degrees inside? We asked Dr. Jonathan Dickman to help us find the answer.

Got a question but you don’t have a degree in that subject yet? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll find a pretty cool answer for you.

Oct 10, 2022
Why does my skin itch in a hot bath?
00:05:01

Happy Derm Week! It’s an epidermis extravaganza! Every episode this week helps you learn about the skin you’re in. Today’s question is “Why does my skin itch in a hot bath?”. We asked dermatologist Elizabeth Farhat to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s landed you in hot water? Send it to us atBrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll scrub out the answer.

Oct 07, 2022
Why do older people get wrinkles?
00:04:36

Happy Derm Week! It’s an epidermis extravaganza! Every episode this week helps you learn about the skin you’re in. Today’s question is “Why do older people get wrinkles?”. We asked dermatologist Elizabeth Farhat to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s wrinkling your brow? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you line up an answer.

Oct 06, 2022
Why does it sting when salt gets in a cut?
00:04:04

Happy Derm Week! It’s an epidermis extravaganza! Every episode this week helps you learn about the skin you’re in. Today’s question is “Why does it sting when salt gets in a cut?” We asked Dr. Jonathan Dickman to help us find the answer.

Got a question that DERMands our attention? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll get the skinny on the answer.

Oct 05, 2022
Is our skin waterproof?
00:04:06

Happy Derm Week! It’s an epidermis extravaganza! Every episode this week helps you learn about the skin you’re in. Now, if we go swimming, or take a shower, or get caught in the rain, we definitely get wet. But we don’t seem to absorb that water inside of our body unless we drink it! So does that mean our skin is waterproof? One listener had this question, so we reached out to dermatologist Elizabeth Farhat to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s got you dripping with curiosity? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help wring out the answer!

Oct 04, 2022
Why does our skin wrinkle in the tub?
00:04:13

Happy Derm Week! It’s an epidermis extravaganza! Every episode this week helps you learn about the skin you’re in. Today’s question is “Why does our skin wrinkle in the tub?”. We asked dermatologist Elizabeth Farhat to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s wrinkling your brow? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help point a finger at the answer!

Oct 03, 2022
Why do you get motion sickness in a car or boat?
00:05:21

Ever gone on a road trip or hopped on a boat, only to feel queasy? Yuckaroo. Us too! It’s called motion sickness and it’s really common. But how does it happen – and why do so many people get it? We asked Dr. Jonathan Dickman to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s making your head spin? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact. We’ll ear you out!

Sep 30, 2022
How do squirrels find their buried nuts?
00:04:15

Ever watched a squirrel scrabbling around in the dirt, burying nuts? We have too. ‘Cuz squirrels are nuts for nuts! But how do our furry little neighbors remember where these nuts are hidden? We asked Berkeley psychology professor Lucia Jacobs to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s driving you nuts? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you dig up the answer!

Sep 29, 2022
Why are we allergic to things?
00:04:57

Lots of people have allergies! Some people can’t be around specific foods, like peanuts, or certain fabrics or metals. Others might notice that they start sneezing or coughing in the springtime, because of all the pollen in the air. But what are allergies, anyway? And what causes them? We spoke to allergy expert Dr. Purvi Parikh to find out!

Got a question that you’re itching to get answered? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find someone who nose the answer! 

Sep 28, 2022
Why are dogs so protective of their owners?
00:03:44

As dog owners, it’s our job to take care of and protect our little buddies. But sometimes doesn’t it feel like they’re the ones taking care of us? We asked Dr. Lena Provost to help us discover why dogs can be  so protective of their owners.

Got a question that’s pawing at your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help dig up an answer.

Sep 27, 2022
Do whales drink and if so, how?
00:04:32

We know that whales swim in the water. They eat  underwater. But do they…drink water? We got this fantastic question from a listener, so we reached out to  whale expert Joy Reidenberg from the  Icahn  School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s leaving you parched? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help quench your thirst for knowledge.

Sep 26, 2022
How long has the storm on Jupiter existed?
00:04:02

For over 200 years now, astronomers have seen a Great Red Spot hanging out in the atmosphere above Jupiter.  We now know this “spot” is really a giant storm. But how long has it been there? We reached out to planetary scientist Shawn Brueshaber to get the answer!

Have a question storming your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll search the planet for the answer!

Sep 23, 2022
What happens if you hold your pee for too long?
00:03:55

We’ve all been there: on a long car trip with no rest stop in sight, but you really have to pee! Listener Aya wanted to know what happens if you hold it for too long, and we asked Dr. Jonathan Dickman to help us find the answer.

Have a question that you just can’t hold in? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll flush out the answer! 

Sep 22, 2022
How does a zipper work?
00:05:01

Zippers are everywhere – holding your backpack closed, keeping you snug in your sleeping bag and of course, on your pants! But how exactly does a zipper work? We asked Bryon Robinson of YKK (the world’s largest zipper manufacturer!) to help us find the answer. 

Got a question that you’d like to sink your teeth into? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find a fasten-ating answer.

Sep 21, 2022
Why do we lose our baby teeth?
00:04:16

Everyone eventually loses their baby teeth – but how does your mouth know when it’s time for a new tooth to come in? Is there a little toothy calendar in there that’s setting the pace? We asked Dr. Jonathan Dickman to give us the lowdown on baby teeth.

Have a question that you want to sink your teeth into?  Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll help you bite into this topic.

Sep 20, 2022
Why do dogs and cats mostly hate each other?
00:05:15

Maybe you’re one of those lucky pet parents who has a dog and a cat that magically get along. It does exist out there! But some cats and dogs truly don’t seem to like each other. Is this true? We asked veterinarian Dr. Carlo Siracusa to help us find the answer.

Got a question that you hate not knowing the answer to? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we won’t be kitten around with the answer!

Sep 19, 2022
How do you move your eyes?
00:05:24

Happy Eye Week! We heard from a listener who asked “How do you move your eyes?” and we asked optometrist Dr. Kelsea Brown to shed some light on this answer.

Got a question that really moves you? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and eye will try to help!

Sep 16, 2022
How do screens damage our eyes?
00:03:38

Happy Eye Week! Sometimes it feels like screen time, all the time! From the phone, to the TV, to the computer… It makes a person wonder: is all that blue light damaging my eyes? We reached out to optometrist Dr. Kelsea Brown to help us find the answer.

Got a question unlike any we’ve ever screen? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll do our best to shed light on the answer!

Sep 15, 2022
How do our eyes get color?
00:03:55

Happy Eye Week! Jeepers creepers, let’s learn about peepers! Everyone has their own unique eye color, from blue to brown to green and everywhere in between! Sometimes, people can even have two different-colored eyes. So where does that color come from? We asked Dr. Kelsea Brown to help us find the answer.

Got a question that you’ve been eyeballing? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find an answer in the blink of an eye.

Sep 14, 2022
Do your eyes close all the way every time you blink?
00:03:17

Happy Eye Week! We got a wonderful question from a listener - “Do your eyes close all the way every time you blink?” and we asked optometrist Dr. Kelsea Brown to help us find the answer.

Curious about something that makes you feel like a smart pupil? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll help you in the blink of an eye!

Sep 13, 2022
How do glasses lenses work?
00:05:57

Happy Eye Week! We are excited to bring you a whole week of episodes all about the spectacular ocular eye. For today’s episode, we know that glasses help people see, but exactly how do those little lenses work? We reached out to optometrist Dr. Kelsea Brown to help us find the answer.

Got a question whose answer you just can’t see? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll help lens a hand!

Sep 12, 2022
What is lipstick made of?
00:04:47

Pucker up, pals, let’s learn about lipstick! Applying tinted goop to make your face fancy and your mouth mesmerizing has been in style for thousands of years. But what’s in that stuff? Crayons? Strawberries? Petunias? We asked cosmetic chemist Amanda Lam to help us find the answer.

Got a question and can’t makeup your mind whether to ask for help? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help lip-stick the landing.

Sep 09, 2022
Why do turtles move so slowly?
00:04:21

Turtles often look like they’re walking in slow motion, using their stubby little legs to scoot across the ground. But why do they move so slowly? We asked scientist Nicole Mazouchova to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s slowing you down? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll shell out the answer.

Sep 08, 2022
Are mangos really related to poison ivy?
00:04:38

Picture a delicious, juicy mango. Mmmm. Now, picture the shiny, itchy-rash-causing leaves of poison ivy. Ack! Couldn’t be more different, right? Well, get ready for a fact that’s going to boggle your bean! Mangoes and poison ivy are actually plant cousins! How does that work?  We asked botanist Dr. Eve Emshwiller to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s making your mind itch? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll scratch up an answer.

Sep 07, 2022
What is the farthest a human can see?
00:03:33

We get so many fantastic questions sent in to Moment of Um, but today’s is a real sight for sore eyes! One listener wrote in asking what is the farthest distance a human can see, and we asked Sue Keirstead from the University of Minnesota to help us search for the answer.

Got a question whose answer is hard to envision? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and eye personally will help you find the answer!

Sep 06, 2022
Why does hot sauce make your nose run?
00:04:59

If you’re an adventurous eater you might have tried spicy cuisine, or maybe added hot sauce to your meals. Did your eyes water? Did your nose run? If so, that’s a totally normal response, and  Otolaryngologist Erich P. Voigt is here to help us understand why that is.

Got a burning Moment of Um question for us? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you find the answer.

Sep 05, 2022
Do dogs always lift the same leg to pee?
00:06:44

Woof woof woof! It’s Woof Week here on Moment of Um, where we’re ready to learn about all things related to dogs! In today’s episode, Dr. Carlo Siracusa answers the question “Do dogs always lift the same leg to pee?”

Got a topic that urine-to? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help get you a leg up on the answer!

Sep 02, 2022
How do dogs sense emotions like fear or tenderness?
00:05:00

Woof woof woof! It’s Woof Week here on Moment of Um, where we’re ready to learn about all things related to dogs! In today’s episode, Dr. Carlo Siracusa answers the question “How do dogs sense emotions like fear or tenderness?”

Got a question you’ve been chewing on? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help dig up the answer.

Sep 01, 2022
Why do dogs sniff each other’s butts?
00:06:04

Woof woof woof! It’s Woof Week here on Moment of Um, where we’re learning  about all things related to dogs! In today’s episode, Dr. Carlo Siracusa answers the question “Why do dogs sniff each other’s butts?”

Got a question that’s hounding you?  Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you answer it–it’s the leash we can do.

Aug 31, 2022
Why can dogs learn tricks but cats can’t?
00:05:01

Woof woof woof! It’s Woof Week here on Moment of Um, where we’re ready to learn about all things related to dogs! In today’s episode, Dr. Lena Provost answers the question “Why can dogs learn tricks but cats can’t?”

Got a tricky question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you fetch the answer.

Aug 30, 2022
Why are dogs so energetic?
00:04:32

Woof woof woof! It’s Woof Week here on Moment of Um, where we’re ready to learn about all things related to dogs! In today’s episode, Dr. Lena Provost answers the question “Why are dogs so energetic?”

Got a question that you’re excited about? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you embark on the journey to the answer!

Aug 29, 2022
Why do we snore?
00:05:07

We hope you’ve enjoyed the episodes this week because for the next two weeks we’re taking a short break. We’re headed to Moment of Um camp, where we organize all of your questions, interview a whole bunch of experts, and get ready for a fall and winter FULL of amazing episodes for you. We’ll be back on August 29! Now, on with the show.

Snoring isn’t boring – usually it’s kinda funny and harmless! But it can also be disruptive and a sign of breathing troubles. We wanted to find out WHY it happens, so we asked sleep medicine physician Dr. Andrew Stiehm to explain snoring mechanics.

Got a question keeping you awake at night? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact. We’ll get you an answer you can’t ig-snore!

Aug 12, 2022
Do trees get sick?
00:05:13

We’re all familiar with that icky feeling of a sickness creeping in. It could be a tummy ache or a headache, maybe a tickle in the throat, or a drippy nose. But what about our tree friends? Can they get sick too? One listener wanted to know, so we asked Anna Yang from the University of Minnesota to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s tree-mendously hard to answer? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help a-leaf-iate your curiosity.

Aug 11, 2022
Why do dogs chase their tails?
00:04:52

Dogs love to chase things! Squirrels, balls, other dogs in the park. But why do they sometimes get stuck in a loop chasing their own tail? We asked Dr. Carlo Siracusa to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s taking furever to answer? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help chase down the answer.

Aug 10, 2022
Why is trash stinky?
00:04:05

P-U! Today on Moment of Um, we’re talking trash! More specifically, a listener wanted to know why trash gets so darn smelly in the bin! We asked Tim Bennet, the owner of a compost company, to help us find the answer.

Got a question that isn’t a waste of time? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help dig around for the answer.

Aug 09, 2022
Why do you scream when you get scared?
00:03:50

Boo! Ahhhh! When we’re scared, we often can’t help letting out a scream.  But how and why did humans develop this instinct? We got the scoop from neuroscientist Luc Arnal.

Got a question that’s keeping you up at night? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help scare up an answer for you!

Aug 08, 2022
How do people develop accents?
00:05:19

Hey, hi, howdy y’all!  Depending on where you go, the words people use and the ways they pronounce them varies widely.  But where did these different accents originate and how do we get them?  We talked it over with linguist Nicole Holliday!

Got a question on the tip of your tongue? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you find the answ

Aug 05, 2022
Why are there so many colors in a sunset?
00:03:34

One of the most beautiful things on Earth is a sunset, wouldn’t you agree? But what exactly is creating this rainbow of different colors? We asked physics and astronomy teacher Darik Velez to help us find the answer. 

Got a question that’s lighting up your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you breathe a sky of relief.

Aug 04, 2022
Why do we bleed?
00:04:48

Most of us have gotten little cuts here and there and noticed that blood comes out. Sometimes we need a Band-Aid to stop it. But why does bleeding need to happen? It must serve a purpose, right? We asked Dr. Emily Downing to help us find the answer. 

Are you vesseling with a big question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll circulate it around!wer.

Aug 03, 2022
Can dogs be allergic to cats?
00:04:58

Lots of people are allergic to cats and dogs. All their fur and dust can make our eyes itch, our noses tingle, and our throats scratchy. But can pets be allergic to each other? What happens when a dog sniffs a cat and gets a snootful of kitty fuzz? We asked Dr. Christine Cain, a veterinary dermatologist, to help us find the answer.

Questions got you chasing your tail? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help fetch you an answer.

Aug 02, 2022
Why does our hair turn white?
00:05:19

Humans have so many different hair colors – black, brown, red, blonde – and almost every shade in between. As we get older, our hair usually starts to lose its color. But why is that? We asked Dr. Emily Downing to help us find the answer. 

Got a question that’s pretty hairy? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll answer it in style.

Aug 01, 2022
Why are blood types important?
00:04:48

All humans have blood, but not all blood is the same! We each have our own blood type, which depends on DNA passed down from  our parents. But what does it actually mean to be Type O-positive or Type AB-negative? Why is it sometimes really important to know your blood type?  We asked Dr. Emily Downing to help us find the answer. 

Got a question that’s so hard it makes your blood boil? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we are positive we’ll find an answer.

Jul 29, 2022
Why does sugar taste sweet?
00:04:57

Cookies, cakes, candy, soda pop. It can be very fun to snack on sweet treats - in moderation. But just what makes these sweets so sweet? It’s the sugar, right? We asked scientist Ann-Marie Torregrossa to help us figure out why sugar tastes so sweet.

Got a question that you’re pretty sweet on? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll treat you to the answer.

Jul 28, 2022
Why do old people lose their memory?
00:05:39

Have you ever spent time with your grandparents and noticed that sometimes they’re a little on the forgetful side? Is this a typical part of life? We weren’t sure, so we asked Dr. Emily Downing to help us learn more about memory loss. 

Got a question that you simply forgot the answer to? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you remember!

Jul 27, 2022
Why do wet dogs stink?
00:05:52

You’re taking your beloved doggie on a walk in the park – lucky girl! But then the skies open up and it starts to rain. You both forgot your rain jackets, but it’s not a huge deal because your dog is loving the time outside with you! Then you get home, and wow it’s a whole different story. That dog STINKS. We asked Dr. Christine Cain, a veterinary dermatologist, to help us figure out why wet dogs stink so much!

Got a question that’s pawing at you? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help stink of a really good way to answer it!

Jul 26, 2022
How does soil get made?
00:04:49

We know that soil helps many things grow -- but how is it made? It must come from somewhere, right? We talked to farmer Angel Papineu to find the answer. 

Got a question growing in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll dig for the truth! 

Jul 25, 2022
Did dinosaurs have baby teeth?
00:03:52

Teething, losing teeth, growing new teeth. It’s a part of life that every human goes through! But what about dinosaurs? Did they experience the same thing? We asked paleontologist Shaena Montanari to help us find the answer.

Got a dinomite question for us? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you out because we’re as smart as a thesaurus!

Jul 22, 2022
How do boomerangs return?
00:05:37

A boomerang is a specially curved wooden throwing stick that was originally used as a hunting tool by Indigenous Australians. Nowadays, you can find toy versions along with the real thing, and if you throw them just right, they’ll curve around in the air and head right back to you. At least…it works for some people. So how exactly does a boomerang fly? We asked boomerang champion Logan Broadbent to help us find the answer.

Got a question that keeps coming back to you? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll booma-wrangle some answers for you.

Jul 21, 2022
What is plastic made of?
00:06:36

Plastic is a part of so many of the things we use every day. But just what IS it? We asked University of Minnesota professor Frank Bates to help us find the answer.

Got a question you’ve been bottling up? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll pla-stic to the topic.

Jul 20, 2022
Do zookeepers work at night?
00:06:58

If you go to the zoo during the day - you can see that things are hopping! Animals are being cared for, people are milling about, and there’s a lot of action to observe. But what happens at night? Who takes care of the animals then? Or is everyone just sleeping? We asked Nancy Hawkes, Director of Animal Care at Woodland Park Zoo to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s zookeeping you up at night? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you find the truth – we won’t be lion!

Jul 19, 2022
Where does pepper come from?
00:04:09

Black pepper is in just about everyone’s kitchen. It’s salt’s best buddy. It comes in shakers, grinders, and little paper packets. But where does black pepper come from?  We asked historian Jenna Schultz from the University of St. Thomas to help us find the answer.

Want to pepper us with questions? Drop us a line at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll serve you some freshly-ground facts.

Jul 18, 2022
Why do we get bruises?
00:04:30

Whether you know exactly where it came from, or it suddenly appears on your skin and you don’t remember it happening, it’s just a fact of life…we all get bruises! But why are they there, and what’s inside of them? We asked Dr. Frank Rhame to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s really getting under your skin? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and – don’t be blue – we’ll help solve the mystery!

Jul 15, 2022
How are cheetahs so fast?
00:04:13

Have you ever raced a cheetah? Hopefully not, that sounds dangerous. But if you have, that cheetah probably left you in her dust. We asked Rick Schwartz from the San Diego Zoo to help us figure out why cheetahs are so fast.

Got a question that’s testing you? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you find an answer so you don’t have to be a cheetah!

Jul 14, 2022
How do flat rocks skip across water?
00:04:20

Throwing a flat rock juuust right so that it skips across the surface of a pond or river is super satisfying. How many hops can you get? Two? Seven? Sixty-five? But how does the right kind of throw cause a rock to NOT sink as soon as it touches the water? We asked Jon Lambert of Splash Lab to help us find the answer. 

Got questions skipping through your brain? Send your questions to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll throw you some answers.

Jul 13, 2022
Why do people stop growing taller?
00:04:47

Kids grow super fast and get taller and taller and taller and then – all of the sudden they stop! How do our bodies know when it’s time to stop? Why don’t we just keep growing until we reach the sky? We asked Dr. Frank Rhame to help us find the answer.

Got a question that you think is a tall order? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll answer it shortly.

Jul 12, 2022
Why is chocolate poisonous for dogs?
00:04:03

Whether you have a dog, want a dog, don’t like dogs, or are a dog…one thing's for sure. Dogs can’t eat chocolate! Why is it so bad for them? We asked Cassie Panning, a certified veterinary technician from the University of Minnesota, to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s pawing at you? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help pup-date you on the topic!

Jul 11, 2022
Why do we feel dizzy when we twirl around?
00:04:37

Spinning around in circles is really fun right? And then a weird thing happens. When you stop, it’s like the world is turned upside down and you don’t know which way you’re facing and you feel dizzy and sometimes even fall down! We asked infectious disease physician Dr. Frank Rhame to help understand why that is.

Got a question that’s spinning you around in circles? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help set you straight!

Jul 08, 2022
How do ballerinas stand on their toes?
00:04:44

Ballet dancers inspire us with their grace, twirls, and leaps. But how do they stand on their tip-toes? We asked contemporary ballet dancer and choreographer Penelope Freeh to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s keeping you on your toes? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll pointe you to some answers!

Jul 07, 2022
Does water have a taste?
00:04:41

Have you ever been really thirsty on a hot day? Nothing beats that thirst better than a cold glass of good old H2O. We can’t live without it! Water quenches our thirst, but does it tickle our taste buds? Does water from different places taste different? We asked Martin Riese to help us find the answer.

Are you thirsting for knowledge? Send your questions to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll pour you a nice tall glass of facts.

Jul 06, 2022
Why do our ears pop on airplanes?
00:03:55

Have you ever been on an airplane and noticed that pressure in your ears? And then, as you’re taking off…they pop! Just like a balloon or a bubble or a freshly opened can of dough! Why does that happen? We asked infectious disease physician Dr. Frank Rhame to help us find the answer.

Got a question that popped in your head? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll fly in to help answer it for you.

Jul 05, 2022
How do frogs' tongues stretch so far?
00:04:49

Ever wish you had a frog's tongue? You wouldn’t even have to pick up a cookie with your hand…your tongue would grab it for you! How amazing is that? But really, how DO frog tongues stretch so far? We asked Kiisa Nishikawa, a professor at Northern Arizona University, to help us find the answer.

Got a sticky question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll slurp up an answer for you!

Jul 04, 2022
How do sticks make fire?
00:04:29

People rubbing two sticks together and a fire magically appearing is a common thing you might see in movies or on television. But does it actually work? We asked engineer Vi Rapp to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s flickering in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help put out the fire.

Jul 01, 2022
Do babies understand words?
00:05:48

Babies. They’re cute little peanuts, huh? Babbling and drooling while their parents talk to them in widdle baby voices. But do babies understand what people say to them? When do they start learning how to communicate with language? We asked child psychologist Dr. Beverly Goldfield to help us find the right words to explain the answer. 

Got a question that’s really verbing your noun? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you find an adjective answer.

Jun 30, 2022
How does soap make bubbles?
00:06:39

We know how important it is to wash our hands with soap and warm water. Get between the fingers, under the nails, all that good stuff. But why does soap get all foamy when you add water? Where do those bubbles come from? We asked University of Minnesota professor Frank Bates to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s bubbling up in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help pop the question!

Jun 29, 2022
Why does blood taste like metal and why are we not magnetic?
00:05:34

Sometimes we get questions from listeners that are so intertwined that we just have to include them both in one episode, and today is one of those days! Cardiologist Dr. Courtney Jordan Baechler helps us figure out the answer to two questions – why does blood taste like metal, and why are we not magnetic? And as a bonus, Dr. B. includes a super fun experiment that you can do at home.

Got a question that’s meddling with your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help iron out the answer.

Jun 28, 2022
How do you make clay for pottery?
00:05:13

Clay is neat stuff. You can knead it, shape it, carve it, sculpt it, and make all kinds of beautiful creations. It goes from soft and squishy to hard and breakable when it’s baked in a kiln. But clay is…dirt, right? It comes from the ground! So how do you get it out of the ground and into the blocks that you find at an art supply store? We asked ceramic artist and educator Lauren Sandler to guide us through the process. 

Got a question that you just knead an answer to? Send it to us atBrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help mold an answer into shape for you!

Jun 27, 2022
What do scientists in Antarctica eat?
00:04:37

Antarctica. Home of the South Pole and an incredibly diverse population of sea life. You know what there’s not a lot of in Antarctica? People! But there are some adventurous scientists who go there for research. These folks  can’t just zip out to the grocery store when they want to make a meal…so what do they eat?  We asked scientist Cameron Hearn to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s just the tip of the iceberg? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll give you an ocean of knowledge!

Jun 24, 2022
Why don't ears have bones?
00:04:08

Are your ears burning? ‘Cause we’ve been thinking about them. Sure, they’re an incredible self-cleaning marvel that we can wax poetic about all day. Sure, they’re a great place for dads to store all kinds of hairs. But do ears have bones?  We asked Olivia Bermingham-McDonogh from the University of Washington to help us find the answer.

Heard a good question recently? Send it to us atBrainsOn.org/contact, because we’re ear for you.

Jun 23, 2022
Why are there holes in Swiss cheese?
00:03:35

Have you noticed that there’s a kind of cheese that’s holier than all the rest? Swiss! Why does it have all those holes anyway? We asked Jenny Eastwood of Small Goods to help us answer this delicious question.
Hungry for some answers? Send your questions to BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll briepare an answer justfor you.

Jun 22, 2022
What happens in our bodies when we are sick?
00:06:59

Let’s say you wake up on a Tuesday morning feeling fine and fresh. But by the end of the night your throat hurts, you’re coughing, and there’s snot dripping from your nose. What happened in the course of that one day to make you feel so sick? Dr. Courtney Jordan Baechler helps us stick our noses in this (t)issue

Got a question you can’t fever out? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and then be patient! We’ll help find the answer.

Jun 21, 2022
Why are peaches and some other fruits fuzzy?
00:04:47

Have you ever picked up a peach in the supermarket and noticed that its skin is covered in soft fuzz? What’s that about? Should we be taking our peaches to barbershops? And what about kiwis? They’re covered in scratchy hairs! Why do some fruits have fuzz while others have smooth skin? We talked to Dario Chavez from the University of Georgia to find out.

Got a fresh ‘n’ fruity question? Send it to us atBrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find an a-peeling answer.

Jun 20, 2022
What would happen if the moon fell down onto earth?
00:05:44

Ever look up at the moon and wonder what it’s doing up there? And whether it could drop out of the sky and fall to earth’s surface? In this episode, astrophysicist Smadar Naoz helps us understand what would happen if the moon decided to give Earth a visit, and teaches us a thing or two about the forces keeping the moon in its place. 


Searching the skies for answers? Send your questions to BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find an answer that will rock your world.

Jun 17, 2022
Why didn't sharks go extinct like dinosaurs?
00:06:37

If sharks were around in the time of dinosaurs, how are they still here today when dinosaurs have gone extinct? Were some just really, really good at hiding from the asteroid that hit Earth? For this episode, we talked to Karen Chin, a professor of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado. 

Got a question you want to sink your teeth into? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll try our best to fin-ish what you started!

Jun 16, 2022
Do airplanes have a speed limit?
00:04:26

Airplanes fly high in the sky and at super fast speeds. But is there a limit to how fast they’re allowed to fly? You know, in the way cars have speed limits? For this episode, we talked to Bobby Sharp, an air traffic controller, who helps us understand if airplanes have a need for speed.

Got a question you need answered fast? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll try our plane old best to get it answered!

Jun 15, 2022
How many times does our heart beat a day?
00:05:15

Most of us know that we have a heart. We know that it beats - sometimes faster, sometimes slower. But just how many times does it beat in a day? We asked Dr. Courtney Jordan Baechler to have a heart-to-heart with us about this question. (She is also the host of the podcast Heart-to-Heart Conversations!)

Got a question that you just love? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we won’t beat around the bush!

Jun 14, 2022
How does hair dye work?
00:05:04

If you could turn your hair any color in the world… what color would you choose?! Sapphire blue, hot pink, lime green, neon orange?? There are dyes out there that can turn your hair every color of the rainbow! But how exactly do they work? We asked Chemist Michelle Wall to help us understand.

Got a hairy question that needs answering? Send it to us atBrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll style an answer for you!

Jun 10, 2022
How do our clothes get dirty?
00:04:12

Clothes are FUN. We strut our stuff in them. Laugh and play in them. Sometimes we love one article of clothing so much, we never want to take it off! But eventually, all clothes do have to be cleaned. We chatted with Tide Principal Scientist Jennifer Ahoni about how clothes get dirty, even when they still look spotless. Listen and learn about the secrets of body soils and invisible dirt! 
Got a question in your pocket? Send it to us atBrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll fashion an answer for you.

Jun 09, 2022
Why does bread have holes?
00:04:53

Bread! It’s good stuff, no matter how you slice it. But why do slices of bread have holes in them? Are there bread moles who tunnel through baguettes? Invisible worms in the whole wheat? Chipmunks chewing on the ciabatta? We asked food scientist David Domingues  to help us find the answer.

Got a question that you knead us to look into? Send it to us atBrains On.org/contact, and we’ll find the answers where you yeast expect them!

Jun 08, 2022
How do skunks spray?
00:04:51

If there’s one thing most people know about skunks - it’s that they spray! We know the spray smells bad and that we’re supposed to stay away from it. But just how do they spray? And why? We asked biologist Katelyn Amspacher to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s so tough it’s a real stinker? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help earn our stripes by finding an answer.

Jun 06, 2022
Why are stuffed animals connected to sleeping?
00:04:35

Continuing with our snooze fest…it’s sleep week, and today is our final episode! Sleep specialist Andrew Stiehm answers the question “Why are stuffed animals connected to sleeping?” 

Got a question that you can’t bear not knowing the answer to? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find an expert who isn’t too stuffy to answer!

Jun 03, 2022
Why do we drool when we're asleep?
00:05:18

Continuing with our snooze fest…it’s sleep week! We get so many questions from curious kids about sleeping, going to sleep, not sleeping, what happens to your body when you sleep, etc. that we decided to devote an entire week to some sweet shut eye! In today’s episode, sleep specialist Andrew Stiehm answers the question “Why do we drool when we're asleep?” 

Got a question that’s so good you could just drool over it? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find the answer!

Jun 02, 2022
How do we breathe while we're asleep?
00:05:26

Continuing with our snooze fest…it’s sleep week! We get so many questions from curious kids about sleeping, going to sleep, not sleeping, what happens to your body when you sleep, etc. that we decided to devote an entire week to some sweet shut eye! In today’s episode, sleep specialist Andrew Stiehm answers the question “How do we breathe while we're asleep?” 

Got a question so big you’re just breathless with anticipation? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find the answer!

Jun 01, 2022
Why are yawns contagious?
00:07:08

Continuing with our snooze fest…it’s sleep week! We get so many questions from curious kids about sleeping, going to sleep, not sleeping, what happens to your body when you sleep, etc. that we decided to devote an entire week to some sweet shut eye! In today’s episode, sleep specialist Andrew Stiehm answers the question “Why are yawns contagious?” 

Got a question so big you’re losing sleep over it? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll wake up an answer!

May 31, 2022
What makes us sleepy?
00:05:29

Get ready for a snooze fest because it’s sleep week! We get so many questions from curious kids about sleeping, going to sleep, not sleeping, what happens to your body when you sleep, etc. that we decided to devote an entire week to the art of the slumber! In today’s episode, sleep specialist Andrew Stiehm answers the question “What makes us sleepy?” 

Is the act of searching for a question making you feel exhausted? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we won’t sleep on the answer!

May 30, 2022
What causes solar flares?
00:03:45

Listener Graham wanted to know what solar flares are and what causes them, so we reached out to NASA Heliophysicist Nicola Fox to help us figure out why these bright flashes on the sun’s surface occur.

Got a question that’s been flaring up in your mind? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help make you brighter!

May 27, 2022
What's the smallest unit of measurement?
00:04:53

Let’s say you want to measure something really, really, really tiny. How do you do that? With inches? Centimeters? Millimeters? What if it’s so tiny you can’t even see it? Particle physicist Jessica Esquivel helps us solve this teeny tiny mystery!

Got a question that seems too big to answer? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll try to measure up!

May 26, 2022
Why do daddy long legs have super long legs?
00:03:28

Whether you’re a fan or not, one thing is for sure - most of us have had an encounter with a daddy long legs. They’ve got super duper long legs, and a TON of nicknames, including cellar spider, carpenter spider, daddy long-legger, vibrating spider, gyrating spider, long daddy, and skull spider. But why are their legs so long? Guilherme Gainett helps us solve this mystery.

Got a question crawling around your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help figure it out!

May 25, 2022
Why do we rub our eyes when we're tired?
00:03:05

It seems universal that when a person - old or young - is tired, they rub their eyes. It’s even a way that babies communicate to their adults that they are ready for bed. Are we just born understanding that signal? Or is there something going on with our eyes that they need to be rubbed when we’re sleepy? Otolaryngologist Dr. Laura Orvidas helps us understand the connection in this episode. And stay tuned for the week of May 30, when all of our episodes will be sleep-themed. It’ll be a real “snooze fest”!

Got a question you’ve been eyeing? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we won’t sleep on the answer!

May 24, 2022
Why do ostriches stick their heads in the ground?
00:04:27

Ostriches are super neat! They’re the world’s heaviest birds, and they lay the largest eggs of any bird on Earth. They grow up to 8 feet tall, and can run as fast as 45 miles per hour. But you know what they don’t do? They don’t stick their heads in the ground to hide! There are a few reasons why this misunderstanding is so popular, and Sushma Reddy from the Bell Museum helps us understand.

Up to your neck in questions? Send it to us atBrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find someone who can answer it in the shake of a tailfeather! 

May 23, 2022
What produces eye gunk when we sleep?
00:05:13

Have you ever woken up in the morning with the corners of your eyes filled with crud? Sleepy sand? Eye goblins? Dozy dust? Bed boogers? Why do our eyes make this stuff, anyway? And why does it build up when we’re asleep? We asked Yale eye doctor Soshian Sarrafpour to help us get to the bottom of this issue.

Got a question that you can’t keep a lid on? Send it to us atBrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find someone who can answer it in the blink of an eye 

May 20, 2022
Why do we itch?
00:03:41

A mosquito bites you. Your grandma knits you a scratchy blanket. Your friend tickles you with a feathery cat toy. What do all of these things have in common? They make you itch! Listener Samantha was wondering just why that is, and neuroscientist Sonali Mali says she’s always wondered the same thing, so that’s why she studies it!

Got a question tickling at your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, because we’re just itching to help you find the answer!

May 19, 2022
Why do pugs have such scrunched faces?
00:04:00

Pugs! They’re adorable! The internet loves them for their sassy personalities and squishy faces. But how did the pug’s face get so smushed? Why are pug noses different from terrier sniffers or German shepherd snoots? We asked animal geneticist Jeffrey Schoenebeck to help us sniff out the answer. 

Got a question that’s right in front of your schnozz? Send it to us atBrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find someone who NOSE the answer.

May 18, 2022
How and why do we produce saliva?
00:03:38

Our mouths have a lot going on. They have teeth and a tongue and they help us talk and eat. But what about saliva? It seems important, right? How do our bodies know to make it? We asked otolaryngologist Dr. Laura Orvidas to help us learn all about saliva. 

Got a question that you just can’t lick? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find an answer.

May 17, 2022
What is the flavor of root beer?
00:06:10

A lot of people like root beer! But it’s kind of hard to describe, right? It’s really got a unique taste. We asked Ashley Rose-Young, a historian from the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History, to help explain exactly what the flavor of root beer is, and share a little of the history behind this yummy drink. 

Got a question that’s poppin’ around your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help get to the root of the issue.

May 16, 2022
Why does dust make us sneeze?
00:04:09

There are lots of reasons to sneeze - you have a cold, you get a whiff of pepper or someone tickles your nose with a feather! But why is it that dust makes us sneeze? We asked otolaryngologist Laura Orvidas to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s gathering dust in your brain? Send it to us atBrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you sniff out the answer.

May 13, 2022
Can muscles break like bones do?
00:04:25

If you’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of breaking a bone, it’s not the most fun. But can muscles break in the same way bones can? One listener was wondering about this, and physical therapist Karen Litzy helps us get a leg up on the issue. 

Do you have a question you’d like to ask? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find the answer!

May 12, 2022
Do cats go to the dentist?
00:05:20

An inevitability of life is that humans have to go to the dentist. Some people love it, some hate it! But taking care of our teeth is super important. Do our kitty friends have to do the same thing? Large animal surgeon Whitney Cutrone answers this very question.

Got a question that’s got some bite? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find an answer right meow!

May 10, 2022
Why are cactuses prickly?
00:06:45

Lots of plants are smooth to the touch, and some are even soft and feathery like flowers! So why are cactuses prickly and sometimes even painful? We asked botanist Rachel Jabaily from Colorado College to answer this spine-tingling question. 

Got a question that’s prickling at your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help sharpen you up.

May 09, 2022
What happens when parts of your body fall asleep?
00:05:51

If you’ve ever stood up quickly and felt a little wobbly and tingly in your legs, you might be familiar with the sensation of having a body part that has fallen asleep! Why does that happen and how can we fix it? Otolaryngologist Karen Litzy helps us get to the bottom of this mystery. 

Got a question that you just can’t stand not knowing the answer to? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you get a leg up on that topic!

May 06, 2022
Why do horses need horseshoes?
00:06:29

You don’t see most horses wearing pants, jackets or hats but one thing is for sure - they’re almost always wearing shoes! You know, those u-shaped things attached to their hooves. Why is that? Large animal surgeon Whitney Cutrone helps us find the answer. 

Are you saddled with a big equestrian? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll get to the mane issue.

May 05, 2022
Could a popcorn kernel grow into a popcorn plant?
00:03:32

If you plant certain seeds in the right condition - a plant or tree might grow. But what happens if you plant a popcorn kernel? Will a bowl of popcorn grow right out of the ground? We needed to know, so we asked Phil Fox of Popcornopolis to help us find the answer. 

Are you searching for a kernel of truth? Send your question to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and you butter believe we’ll help find the answer.

May 04, 2022
What are tongues for?
00:03:50

So there’s this big, bumpy muscle inside of our mouths and we know it’s important and that we have to take great care of it. But what’s it even for? We asked Otolaryngologist Laura Orvidas from the Mayo Clinic to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s got you all tongue tied? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll muscle an answer out of an expert.

May 03, 2022
Why do raspberries have little hairs on them?
00:04:10

Mammals have hair to help keep warm in the cold, and in some cases - to look awesome! But why do raspberries have those little hairs all over them? They don’t get cold - do they? We asked Emily Hoover from the University of Minnesota to help us understand.

Got a question that’s berry hard to answer? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll pick an expert to answer it!

May 02, 2022
How do birds fly?
00:04:18

Is it the wings? Is it the feathers? Is it how light they are? If you’ve ever wondered why birds can fly, this is the episode for you! We asked ornithologist Drew Lanham to help us find the answer.

Got a question that you’re egg-cited about? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll do more than wing it.

Apr 29, 2022
How do tattoos stay forever?
00:04:57

In the United States, you can’t get a tattoo until you’re 18 years old. If that seems unfair, just think about it - it’s permanent! As in…forever and ever! For all time! So how does it actually stay on your skin? We asked dermatologist Roopal Kundu to help us find the answer.

Got a question that feels like it’s permanently etched in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help (th)ink of an answer.

Apr 28, 2022
How do sloths sleep upside down without letting go?
00:03:31

Sloths are really, really good at hanging upside down. They practically make it seem effortless! Why is that? Do they love it? Is the world just more fun from that angle? We asked zoologist Lucy Cooke to help us figure it out.

Got a question that’s clawing at your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and hang in there - we’ll help you find the answer.

Apr 27, 2022
Why do we have nails?
00:05:03

Nails – we clean them, trim them, paint them, and sometimes even wear fake ones! But why do we have them in the first place? We talked to paleontologist Alexander Claxton about the evolutionary reasons behind having nails.

Got a question that you just can’t nail down? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help point afinger at the answer.

Apr 26, 2022
Why do different flowers have different smells?
00:04:01

For the most part, flowers smell really great, right? They give off scents that are sweet, syrupy, perfumy and fresh. But they don’t all smell the same. We asked botanist Josh Felton from Colorado College why that is.

Got a question you’d like to sniff out? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find a budding expert to give the answer.

Apr 25, 2022
Is a whale shark bigger than a whale?
00:04:21

Whale sharks are big. They’re the biggest fish in the whole ocean! Have you ever wondered how they got so big? We asked shark expert Amani Webber-Schultz to help us find out. 

Do you have an ocean-sized question sloshing around in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll SEA what we can find!

Apr 22, 2022
Why do we have reflexes?
00:04:49

If you’ve ever had a ball tossed at your face, you probably flinched, tried to knock it away from your face, or jumped out of the way, right? That’s called a reflex, and most humans have them including tiny babies. We asked physical therapist Karen Litzy why that is.

Got a question for us? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find the answer! 

Apr 21, 2022
How far can an owl turn its head?
00:05:34

Owls are amazing. Most are nocturnal and hunt at night. They have incredible eyesight. And a group of them is called a parliament! One of our listeners was wondering how far they can turn their heads around. We asked Lauren Smith from the Owl Research Institute to help us find the answer.

Got a Moment of Um question that’s turning you upside down? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help get it all sorted out.

Apr 20, 2022
Why does black absorb heat?
00:05:03

Have you ever noticed how we usually wear lighter colors in the warmer months, and darker colors once it gets cold? Like how your black shirt is perfect at keeping cozy in the winter, but far too sweaty for the summer. But why is that? We asked physicist Dr. Desiré Whitmore, aka the Laser Chick, to help us understand why black absorbs heat. 

Got a Moment of Um question that’s absorbing your mind? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help answer it.

Apr 19, 2022
How do rocks form?
00:04:33

Maybe you’ve never thought twice about rocks, but there has to be a reason that they are covering the Earth’s surface right? We just had to know how they got here, so we asked rock expert Mary Leech to help us find the answer.

Got a question that really rocks? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help unEarth the answer.

Apr 18, 2022
Why does time fly when you're having fun?
00:04:51

Have you ever experienced the term "time flies when you’re having fun"? It’s an unfortunate reality of life that time seems to crawl by when we’re waiting for something to happen, and go too fast when we’re having a blast. We asked Ruth Ogden, a psychologist at John Moores University, why this happens.

Is there a question you’ve been pondering for a minute? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll set aside the time to get it answered.

Apr 15, 2022
Why does rain fall in tiny droplets and not big plops?
00:03:53

If you’ve ever been caught in the rain, it probably wasn’t a big deal, right? Lucky for us, rain typically falls from the sky in small droplets. Listener Joe was wondering why that is, so we reached out to Monique Robinson of Mississippi State University to help us find the answer.

Got a Moment of Um question that’s raining on your parade? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help weather the storm.

Apr 14, 2022
Why do people move their arms when they walk?
00:03:47

Let’s say you’re watching a bunch of people run a marathon. The runners are pumping their legs, sure. But they’re also swinging their arms. Why is that? And why do we swing them when walking too?  We asked Rachel Adenekan of Stanford University to help explain why that swinging motion is so universal. 

Got a Moment of Um question that’s keeping you at arm’s length? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll point a finger at the answer.

Apr 13, 2022
Why do leaves change color only in the fall?
00:05:39

In fall we like to change up our wardrobe from shorts and T-shirts to pants and sweaters. And guess what, trees do that too! Except they change the color of their leaves. Why is that? We asked Marlyse Duguid from the Yale School of the Environment to help us find the answer.

Got a question that’s leaf-ing you stumped? Send it to us atBrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll put your mind at (for)rest.

Apr 12, 2022
How are alligators and crocodiles different?
00:04:37

People think alligators and crocodiles are really scary - and lots of people don’t understand the difference between them. But wildlife biologist Venetia Briggs-Gonzalez says they are very cool and helps us get to the bottom of their distinctive qualities!

Got a Moment of Um question that’s chomping away at your curiosity? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help hunt the answer.

Apr 11, 2022
Why is pee yellow?
00:03:50

Pee is super cool! It’s 95% water. It’s sterile. And it can be a window into our overall health. But why is it yellow? We asked mechanical engineer Patricia Yang to help us find the answer.

Got a Moment of Um question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find the answer.

Apr 07, 2022
Why do sharks have to keep moving to stay alive?
00:03:48

If there’s one thing that’s generally known about sharks, it’s that they have sharp teeth. But have you heard they have to keep moving to stay alive? Why is that? In this episode we talk to shark scientist Melissa Cristina Marquez about this very question.

Do you have a Moment of Um question that seems kind of fishy? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll chew on the answer.

Apr 06, 2022
Why does ice help with swelling?
00:04:59

If you’ve ever banged your knee pretty badly, you might have noticed the knee swells up to larger than its normal size. To ease your pain and make the swelling go down, maybe someone handed you an ice pack. But why is it ice that does the trick to reduce swelling, and does anything else work? We asked physical therapist Karen Litzy to help us find the answer.

Got a Moment of Um question that’s making your brain swell? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help get it all sorted out.

Apr 05, 2022
Why does the sun stay in one place?
00:03:40

Earth is always moving around the sun, but does the sun move too? Or is it fixed in one place in the cosmos? In this episode, we talk to astrophysicist Brittany Kamai to get to the heart of this issue!

Do you have a Moment of Um question that’s burning in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help shine a light on the answer.

Apr 04, 2022
Why do you lose your voice when you yell?
00:05:35

Have you ever stayed up late talking to your friends while watching movies, or yelled for your teammates at a soccer match, or screamed at the top of your lungs walking through a haunted house? Maybe you woke up the next day with a hoarse, scratchy voice that you didn’t even recognize. In this episode, we talk to Dr. Jennifer Long, an otolaryngologist, about why we lose our voice when we yell or talk loudly.

Do you have a Moment of Um question that’s so good it makes you want to scream? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help vocalize the answer.

Apr 01, 2022
Why does your tongue stick to ice?
00:03:12

Have you ever been tempted to lick something frozen? Hopefully not, because your tongue could get stuck!  But don’t worry, we talked to engineer Alexis Noel all about why our tongue sticks to ice, and what to do about it if that happens to you!

Do you have a Moment of Um question that’s so good it’s giving you the chills? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help unfreeze your brain.

Mar 31, 2022
Why are bees black and yellow?
00:03:58

Bees are incredible! There are 20,000 species, and so much to learn about them. But have you ever wondered why they are black and yellow? Such a specific color palette, right? We asked Entomologist Dan Cariveau to help us find the answer.

Got a Moment of Um question that’s buzzing around in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you BEE informed.

Mar 30, 2022
How do shells get their shape?
00:04:11

Shells come in so many amazing shapes and sizes -  spirals, sand dollars, sundials, ones that whirl around, ones that twirl around, ones that twist to the side and some that even look like cookies! Our listener Lily had a great question about these shapes, and Mike Sanchez, a Naturalist at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, helps us get to the bottom of this twisted subject!

Got a Moment of Um question whose shell you just can’t crack? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help get to the bottom of it.

Mar 28, 2022
What happens when you pour salt on a snail?
00:04:14

You might have heard a rumor that snails have a big reaction when you pour salt on them. But curator Tim Pearce from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History wants you to know that it’s cruel to do so. And he’ll tell you why! 

Got a Moment of Um question that wants to come out of its shell? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help slug out an answer.

Mar 25, 2022
Why do bats sleep upside down?
00:03:47

We already know that bats are amazing creatures. They are the only mammals that can fly. The bones in their wings resemble our fingers. They account for about one in five of all mammals living on the planet. And some can fly up to 99 miles per hour! But have you ever asked yourself why the heck they sleep upside down? We asked biologist DeeAnn Reeder to help us find the answer.

Got a Moment of Um question that’s turning you upside down? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help get it all sorted out.

Mar 23, 2022
Where does a candle go when it burns?
00:03:58

We know why candles melt - from being lit, of course! But where do candles go when they melt? Do they just disappear into thin air? We asked scientist Fabien Goulay from West Virginia University to help us understand.

Got a flicker of a Moment of Um question for us? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you light up an answer.

Mar 22, 2022
When your eyes are closed, are your pupils big or small?
00:04:03

Have you ever stared in the bathroom mirror and flicked the light on and off and watched what happens to your pupils? They get bigger, then smaller, then bigger, then smaller, right? One of our listeners was wondering what happens to our pupils when we close our eyes. Since we can’t see through our own eyelids, we called on Sasha Strul, University of Minnesota Pediatric Ophthalmologist, to help us discover the answer.

Do you have a Moment of Um question for us? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help open your eyes to the answer.

Mar 21, 2022
What happens when lightning strikes water?
00:04:26

It’s one thing to watch a storm roll in from the safety of your own home, but what if you’re out in the middle of the ocean and things start to head in a stormy direction? Jonathan Smith, a faculty research assistant at University of Maryland, will help us understand what happens when lightning strikes water.

Do you have a strikingly good Moment of Um question for us? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help spark an answer!

Mar 18, 2022
Do worms sleep?
00:04:36

Worms! Some of us love them - some of us are terrified of them! But have you ever wondered how they get their rest? Physicist Daniel Gonzales is the expert on all things worms and sleep and he’s here to fill us in. 

Got a Moment of Um question for us that’s been slithering around your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you find the answer.

Mar 17, 2022
Can a moon have a moon?
00:03:25

One of the best things about looking up at the night sky is gazing at our big, beautiful moon. But why do we get to have all the fun? Can a moon have its own moon? Harvard graduate student Chantanelle Nava helps us understand. 

Do you have a Moment of Um question for us that’s totally far out? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you find the answer.

Mar 16, 2022
What is tree bark made of?
00:04:50

If you’ve ever hugged a tree (and we hope you have!) you’ll know that the outside of a tree can be bumpy, prickly, and can even scrape your skin. That’s because trees are covered in tree armor – otherwise known as bark. One of our listeners wanted to know what tree bark is made of, so we asked forest ecologist Diana Macias to explain.

Do you have an evergreen question for Moment of Um? Leaf it for us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll try to find the answer.

Mar 15, 2022
Why do we jump when we get scared?
00:03:31

If you’ve ever jumped right out of your seat when watching a scary movie, you know that sometimes your body has a reaction to being surprised or frightened. One of our listeners wanted to know why that happens, and we asked neurologist Sarah Benish to help us understand.

Got a startlingly good Moment of Um question for us? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll try to be brave enough to find the answer.

Mar 14, 2022
Why do our lips get chapped?
00:04:09

We’ve all suffered with chapped lips in the winter: itchy, flaking, sometimes even bleeding. Yikes! One of our listeners wanted to know how this happens, so we asked dermatologist Roxana Daneshjou to explain.  

Got a Moment of Um question for us? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll ask around for the answer.

Mar 11, 2022
Do fish have allergies?
00:04:33

Most of us have some experience with allergies: maybe it’s pollen or a pet that makes us sneeze, or maybe there are certain foods we can’t eat. But do other creatures have allergies too? Are fish sniffling and sneezing underwater? We asked biologist Laura Zimmerman to help us understand.  

Got a Moment of Um question for us? Go to BrainsOn.org/contact to send it to us, and we’ll go fishing for the answer.

Mar 10, 2022
If the earth had rings, could we see them?
00:04:24

We’ve all seen pictures of the planet Saturn, with its beautiful rings. But what if the Earth had rings? Could you look out your window and see them? We asked planetary scientist Linda Spilker to help us imagine what that might look like. 

Got a Moment of Um question taking up space in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and you could hear the answer on a future episode!

Mar 09, 2022
What are eyebrows for?
00:04:31

You might not think about your eyebrows much, but if they weren’t there, you’d definitely notice! So how did those patches of hair come to be above our eyes? Why can we wiggle them? What are they for? We asked Penny Spikins, Professor of Human Evolution at the University of York in the UK, to help us answer our questions.  

If there’s a question that’s made you raise your eyebrows, we can help with that! Submit your Moment of Um question at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll find the answer.

Mar 08, 2022
If hair is dead, how does it grow?
00:03:39

Do you know why it doesn’t hurt to get a haircut? Because the hair on your head is actually dead. But if it’s dead, how does it grow? Dermatologist Roxana Daneshjou explained it to us. 

Send your hairiest questions for Moment of Um to BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll comb for the answers.

Mar 07, 2022
Why is air invisible?
00:04:23

Air – we can’t breathe without it, we can’t live without it, we know it’s made up of molecules, so why is it invisible? Chemist Vicky van der Geer-Bock will help us answer this question.

If there’s a question whose answer feels invisible to you, we can help with that! Submit your Moment of Um question at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll help find the answer.

Mar 04, 2022
How do shoelaces come untied?
00:04:40

Have you ever been walking around when you notice that your shoelaces have come untied, even though you just tied them? What’s up with that? We asked engineer Christine Gregg to help us understand. 

Send us your questions for Moment of Um at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll do all the footwork to find the answer.

Mar 03, 2022
Why don't pine trees lose their needles in the winter?
00:04:19

In the winter, most of us are used to seeing bare tree branches  – but some trees, like firs, pines, and spruces, don’t usually lose their needles when it gets cold. We asked forest ecologist Diana Macias to help us understand why.  

Got a Moment of Um question for us? Go to BrainsOn.org/contact to send it to us, and we’ll root around for the answer.

Mar 01, 2022
Why do words sound funny when repeated?
00:03:41

Have you ever noticed that when you say the same word over and over, it starts to sound funny? It’s like the word loses its meaning and just becomes weird, disconnected sounds. One of our listeners wanted to know why, and we went to linguist Shohini Battasali for the answer. 

Got a Moment of Um question for us? Go to BrainsOn.org/contact to send it to us, and we’ll go in search of a solution, solution, solution, solution…

Feb 28, 2022
Do spiders poop?
00:03:25

When you have a pet, part of taking care of that pet is cleaning up after them. Whether it’s scooping dog doo-doo from the yard, cleaning caca from your cat’s litter box, or picking out the pellet sized poops from a hamster’s cage, dealing with dookie is part of living with animals.  But one of our listeners is wondering…do spiders poop? Paul Shamble of Harvard University helps us understand.


If you’ve got a Moment of Um question that’s itching to get out, send it our way at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll scoop up the answer.

Feb 25, 2022
What's the difference between a squid and an octopus?
00:04:12

Cephalopods are a group of marine creatures who all have a big head, a set of arms or tentacles, and can squirt ink. This group includes animals like squids and octopuses, but how do you know which is which? Marine biologist Sarah McAnulty gave us a few things to look for. 

If you’ve got a Moment of Um question inked in your brain, send it our way at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll search for the answer.

Feb 24, 2022
Why are goats' pupils horizontal?
00:03:52

Goats are extremely important animals for lots of cultures around the world – they provide milk, meat, and even warm wool. Have you ever noticed that their eyes are unusual? Instead of round pupils like you and me, their pupils are shaped like horizontal lines. We asked vision scientist Martin Banks to explain why. 

If you’ve got an eye-opening question for Moment of Um, send it our way at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll try to find the answer. 

Feb 23, 2022
How do trees make rings?
00:05:18

Tree rings are kind of like a tree’s personal diary – they record everything that happens to them - from the weather, to fires and insects. One of our listeners wanted to know how tree rings form, and if you can actually tell the age of a tree by counting the rings. We asked forest ecologist Diana Macias to help us with the answer. 

Do you have a stumper of a question for Moment of Um? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll get to the root of the problem.

Feb 22, 2022
How do fish get into lakes?
00:03:02

Here at Moment of Um, we love fishing for questions, and the one we’re answering now is a great catch. It comes from Marc, in Miami Florida: When lakes form, how do fish get in them? Associate Professor Megan McPhee from the University of Alaska Fairbanks helps us get to the bottom of this topic. If you have a Moment of Um question, send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and you could hear the answer on a future episode!

Feb 21, 2022
Can one black hole eat another black hole?
00:04:54

Black holes are one of the strangest things in space: gravity is so strong that nothing gets out, not even light, so learning about them is a big challenge for scientists. If black holes “eat” everything around them, could one black hole eat another black hole? We talked with astrophysicist Marcos Flores to shed some light on the subject. 

Are you in the dark with a Moment of Um question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and you could hear the answer on a future episode!

Feb 18, 2022
How do narwhal tusks grow?
00:03:46

Narwhals are sometimes called “the unicorns of the sea” because of their giant spiral tusks. It turns out that those tusks are actually a big tooth that grows right out of the narwhal’s mouth! One of our listeners wanted to know if narwhals were born with a hole in their head for the tusk, and if not, does it hurt the narwhal when the tusk comes through? We spoke with marine biologist Kristin Laidre to get the tooth – er, the truth

If you’ve got a whale of a question for Moment of Um, you can send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact!

Feb 17, 2022
What's the difference between a butterfly and a moth?
00:03:58

Picture this: you’re outside with a friend, and you both see a little insect flying around. It’s got a small dark body, some tiny antennae, and big colorful wings. You say, “What a beautiful butterfly!” But your friend says, “No, that’s a moth!” How can you tell the difference? We got entomologist Brian Brown to give us the key. 

If you’ve got a Moment of Um question fluttering around in your brain, send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll try to catch the answer.e.

Feb 16, 2022
Why can some people wiggle their ears?
00:04:50

Do you know how to wiggle your ears? It might seem like one of those things that some people can do and other people just can’t, but neuroscientist Steve Hackley says he thinks anyone can learn – and he’s got your instructions! Plus, he tells us why it’s potentially an important skill. 

If you’ve got a question for Moment of Um wiggling around in your brain, send it our way at BrainsOn.org/contact, and you might hear the answer on an upcoming episode.

Feb 15, 2022
Why does the moon change colors?
00:03:09

Have you ever noticed that the moon looks different at different times of the month? Not just the shape, whether it’s full and round or a tiny sliver – but the color also looks different sometimes. Maybe it’s dark orange, or silvery white, or even a bluish tinge. We asked astronomer and planetarium educator Sarah Komperud to help us understand. 

Is there a Moment of Um question you’re mooning over? Launch it our way at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll look for the answer.

Feb 14, 2022
Why do crickets chirp?
00:03:41

The sound of crickets on a warm summer evening is just so soothing, isn’t it? All those little insects in the grass, talking to each other about… well, we don’t really know! In fact, we don’t know why they chirp at all. We asked neurobiologist Jon Lambert to tell us what’s actually going on out there at night. 

If you’ve got a question that just won’t let you rest, send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll do our best to find the answer!

Feb 11, 2022
Do mice really like cheese?
00:03:26

We’ve all seen cartoon images of a mousetrap loaded with a big wedge of delicious cheese, but is that what mice actually like to eat? Maybe they like spaghetti, or tacos, or chocolate pudding. We asked veterinarian Kate Pritchett-Cornett what we should serve next time we’re having a family of mice over for dinner. 

Got another cheesy question for us? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll try to do a gouda job of answering it.

Feb 10, 2022
Do spiders have ears?
00:03:32

Have you ever screamed when you saw a spider in the house? First of all, don’t be scared, that spider isn’t looking for you. But second of all, did you wonder if the spider even heard you? Most of us haven’t gotten close enough to a spider to see if it has any ears at all. We asked spider expert Paul Shamble to explain how spiders hear. 

If you’ve got a question about spiders or anything else, send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll do our best to find the answer.

Feb 09, 2022
Do we have our own gravity?
00:04:25

You might have heard of gravity as the force that keeps us firmly on the ground and not floating off the planet. Big things (like planets, moons, and stars) have gravity that pulls other objects toward them. But what about smaller things? Like… us? Do we have our own gravity?

If there’s a question pulling at you like a powerful force, we can help with that!  Submit your Moment of Um question at BrainsOn.org/contact and we’ll find the answer.

Feb 08, 2022
Do we sneeze in our sleep?
00:03:58

Being asleep is kind of a funny thing, because you don’t know if you’re doing anything in your sleep – because you’re asleep! Some people talk in their sleep, others get out of bed and walk around… but do we ever sneeze in our sleep? We asked neurologist Michael Hall if it was even possible. 

Got a Moment of Um question that’s keeping you awake? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact and you could hear the answer on a future episode!

Feb 07, 2022
Would a poisonous snake die if it bit itself?
00:03:50

We all know that bites from poisonous snakes can be really dangerous, but can a poisonous snake poison itself?  We asked snake expert Laurie Arends to give us the factssssssssss. 

If you’ve got a Moment of Um question for us, slither your way over to BrainsOn.org/contactto submit it.

Feb 04, 2022
Why can you hear the ocean in a seashell?
00:03:25

The sounds of the ocean are so relaxing… the waves crashing on the sand, the gentle roar of the surf. And if you pick up a big seashell and put it to your ear, you can almost hear the ocean there too! One of our listeners wanted to know why, so we asked physicist Steve Errede to help us catch that wave. 

Do you have a great question for Moment of Um? Surf on over to BrainsOn.org/contact and share it with us.

Feb 03, 2022
What makes water go up a straw?
00:03:46

It’s always fun to sip a drink through a straw, whether it’s a frosty milkshake or an ice-cold lemonade. But did you know that the earth’s atmosphere actually plays a part in how liquid travels up a straw? Aerospace engineer Nicole Sharp explains it for us.

If you’ve reached the last straw on a question you need quenched, send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact.

Feb 02, 2022
Do we still get sponges from the sea?
00:03:38

When it’s time to clean your kitchen or bathroom, there are lots of tools that can help you – mops, brooms, dustpans, buckets – but only one of them has its origins in the ocean. We’re talking about the versatile sponge: marine creature AND great for scrubbing dishes. But does the sponge in your sink actually come right out of the sea? Dr. Jennifer Quinlan, who studies food safety, has the answer.

If you’ve got a salty question you’d like us to answer on a future Moment of Um, submit it to us BrainsOn.org/contact.

Jan 31, 2022
How do snakes smell with their noses?
00:04:03

What do you think the world smells like to a snake? Do smells help them find their prey, or a safe place to rest? Can they smell danger? Can they smell pizza? We asked reptile expert Carol Spencer to help us sniff out the answer to how snakes use their noses. 

Are you hot on the scent of a great Moment of Um question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact.

Jan 28, 2022
Why does the sound of nails on a chalkboard bother us?
00:04:14

Are there certain sounds that you just can’t stand? Maybe it’s the sound of someone chewing, or brakes screeching on a bus. Most of us really dislike the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard, but what is it about that sound that sets us on edge? We asked Adrian KC Lee, a neuroscientist who specializes in hearing, to explain why that squeal is so particularly painful.

Do you have a question that sounds like a good fit for Moment of Um? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contactand we’ll take a listen.

Jan 27, 2022
Introducing Moment of Um
00:01:27

Say hello to the Moment of Um, the new podcast from the makers of Brains On, Smash Boom Best and Forever Ago. Find the answers to those head-scratching questions that seem to pop up out of nowhere. Bite-sized episodes come out every weekday - the perfect brain snack!

Jan 10, 2022