About Robert Lamb
As a child, Robert Lamb dreamed of becoming a mad scientist when he grew up. As this profession later proved to be largely fictional, he swallowed his heartbreak and turned his attention to the written word instead. He earned his bachelor's degree in creative writing from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, which launched him on a path of positions such as high school teacher, journalist and newspaper editor. Robert finally landed a position as science writer for HowStuffWorks.com, which has allowed him to rediscover all the things that made the world seem so mad and amazing to begin with. He currently lives in Decatur with his lovely wife and their beautiful one-eyed cat. You can find Robert on Twitter at @BlowtheMind and on Facebook at the official Stuff to Blow Your Mind page.
Most Recent: Robert Lamb Postings
Sure, we all know a pile of paperwork or a job interview is nothing like a bloody battle to the death with a saber toothed tiger — but do our bodies know that?
Is our brain still wired for fight or flight regardless of the modern stakes?
In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Julie and I discuss how and why our brains interpret minor annoyances as ancestral enemies.
As explained in the New York Times piece “Where the Faithful Worship Among the Tourists,” Cao Dai draws upon notions of Buddhist reincarnation, Confucian ethics, Catholic hierarchy (they have a pope!) and the Taoist concept of balanced complementary forces. It’s essentially an attempt unify the positives of various Eastern and Western faiths into a single ideal religion.
Given my inclination for salad bar spirituality, that all sounds well and good to me — but it wasn’t this that grabbed my attention, nor was it the Divine Eye pictured in the photo. It was the notion that 72 inhabited planets bridging the space between Heaven and Hell.
We live in a world of objects – objects we relegate with varying degrees of worth and importance, ranging from the pop tops and old newspaper pages beneath our feet to treasured collectable action figures, security blankets, family heirlooms, lucky amulets and golden idols.
What’s it all about?
Fancy an upbeat indie folk album inspired by the periodic table of elements?
Well then let me introduce you to Magic Missile, based out of Athens, Ga. Their 2010 album “I’ll Careful” features tracks about hydrogen, chlorine, fluorine, helium, beryllium, oxygen and carbon — in addition to a few more tracks less-grounded in organic chemistry.
Oh, and just to cement its belonging in a space music post, there’s also a track called “Comet Time” with some lovely lyrics about the Ort cloud and cosmic collisions.
We chatted with him back in 2011, but now astrophysicist and general media champion of science Neil deGrasse Tyson joins us once again for a lengthy chat about the nature of U.S. space exploration, the threat of asteroids, mad science, philosophy, dark matter and humanity’s future amid the stars.
Really, the man is game to talk about nearly anything. But you knew that.
Extra cool is the fact that some of the questions we asked Dr. Tyson were actually submitted by YOU THE LISTENER on the Stuff to Blow Your Mind FaceBook page.
In this edition of Space Music we’ve got two stunning examples of cosmic sonification (space data transformed into sound data) and one really cool music video from Alphabet’s Heaven that at least kicks off with a shot of the moon. I think that’s enough to merit a post.
So let’s kick things off.
This project comes to us from Astrophysicist Lucianne Walkowicz, who weaves her music with sonified data from the planet-hunting Kepler mission…
by Robert Lamb | March 21, 2013
In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Julie and I discuss the history of SETI as well as what classic TV shows our alien neighbors might be listening to. Heck, why are radio signals such a choice communication method for alien civilizations? Surely it’s not all coming from TV shows and radio programs, right?
And what does it mean when radio signals reach our own planet, seemingly sent from somewhere deep in space?
When the world skews out of the everyday and becomes something stranger, our brain is left to interpret the data in light of preexisting narratives: elves and goblins, angels and demons… And of course extraterrestrials. So here’s one of my favorite topics from the early days of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, all about the many reasons you might THINK an alien abducted you from your bed and put something up your bum.
“People think that mathematics is complicated. Mathematics is the simple bit, it’s the stuff we CAN understand. It’s cats that are complicated.”
That’s a quote from mathematician John Horton Conway (as you’ll see in the video below), the man responsible for a fantastic bit of cellular automation called The Game of Life. Conway developed the zero-player game back in 1970 to test the notion that life’s complexity arises from very simple rules.
by Robert Lamb | March 19, 2013
I caught the documentary “Kumaré” on Netflix last night and found it overall a fascinating look at gurus and spiritual leaders.
See, the whole gimmick at first sounds like a Sacha Baron Cohen bit: American filmmaker Vikram Gandhi recreates himself as a fake Indian guru and begins to amass a following in Phoenix, AZ. While the film does have a little fun with the concept, it eventually morphs into something bigger.
Vikram’s essentially making it all up as he goes along, but he finds himself doing actual good in his followers’ lives. He realizes the relationships he forged as the fictitious Sri Kumaré are deeper and more genuine than most of his real-life bonds.
Recent Postings by Category
- Thank You and Best Wishes to Marshall Brain
- Contest – Design a $300 house and win $25,000
- How the Philtrum works – the place under your nose where your face comes together
The Coolest Stuff on the Planet
- Why can a 5 foot 8 inch man dunk a basketball on a 10 foot rim while some people of taller stature can’t?
- What happens to our sun once it runs out of fuel?
- How do we know the age of the universe?
Stuff Mom Never Told You
Stuff to Blow Your Mind
- Blow Your Mind: Slay Your Paper Tigers
- Space Religion: Cao Dai and the 72 Inhabited Exoplanets
- Blow the Mind: Objects of Love
Stuff You Should Know
- “In The Neighborhood” by Jon Stewart Mosman
- “Thanatos” by Christopher Vincola
- “Frame Story” by Adam Pracht
The Stuff of Genius
- Show Notes: Heart-stopping Last Laps of Racing
- Never say Never: Jaguar XJ220 Spotted in the Wild!
- What’s your pick for the 2013 Indianapolis 500 pace car?
- PopStuff Show Notes: Episode 152: Final Episodes
- PopStuff Show Notes: Episode 151: Mailbag!
- PopStuff Show Notes: Episode 150: Barbie!
Stuff They Don't Want You To Know
Stuff to Change the World
- Who will own the Arctic?
- Obesity: The New Global Crisis
- Bill Gates Makes For A Pretty Decent Cartoon
Stuff You Missed in History Class
- Missed in History: Sei Shonagon
- Missed in History: The Boston Massacre
- Missed in History: Zenobia (Revisited)