Rank #1: Sleep, Dreams, and Memory
Dr. Robert Stickgold is the head of Harvard's Center for Sleep and Cognition. In this episode, he tells comedians Myq Kaplan, Robert Woo, and Ken Reid about his groundbreaking work on how dreams can affect learning and memory. He also tells us about what happens when people with amnesia play Tetris. Hosted by Chris Duffy. Technical direction by Kevin Brunswick.
Rank #2: Climate Change
Dr. Richard Primack (Boston University) has spent his career studying the effects of climate change on Walden Pond, comparing modern conditions to those Thoreau observed. Comedians Myq Kaplan, Ken Reid, and Lori Strauss try to guess what Richard studies and then learn about the similarities between climate skeptics and people confused by the television show LOST, the effects of an earlier spring, and the history of "Where's Waldo?" Hosted by Chris Duffy. Technical direction by Kevin Brunswick.
Rank #3: Big Data
Live from the 2014 Cambridge Science Festival at the MIT Museum, this special episode features Dr. Sam Madden, co-director of MIT's Big Data Initiative. Trying to guess about Dr. Madden's work are comedians Nikki Glaser, Myq Kaplan, and Lori Strauss. Hosted by Chris Duffy. Technical Direction by Kevin Brunswick.
Rank #4: Ketamine and Preventing Mental Illness
Dr. Rebecca Brachman tells us about her groundbreaking work in the neuroscience of resilience and how certain chemical compounds may be able to help prevent illnesses like depression or PTSD. This episode features comedians Wyatt Cenac, Maeve Higgins, and Negin Farsad. Hosted by Chris Duffy. Produced by Pretty Good Friends. NOTE: This is our last episode in the season.
Rank #5: The Mysteries of Fat
Recorded live at the Maine Science Festival, Dr. Kristy Townsend is a neurobiologist who studies the effects of diet on the brain. She teaches Roy Wood Jr, Michelle Buteau, and Charlie Hankin about brown fat, how the brain coordinates energy balance, and why she hates cleanses. Hosted by Chris Duffy. Produced by Pretty Good Friends.
Rank #6: Laughter, Sneezing, and Farting
Dr. Robert Provine is a neuroscientist who studies "curious behaviors" like sneezing, yawning, laughter, farting, and the hiccups. He teaches comedians Maeve Higgins, Seaton Smith, and Rachel Rosenthal about the science behind his studies and why comedy is so difficult to master. Hosted by Chris Duffy. Produced by Pretty Good Friends.
Rank #7: The Neuroscience of Fear
Dr. Joseph LeDoux is the director of the Emotional Brain Institute at NYU. He's the author of several groundbreaking studies on fear and anxiety. In this episode, Dr. LeDoux teaches comedians Janeane Garofalo, Zhubin Parang, and Phoebe Robinson how our brains create emotion, how to conquer their fears, and why it's important to be really good at waterskiing if you live in Louisiana. Hosted by Chris Duffy. Technical direction by Kevin Brunswick.
Rank #8: Turkey Locomotion
It's a special Thanksgiving episode with Brown University's Dr. Thomas Roberts. He's the world's leading expert on turkey locomotion. Listen as Dr. Roberts talks turkeys on a treadmill, robot legs, and Thanksgiving with Zhubin Parang (writer for The Daily Show), Myq Kaplan (Netflix's "Small, Dork, and Handsome") and Jo Firestone (Broad City). Hosted by Chris Duffy. Technical direction by Kevin Brunswick.
Rank #9: The Love Life of Penguins
Dr. Suzanne Macey is a conservation biologist studying the mating habits of little blue penguins to help save the species. She also gets deep into the love life of tiny turtles. Basically, if you've got a small creature that's looking for love, Suzanne studies them. Featuring comedians Jo Firestone, Shalewa Sharpe, and Evan Kaufman. Hosted by Chris Duffy. Produced by Pretty Good Friends.
Rank #10: Rats! Live at NatGeo
Dr. Danielle Lee got into science hoping to study something sexy, but ended up studying rats. She tells comedians Aparna Nancherla, Maeve Higgins, and Baratunde Thurston about her journey and the incredible things she's learned about rodents. Hosted by Chris Duffy. Produced by Pretty Good Friends.This episode was recorded at National Geographic in DC as part of the Bentzen Ball.
Rank #11: Deadly Mushrooms
Dr. Anne Pringle studies the deadliest mushrooms on Earth. Panelists Jo Firestone (Broad City), Charlie Hankin (Comedy Central), and Ken Reid (TV Guidance Counselor) try to guess what Dr. Pringle studies and understand her findings. This episode contains military nicknames, fungi larger than blue whales, and why it's probably not a great idea to eat a mushroom you find growing in the forest. Produced and hosted by Chris Duffy.
Rank #12: Fish Noises
Dr. Phil Lobel, an ichthyologist at Boston University, studies the noises that fish make. He's also the most interesting man in the world. Hear about his battles with sharks, his discovery of a new "dinosaur," and his discoveries about the noises fish create while making love. Featuring comedians Myq Kaplan, Ken Reid, and Robert Woo. Hosted by Chris Duffy. Technical production by Kevin Brunswick.
Rank #13: Bees
Dr. Noah Wilson-Rich is the chief scientific officer at the Best Bees Company. Comedians Bobby Smithney, Julia Claire, and Gary Petersen learn about Noah's research and dive into the secret lives of bees, what it's like to be stung 500 times, and why it's good to be the queen. Hosted by Chris Duffy. Produced by Pretty Good Friends.
Rank #14: Economics and Human Behavior
Dr. Laura Gee is an economist at Tufts. She uses Facebook to study how social groups affect behavior. How do we get jobs? Why do we give money to charity? Dr. Gee helps comedians Eugene Mirman, Maeve Higgins, and Ken Reid find the answers. Hosted by Chris Duffy. Produced by Pretty Good Friends. Recorded live at the Museum of Science in Boston, MA.
Rank #15: Bitcoins and Cryptography
Dr. Tal Rabin is the head of the Cryptography Research Group at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center. She's an expert on secure cryptographic algorithms. In this episode, she teaches comedians John Hodgman, Josh Sharp, and Shalewa Sharpe about how cryptography works, what a bitcoin really is, and the best recipe for tiramisu. Hosted and created by Chris Duffy. Produced by Pretty Good Friends.
Rank #16: Ghost Snakes
Dr. Sara Ruane tells us all about the new species she discovered, the Ghost Snake, and what life is like as a snake scientist. Should you suck the venom out of a snakebite? Should you ride in a car with a herpetologist? The answer to both questions is: no. Featuring panelists Michael Showalter, Roy Wood Jr, and Sarah Kay. Hosted by Chris Duffy. Produced by Pretty Good Friends.
Rank #17: Raccoons at Just For Laughs Toronto
Live from Second City in Toronto, Dr. Suzanne MacDonald tells us what it's like to be the world's leading expert on raccoon intelligence. Can you build a raccoon-proof trash can? Why does one man have fifty raccoons in his backyard? And how can they affect a gubernatorial race? This show features panelists Sasheer Zamata, Todd Barry, and Courtney Gilmour. Hosted by Chris Duffy. Recorded at the 2017 Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Toronto. Produced by Pretty Good Friends.
Rank #18: Vocal Cords
Dr. Thomas Carroll (Tufts) is a voice doctor who takes care of famous singers and studies how to maintain a healthy voice. A panel of three hilarious comics tries to guess what Dr. Carroll studies and learns about vocal cords, voice boxes, and what's wrong with The Godfather. Featuring Myq Kaplan (Netflix's "Small, Dork, and Handsome"), Jo Firestone (Punderdome 3000), and Ken Reid (TV Guidance Counselor). Hosted by Chris Duffy. Technical direction by Kevin Brunswick.
Rank #19: Colorful Dyes and Fluorescence
Dr. Luke Lavis is a chemist who creates new colors. His work on fluorescence and tagging makes scientific and medical breakthroughs possible. Also, it looks really cool. Comedians Matt Porter, Charlie Hankin, and Shalewa Sharpe learn about the mysterious world of chemical tagging and why it might save our lives. Hosted by Chris Duffy. Recorded at Wabash College. Produced by Pretty Good Friends.
Rank #20: What Makes You Attractive?
Dr. Carlota Batres studies the science of attraction. What makes you find some people sexy and others gross? Comedians Jo Firestone, Roy Wood Jr, and Hari Kondabolu get to the bottom of our evolutionary desires and find out why this research matters. Hosted by Chris Duffy. Produced by Pretty Good Friends.