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how stuff works podcastFor months now I have been well-and-truly hooked on the Stuff You Should Know podcast, and I felt it was time I shared my number one boredom killer, and a smattering of favourite episodes with MakeUseOf. Each week knowledgeable hosts Josh and Charles settle down to tackle anything from nuclear science to Rastafarian hairstyles, in their own charming and accessible way.

There are hundreds of podcasts available to download already so you’re sure to find something that’ll peak your interest. In this instance it is not possible to link directly to the podcast itself, so instead I have provided the title and date each episode was released so it can easily be found on your iTunes-enabled device.

Accessing the Podcasts

The Stuff You Should Know iTunes listings are here on iTunes Preview. In order to listen you’re going to need either an iOS device such as an iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad or iTunes installed on your Windows or Mac computer.

Within iTunes you can search “stuff you should know” and select the top Podcast result, where you will find a long list of episodes available to stream or download. If you’d rather stream on iOS, open iTunes and instead of tapping Download next to the episode you would like, tap the episode’s title. QuickTime will open, and you will be able to listen without downloading.

To find individual podcasts, try searching for exact titles. Dates are in the standard US date format, month/day/year, which iTunes uses by default.

How The Black Death Worked [2/10/11]

Are you morbidly curious, or curiously morbid? Does the 14th century get you hot under the collar? If you’re still not sure about the difference between the black death and the bubonic plague then this episode will set you straight with enough information to avoid the next outbreak.


how stuff works podcast

Charles and Josh talk through the symptoms, origins and causes for such a devastating event and waste no time in going into the gory details. This was the first SYSK podcast that I listened to and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.

How Military Snipers Work [6/14/11]

Many modern video games and Hollywood blockbusters might dupe you into thinking that the sniper is the solo assassin, isolated on a hill with his weapon poised – but that simply isn’t true, as this podcast explains.

stuff you should know podcast

Snipers work in teams of two, that is to say it requires two people to complete the inch-perfect job. Tune in to this podcast to find out exactly how the team operates, and from what distance a sniper can take down an enemy without making a sound.

The research materials for this podcast featured an article which sourced much of its content from an interview with an ex-US military sniper – now that’s some serious research.

Do You Stay Conscious After Being Decapitated? [4/26/11]

How many times have you wanted to ask that question? There’s a good chance it’s never actually crossed your mind, but is another shining example of the SYSK team taking on a subject that has conflicting evidence on either side of the argument.

stuff you should know podcast

In this episode Josh and Chuck talk about the invention of the guillotine and its ruthless efficiency, various scientific reports and observations regarding consciousness after beheading and examine whether beheading was the “quick and painless” death that many supposed it to be. The conclusion might shock you!

How A Nuclear Meltdown Works [3/22/11]

Released in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant incident, this episode focuses on the causes behind a nuclear meltdown. Charles and Josh also focus a lot on the Japanese incident in particular, describing the efforts of the ground team, problems encountered and the reason the earthquake-proof power plant developed issues in the first place.

stuff you should know podcast

A few surprising points are raised during the discussion, including reports that suggested the model of reactor used in the Fukushima plant had a known fault that could lead to an incident.

How Crime Scene Photography Works [2/17/11]

I never realised how clinical crime scene photography had to be until I listened to this podcast, and it’s a good example of a slightly different SYSK podcast that focuses on media and practice rather than scientific fact and fiction.

stuff you should know

In this episode our hosts revisit the birth of crime scene photography, the impact it had on modern crime-fighting and the technical aspects such as aperture and focal ranges required from all exposures.

What Is Mountaintop Removal Mining? [5/10/11]

Every now and again Charles and Josh flag down a high horse and tackle a controversial subject – in this episode it’s a method of mining that involves removing chunks of landscape in order to harvest the necessary evils within.

how stuff works podcast

Despite our dependence on mining, the knock-on effects of mountaintop removal are catastrophic not only for landscapes, fauna and flora but also human settlements and water supplies. This podcast will fill you in and provide a few resources to look up if you feel particularly passionate.


The Stuff You Should Know podcasts are provided by HowStuffWorks, which is owned by Discovery. The wealth of free information found within the podcasts and articles should answer many of your usual and obscure scientific curiosities.

If you’d really like to hear a specific podcast, Charles and Josh are contactable via Facebook and Twitter, so why not suggest a subject for them to cover?

Do you like Stuff You Should Know? Any favourite episodes? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Sniper

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  1. Aibek
    August 1, 2011 at 6:59 am

    Tina, thanks for the review, had no idea about this wonderful podcast.

    • Tina
      August 1, 2011 at 12:38 pm

      Me neither. This is Tim's article. :)

      • Aibek
        August 2, 2011 at 6:51 am

        my bad :)

  2. Virtual Business Assistant
    July 28, 2011 at 4:46 am

    Wow, lots to
    digest. Thanks for generously sharing this useful info.