Podcast Episode 211: Cast Away on an Ice Floe

https://books.google.com/books?id=mNPNAAAAMAAJ

Germany’s polar expedition of 1869 took a dramatic turn when 14 men were shipwrecked on an ice floe off the eastern coast of Greenland. As the frozen island carried them slowly toward settlements in the south, it began to break apart beneath them. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll follow the crew of the Hansa on their desperate journey toward civilization.

We’ll also honor a slime mold and puzzle over a reversing sunset.

See full show notes …

Podcast Episode 209: Lost Off Newfoundland

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lost_on_the_Grand_Banks_by_Winslow_Homer_1885.jpg

In 1883 fisherman Howard Blackburn was caught in a blizzard off the coast of Newfoundland. Facing bitter cold in an 18-foot boat, he passed through a series of harrowing adventures in a desperate struggle to stay alive and find help. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll follow Blackburn’s dramatic story, which made him famous around the world.

We’ll also admire a runaway chicken and puzzle over a growing circle of dust.

See full show notes …

Podcast Episode 208: Giving Birth to Rabbits

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mary_Toft_(Tofts)_appearing_to_give_birth_to_rabbits_in_the_Wellcome_V0014994.jpg

In 1726 London was rocked by a bizarre sensation: A local peasant woman began giving birth to rabbits, astounding the city and baffling the medical community. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll review the strange case of Mary Toft, which has been called “history’s most fascinating medical mystery.”

We’ll also ponder some pachyderms and puzzle over some medical misinformation.

See full show notes …

Podcast Episode 207: The Bluebelle’s Last Voyage

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Terry_Jo_Duperrault_on_raft.jpg

In 1961, Wisconsin optometrist Arthur Duperrault chartered a yacht to take his family on a sailing holiday in the Bahamas. After two days in the islands, the ship failed to return to the mainland, and the unfolding story of its final voyage made headlines around the world. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll recount the fate of the Bluebelle and its seven passengers and crew.

We’ll also sympathize with some digital misfits and puzzle over some incendiary cigarettes.

See full show notes …

Podcast Episode 206: The Sky and the Sea

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_102-11767,_Auguste_Piccard_und_Paul_Kipfer.jpg
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Swiss physicist Auguste Piccard opened two new worlds in the 20th century. He was the first person to fly 10 miles above the earth and the first to travel 2 miles beneath the sea, using inventions that opened the doors to these new frontiers. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll follow Piccard on his historic journeys into the sky and the sea.

We’ll also admire some beekeeping serendipity and puzzle over a sudden need for locksmiths.

See full show notes …

Podcast Episode 205: The White Mouse

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nancy_Wake_(1945).jpg

In 1928 Nancy Wake ran away from her Australian home and into an unlikely destiny: She became a dynamo in the French resistance, helping more than a thousand people to flee the Germans and then organizing partisans to fight them directly. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll tell the story of the White Mouse, one of the bravest heroes of World War II.

We’ll also marvel at mailmen and puzzle over an expensive homework assignment.

See full show notes …

Podcast Episode 204: Mary Anning’s Fossils

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mary_Anning_by_B._J._Donne.jpg

In 1804, when she was 5 years old, Mary Anning began to dig in the cliffs that flanked her English seaside town. What she found amazed the scientists of her time and challenged the established view of world history. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll tell the story of “the greatest fossilist the world ever knew.”

We’ll also try to identify a Norwegian commando and puzzle over some further string pulling.

See full show notes …

Podcast Episode 203: Notes and Queries

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:OL_PEJETA_CONSERVANCY_-_01.jpg
Image: Wikimedia Commons

In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll explore some more curiosities and unanswered questions from Greg’s research, including a misplaced elephant, a momentous biscuit failure, a peripatetic ax murderer, and the importance of the 9 of diamonds.

We’ll also revisit Michael Malloy’s resilience and puzzle over an uncommonly casual prison break.

See full show notes …

Podcast Episode 202: The Rosenhan Experiment

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Center_building_at_Saint_Elizabeths,_August_23,_2006.jpg
Image: Wikimedia Commons

In the 1970s psychologist David Rosenhan sent healthy volunteers to 12 psychiatric hospitals, where they claimed to be hearing voices. Once they were admitted, they behaved normally, but the hospitals diagnosed all of them as seriously mentally ill. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll describe the Rosenhan experiment, which challenged the validity of psychiatric diagnosis and set off a furor in the field.

We’ll also spot hawks at Wimbledon and puzzle over a finicky payment processor.

See full show notes …