Invention

Invention Podcast

From agriculture to the X-ray machine, Stuff to Blow Your Mind hosts Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore the inventions we created, and how they created us.

Invention Classic: Penicillin
A fungal accident in the early 20th century opened the door for the medical wonders of the antibiotic age. In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe explore what came before and how Alexander Fleming’s discovery changed the world. (Originally published 7/15/19) Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Invention Classic: Penicillin
A fungal accident in the early 20th century opened the door for the medical wonders of the antibiotic age. In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe explore what came before and how Alexander Fleming’s discovery changed the world. (Originally published 7/15/19) Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Invented Words, Part 2
Where do new words come from? Robert and Joe explore in the latest episode of Invention. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


Invented Words, Part 1
Where do new words come from? Robert and Joe explore in the latest episode of Invention. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Invention: Barbed Wire
You may very well encounter barbed wire everyday -- and, in all likelihood, you see THROUGH this flesh-ripping barrier. Where did this invention come from? How did it change the world? Robert and Joe discuss “the devil’s rope” in this episode of Invention. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

The Fire Extinguisher, Part 2
Fire technology depends on the ability to not only create and foster fire, but also the ability to snuff it out as needed. Today, the fire extinguisher is an important active fire protection device, but where does this technology emerge in human techno-history? Robert and Joe explore in this episode of Invention. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


The Fire Extinguisher, Part 1
Fire technology depends on the ability to not only create and foster fire, but also the ability to snuff it out as needed. Today, the fire extinguisher is an important active fire protection device, but where does this technology emerge in human techno-history? Robert and Joe explore in this episode of Invention. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

The Fire Extinguisher, Part 1
Fire technology depends on the ability to not only create and foster fire, but also the ability to snuff it out as needed. Today, the fire extinguisher is an important active fire protection device, but where does this technology emerge in human techno-history? Robert and Joe explore in this episode of Invention. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Strike the Match, Part 3
Mastery of fire was one of humanity’s greatest technological leaps forward, but even the ability to create fire only gets you so far if the flame is not easily generated and/or transferred. Thus, the millennia-spanning quest to create the subtle technology we so easily take for granted: the modern matchstick. Join Robert and Joe for a multi-episode Invention exploration on fire-generation technology. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


Strike the Match, Part 2
Mastery of fire was one of humanity’s greatest technological leaps forward, but even the ability to create fire only gets you so far if the flame is not easily generated and/or transferred. Thus, the millennia-spanning quest to create the subtle technology we so easily take for granted: the modern matchstick. Join Robert and Joe for a multi-episode Invention exploration on fire-generation technology. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Strike the Match, Part 1
Mastery of fire was one of humanity’s greatest technological leaps forward, but even the ability to create fire only gets you so far if the flame is not easily generated and/or transferred. Thus, the millennia-spanning quest to create the subtle technology we so easily take for granted: the modern matchstick. Join Robert and Joe for a multi-episode Invention exploration on fire-generation technology. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

The Pencil
It’s easy to take the pencil for granted, but that eraser-capped wooden cylinder with a core of graphite has a story and a history -- and Robert and Joe explore it in this episode of Invention. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


Beachbum Berry on the Invention of the Mai Tai
The Mai Tai isn’t only the most famous Tiki cocktail, it’s one of the most well known cocktails on the planet. But where does it come from? Who invented it? In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe turn to noted Tiki historian and mixologist Jeff “Beachbum” Berry for answers. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Invention Classic: Chopsticks
Chopsticks are such an intuitive and precise eating utensil, it’s easy to assume they’ve been with us. But as Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore, this neolithic invention didn’t really leave the kitchen for the dinner table in a major way till the fifth century CE. Prepare to explore the invention of chopsticks. (Originally published 12/17/18) Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Listener Mail: Year End Wrap-Up, Part 2
Join your Invention hosts Robert and Joe for another round of listenener mail on recent episodes devoted to the Microwave Oven and all sorts of toys. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


Listener Mail: Year End Wrap-Up, Part 1
As the first year of Invention comes to a close, Robert and Joe catch up on listener mail for everything from air conditioning and ketchup to toys and bubble wrap. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Toys, Part 3
As the holiday season sets in, Robert and Joe open up Santa’s toy bag to consider the invention of various toys -- toys intended to teach, toys intended to puzzle and toys that leverage technology for good old fashioned childhood fun. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Toys, Part 2
As the holiday season sets in, Robert and Joe open up Santa’s toy bag to consider the invention of various toys -- toys intended to teach, toys intended to puzzle and toys that leverage technology for good old fashioned childhood fun. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


Toys, Part 1
As the holiday season sets in, Robert and Joe open up Santa’s toy bag to consider the invention of various toys -- toys intended to teach, toys intended to puzzle and toys that leverage technology for good old fashioned childhood fun. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

The Microwave, Part 2
You probably use one everyday: to warm up your lunch, to explode pats of butter or simply to reheat your coffee. But how does a microwave oven work and where does this amazingly useful invention come from? Find out in this episode of Invention! Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

The Microwave, Part 1
You probably use one everyday: to warm up your lunch, to explode pats of butter or simply to reheat your coffee. But how does a microwave oven work and where does this amazingly useful invention come from? Find out in this episode of Invention! Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


The Turnspit Dog
In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe continue the month’s journey through human CULINARY techno-history -- this time with the story of the turnspit dog. This now-extinct breed of dog turned the meat in many a European kitchen, before it was replaced by machines. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Canning
In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe kick off a month of food content with the history of canning! Yes, from Napoleonic bottles of soups to our modern bounty of canned sustenance, you’ll explore where it came from, who invented the process and how it changed the world. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Invention Classic: Guillotine
Once more, for Halloween! The 18th century Guillotine represents the absolute pinnacle of mechanical decapitation. In this episode of Invention, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore its origins and legacy. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


Casket-a-go-go, Part 3
Sure, caskets and coffins are essentially just containers for the dead -- but we stash far more than our corpses inside them. We also pour in a generous helping of human anxiety, hope and magical thinking. In this three-part exploration of Invention, Robert and Joe consider the nature of caskets and look at some of the stranger designs from human history. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Casket-a-go-go, Part 2
Sure, caskets and coffins are essentially just containers for the dead -- but we stash far more than our corpses inside them. We also pour in a generous helping of human anxiety, hope and magical thinking. In this three-part exploration of Invention, Robert and Joe consider the nature of caskets and look at some of the stranger designs from human history. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Casket-a-go-go, Part 1
Sure, caskets and coffins are essentially just containers for the dead -- but we stash far more than our corpses inside them. We also pour in a generous helping of human anxiety, hope and magical thinking. In this three-part exploration of Invention, Robert and Joe consider the nature of caskets and look at some of the stranger designs from human history. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


Ketchup
You love it. You put it on everything. But where does ketchup come from? In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe explore the mysterious origins of everyone’s favorite sweet red sauce -- and consider the jaw-dropping fact that ketchup isn’t always red and isn’t always made from tomatoes. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Air Conditioning, Part 3
Air conditioning has had a profound impact on modern life -- and in more ways than you might realize. In this trio of Invention episodes, Robert and Joe explore pre-AC cooling methods, the invention itself and the many ways it changed the shape (and temperature) of our lives. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Air Conditioning, Part 3
Air conditioning has had a profound impact on modern life -- and in more ways than you might realize. In this trio of Invention episodes, Robert and Joe explore pre-AC cooling methods, the invention itself and the many ways it changed the shape (and temperature) of our lives. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


Air Conditioning, Part 2
Air conditioning has had a profound impact on modern life -- and in more ways than you might realize. In this trio of Invention episodes, Robert and Joe explore pre-AC cooling methods, the invention itself and the many ways it changed the shape (and temperature) of our lives. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Air Conditioning, Part 1
Air conditioning has had a profound impact on modern life -- and in more ways than you might realize. In this trio of Invention episodes, Robert and Joe explore pre-AC cooling methods, the invention itself and the many ways it changed the shape (and temperature) of our lives. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

The Telescope
The telescope is one of the most important inventions in human history, ultimately enabling humanity to gaze beyond the limits of biological sight and begin a greater understanding of the cosmos. In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe explore the invention’s history and impact. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


Bubble Wrap
Don’t take bubble wrap for granted! Someone had to invent it and you might be surprised to learn where it came from. In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe discuss the history and future of packing material. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Listener Mail: Machine
It's listener mail time again on Invention! You've written in with your thoughts on past episodes and now Robert and Joe are going to read some of them -- with the help of a brand new mailbot. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Scissors
Let's cut to the chase: scissors are an excellent and ancient invention that impacts our lives in a number of ways. In this episode, Robert and Joe discuss their origins, use and examples from past and present -- along with a little scissor myth and folklore. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


Bread/Toast/Toasters
Who invented toast? Who then went on to invent the toaster? In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe chase the origins of bread transformed through the Maillard reaction and consider the origins of the specialized mini-oven we use to do it. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

The Hypodermic Needle
Sit back. This might sting. In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe explore the history of hypodermic needles: what came before in human and evolutionary history and where we’re going with drug injections and blood withdrawls.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

The Earthquake Detector
How does earthquake detection work and when did humans device the first method of detecting them at a distance? In this Invention two-parter, Robert and Joe first discuss the mysterious invention of ancient Chinese polymath Zhāng Héng before moving on to modern innovations. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


Penicillin
A fungal accident in the early 20th century opened the door for the medical wonders of the antibiotic age. In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe explore what came before and how Alexander Fleming’s discovery changed the world.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Chewing Gum
Chewing gum is everywhere today, but where does it come from? What did we chew before Bubblicious? How does gum affect us? Robert and Joe explore in this episode of Invention.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

The Museum
We all love a good museum, but how long have we had them? In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe discuss just what a museum actually is and when the concept seems to have entered human civilization. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


Dreams of a Gastro Automaton
Sometimes necessity ISN’T the mother of invention. Case in point: Humanity’s long-standing desire to create machines that poop. In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe discuss Vaucanson’s digesting duck and modern takes on the technology.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

The Condom
Condoms are an important part of human health and medicine, but where did this invention come from? Robert and Joe explore in this episode of Invention.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

The Atlatl Spear Thrower
The spear is a truly ancient human technology, but this preceded one of humanity’s oldest mechanical inventions: the atlatl or spear thrower. In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe explore the history and physics of this amazing hunting device. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


Listener Mail: Mothers of Invention
Finally, it's listener mail time on Invention! You've wrote in with your thoughts on past episodes and now Robert and Joe are going to read some of them -- with the help of a brand new mailbot.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

The Motion Picture, Part 3
Finally, Robert and Joe finish their look at early motion picture history and invention, discussing some early examples of narrative film and how it continues to manipulate our senses and minds. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

A Motion Picture Mystery
In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe talk with show researcher Scott Benjamin about a mysterious disappearance in the history of the motion picture. What happened to Louis Le Prince and his claim on the invention?  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


The Motion Picture, Part 2
In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe continue their exploration of photographic technology by taking it to the next phase in its evolution: the motion picture!  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

The Motion Picture, Part 1
In this episode of Invention, Robert and Joe continue their exploration of photographic technology by taking it to the next phase in its evolution: the motion picture!  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

The Camera, Part 3
Photography is one of the most important technological, artistic and cultural advancements of the 19th century. In the third part of their look at the invention of photography, Robert and Joe consider follow the evolution of photography and move toward the motion picture.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


The Camera, Part 2
Photography is one of the most important technological, artistic and cultural advancements of the 19th century. In the second part of their look at the invention of photography, Robert and Joe consider look the dawn of photography and its major effects on the world. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

The Camera, Part 1
Photography is one of the most important technological, artistic and cultural advancements of the 19th century. In the first part of their look at the invention of photography, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick consider the limits of the pre-photographic world and some of the initial advancements that bridged the camera obscura and the first cameras.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Camera Obscura
Before there was photography, there was the camera obscura. In the first of three episodes focusing on the invention of camera and motion picture technology, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick discuss the ways that stationary and moving images changed our world.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


Board Games, Part 2
Board games have only grown in variety and complexity in recent decades, but just how far back in time do these curious physical simulations go? In this episode of Invention, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick consider the meeples of ancient history.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Board Games, Part 1
Board games have only grown in variety and complexity in recent decades, but just how far back in time do these curious physical simulations go? In this episode of Invention, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick consider the meeples of ancient history.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Toilet, Part 2
While the toilet is not THE most important invention, it's certainly hard to imagine life without one -- and the advantages of modern flushing toilets go far beyond mere convenience. In this Invention two-parter, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore the ancient origins of the toilet and the origins of the modern flush toilet.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


Toilet, Part 1
While the toilet is not THE most important invention, it's certainly hard to imagine life without one -- and the advantages of modern flushing toilets go far beyond mere convivence. In this Invention two-parter, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore the ancient origins of the toilet and the origins of the modern flush toilet.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Braille
French educator and inventor Louis Braille invented a system of reading and writing for the blind in 1824. How did he develop it? How has it changed the world? Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore in this episode of Invention.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Walls
Walls area very old invention, but where did they first divide the tribes of humanity? To what extent were they successful? What can we learn about the modern world from discussions of ancient walls? Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore it all in this episode of Invention.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


The Wheel, Part 2
The wheel is perhaps the most iconic of all inventions, and yet we are often too dismissive of wheel technology. We’ve been reinventing  the wheel for thousands of years and show no sign of stopping. In this Invention two-parter, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore the earliest examples of wheel technology and discuss why some cultures barely used it at all. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

The Wheel, Part 1
The wheel is perhaps the most iconic of all inventions, and yet we are often too dismissive of wheel technology. We’ve been reinventing  the wheel for thousands of years and show no sign of stopping. In this Invention episode, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore the earliest examples of wheel technology and discuss why some cultures barely used it at all. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Roads
Roads go ever, ever on, but where do they come from? What key innovations link the animal paths of pre-human times with the massive highway systems we know today? Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore in this episode of Invention.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


The Saxophone
Few musical instruments are as associated with American music and culture as the saxophone, but it's origins go back to 19th century Belgian instrument maker's Parisian shop. Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore in this episode of Invention.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

The Death Ray, Part 2
From ancient myth and the inventions of Archimedes to the work of Tesla and countless sci-fi authors, the concept of a death ray is a powerful expression of technological might. But here’s the catch: they don’t quite exist. Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick as they explore the various figures, inventors and frauds who claimed to have invented a death ray.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

The Death Ray, Part 1
From ancient myth and the inventions of Archimedes to the work of Tesla and countless sci-fi authors, the concept of a death ray is a powerful expression of technological might. But here’s the catch: they don’t quite exist. Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick as they explore the various figures, inventors and frauds who claimed to have invented a death ray.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


The X-Ray
Just try to imagine modern medicine without x-rays. How did we ever get by without them and who is responsible for this amazing technological invention? Join Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick for another eye-opening episode of Invention. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Sun Glasses
It’s hard to imagine how anyone looked cool before the invention of sunglasses, but just when did humans pop their first pair of shades? In this episode of Invention, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick discuss everything from the blinding white hell of arctic wastes to the blood-soaked spectacle of gladiatorial combat.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Toothpaste
Toothpaste is a vital substance in our war against tooth decay, but when did we first rub this stuff into our teeth and gums? In this episode of Invention, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick squeeze out the history and origins of toothpaste. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


Chopsticks
Chopsticks are such an intuitive and precise eating utensil, it’s easy to assume they’ve been with us. But as Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore, this neolithic invention didn’t really leave the kitchen for the dinner table in a major way till the fifth century CE. Prepare to explore the invention of chopsticks. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

Guillotine
The 18th century Guillotine represents the absolute pinnacle of mechanical decapitation. In this episode of Inventions, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore its origins and legacy. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...

The Vending Machine
Automatons that sell goods on behalf of humans? Vending machines are so ubiquitous in our world that we tend to overlook the weirdness and wonder of the advancement. In this episode of Invention, Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick quest after the first vending machines. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...


Invention Trailer: Daedalus
From agriculture to the X-ray machine, hosts Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick explore the inventions we created, and how they created us. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers...