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Mind-Blowing Science: Season 2

Chock-full of even more astounding and mind-blowing moments, Mind-Blowing Science: Season 2 brings a new batch of Scientific American’s most popular articles to life.

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Mind-Blowing Science is BACK! Season 2 of our National Capital Emmy® Award-winning series has arrived and it is chock-full of even more astounding and mind-blowing moments as a new batch of Scientific American’s most intriguing articles are brought to life.

The first four episodes are now available on Wondrium. Examine the idea that we may all be living in a simulation, look at what studying the octopus can teach us about being human, get insights into how to better regulate your emotions, and discover how bird species have become so spectacularly varied.

New episodes coming monthly!


Scientific American

Scientific American publishes work by journalists, scientists, scholars, policy makers and people with lived experience of scientific or social issues.

Scientific American covers the advances in research and discovery that are changing our understanding of the world and shaping our lives. Founded 1845, it is the oldest continuously published magazine in the United States and now reaches more than 10 million people around the world each month through its website, print and digital editions, newsletters, and app. Authoritative and engaging features, news, and opinion pieces; and multimedia stories from journalists and expert authors—including more than 200 Nobel Prize winners—provide need-to-know coverage, insights, and illumination of the most important developments at the intersection of science and society. Scientific American is published by Springer Nature. As a research publisher, Springer Nature is home to other trusted brands including Springer, Nature Research, BMC, and Palgrave Macmillan.

By This Expert

Do We Live in a Simulation?

01: Do We Live in a Simulation?

Is the world real, or could it—and you—just be a simulation? This episode of Mind-Blowing Science puts that question to the test. Pulling from philosophers, physicists, technologists, and even comedians, you’ll examine the evidence for and against one of our most basic assumptions about existence.

15 min
A Model Octopus

02: A Model Octopus

The human brain and the octopus brain are about as similar as the number of limbs each has—meaning they don’t have much in common, at least anatomically. Despite the differences, there are great opportunities to learn about complex brain functions when comparing the two systems. Dive into the mind of an octopus and see what we can learn about ourselves.

12 min
How to Control Your Feelings

03: How to Control Your Feelings

Iris Mauss, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, noted, “The learned set of emotion regulation behaviors is powerful and not easy to modify.” But research has shown that with training and awareness, we can regulate our emotions to make smarter choices in fraught situations. Discover the five stages of emotional regulation, and how you, too, can learn to control your feelings.

21 min
How Birds Branched Out

04: How Birds Branched Out

Birds are descended from dinosaurs, the only lineage to survive to the present day. With more than 10,000 species currently in existence, Kate Wong tackles the history, evolution, and anatomy of birds to show us how they diversified into the dazzling array of feathered wonders that share the planet with us today.

13 min
Survival of the Friendliest

05: Survival of the Friendliest

In the roughly 300,000 years of our existence, Homo sapiens has shared the planet with at least four other human species. What allowed us to thrive was a kind of cognitive superpower: a particular type of affability called “cooperative communication.” See how our social sophistication of cooperatively working together proved so advantageous that it influenced how natural selection shaped our minds and our bodies.

19 min
A New Map of the Universe

06: A New Map of the Universe

In July 2020, a 20-year project called the Sloan Digital Sky Survey produced the largest map of the cosmos ever made. Examine how this undertaking provided crucial information for studying the physics that drives cosmic history, such as the geometry of the universe and the nature of the dark energy driving the accelerating expansion of space. By mapping cosmic history, scientists can record the growth of patterns and deduce fundamental laws that guided their evolution.

17 min
How Stress Shuts Down Your Brain

07: How Stress Shuts Down Your Brain

For decades, scientists thought they understood what happens in the brain when faced with high-stress situations, but in recent years, a different line of research has cast the physiology of stress in an entirely new light. See what’s happening inside our heads when we’re worried, how biological sex plays a part in our reaction to stress, and what new studies are suggesting that might help our brains and bodies better respond to dealing with high-pressure scenarios.

16 min
Protecting Earth from Asteroids

08: Protecting Earth from Asteroids

Since 2016, the International Asteroid Warning Network has logged more than 300 “close approaches,” where asteroids were projected to come within one lunar distance—average distance between Earth and the Moon—of our planet’s center. Although it’s an unlikely scenario that a space rock would devastatingly smash into Earth, the consequences of such a catastrophe would be severe. Learn how NASA and other organizations are keeping tabs on the potential for an asteroid crash and what steps we are taking to prepare in case it becomes a reality.

20 min
Extreme Birding

09: Extreme Birding

Follow Frank Gallo and the Raven Lunatics as they get ready to find as many bird species as possible, by sight or by sound, in one 24-hour period. Their goal is to find 200 species, to topple their own personal best record of 193 and to beat the existing New England record of 195. A friend of Gallo’s notes, “This isn't birding. This is war.”

26 min
Lifting the Venus Curse

10: Lifting the Venus Curse

After NASA decided to go back to Venus twice, planetary geophysicists at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been hoping that the data they gain will finally shed insight into one of the greatest unanswered questions in planetary science: What transformed Venus into such an unearthly and apocalyptic world? Besides being the second planet from the Sun, Venus is a near twin of Earth, both in size and composition.

16 min
Top Emerging Technologies

11: Top Emerging Technologies

At the end of 2021, Scientific American and the World Economic Forum considered four of the planet’s greatest challenges: managing climate change, improving global health, reducing energy use, and sustaining food production. Join Scientific American writers and researchers to investigate how emerging technologies may help address each problem.

13 min
Secrets of the Antikythera Machine

12: Secrets of the Antikythera Machine

The Antikythera Machine is a mysterious device recovered from a shipwreck full of ancient Greek treasures. It is mysterious, not only because it is broken into 82 fragments (giving researchers a fiendishly difficult jigsaw puzzle to solve), but also because the parts recovered appear to be bronze precision gearwheels—which should not have appeared in 200 BCE. Join Tony Freeth to uncover what we know about this complex astronomical calculation machine, made up of gears that weren’t supposed to exist until many centuries later.

15 min