Seasonal Specials

From Thanksgiving to Comic-Con, throughout the year we bring you podcasts to mark holidays and special events. Here you can find all of our seasonal episodes. Enjoy!

Images Flickr: H.L.I.T.Telping

January 13, 2016

How to Strengthen Your Willpower

New Year 2016

It's mid-January, that time of year when a person's zeal to start fresh in the new year might be starting to fade. But don't give up on your resolutions quite yet! Psychologist Tim Bono has some research-proven tips for how to successfully build willpower. Bono, an assistant dean in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, teaches the popular course Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness.


October 28, 2015

The Witches' Hammer: Magic and Law in Early Modern Europe

Halloween 2015

Back by popular demand! This podcast was first released in October 2014.

In 1487, when the witch trials were just starting to take root in Europe, a Dominican priest published the Malleus Maleficarum, or The Witches' Hammer, a treatise on the prosecution of witches in a court of law. This text would be used over the next three centuries as the authority on the trial and torture of witches, laying out why women in particular were so susceptible to witchcraft. By the end of the witch craze in the 1720s, an estimated 80,000 had been tried and executed. In this extended episode, Gerhild Williams, a professor of comparative literature and Germanic literature and culture, breaks down the witch trial phenomenon into three parts: (1) defining the witch and the roots of these beliefs, (2) how the political landscape evolved and the contents of The Witches' Hammer, and (3) how and why the witch craze took hold and what we can learn from it today.

September 30, 2015

The Physics of Baseball

MLB Playoff Season 2015

Ever wonder why some hits feel good when the bat connects with the pitch, and others leave your hands ringing? Or exactly how a pitcher throws a ball that seems to curve just as the batter swings? Physicist Dr. Kasey Wagoner says, like most things in our universe, it all comes back to physics. Just in time for MLB playoff season, he talks about the forces involved in different pitches and how the "sweet spot" of the bat works.

February 19, 2015

Memories of Chinese New Year

Lunar New Year 2015

For thousands of years, Chinese New Year has been celebrated in the spring to mark the beginning of a new lunar year. Traditions surrounding this festival have varied across time and cultures - here at Washington University in St. Louis, they include the student-run Lunar New Year Festival. To commemorate the occasion this year, Linchei Letty Chen, associate professor of Chinese language and literature at Washington University, shares personal memories from new year's festivals she experienced growing up in Taiwan. 

February 11, 2015

Physics of the Heart

Valentine's Day 2015

Mentioning the word "physics" brings to mind things like gravity, relativity, mass and volume, or even dark matter. Rarely do we think about how these principles affect the inner workings of our own bodies. This week, Jim Miller, professor of physics, medicine, and biomedical engineering at Washington University, talks about the 'physics' of 'physiology' and explains how cardiologists and doctors use physics in their every day work.

December 17, 2014

Digging into Archaeoastronomy

Winter Solstice 2014

The Winter Solstice is on December 21 and marks the shortest day of the year, which was once a very important day to many cultures across the world. In fact, there are thousands of structures, including the impressive Stonehenge, built by our early ancestors to predict the equinoxes and solstices. So why did they make all this effort? Michael Friedlander, a professor emeritus of physics, and John Kelly, a senior lecturer in archaeology, both at Washington University in St. Louis, introduce us to the field of archaeoastronomy, which they use to examine one of the greatest pre-Columbian civilizations in the United States: Cahokia.

October 30, 2013

Pearl Curran: "Ghost"-writer

Halloween 2013

In 1913, Pearl Curran, a St. Louis housewife, sat at a Ouija board with her friends when the planchette went wild under her hands. It said, "Many moons ago I lived. Again I come. Patience Worth my name." And so began the literary career of the long-dead Patience Worth. Pearl transcribed novels, plays, essays, and poetry supposedly composed by Patience, and both became celebrities. Daniel Shea, emeritus professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis, recently wrote a book about the phenomenon, The Patience of Pearl: Spiritualism and Authorship in the Writings of Pearl Curran. In it, he uses modern psychology and the writings themselves to uncover the truth of this ghostly voice.