Moment of Um

Moment of Um

Moment of Um is your daily answer to those questions that pop up out of nowhere and make you go… ummmmmmm. Brought to you by your friends at Brains On at APM Studios.

Episodes

May 24, 2024 4 mins

Radios are like magical devices. You just flip a switch and BAM, you can listen to everything from punk rock to world news. But how exactly does a radio work? And what’s the difference between AM and FM radio? We asked physics expert Angie Huerta to help us find the answer.


Got a question that’s AM-azing? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll dial in the answer. 

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If you’ve ever banged your knee pretty badly, you might have noticed the knee swells up to larger than its normal size. To ease your pain and make the swelling go down, maybe someone handed you an ice pack. But why is it ice that does the trick to reduce swelling, and does anything else work? We asked physical therapist Karen Litzy to help us find the answer.


Got a Moment of Um question that’s making your brain swell? ...

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May 22, 2024 5 mins

Lots of people love spicy food for that tongue-tingling feeling. But where does it come from? What’s happening in our mouths when we bite down on a jalapeño or chili flake? We asked taste and smell researcher Arthur Zimmerman to help us find the answer.


Got a tasteful question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll spice up your life with the answer!

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Earth is always moving around the sun, but does the sun move too? Or is it fixed in one place in the cosmos? In this episode, we talk to astrophysicist Brittany Kamai to get to the heart of this issue!


Do you have a Moment of Um question that’s burning in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help shine a light on the answer.

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There are so many different kinds of bird nests out there: big ones, small ones, some as big as your head! Birds build their nests out of everything from twigs and grass to spider silk! But do they make a new nest every year? We asked bird expert Paul Bartell to help us find the answer.


Got a question that you’ve been thinking about owl night? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact – you won’t egret it!

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May 17, 2024 5 mins

Tattoos are a type of art that’s added permanently to a person’s skin using special inks and needles. It’s a way of decorating the body that has been around for a long time. But how long? When were the earliest tattoos?  We asked sociologist David Lane to help us find the answer.


Got a question that’s really needling you? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll poke around until we find the answer!

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It’s super helpful that each day of the week has its own name!  Without these names, it’d be really hard to keep track of our calendars – and there’d be no such thing as #MotivationMonday or #TacoTuesday! But why do the days of the week have the names that they do?  We asked language expert Amelia Tseng to help us find the answer.


Got a question that’s making you #WonderWednesday? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact,...

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May 15, 2024 7 mins

Movies are everywhere. They’re on our tablets, phones, and projected onto giant screens. But it hasn’t always been that way! So… when were movies first made? We asked cinema and media historian Laura Isabel Serna about it – and she helped us find the answer!


Got a question flickering in your mind’s eye? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll produce an animated answer!

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We may not think much about sewing machines, but there are so many things we wouldn’t have without them! Think about how many things are sewn together in our everyday lives. Your shirts, pants, hats, pillows, backpack, even parts of your car seats! There’s no doubt that sewing machines were a revolutionary invention. But when exactly were the first ones made? We asked Articles of Interest host Avery Trufelman to help us fi...

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People have all different kinds of animals as pets: dogs, cats, hamsters, gerbils, pigs, you name it. The famous artist Salvador Dalí even had a pet lobster that he took for walks on a leash! But when did humans first start craving animal companionship? We asked anthropologist David Ian Howe to help us find the answer.


Got a question that you want to ask right meow? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll unle...

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May 10, 2024 6 mins

Drums are the backbone of rock’n’roll…and most other kinds of music, too! Where would we be without a big bass drum leading a parade, or a jazzy ba-dum-CH after a well-told joke? But how do drums actually make their sounds? We asked drum maker Liz Aponte to help us find the answer.

Are you ensnared by a question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we won’t miss a beat in finding the answer!

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May 9, 2024 3 mins

Bees are incredible! There are 20,000 species, and so much to learn about them. But have you ever wondered why they are black and yellow? Such a specific color palette, right? We asked Entomologist Dan Cariveau to help us find the answer.


Got a Moment of Um question that’s buzzing around in your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you BEE informed.

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Good morning! Rise and shine! Time to stretch and yawn and…blech! What is that taste? What is that smell?? Morning breath can be especially stinky, even if you brush your teeth the night before. What’s up with that? We asked Dr. Michael Eggert, who teaches in the dental school at the University of Alberta to help us find the answer.


Got a question that’s really stinkin’ good? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and ...

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If you’re an adventurous eater you might have tried spicy cuisine, or maybe added hot sauce to your meals. Did your eyes water? Did your nose run? If so, that’s a totally normal response, and  Otolaryngologist Erich P. Voigt is here to help us understand why that is.


Got a burning Moment of Um question for us? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you find the answer.

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May 6, 2024 5 mins

Have you ever looked at a bird turd? Like, really looked at it? If so, you might’ve noticed there’s a lot of white in there. But what is that white stuff?  We asked bird expert Amanda Bender to help us find the answer.


Got a question that’s poo-sitively great? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find an answer that doesn’t stink!




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Astronauts have such cool jobs!  They get to blast off in rockets, experience micro-gravity, and see Earth from a whole new perspective.  But how does someone become a NASA astronaut?  We asked spacesuit designer Pablo de Leon to help us find the answer!


Got a question that’s out of this world? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll launch an investigation.

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May 2, 2024 4 mins

Shells come in so many amazing shapes and sizes -  spirals, sand dollars, sundials, ones that whirl around, ones that twirl around, ones that twist to the side and some that even look like cookies! Our listener Lily had a great question about these shapes, and Mike Sanchez, a Naturalist at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, helps us get to the bottom of this twisted subject!


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May 1, 2024 5 mins

Throwing up isn’t fun, but it happens to everyone. Sometimes we vomit if we’re sick with a virus or an infection – and other times, it happens because we’re feeling dizzy or carsick. But do other animals barf too? Like snakes? We asked wildlife biologist Laura Kojima to help us find the answer.


Got a question that’s retch-edly hard to figure out? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll spew out an answer!


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You might have heard a rumor that snails have a big reaction when you pour salt on them. But curator Tim Pearce from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History wants you to know that it’s cruel to do so. And he’ll tell you why! 


Got a Moment of Um question that wants to come out of its shell? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help slug out an answer.

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April 29, 2024 5 mins

If you fold a sheet of paper just right, you can create a paper airplane that zooms through the air! But how do you make sure that your plane zooms across a room instead of nose-diving into the couch cushions? What makes a good paper airplane? We asked physics grad student Angie Huerta to help us find the answer.


Got a question that’s just plane fun? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll launch an answer you...

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