Unexplainable

Unexplainable takes listeners right up to the edge of what we know … and then keeps on going. Host Noam Hassenfeld and an all-star team of reporters — Byrd Pinkerton, Meradith Hoddinott, and Mandy Nguyen — tackle scientific mysteries, unanswered questions, and everything we learn by diving into the unknown. New episodes drop every Wednesday.

Science
Life Sciences
Natural Sciences
101
My octopus friend?
Octopuses are largely solitary animals, but there have been rare times — notably in the movie My Octopus Teacher — where they seem to have become comfortable around humans
22 min
102
Glow in the dark ocean
Most deep-water creatures are bioluminescent. Marine biologist Edie Widder has spent the last 40 years trying to figure out why.
28 min
103
When reality broke
In the 1920s, the scientist Werner Heisenberg came up with a wild idea that broke reality as Western science knew it.
23 min
104
Making Sense: The sixth sense
Why stop at five senses?
24 min
105
Making Sense: Sight unseen
Close your eyes and try to imagine an apple. Can you see anything?
22 min
106
Making Sense: The Umami Mama
For thousands of years, there have been four basic tastes recognized across cultures.
34 min
107
Making Sense: No one nose
26 min
108
Making Sense: The healing power of touch
Doctors can save the lives of premature infants, but the process is often painful. Luckily, a solution might be as simple as a parent’s loving touch.
25 min
109
Making Sense: How sound becomes hearing
In the same way optical illusions trick our eyes, audio illusions can trick our ears.
37 min
110
The methane hunters
Methane traps more than 80 times as much heat as CO2 over the short term.
20 min
111
What is love?
Can science help us predict whether a relationship will succeed? Or is it all just chaos?
30 min
112
A sonic tour of the solar system
What does it sound like on Mars? On Jupiter? Titan?
19 min
113
Finding asteroids before they find us
Scientists are constantly searching for asteroids that could crash into Earth.
28 min
114
Skeleton Lake
When scientists examined the DNA of ancient bones found near a Himalayan lake, they were forced to confront a seemingly impossible conclusion.
25 min
115
Are humans running out of sperm?
In 2017, researchers published an explosive finding: Sperm counts may be declining in some countries around the world.
25 min
116
The quest to build a star
Scientists are closer than ever to harnessing fusion power — the same process that powers the sun — by essentially making a small star here on Earth.
25 min
117
BONUS: The 2021 song
Noam wrote an end-of-year song with Today, Explained host Sean Rameswaram, so we thought to drop it here as a little end-of-year surprise.
5 min
118
The building blocks of the universe
Most of the matter in the universe is dark matter, an invisible, untouchable, mysterious substance. Scientists don’t know what exactly dark matter is, despite decades of searching. But recently, they got a new clue in the form of an extremely tiny dancer.
51 min
119
99% of ocean plastic is missing
How can we solve the problem of ocean plastic if we don’t know where most of the plastic is?
27 min
120
How medicine mansplained women’s health
Until 1993, many researchers excluded women from clinical drug trials, leaving doctors in the dark about how new treatments work in more than half the population.
23 min
121
How Venus went to hell
Venus is the hottest, scariest place in the solar system, but billions of years ago it may have been a lot like Earth, complete with an ocean of water.
24 min
122
Mind readers
Will scientists ever fully understand the human brain?
29 min
123
A brainless yellow goo that does math
Slime molds can navigate mazes, control robots, and make complicated decisions, all without a central nervous system.
22 min
124
Why whales get beached
Every year, thousands of marine mammals end up trapped on beaches, but it’s often hard to figure out why.
19 min
125
Talking to ghosts
Why do so many people think they can see and hear ghosts, and what does that say about our conscious experience of the world?
29 min