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Special Report

Science of the Occult

Halloween conjures visions of ghosts, hauntings and many unexplained phenomena that play on our worst fears

  • October 27, 2008

Cemetery Science: The Geology of Mausoleums

For Halloween, we take a tour of Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, N.Y., with geologist Sidney Horenstein and Woodlawn expert Susan Olsen, concentrating on the geology of the rock used in the memorials. Plus, we'll test your knowledge of some recent science in the news. Web sites related to this episode include www.bigpumpkins.com; www.thewoodlawncemetery.org

October 30, 2008 — Steve Mirsky

Chocolate: Treat or Trick?

There is an environmental price for our love of chocolate on Halloween, but it may not be what you think

October 30, 2008

Ghostbusters: Are military bases haunted?

Military bases appear to be a popular haunt for wandering spirits, with several attracting the attention of ghost hunters seeking evidence of paranormal activity.

October 27, 2008 — Larry Greenemeier

Quest for the Giant Pumpkin

In this episode, journalist Susan Warren, author of the new book Backyard Giants, talks about the art and science involved in the Quixotic quest to grow the world's biggest pumpkins. Plus we'll test your knowledge of some recent science in the news. Websites mentioned on this podcast include: bigpumpkins.com; 60secondscience.com

October 31, 2007 — Steve Mirsky

Special Halloween Edition: The Vampires of New England

As recently as the 1890s, some New Englanders believed that their dead relatives were vampires, feeding on the living. And, in fact, the dead could look better when exhumed than they did while still alive. Now we know why. http://users.net1plus.com/vyrdolak/NEFolkbelief.htm

October 27, 2006

Pay Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain: Sci Am's History of Debunking

In this episode, Scientific American editor-in-chief John Rennie talks about the magazine's history of involvement with efforts to debunk medical quakery and paranormal fakery, which included a fistfight between a Sci Am editor and Harry Houdini. And we'll hear an 1883 Sci Am editorial on the relative merits of the telephone and telegraph. Plus we'll test your knowledge of some recent science in the news. Websites mentioned on this episode include: gutenberg.org; ssrn.com/abstract=970413

January 2, 2008 — Steve Mirsky
Going to Bat

Going to Bat

Natural reservoir for emerging viruses may be bats

March 1, 2006 — Charles Q. Choi
New Light on Medicine

New Light on Medicine

Pigments that turn caustic on exposure to light can fight cancer, blindness and heart disease. Their light-induced toxicity may also help explain the origin of vampire tales

January 1, 2003 — Nick Lane

The Real Monsters on Halloween

A study shows that young children have a tough time knowing if monsters are real or pretend. Christie Nicholson reports.

October 27, 2008