Surprisingly Brilliant

By iHeartRadio & Seeker

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Category: Natural Sciences

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A new podcast that tells the true stories of the wild experiments, bizarre journeys, and strange ideas that led to incredible discoveries, life-saving medicines, and evidence of where we all came from. Written & Hosted by Maren Hunsberger and Greg Foot for iHeartRadio & Seeker.  

Episode Date
The Fourth Astronaut
Meet the ‘Rope Mother’ - the lady whose code, weaved into copper wire and magnetic rings, saved the Apollo 11 mission to the moon… Greg tells Maren the story of an incredible person who has not only been called The Fourth Astronaut, but who also pioneered, and coined the term for, ‘Software Engineering’. Experts: Rod Pyle- Zoe Corbyn- Sources Found here: Learn more about your ad-choices at
Jun 25, 2020
The Fungus that Shaped the World
The course of World War II, the development of successful cancer treatment, and just being able to go outside without fear all come down to one thing: the humble Penicillium fungus. Maren tells Greg a tale of accidental discoveries, fungal espionage, and the daunting potential future of medicine without this life-saving substance.  Experts: Mariya Lobanovska- Kevin Brown- Sources found here: Learn more about your ad-choices at
Jun 18, 2020
The Mystery & Might of Ectoplasm
What do a children’s birthday party, an accidental discovery, a shoe shop gadget, and Marie Curie have in common?? Have a listen to find out, as Greg tells Maren the amazing origin story of one of the most important pieces of medical tech ever developed. Expert: Dr Ehsan Samei - Professor of radiology at Duke University, North Carolina Sources can be found here: Learn more about your ad-choices at
Jun 11, 2020
The Chemist Who Saved the Lepers
Maren tells Greg the story of a gruesome disease and the woman who came up with a solution...but disappeared from history until now. Oh and also—there are armadillos. Experts: Paul Wermager Carisa Brewster Dagmawi Abebe Sources Found here: Learn more about your ad-choices at
Jun 04, 2020
Death by Peach Melba
Greg tells Maren a true crime science history story about a famous chef who served her entrees with a special side... of death! Expert: Dr. Claas Kirchhelle Sources found here: Learn more about your ad-choices at
May 28, 2020
A Deadly Buzz
Maren tells Greg the story of a historic plague...or is it? It's a tale of a gruesome disease and how a few courageous, self-experimenting scientists finally figured out what role mosquitos play in public health. Expert: Molly Crosby Sources Found here: Learn more about your ad-choices at
May 21, 2020
A Thick Brown Muck
Greg tells Maren about the discovery of one of medicine’s biggest breakthroughs - a drug that has saved millions of lives. It’s a story about drug development & testing, a dog called Marjorie… and a missing person?  Expert: Nicola Luigi Bragazzi Sources found here: Learn more about your ad-choices at
May 14, 2020
How to Breathe with No Air
The discovery of one of our most important elements is hugely disputed. Maren tells Greg a story full of twists and turns about a self-effacing Pomeranian, a revolutionary, a teenage girl, and the guillotine.  Experts: Jim Marshall and John West Sources Found Here: Learn more about your ad-choices at
May 07, 2020
The Queen of Nuclear Research...
… who very few people outside of physics know of. In fact, very few people INSIDE of physics know of her too! Greg tells Maren a trans-Pacific story of passion, dedication, and the work of a gifted scientist who fundamentally changed physics forever, yet (some say) was overlooked for the Nobel Prize.  Expert: Haiyan Gao Professor of Physics at Duke University, North Carolina Sources Found Here:
Apr 30, 2020
The Admiral and the Moth
Maren tells Greg the story of a woman you've likely never heard of, who just happens to be responsible for the foundations of modern computing. Her innovations have made possible many of the things we take for granted today—like personal computing, stock market analysis, and commercial industrialization.  Expert: Kurt Beyer: Sources:
Apr 23, 2020
The Inventor From The Future
A man you know. A story you don’t. His electric revolution lit up America but he also worked on what’s been called early radar, robotics, and... a death ray? Greg tells Maren the full story of this genius inventor, and also uncovers a link between him and Donald Trump!  Sources: EXPERT Marc Seifer - American author  “Nikola Tesla, My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla” “Tesla: Man Out of Time”, plus a bunch of articles 
Apr 16, 2020
A Case of Botanical Espionage
Grab a gin and tonic and enjoy this episode as Maren tells the story of a miraculous discovery, espionage and economic cartels all surrounding...a tree? A very special tree that cures malaria, and shaped the development of the modern world as we know it. (Fun fact, this ingredient is also found in tonic water!) 
Apr 09, 2020
An Annoying Noise
Perhaps the biggest accidental discovery story in the history of the universe. Well, definitely *about* the history of the universe. Greg tells Maren about a weird sound, and how two guys, Wilson & Penzias, figured out what it was, rocking the world of cosmology along the way. Expert: Professor Avi Loeb - Professor of Science at Harvard University, Chair of Harvard's Department of Astronomy, Founding Director of Harvard's Black Hole Initiative and Director of the Institute for Theory and Computation (ITC) within the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics  Sources: 
Apr 02, 2020
Here There Be Dragons
Meet the ‘Princess of Paleontology’ you’ve probably never heard of. Maren tells Greg all about the lady who’s life work was finding the fossils that would eventually change the way scientists thought about the entirety of Earth’s natural history despite getting very little official credit…
Mar 26, 2020
Introducing: Surprisingly Brilliant
For centuries, science has given us breakthroughs that have changed how we view our planet, or universe and even our own bodies. But, achieving these breakthroughs didn’t come easy. This podcast will tell you the stories of the bizarre journeys, wild experiments and strange ideas that led to the discovery of important medicine, the invention of life-saving technology and evidence about the beginnings of life as we know it. We arrived at our current understanding of science through anything but normal means, and we think we should talk about it. 
Mar 17, 2020