How Stuff Works

Tax
Bonus | Member-only episode
Episode
148

Tax

Tax
Income inequality
France
USA
Economics
Apr 9, 2021
-
21
minutes

"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes"

Tax might not sound interesting or exciting to most people, but it affects all of us.

In this episode, we explore what paying taxes actually means, and how it affects our relationship with the government and society.

And we'll do all of this through the story of two pen-pals, Arlette from Paris, France, and John from Austin, Texas.

A Short History of The English Language
Bonus | Member-only episode
Episode
134

A Short History of The English Language

History of language
English speaking
Life in the UK
Great Britain
Romans
Feb 19, 2021
-
20
minutes

From a small, wet island, English has come to be the world's dominant language.

How did this actually happen, where does English actually come from, and how has the language changed over the years?

What Makes Us Laugh
Bonus | Member-only episode
Episode
133

What Makes Us Laugh

Comedy
Philosophy
Life in the UK
Funny stories
The Human Body
Feb 16, 2021
-
18
minutes

Laughing is something that we all do.

But what makes us laugh? Why is something funny?

Discover the theories about why we laugh, what this does to us, and learn about the British sense of humour.

Cognitive Dissonance
Bonus | Member-only episode
Episode
131

Cognitive Dissonance

Psychology
Health
Consumption
Philosophy
The Human Body
Feb 9, 2021
-
14
minutes

Why do we sometimes believe one thing and act in a way that is in complete contradiction to our beliefs?

Cognitive Dissonance is the theory about why we do this, how we manage different beliefs, and the effect this has on us.

Chocolate
Bonus | Member-only episode
Episode
126

Chocolate

Food & drink
Business
Coffee
Consumption
Poverty
Jan 22, 2021
-
20
minutes

It's the world's favourite sweet snack, and the chocolate industry is worth over $100 billion.

Discover the fantastic history of where it comes from, how it became so popular, and learn about some of the economics of chocolate production.

Bitcoin
Bonus | Member-only episode
Episode
122

Bitcoin

Economics
Technology
Business
Hacking
Gold
Jan 8, 2021
-
23
minutes

It's the most famous cryptocurrency in the world, and went up in value by 269% in 2020.

In this episode, we take a look at what it actually is, how it works, why some people think it is the future of money and others think it is a giant bubble.

A Short History of Vaccines
Bonus | Member-only episode
Episode
117

A Short History of Vaccines

Health
Medicine
Death
Pandemic
The Victorian Era
Dec 22, 2020
-
22
minutes

Vaccination is one of the most important medical inventions in history, and vaccines save hundreds of millions of lives every year.

Discover the fantastic history of vaccines, where they came from, how they have developed, and the problems that governments have in encouraging citizens to actually take them.

Personality Tests
Bonus | Member-only episode
Episode
112

Personality Tests

Psychology
Business
Sigmund Freud
Carl Jung
Dec 4, 2020
-
22
minutes

The personality industry is worth billions, and promises to help us better understand ourselves.

But how did it start? How does it actually work?

And most importantly, does it actually work?

Sleep
Bonus | Member-only episode
Episode
107

Sleep

Sleep
The Human Body
Natural world
Nov 17, 2020
-
17
minutes

Humans will spend from a quarter to a third of our lives sleeping.

But what actually happens when we sleep? Why do we need to sleep? How does it work?

Daylight Saving Time
Bonus | Member-only episode
Episode
102

Daylight Saving Time

Time
Technology
Life in the UK
Natural world
Oct 30, 2020
-
20
minutes

In 70 countries around the world we change the time twice a year, giving us longer evenings in summer.

Why did we start doing this? Why do some people love it, others hate it, and will we ever stop doing it altogether?

Money Laundering
Bonus | Member-only episode
Episode
99

Money Laundering

Crime
Corruption
Economics
The Mafia
Terrorism
Oct 20, 2020
-
18
minutes

It's the way that criminals take dirty money and clean it, turning it into beautiful, clean money that appears to have been earned completely legally.

Discover how this is done, how much of a problem this really is, and how this process supports the criminal underworld.

The Suez Canal
Bonus | Member-only episode
Episode
91

The Suez Canal

Egypt
The Middle East
Oil
The Cold War
The Victorian Era
Sep 22, 2020
-
20
minutes

It's the 193km long canal that links the Mediterranean and the Red Seas.

The Ancient Egyptians dreamed of it, the Venetians did too, the French engineered it, the British bought it, the Egyptians nationalised it, it caused a Cold War crisis, and now it's a hugely important stretch of water for global trade.

It's time to tell the story of The Suez Canal.

The Amazing Life of Whales
Bonus | Member-only episode
Episode
88

The Amazing Life of Whales

Animals
Natural world
Environment
Sep 11, 2020
-
18
minutes

Whales are some of the most amazing animals that have ever existed.

From where they come from to how they live their lives, through to the threats that they have faced and how they bring new life in death, it's time to learn more about the amazing life these animals lead.

Rare Earths
Bonus | Member-only episode
Episode
85

Rare Earths

Environment
Technology
China
Consumption
Sep 1, 2020
-
18
minutes

These 17 chemical elements are vital for lots of modern technologies, from smartphones to laptops, wind turbines to electric cars.

But our dependence on them comes at a large cost, a cost that very few people are aware of.

How International Post Works
Bonus | Member-only episode
Episode
77

How International Post Works

Eccentric people
England
Economics
Geniuses
Great Britain
Aug 4, 2020
-
22
minutes

Anyone can send a letter, anywhere in the world, and it will be hand-delivered to any country in the world, for less than the price of a cup of coffee.

How did we arrive at this system, and how does it all work? 

Bottled Water
Bonus | Member-only episode
Episode
65

Bottled Water

Consumption
Environment
Marketing
Advertising
Food & drink
Jun 23, 2020
-
22
minutes

It's now the most popular soft drink in the United States.

Yet 50 years ago barely anyone drunk it.

Today, we tell the story of how the world became addicted to bottled water.

Chickens Are From The Jungle // How The Chicken Conquered The World
Bonus | Member-only episode
Episode
34

Chickens Are From The Jungle // How The Chicken Conquered The World

Animals
Food & drink
Consumption
Economics
Weird history
Mar 10, 2020
-
14
minutes

It's the most populous bird in the world, outnumbering humans 3:1.

Today we are asking ourselves how an obscure bird from South East Asia went from jungle floor to being eaten at a rate of two every millisecond.

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