We Have Concerns

We Have Concerns

United States

Jeff Cannata and Anthony Carboni talk about the personal philosophical concerns they find lurking inside everyday things. It's fun?

Episodes

Organ Donor Car'd  

As self-driving cars become the norm, road deaths due to driver error will begin to diminish. It’s a transformative advancement, but one that comes with consequences in an unexpected place: organ donation. Jeff and Anthony discuss whether a smaller amount of potential organ donors is a good thing or a bad thing.

Flesh and Tome  

A few years ago, three separate books were discovered in Harvard University's library that had particularly strange-looking leather covers. Upon further inspection, it was discovered that the smooth binding was actually human flesh... in one case, skin allegedly harvested from a man who was flayed alive. As you can imagine, Anthony is very happy to hear this. He and Jeff discuss the idea of binding books with people parts.

Mech it Yourself  

Some South Koreans have built a mech, and it has taken its first steps. Designed by a veteran of science fiction blockbusters, the 13 foot tall, 1.5 ton Method-2 towers over a room on the outskirts of Seoul, and will be made available to buy by the end of 2017 for a cool $8 million. Jeff and Anthony want one - but who gets to ride in it first?

Bat Signals  

Researchers recently used a machine learning algorithm to decode the squeaks Egyptian fruit bats make in their roost, revealing that they "speak" to one another as individuals. It turns out, not only do they communicate, but they also argue - a lot. Jeff and Anthony also argue a lot, so they weigh in on this discovery and what it might mean.

Color Be Mine  

Artist Stuart Semple, creator the world’s ‘pinkest paint’, has a new invention - the world'd 'glitteriest glitter'. The product has been made available to everyone, as long as buyers ensured that it would not make its way “into the hands of Anish Kapoor.” According to Semple, the renowned British-Indian sculptor didn’t deserve access to the colors, as he had been given exclusive rights to ‘Vantablack’ – the world’s blackest ever black – in 2014. Should colors be exclusive? Will this tactic work? What is to be made of wars in the art world? Jeff and Anthony tackle these questions and more.

Toyota Care-ola  

The 2015 Japanese census laid out a frightening realization for the country: its population is shrinking. In just five years, between 2010 and 2015, Japan's population shrunk by almost 1 million. But while everyone is quick to blame so-called "parasite singles" or a lack of immigration, Toyota is looking for a solution. In October, the car manufacturer introduced the Kirobo Mini, a robot designed to form an emotional connection with a population that is getting older and not reproducing at a rate to sustain population numbers. Anthony and Jeff discuss whether robot babies are something want to own, and if it will actual propel people to have more human children.

Do Run Run Run  

A new study suggests that high intensity aerobic activity that requires sustained, repetitive locomotor and navigational skills may stress cognitive domains in ways that lead to altered brain connectivity, which in turn has implications for understanding the beneficial role of exercise for brain and cognitive function over the lifespan. In other words, running is for smarts! Anthony and Jeff continue their debate about the value of running with this new info.

Hiding with a Chance of Meatballs  

Ikea is urging teenagers to stop creeping into its stores and having illegal sleepovers. About 10 "non-sponsored sleepovers" have been logged across the world by the Swedish furniture giant this year. The craze appears to have been started by two Belgian YouTubers who chronicled their adventure online. Jeff and Anthony discuss hiding out in stores and more generally... where to sleep.

What's in Bad Movie?  

Hundreds of people online have shared memories of a cheesy Nineties movie called “Shazaam”, in which the standup comic Sinbad played a genie. There is no evidence that such a film was ever made. What does this tell us about the quirks of collective memory? Jeff and Anthony discuss the concept of "viral memories" and the potential that this can all be explained by multiple timelines.

Sham U  

A man called Zhao Lianshan distributed fake university admission offers to students admission to the Shandong Institute of Light Industry, through a new pilot program for students who had not scored as well on entrance exams. They could enroll as full-time students for four years, and pay about RMB 8,000 per year in tuition. Sixty-eight students agreed to enroll, and it was not until June 3, 2012, four years later, that they realized they had never been enrolled in the Shandong Institute of Light Industry. The whole college career had been a sham, and Zhao Lianshan, the man who devised it, has disappeared. Anthony and Jeff talk about fake universities, real universities, and which is the bigger scam.

Do You Hear What AI Hear?  

Researchers in Toronto have used a technology called “neural karaoke” to teach a computer to write a song after looking at a photo, and the little carol it penned after viewing a festive Christmas tree is absolutely horrifying. Jeff and Anthony take a listen and give their thoughts. Happy holidays everyone!

Hold Fusion  

In a study published in the latest edition of the journal Nature Communications, researchers confirmed that Germany's Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) fusion energy device is on track and working as planned. This "star in a jar" technology could essentially provide Earth with limitless clean energy, forever. Jeff and Anthony have a few questions about this breakthrough, and might be worried about how close this is to the last level of a video game.

Skating on Fin Ice  

An amusement park in Japan has been forced to close its skating rink after a torrent of online criticism over its centerpiece: thousands of fish frozen into the ice. Space World in the city of Kitakyushu, south-west Japan, bowed to pressure to close the facility after an online campaign denouncing the piscine graveyard as “cruel”, “immoral” and “weird”. Jeff and Anthony weigh in on the controversy and decide whether this is artistic or offensive.

Trajectory Plus Time  

Why are humans so prone to running late? New findings published in Hippocampus suggest greater familiarity with an area leads us to overestimate its physical distance, but also has the opposite effect on our judgments of travel times through that space – that is, we underestimate how long it will take us to travel through highly familiar routes. Anthony and Jeff discuss this quirk of the human mind, and how to combat its effects.

Alien Where  

According to a new study, layers of the upper atmospheres of cold brown dwarf planets sit at temperatures and pressures resembling those on Earth, and could host microbes that surf on thermal updrafts. These represent a whole new area of potential life in the galaxy. Jeff and Anthony discuss finding life on a planet with no actual surface, and what that might mean.

Sin Full  

When a loved one died in parts of England, Scotland, or Wales in the 18th and 19th centuries, the family would grieve, place bread on the chest of the deceased, and call for a man to sit in front of the body. The family of the deceased watched on as this man, the local professional sin eater, absorbed the sins of the departed’s soul. Jeff and Anthony discuss the job of sin-eater, and whether they think it's an honest day's work.

Get Retch Quick  

A trio of fishermen in Oman made the catch of a lifetime when they came upon something far more valuable than their normal haul: 176 poundsof sperm-whale vomit. The substance – actually an intestinal secretion called ambergris – could fetch close to US $3 million. Why is whale vomit so valuable? Jeff and Anthony explain.

Forest for the Sprees  

Yellowstone National Park contains a narrow corridor less than two miles wide where evildoers could do literally anything, including commit murder, and the law couldn't touch them. Jeff and Anthony discuss the Yellowstone Murder Zone, and how to best use its strange rules to their advantage.

Infinite Improbability Drive  

After months of speculation and leaked documents, NASA's long-awaited EM Drive paper has finally been peer-reviewed and published. And it shows that the 'impossible' propulsion system really does appear to work. Jeff gloats as Anthony considers what this might mean for our prospects of dying in space.

Recycling Cent-er  

A man in Cologne, Germany was recently tried and convicted to ten months in prison for modifying a bottle recycling machine and swindling tens of thousands of euros from the national recycling system. Jeff and Anthony discuss schemes and the human propensity to do way more work than necessary, just to feel like they are cheating the system.

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