Moment of Um-logo

Moment of Um

American Public Media

Moment of Um is your daily answer to those questions that pop up out of nowhere and make you go… ummmmmmm. Brought to you by your friends at Brains On at APM Studios.

Location:

United States

Description:

Moment of Um is your daily answer to those questions that pop up out of nowhere and make you go… ummmmmmm. Brought to you by your friends at Brains On at APM Studios.

Language:

English


Episodes
Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

How far has any astronaut traveled?

4/19/2024
About 60 miles above Earth is a line where our atmosphere ends and space begins. That boundary is called the Karman line. Of course, rockets that astronauts take go much farther than that. But just how far from earth have astronauts gone? And what do they need to bring for the trip?! We asked spacesuit designer Pablo de Leon to help us find the answer! Got a question that’s far out? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll shoot for the moon to find the answer.

Duration:00:05:57

Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Are birds related to bats?

4/17/2024
At first glance, you might think bats and birds are close relatives. After all, they both flap their wings and fly! But are they actually close cousins or just coincidental copycats? We asked bird expert Amanda Bender to help us find the answer. Got a question that’s got you in a flap? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find an answer–we promise we won’t just wing it!

Duration:00:05:58

Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Why do bats sleep upside down?

4/16/2024
We already know that bats are amazing creatures. They are the only mammals that can fly. The bones in their wings resemble our fingers. They account for about one in five of all mammals living on the planet. And some can fly up to 99 miles per hour! But have you ever asked yourself why the heck they sleep upside down? We asked biologist DeeAnn Reeder to help us find the answer. Got a Moment of Um question that’s turning you upside down? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help get it all sorted out.

Duration:00:03:47

Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Where does cinnamon come from?

4/15/2024
Cinnamon is used all over the world. It makes cookies, cakes, tea, and coffee taste and smell amazing, and it’s also used in lots of savory foods!But where does cinnamon come from…before it gets to the grocery store? We asked spice expert Pooja Bag to help us find the answer. Got a question that’s flavoring your thoughts? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll bark up every tree until we find the answer!

Duration:00:04:50

Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

What happens when big trucks roll over bacteria on roads?

4/12/2024
Bacteria are everywhere. At the top of Mount Everest. At the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. There are millions on your hands and TRILLIONS in your gut! So what happens when a truck rolls over bacteria on the road? Do they get squished? We asked microbiology professor Daniel Bond to help us find the answer. Got a crushing question? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll keep on truckin’ til we find an answer!

Duration:00:05:00

Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Where does a candle go when it burns?

4/11/2024
We know why candles melt - from being lit, of course! But where do candles go when they melt? Do they just disappear into thin air? We asked scientist Fabien Goulay from West Virginia University to help us understand. Got a flicker of a Moment of Um question for us? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you light up an answer.

Duration:00:03:58

Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Why do bees buzz?

4/10/2024
Have you ever watched a bee flitting from flower to flower? It zips through the air like a tiny plane, making a buzz-buzz-buzz sound. But why do bees buzz, anyway? We asked bee scientist Alina Niño to help us find the answer. Got a bee-YOO-tiful question for us? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we promise we won’t just wing it!

Duration:00:05:58

Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

When your eyes are closed, are your pupils big or small?

4/9/2024
Have you ever stared in the bathroom mirror and flicked the light on and off and watched what happens to your pupils? They get bigger, then smaller, then bigger, then smaller, right? One of our listeners was wondering what happens to our pupils when we close our eyes. Since we can’t see through our own eyelids, we called on Sasha Strul, University of Minnesota Pediatric Ophthalmologist, to help us discover the answer. Do you have a Moment of Um question for us? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help open your eyes to the answer.

Duration:00:04:03

Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

How do cameras take photos and videos?

4/8/2024
Say cheese! Cameras can take amazing photos and videos of just about anything. But have you ever wondered how they work? We asked mechanical engineer and science educator Tiffani Teachey to help us find the answer. Got a question that’s picture-perfect? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll snap to it!

Duration:00:04:54

Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

How and when did jokes start, and why?

4/5/2024
Knock knock! Everybody loves a good joke, but how did they start? And why do we think they’re so funny? We asked Brains On producer and resident funny expert Anna Goldfield to give us the lowdown on jokes! Got a question that’s tickling your curiosity? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll get to the punchline.

Duration:00:06:21

Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

What happens when lightning strikes water?

4/4/2024
It’s one thing to watch a storm roll in from the safety of your own home, but what if you’re out in the middle of the ocean and things start to head in a stormy direction? Jonathan Smith, a faculty research assistant at University of Maryland, will help us understand what happens when lightning strikes water. Do you have a strikingly good Moment of Um question for us? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help spark an answer!

Duration:00:04:26

Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Why does bread change color and texture in the toaster?

4/3/2024
Bread is the best. But you know what makes bread even better? Toasting it. That brown crunchy exterior with the springy chewy center can’t be beat. But how does a toaster transform bread into toast? We asked food scientist David Dominguez to help us find the answer. Got a question that’s bready to be answered? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’d loaf to find you an answer!

Duration:00:04:44

Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Do worms sleep?

4/2/2024
Worms! Some of us love them - some of us are terrified of them! But have you ever wondered how they get their rest? Physicist Daniel Gonzales is the expert on all things worms and sleep and he’s here to fill us in. Got a Moment of Um question for us that’s been slithering around your brain? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you find the answer.

Duration:00:04:35

Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Which is older, the sun or the moon?

4/1/2024
Human beings have told stories and made art about the sun and the moon for as long as we’ve existed! Both of them were in the sky long before humans evolved. But just how old are they? And is the sun or the moon older? We asked astrophysicist Amanda Farah to help us find the answer. Got a question that’s sunsationally difficult? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll comMOONicate the answer to you

Duration:00:04:50

Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

How can parrots mimic other sounds?

3/22/2024
Parrots are one of the few animals in the world that can mimic human speech and other sounds. But how exactly do they do it? We asked bird expert Amanda Bender to help us find the answer. Got a question that’s a real squawk in the park? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help find an answer that’s macaw-some!

Duration:00:05:03

Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Can a moon have a moon?

3/21/2024
One of the best things about looking up at the night sky is gazing at our big, beautiful moon. But why do we get to have all the fun? Can a moon have its own moon? Harvard graduate student Chantanelle Nava helps us understand. Do you have a Moment of Um question for us that’s totally far out? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you find the answer.

Duration:00:03:11

Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

If ants like sweet things, why don't they attack beehives?

3/20/2024
Ants, they’re just like us. They like picnics, hills, and sweet things! But if ants like sweets so much, do you think they ever attack beehives? We asked bee researcher Dr. Alina Nino to help us find the answer. Got a question that’s buzzing around your head? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help ant-swer it.

Duration:00:04:51

Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

What is tree bark made of?

3/19/2024
If you’ve ever hugged a tree (and we hope you have!) you’ll know that the outside of a tree can be bumpy, prickly, and can even scrape your skin. That’s because trees are covered in tree armor – otherwise known as bark. One of our listeners wanted to know what tree bark is made of, so we asked forest ecologist Diana Macias to explain. Do you have an evergreen question for Moment of Um? Leaf it for us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll try to find the answer.

Duration:00:04:50

Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

How do vacuum cleaners work?

3/18/2024
Vacuums are like magic. You press a button and POOF – they can suck up all kinds of stuff: crumbs, cat fur, even coconut shrimp. But how do these handy dandy machines work? We asked mechanical engineer Tiffani Teachey to help us find the answer. Got a question, but you’re not sure Hoover answer it? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll find an answer that sweeps you off your feet!

Duration:00:04:45

Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Would a flashlight turn on at lightspeed?

3/15/2024
What do a cheetah, a rocket ship, and champion sprinter Usain Bolt have in common? If you guessed they’re all way slower than your average beam of light, you’re correct! Nothing in our universe moves faster than light. But recently, we got an interesting puzzle from a listener: if you were able to travel at lightspeed, and you turned on a flashlight, would it turn on? We asked astrophysicist Amanda Farah to help us investigate. Got a question that has you feeling in the dark? Send it to us at BrainsOn.org/contact, and we’ll help you see the light.

Duration:00:04:38