Third Pod from the Sun is the American Geophysical Union’s podcast where we hear stories from scientists, for everyone.

Latest Episodes

Tales from the (manus)crypt: This is the end

An image of outer space, with Mercury and Venus in the background and in the foreground what should be Earth, but Earth is in fact the material of a microphone, with a microphone in glittering blue-green imposed over it as well. It is truly Third Pod from the sun.

Horror stories (especially movies) have a tradition of long series capstoned by an “ending” movie. Halloween Ends. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. THE Final Destination. And while Third Pod isn’t a horror movie, we are ending (but like some of those stated “final” movies, we may someday return).

Tales from the manus(crypt): The sound(s) of fear

Green-and-black drawing of a door opening and casting eerie light on a crib, while in the background creepy hands reach out towards the crib. Text says, “Your first words should be screams.”

There’s something powerful about the sound of a scream. Whether it pierces the silence of an empty building or rings out through a crowded room, it forces you to stop what you’re doing and take note. It turns out there’s a scientific explanation for that. Our brains are hardwired to recognize the sound of a…

Tales from the (manus)crypt: Zombie-making fungi

Carolyn Elya is the Zombiologist in Chief, aka incoming Assistant Professor in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University. She’s been obsessed with parasites for a while, but it was the flies zombified by a fungus that made them climb, perch, and died that really caught her fancy.

Tales from the (manus)crypt: Volcanic video games

An image that is slightly pixelated like a video game of a person in a protective suit standing at the edge of a lava-filled crater, with the words Volcano Simulator above them.

One of the scariest things for scientists is watching entertainment media portray your field of study inaccurately—the horror! Flood resilience officer and social volcanologist Jazmin Scarlett turned her hobby of playing video games into a paper discussing the depictions of volcanic hazards in games such as Pokémon, LEGO DC Super Villains, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Tales from the (manus)crypt: Mind-controlling mushrooms

The video game and TV show “The Last of Us” captivated audiences with the concept of a fungal pandemic. The story is set in a world ravaged by a fungus that infects people and turns them into zombies. But what’s the likelihood a human fungal pandemic could happen?

Tales from the (manus)crypt: Evolved bloodsuckers

We're diving into the intriguing world of vampire bats and their unique genetic adaptations to a blood-based diet. Shenglin Liu is a researcher at the Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, Germany tells us that vampire bats have evolved specialized traits, from teeth modifications to brain enhancements, to thrive on a diet of blood.

Tales from the (manus)crypt

It’s that time of year again! For many of us, temperatures are cooling, leaves are changing, Pumpkin Spice Lattes are…latte-ing. While that all sounds lovely, it’s also spooky season, and we’re celebrating with a special series we’re calling, Tales from the (manus)crypt.

Invisible forces: Weathering the (academic space) storm

As a young child in India, Nithin Silvadas picked up Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, and it may have changed his life. From that moment on, he was enraptured with the universe. An undergraduate in engineering (where he literally helped build satellites) and PhD focused on radiation belts around planets (including Earth) later, he’s now a Research Scientist with NASA Goddard studying space weather.

Invisible forces: Gravity of the (Venus) situation

What goes up must come down, right? Well, what if things go up and come down slightly slower than you might expect? Are there balloons attached? Filled with helium? Are you on Venus?

Invisible forces: Through the cloud of atmospheric aerosols

If you’re a scientist in an oceanography department, you’re probably studying the ocean, right? Well, part of your job might be studying things like phytoplankton, the tiny oceanic powerhouses that play a crucial role in our planet's ecosystem. But how about clouds? Oh, and the properties of light, too?