Author Archives: Brian Dunning

About Brian Dunning

Science writer Brian Dunning is the host and producer of Skeptoid.

The Tragedy of History’s Smallest Underground War

Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave has been known since the late 1700s, and exploited for its saltpeter wealth through the War of 1812. Thereafter it became a tourist attraction, passing from owner to owner throughout the 1800s, each of whom had a … Continue reading

Posted in Cool Stuff, Events, History, Nature | 4 Comments

How This Clinical Trial Went Terribly Wrong

As a lifelong asthma sufferer, I’ve always had alerts set up at ClinicalTrials.gov, a central clearinghouse for clinical trials. If a clinical trial for a new experimental drug came up in my area, I wanted to be notified so I … Continue reading

Posted in Cool Stuff, Health, Science | Tagged , , , , , | 27 Comments

How do you make an atomically sharp needle?

Back in the late 1980s, my friend Dan was a student at University of California, Santa Barbara and an employee of Digital Instruments, one of the very first companies to sell a practical commercial Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM), the Nanoscope … Continue reading

Posted in Cool Stuff, Science | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

In Which I Admit Defeat in Being Beaten to Filming Death Valley’s Moving Rocks

First of all, my congratulations to Richard D. Norris, James M. Norris, Ralph D. Lorenz, Jib Ray, and Brian Jackson for their publication in PLOS ONE of Sliding Rocks on Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park: First Observation of Rocks in … Continue reading

Posted in Cool Stuff, Nature, Science | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

The Day I Met Dr. Edward Teller

Dr. Edward Teller, the “Father of the Hydrogen Bomb,” is often known for his uneasy relationship with fellow Manhattan Project member J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “Father of the Atomic Bomb.” Their rivalry was not limited to the specific type of … Continue reading

Posted in Cool Stuff, Energy | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

I Want to Drink a Homeopathic Preparation of HIV-Contaminated Blood

“Foolhardy.” “Reckless ignorance.” “Darwin Award candidate.” These are selected phrases from the responses I’ve received during my private inquiries over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been speaking with lab managers, AIDS researchers, and doctors about my plan to make … Continue reading

Posted in Alternative Medicine, Consumer Ripoffs, Events, Health, Pseudoscience | Tagged , , | 94 Comments

Mirage Men: A New Chapter in UFOlogy

Mirage Men is a limited-release documentary from late 2013, and if you get a chance, you should definitely see it. They talk about Alice going down the rabbit hole; this film starts with you already lost down in the hole, … Continue reading

Posted in TV & Media, Urban Legends | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

An Honest Reinterpretation of the SeaOrbiter Lab

Readers of Popular Science may have recently seen French architect Jacques Rougerie’s proposal for the SeaOrbiter lab, a freely floating science platform from which all sorts of oceanographic research can be done. Upon noting that Rougerie thought it would be fun … Continue reading

Posted in Cool Stuff, Science | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Beware of LinkedIn Invitations

This is a bit off-topic, so think of it as a bit of skeptical consumer protectionism. This morning LinkedIn spammed every single email address in my computer’s address book with an invitation to connect with me, including many, many people … Continue reading

Posted in Consumer Ripoffs | Tagged , , , , , | 19 Comments

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and Payne Stewart

Please take this post for no more than what it is: reasonably well-informed speculation. It’s not a prediction nor a claim. At the time of this writing, the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 remains a mystery. It’s been gone … Continue reading

Posted in Events, TV & Media | Tagged | 71 Comments