Stuff That's Real (That You Didn't Know Was Real) But Also Is Cool
Want to write a thriller? Need ideas for your thriller's plot? Hosted by the authors of action-adventure thriller novels, Kevin and Nick are no strangers to researching the arcane, mysterious, phenomenal, and fascinating realities of our world. In each episode of the Stuff That's Real podcast, your hosts invite you to encounter unbelievable — yet utterly real — nuggets of truth. What's more, they'll dive into how these topics might parlay into a great, science-based thriller plot. From the Fermi paradox and the future of technology to the secrets of the ancient world and the secret world of spies, Stuff That's Real reveals the most fascinating (and 100% true) stories of history, science, and the natural world. Combining these ideas in believable, fun ways is the secret to developing a great thriller plot, and that's what this show is about. If you're a thriller author (or want to be), this is a can't-miss show. The show will uncover the most remarkable people and places, and the most incredible events, and weave them together in an interesting, fact-based thread useful for thriller writers to generate plot ideas. See how it's done, from two full-time, award-winning thriller authors. And best of all, you can be a part of the conversation, too: Write in to tell us what to cover next at
The Joker and the Academic // Google Mapsioso
June 8, 2022 • 40 MIN
The mysterious Shugborough Inscription, which has baffled scholars for centuries, may have finally been decoded. The inscription, which consists of a series of letters and symbols, is located on a 18th-century monument in Staffordshire, England. One theory is that it is a code that leads to the location of the Holy Grail. However, the most likely explanation is that it is a masonic code that has yet to be cracked. Italian police say they were able to catch a mafia member with the help of Google Maps. The police were looking for the man in a remote area of Sicily and were able to find him by looking at the Google Maps images of the area. - - -
The Media Isn’t Real // How to Live in a Hole
June 1, 2022 • 34 MIN
In Wisconsin, a fugitive survived for three years in a bunker he made from scratch. In New York, a group of Gen Zers believe that birds are not real and that they are part of a government conspiracy. Turns out, the media just got duped, and has been duping you! - -
How to Sex A Chicken // The Caveman Cartoonists
May 26, 2022 • 31 MIN
The oldest known animation was discovered in a cave in Iran and is thought to be over 5,000 years old. The animation consists of a series of images of animals that are thought to tell a story. The art of chicken sexing is a lucrative one that is often passed down from generation to generation. Chicken sexers can earn up to $100,000 a year and often start working in the profession when they are just children.
Physics is So Classical // Other Cities Hate Macchu Picchu for this!
May 18, 2022 • 43 MIN
According to a physicist, the entire universe may be one giant neural network. National Geographic claims there are many secrets about Machu Picchu that have yet to be discovered. For example, there may be a secret city hidden beneath the surface. According to a new study, the universe may be one giant neural network. This theory was proposed by a group of physicists who believe that the universe is made up of tiny particles that are constantly interacting with each other. This interaction is what allows the universe to store information and learn from it. The study also found that the universe is constantly growing and expanding, which is another sign that it is a living, breathing entity. ### - - -
Rocks Racing On the Ground // Rocks Hiding Underground
May 11, 2022 • 32 MIN
The Dutchman's Gold Mine is a fabled lost gold mine that is said to be located in the Superstition Mountains in Arizona. The mine is named after a German immigrant named Jacob Waltz, who was also known as the Dutchman. The Dutchman's Mine is one of the most famous lost mines in American history, and has been the subject of many books, articles, and even a movie. There have been many people who have claimed to have found the mine, but no one has ever been able to produce any gold from it. The Racetrack is a playa in Death Valley National Park, California. It is a dry lake bed that is covered with rocks that have been moved around by the wind. The Racetrack is famous for its "sailing stones" which are rocks that seem to move across the playa on their own. The Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine is said to be located near the Racetrack. Many people have searched for the mine, but it has never been found. ### - - -
Donkey Milk & Baby Mice Wine // Secret Septic Tunnels
May 4, 2022 • 38 MIN
The Templar tunnel in Acre is a weird and wonderful place. Built by the Knights Templar in the 12th century, it is a hidden gem in the city. The tunnel is said to be haunted by the ghosts of the knights who built it, and is a popular spot for tourists to visit. There are a variety of weird and wonderful drinks in the world. From the exotic sounding "snake wine" to the more familiar "bloody Mary", there is a drink to suit everyone's taste. ### - -
Alligator Snipers // Freshwater Mermaids
April 27, 2022 • 42 MIN
In the city of Weeki Wachee, Florida, live mermaids perform daily shows in an underwater theater. The city was founded in 1947 as a roadside attraction and has been home to mermaids ever since. In addition to the daily shows, the city also offers mermaid classes for those interested in learning the craft. Also… a mountain that “lays” eggs… seriously. ### - -
The Spiteful Potato Chip // The Hanging Gardens of…. Ninevah?
April 20, 2022 • 38 MIN
In 1853, chef George Crum was working in a Saratoga Springs, New York, restaurant when a customer, irritated by the thickness of his fried potatoes, sent them back to the kitchen. In a fit of pique, Crum sliced the potatoes wafer-thin, fried them and sent them back out. The customer loved them. And so were born potato chips. Stephanie Dalley, author of The Lost Gardens of Babylon, argues that the Hanging Gardens were in fact in the Assyrian city of Nineveh, not Babylon. She argues that the gardens were part of a series of gardens, including one at the palace of King Sennacherib in Nineveh. ### - - - -
The Wonders of the World // Can’t Ring This Bell
April 13, 2022 • 37 MIN
There are many ancient wonders that are still around today. The Tamil Bell is one of them. It is a large bell that was used to summon people. The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are also still around. They are the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Temple of Artemis, the Statue of Zeus, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria. ### - - -
Garfield’s Ridiculously Painful Death // The Mayan City Found By A 15-Year-Old
March 30, 2022 • 48 MIN
In 1880, James A. Garfield, the 20th president of the United States, was shot in the back by Charles Guiteau. Guiteau was a disgruntled office seeker who was upset that he had not been given a position in Garfield's administration. Garfield was rushed to the hospital and doctors tried to find the bullet with a metal detector, but the metal detector was not sensitive enough and they were unable to find the bullet. Garfield died two months later. In 2016, a Canadian teenager named William Gadoury claimed to have discovered a lost Mayan city using Google Earth. Gadoury had noticed that the layout of the city matched the layout of the constellations in the night sky. However, Gadoury's discovery was later debunked by archaeologists who said that the city was not a lost city, but a natural formation. ### - -
Don’t Dip Your Toe in That // The Earth Is Hollow!
March 23, 2022 • 33 MIN
There are a lot of theories out there about what lies beneath the surface of our planet, but one of the most popular is the Hollow Earth theory. This theory suggests that the Earth is actually hollow, and that there is a world inside of it that is populated by strange creatures. Some people believe that this inner world is actually the Garden of Eden, and that it is where humanity originated. Others believe that it is a parallel universe, or even the home of aliens. There is no scientific evidence to support any of these claims, but that hasn't stopped people from believing in them. And in more disgusting news, this is the story of the Sourtoe Cocktail, a drink served in Dawson City, Yukon, Canada. The cocktail is made with a human toe, and the drinker must allow the toe to touch their lips in order to finish the drink. The toe is preserved in salt, and the cocktail is served with a shot of whiskey. ### - -
The Weird Old Creepy Dude Strikes Again // All About Reef Balls
March 16, 2022 • 32 MIN
Eternal Reefs is a company that makes artificial reefs out of concrete balls. The company was started by a man named Todd Barber, who was inspired to make these reefs after he saw how much damage was being done to natural reefs by humans. The company makes the reefs in a way that they will last for a very long time, and they are placed in areas where they will help to restore the natural reef ecosystem. A man known as "Le Loyon" has been spotted in the woods of Switzerland for over a decade, wearing camouflage and walking around silently. He has never been seen talking to anyone, and only occasionally responds to questions with grunts. Some believe he is a hermit, while others believe he may be suffering from a mental illness. ### - -
Class-Action Park // The Mall Man
February 16, 2022 • 41 MIN
Action Park was a water park in Vernon, New Jersey that opened in 1978 and closed in 1996. The park was known for its dangerous rides and lax safety standards. Gene Mulvihill, the man behind the park's creation, wanted to create a place where people of all ages could enjoy themselves. Also a dude totally lived in a secret nook in a mall… for like four years. Find out more on the show! ### - -
Shrooms on Shrooms (A Greatest Hits Album) // Let’s Review A Serial Killer!
February 9, 2022 • 28 MIN
## - - - Project Hail Mary - Andy Weir:
Last Thursday Never Happened // I Lava This Tube
January 26, 2022 • 37 MIN
What did you do last Thursday? What if we told you that you did nothing... because last Thursday never happened!? That's right — we're discussing "Last Thursdayism," if Adam had a belly button, and other important shenanigans today. And about lava tubes. Now, we all know size doesn't matter — unless it's a lava tube. Then it definitely matters. ### - -
Time Isn’t Real! // The Bullet Ant DEFINITELY Is Real
January 19, 2022 • 23 MIN
The bullet ant is the most painful insect bite in the world. It earns its name because of the intense, burning pain it causes. The pain is so excruciating that it has been compared to being shot. The bullet ant is found in Central and South America, and it uses its sting to paralyze prey. The venom is not life-threatening to humans, but the pain can last for hours. On this episode, we get bit by the bullet ant. (Maybe) ### - -
That Weird Creepy Guy Keeps Stealing Maps // The Golden Ratio
January 12, 2022 • 37 MIN
The Book Thief, but real life. And with maps. And in libraries. Also, the official Golden Ratio episode! Woot! ### On this show: - - -
The Super Burrito Tunnel // Botulism, Injected Right Into My Face
January 5, 2022 • 32 MIN
Want botulism? Who doesn't? Did you know the stuff we inject into our faces for "vanity" is the world's deadliest toxin? Also, burritos (flying super-fast through a secret nationwide tunnel). ### On this show: - -
The Mojave Megaphone // The Case of the Boo-Boo Glow
December 15, 2021 • 30 MIN
On this show: - Amazonia by James Rollins: - - -
The Internet Is Dead // Brain Imagery Killed the Radio Star
December 8, 2021 • 34 MIN
Recording dreams like in my book, The Amazon Code? Not just fiction, folks. (Also, if you're reading this, a bot probably created it because the Internet is dead.) On this show: - - - - - -
Amelia Earhart // Little Water Bears
November 3, 2021 • 33 MIN
On this show: - -
Washington’s Secret Spy Ring // The Worst Marathon Ever
October 27, 2021 • 41 MIN
If you've seen the show Turn, you've heard part of this story already... but not told like this! Combine that with the worst marathon ever planned (if you can even argue there was a plan...), and you've got the recipe for a great episode. On this show: - - - -
Batman of the Suburbs // People of the Sea
October 20, 2021 • 22 MIN
We all know "BatDad," but did you know there's a real vigilante out there? Complete with a foil and villain. Also on this show: the Moken "Sea Gypsies," an incredible semi-nomadic peoples that lives completely... on the sea. On this show: - - -
India Jones // Don't Pee In the Bleach
October 6, 2021 • 32 MIN
This week, Kevin pees in the bleach, and nearly kills himself. Nick finds a top-secret sealed vault that would make Indiana Jones proud. On this show: - -
Netflix and Cheese // More Things Hidden Underground
September 29, 2021 • 26 MIN
The world’s oldest cheese? Should we taste it? Did we already? You’ll have to listen to find out… On this show: - -
Chubb-henge // Ameri-henge
September 22, 2021 • 27 MIN
Do you know what a “henge” is? Of course, there’s not just one in England. Turns out, they’re all over the place… On this show: - - - -
Oh, My ‘Lantis // Weird Bostonites Doing Weird Boston Things
September 15, 2021 • 27 MIN
Can you believe we've never talked about Atlantis? Well, now we are... (and a bit about Boston). On this show: - Atlantis! - Boston’s Secret North-End Tunnels:
Old Dedham People // Mayamagination
September 1, 2021 • 28 MIN
We don’t talk about the Maya enough, and their technology and knowledge is perfect fodder for thriller fiction authors, so here we’ll remedy that. Also, something about Dedham, Massachusetts. On this show: - Plymouth Rock: - Mayan Downfall:
The Most Interesting Material In the World // A Mystery In Our Backyard
August 25, 2021 • 29 MIN
A mysterious tower, built by... no one knows? A mysterious material, capable of... no one knows? On this show: - Graphene: - Mystery tower of Newport:
Rocky Mountain Green Tea Oysters // The Tomb of Mercury
August 18, 2021 • 28 MIN
We all know about Rocky Mountain Oysters, right? Okay, good, so we don't have to talk about that today... However, we WILL talk about don't-miss topics like the pyramids, Isaac Newton, and the terra-cotta soldiers in China. Like we said — don't miss! On this show: - saac Newton unlocks secret code of pyramids: - Rivers of mercury and countless unknown treasures:
How Big Can A Cave Get? // Bog People Are People Too
July 7, 2021 • 24 MIN
What's the largest cave system in the world? What about the largest cavern? Also, did you hear about the bog people? They're waking up... (Not really, but they're still cool) On this show: - Louisville Mega Cavern: - Secret Bog Bodies:
A Computer Older Than Newton // A Newton Older Than A Computer
June 16, 2021 • 25 MIN
We all know computing technology changes and adapts fast (who remembers typing a/s/l into AOL's Instant Messenger on their family PC?). But did you know how old computing technology really is? Did you know that it might even predate Isaac Newton? On this show: - The World’s First Computer: - Isaac Newton's alchemy notebooks:
Angry Tank Lady // Big Dum-Dum Heads
June 9, 2021 • 32 MIN
If you've seen Night at the Museum, you'll get that reference. If not, don't worry about it. This week, Kevin and Nick go head-to-head about heads, Nazis, and an angry lady with a (rightful) vendetta. Don't miss out! On this show: - The woman who bought a tank to kill Nazis: - - Big stone heads at Easter Island: - Rongorongo:
The Star That's Older Than The Universe // Poop Coffee
June 2, 2021 • 34 MIN
Two of my (Nick) all-time favorite topics: poop and coffee. Add in a star that's older than the known universe, and you've got the makings of a fantastic Netflix series. (Or a half-decent podcast episode). On this show: - Poop Coffee: - Methusela Star:
UFOs Are Totally Real // Giant Snakes Are Totally Real
May 27, 2021 • 37 MIN
We know UFOs are real, but now we may have actually identified them. Really. Oh, and if that wasn't terrifying enough, GIANT SNAKES are real, too! (But probably dead though). On this show: - UFOs are real: - Giant snakes are real - -
The Demon Core // The Murder Hornet
May 4, 2021 • 34 MIN
What was the demon core, and why were scientists fascinated by it? And those pesky murder hornets — media sensation and Instagram heroes, or over-hyped bumblebees? On this show: - - The Intention Experiment:
Pyramids Are Like Big Triangles in 3D // The Real Meaning of "Hermit"
April 28, 2021 • 41 MIN
Big 'ol pyramids. The ancient world was absolutely fascinated by them. Why? And don't forget the other fascination we, as humans, share: the call of the void. Or, rather, the call of "living off the grid for twenty-odd years without connection to society." On this show: - - - North Pond Hermit: - Stranger in the Woods: Michael Fink
Humans Are Mean and We Killed Everyone // AI is Also Mean and it Might Kill Us All
April 21, 2021 • 32 MIN
AI and Homo sapiens. Name a more iconic duo. On today's show, it's all about our origins — and which species we may have had to destroy to earn our cushy lives in the suburbs — and the future of our species, and what we might have to do to keep it. On this show: - - -
We're All Going to Get Lava'd // Antarctica is Looking at Us
April 14, 2021 • 40 MIN
The Yellowstone supervolcano is real. And it's super. And it ...might?... explode? How accurate is that? And what about that weird, "natural" face in Antarctica? Who built it, and why? On this show: - Yellowstone Supervolcano: and - Face in Antarctica: and - The Enigma Strain - - The Atlantis Forgery - - The Minoan Manifest -
How to Sleep for A Century // Where Are All the Aliens?
March 31, 2021 • 44 MIN
An epic snoozefest of biblical proportions, and talking aliens — Fermi-style. Don't miss out! On the show this week: - Seven Sleepers of Ephesus - Sleeper’s War - Fermi paradox ### Links to Kevin's and Nick's bestselling series books: * Harvey Bennett (Nick): * Dan Kotler (Kevin):
Why Do We Yell Geronimo? // How to Order A Hotdog in AD 79
March 17, 2021 • 41 MIN
"Geronimmmmoooo!" — random dudes while jumping from great heights. Why do we yell that? Is it racist/derogatory? Who the heck was Geronimo, anyway? Want a snack to observe the end of the world in AD 79? These street vendors may be able to help... Links for this episode: - - Links to Kevin's and Nick's bestselling series books: * Harvey Bennett (Nick): * Dan Kotler (Kevin):
The Lost Language of the Inca // Can You Live to 500?
March 10, 2021 • 28 MIN
A culture and civilization not known to have a written form of language — how, then, do you explain these knots? Can we live to 500? This vertebrate can... what can we learn from its existence? Find out today on Stuff That's Real Links for this episode: - - Links to Kevin's and Nick's bestselling series books: * Harvey Bennett (Nick): * Dan Kotler (Kevin):
The Worst Pain Imaginable // How to Become A Savant
March 1, 2021 • 26 MIN
Could the world's worst pain imaginable be caused by something so inconspicuous as... a tree? Can you hit your head and suddenly be able to recall every last detail of every day you ever lived? In this episode of Stuff That's Real, your learned and learning hosts dive deep into what makes savants tick, and how accidents can somehow cause rewiring in our brains. In addition, Kevin and Nick discuss what it might be like to experience the worst physical pain imaginable. Tune in for real talk, real science, and real cool stuff!