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The Constant: A History of Getting Things Wrong

History Podcasts

Did you know that Europeans used to believe that sheep grew from Mongolian trees? Have you heard about the misbegotten discovery of a new form of water in the 1960s that set off a cold war arms race? Ever seen the gleaming Las Vegas hotel that accidentally shoots heat rays at poolside guests? The Constant is an audio history of getting things wrong. From ancient science to contemporary blunders, we take you on journeys of misadventure and misapprehension, filling your brain with juicy nuggets of the sometimes comical, sometimes tragical and always fascinating ways people mess things up.

Did you know that Europeans used to believe that sheep grew from Mongolian trees? Have you heard about the misbegotten discovery of a new form of water in the 1960s that set off a cold war arms race? Ever seen the gleaming Las Vegas hotel that accidentally shoots heat rays at poolside guests? The Constant is an audio history of getting things wrong. From ancient science to contemporary blunders, we take you on journeys of misadventure and misapprehension, filling your brain with juicy nuggets of the sometimes comical, sometimes tragical and always fascinating ways people mess things up.

Location:

United States

Description:

Did you know that Europeans used to believe that sheep grew from Mongolian trees? Have you heard about the misbegotten discovery of a new form of water in the 1960s that set off a cold war arms race? Ever seen the gleaming Las Vegas hotel that accidentally shoots heat rays at poolside guests? The Constant is an audio history of getting things wrong. From ancient science to contemporary blunders, we take you on journeys of misadventure and misapprehension, filling your brain with juicy nuggets of the sometimes comical, sometimes tragical and always fascinating ways people mess things up.

Language:

English


Episodes

The Cold, Hard Truth, Pt 1

5/19/2020
On September 7th, 1909, The New York Times announced that Robert Peary was the first person to ever reach The North Pole. But a week earlier, The New York Herald had said the same thing about Frederick Cook. Only one of them could be right, but which one? And how could you tell for certain? Get 10% off your first month of online counseling by visiting: http://betterhelp.com/theconstant and entering discount code "theconstant".Visit our Patreon here.Music by:Blue Dot SessionsLee...

Duration:00:52:27

The Airship

5/5/2020
In December of 1909, the vice president of a Worcester Massachusetts steamfitting company decided he wanted to fly. This is his story. Get 10% off your first month of online counseling by visiting:http://betterhelp.com/theconstant and entering discount code "theconstant". Visit our Patreon here.Music by:Blue Dot SessionsLee RosevereKevin MacLeodGilbert VinterThe President's Own Marine Band

Duration:00:27:04

Use The Accident

4/21/2020
Here's a change of pace: what about stuff we got wrong for the better? On this episode we've got 13 short stories of mistakes that went right. From jazz to physics to chemistry to frozen dessert, we've got it all. Get 10% off your first month of online counseling by visiting:http://betterhelp.com/theconstant and entering discount code "theconstant".Visit our Patreon here.Music by:Blue Dot SessionsLee RosevereKevin MacLeod

Duration:00:33:33

True Crime

4/7/2020
Hey! I think we invented a new kind of podcast this week! It's a crime story, but it's also true. We're calling it "True Crime". I think there might be a market for this!Get a free trial of The Great Courses Plus and three months of unlimited access for just $30 dollars by going to https://www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/theconstantGet 10% off your first month of online counseling by visiting:http://betterhelp.com/theconstant and entering discount code "theconstant".Visit our Patreon here.Music...

Duration:00:37:17

Light and Shadow of American Life

3/24/2020
In almost seventy episodes chronicling bad ideas and loopy frauds through the ages one name has come up again and again. From phrenology to mesmerism to a strange ghostly bowl of molasses, he's the Forrest Gump of 19th century pseudo-science. Get a free trial of The Great Courses Plus and three months of unlimited access for just $30 dollars by going to https://www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/theconstantGet 10% off your first month of online counseling by...

Duration:00:51:49

The Foolkiller Pt 5: The White Whale

3/10/2020
Here we are. We've examined arctic explorers, secret armies, zany daredevils, Wisconsin whiz kids and so many more only to come up empty. This is the end of the rope. Can we solve the mystery of The Foolkiller, the submarine discovered in the Chicago River in 1915, or is this one just meant to be a mystery forever. Stick around and find out. Get a free trial of The Great Courses Plus and three months of unlimited access for just $30 dollars by going to...

Duration:01:22:47

The Foolkiller Pt 4: The Unusual Suspects

2/25/2020
We're onto the long shots now: An Irish-American secret society bent on war with Canada, a kid genius out of Oshkosh and an Indiana shoe factory owner. With so few options left, one of them--surely--must be the creator of The Foolkiller. Right? Get a free trial of The Great Courses Plus and three months of unlimited access for just $30 dollars by going to https://www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/theconstantGet 10% off your first month of online counseling by...

Duration:00:42:04

The Foolkiller Pt 3: The Man from The East

2/11/2020
Amid all the confusing and contradictory reporting that accompanied the discovery of The Foolkiller submarine in 1915 Chicago, there are a handful of mentions of an "Eastern man". On this episode, we look through the annals of submarine history in search of this mysterious figure. Get 10% off your first month of online counseling by visiting:http://betterhelp.com/theconstant and entering discount code "theconstant".Visit our Patreon here. Finally, there's www.industrialartifacts.net where...

Duration:00:33:52

The Foolkiller Pt 2: Infinite Distress

1/28/2020
A proper story has three acts, but the story of The Foolkiller submarine is missing two of them. Today, we're looking at act 2: the brief window of time during which we know where this giant steel craft was. We're also examining the three initial theories that people at the time held about where the thing came from, and who built it. To do that, we're going from The North Pole to The Center of The Earth and even all the way to the deep jungle depths of Ottawa Illinois. Get a free trial of...

Duration:00:56:24

The Foolkiller Pt 1: Tears Falling from The Sky

1/14/2020
In November of 1915, a submarine was found at the bottom of The Chicago River. It had been there for at least ten years, was 40 feet long, and contained the remains of a man and his dog. To this day, no one knows who built it, where it came from, or who was inside. This is the first in a five part series looking into the mystery of The Foolkiller. With luck, we might even be able to solve it. But before we get into the meat of the question, we need to learn the context. We need to learn...

Duration:00:30:29

It's Wonderful Redux

12/30/2019
For our last episode of 2019 and season 6, we're revisiting last year's Christmas episode. Stick around through the end to hear a tease for next season's big multi-part opening story, and check out these other podcasts from the top of the show: Iconography Mark's appearance on Chad The Podcast and That Was Genius See you in 2020, for The Fool Killer.

Duration:00:23:40

The Christmas Bullet

12/17/2019
Throw on another yule log and gather round the fire For a new Constant episode is about to transpire It's a holiday one, though it contains little joy About a con named Christmas and his terrible ploy Visit our Patreon here.Get 10% off your first month of online counseling by visiting:http://betterhelp.com/theconstant and entering discount code "theconstant".Music by:Blue Dot SessionsLee RosevereKevin MacLeod

Duration:00:16:11

Perpetuum Mobile

12/3/2019
Happy Second Birthday to The Constant! To celebrate, we're tackling the story that everyone advised Mark not to tell, that Mark himself failed over and over again to write: The Brownian Ratchet. And along the way, we're dropping into a select few of the many, many perpetual motion machines people have claimed to invented over the centuries. Visit our Patreon here.Get 10% off your first month of online counseling by visiting:http://betterhelp.com/theconstant and entering discount code...

Duration:00:35:09

Suck and Blow

11/19/2019
Everything you've ever learned about physics, chemistry, astronomy, and even biology, is wrong. That was the conclusion reached by Alfred Lawson, major league pitcher, avionics pioneer, populist political leader and the founder of the stupidest university ever: The University of Lawsonomy. Come with us for a journey through the life and confounding works of Lawson, the rise of his new science and its rapid, farcical fall. Visit our Patreon here.Get 10% off your first month of online...

Duration:00:32:27

Necessity

11/5/2019
In the first century BC, The Greek philosopher Carneades asked a question: is it moral to kill an innocent person to preserve your own life? Two thousand years later, a court in England settled the matter, once and for all. This is a story about sailors, shipwrecks, murder, cannibalism and, ultimately, who owes what to whom. Visit our Patreon here.Get 10% off your first month of online counseling by visiting:http://betterhelp.com/theconstant and entering discount code "theconstant".Music...

Duration:00:45:06

The Curse

10/22/2019
Did someone say "more mummies"? No? You didn't hear that? It sounded like "more mummies" but it was kind of muffled and droning? OH GOD WHAT'S THAT!? It's still October, and we're still being spooky. This week, it's the story of King Tutankhamen's Curse, which is a bit more superstitious than our usual fare. But stick with me, because there's more to this urban legend than you might at first suspect. It might not be from a Pharaohor an Egyptian god, but by the end of this episode, I promise...

Duration:00:36:32

Chewing The Fat

10/8/2019
In 2009, Peruvian police offered a disturbing solution to the murders of 46 people in the city of Trujillo. It was sensational, shocking and unbelievable. Yet, it was tied to a long, rich--and now largely forgotten--part of western history: using and eating human body parts as medicine. This episode may be disturbing to... anyone who is at all sensible. Discretion is advised. Visit our Patreon here.Get 10% off your first month of online counseling by...

Duration:00:28:21

A Pain in The Glass

9/24/2019
In April of 1954, Seattle was home to one of the weirdest events in American history: residents were gripped with fear as a mysterious force roamed the city, leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage in its wake. Despite the efforts of mayors and governors, police and marines, scientists, engineers and even The President of The United States, no one could figure out the culprit. But we can. On today's episode, we solve the mystery of The Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic. Visit...

Duration:00:42:52

A Dreamcast Deferred

9/10/2019
On 9/9/99 The Sega Dreamcast had the most successful product launch of literally any commercial product in history. It quickly came to dominate the market, outperforming all its competition. Less than a year and a half later, it was dead, and Sega was cut down to a shell of its former self. This week, we're looking at why, and at the long storied history of failure and missteps that came along with building an entirely new creative medium like nothing the world had ever seen before: video...

Duration:01:00:07

The Forty Six Dollar Man

8/27/2019
While shooting an episode in a Carnival Funhouse, the production team of The Six Million Dollar Man made a gruesome discovery: a mummified human corpse, painted neon red and mistakenly hung from a noose as a cheap scare. And the story of who he was, and how he got there, is so much better than anything 1970s television could have ever produced. Visit our Patreon here.Get 10% off your first month of online counseling by visiting: betterhelp.com/theconstant and entering discount code...

Duration:00:36:01