A podcast about history, science, tales and everything in between.

51: The Devil’s Picture Books and Wild West Magic

Playing card and magic history

This episode we take a peek at the devil’s picture books – a name given to playing cards. We start with Chinese accounts dating back nearly 1000 years then go via beautiful Mamluk designs to Thomas de la Rue industrialising the printing process 100 years ago. But what are playing cards without magic? We meet one of Anton’s namesakes, Anton Zamloch AKA Zamloch the Great! He put on fantastic magic shows in the late 1800s, touring America with his blend of magic, mayhem and mischief!

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50: Magic & Playing Card History 

An interview with Magician Lee Asher

It’s episode 50 and we have a very special guest - the magician and playing card historian Lee Asher! Anton has been learning magic for the last 18 months and also become an avid playing card collector so Lee was the perfect guy to interview.

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49: The Curiosity of Sight

How eyes work and how we discovered it

This episode Anton and I discover how animals see. From the Cambrian Explosion and mass of new creatures that evolved to neutral implants via some unfortunate German rabbits we uncover the history and the science.

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48: Tales of treasure

Cocos Island, the Centurion and a Hermit

This episode we go treasure hunting, exploring three stories from around the world focussing on our obsession with greed and wealth. We sail around the globe the wrong way telling an epic tale of survival, visit a tropical island in search of lost treasure and learn about an unusual hermit. Each story is about more than glittering gold and priceless gems, it’s a tale of the lengths man will go to in the pursuit of fame and fortune.

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47: Interview: Paul Mayze

Cards, the Universe and Everything

This episode we take a break from talking history and science and interview Paul Mayze MD of Avid Games, the creators of Cards, the Universe and Everything affectionately known as CUE Cards. A great fun mobile game that’s chock-full of facts about… well everything! CUE Cards is a deck building and battling game where you can learn about everything from Chinese Folklore to the Higgs Boson and Corn Beef Sandwiches to the Macrauchenia!

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46: Potato, Potato, Potato

Foundation of the modern world

The potato, it’s been with us forever, it’s so mundane and everyday it’s hardly worth thinking about, right? Wrong! We travel from Axomama, an Andean potato goddess, through it’s spread across Europe (correcting several incorrect anecdotes along the way) to modern day China where’s the humble potato is celebrated in song!

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45: Artificial intelligence

Creativity and talking to animals

Artificial intelligence is set to transform the world altering how we work, access content and create. Many visions of AI show it as robotic, machinelike and impersonal but is this really the case? In this first AI revolution it’s creativity and artistic disciplines that are most touched. But can a computer really be creative and what does creativity mean? Trained on our data - our images, writings, stories - they have only ever had an echo of the true experience of feeling sad or the wind in their hair. We explore this topic, demonstrate how DALL·E works, get creeped out by Bing uncover what animals say, all using AI!

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44: Elementary my dear Anton

Atoms and elements

Last episode we were dragged down to hell through our naive use of magic and occult elements - this time we break free thanks to the real elements that make our world - the atoms. From our obsession with gold to burning diamonds with giant magnifying glasses we’ve long sought to control, create and transform the world. Beginning with the first nanoseconds of the universe we chart humanity’s understanding of these smallest of building blocks.

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43: The history of magic

And we summon a banshee

Magic has a long and complex history. From the earliest times people have sought to understand and manipulate the world, predict the future or curse and control others! We look at the history of magic, learning all we can then attempt to cast the perfect spell!

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42: 22 Orphans to Save the World

The 1803 Balmis Expedition

We were honoured to be invited to talk at Intelligent Speech 2022 on the theme of crossings. https://www.intelligentspeechconference.com/ We selected the Balmis expedition - a Spanish attempt to vaccinate their empire from smallpox in the early 1800s but in an age before air travel and refrigeration how do you transfer a delicate vaccine across the world’s oceans? Enter 22 orphans to save the world... We had a few technical issues during recording but I have tried my best to clean the audio up.

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41: William Dampier

Explorer, pirate, privateer, navigator, and naturalist

We look at the life of one of the most amazing but forgotten men of the 1600s, William Dampier. Ever curious he was an explorer, navigator, naturalist, writer and so much more. The author of A New Voyage Around the World, his accounts opened the world to the public. Never before had they read such detailed descriptions of exotic locations beyond their shores.

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40: What is time?

The reality and the preception

Time is one of the biggest mysteries of science but also one of the fundamental aspects of our reality. It’s nature has been discussed for centuries, from Aristotle to Newton to Einstein, we’ve sought answers but only found more questions as we’ve peeled back it’s layers. There is no fixed ‘now’, every point in space has it’s own flow of time. Does time even exist? How much of what we feel is simply our brain attempting to make sense of the world? Join us as we uncover it’s secrets.

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We are The Curiosity of!?, a father and son who tell stories from history and science. We look at the quirky and unusual as well we the mundane from around the world as well as seeking out local history, events and characters.

And we don’t just research, we like to test and recreate! We’ve performed a traditional magical ritual whilst exploring the history of magic and recreated the Great London Stink to understand just how bad it was. We’ve tasted spices from around the globe to understand why nations went to war over them and recorded in megalithic passage graves to feel the power they gave to our ancestors.

Join us and rediscover your curiosity!

Your hosts are Ric, Development Director and co-founder of U&US and his son Anton!