How Stuff Works  |  Podcast, ±3 min episodes every 2 days
Join Marshall Brain in the BrainStuff Podcast and learn answers to life's everyday questions. Improve your knowledge with the BrainStuff Podcast.

Where does aluminum come from?

Aluminum is both lightweight and strong, so it's no wonder that space stations, airplanes and thousands of other products use this metal. But where does it come from, and what makes it so special? Tune in to learn more.

Is it possible to turn coal into oil?

As the demand for dwindling oil supplies rises, scientists across the world search for new ways to generate energy. In this episode, Marshall looks at a new attempt to stave off the looming fossil fuel crisis: Turning coal into oil. Tune in to learn more.

How do thirty pounds of air in your tires hold up two tons of car?

Cars are heavy machines, so how can a few small, pressurized tires support their weight? Marshall Brain explains how tire pressure and contact patches work in this episode.

Why don't they use normal air in race car tires?

Race car tires are often filled with nitrogen because nitrogen pressure is more consistent than air pressure. In this episode, Marshall explains why nitrogen is better for race cars -- but not for regular vehicles.

How do plastics work? What is actually in a plastic?

Plastics have become so ubiquitous that we often take them for granted, but have you ever wondered where these popular materials come from? In this episode, Marshall explains what plastics are made of.

How does your stomach keep from digesting itself?

The stomach is a hollow, many-layered organ that produces powerful acids to break down food -- and another substance to protect the stomach from being digested. Find out what this substance is, and learn more about the stomach, in this episode.

How does a speedometer in an airplane work?

Most people are familiar with speedometers in cars, but do you know how air speed is determined? In this episode, Marshall explains how devices called pitot tubes gauge the speed of moving aircraft.

How does CCC, the new form of CPR, work?

Continuous chest compression is an updated form of CPR that's much easier to administer -- and, studies suggest, more effective. In this episode, Marshall Brain explains how CCC works.

What is the difference between a hardwood and a softwood?

When it comes to differentiating between hardwoods and softwoods, it's not a matter of hardness or density -- it's all about plant reproduction. Marshall explains what angiosperms and gymnosperms are in this episode.

Why does your computer need a battery?

Computers have a small battery that's important because it keeps the machine's clock running -- and sometimes, your computer. Get the goods on computer batteries in this podcast from

How does nitrous oxide help an engine perform better?

Nitrous oxide boosts engine power in two significant ways. Find out exactly how nitrous works its magic in this podcast from

How does an oxygen canister on an airplane work?

When you think of storing oxygen, metal tanks full of gas might come to mind. There's also a chemical method -- tune in to this podcast from to learn about how oxygen canisters work.