Scientific American Frontiers TV Show Watchlist

Scientific American Frontiers

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Science, technology and nature are examined with insight, humor and an eye on the practical, with smartly paced reports on such subjects as the big-bang theory, robots, the relationship between stress and illness, and whether we are alone in the universe (more…)

Rating: TV-G

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Season 11, Episode 5 Life's Little Questions II

First Aired: January 30, 2001

Host Alan Alda explores more of life's little questions. Among them: Why can't people tickle themselves? What is laughter? Why can't scientists cure the common cold? What makes hot peppers hot? Why do coffee spills leave rings? (And how does the answer to that question relate to the manufacture of electronic circuits?) Regarding laughter, the joke seems to be on comedians, Alda learns from a Maryland researcher, who tells him that laughter's an involuntary reaction to hearing other people laugh. (So then, what caused them to laugh?)