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What The If?


Make Science Fiction. Learn Real Science! Welcome to our weekly Science and Science Fiction podcast where we learn amazing things by playing a fantastic game: We make a change to the Universe and then, using only real science, we follow the mind bending ramifications as they ripple outward —Read more

Popular episodes

Stop! In The Name of LAVA

Nov 6 • 48:00
The fearless and fabulous DR. ROBIN GEORGE ANDREWS joins us for an explosive IF!

Robin George Andrews is a science journalist with a PhD in volcanology. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, National Geographic, Scientific American, Atlas Obscura, and other publications. He lives in London, England.

HOT off the press, his new book, "SUPERVOLCANOES: Wh...

The SUPERSTITION Industrial Complex: Factories of LUCK!

Oct 29 • 51:20
Got an IF of your own? Want to have us consider your idea for a show topic? Send YOUR IF to us! Email us at and let us know what's in your imagination. No idea is too small, or too big!


Want to support the show? Click a rating or add a review on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast app!…517051?mt=2&ls=1

Don’t miss an episode!...

Theory of Everything: CANCELED? Brian Keating Imagines the Impossible!

Oct 22 • 50:58
In one corner, the welter weight challenger, Quantum Mechanics! In the other corner, the veteran, the heavyweight, the titan, destroyer of apples: GRAVITY! These guys just CAN'T GET ALONG.

What The IF, asks our brilliant guest, Astronomer Brian Keating... they will NEVER come together? Is science DOOMED to failure? Was Einstein too fussy? What if it's all just a scrambled...

Waiter, There's a Fly In My PRIMORDIAL SOUP!

Oct 15 • 01:01:03
What The IF... the ORIGIN of LIFE was on your desktop? What if it WAS your desktop? How does non-life become LIFE?

Got an IF of your own? Want to have us consider your idea for a show topic? Send YOUR IF to us! Email us at and let us know what's in your imagination. No idea is too small, or too big!


Want to support the show? Click a rating or add ...

Superman Virus!

Oct 10 • 51:27
Our listener, Super IFFer CHRIS in Vancouver asks: "Is it conceivably possible that a virus could have POSITIVE symptoms? Say by commandeering olfactory cells and cranking the smell knobs to 11? Would be a much more interesting world if viral infections led to super powers until your immune system fought them off, rather than just feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck."...

The Industrial BICYCLE Revolution!

Oct 1 • 53:14
Put Your Mettle To Your Pedal

Listener ED from Brooklyn writes in and asks, “What the IF there were no cars, only bicycles?” And we take up the challenge, thus granting Ed a battlefield promotion to Super IFFer status!

We take Ed’s question and kick it up a notch, BAM!, pushing it to the limit: WTIF there were NO INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINES??? How far could we go with only p...

AVI LOEB Is Hunting For E.T. With MEGAPIXELS, Millions, And MOXY

Sep 24 • 01:03:56
The Serious Search For Extraterrestrial Life

We are thrilled and honored to have the esteemed Astronomer AVI LOEB join us for this week’s very special thought experiment. Avi says, “Asking ‘what if’ is my job!” Yes, friends, we have a genuine Professional IFFer in the house!

The founder of THE GALILEO PROJECT joins us to play out a thought experiment: let’s imagine how this ...

UFO's: A Powerful Teachable Moment? A Flying Roundtable Talk With The UCR Podcast!

Aug 31 • 01:12:24
Luis, Mike and Rather specialize in discussing UFO's with skeptics and believers, and through laughter, love and logic, bringing people together to find common ground in our shared fascination and joy for imagination and the pursuit of science.

Does the stigma around UFO's, even if logical, help science or hurt it? Can science communicators harness the incredible interest ...

NAKED Mars Rats!

Aug 20 • 55:31
Terraforming via MOLE? In this encore presentation of one of our most popular episodes -- when we tried out a new format called "Fantastic Voyage" -- Captain GABY takes us to the RED PLANET, and has brought along some of her favorite animals, naked mole rats, to help make the place livable, lovable, and lucrative. Who needs Elon Musk when you have naked mole rats leading t...

Can You BREATHE Like A WHALE? With Vanessa Pirotta!

Aug 15 • 01:02:00
WHALES spend their entire lives inside a medium, water, in which they can’t actually breathe. So throughout the day, and the night, they have to swim to the surface to take a breath of that sweet, sweet ocean air… or they die! We humans, and other land lubber mammals like us, are spoiled, just inhale, anytime you want, and… problem solved. But —

What The IF humans had to br...

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