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Every Little Thing
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Every Little Thing

Author: Gimlet

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Who invented pants? How did ‘pink for girls’ and ‘blue for boys’ happen? What do dogs say when they bark? ELT is here to answer your burning questions. If you have a question that needs answering, call the ELT Help Line at 833-RING-ELT or send an audio message to Every Little Thing is produced by Gimlet Media and hosted by Flora Lichtman.

116 Episodes
Caller Hank wants to know where the sand on his central California beach came from. ELT gets the surprising scoop on how beaches are born. Guest: Kiki Patsch, California State University Channel Islands. Special thanks to Gary Griggs.
Flora is out this week force feeding her niblings flamingo facts, so we’re rerunning one of our favorite episodes. Does swearing make you more powerful? Plus, we talk to someone who turns the “mother f*ckers” into “manhole covers” for the TV versions of movies. Guests: Cognitive scientist Ben Bergen, author of What the F***; Gwen Whittle, supervising sound editor at Skywalker Sound. Thanks to caller Mark for the monkey flippin’ question, and to Mark’s dad Steve.
Flora is hosting the Chapped Cheeks Book Club this week, so we’re revisiting one of our favorite episodes: How do U.S. postage stamps come to be? ELT explores the secret world of the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, the group that decides what gets stuck on America’s envelopes. Guests: Bill Gicker, manager of stamp development at USPS; Jessica, ex-CSAC member; Kam Mak, artist and stamp illustrator. Thanks to caller Elizabeth. “Mr. Stampman” performed by Bobby Lord, Matthew Boll, MR Daniel, and Julia Kaplan. Mail your stamp idea to: Stamp Development / Attn: Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee / 475 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3300 / Washington, DC 20260-3501. Remember: One idea per letter!
Flora is away this week, so we’re revisiting one of our favorite episodes — about a summer visitor no one wants. Caller Jeremy has a problem: fruit flies have moved into his apartment, and he needs to know how they got there. ELT finds out where Jeremy’s freeloading flatmates came from. Guests: Biologist Marcus Stensmyr, Lund University. Chemical ecologist Kevin Cloonan, Acadia University, Nova Scotia, Canada. Thanks to Jeremy and all the listeners who shared their gnat knowledge.
As monuments glorifying white supremacy are taken down, we want to hear from you: Who do you want to see celebrated in their place? Call the helpline and tell us who you’d like to see on a monument. 833-RING-ELT.
Flora is away this week at a flamingo fanciers convention, so we’re revisiting one of our favorite shows — a two-part, deep dive into cheerleading. It’s not all smiles and ponytails. Guests: Cheerleading researcher and professor at the University of Alabama Natalie Adams; Barbara Hazlewood; Sharita Richardson, cheerleading researcher, instructional coach at North Carolina A&T State University, and founder of Black Girls Cheer. Thanks to caller Jessica for the question. Special thanks to Vonciel Baker, one of the original seven Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and to Dee Brock, former manager of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
Listener Amy gets lost a lot. She wants to know if some people are naturally better at finding their way, and whether there’s hope for her. An expert locates some answers. Plus, how the best navigators in the world get around. Guests: navigation and orientation researcher Giuseppe Iaria; former London cab driver David Styles. Thanks to caller Amy.
Mockingbirds are masters at copying the songs around them. Listener Tim wonders: how do they develop their expansive playlists? Two mocker experts fill us in. Plus, listener Matt has spent decades searching for someone to validate his spoon gripe. ELT finds him a kindred spirit. Guests: naturalist and host of Birds of North America Jason Ward, mockingbird mimicry researcher Dave Gammon, and materials engineer Zoe Laughlin. Thanks to callers Tim and Matt. Correction: In the original version of this episode, we told you mockingbirds imitate frog sounds. That’s true! But we played the wrong sound to illustrate that point. You can hear both the frog and the mocker imitation in this corrected version of the show.
The average tree squirrel can bury up to 10,000 nuts every fall. How do they keep tabs on that stash? Guest: animal behaviorist and pro squirrel watcher Mikel Maria Delgado exposes the secrets of squirrel pantry maintenance. Thanks to caller Cayra.
This weekend, SpaceX and NASA successfully launched the first crewed spacecraft from U.S. soil in almost a decade. Preparing for a mission to space takes astronauts years, but listener Daniel wants to know — what does the other end of that journey look like? What happens when space travelers come home? Guest: record-holding NASA astronaut Christina Koch.
We’re celebrating the little things you miss from life before quarantine. Those small joys you can’t stop thinking about, in the midst of such big sadness. Thanks to listeners Ron, Sophia, Karen, Hayden, Priyanka, Melissa, Kim, Kai, Will, and everyone who called in to share, shout, and sob into the void.
Listener Natalie had a dreamy question: can you change something in your waking life by dreaming about it? ELT talked to a lucid dream expert to find out if we can optimize our snooze time. Guest: Daniel Erlacher, sports scientist at the University of Bern, Switzerland. Thanks to Natalie for the call.
In the time of “puzzle and chill,” listener Myco needs to know: how are jigsaw puzzles made? Plus, why are clouds of terrifying black birds gathering in listener Amanda’s neighborhood every evening? ELT puts the pieces together. Guests: Thomas Kaeppeler, President of Ravensburger North America, Inc.; bird expert Judith Bailey. Thanks to callers Myco and Amanda.
After weeks of social distancing, call us and tell us the thing you’re missing most and why it’s important to you. 833-RING-ELT.
Are black holes really holes? In honor of 420, ELT takes a trip to black hole country. Thanks to caller Kyle. Guest: Clifford Johnson, professor of physics at the University of Southern California. Happy 420, dudes.
If a baby couldn’t nurse, what did prehistoric parents do before baby bottles? Julie Dunne, a biomolecular archaeologist and pot lady, analyzed some adorable ancient artifacts to answer the question. Plus, a big day for niblings. Thanks to callers Kate and Michael. Guest: Pot lady Julie Dunne.
Fear, pride, relief, anger — what’s it like for the people out working so the rest of us can stay inside? Listeners who deliver packages and stock shelves tell us how their lives have changed. Thanks to Jacob, Megan, Ian, Lucy, Tamasha, Justin, Kaleb, Jane, Dawn, Rob, and everyone else who called in. And a gigantic thank you to everyone risking their own health to keep the rest of us safe.
Are you manning a cash register, stocking shelves, delivering pizzas? Are you out working to make sure those of us stuck at home have what we need? We want to hear from you. Call us at 833-RING-ELT.
Listener Elizabeth always says “please” and “thank you” to her Google voice assistant, and her husband says she’s weird. ELT talks to former Alexa insider Daren Gill and expert in human-robot interactions Leila Takayama to find out just how weird Elizabeth is. Plus, we right a #noboe wrong. Thanks to caller Elizabeth. Guests: Daren Gill, director of product at Spotify; human-robot interaction researcher Leila Takayama; oboe player Marcus Phillips.
Does an orchestra’s triangle player get the same pay as a violinist? Do conductors ever fall off their podiums? Which section do the other musicians love to hate? ELT dishes symphony secrets from two orchestra insiders. Guests: violinist Akiko Tarumoto and conductor Rob Kapilow. Special thanks to Nathan Cole and danke schön to caller Laszlo. Correction: This episode has been updated to replace the #noboe music with oboe music. Additional thanks to Marcus Phillips for helping us right this wrong.
Comments (93)


why didn't they blep the name of the assistant I almost woke everyone up because they said "hey Google broadcast"

Aug 2nd


I really enjoy the extesinve research and editing that was done, this podcast is very entertaining and informative :))

Jun 3rd

Brigette Borromeo

Okay, the song of the musician's band sounds BEAUTIFUL! I searched for them and you can find the song at YouTube entitled Beautiful life - The Collection!!

May 22nd

ch3rry bomber

you guys missed "wisdom wasted"

May 13th

Cynthia Wulff-Haver


Apr 29th

Cynthia Wulff-Haver


Apr 29th

Yasmine C

This title makes me laugh 😂😂

Apr 25th

Kelba Louise

I get this. I have tried to describe it to my husband!

Apr 24th

Rebecca MA

Oh please please tell us about the voice at the end of each episode!!!

Mar 16th

Emblem B

arms and core

Mar 13th

Em Webb

Emily in the drugs on screen episode...THE WORST VOCAL FRY I HAVE EVER HEARD.

Feb 7th

Jeremy Varo-Haub

The opposite of “inept” is “adept,” as much as I like the idea of “ept.”

Jan 22nd
Reply Mfz

this is awesome

Jan 14th
Reply (1)

Heather McNamee Rensel

corn is actually a vegetable/grain/fruit all at the same time. #isitavegetable #isitafruit #isitagrain #elt

Dec 17th
Reply (1)

Denise Stong

What is worse than plastic chairs? The iron hard chairs at one of our local restaurants which fall apart and are the epitome of discomfort.

Dec 11th
Reply (1)

Spirit Siphon

lol yep I get it in my butt and calves

Dec 10th
Reply (1)

Heather McNamee Rensel

I felt it in my chest.

Dec 10th
Reply (1)

Sharlene John

How touching! What a sweet episode ☺️💖

Oct 23rd
Reply (1)

Braden James Connars

If you don't dig this Cast- You're not paying attention.

Sep 19th


awesome episode ❤ thank you ELT

Sep 18th
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