Good Job, Brain! is a free weekly clean* audio podcast that's part quiz show & part offbeat news. It's the ultimate nutrition for your brain. So eat up!

*no explicit language. But poop does come up sometimes all the time.

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KAREN // @momopeche

Game geek, candyfreak, bad runner.  

EXPERTISE: Geography, Hip Hop, Dogs, Patrick Swayze, Scout


COLIN // @colin13

Cannot tolerate lines that are not 100% parallel or 100% perpendicular.

EXPERTISE: Classic Rock, Academy Awards, NBA, Star Wars, Sniper


DANA // @ItsKindaSweet

Kinda sweet, kinda hilarious. Game designer extraordinaire.  

EXPERTISE: Literature, Indie Rock, Pop Culture, New Zealand, Prince, Medic


CHRIS // @kobunheat

Walking retro videogame almanac. Ravenclaw.  

EXPERTISE: US government, James Taylor, videogames, Spy


154: To Boldly Go


By Grabthar's hammer, you shall be avenged with trivia overload about science-fiction. What was the true cultural origin of sci-fi? Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers - the copycat race to space story dominance. NGet fuzzy and cuddly with Dana's sci-fi pet quiz (and some heated discussion about Jabba the Hutt). Are you having a bad day? Could it be because of Mercury is in retrograde? BUT WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?! Chris delivers a brutal deep-cut quiz on Battlestar Galactica cast's other acting gigs, and sci-fi movies you probably didn't know were based on books.

ALSO: Iceland facts, dementor wasps

RUNTIME: 53 minutes 2 seconds


Featured Interlude Music:

"Major Tom" by Shiny Toy Guns  Amazon | iTunes 


References (5)

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Reader Comments (8)

Just listened to the episode; it was great! I do have an "Um, Actually" though...
Gizmo is a Mogwai (Mawg-why), Mogwai don't become gremlins until they eat after midnight and transform. The lead gremlin in was Stripe in the first and Spike in the second.

June 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMj

A little thing you missed when talking about Scifi pets. In Back to the Future, you said Doc Brown's dog was Einstein. That is correct, but you also have to remember that in 1955, he had a different dog named Copernicus. In fact, in Part 3, when Marty shows the letter that 1985 Doc wrote after being stuck in 1885 to 1955 Doc and the line "Take care of Einstein for me" is in there, 1955 Doc is confused by it at first. Makes you wonder if, through time travel and causality, that's why Doc named his dog Einstein.

Also, K-9, while originally the "pet" of Doctor Who (fourth doctor), later became the pet or companion of former Doctor Who companion Sarah Jane Smith. Sarah Jane and K-9 show up later in the series several times.

June 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJake McClenahan

First, thanks for putting together your podcasts. I teach high school science and will often mention things that I had heard on your show. The students think I am some sort of genius.

Today, I was riding my bike and was listening to your show (as I so often do on my 75+ mile rides). I was taken aback a bit by your explanation of retrograde motion. Adding in the orbital shape of a planet is not necessary and has nothing to do with the retrograde motion of an object. In fact, ALL planets INCLUDING Earth move in elliptical orbits. True circular orbits do not exist.

In the case of Mercury, since it is moving faster than Earth, we see it move "backward" in the sky because it literally changes direction from our point of view and as it heads back around the sun.

The retrograde phenomena is due solely to one planet moving at a different speed compared to the another planet. This motion can be even be witnessed with the other planets. No two planets move the same speed around the sun.

Anyways, love the show and would love to see you come to the Chicago area. Keep up the good work.


June 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMark Kienzynski

Hello, Brains! Thanks as always for another great show. I look forward to the weekends so that I can listen to you as I do chores around the house.

At the risk of piling on, let me add a little "um, actually" about retrograde orbits (it's right up my alley, as I'm an astronomer). As Mark says, the shape of the orbit is not relevant; it's the fact that bodies closer to the Sun will move faster in their orbits, and so catch up to and pass more distant bodies. As the inner planet makes the pass, there's a brief period during which observers on that inner planet will see the outer planet appear to move backwards in the sky. I have an applet that may help you to see this: go to and watch. You'll see the apparent motion of Mars as seen from the Earth -- and, for a brief time every couple of Earth-years, it will make a little doe-so-doe in the sky.

Now, the case for inner planets is a bit more complicated, as Mark implied. If you continue to watch the applet, but check the box for "Look at Venus" (and keep the default for "Look from Earth"), you'll see a somewhat crazier apparent path. There is again a period when the planet appears to move backwards, but it's a little harder to describe.

Karen talked about Mercury, which behaves like Venus in this example, because it, like Venus, is closer to the Sun than the Earth. As you can see, there will be considerable periods of time (several weeks at least) during which Mercury is in retrograde, so I hope that no one considers putting off an operation for that long!

June 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Richmond

Yes, I am also an astronomer (and was at your last meet up) and I concur with Mark and Michael that Mercury will appear to move backwards in the sky when Mercury overtakes the Earth.
Normally, planets go Eastward amongst the stars on a day by day basis (I'm not talking about the rising and setting of the stars and planets which goes east to west on a minute by minute basis which is due the Earth rotation). However, if the Earth overtakes or is overtaken by planet, then the planet will appear to go westward for awhile and go back eastward.

Love the show. I could remember all those sci-fi pets though ....

June 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Dunn

During the pets segment, you asked the name of the main gremlin in the gremlins movie? You accepted Gizmo as your answer but Gizmo was a mogwai. When the mogwai are fed after midnight, they metamorphose into gremlins...Spike was the main gremlin in the original film.

June 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

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