#SpookySZN: ‘Here Be Monsters’ explores the chilling beauty of the unknown

Science October 2, 2021
Listen to ‘Here Be Monsters’

For spooky season, the team here at Podsauce wanted to go above and beyond your typical spook. We could easily stick with true crime podcasts like “Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez and Football Inc” or “Bad Bad Thing.” Genuinely scary stories of people unraveling to the point of no return, or frightening recounts of murder and crime. But, there’s more to fear than jump scares and Jordan Peele’s jaw-clenching tension. Sometimes, we just need a healthy dose of the unknown to scare us back into living our lives. Which is why, on this second day of October in the year 2021, we are introducing you to “Here Be Monsters.”

“Here Be Monsters” has been around for a while, so don’t blame us if you’ve already been listening to it. Since 2012, host Jeff Emtman has been sharing stories about fear, beauty and the unknown. HBM talks to people about the things we don’t think about. Like flesh eating beetles, Satanism, accepting death, laughing rats and dawn rituals. Emtman goes out and finds stories to tell about everything, psychological warfare to fake Sasquatch sightings.

This podcast does not need to be listened to in any particular order, in fact, it’s recommended to start at the most recent episode and work your way back. “Here Be Monsters” could be seen as the blueprint for podcasts, especially in their early years. Deeply thoughtful, meditative yet engaging, Emtman digs through his own brain and his experts’ brains.

While his topics are typically chilling, or at least just weird, the way they are presented makes them not so scary at all. For instance, take the universe. Infinitely vast, full of mysteries, and potentially full of life. In HBM’s 142nd episode, titled “The Vastness of the Universe,” Emtman explores what space is. He interviews senior astronomer at the SETI Institute and co-host of “Big Picture Science” Dr. Seth Shostak about his organization’s search for extra terrestrial intelligence across the universe.

He talks about the hydrogen line and how it could play into human contact with other life. This hydrogen line is actually a frequency: 1.42 gigahertz in fact. It’s the frequency that hydrogen radiates at, and it’s helping astronomers learn about the history and shape of the universe. And extraterrestrial research astronomers believe that if an alien species is capable of communicating with us, they will have also figured out the importance of the hydrogen line. Their theory: that the line could be used as a universal hailing channel for intelligent species.

So, look, maybe you don’t find space spooky, but just as Emtman makes creepy subjects not-so-creepy, he also does the opposite. To start the episode, he simply muses about the infinity of the universe and the sheer distance it covers. Like, how we wouldn’t even know for at least a few minutes if the sun exploded. It takes millions of years for the death of a star to reach us here on Earth!

So, say intelligent life did find this hydrogen line and its importance within the laws of physics. Say they try to communicate with us through the line. By the time they did, would humanity be around to see it? Or would we be long gone in the millennia it took them to reach us? Or if we were to intercept a signal from a far away intelligent species! Would they still be there? Would they still be alive in the millions upon billions of lightyears ago that they sent that signal? “Here Be Monsters” ponders, we may not be alone in the universe, but odds are, we will be hearing a dead-man’s calling.

“Here Be Monsters” is waiting for you. It’s looking into the idea of dying well instead of death denial, our eventual descent into simply a meal for worms. It’s asking about “De Underjordiske,” a kind of mythical people that live under ancient burial mounds that act as a militant group to defend themselves. There’s the Witch of Saratoga and the highway robber whose memoir is bound in his own skin. So get deep, and get spooked with “Here Be Monsters.”

Listen to ‘Here Be Monsters’

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