Podcasts, videos, and links to make you think
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Welcome to the Hurt Your Brain newsletter, a collection of podcasts and links for when you want to go into learning mode on the internet.
The Dropout: all six episodes. This six part series about Elizabeth Holmes and the fall of Theranos from Rebecca Jarvis made me go into full binge mode. Just do what I did and casually check out the first episode in the morning and then clear your schedule as you go ahead and ignore everything else until you finish.
  • I knew the basic story but I was honestly shocked at how long the company had been successfully using it's dubious playbook before things went wrong.
  • There were lots of warning signals and people quitting in protest a full nine years before the unraveling. 
  • "We're relieved when we have a story or a narrative we can buy." I think that quote sums up nicely the psychological trick Holmes perfected in her Jobs-esque "reality distortion field".

Daniel and Jorge Explain the Universe: What is Time Dilation? If you are as big a fan of Cosmic Vertigo as I am, you'll like this show. They are both aided greatly with the scientific expertise and chemistry of the hosts. 
  • All the weird effects of time dilation boil down to this unique property of light: If you throw a 80mph baseball from a car going 100mph, that baseball will initially be going 180mph. But if you are going any speed (let's say 100mph) and you shine a flashlight, that light goes the speed of light, not the speed of light plus 100mph.
  • "Every time we make a ridiculous prediction from relativity and go out and check it, the universe is like, 'yup that ridiculous thing actually happens.'"
  • Mind blowing but true thought experiment I had never heard: If one twin is stationary and other twin is moving close to the speed of light traveling to different solar system, BOTH will observe the other person's clock moving slower than their own, UNTIL acceleration changes and the traveler turns around. Then the Earth will start quickly zipping forward in time from perspective of traveler heading back. Twin who stayed on Earth will be much, much older (probably dead) when traveling twin returns.
  • The closer to the speed of light, the greater the relativistic effects and time dilation would be.
  • Every 6 months, the International Space Station loses about a hundredth of a second due to time dilation.
  • GPS would stop working within hours if satellites didn't precisely calculate time dilation effects using calculations from relativity.
  • Photons do not move forward in time. I tried not to think too hard about that one. 

The End of The World with Josh Clark. I've finished the other half of the episodes of this ten part series since last time I've recommended it. It really takes its time (in a good way) and it took me a little bit to get used to the pacing, but I found the entire experience to be quite rewarding and well constructed. Through some sort of magic, almost every single thing that entered my mind as a counter-argument was anticipated by Clark and eventually addressed. A few bits that stood out to me in the last several episodes:
  • smallpox killed 500 million people in the 20th century, and is now eradicated completely (besides stored away in labs—what could go wrong?).
  • Great tidbit about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC): it can speed up a proton to have as much as 5 trillion electron volts of energy, which is equivalent to a mosquito gaining the kinetic energy of a planet.
  • The last episode about the simulation argument was the best explanation of the trippy ideas involved that I have come across.


Cancer's Invasion Equation [long article]. I'm making my way through this 2018 collection of the year's best science writing, and so far this article from The New Yorker is my favorite. It's from Siddhartha Mukherjee, the author of The Emperor of All Maladies, and is an amazing and insightful piece and I can't recommend highly enough. 

The Nine Commandments of Patreon [article]. From Tamar Avishai, the talented host of The Lonely Palette. I've been thinking a lot this year about how to best support creators, and this is a great peak into what goes through the mind of an indie creator when it comes to Patreon.

A Day In The Life Of A Sushi Master [video]. Mouth watering short look at NYC sushi master. Reminded me of one of my favorite documentaries ever, Jiro Dream of Sushi. If you love that movie, here's Anthony Bourdain in Jiro's restaurant for No Reservations

Did you know there is a VR lightsaber music game?? [YouTube rabbit hole prompt]. The future is apparently here and it is certainly not evenly distributed. 

Podcast listener, what great podcasts for children, you would suggest? [Reddit]. I'm looking to finally start getting my kids into podcasts and this list seems like a pretty good place to start. Let me know your favorites if you listen with your kids.

That's all for this week!

Connect with me @erikthejones on twitter and if you've learned anything interesting, please forward this link to any curious natured friends or family so they can subscribe. Many thanks!

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