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 that make you think.

Last newsletter I promised an article about free will. It's not ready yet, but am I really to blame? 

Ok on to the good stuff!
  • Hosted by Cameron Boozarjomehri. Where can I get a cool name like that?
  • Starts with exploration of why a spider can fall from any height and be fine while whales can fall basically no height (surface area vs mass ratio).
  • Then a great discussion that goes into the science of why creatures the size of Godzilla could never exist on our planet, and if they could, some explanations for why he might breathe fire. 
  • Also, his legs would basically break apart as he walked because of shear forces.

Planet Money: Snakebite [fascinating story of bringing medicine to market]
  • Terrifying statistic of the week: millions of people are bitten by snakes every year and over 100,000 people die.
  • One of my favorite Planet Money stories of the year.
  • Brought to you by Amanda Aronczykk, a new Planet Money hire. Excited to hear more stories from her.

An Arm an a leg: Mom vs Texas [stories about the $$$ of healthcare]
  • Start to a new season!
  • Follow the story of a mom of a hearing impaired daughter who actually had some success getting things done in the system.

Big Picture Science: Supercomputer Showdown [Mini-documentary]
  • Everything you wanted to know about what supercomputers are, why there is an arms race in supercomputing, and how they are used.
  • Supercomputers don’t follow Moore’s law because they are a network of hundreds or thousands of smaller computers. 
  • FLOPS stands for floating point operations (aka calculations) per second. The fastest computer in the world is in the hundreds of petaflops territory, or hundreds of quadrillions of calculations per second. 
  • Next up within the next few years is the achievement of exaflops, which is a quintillion calculations per second, or a billion billion calculations per second. 
  • The next order of magnitude after that would be achieving a zettaflop, which should allow us to finally get a two week estimation on global weather (no wonder it's so bad right now, two weeks is way in the future?!!).
  • You'll also get nice explanation of what of quantum computer is and how they compare to the best supercomputers.
  • I can calculate things at the miliflop level thank you very much.

Conversations with Tyler: Masha Gessen on the Ins and Outs of Russia [Smart rapid-fire interview]
  • Masha was introduced as one of the most influential intellectuals in both the US and in Russia, and did not disappoint. 
  • Learn a lot of deep things about Russia as well as some fun (like yes, Russians really do think we smile way too much).

Conversations: William Dalrymple on the ruthless rise of the British East India Company [Fascinating crash course on one of the first modern corporations]
  • Also called "Conversations", but a different show than the one above. This one is from ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
  • All around excellent conversation with a historian who is both a pleasure to listen to and delivers knowledge at a rapid rate. 
  • “Everything we are most frightened about in corporations came from this one incredibly ruthless, evil, successful, world-changing East India Company.”


If I Touched the Moon, What Would It Feel Like? A New York Times piece from Randall Munroe, with drawings and everything.

The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising. "I too used to believe that these tech giants were all-knowing entities. But while writing this story, I have come to realise that this belief is as wrong as it is popular."

If you are really into well-curated articles, videos, and podcasts (I sure hope so!), you must check out The Syllabus. I signed up the other week and was super impressed with the first set of recommendations that came through. Several items in this newsletter were courtesy of it in fact. Hat tip to the excellent Brain Reel newsletter from Gemma Milne for turning me on to this.

Owltail is a pretty cool podcast app where you can follow episode playlists that provide extra context beyond the show notes. The creators were nice enough to make a curator page of my recommendations. Check out the episodes from the previous two newsletters right here (and follow it like you would a podcast), and listen easily in the app as more recommendations appear in the playlist.

Neutron Stars – The Most Extreme Things that are not Black Holes. It's a Kurzgesagt video, which you means you should watch immediately.

Paul Kondo of the Podcast Gumbo newsletter and Lauren Passell of Podcast The Newsletter did a cool thing. They had people recommend podcast episodes that they would both listen to and review separately. Check out what they had to say about an episode of Death, Sex, and Money that I recommended. Paul's review and Lauren's review.

If you are like me and actually enjoy adding more newsletters to your inbox, check out Inbox Stash, which has a collections of 200+ different ones you can browse through and subscribe to.

For fun: Still my favorite unofficial music video.

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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