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. If you like to learn on the internet, you are in the right place.

I failed to come up with stellar Mother's Day recommendations (happy Mother's Day nonetheless!), but I hope the new show and new seasons mentioned below are so good that it makes up for it.

NASA’s Curious Universe: Our Window to the Stars [new NASA short narrative storytelling pod].
  • A short account on the dramatic launch and subsequent “rescue-mission” to fix the Hubble telescope.
  • The fix for the *very* minor but devastating mirror imperfection was analogous to putting glasses on Hubble.
  • I knew Hubble can see across the electromagnetic spectrum using different filters and instruments, but I loved this analogy for just how little our little eyes can see of the universe:
  • “Imagine going to a piano concert and the musician sits down and can only play 3 notes around middle C."
  • The whole concert is just those three notes in different combinations.
  • Now imagine the difference in sound if you walk into a different concert hall and it's a full symphony.
  • The amount of light we can see with our eyes on Earth, even through a regular telescope is like those three concert notes. And the light Hubble sees is not only the whole piano, but an entire symphony orchestra. This is because visible light is just a tiny fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum, and the atmosphere clouds even the light we do see.
  • A great video from Vox explaining how Hubble pictures are colored using the different filters.

Ministry of ideas: Climate of Denial [origins of post-truth].
  • Ministry of Ideas kicks off season 3 with a great one on the surprising line we can trace backwards starting from today's climate deniers. 
  • Protestantism and postmodernism are integral parts of the story on why we are going through a moment of post-truth. 
  • A fresh angle on a much talked about topic, something Ministry of Ideas excels at.

The Daily: The Arrival of the ‘Murder Hornet’ [uplifting news as usual].
  • I pictured the smirk on Michael Barbaro’s face during this opener: “It came to the U.S. from Asia and first appeared in Washington State. The country was slow to recognize it. And now, if it’s not stopped, it could reshape the country.”
  • The Asian giant hornet is native to parts of Asia and has the potential to be a particularly nasty invasive species if it’s not promptly stopped over the next 12 months.
  • The reason for concern is that they easily and completely wipe out a European honey bee hive by decapitating the entire colony and removing the thorax of the adults and the larvae as food for their own young. All this and they leave the honey untouched! 
  • One of these monsters can easily kill hundreds of European honey bees (the kind we have in the U.S. and Europe) because they have not adapted defense mechanisms like the Japanese honey bee have. 
  • “Murder Hornet” is a recent nickname that has worked wonders in making this story get attention, but it’s a well-suited name.
  • Video round-up: The absolute slaughter of European Honeybees, the “oven-method” defense of the Japanese Honeybee, and taking down a massive nest in France (these Asian giant hornets have been spreading in Europe for about a decade).

Hi-Phi Nation: Criminal Minds [the philosophy of crime and punishment].
  • I’ve long been a fan of this show for how it blends big ideas, philosophy, and narrative storytelling.
  • This episode kicks off season four, which will all be around the theme of crime and punishment.
  • The concept of “mens rea” in criminal law is that for there to be a crime, there needs to be a criminal mind. This means the criminal must have some knowledge or intent of what they were doing. This allowance for moral complexity and the challenges that go with it are fascinating to hear debated.

Against the Rules: The Invisible Coach [why do so few have access to coaching?]
  • Author Michael Lewis is back with the second season of his show, Against the Rules.
  • The first season was about the decline in the role of the referee across our institutions, and this season is about the rise of coaches in all aspects of life and how this further causes imbalances.
  • This first episode is about the largely negative invisible nudging and “coaching” that happens within personal finance. 
  • This won’t come as a shock, but large banks and credit card companies are not your friend. They make over 20 billion dollars a year in overdraft charges alone.


Wealth shown to scale [independent project]. Truly astounding depiction on how much wealth the top 400 richest people in the world have. I recommend doing this on mobile. 

The 100 Most Popular Online Courses of All Time [Course Central].

When Will the First Star Go Dark? [Medium-Start With A Bang!]. "It hasn’t happened yet in the entire Universe, not even once."

Educational podcasts that are currently making episodes about literally anything other than the coronavirus? [Reddit thread].

What YouTube channels are genuinely worth watching? [Reddit thread].

For fun: SNL still has it, sometimes.

For a list of links with everything in one place, check out the special Listory list for this newsletter.

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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