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.

Something I'm very excited about: A new interview with the makers of The Dream.

Here's a jumbo issue for the jumbo break I took:
99 Percent Invisible: Atomic Tattoos (34 min). A look back through civil defense and propaganda from the cold war on how we might survive a nuclear war.
  • The assumption towards the end of the cold war was that it would be silly to prepare at all for a widespread nuclear war because of how completely devastating it would be. The modern fear isn't from Russia though, but from countries like N. Korea where the attack would be small scale enough that knowing how to survive makes sense.
  • It's been much ridiculed, but the idea of "duck and cover" is actually sound advice. 
  • Here is the Nuke Map simulator mentioned at the end of the episode.

Stuff You Should Know: Short Stuff—Unique Snowflakes (13 min) I'm loving these short, to the point episodes Chuck and Josh are putting out.
  • If a snowflake has enough time to fully form, each and every snowflake that has EVER fallen is really and truly unique.
  • The template that all snowflakes start from (and where they actually are pretty similar) is a hexagonal plate.
  • There are numerous variables that contribute to a snowflake shape, like temperature and the amount of water vapor in the air.
  • As the snowflake falls, water vapor freezes to the points of the six sided crystal to form intricate structures.
  • Each cubic centimeter of air has different variables, which is why snowflakes will always go down a unique development path.
  • The estimate of the possible combinations of snowflake shapes is double the estimated number of atoms in the universe (which is between 10^78 and 10^82, aka between 10 quadrillion vigintillion and 100 thousand quadrillion vigintillion).
  • Found these stunning photos of snowflakes.

The Past and the Curious: Toys and Games! (26 min) A kids show that I found perfectly interesting as an adult, and one I'll keep in mind as my kids reach podcast listening age. This episode has lots of fun tidbits about the most iconic kids games, but the meat of the episode is about the history of Lincoln Logs.
  • Frank Lloyd Wright's original names was Frank Lincoln Wright.
  • Lincoln Logs were invented by John Lloyd Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright's son.
  • Father and son worked together on a project in Japan trying to build earthquake-proof buildings using a strong interconnecting log foundation. They had a falling out but when John went home he ended up creating Lincoln Logs.
  • 100 million sets have been sold worldwide.
  • The name is some combination of the fact that his father's original middle name was Lincoln and that the first Lincoln Logs came with directions to build President Lincoln's log cabin.
  • On a personal note, Lincoln Logs are the best. Better than Legos. I just went there.
  • Thanks to Paul Kando of the Podcast Gumbo newsletter for turning me on to this episode.

With a Side of Knowledge. A great concept well executed. Notre Dame faculty Ted Fox interviews interesting, smart people who pass through Notre Dame for various reasons (as alumni, guest lecturer, Notre Dame faculty, etc). The discussions take place over brunch, which keeps the conversations informal and about half an hour. It's one of those shows you are very likely to see at least a few topics that pique your interest as you look through the feed. Here are two that jumped out to me:

On Hamilton and Making the Thing(s)—Patrick Vassel, Hamilton (34 min).
  • Patrick is associate and supervising director of Hamilton, with lots of insight into the work involved with getting Hamilton up and running.
  • On paper, Hamilton shouldn't have worked, but neither does any other hit show.  
  • Most shows take at least three years between initial workshopping and launch, with some taking up to ten years.
  • Dr Brown is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy of Physics at Oxford
  • Like most things in science, probability is a tricky thing to fully understand when you keep asking questions.
  • Quantum mechanics was born largely out of our ignorance around the interaction between radiation and matter, and is the first branch of physics that is intrinsically probabilistic.
  • "When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” — Yogi Berra. A quote that is perfect summation of quantum mechanics.
  • “There are two notions of multiverse that are doing the rounds in physics.” You know you have a cool job when you can casually throw that line out there. 

The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: 701- Dec 15, 2018 (93 min) My favorite show to keep informed about science news, and a consistent source of interesting things.
  • 60% of all species are Earth are insects, but your average college level introductory biology textbook only spends about 1% of text on them. 
  • Here's some eye-catching insect art.


"It's a Set up for Failure.": An interview with the makers of The Dream, the acclaimed podcast about multi-level marketing that dominated best-of lists of 2018. If you loved The Dream, I think you'll love this interview. And if you don't know The Dream, if you have ever had any cynicism or questions about how multi-level marketing is a thing, you should check the show out. One of my favorite parts of the interview was the reaction from the friends and family who were featured in the show. 

5 Great Science Fiction Podcasts. An excellent list from Wil Williams on Discover Pods.

Do you support/donate to any podcasts you listen to? A thread on Reddit. This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately: How to close the gap between how much I love podcasts vs other media (a lot) and how much I donate towards podcast vs how much I pay to other media (a little).

I made a new Instagram account just for podcast recommendations and podcast related drawings.

For fun: Instead of a writer's prompt, I like the idea of a YouTube rabbit hole prompt. There's a whole world of videos that synchronize music to custom hand drawn levels in a simple computer game called Line Rider. It's fantastic. Start with: In the Hall of the Mountain King.

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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