Why do we respect the wishes of the dead?

Welcome to the Hurt Your Brain internet playlist from February 26, 2017. It’s a collection of podcasts, videos, and other links for people who love to learn online and are fascinated by the world. Click here to get playlists emailed to you as they come out.


Fact of the week: I’m currently reading Death By Black Hole by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and here’s an interesting tidbit about emptiness (or lack thereof).

  • Regular air: 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (ten septillion) atoms per cubic meter
  • Best laboratory vacuum chamber: 10,000,000,000 (ten billion) atoms per cubic meter
  • Interplanetary space: 10,000,000 (ten million) atoms per cubic meter
  • Interstellar space: 500,000 atoms per cubic meter
  • Between galaxies: only a few atoms for every 10 cubic meters

Hi-Phi Nation: The Wishes of the Dead
This show took me by surprise on how good it is. It’s created by Barry Lam, a philosophy professor at Vassar college, and its mix of journalism, great audio production, interviews, and thoughtful questioning of big ideas has me totally hooked. The first episode asks a simple question. Why do we respect the wishes of the dead? It’s great. Check out the whole first season so far.

The Atlantic: When Evidence Says No and Doctors Say Yes
I love a good piece of long form journalism but I usually find myself skimming them like any good distracted millennial. I’m delighted to see that more and more of these great articles are being turned into audio, a format I can ingest more fully without the temptation to scroll down to the last paragraph. This article/audio is a look at the reality facing medicine where new evidence is slow to overtake outdated ideas, usually to the detriment of patients and healthcare in general.

+ I linked to the Atlantic’s Soundcloud page, but I discovered an audio app called Audm that solely focuses on audio long reads.

99 Percent Invisible: Atom in the Garden of Eden
In an attempt to create something constructive instead of destructive out of the nuclear age, government scientists in the 1920’s and 1930’s bombarded all sorts of plants with radiation to see if they could force useful mutations. If you’re a big fan of grapefruit, there’s a decent chance you’ve eaten the ancestor of one of these successful mutants.


Smarter Every Day: How to Mine Opal gems in the Outback
There is nothing more romantic and badass than rappelling down a 10m hole in the middle of nowhere and chipping off your own piece of opal. This video is worth it just for the gruff character that helps Destin out.

Sci Show: The Truth about Cranberry and UTIs
Ok, this fits perfectly with the audio long read above from The Atlantic. Spoiler alert, new evidence shows that cranberry juice has no effect on UTIs and any improvement is likely from placebo. But don’t expect this reversal to seep into widespread knowledge for a good ten years.

Vox: How the BBC makes Planet Earth look like a Hollywood movie
Planet Earth 2 is finally airing in the US, and this is a mini history on how much the cinematic experience of nature documentaries have improved.

+ It airs on BBC America, and if you are a cord cutter like me, you can catch at least the first episode on the BBC America app for free. It’s amazing. The full version of that scene has given me a new perspective to take when I’m having a bad day. “Well, at least I’m not a marine iguana that only makes it 5 ft into the world before being eaten by a dozen snakes.”

Crash Course Computer Science: Early Computing
A new topic that just started from the Crash Course Youtube channel. Subscribe and follow along as they come out for a non technical overview of computer science.


The New Yorker: Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

NASA: TRAPPIST-1 Comparison to Solar System and Jovian Moons (TRAPPIST is awesome new discovery of system with 7 potential Earth-like planets)

From Medium:
150+ Educational Websites for Lifelong Learners

40 Podcasts to Make You Smarter

60 Youtube channels that will make you smarter

Cool things to subscribe to:
Tedium Newsletter: Heard about it on this episode of Planet Money, and it is pretty great. It makes the boring fascinating.

Inside Podcasting: Inside has all sorts of great newsletters, but this one is new and of course I’d recommend it.

Quote: “Hydrogen is a light, odorless gas, which, given enough time, turns into people.” – Edward R Harrison

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!