Cosmic conversations, talking backwards, and the literal worth of your body

Welcome to the Hurt Your Brain internet playlist from April 9, 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: My body is made up of 156 pounds of atoms that were literally forged inside of a star. Take 93% of your weight, and that’s how much star stuff you are. Here’s an explanation.


Cosmic Vertigo: All of them 20-25 minutes each
Along with Hi-Phi Nation, this is my other favorite new podcast of 2017. Dr Amanda Bauer and Dr Alan Duffy are two astrophysicists who discuss a different topic of the cosmos each episode. They play off each other great (bonus of Australian accents), there is good editing/production, and you learn a crap ton of interesting stuff. Things like:

  • the moon used to be 20 times closer and 400 times brighter
  • hydrogen with the mass of ten Empire State Buildings gets fused into helium every second in the Sun
  • the smaller the star, the longer they will last, some as long as a trillion years
  • with so many exoplanets being discovered, the newest estimate is that there are around 4 billion rocky, earth like planets that orbit Sun like stars in our galaxy alone

To the Best of Our Knowledge: Mad as Hell 57 minutes
Every segment from this episode about anger was fascinating. Props to the excellent people within Wisconsin public radio. Learn: how anger can be useful if used as a cue to try to understand the other person’s perspective, about the theory that there is a growing public addiction to moral self righteous indignation, how anger from a community can sometimes drive positive change, and how the perceived cultural battle of the metropolitan elites vs the masses goes all the way back to Voltaire vs Rousseau.

Science Vs: Ghosts 48 minutes
Conclusions: All I’ll say is extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And apparently, in case you were wondering, black holes from other dimensions can not account for any paranormal activity.

Science Vs: Death, Lies, and Lemmings 35 minutes
Conclusions: In part one we get some help from the author of “Weaponized Lies” to help detangle statistics in the news. Part two is a pretty stunning debunking of what we all know about Lemmings. Do Lemmings throw themselves off cliffs in mass suicides? No, assumptions were made based on weak evidence and the camera man from an award winning Disney nature documentary admitted they rounded up Lemmings and THREW them off a cliff for the movie. What the hell Disney!?


Smarter Every Day: TALKING BACKWARDS 12 minutes
Destin flies a guy who can talk backwards out to his house to test how good he is (he’s damn good, and funny). He tries to find a limit to his abilities, and his tests are things that only a proud Alabamian could possibly think up.

+ the backwards talking guy also has a world record for fastest banjo player. Needs to be seen, pretty unbelievable.

Tell Me Why: How does a refrigerator work? 2 minutes
I look around my home sometimes and marvel at the fact that I literally know nothing about how any of it works. Like turning a faucet on and water coming out. If pressed for an explanation, I would mumble something about pressure and then completely make something up. The fridge fits in this same category. Luckily, this super short and helpful video allows me to check that one off my list of ignorance.

CGP Grey: Social Security Cards Explained 8 minutes
“So that’s the deal with this social security card. Containing a national number for citizens that don’t want one, on an identification card that fails at identification, given to all citizens, except when it isn’t, for a program that’s universal, except when it’s not.”

+ In a rare spurt of several videos in one week, CGP Grey also released this video on how ads and monetization for creators works on Youtube.

TED-ED: How to practice effectively…for just about anything 5 minutes
If you would like to get better at something, this is a great overview on the importance of deliberate practice and the very real physical effect it has on the brain.


Evolution is slower than you think and faster than it looks #longread
“Think of it like the stock market,” he said. Look at the hourly or daily fluctuations of Standard & Poor’s 500 index, and it will appear wildly unstable, swinging this way and that. Zoom out, however, and the market appears much more stable as the daily shifts start to average out. In the same way, the forces of natural selection weed out the less advantageous and more deleterious mutations over time.”

Scientific Concepts We All Ought To Know
“Our susceptibility to the fundamental attribution error—overestimating the role of traits and underestimating the importance of situations—has implications for everything from how to select employees to how to teach moral behavior.”

Most recent Neil DeGrasse Tyson AMA
Who doesn’t like a good Tyson AMA?

If you pull a stick that is 2 light years long, would the other end move at the exact time you pulled it?
Spoiler: NOPE. Great answer to this question though.

Open Courser
Type in something you want to learn, and get lots of places to do it for free.

How much of your body is your own?
My red blood cells end to end would stretch 135,502 miles, or 71% of the way to the moon. I am worth $2,251. I have 100 trillion microbes living in me that weigh more than my brain. Learn this type of stuff about yourself plus lots more.

Quote: “I can live with doubt, and uncertainty, and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I’m not absolutely sure of anything and on many things I don’t know anything about.” – Richard Feynman


I actually painted the featured image! Thanks to a tutorial by Painting with Jane. See her much better version of this painting here.

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!