This week we contemplate an alternative future, put cheesy nacho goodness on all the things, get down and dirty with aeroplane black boxes and, of course, offer a little inspiration to start your weekend on the right foot. Welcome to Lifehacker's Thinking Cap, a new series where we round up interesting, informative and thought-provoking podcasts, interviews, articles and other media that will teach you something new, inspire you and hopefully cap off your week nicely. Let's get started.
Virtual Pop Stars, Clones and an Alt Future Where We're All Avatars
On the Flash Forward podcast, each week host Rose Eveleth takes listeners into a different, alternative future. In one, the internet disappears suddenly. In another, artificial wombs are the norm. In yet another, space pirates take over the Moon. In this week's, we look at a future where pop stars and other public figures move through the world, appear in public and interact with the world almost completely through avatars and other holographic representations, and the idea is interesting considering how much attention we pay today to making sure our public personae are always appealing and interesting to anyone who may look our way, compared to our real, normal selves behind closed doors.
Combine that idea with some tie-backs to Vocaloid and virtual idol Hatsune Miku and some Beyonce conspiracy theories, and you have a pretty interesting episode, and a new podcast to subscribe to. Check it out above. [via Flash Forward and Wired]
How Aeroplane Black Boxes Work
When an aircraft goes down, the first thing you hear on the news is the scramble to find the craft's "black box", or the flight recorder. It's incredibly valuable to finding out what happened to the aircraft. It usually has recordings of what was going on in the cockpit at the time, instrumentation readings over the duration of the flight, positioning data and additional detail that investigators can use to figure out what went wrong. But how do they work? How do they record so much, and store it in a small enough package to actually fly along with the aircraft without being destroyed themselves when a plane goes down? This video from Vox explains. [via Vox and Kottke]
What's the Worst Meal You've Ever Eaten Out of Politeness?
This thread over at Quora will honestly make you laugh so hard you'll need a little time to yourself, so either read it if you have incredible self control, or save it for when you have a moment. The top story (the "cheesecake") is perfect in every way, but as the thread continues, you'll hear from people who don't like things like chocolate, or soy sauce, and how they managed to choke it down for the sake of goodwill.
Here's a sample from that cheesecake story, and if this doesn't make you want to read the rest, I don't know what will:
I had a friend in Australia, a sweet little Malaysian girl. She was just one of the cutest and friendliest people you'd ever meet. She was at a dinner party of mine and tasted cheesecake for the first time. Two weeks later, we were having a big group lunch at a restaurant and she announced she had a surprise.
"I made cheesecake for everyone! It's our dessert!"
We were all pretty happy because, you know, who doesn't love cheesecake? It's awesome and delicious. She pulls it out of the box, though, and it's translucent and yellow. ... Now, I know cheesecakes. That's not a cheesecake and if it is, something's gone terribly terribly wrong. She sets it on the table and it jiggles like Jello.
Please, go on. Then come back. I'll wait. [via Quora]
DIY Dorito Spice, and Tasty Applications for It
We've already shown you how to Dorito all the things, but this quick video from Epicurious shows you some practical applications for that delicious DIY Dorito spice that's so easily made in the comfort of your own home.
For example, if you need a little inspiration for your own batch of Dorito seasoning, try a batch of cheesy snacky mixed nuts, roasted nacho broccoli or even a Dorito-flavoured chicken cutlet that will liven up any meal. Check out our guide to making your own Doritos seasoning, then give these recipes a try. [via Epicurious]
Social Norms, and What Happens When You Try to Push Them
NPR's Invisibilia podcast is a beautiful look into the hidden, invisible forces that control and direct human behaviour -- things like social norms, culture and our own interpersonal programming. In this week's episode, the first of their new season, they talk about what happens when you encourage people to go against the grain:
You probably don't even notice them, but social norms determine so much of your behaviour - how you dress, talk, eat and even what you allow yourself to feel. These norms are so entrenched we never imagine they can shift. But Alix Spiegel and new co-host, Hanna Rosin, examine two grand social experiments that attempt to do just that: Teach McDonald's employees in Russia to smile, and workers on an oil rig how to cry.
I could imagine that both of those would produce some interesting results. Give the show a listen to find out what those results actually were. [via NPR]
Cave Diving in the Yucatan
This video isn't long, but it is absolutely stunning, and a beautiful view into an underground, undersea world that most of us will never get to experience. There's already something amazing about going scuba diving, but going cave diving is a whole other level of amazing, difficult and beautiful. This video of a dive through the El Toh cave in Mexico is flat out magical, well worth the two minutes of your time and, if you're the adventurous type, maybe even your next holiday. [via BoingBoing]
That's all for this week. If you have thought-provoking stories, interesting podcasts or eye-opening videos, share them in the comments below!
Title GIF by Nick Criscuolo.