This week we're checking out some of the oldest hotels in America you should visit, why people hate words like "moist" and the best film soundtracks since 2000, all in our Thinking Cap! 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.
How Oil Got Into Everything: Our Sneakers, Clothes and Cosmetics
Petroleum, AKA good old fashioned oil, is in everything. Sure, it's in fuel, but it's also in our sneakers, most of our cosmetics and body products, and even in the clothes we wear. But how did it get there, and how did we so seamlessly transition to this oil-based and oil-powered society?
This week's Planet Money podcast looks into the history, the switch to oil-based products and synthetics for just about everything, how it made massive leaps and bounds in both scientific and textile research, and of course, the effects that it's had on our planet, our society and, of course, our future dependence (or lack thereof) on oil as we move forward. This particular episode is part four of a five-part series, and while it does tackle this specific topic, you may find it fascinating enough to go back and listen to the others. [via NPR]
The Oldest Hotels in America (That Are Actually Worth a Visit)
It's one thing to be one of the oldest hotels in America, but it's another to be an old hotel that's worth experiencing. Hotel site Oyster lists off 12 of the oldest hotels in America that are actually worth staying in, and some of the names might be familiar if you're a student of history (or even a student of movie history). Places like the Willard InterContinental in Washington DC, The Peabody in Memphis and The Beverly Hills Hotel in — you guessed it — Beverly Hills, are all on the list, along with their storied histories and what makes them so noteworthy.
Some other impressive names make the list too, including a hotel in St Croix called The Buccaneer, which started life in 1653 as a sugar mill, and the 129-year old Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. All of which are still open, still serving visitors in luxury and comfort, and all of which are worth looking into if you'd like a little history with your next holiday. [via Oyster]
The Science of "Word Aversion", or Why We Hate Words Like "Moist"
I don't particularly have a problem with the word "moist", but I know people who do. And you likely do too, as Scientific American notes. Around 20 per cent of people equate "moist" to an almost nails-on-the-chalkboard feeling, according to a report by psychologists at Oberlin College (PDF). But why do people have such an aversion to certain words? Why does "moist" make people cringe? They pose one potential explanation in the paper that makes a lot of sense:
A separate possible explanation not tested in the current studies, but which the author acknowledges, is rooted in the facial feedback hypothesis. This hypothesis suggests that facial movement can influence emotional experience. In other words, if facial muscles are forced to configure in ways that match particular emotional expressions, then that may be enough to actually elicit the experience of the emotion. On this explanation, saying the word "moist" might require the activation of facial muscles involved in the prototypical disgust expression, and therefore trigger the experience of the emotion. This could explain the visceral response of "yuck" people get when they think of the word. Separate research has identified the particular facial muscles involved in the experience and expression of disgust, but no research as of yet has tested whether the same muscles are required when saying "moist."
Of course, this isn't the only possible factor. It could also be, more simply, that the word is associated with bodily functions that people consider gross or too personal for discussion, so it elicits a visceral reaction — but of course, that explanation doesn't have to be enough, and it could be several things at once. Check out the whole piece at Scientific American for more, and if you're one of those folks who doesn't care for the word, well, get ready. [via Scientific American, thanks Boing Boing!]
The 50 Best Film Scores of the 21st Century (So Far)
This isn't totally fair because we are, after all, only 16 years into the 21st century, but that doesn't mean there haven't been some amazing film scores since 2000 that are more than worth listening to — or that you may not have heard yourself. Over at The Playlist, they have run down their 50 favourite picks, and Kottke has some of them embedded as Spotify playlists you can keep open in a tab and listen to at your leisure.
You'll either love the list or hate it, or, perhaps more moderately, wonder how some great soundtracks were omitted, (like The Lord of the Rings, for example) or cheer for your specific favourite films, like Requiem for a Dream or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or The Imitation Game or Cloud Atlas, among some of the many. Even The Dark Knight ranks near the top of the list (and for the record, Ghost Dog, the soundtrack of which is embedded as a playlist above, is number 39 on the list, and I struggled between embedding that or the soundtrack to Inception). Check out the full list, then let us know what you think. [via The Playlist, thanks Kottke!]
A POV Hot Wheels Ride Through Jumps, Loops and Underwater
Capping off our Thinking Cap this week is this fun, funny and well-edited POV Hot Wheels thrill ride on an impossibly long track, an impossibly sticky track and across all sorts of impossible terrain. Just watch. It's two minutes of pure fun. Have a great weekend. [via Boing Boing]
That's all for this week. If you have thought-provoking stories, interesting podcasts or eye-opening videos, share them in the comments below!