Thinking Cap: Podcasts, Articles And Clips To Make You Smarter

Thinking Cap: Podcasts, Articles And Clips To Make You Smarter

This week we’re talking about heroes in history who were actually terrible people, doling out justice for one-star Yelp reviewers and looking back at computer viruses that wreaked havoc around the globe.

Title illustration by Nick Criscuolo. Additional photo by Benecee.

Welcome to Lifehacker’s Thinking Cap, a 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.


Five Computer Viruses that Wreaked Havoc Around the World

From Code Red to Stuxnet, Cryptolocker to Chernobyl, the folks at SciShow put together this list of five computer viruses (a follow-up to an original video of the same name) that have changed the world and the way we think about computer security.

Of course, we’re long removed now from the Great Virus Winter of 2003, when viruses and worms made the evening news because of their broad impact, mostly because computers are (somewhat) better protected today and users are (somewhat) more informed, but that doesn’t mean malware isn’t a huge problem. This video explains why. We shared this video last week, but we’re including it in Thinking Cap just in case you missed it. [via SciShow (YouTube)]


This Water Cooled, 72,000 Lumen Torch Lights Up the Night

If you didn’t already know, there’s a massive, thriving community of torch enthusiasts out there modding lights; building ever-brighter, ever-more-efficient lights; and who have pocket LEDs that will put that expensive Maglite to shame. In that vein, in the video above, Samm Sheperd managed to build one of the brightest LEDs I’ve ever seen — and it’s water cooled.

He runs eight 100-watt LED chips together, all of which generate so much heat that he had to find a way to cool the whole thing — and he turned to a modified computer cooling pump to get the job done. The results are pretty amazing. [via Samm Sheperd (YouTube), thanks Awesomer!]


10 Eerie Ghost Towns Around the World You Can Visit

Travel site Oyster has been all about the creepy travel and destination articles this month, and this rundown of ghost towns you can actually visit is no exception. From Pripyat in the Ukrane — a town that was almost entirely made up of Chernobyl workers, now completely abandoned, to Bodie, California, a former gold mining town that now resembles an artefact from America’s dusty, wild west past, the full list has destinations around the globe.

Some of those towns are more difficult to get to than others, but all of which have a very compelling story to tell about how they were built and why they’re abandoned today. [via Oyster]


Historical Heroes Who Were Actually Horrible People

This thread at Quora about people in history generally viewed as heroes, thanks to the lens of time and distance, but who were actually either problematic at best or just straight terrible people at worst, is an entertaining and enlightening read.

From Albert Einstein’s horrible relationship issues to the creeping antisemitism of Martin Luther, the whole thread is a stark reminder that the names and accomplishments of people in our history books are a snippet of who they were as complete individuals, with faults and prejudices, many of whom were products of their time.

There are names you probably recognise today as people whose actions, when more carefully studied, don’t warrant the praise we generally get for them as schoolchildren, like Thomas Edison or Christopher Columbus, but the thread also includes some pretty solid dressdowns of more recent larger-than-life historical figures, like Winston Churchill and General Douglas MacArthur. They’re far too long to blockquote here, so definitely be sure to read the whole thread. [via Quora]


The Case of the One-Star Yelp Review

Food Court is a new series by the folks over at Tastemade, and while it’s only a few videos right now, it’s already shaping up to be pretty funny. This episode specifically is fantastic, because it’s a hilarious look at those one-star Yelp reviews — you know the ones — and the type of people who leave them. Of course, those people will never see the kind of justice doled out in the video above, but hey, we can hope. After all, Yelp is just awful for everyone. We already established this. [via Tastemade (YouTube)]


That’s all for this week. If you have thought-provoking stories, interesting podcasts or eye-opening videos, share them in the comments below!