Remembering Prince in 11 songs you may not have known he actually wrote, all about galaxies that eat each other, Shakespearean vacation destinations, the science of boredom, and more in this week’s edition of Brain Buffet!
Welcome to Lifehacker’s Monday Brain Buffet, 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 start your week off on the right foot. Let’s get started.
Cannibal Galaxies, and the Fate of The Milky Way
When I studied astronomy, galactic movements were one of my favorite focus areas. The math that describes them is particularly elegant, but galaxies are an unfathomably massive example of fluid-like gravitational mechanics at play. Because galaxies are massive collections of stars, gas, dust, and other material, looking across the sky to see galaxies in various states of fusion and collision is a sight to behold—and this video from DNews breaks down the topic really well.
They thankfully take a less sensational and more scientific perspective than some outlets would on the topic, but they explain that galactic collisions happen all the time, often by so-called “cannibal” galaxies that are large enough to absorb anything in their vicinity. Best of all, our own Milky Way is a cannibal galaxy, having absorbed several others over its life. In fact, it’s currently absorbing one right now. What goes around comes around though—in a few billion years, the Milky Way will finish its collision course with the much larger Andromeda Galaxy, and itself get “eaten.” (or “merge,” if you ask me.) Don’t worry—you and I won’t be around to see it, but while it’ll mean a drastically different night sky compared to today, it also won’t mean much to anyone left around here to watch it happen, considering the sheer amount of empty space at play, even in a galactic collision. Even so, it’s certainly interesting and enlightening to study. [via DNews]
Eight Places from Shakespeare’s Works You Can Actually Visit
Shakespeare’s plays and poems are well read, and for good reason, but in addition to being an incredible storyteller, Shakespeare was also brilliant at adapting real-world locations for his stories, whether they took place in Scotland, Denmark, ancient Greece, or beautiful Verona, in Italy. Atlas Obscura runs down eight different places in Shakespearean works that you can go visit, should you be so inclined, and from the photos they include, you’ll likely be inclined.
They’re not just referring to the cities and countries in question either—for example, in Denmark, Kronborg Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site with beautiful views of the sea and ancient history within its walls—but Shakespeare fans may know it better as Elsinore, the castle where Hamlet takes place. If you’re up for a hike, head to the Ardennes Forest in France, which scolars of modern history will remember as a primary location in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, but Shakespeare drew on its natural beauty as inspiration for the setting of As You Like It. Check out the full list for more—and some vacation inspiration. [via Atlas Obscura]
Prince, Remembred in Songs You May Not Have Known He Wrote
Everyone has their favorite Prince songs that they knew and loved, but did you know that Prince was an excellent songwriter who contributed to the hits of artists like Sinead O’Connor, MC Hammer, Chaka Khan, and Stevie Nicks?
This video from Vox lays out 11 hugely popular songs you’ve probably heard at some point or another, and probably don’t associate with Prince, but should. After all, he wrote them. [via Kottke]
The Science of Boredom, and Why It’s So Incredibly Important
This week’s Surprisingly Awesome podcast tackled a topic that’s near and dear to our hearts: Boredom. Most notably, why we get bored, how easy it is for people to get bored, and of course, the real purpose of boredom for human development and behavior. We’ve explained that boredom, distraction, and procrastination get a bad rap and are actually pretty necessary for all of us, but in this episode, the team behind the show actually force themselves to get bored—I mean, locked up in a room with nothing to do bored—and study why it happens, how it happens, and how they felt before, during, and after it.
The show also gets into the semantics of boredom, describing things as boring, and what it means when you call something boring. Some people take a lot of offense at the notion that their interests or ideas may be considered boring to someone else—but to others it’s just a descriptor that carries less emotional baggage. They also discuss the society implications of “being boring,” or being described as boring because of your social status, profession, class, or anything else. For something so important, you probably had no idea the word carried that much weight. [via Gimlet Media]
How to Make Matzoh Nachos for Passover (or Anytime)
This is problematic to say the least, but I love to run out and buy matzoh when it’s available. That thin, crackery crispness is a perfect base for lots of things, drier and crispier than crackers (and cheaper, too). Normally it makes killer PB&Js, but Epicurious has a killer Matzoh Nachos recipe that just reminds me that I should head out and pick up a huge pack of them while they’re still on sale. [via Epicurious]
What Android Means When It Says Charging “Slowly” or “Rapidly”
With more recent versions of Android, you may notice on your lock screen after you connect your phone to power it’ll tell you that it’s either charging, charging slowly, or even better, charging rapidly. Each of those phrases actually means something, and if your phone is stuck charging slowly, it may be an easy fix.
One curious Android user asked the Android StackExhcnage community what was going on with their device, and the answer is simple—and implies something you may have known already:
Android is just telling you that the power source you connected the device to is not giving enough electrical power to charge as fast as it could.
It seems that:
- “Charging slowly” means below 1A (at 5V),
- “Charging” means between 1A and 1.5A,
- “Charging rapidly” means more than 1.5A.
Simply, if your phone is “chaging slowly” and you want to speed it up, you should either connect it to a wall outlet using a charging cable or brick that’s capable of pushing at least 1A-1.5A, change charging cables (in case the cable is the problem), or switch USB ports on your computer, if you’re charging from a laptop or other device. [via StackExchange]
You Suck at Cooking’s Favorite Kitchen Hacks
You Suck at Cooking is one of my favorite YouTube channels (seriously, subscribe, watch the backlog—especially the Cold Brew coffee episode, and enjoy) and the latest episode is all about kitchen hacks!
Keep your tongue firmly in cheek though. The hacks themselves actually work! …kind of. And watch out for spice thieves.
That’s all for this week! If you have thought-provoking stories, interesting podcasts, eye-opening videos, or anything else you think would be perfect for Brain Buffet, share it with us! Email it to me, leave it as a comment below, or send it over any way you know how.
Title gif by Nick Criscuolo. Kronborg Castle photo by Dr. Splif.