Sunday Lectures: Myths, Universal Beauty, and Plane Toilets

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Sunday Lectures is a weekly roundup of the internet’s most interesting educational videos. Get smarter without getting out of bed.

The Myths We Need To Survive

As author Yuval Noah Harari describes in his book Sapiens, human civilization is based on our shared belief in myths. In reality, religions, political systems, rights, and laws are just stories we made up — but we’re now dependent on them to keep our species in check.

Quantum Physics and Universal Beauty

The groundbreaking quantum physics work of American theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek was inspired by his quest to find a deeper order of beauty in the universe. As he describes in his talk, scientists from Plato to Einstein have long conflated their understanding of the cosmos with ideas about art.

Homo Heuristicus: Rationality for Mortals

In computer-speak, heuristics refer to problem-solving techniques that value speed over accuracy. Real-life decision making isn’t all that different. As Gerd Gigerenezer, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development explains, we’ll never be as efficient as computers, but that doesn’t mean we don’t try to be.

How Do Plane Toilets Work?

No, the suction is not strong enough to suck out your organs.

Charleston and its Aftermath

The tragic murder of nine African-Americans at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in June led to the removal of the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds in South Carolina. While it was a symbolic first step toward a more egalitarian and tolerant future, Confederate tradition is still very much alive in the South. Here, a Yale University panel discusses what necessary changes have yet to be made.

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