Cool thing spotlight: Kurzgesagt

Hello hello and happy Friday!

Today I wanted to share some videos from one of my favorite uplifting/mind-blowing timesucks, the excellent YouTube channel Kurzgesagt, offering a slightly off-kilter but very informative look at the universe.

I was particularly inspired by their newest video, offering a look at their philosophy of ‘optimistic nihilism.’ (It’s more uplifting than it sounds haha.)

Hope you’re having a great week!

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Rainbows go all the way around

I saw this at work today and I got a little teary. It’s not a great time for me, but you never know what can help. (That’s kind of why I run this website.)

Be good to one another and yourselves.

Cool Tool Spotlight: How Big Is Space?

Hello hello and happy Friday!

I wanted to close out the week by putting the spotlight on another of my favorite tools from our Someplace Awesome menu – a guided tour of space called How Big Is Space?

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This cool offering from the BBC lets users scroll a spaceship through the universe, keeping track of your trajectory at warp 1 and pointing out milestones in distance traveled. It’s just the bee’s knees! The space bee’s knees!

We hope you’ll head on over to the homepage and check out this and other cool sites from our Someplace Awesome tab, designed to be a one click shop to somewhere that helps you remember how great things are. If you have any suggestions for links, drop them in the comments, or you can head on over to the Contact/Submit page, where you can submit any content or ideas for future posts on I Won’t Commit.

Hope you have a great day!

Virtual Museum Visits!

To celebrate International Museum Day tomorrow (May 18), we’ve gathered up some of the awesome virtual museum tours that you can go on right now!

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The State Hermitage Museum

The State Hermitage Museum, better known just as the Hermitage, is one of the oldest and largest museums in the world. If you can’t make it to the famous Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia to see the world’s largest collection of paintings, click the pic above!

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The Smithsonian, it must be said, has an incredible virtual tour available! I’m probably going to go get all wrapped up in it after I finish writing this post!

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The Museum of the World is an online tour from The British Museum and Google that offers a timeline of artifacts from around the world, arranged by region and time. Click on any artifact, and you can find pictures, text, audio, geographic information, and links to related objects. Neat!

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You can even tour Georgia Aquarium – the world’s largest – right from your computer!

And of course we wouldn’t want to leave out the museum in the featured image above – the Louvre also offers virtual tours.

What are your favorite museum? Let us know in the comments!

 

The Friday Feelgood for May 12, 2017

Hello hello and Happy Friday! This week for the Friday Feelgood, we wanted to share some of the recent news that’s made us go WOW!


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Popular Science shares an interview with a star-nosed mole researcher (so that’s a job!), who highlights findings like how the mole uses that star as a super-sensitive touch organ. The mole has also been found to be that fastest-eating mammal in the world – but I’d counter that they’ve never seen me when my mom makes enchiladas 😂 😂

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In news that might be literally out of this world and with almost too many cool names to count, researchers are sharing their theory that a pillar called the Vulture Stone at the archaeological site Göbekli Tepe in Turkey shows confirmation of a theorized comet strike thought to contribute to a miniature ice age about 12,800 years ago. Vulture Stone is definitely a Nicolas Cage movie waiting to happen, right?

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In probably the biggest WOW we’ve had lately, human tools found alongside a mastodon now dated to be 130,000 years old suggest that humans may have come to the Americas more than 100,000 years before previously thought. That might change the way we understand a huge chunk of human history! (!!!)

PS how much does that picture make you love the internet!? Shoutout to Pixabay user SerenaWong!

What made you say wow this week? Let us know in the comments!

Against epiphanies

Happy Monday!

I want to make the weird argument this week that we should pay less attention to our epiphanies. Or at least put less stock in them.

Epiphanies are those “aha” moments when you suddenly grasp something you didn’t before, maybe without even realizing you didn’t know it in the first place. They come as sudden waves of knowledge, normally the kind that can change your life.

Except…is that realistic?

I remember learning once in Russian class that it takes your brain 75 exposures to a word for it to become part of your useful vocabulary, i.e., that you can use it and understand it when other people use it. It makes sense; if you could just hand someone a list of words and they learned them instantly, we wouldn’t need foreign-language degree programs.

Our brains don’t fully capture and absorb all the information they’re receiving from the outside world, and there’s no reason to expect the same from our inner world. (You can peep this cool talk for more on how our consciousness is both outside-in and inside-out.)

So then what of epiphanies? These jolts of mind-bending information that can bowl over our belief systems?

Well, what about five minutes later when you’re thinking literally the opposite thing?

Bad, you tell yourself, god, it’s like I had that epiphany for nothing. I sure am stupid and useless!

What! No! You just stop that right there! – and believe, I’m mostly talking to myself.

Your mind played a weird trick on you and now you’re pissed off at yourself for being a normal person. You’re not wasting an epiphany, you are having a human brain.

I don’t mean that we can’t receive important messages from wherever you believe important messages come from via epiphany, but it’s unfair to expect the reception of the message to be the same thing as living it.

Because you might receive the crystal-clear message that you could be happy if you just stopped blaming yourself for the past, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to shake your head and forgive yourself for the past. It means that you’ve got work to do.

We think of epiphanies as our brains instantly downloading and applying an important software upgrade, but I think they’re more like a post-it note with a suggestion to go software shopping.

Epiphanies say YOU CAN DO THIS NOW, while you’re brain is saying something else entirely, and the feeling of doing nothing and feeling upset about it is the average of those two things. So what if it didn’t have to be that way?

Don’t try to live your whole life based on a passing thought. Because, just like all our thoughts, epiphanies are fleeting. (And probably everyone over the age of 16 knows epiphanies aren’t always even good ideas!)

Instead, if it really does seem like a good idea five minutes later when you’re calm, accept the epiphany as a goal. See it as a place you’re going, not as a place you should be now. Think of the epiphany as your brain advertising a sunnier side of itself to the part of your brain that holds the passport and credit cards. You’ve seen the brochure, now you can think about booking a trip.

And always remember your “travel agents” – your journal, your friends, your pets, your walls, your therapist or online/mobile therapy service (*not a sponsor/not an endorsement*) – anything or anyone that can help you get where you want to be.

TLDR: sometimes you have to overwrite memory to incorporate new programming. Let epiphanies be a process, not an event.

What’s your experience with epiphanies? Let us know in the comments!


Monday bonus link: The evolutionary history of your incredibly awkward feelings

It’s World Penguin Day!

It’s World Penguin Day! Could any day be more lovely?

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Greenpeace invites you to invite today by helping protect penguin habitats. Click the pic to learn more!

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The Telegraph offers a quiz to find out what kind of penguin you are!

National Geographic Kids has a whole playlist of penguin videos!

And last but not least, this underwater penguin cam from Explore.org!

 

The Friday Feelgood for April 21, 2017

Hello hello! It’s Friday once again! Making us happy this week:

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This week brings us news of the discovery of giant exoplanet KELT 11b. 320 lightyears away, the gas giant is 40% larger than Jupiter with just one-fifth its mass – making it about the same density as styrofoam!

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This week also brings us exciting news in the animal world. Scientists have discovered that the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) can recognize its own body as an impediment in task performance. This unique marker of intelligence places elephants in a group with other animals like great apes, dolphins and magpies!

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This last one is one of my favorite pieces of news in a while! Khipus (above) were used by the Inca to store accounting and other information, but they have remained untranslated and unreadable. That may change, though, with new evidence emerging from a color code found in a spectacular pair of khipus preserved by Andean village elders since colonial times, demonstrating consistency with a logosyllabic writing system. This is a major step towards understanding ancient Incan writing!


What’s making you feel good this week? Let us know in the comments!

The Friday Feelgood for March 31, 2017

Happy Happy Happy! This week in the Friday Feelgood:

Yesterday in the office everyone was buzzing about this new pneumatic robot hand inspired by octopus tentacles. What!

This week National Geographic brings us an amazing story of dinosaur tracks in Australia. Fearing damage to one of their sacred sites from a planned natural gas plant, members of the Goolarabooloo people contacted researchers at the University of Queensland. The result is an incredible effort to map a trove of dinosaur tracks from over 20 species. Some of the tracks are over a meter long!

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And in still more awesome dino news, a new discovery suggests Tyrannosauri reges (mmhm, that’s a proper plural lol) had sensitive snouts they may have rubbed together during mating! That. Is. Too. Cute!

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What’s making you feel good this week? Let us know in the comments!