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What is indigo? Do you study for your books or rely on past knowledge? Would we notice if everything in the universe got bigger? If I fell through a cloud, would I get wet? Why can't I melt wood? Who do you have so many publishers? Hank Green and John Green have answers!

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 (00:00) to (02:00)

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Hank: Hello and welcome to dear Hank and John. 

John: Or as I prefer to think of it: dear JOHN and Hank 

Hank: It's a podcast where two brothers answer your questions, give you dubious advice and bring all the news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon. John it's October, which means that I'm officially carrying around the Pebble that I throw at people who sing Christmas songs before November. It's called my Jingle Bell rock. 

John: [chuckle] I- I enjoyed that. 

Hank:I think like there's like a 40/50% chance that I've said that one on the podcast before. 

John: I liked that one because I didn't see it coming but at the same time it was a punchline- which are my only two requests of your jokes. Hank, before we answer questions from our listeners, there's something that we really need to get to- very, very rarely in the history of dear Hank and John has anything elicited the kind of responses that we got-

Hank: yeah

John: -to the question of what happens if a person made out of lemons standing on a scale puts one of their lemon hands into a bucket of water that's on a different scale. Goodness gracious, our producer Rosiana had to create a separate document called “Lemon people bucket problem”

[both laugh]

John: Which I'd like to think-

Hank: Which is how long? It's 23 pages long, John and I'm sure that we've both read all of it. 

John: I have read it, it is amazing. Y'all are wonderful. Some of you are wrong. Most of you are right. 

[Hank laughs]

Hank: There's still a little bit of debate out. 

John: Umm, there's not a lot of debate. 

Hank: Yeah.

John: If you are a lemon person standing on a scale and you put one of your lemon hands into a bucket full of water, that's on a different scale. The scale gets heavier. That scale shows a heavier weight and you get lighter-

Hank: Yes.

John: -on your scale. 

Hank: Which is not what I expected Like it's not- it’s definitely not intuitive. I saw somebody who I follow on Tiktok, Tom Lum was like, oh, this is great. I'll do it. I'll do it. I’ve got a scale I'll put my hand in and it won't change, right? And it changed and he was like “Oh no”. And this is the outcome in science that you want. Where you're like, I had a hypothesis and I've proven it to be non intuitive. 

John: Yeah, although it is intuitive apparently if you understand Newton's third law-

Hank: of buoyancy, yes. And Archimedes. 

John: Because all the explanations that made sense to me were- And this the easiest one for me was from somebody named Michael who wrote too long, didn't read Newton's third law, means the bucket scale must go up by the same amount that the person scale goes down since the forces between the person and the bucket must be equal and opposite

Hank: Yes. 

 (02:00) to (04:00)

John: And I was like “I think I have it”

Hank: Well, yeah I get that, but it but that doesn't. They couldn't stay the same and that would not violate Newton's third law. But yeah, then there's the other piece. 

John: There is the other piece, which is that Archimedes Principle tells us that the amount is equal to the weight of the water displaced. It’s displacement. 

Hank: So it's not about it's not about the weight of the thing that gets put in, it's about how much of the water gets displaced, so it's just a volume thing. 

John: Oh goodness, it was extremely complicated, but we got there. If you are a lemon person, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I now know what happens to you if you put your hand in a bucket of water that's on a scale. The bad news is that you're made out of lemons.

Hank: Yeah, the bad news is that we have a saying here, on Earth, among the humans, that when life gives us you we squeeze you and put sugar into you. 

John: Wait, whoa, whoa, whoa. You were imagining the lemon people as aliens? Cause I was definitely imagining the lemon people as like a- here's what I imagined, Hank

Hank: OK

John: Cause I was kinda thinking about a lemon person movie. And what I was imagining is there's a lemon in a landfill somewhere that's rotting away, and it's like rotting away, but then it encounters some sort of DNA. 

[Hank laughs]

John: And it encounters an- no I got it: It encounters an MRNA vaccine, and in that moment the lemon like starts to become more like a lemon and then it sniffs out other lemons and suddenly there's like a lemon magnet kind of thing happening where all these lemons are coming together inside of the landfill and then once they become a lemon person, that's the moment when they like emerge out of the landfill. They like emerge out of the garbage and like stand up to their full lemon height and are like: “I need to put my hand into a bucket of water.”

Hank: It’s what the vaccine told me to do!

[both laugh]

 (04:00) to (06:00)

Hank: There's so many auto injectors that don't get used. For people who have like epinephrine auto injectors so maybe it was one of those *and* an MRNA vaccine at the same time I got back and then it's like “injecting noise.” And it’s like “transforming noise” I’M ALIVE!

John: Yeah, I don't know if you've ever actually injected somebody with an EpiPen, but I have and it is, uh, it's intense. 

Hank: Uh, for the person doing the injection? 

John: No, for the other person. 

Hank: Yes, well they do get that bad epinephrine in which-

John: I could totally see how that could make a lemon person just want to stick their hand in a bucket. 

[both laugh]  

Hank: It's a good origin story John, I hadn't really thought of it. 

John: I do really want us to use more lateral thinking in this podcast, Hank when we're trying to think of solutions to problems. 

Hank: [overlapping] Well and and also just as the species, all of us together on Earth, yes.

John: Almost every day I think about my favorite example of lateral thinking, which was when Edmund Halley determined the size of England. Like the government or whatever was like: “hey Haley, we don't know how Big England is'' and Haley was like: “oh, I got an idea. Here's what I'm going to do: we got a good map of England. I'm going to cut out the largest circle that I can cut out of England in this map. 

And what I'm going to do is, I'm going to weigh the circle and then I'm going to cut out the rest of England and I'm going to weigh the rest of England. And because I can figure out the area of a circle pretty easily. I can therefore figure out what percentage of the weight the circle is, which in turn will tell me how Big England is.”

Hank: Yeah, that's pretty great. That's a smarty pants move. You can't fault that one. 

John: Very impressive lad. 

Hank: Now that's a man who could tell you about a lemon bucket situation. 

 (06:00) to (08:00)

John: Oh man, he would have had no doubt. Oh man, you should hear Dear Redmond and Isaac, Edmund Halley, and Isaac Newtons podcast. Those guys, they got it figured out. 

Hank: John Speaking of Isaac Newton, I want to ask our first question, it's from Angela who asks: 

Dear Hank and John, my 5 year old is fascinated by rainbows frankly, so am I. However, after reviewing the color wheel and kindergarten level color theory and comparing it to the weather phenomenon, that is a rainbow, I have a question for you. What is indigo? 

John: Oh boy

Hank: [continuing] It's not a primary color. It's not a secondary color. What is it doing in the rainbow? Why doesn't the rainbow have six colors? Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple?

Hank: This makes sense. These are the colors that we talk about. This is me adding to the question, not Angela talking 'cause I agree with you 

-and if indigo is a blueish purple. Don't all the colors bleed into each other anyway? Why don't we distinguish a reddish orange then as well? Perception precipitation in pots of gold, Angela.

Hank: Do you know why Angela? Do you want to know why? It's because Isaac Newton said so. 

John: Are you serious? 

Hank: Yeah yeah he was working with prisms and he was like here are the colors, there are seven of them. Maybe to be complementary because like 7 is a nice number. Or if it's like complementary with I don't know other things that there are seven of. 

John: Right, it maybe felt a little bit like a proof of God's plan or whatever. 

Hank: Maybe, maybe some of that? 

John: I have always felt when I actually see a rainbow, most of the time that there are like: three colors you know? Like I think because I was told that a rainbow had seven colors, I'm always a little underwhelmed by actual rainbows. I'm always like, oh I mean. I guess yeah, it has- I'll tell you what it has: color which is incredible.

Hank: Which is very strange. 

John: Wild and wonderful. 

 (08:00) to (10:00)

Hank: Yeah, if you look at a rainbow, like a really vivid rainbow, really closely here are the colors I see: brown, orange, green, kind of purple and then kind of blue and then kind of purple and then kind of blue and then kind of purple and then kind of blue. Because there's like this thing happening that isn't like the just the rainbow. It's like an additional like Rainbow upon Rainbow sometimes. Where you get like multiple rainbows but like next to each other so you'll see the latter part of the spectrum over and over again. So you see, like this like blue Band, purple band, blue band, purple band, blue band purple band which is really cool, but not what you think of when you think of a rainbow. 

John: Yeah, I mean honestly, Hank, I don't really remember what rainbows look like. I don't know what that says about my imagination, like and its lack of visual acuity, but when I close my eyes and try to picture a rainbow, I mostly see the letters that spell the word rainbow. 

Hank: Hmm yeah, well I Google image searched them which made it easier for me and having looked at them for a little while, I'm realizing that when you look at a rainbow you might just be seeing a bunch of rainbows all stacked on top of each other. And they like go back, but you can't see them 'cause they're all in a direction, but I'm just guessing right now. I don't know this. Here's the other thing I want to talk about rainbow stuff. So like this, this color wheel thing that Angela brings up. We think about colors in the way that we experience them, which is that they all bleed into each other. And when you get to purple, like you've got blue and then purple and then red and purple is a mix between blue and red. We know this. This is definitely the case. We can functionally do it. But then there's this other way of like physically understanding rainbows where red and purple are opposites, they are as far apart in terms of electromagnetic spectra as they can be before you get out of visual light and you get into the infrared and the ultraviolet.

 (10:00) to (12:00)

H: And so in our perception, colour all bleeds into each other in a circle, but in reality, there is no circle, there is a spectrum, from red to violet, and violet is as far away from red as can be, they do not come back around to touch. Despite the fact, that in my perception, they come back around to touch.

J: It's very weird.

H: And that's not a human invention. It is a physiological thing, it is - cells, it's like receptors, the way that we understand this. It's so cool, to me. And it is just so indicative of the fact that, we can very functionally see the world in inaccurate ways. And that's ok! And like, and there are -

J: Well not in inaccurate ways, but in human ways. I think-

H: Right

J: -the conclusion from it, is actually that we need to always be aware of the fact, that when we're looking at something, we're looking at it from our particular perspective. And that you know - this whole notion that somehow, you can get outside of your perspective and approach a subject from pure objectivity?

 (12:00) to (14:00)

J: It's just over-
H: Right, right!

J: There is no future for that way of thinking. That's why all my favourite non-fiction books right now, are non-fiction book that acknowledge that specific perspective and how profoundly that shapes one's understanding and experience.

H: Right.

J: Like even books about physics that I love do that, like, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein's "Disordered Cosmos" does an amazing job of that, of explaining cosmology and physics and the big bang, but while also acknowledging the particularity of their perspective. That's all I wanna read right now.

H: Mm. And this is such a good example of that, because it's not like the fact that colour isn't actually a wheel that goes around a circle matters. When you are trying to paint, you know, it doesn't-

J: Yeah!

H: That's not like a -

J: Or even when you're trying to understand colour theory-

H: Oh yeah!

J: -like when you try to understand how humans respond to colour. It's just that, it's, not how the electromagnetic spectrum works.

H: So weird.
So weird and cool! [in a floaty tone]

J: That reminds me of this next question that comes from J who writes: Dear John and Hank, I was just reading An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, and when I got to a part talking about Mayan numerals, it got me wondering, do y'all study for your books or do you just rely on past knowledge? Rhymes with May, J.

Well I didn't have any past knowledge, J, I-

[Hank wheezes]

J: I was born knowing nothing

[Hank laughs out loud]

J: You should've seen me as a baby. I was a- I, I-

H: Yeah

J: I didn't know how to poop in a toilet!

[Hank laughs]

 (14:00) to (16:00)

J: Put aside my lack of understanding of Mayan history!

H: I couldn't focus my own eyes! I couldn't lift my hand!

J: I didn't know who my mother was!

H: Who was that?! I knew she was a person nearby, I knew that-

J: I didn't even know she was a person!

H: Yeah!

J: I just knew that there was like a food source

H: Uh huh

J: And that was my first awareness

H: Yeah

J: Uh…but…yeah, but the question is well taken. For me the whole joy of writing, is in, discovery, and a huge part of that discovery is within the known recesses of my imagination, you know, taking stuff I've known or experienced or thought about and trying to like, reshape it and refashion it into language but, also a lot of it is new learning. So I don't know about Mayan numerals, Hank, what that was like for you, but for me, like, that's one of the things I love about writings, is, I guess you would call it research, but it doesn't feel like research to me, it just feels like, like learning alongside the characters or the essay or whatever it is I'm writing.

H: Yeah, I mean sometimes you have to know more than the characters. So you're not learning alongside them in that way-

J: Yes

H: -but you're out there doing the – it can be one of 2 ways. Sometimes it is – I encounter something that is really interesting and I'm like, that could be a tweet, that could be a TikTok, I could work that into a book, I can make it into a vlogbrothers video, I can talk about it in an entry of Dear Hank and John, where am I going to put that one.

[Hank laughs]

J: Yeah

H: And sometimes I love this so much it's going to fit really well into the story that I'm telling. And so you work it in. And then the other way is like – I need a mystery, or I need a representation or I need this to, you know, I need something to fill this role, and then you're just like, just start to look around, and it's very much the process of when I see a TikTok audio I would like to use and I'm like – oh what should the joke be for that? What is the way that I can use this TikTok audio in a way that it is about science.

 (16:00) to (18:00)

Hank: And so I can sometimes think – oh, that would be good. Or I can sorta look around and like, have that be in my mind for a little while? And when I come across something, if it is just more likely to fit into the frame that I've kept present, sort of on the back burner. And then you plug it in. And then you do deeper research and you find there's actually something more interesting, always where the really cool, uh, little corners of the universe happen when, when you are actually - rather then just being sort of exposed to whatever someone else's found, when you're doing that research yourself.

John: Yeah, to use a very straightforward, very old example in my own life and work, I remember I was trying to think of a name for the character in Looking for Alaska, and I heard a Velvet Underground song "Stephanie Says", where there's a lyric that's like, "She not afraid to die that people all call her Alaska". And then I was thinking, Alaska is very big and far away, and often mis-imagined in the imagination of people who don't live there. And I was like, that's interesting. And then when I was researching the history of Alaska and the history of the name, is it a name that's ever been used for people, cause I never want to pick a name that's gonna like, make somebody's life worse? So I was trying to make sure that the name isn't associated with a person or else that it's common enough that it's not gonna be a problem for them? Anyway, uh, then I learnt that, what the word means, what the word that our name for the state of Alaska comes from. And it means the place – it means "land", basically, but in a more literal sense it means: that which the sea breaks against. And I was like, that's also very good.

Hank: Oh, yeah.

 (18:00) to (20:00)

J: And so then I-

H: [overlapping] –locked in!

J: And so then I had a name. But really like, writing something or creating anything? Like, I feel the same way about making videos, or you know, any kind of creative work you do, it's always about trying to like, fit in puzzle pieces. For me it's like, it's almost a way of puzzling through consciousness, like trying to make some kind of map or some kind of sense out of something that doesn't for me have an inherent map or sense? And that's what makes it so fun. 

H: I agree. John, the next questions comes from Sophia who asks, Dear Hank and John, I recently watched an episode of Phineas & Ferb-

J: Great show.

H: -in which everything in the universe is 10x bigger. And I assume, therefore the whole universe itself. Anyway, my brother and I were wondering whether this would be noticeable-

J: Oh

H: were it to happen in our universe.

J: Oh no.

H: Would it affect physics in some way? Particularly, uh-

J: No, god. What if it just happened?

H: [wheezes] 

J: What if it just happened, Hank? What if I'm 10x bigger then I was 3 seconds ago and I don't know and I have no way of knowing cuz everything else is also 10x bigger

H: Does it matter philosophically? Does it matter physically? Would it matter if everything just got 10x bigger if nobody noticed?

J: Do I even know how big I am? Or do I only know how big I am relative to other things?

H: No yeah you've no idea how big you are, John.

J: How big am I? [high pitched]

H: Yeah you have no idea how big you are.

J: I could be very small!

H: Yeah, you are!

J: Or I could be very large.


J: Oh god.

H: [laughs] This is a thing that happens in high school, when you watch some kind of film on a TV that talks about powers of 10. And they existed when my science teacher was in high school, when I was in high school – they've always been around. But there are a bunch of them, and 


 (20:00) to (22:00)

Hank: -they take a lot of different forms now. But the idea is like you start out at like the smallest thing and then you go like 10x 10x 10x and you see how big everything is. The very strange thing about this is, that we are like right in the middle between the smallest thing and the biggest thing. We're kind of right in the middle.

John: We are not as close to the middle – I also watched that – and we are not as close to in the middle as I would like. Like, we're not right right in the middle. I feel like narratively I wanna be right right in the middle. But like also, we don't [chuckles] we don't really know how, you know like-

Hank: Right what's the biggest thing?

John: We don't really know what the biggest thing is, and we may not really know what the smallest thing is.

Hank: We have some better ideas about what the smallest thing is. But you're right, we don't know.

John: We've been wrong before about this kind of thing-

Hank: [laughs]

John: -especially like we've been wrong about what the smallest thing was, several times.

Hank: Yeah.

John: So I'm not, I'm not- Hank I can't believe we've just been talking like nothing is happening when I could be increasing and decreasing in size by factors of 10 every second. And ever since you mentioned that to me, I have had a feeling of profound vertigo come over me and the only hope that I have, and please tell me that this hope is grounded in reality – the only hope that I have is the speed of light, because the speed of light is constant-

Hank:  Mm hmm?

John: -no matter what. And, and maybe that's something I can hold onto?

Hank: [laughs] Well there are a bunch of constants, so I think it would matter. I think it would matter. So if we all - if the constants remained constant, and like every, atom, so it's like, functionally what does this mean. If we get 10x bigger does that mean, does that mean we have 10x more atoms? Cuz if that's the case it definitely matters.

 (22:00) to (24:00)

Hank: If we get 10x bigger, and we are 10x more massive, and we are experiencing the same gravity, or even more gravity because the Earth is 10x bigger, then we're pancakes. Like we are in a bad situation, we're not going to survive. So you would notice that. If just the atoms got 10x bigger, but the particles stayed the same – so if the protons and neutrons and electrons all stayed the same size but the atoms got bigger, everything would instantly evaporate and nothing would exist. Because you know the strong and weak nuclear forces would not have changed. [overlapping] But there would be-

John: That makes me feel better

Hank: [wheezes] At least you know it's not happening! I love the idea-

John: Instantaneous evaporation of all life, that's a fun one.

Hank: Yeah.

John: Yeah, that's a good one.

Hank: There would no longer be things.

John: You know what? Let's take that off the table.

Hank: [laughs]

John: I'd rather not, I'd rather not consider it,

Hank: Yeah.

John: I'd like to remove that from the list of options.

Hank: But, but! If you could just like, if you could make all of the particles bigger, and you could also compensate all of the fundamental forces of physics to also match, then yeah maybe? We could just be getting bigger and smaller – I don't know, maybe this is the one thing they haven't tried yet. Like physics suddenly makes a lot of sense if you just take into account that we might all be constantly changing size.

John: [laughs]

Hank: Like all the constants aren't actually constant, they just look constant. We keep changing size along with them!

John: I love, I love that you're proposing a novel idea in physics,

Hank: [laughs]

John: -as if, like, I am 100% sure that a physicist has thought of that-

Hank: [overlapping] They've thought of everything [laughs]

John: That's been looked into extensively.

Hank: [wheezes] So, yeah, uh, just go ahead and do the math, math nerds, and tell me whether or not we're changing size all the time. I don't understand any of your fancy integrals, so-

 (24:00) to (26:00)

Hank: -I'll just be over here, making podcasts? Uh, then, thinking about frogs.

John: Ok Hank, if we could put aside gravity, put aside all the other things that would turn into(?) problems. But Earth was the same size and all the other creatures were the same size.

Hank: Uh huh?

John: And you had to be – you had to pick for all of humanity. We're either getting 10x bigger, or we're getting 10x smaller. What'd you pick?

Hank: Oh, 10x smaller, every time.

John: Me too, because most of the problems that we're creating, I feel like would be 10x smaller if we were 10x smaller.

Hank: Yeah!

John: Our houses would be 10x smaller, our cars would be 10x smaller

Hank: Yeah. The crops, the foods, and at this point, like the question is, would we get eaten by our cats? Like that is the-

John: Probably

Hank: Yeah, and so if you have a cat, or maybe a dog, but definitely a cat, uh this may end up being a bad situation for you? How small is 10x smaller?

John: I'd be 20 pounds, so I feel like I could take a cat?

Hank: You could take a cat

John: -I feel I could be a great fight, I mean, people would pay good money to see 20-pound me take on my house cat.

Hank: [laughs] If you were 100x smaller, that would be a big problem. If you're 10x smaller you could probably figure it out.

John: Oh yeah [overlapping] (??) like a mouse

Hank: Like there'll be – we'd have a lot of infrastructure changes we'd have to make. [laughs]

John: Well that goes without saying, yes, a lot of things would be different, Hank, umm

Hank: I feel like we wouldn't be eaten by cats? Which would be nice?

John: I feel like the immediate problem though, would be predation, like we would have to very quickly develop strategies, because all the coyotes would be like, great news!

Hank: The people are finally edible!

John: You know our biggest problem? Not only has it been solved, but they're food now.

Hank: [laughs]

 (26:00) to (28:00)

Hank: Yeah I think that's a lot of the reason why we're this size! Uh, I, have maintained – you know, so that we don't get eaten by coyotes, and also so that we can eat, and fight with things that, you know, will become our food. People have heard me talk about this before but I have always maintained that people should be much smaller. Um, I look at my son, who is 5 – gonna be 5 years old very soon, and I am like – that seems great! Look how close his head is to the ground, it is much harder for him to hurt himself.

John: It's such a great solution to climate change to have us all be 10x smaller than we currently are. Almost all of our problems, are because we are trying to fit these ridiculous-sized things into cars and trucks and things that go.

Hank: Yeah

John: And, we're having to like, eat all of this stuff, that we wouldn't have to eat if we were just 20 pound little creatures. And like – listen! We could still be the dominant species -

Hank: Yeah!

John: - we would have guns, don't worry about that, believe me -

Hank: [wheezes]

John: The first thing, the first problem that would get solved is how would you make a gun for a person that's 10x smaller. Somebody would be like – it would be like hours in to this phenomenon

Hank: I like that you're thinking that everybody's first thought was – will I still get to have a gun though?

John: Well I – I am very worried about coyotes, Hank, like that's my number one concern -coyotes stay the same size, I get 10x smaller. I live in a place with a lot of coyotes and I have looked into their eyes, and they want – they're ready to eat me, ok? So, I'm gonna need a gun that's 10x smaller. Or, some kind-

Hank: Some kind of system, some kind of system.

John: Uhhh!

Hank: What are you gonna do to the coyotes, John?

John: The thing we would do, Hank, is we would immediately build these like mechanized suits that would make us 6ft tall again and we would go back to using all of our old infrastructure and-

Hank: No……!

John: - we would continue to burn fossil fuels [didn't understand this part??] That's what we would do.

Hank: No…[softly]

John: Yikes!

Hank: …I bet we would

John: People.

Hank: Well it's not like people are travelling around in cars that are the right size for them now.

John: That's a great point [laughing]

 (28:00) to (30:00)

John: Like we're trying to imagine this highly hypothetical world, when [laughs]

Hank: People would go and they'd just be in this like – nah they'd just be getting in the big trucks which are even bigger!

John: We know! We know exactly what would happen if people were 10x smaller – which is that they would develop incredibly sophisticated strategies for driving current-sized minivans.

Hank: Yeah

John: Alright! This next question comes from Jake [?] Dear John and Hank, whenever I go to the dentist, I always find it awkward to stare into my dentist's eyes as he works on my face. But if I close my eyes, I still feel awkward because every 5min he asks, are you okay? Should I leave my eyes open or keep them closed? Sincerely, Jacob.

I try to look at my feet, you know like I try to look at my shoes, so my eyes-

Hank: [some words ending in uprising tone]

John: -my eyes are open, yeah I can look down-

Hank: No! You can't look down – there're looking up! You gotta tilt your head up and open your mouth real big

John: No, you can see your feet!

Hank: I'm going to the dentist soon and I haven't been in, eeughhhhhh-

John: Wait, wait, buddy, buddy slow down, slow down

Hank: What?

John: You can't look down?

Hank: Not when I've got a dentist in my mouth?!

John: What- I don't understand.              Wait, woahhhh- So your eyes,

Hank: -they're above my nose and mouth

John: When your face goes up,

Hank: Uh huh

John: I want you to tilt your face up, toward the ceiling. Now I want you to look down at your microphone.

Hank: Uh huh?

John: You see how you're doing now? You're looking down, that's very good, I'm very proud of you-

Hank: [laughs]

John: -but you can look down when your face is up.

Hank: Yeah I can barely see it. I can see my cheeks, moving around when I talk.

John: I just try to look down, that's my strategy. So that my eyes are open, and the dentist doesn't like, is he dead?

Hank: Right.

John: But at the same time, I'm not making eye contact, because I find – I mean I find eye contact uncomfortable in the most normal experiences so, that's my strategy.

 (30:00) to (32:00)

Hank: I want, I just want a VR headset that I wear, while I'm at the dentist that does 2 things. No. 1, it tells me whether my mouth is open enough, because I always think, this time, I'm gonna be so good at keeping my mouth open that the dentist will not have to say: "Can you open up a little?" Cuz I always get distracted, and my mouth starts to fall close. And then the dentist is like – Oh god, another one I can't see any of the teeth! And, so I feel like I'm a bad dentist patient. The 2nd thing I want it to do, is give me just an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that I can watch, because I don't wanna be here. I wanna be on the USS Enterprise, in the 24th century.

John: Yeah I've spent way too much of my life at a dentist's office.

Hank: Yeah.

John: But not enough for the last year & a half there

Hank: Umm, I do not want to tell you how long it's been since I've been to the dentist

John: Don't tell me, it's gonna stress me out -

Hank: [laughs]

John: I can't handle it, I tell ya, we gotta move on, we're moving on.

This next question comes from Trent who writes, Dear John and Hank, not that I was planning on doing this anytime soon, but if I fell through a cloud, would I get wet?

Hank: Oh I have a great answer for this question John!

John: Great, what is it?

Hank: So, during the last – when we record this, I have just gotten back from celebrating my 15th anniversary with Catherine, uh, our 15th anniversary. And we were in California, and we were in a giant grove of redwood trees. These giant beautiful redwood trees of varying ages – it was really intensely beautiful. And, it was raining, but it was raining very sort of nicely, so we were walking through this rainy redwood forest, on sort of half-half(?) road. And then suddenly, we came out from under the redwood trees, and it wasn't raining anymore.

 (32:00) to (34:00)

Hank: Because it wasn't raining! John. It was just foggy-

John: Oh!

Hank: -but the redwood trees were getting wet.

John: Mm!

Hank: And they were dripping all the water off of them because they get all wet, and that's part of how redwoods are able to grow so high – it's because they can get water up at the top without having to pull it all the way from their roots, uh, because they can get it from the sky. So, if you just sit in a cloud for long enough, you'll get kind of damp, for sure. Especially if you're, uh, you know, cool, I think? I think you'd have to be like – more stuff will condense on you if you're cooler? But, clouds are just sort of droplets of water so yes you will get damp the more time you spend in a cloud, which is just fog. So you can spend time in a cloud if you'd like to.

John: I feel like the question was more like, uh, if I fall at terminal velocity through a cloud, will I get wet? In which case is no. But-

Hank: You will get a little bit wet! What is wet?!

John: I mean, yeah – you won't be like – first off, you won't be like anything.

Hank: [wheezes]

John: But to the extent that you are like anything, you won't be like: ah I just got so wet. Like that's not gonna be on your list of concerns, when it's -43 Fahrenheit and you're falling at 224 mph.

Hank: Sure. I wanna assume there is a parachute involved? If you fall through a raincloud you'd definitely get wet.

John: Uh, yeah, yeah! You would.

Hank: There's a bunch of rain in there

John: It's true

Hank: So who's smartypants now. I just wanted to tell the story about the redwoods because I was so amazed. I was like, why did it stop raining – why is it – because it's usually the opposite, like you go under a tree to get dry when it's raining. It was only raining under the trees and not out from under the trees.

John: Yeah that's really beautiful. I'm sure that was a lovely experience, I wish I had gone somewhere for my 15th anniversary?

Hank: [wheezes]

 (34:00) to (36:00)

Hank: What did you do?

John: Uh Sarah and I went for a walk through Crown Hill Cemetery here in Indianapolis

Hank: Yeah

John: Yeah, so that was fun.

Hank: It's because we've been married for fairly similar times huh.

John: Yeah, just a few months different. Which reminds me that today's podcast is brought to you by 2006, 2006 the year that many great marriages were formed.

Hank: Mm hmm, this podcast is also brought to you by Dear Isaac and Edmond [overlapping]

John: [laughing] That's such a good idea

Hank: -from Isaac Newton and Edmond Halley as they take on all kinds of thought problems that do and do not involve lemons.

John: And of course, speaking of lemons, today's podcast, and all of our podcasts for the rest of all time will sponsored by the lemon man. The lemon man, formed in the pit of a landfill-

Hank: [overlapping] by auto-injectors

John: And now, running rampant through the streets of, I believe, Pittsburgh

Hank: Ah, I think that that's correct. This podcast is also brought to you by PIZZAMAAAAAAAS!

John: Duh duh duh duh duh dahhhhhhh!

Hank: We didn't talk about it in the beginning! It's the first day of Pizzamas right now, John! And if you go to there are all kinds of amazing products available for purchase – there are 2! At least there were, I don't know if they've sold out yet. 2 pizzamas blankets, which are so nice, and one of them is beautiful and the other one is a very uh – statement piece, one would say.

John: [laughs] There's a lot of great stuff at It's available only for 2 weeks, only during pizzamas, this weird time of year where for some reason, Hank and I celebrate my mustachio-ed face from 2008, and as always all of our proceeds and royalties go to charity.

 (36:00) to (38:00)

John: So, check it out, So many astonishing, truly astonishing designs this year.

Hank: [laughs] And objects!

John: It continues to amaze me year after year. Go to to see all of the weird and wild pizzamas designs that are-

Hank: [overlapping] -so good

John: -only available during this year's pizzamas. 

Hank: It's two weeks and also we're making videos on vlogbrothers every weekday like we did back in 2007. 
I really love pizzamas, John.

John: Yeah! I do too!

Hank: I like clearing out my calendar and being like, you know what I'm doing now? I'm just being a YouTuber like-
John: Yeah

Hank: Like I used to be, and uh it's fun, it's a lot, but it's fun for sure.

John: Yeah, it's a great time, so check out too if you want to, but no pressure.

Hank: There's lots of videos.

John: We also have a project for awesome message from Johannes to Andrea or Andrea [different pronunciation]. I'm gonna guess Andrea.

Hank: Yeah, OK.

John: I love you so much. Yes, John, we're still together two years later and still send cheesy messages to each other via podcast.

Both: Aw!

John: That's so sweet.

Hank: That's nice.

John: Thank you, Johannes, and thank you, Andrea. And thanks to everybody who donated to the project for awesome this year. It's been lovely to read your messages all throughout the year.

Hank: John, this next question comes from Kitty, who asks Dear Hank and John, why can't I melt wood? I was told in school that anything can be in any form of matter? If it's hot or cold enough. So by that logic, the solid that is wood should turn into a liquid if it is heated enough, but it doesn't. Instead it just catches on fire. I've been thinking about this for years, Kitty. Kitty it's a great question. It's a great question I thought about it a lot and I am fairly certain that you cannot melt wood. It's a bummer.

John: So?

Hank: You want to know more about this, John?

 (38:00) to (40:00)

John: Well, I want to know if it's just not true that everything has three states of matter, because I've always kind of assumed that it's just not true. Like it seems to me that a lot of things don't have three states of matter.

Hank: Give me another example.

John: Umm... well, now I'm struggling, but only because you've put me on the spot. The same way I struggle if somebody says like, well, what's a book that you've read recently that you enjoyed? And I'm like I've - I had just arrived here on Earth, and I have only existed for one nanosecond.

Hank: Just give me one thing besides wood that you don't think can evaporate.

John: My first idea was books. But then I was like, books are made out of wood.

Hank: [laughs]

John: What can't evaporate?

Hank: I feel, I mean, I feel like there's some kind of rocks that can't evaporate. Well, here's the situation, John. You could, you could melt the stuff that wood is made out of.

John: OK, but sure.

Hank: But wood is a, is a complex bunch of like lots of different organic molecules. And some organic molecules are fairly simple and they can indeed, umm you know - carbon based molecules like methane is a great example. Like you can have gaseous methane or liquid methane or solid methane you could do that. But, what is really complicated and so especially if it's got some oxygen around it, it's going to catch on fire before it melts. But what if you say, no oxygen? You cannot oxidize, no fire - we're going to put you in pure argon, and we're going to just get you hotter and hotter and hotter and see what happens. In that case, I'm pretty sure what would happen is so these these molecules have been built, by the intentionality - these molecules have been built by energy coming into plants and being used to construct molecules that are very stable. But they are not at chemical equilibrium like-

 (40:00) to (42:00)

Hank: -there are component pieces of them that would be at lower energy states, and as they get hotter and hotter and start jiggling around, before they reach the melting point of wood, they would dissociate from each other, some gases would be released, some - I think that it would probably look a lot like char. Like, you know, burnt wood, even if it wasn't actually burning. And you would end up with like carbon and like low molecular weight organic molecules that would eventually melt and then evaporate, and it would just be gas. So yes, you can melt the things that wood is made out of, but you can't melt wood because by the time you get it hot enough, I think that it would probably - I'm fairly certain that it would, you know, break into lots of different smaller pieces. Because wood molecules are like huge, huge carbon chains that would just break apart if they got jiggled too much by energy.

John: Mm. What about bones? I feel like bones don't melt.

Hank: Uh..

John: I can do this all day.

Hank: Mmmmmm~~~? I don't know it, bones might melt.

John: Don't you feel like bones are kind of the wood of us?

Hank: [laughs] Yeah, yeah, I-

John: You know, you know what I mean.

Hank: -[overlapping] I absolutely think-

John: I don't have to explain it further.

Hank: Think so, yes, I think, yeah, I think that bones are the wood of us.

John: Yeah. And so that's why I think bones probably don't melt that well because they're like, they're what we have instead of wood.

Hank: Yeah, so I think that uh, I think that, like wood-

John: Lateral thinking.

Hank: -bones would fall apart and then they would melt, after all the pieces fell apart.

John: Alright, let's answer another question. This one comes from Katie who writes Dear John and Hank, I just re-organized my bookshelf and I was admiring my work when I noticed that John has had three different publishers - Speak Penguin and Dutton. Several other series I have are also published by different publishers. Why is this? Do publishers sell the rights of individual books to each other?

 (42:00) to (44:00)

John: Do you switch publishers like one might change jobs? Copyright and categorization? - Katie

Hank: Oh boy, you just opened up a whole bag of bones with this one.

John: [laughs]

Hank: These bones don't melt.

John: Uh-

Hank: The short answer is that actually all of those books are published by the same company. The long answer is lots of people do get their books broken up between different publishers and why is very complicated. Did I get it right?

John: Basically, Hank and I are two of the only authors who haven't changed publishers, actually. Uh, so Penguin Speak and Dutton are all different versions of the same publisher. My books are published by Dutton, but then when the paperbacks come out, for a long time - I don't think it does anymore, actually - but for a long time, Penguin had paperback specific publishers and Dutton wasn't one of them, so it would have a different, you know, set of letters on the spine, but like functionally for me, the publication experience was the same. And Hank's - both of Hank's books are published by Dutton on the adult side, just as my book The Anthropocene Reviewed was. A lot of these names don't really mean much to people outside of publishing?

Hank: Yeah.

John: And sometimes I have to explain that to people inside of publishing? [chuckles] Like, outside of publishing, nobody really cares that much about the name, but it can matter a little bit. Now most authors do change publishers the way that people change jobs or they change publishers because their editors move, or because they're unhappy with the way that their previous book was published, or because they can't get their next book published with the same publisher - there's all kinds of reasons but, the thing that's really nice about having had one publisher, and Hank and I have both been incredibly fortunate in this way, and it's mostly down to luck. But the thing that is really nice is that when you have a new book come out, the publisher is highly motivated to also sell your old books because they also published them.

 (44:00) to (46:00)

John: Whereas if you have all of your books at a bunch of different publishers, it can be a little hard to get everybody organized around supporting a new book. And so I think there's some advantages to it but, there's a lot of different ways to have a writing life, and I don't know if ours is the right way.

Hank: Well, yeah, I mean, yeah, it comes down to a lot of different individual decisions and like, opportunities and, you know, working relationships between people. So-

John: Yeah

Hank: Yeah, you are right, it often comes down to a lot of luck.

John: I mean, I would say that-

Hank: [overlapping] 98% 

John: -publishing like the rest of life - some people that ask me to like, say like how much is luck, how much is skill and I want to say like it's uh 137% luck. And like 46% skill?

Hank: Right, cuz you-

John: -cuz you can't- 

Hank: Even if you had like the maximum amount of all of it, you still can't anticipate it actually happening.

John: Yeah, it's definitely more than 100% luck.

Hank: [laughs]

John: So the news from AFC Wimbledon - I mean, it's good and it's bad, Hank. Here's the thing, AFC Wimbledon have lost now three straight games. One of those games, one of those games we lost to Arsenal, which doesn't really count and I thought-

Hank: Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah

John: -we actually played pretty well. We lost 3 nil, which is a pretty good result, but I'll tell you what, we lost 3 nil in front of 56,000 people.

Hank: Yeah..

John: And that's a 300,000-ish pound payday for AFC Wimbledon, which is massive, like it makes the rest of the season a lot easier. And so that's obviously - it would have been great to win the game but, uh playing the game was its own victory and I again, I thought we played well in places. It was a really stark contrast. A couple years ago we played Tottenham, another Big Premier League team, and we just looked awful?

 (46:00) to (48:00)

John: And in this game there were stretches of it where we really looked competitive and where we were trying to like express our own identity and I thought that was great. We then lost to Shrewsbury or Shrewsbury [different pronunciation] I guess they say in the UK - although that seems impossible to me - who were in the relegation zone and it was their first victory of the year and, it was a really disappointing win on a bunch of levels like I just - we just played like we were off the pace all day long. And that was frustrating, so the kettle is off the boil? Did I say that correctly?

Hank: Yeah,

John: A little bit after-

Hank: Well, you scored first! That's the problem.

John: We should never score first. I agree, it is a huge issue.

Hank: Yeah

John: We only come from behind. But uhm yeah, so we - that said, after nine games we're in 8th place, so,

Hank: Yeaaaa..........?

John: I'm not in, not in a position to complain.

Hank: It's good but you need to win some games.

John: Ah, we do.

Hank: Yeah, and the Dons, are in third.

John: No, no.

Hank: What's going on there?

John: No, the franchise currently plying its trade in Milton Keynes is in 3rd. The Dons are in 8th. But I know what you mean. And uh, yeah, yeah, they're good this year. We play them in a couple weeks and hopefully we can take'em down a peg.

Hank: Well, we just - so you just have to do whatever the teams that are winning a lot of games are doing. So get it, do that and it's gotta be great.

John: That is the key, Hank. You've cracked the code

Hank: Right. Well, that's going to, I think that that's really going to help fix things for it, for y'all.

John: [laughs]

Hank: Not that you're, not that you need fixing, you're doing great!

John: Eh, it's not an emergency just yet.

Hank: Um, so John, do you remember the InSight lander?

John: Of course.

Hank: Do you remember that solar panels got covered in dirt?

John: Yes.

Hank: Dustin(?), it was like, is this mission going to end?

John: We thought it was going to end, but we were waiting because maybe there was going to be a nice big Martian wind-

Hank: [overlapping] Yes

John: -that was gonna clear up those solar panels.

 (48:00) to (50:00)

Hank: Yeah, well then, and yes, so we've been waiting for this, but one of the problems is this dust that's coating the solar panels is really fine. And so it's just like a tiny, tiny thin layer. And so the moment a breeze comes over, if it might like knock a few bits off, but it just like sort of coasts over the rest of it? And so it has become a problem, and uh it was worrying a lot of scientists. So what they did, is they sprinkled some sand - so they picked up sand and they put it on the solar panels, which seems like that would make it worse because now you got bigger rocks on there, so they sprinkled sand onto the solar panels. But now when the wind comes by, that sand like makes it more turbulent? And scours away some of - and as the sand blows away, because the sand isn't so even as the dust is, it is able to push away some of the dust along with it, and that has made it possible for InSight to continue gathering data and it has been able to measure 3 quakes? Uh that are bigger than any it's ever measured? So that before the summer the largest quake the Lander had recorded was a 3.7 in 2019. On August 25th it recorded 2 quakes with magnitude 4.2 and 4.1, and then September 18th, which also happened to be Insights' one thousandth Martian day. So it seems like this thing has been there for not very long time to me, but it's been there for 1000 days. It measured a 4.2 earthquake that lasted for almost an hour and a half, making it-

John: What~?

Hank: -the longest and biggest quake the mission has detected.

John: An hour and a half?

Hank: Hour and a half long earthquake. Do I understand how that works? No, don't ask me any questions.

John: That sounds uncomfortable.

Hank: That's a little one, I don't think you'd even be able to feel that if you were a person.

John: I don't know. We had a 4.2 earthquake in Indianapolis like 14 years ago and people still talk about it.

 (50:00) to (52:00)

Hank: [laughs] Umm, so they're still trying to figure out where all these Mars quakes came from and what they are going to tell them about Mars. One of them came from 5280 miles from the Lander, making it the most distant quake recorded and opening up the mystery of exactly what region the quake originated from. So like it's far away, but like, we don't know exactly where it was when it happened

John: Wow

Hank: The lander was able to make those measurements because of that cleaning, and without that cleaning it wouldn't have been able to do it. So smart engineers solving problems and whatever the way they can from a very, very, very, very, very long way away.

John: I love the idea of eventually deciding the only chance we have to make this problem better is to first make it worse.

Hank: Yeah, yeah.

John: There's so many things like that in life.

Hank: Uh huh, cleaning my office is the main one.

John: [laughs] Yeah, exactly. Maybe I need to, like, come and, like, spray it down with something and then you'll be like, oh, now I gotta clean it.

Hank: [laughs]

John: Smells like fish eggs in here.

Hank: Oh God. Uh, no uh, yeah, I mean, it's just like everything ends up on the floor when I start cleaning. But boy, is it not great in here. Also, I may have to make my teeth worse before they get better. We'll ask the dentist when I get there.

John: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Well, thanks to everybody for listening and most importantly, thank you for all of your responses-

Hank: Yes

John: -to the lemon people bucket problem. It was so beautiful to see our community come together. Around the needs of lemon people in such an astonishing way. And it's - this is so fun. We are so grateful to you for listening.

Hank: [laughs]

John: Thank you. I cannot believe that I get to do this every week. And so thank you for writing and thank you for your many wonderful questions.

Hank: And we're off to record our Patreon-only podcast "this week in stuff", where we going to talk about some things that are making us pleased right now. Uh so come on over to that if you want to see. This podcast is edited by Joseph "Tuna" Metesh. It's produced by Rosiana Halse Rojas.

 (52:00) to (52:15)

Our communications coordinator is Julia Bloom. Our editorial assistant is Deboki Chakravarti. The music you're hearing now at the beginning of the podcast is by the great Gunnarolla, and as they say in our hometown-

Both: Don't forget to be awesome.