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Can a whale use a snorkel? Am I getting one vaccine or two? What is Hank's job? Why do some hoodies have pockets in their pockets? How many popes per square mile does the Vatican have? Is artificial gravity possible? Hank Green and John Green have answers!

If you're in need of dubious advice, email us at hankandjohn@gmail.com.

Join us for monthly livestreams and an exclusive weekly podcast at patreon.com/dearhankandjohn.

Follow us on Twitter! twitter.com/dearhankandjohn

 (00:00) to (02:00)


[Dear Hank and John intro music plays]

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 you all the week's news from both Mars and AFC Wimbledon. John, do you know why some fish like to swim in salt water?

John: I don't.

Hank: 'Cause if they swam in pepper water, that would make them sneeze.

John: [sighs] It's not even a joke. There's no pun, it's...

Hank: [laughs] John, I've just been feeling in general like my jokes have been too good lately, so I wanted to toss that one out for you.

John: Ohhh, oh, you're trying to take it down a notch to lower my expectations so that when you, in a couple weeks you're building up to an amazing jokes like Euripides, my all time favorite joke. Like, you have told a good joke in this segment and every time I think to myself, is this like

Hank: Another Euripides?

John: Is this like the tailor who´s named Euripides? No!

Hank: [laughs] That was a good one!

John: No it´s gonna be, fish don´t live in pepper water because they might sneeze. Which.. no part of the joke makes sense. Speaking of no part of anything making sense: how about 2021? Uh.. the project for awesome is ending as we are uploading this but...

Hank: Yeah! You might have a little time to get in and get those last perks.

John: You might have a little bit of time to still get some perks at projectforawesome.com/donate - wonderful perks that will be gone forever if you do not grab them quickly. I mean like, don´t text and drive obviously. Pull over, put the car in park and then go to projectforawesome.com/donate and get your perks. Including an exclusive episode of Dear Hank and John, in case you don´t get enough of this crap.

Hank: Erm.. yeah and thank you to everyone who joined us during the project for awesome. We don´t know how that went because we´re recording before it happened.

John: Hopefully it was okay!

Hank: I bet it was great!

John: Hopefully I survived.

Hank: I think, you´ll be fine. It´s a good ol´ time! Aw, man, I can´t wait for the mars news, this week and next week! Hoohuhuhu!

John: I can´t wait for the AFC Wimbledon news this weeks so... it´s exciting times!

 NewSection (2:09)


 (02:00) to (04:00)


John: This first question comes from Elisabeth who writes Dear Hank and John, would it be possible to train a whale to use a very long snorkel that attached to its blowhole so that it could swim under water forever without coming upr air? What about dolphins in scuba gear? Queen, Elisabeth
I love... I´m not sure that this question came from Her Royal Highness

Hank: Queen Elisabeth? [laughs]

John: But I like to imagine the possibility that queen Elisabeth the second is a regular listener of Dear Hank and John and is very curious about whale snorkels. This seems like the kind of thing prince Charles would be into so I´m a little bit surprised that it´s queen Elisabeth? 

Hank: Yeah! Well, maybe, she´s passing it along. 

John: Hank, you don´t spend as much time as I do thinking about the English royal family. But, man! Do I spend a lot of times thinking about those rascally rabbits. Queen Elisabeth wants to know: Is it possible for a whale to use a snorkel?

Hank: Yeah, I mean I think maybe prince Charles does and she´s just passing it along. 

John: That is exactly right! Prince Charles was like hey, I´m embarrassed to ask this question but I feel like if you ask it you´ll get an answer? I got a history of wacky ideas, mom, but maybe you can, yea

Hank: Yea, there´s a couple of potential problems here. I  mean, one: They´re already very good at this. Like a lot of whales, you´re talking about.. you´d need a Very long snorkel because they gotta go very deep. And you got some physical limitations here. You´d need a rigid snorkel so it doesn´t like push behind them. And then also the volume of the snorkel. If it´s really long, even if it´s really skinny, will contain a lot of air. And so if they´re not... if their lung capacity is equal to the volume of the interior of the snorkel, they won´t actually get air exchange with the outside world. There´s also a giant pressure differential here. That´s gonna be a big problem. There´s a number of limitations. 

 (04:00) to (06:00)


Hank: The Main one though, is that dolphins and whales are already really good at this and they don´t... I´d be like birds evolving more wings. Like, they don´t need more wings, they´re good! Like whales, yeah probably there´s an advantage to being able to stay underwater for longer, especially for like spermwhales who are deep sea hunters. But uh.. for the most part they´ve got it figured out, man! But I do wanna see a dolphin in a scuba suit, for sure!

John: Any time you´re inventing an invention you first gotta ask the question "What problem am I trying to solve?" And I´m just not convinced that in the case of whales or dolphins... like, they Have problems, don´t get me wrong, it´s just that their problems are... us. 

Hank: Yeahh, largely. And i don´t know that uhh... certainly a giant snorkel is gonna increase their ability to avoid us. 

John: I suppose so. Alternatly, we start scanning the ocean for large snorkels. 

Hank: That´s not... I mean, that´s not the biggest problem.

John: I just... I don´t trust humans any further than I can throw is and most of us I can´t throw at all. So I feel like we need to probably harness our resources around doing a better job of understanding and internalizing and acting out the fact that, like it or not, we are now the dominant species on the planet. And we to very large extend decide how things go for whales. At least for the moment. Now I think, in the long arc of history, there´s gonna come a time when the whales decide how things go for us and by the way, if we don´t do a good job right now of deciding how things go for the whales, they may remember that.

Hank: Right, yeah, and also that moment will come sooner because the process of no longer being the dominant species on the planet will be a quicker one. 

John: How long have we been truly the dominant species on the planet? Maybe like 60 000 years? 40 000 years? 

Hank: Oh no, I think less than that! 

John: Oh, I think we were crushing some large predator population 40 000 years ago.

Hank: Sure, yeah, I guess. But like not dominant, we were like a dominant species 

John: We were Top 3

Hank: We were not in control. We were not in control of the world. Well, we´re still not in control but most of what we are not in control of is ourselves.

John: You wanna know what´s in control of the world, Hank? A single strand of RNA. You wanna know what´s running this ship right now?  Like seven hundred nucleotide pairings. 

Hank: And it´s not fair, is it?

John: It´s not fair! It´s not even... I looked at a picture of it and it´s not even smart. I don´t know how long we´ve been the dominant species but one thing I do know is that we are. And at least in my opinion, we need to take this responsibility just a smidge more seriously.

 (06:00) to (08:00)


John: How long have we been truly the dominant species on the planet? Maybe like 60 000 years? 40 000 years? 

Hank: Oh no, I think less than that! 

John: Oh, I think we were crushing some large predator population 40 000 years ago.

Hank: Sure, yeah, I guess. But like not dominant, we were like a dominant species 

John: We were Top 3

Hank: We were not in control. We were not in control of the world. Well, we´re still not in control but most of what we are not in control of is ourselves.

John: You wanna know what´s in control of the world, Hank? A single strand of RNA. You wanna know what´s running this ship right now?  Like seven hundred nucleotide pairings. 

Hank: And it´s not fair, is it?

John: It´s not fair! It´s not even... I looked at a picture of it and it´s not even smart. I don´t know how long we´ve been the dominant species but one thing I do know is that we are. And at least in my opinion, we need to take this responsibility just a smidge more seriously.

 NewSection (6:52)


Hank: Alright, John, this next question comes from Grace who asks "Dear Hank and John, I´m getting my first dose of the Maderna COVID vaccine today, woooh! Due to your previous discussion about how Grover Cleveland is only one man and can therefore only be a singular president, a question occurred to me. Will I be getting one vaccine in two doses or two vaccines? Your thoughts? Not Hazel, just Grace"

John: This is the kind of question, Hank, that we really need to be answering. This is a service we can provide to the people.

Hank: Yes! It´s not like medical advise so much as pedantry. So we are here for that!

John: And it´s very important because it extends my argument that Grover Cleveland cannot be two presidents because he is only one person into new arenas which helps people understand that Grover Cleveland was not two presidents.

Hank: Right!

John: And that! Is the mission of my life.

Hank: But Grover Cleveland was, was inaugurated twice!

John: Sure!

Hank: Which is the case for Ronald Reagon and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. But there´s a scientific angle here which is that there are some vaccines that are the same vaccines twice.

John: Right!

 (08:00) to (10:00)


Hank: And there are some vaccines that are two different things.

John: Yes!

Hank: In the case of these MRNA vaccines like the Maderna vaccine, it is the same vaccine twice. Basically it´s saying, we´re gonna expose your immune system to this protein that is  part of the COVID 19 virus and your immune system will say uh that doesn´t look great. But, maybe the first time its like, well that didn´t have a significant negative impact on me, I´ll remember it but not as like s serious thread. The second time it comes along, your immune system says Oh! So this is a things I´m actually gonna see more than once. So I´m actually gonna create some robust systems to prevent you from getting this disease.  And that´s why with the MRNA vaccines and with many vaccines,  we have this booster system where it´s like first exposure and second exposure to the same vaccine. Which is the case in this case but not with all COVID vaccines. And  there are a couple that are actually two different things.

John: And in the case of those MRNA vaccines, you´re getting two doses of one vaccine. And so you´re getting a vaccine that comes in two shots which are spaced apart. Now in the case of there being  a slightly different formulation in the booster shot - and this is where it´s gonna get controversial, Grace, so strap in - you are still getting two doses of one vaccine. It´s just that the second part of the vaccine you are getting has a slightly different formulation for the previous part but it is still one vaccine. The only way you can get two vaccines if you´re in this hypothetical group that I don´t think exists yet but has been talked about where like some people might get the first dose of the Pfitzer vaccine and the second dose of the Maderna vaccine. In that case, which I don´t think has happened yet but if it were to happen, that would arguably be two vaccines because that is a Grover Cleveland and a Millard Fillmore both entering your body, not two Grover Clevelands.

 (10:00) to (12:00)


Hank: Yeah though this is another thing, like is the vaccine the individual formulation, or is the vaccine whatever system is used to vaccinate you. So you could make the case that even in the hypothetical which is the thing that people are talking about, like is it just in case measure. 

If there are doses available for one and not the other, would that be a single vaccination but with two vaccines? I guess that would be the case. 

John: To me, yes, that's exactly what it is. It's- the presidency is still the presidency, but in one part of the Presidency, Millard Fillmore has it, and in another part, Grover Cleveland has it. Now, I know that lots of people out there are just going to head off these emails at the past. Lots of people are going to say, if it's two different formulations that it's one Millard Fillmore and it's one Grover Cleveland. Wrong, wrong, wrong. It's Grover Cleveland at one time in his life and Grover Cleveland at a second time in his life-

Hank: Right.

John: A slightly different Grover Cleveland 

(Hank laughs)

John: and he's put on a few pounds. The stress of the presidency has worn him out a little bit, you know? 

Hank: Yeah, he's learned something, yes. 

John: Yeah, he's not the same Grover Cleveland that he was, but he is the same person that he was. 

Hank: And now- 

John: He is the same president that he was and the same vaccine, in my very extended metaphor.

Hank: But you can also make the case that I'm not really the same person I was five years ago. 

John: Hmm

Hank: I oftentimes think I have already had many small deaths. I am not who I once was. In, you know, in some ways I am. But in many ways… I don't know- imight argue that in most ways I am not. 

John: Hm I think-

Hank: Certainly from like when I was five till now, not really similar (?). 

John: But there's a lot of continuity between those. For one thing, you have the same brother the whole time. 

Hank: [Laughs]

John: Incredibly supportive and loving, and gets so little credit, but it's the same person, but for another thing, I agree. Like self is a self is a fiction that we whisper to ourselves to keep going for sure, no doubt. 

Hank: [Laughing harder]

John: But like it's a useful fiction and it's not just a fiction because we change,

 (12:00) to (14:00)


John: it’s a fiction because like we're living inside of a body made out of meat like we're just a series of chemical reactions, so like, I think that you're the same person, but I do relate to what you're saying in the sense that I look back on things that I did, even like five years ago. Like I'll watch like an interview of me during the press junket of “The Fault in our Stars” movie. And I'll be like looking into that person's eyes, and I know what he's thinking

Hank: [Laughs]

John: and I'll just be like, wow, that guy feels very distant from me. Like I do not- I actually feel a much closer connection to the, like me, who at the age of 27 fell in love with Sarah than I do to like the Me who at the age of 38 was on a press junket.

Hank: Right. I often will witness my own self and think: I would not make that decision. 

John: Oh yeah, I mean, all kinds of like the phenomenon where you read your writing from-

Hank: Oh boy

John: 10 years ago and you're like- 

Hank: Oh God 

John: Oh no, no, 

Hank: [Laughs]

John: I hate it.

Hank: Yeah and it's good to have you know 15 years of YouTube videos up there. 

John: [Laughing]

Hank: Just staring you in the face being like who the heck is that guy! 

(John: Well-)

Hank: When he decided to hump this statue of the Elk? 

John: [Laughing]

Hank: Did he have to do it from behind. 

John: Yeah, like both, who is that guy and [laugh] how do I put that particular Genie back in the bottle? 

Hank: Yeah yeah, yeah. 

John: Like how- how do I unake that decision? 

Hank: It's like in which of the things I've done on YouTube truly disqualify me from public office. Like -not like there's one-, but let's rank them. 

John: Yeah 

Hank: Is pumping the elk from behind number one? I feel like it's-

John: very high up there. 

Hank: It's pretty high up there. 

John: I think that an attack ad-

Hank: [Laughs very hard]

John: That was nothing but-

[Hank laughing even harder] 

John: [chuckle] clips of you humping inanimate objects around the city of Missoula would make it really difficult for you to become the- 

Hank: [Overlapping] No! But-. 

John: [continuing] mayor of Missoula

 (14:00) to (16:00)


Hank: No, and then I rebroadcast it all, it's just the same footage of except this is “I love this town”. 

John: [Loud laugh] Context is everything man.

[Hank laughs]

John:  Speaking of which we should probably provide some context for the 85% of our listeners who don't know where what we're referring to, Hank made a video. And I still don't know like the context in which this happened. 

Hank: It was a punishment!

John: OK, Hank made a video where as a punishment he humped, H-U-M-P-E-D, in case I'm not pronouncing it clearly enough, he humped many, many landmarks [laugh] in Missoula, Montana. 

Hank: Yeah, as many as I could. Pretty much everything that is a landmark. 

John: And it seemed like a hilarious idea 12 years ago,

(Hank: [Laughing] It was very funny) 

John: but even now, like if you go and you read the comments like the recent comments, 'cause that video is still on the Internet? 

Hank: Yeah. 

John: Which is part of our policy. When possible, we leave our dumb videos on the Internet as a form of ongoing public shame I guess. 

Hank: Mhm [chuckle]

John: But like when you go and read the most recent comments in that video, it's a lot of people who are like: ah this guy... is America's chemistry teacher? 

Hank: [Laughs loudly]

John: And I realize that we're making all of this much worse by talking about it.

Hank: [more laughter]

John: But one week ago, Darby commented: “I had to pause this and take a short walk in my dorm to get over the secondhand embarrassment in order to finish the video.”

Hank: [Still laughing]

John: The next most recent comment: “It's so bizarre to think that I have visited every single permanent location that Hank is humped.” 

Hank: This is… the only video that lives rent free in my head-

John: [Laugh laugh]

Hank:  I can't- I cannot wait until Tiktok discovers this. 

John: [Laughing] I love the comment from three weeks ago, “wow, you taught me so much in high school”. 

[Both laugh very hard] 

John: Imagine visiting Missoula to try and see Hank Green and ending up... yeah, you saw him. 

Hank: [Laughing] 

 (16:00) to (18:00)


Hank: “Hello should I show this to my science teacher?” 

[Both burst out laughing]

John: “You look like the dude from PBS eons”

Hank: [Bursts out laughing again] 

John: [Through laughter] That's the best one. 

[Both laughing]

John: Anyway, one vaccine Grace that was that was the question. 

[Both laugh]

 Q. 2) What does Hank do for a living?


Hank: Oh God... which John, it reminds me of the question that we got from Ember who asks [Reading] Dear Hank and John not long ago, Hank posted a video of himself finding a taxidermied squirrel on the way to work. My husband overheard me listening to it and was curious because Hank was singing about the squirrel in the video and then he asked what is Hank's job and I realized, I have no idea what on Earth Hank does for a living. 

(John chuckles)

Hank: [continuing] I know he wrote a couple of books and does a lot of podcasts and I think he works for some kind of environmental company at some point. And he sure does talk an awful lot about being busy, so I assume he does something. What does hank do? Feel the burn, Ember.

Hank: Nice!

John: That's good. I don't really know what Hank does, so I'll be interested to see how he answers this question.

Hank: God I- Well, it's it's a- it is an evolving situation. I continue to be doing a number of things. 

I am a professional Tiktoker, that’s new. 

John: Yeah you make money from Tick Tock. 

Hank: I do-

John: You better donate that money to partners in health, otherwise- you have to, it's a requirement. 

Hank: My Tiktok audiences, selected a separate charity, I let them decide where I donate. 

John: Oh, OK, OK. that’s good

Hank: So we, John and I started an educational media company together called “Complexly”. It makes shows like PBS eons and Crash Course and Scishow, and a bunch of other shows. And I run that business, which means a lot of meetings trying to get business, trying to get shows funded, trying to be there for our employees and never being there as much as I should be. 

John: Yeah. 

Hank: And trying to have that company continue existing and I also do that with another company called dftba.com where we help creators create products and merchandise

 (18:00) to (20:00)


Hank: and sell those to their communities. And likewise, I'm plenty of meetings for that business. And likewise, I try to be there for the employees of that company and also I'm not there for them enough. [chuckle] So it is in general too many things and a lot of responsibility and a lot of great people who work really hard and who I am tremendously in debt to.

John: As far as the “how does Hank make a living” portion of the question- 

Hank: Hm, that's a good point. 

John: Hank gets paid a salary by complex. 

Hank: Yep. 

John: and he gets paid a small salary by dftba.com, but the majority of money that Hank makes is from book sales. 

Hank: That is correct. You've got, you've got it in one John. 

John: And people often ask how I make a living, and in my case, I make a very small salary from complexly, and then I make almost all of my money from book sales. So, that's how the money part of it works. 

Hank: Yeah, but my job- the thing that I spend most of my time on is complexity and DFTBA. 

John: Yeah, but that's not where you get the money. 

Hank: [Overlapping] Not where I make most of my money now, which is nice that those companies don't have to have expensive CEOs, they can have me.

John: Yeah. I mean there's a downside. You know you get a cut rate CEO, you pay a cut rate price. 

 (20:00) to (22:00)


Hank: [Laughs]

John: [Laughing] I'm just kidding. I'm very grateful to you for being our cut rate CEO, because if it weren't you would be somebody who is way worse, me. 

[Both laugh]

John: Speaking of DFTBA Hank, this question comes from Allison, who writes: [reading] Dear John and Hank. I've purchased two hoodies from dftba.com and both have a small pocket on the inside of the hoodie pocket. What is this pocket for? DFTBA, Allison.

John: I have also noticed this Hank, because I also have some DFTBA hoodies- I bought them, just so I’m not accused of double dealing. I bought them and there is, there is a pocket inside of the pocket. It's like you think that you're a marsupial but it turns out that it's an inception situation where even the marsupial has a marsupial. 

Hank: Right. So there's- you got your hands in your pouch,

John: Yep

Hank: and then there's a pocket inside the pouch.

John: Right, what's it for? [chuckle] 

Hank: You know, I don't know-

John: [Bursts out laughing]

Hank: but like you gotta say, it does seem nice. It does seem like a perk.

John: Does is? 

Hank: It’s like oh hey, another pocket like whoever said: Oh no, too many pockets. An extra pocket is great.

John: I guess you could like slide a single credit card in there or something. So I guess if you want to go like running in a hoodie with only your ID and a credit card and a $10 bill, that's now possible. 

Hank: [Laugh] I still wouldn't trust it if it doesn't have a zipper, I don't put- I don't put things in Hoodie pockets that I  don't want to lose.

John: Yeah. So after consulting... we don't know, what the purpose of the pocket is, but we kind of like it. Actually, that reminds me Hank, that today's podcast is sponsored by dftba.com: dftba.com, put more pockets in your hoodies than you would ever expect,

Hank: [High pitched voice] Surprise pockets! [normal] This podcast is also brought to you by the self, a lie that we whisper to ourselves. 

John: And today's podcast is brought to you by America's favorite Cut Rate CEO Hank Green: Hank green

 (22:00) to (24:00)


John: he is the not the CEO you deserve or the CEO you need right now, you can't beat him on price. 

Hank: [Laughs]

John: I think you're right, I think you're a really good CEO, and I feel like we've been way too hard on you in this bit but-

Hank: Yeah

John: Well, I like this bit. 

Hank: Well, and this podcast is also sponsored by the Elk in that humping video, the elk statue at the Missoula Art Museum. They have since removed it. 

John: [Laughing] They had to. I mean it became a tourist attraction with thousands of Google reviews, I came here on a pilgrimage to see Hank Green humping. 

Hank: [Laugh] John, there will not be an episode of the podcast next week, just so everybody knows that we were taking a break because we need to recover after the project for awesome, which- 

John: Yeah-  

Hank: As you are listening it is- today is the day after the project for awesome. As we are recording, that is the day we would usually record and so we are sleeping.

John:  yeah, one of the joys of being an independent podcast again is that we can take some time off and we don't want to take a lot of time off because we like talking to each other and we like hearing from y'all but occasionally we do need to take a week off and this week is one of them. 

Hank: John, I have a really important question from Gracie, a question I never thought to ask myself, but I feel like you are the right person to ask. 

John: Great 

Hank: [reading] Dear Hank and John, how many popes per square mile are there in the Vatican City? Feeling Spacey, Gracie. 

John: Oh, God what a great question. 

Hank: What a good question. 

John: So Gracie there are a lot of angles to your question. 

Hank: Yeah, totally. 

John: The 1st and most important thing to know, is that there are currently more popes in the Vatican City per square mile than at any time in recorded history, because assuming that you count retired popes as like Pope Emeritus is or whatever, because right now we have two. We have a Pope, Pope Francis and we've got retired, former Pope, but not content to like, be completely retired periodically making himself heard again in public Catholic spaces Pope Benedict.

Hank: [Laugh] [interrupting] and John before you go here I have to first, mathematically, if you are only counting the current Pope, who is technically the only Pope? 

John: At the moment, yes. 

Hank: Then there are 5 popes per square mile in the Vatican City. 

John: That is incorrect. There is one Pope for every 1/5 of a mile in the Vatican City, because you can't have- 

Hank: That's the same thing! 5 volts per square mile! 

John: No, no, [laugh] that's an example of you using the magic of algebra, knowing that I don't understand it to-

 (24:00) to (26:00)


John: -to try to make something that I know isn't true because there can't be 5 folks for square mile because it can't be 5 popes. So the answer to the question is that there is one Pope for every 1/5 of a square mile in the Vatican City, unless you count Pope Benedict as being a kind of Pope Emeritus, in which case there are two popes, for every 1/5 of the Square Mile in the Vatican City, unless one or both of them is not currently in the Vatican City. The real question-

Hank: Uh huh, is if count all of the dead popes. 

John: Yesss

Hank: And also the retired Pope 

John: If you count all of the popes in the Vatican City right now, including those who have passed away but their remains are in the Vatican City. 

Hank: I have a number John. 

John: How many popes for square miles do we have Hank? 

Hank: We have 510 which is again more than the total number of popes there have been but because it's only 1/5 of a square mile, you have to multiply that by five.

John: Wait. What- there's only been 105 popes, that's wrong. 

Hank: No, 164 of them are buried elsewhere. 

John: Ohhhh, yeah that's what I would want. 

Hank: So there are about 100-

John: [Overlapping] I mean it's a little hard for me to engage in the hypotheticalisation of imagining what my life would be like if I were Pope.[Laugh] But I think I would want to be buried in Indianapolis. 

Hank: [Bursts out laughing] Next to all the vice presidents.

John: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean-

Hank: Yeah, on top of that (?) tomb at the top of the Hill just be like- 

John: I feel very strongly about being buried in Crown Hill Cemetery because it gets you so much tourism traffic from being the home of more dead vice presidents than any other location on Earth, I mean, you should see Crown Hill on a Wednesday morning. I mean the tourists just come in by the thousands. 

Hank: [Laugh] 

John: I'm just kidding, it's always me alone walking there. I'm the only person who regularly walks there. There's a couple other like, high level cyclists who use the Hill in Crown Hill to, you know, experience what passes for topography in Indianapolis. But yeah, it's mostly just me looking at those old vice presidents. 

 (26:00) to (28:00)


Hank: I love this sentence: “approximately 100 papal tombs are at least partially extant (?). 

So we don't exactly know... which is amazing. There’s an area that is 1/5 of a square mile, and we're not sure how many popes are in it. 

John: Yeah.

Hank: Approximately!

John: Well, welcome to history Hank. I mean it's all like that. There's a lot we don't know. 

Hank: [Shouting] Just go through! 

John: No, it's not that easy. 

Hank: Just do it- just do a cross sectional walk!- 

John: The records aren't that good 

Hank: -and count the popes you come across 

John: But we don't know for sure if we're coming across the Pope. 

Hank: Ah, that's true and then also there's a, I think, a number of levels. It's not just like sort of a flat area, there's below and above ground structure.

John: Sure. [uninteligeble] 

Hank: If i’ve learned anything from Shannon Brown. It's that the Vatican City goes a long way down. 

John: [Laughs] All right, there's either one Pope, 

Hank: Yeah, 

John: Or 500 or two, depending on how you construct the various definitions. 

 Question ()


John: This next question comes from Catherine, who writes [reading] Dear John and Hank, in sci-fi movies set in space characters almost never experience weightlessness inside their spaceships. They just walk around as if they're on earth. Now, obviously this is a story convenience, but I think Star Trek explains it away by saying that the enterprise has artificial gravity but is that possible in real life? What kind of technology would be required to simulate gravity inside of a spaceship? Could any of it ever be practical for space travel in the real world? 

Hank: Ahhh no, well, OK, so so there is artificial gravity where we sort of handwave, which is Star Trek where they just say there's artificial gravity and it's not really explained as to how it is created. We- from our current understanding of how gravity works, there isn't a way to do that, so to create the gravity field, you would have to create the mass and then you'd have to push the mass around, which would be entirely impractical because it would be the mass of the earth. So to create that kind of just like artificial gravity through some kind of gravitational field, we don't think that's possible now it might be, but we don't think it is.

 (28:00) to (30:00)


Hank: Now there are also actual ways to create gravity like things in space, and that would be spinning structures. So you have a ring, or you have a cylinder and that ring or cylinder spins and that creates a force as you spin along because you know, as you are moving the, the ground is sort of always curving as if you are in a carnival game being squished against the floor. And if you have a large enough- 

John: That's my favorite kind of gravity, that would be fun. I would love that version of space travel where I barf on the people next to me-

Hank: [Laughs]

John: -every like 8 seconds for years and years. 

Hank: Well, so the trick of this is if the ring is big enough then it doesn't- it just feels like gravity. Now if the ring is small, you have these- the situation where your head actually experiences a noticeably different amount of gravity than your feet. And that would be pretty disorienting, and so you need to construct a really big ring or cylinder in order to create gravity that would be comfortable for the average person and it would be like healthy to be in, but that is totally doable, like there isn't a technical limit on our ability to make a big ring in space. 

In fact, there are lots of ways that people imagine that we could do this. My favorite is hollowing out an asteroid,  think that that's- our main space future is living on the inside of asteroids because living in a space station just has all kinds of cosmic ray particle problems where you just- your cancer risk goes way up. But if you live in that asteroid, you can create a very large amount of asteroid between you and space and that will protect you. But it'll be dark in there, and so you have to find other ways of getting light so you need a lot of energy. Anyway, that's- I'm a big fan of that. Not no work, you know we don't know how to do a lot of things, but we can imagine how to do them, like we can't imagine how to create a gravity field, we can imagine moving an asteroid into orbit around Earth, carving out a big area of the inside of it, spinning it up, and then having people live on the interior of that.

 (30:00) to (32:00)


Hank: So there's no like technical reason why we couldn't except for just resources and also, you know, I personally don't know how to hollow out an asteroid, and I don't think that anyone does, but you could imagine it being done.

John: Yeah, I think you just use  like an advanced sort of spoon, you know. 

Hank: Yeah, you need some kind of robotics, very hot robotic spoon. 

John: Just carve it out a little bit at a time. 

Hank: Yeah, and then the advantage of that is that you know if you use a metallic asteroid to do that -which would probably be the best kind to use, 'cause those are pretty sturdy- you also get a lot of metal and a lot of people are interested in that metal for its uses on Earth or in space.

John: You could use it to forge the hardest rocking heavy metal band of all time.

Hank: Potentially, or it could just be, you know, steel that we could build buildings with 

John: Boooring

Hank: Lithium for batteries, cobalt, all that stuff

John: Well why have cobalt when you can have rock and roll? 

Hank: Well, I think space rock and roll will be very interesting John, we’ll have to see what that looks like. 

John: I am excited for what music sounds like in different kinds of atmospheres, I feel like that's going to be one of the first things that we try to figure out. 

Hank: I forgot about the other kind of artificial gravity chunk. 

John: Oh great

Hank: If you're still curious

John: I'm very curious. 

Hank: So a popular show right now is “The Expanse” and in “The Expanse” you will sometimes see people walking around in like “mag boots” basically so that like clamped to the floor. 

John: Right.. 

Hank: So they're walking around, but it's sort of like looks like artificial gravity, but it's not there, just sort of magnetic to the floor. But they do also have a kind of gravity or artificial gravity in the expanse, which is just that their ships go very fast, so the ships are constantly accelerating at like 9.8 meters per second per second, which if the ship is moving that fast, if the rocket engine is pushing out from below and you are standing like basically right on top of the engine. 

Then it's pushing up into you and that is creating the gravity of “The expanse”, and so in the books ships go at different speeds.

 (32:00) to (34:00)


Hank: Basically to simulate different gravities, and then when they've reached the halfway point in their travels, they just turn around decelerating at 9.8 meters per second. And then you still have that artificial gravity. That would require just a trip like a tremendous change in how we accelerate spacecrafts that we currently don't have. 

Because we just need a lot more reaction mass than we can currently carry around- reaction mass being the stuff that you spit out the back of the spacecraft in order to create the acceleration.

John: It's funny you should mention that because reaction mass is also the name of my hypothetical heavy metal band. 

Hank: [laughing] That’s pretty good. 

John: It's great, it's a great band name. 

Hank: [Laughs]

John: Hank, as you know, AFC Wimbledon fired their manager Glenn Hodges after 14 consecutive League games without a win, including a devastating loss to the franchise, currently plying its trade in Milton Keynes. The new interim manager, Mark Robinson coaches our kids. 

Hank: [Laugh] Oh God, John do you think you'd be a good soccer coach? 

John: I'd be great. 

Hank: You think like- one of the things I've been thinking about is that expertise is important, but not as important as like dedication and shared values. Do you have the dedication and shared values to be the new coach of AFC Wimbledon? 

John: No. 

Hank: Do you have the ability to reside legally in the United Kingdom? [Chuckle] 

John: Also, no. There are a lot of reasons why I would not be a good coach for AFC Wimbledon. But for a long time, Mark Robinson coached the under 18 AFC Wimbledon team and not only did he have amazing results, the kind of like loyalty and love that his players have for him is like something I have almost never seen in football. He's been with the team as a youth coach since almost the very beginning of the Wimbledon rebirth.

 (34:00) to (36:00)


John: He's worked his way up, first as the Under 18's manager, then eventually as the first team coach and the loans manager. And now he is having an opportunity as the interim manager of AFC Wimbledon and I have to say, personally I am rooting. I mean I would love for him to become the permanent manager because he's just- he is to your point he is one of those people who just makes you believe. You know you listen to him talk and and you believe it's possible you believe that the impossible is possible. You want to run through walls. So in his first League game in charge we were playing Wigan Athletic on the road we went up to nil which of course we all know how that ends. 

Hank: [Laughing] Oh no

John: Right I mean we've spent enough time with AFC within this season to know what a two nil lead means. It means that Wigan are going to score two goals. It's going to be 2:2 and then in the 88th minute Wigan are gonna score a third goal and it's going to be 3:2 and we're going to lose just like we lose every game. And that has happened so many times that like as a fan I was thinking oh it's inevitable, it's inevitable, but no! No, Mark Robinson just made them believe, made them believe different, made them believe that something else was possible. And instead of giving up a goal at the end of the game and losing three to two dang if Joe Pigott didn't score his second goal of the game and we won three to two, taking us out of the relegation zone for the first time in several weeks, and suddenly we’re in 19th place with not that bad of a goal difference an I think that we might be on our way to the playoffs. 

Hank: [Laughs] Well, I mean the main thing is like winning your first game in 12 games.

John:  I know! And we have the same players, the only difference is- I mean, I really- if you have a chance-

 (36:00) to (38:00)


John: -and I know that most people who listen to this podcast are not fans of third tier English soccer, but if you have a chance, go on YouTube and listen to one of Mark Robinson's postgame interviews because they sound nothing like any regular managers postgame interviews. He sounds like an actual human being talking to you about the actual human work of trying to win football games, it's really lovely and arresting and I'm rooting for him so so hard.

Hank: What should we take from the reality that Wigan Athletic is the second worst team in the League? 

John: Nothing. I mean we were losing to everybody Hank so it doesn't matter. 

Hank: [Laughs] OK

John: That doesn't matter one little bit. We were losing to everybody so the fact that we won that game is huge obviously, I mean to be honest with you from my perspective like those are the games we gotta win we've, you know we've got 

Hank: If you lose that game, yeah 

John: We have 20 games left in the season and we need like 22 points from those games. And if we beat the people below us, we should be mostly OK. 

Hank: Alright, well good, I'm glad the Mars news right now is tight, it's exciting, but it is also about the future and it is also a little scary because it's time for all the Mars stuff that was happening in July, all of those launches to start arriving, and so by the time this podcast airs, two of them should have arrived. And one more will be only a few days away. The first two will be the USA (?) Orbiter which is scheduled to get to Mars on the 9th. And the next day, on the 10th it will be joined by Tianwen 1 Orbiter Rover Combo sent by China. It is already sent back its first picture of Mars taken from about 1.4 million miles away. So that's week one of arrivals and then coming soon after will be the Perseverance Rover! Which will be making its final descent on the 18th and NASA will be doing a live stream on that day. I don't know what I will be doing, but I imagine I'll be doing something so follow me on Twitter while it's happening. It will be terrifying!

 (38:00) to (40:00)


John: Yeah

Hank:  'cause you know. 

John: Yeah, but potentially so exciting if it happens, but yeah. 

Hank: Well yes, but yeah. 

John: I remember the nerves of the day. 

Hank: Oh God, curiosity was terrifying, yeah? 

John: Oh, but then it was one of the purest shared joys I can remember experiencing of that entire decade, so I know that a lot can go wrong and I know that there's not a lot that can be done when things go wrong so many millions of miles away. 

Hank: [Laughing] Yeah. 

John: But I- yeah, I will be watching with you and just trying to send good wishes and support to all of the people who have worked so, so hard for many, many years for this moment. 

Hank: Yeah, I'm super excited and best of luck to all of the mission scientists for missions that are arriving at Mars. I love that like due to the necessity of orbits, it happens in these like collective moments where all these missions arrive at the same time, and all of them launch at the same time so it's been awhile since we've had one of those, so it's exciting to have some new Mars news. I mean, in any case, Curiosity is still an ongoing and successful mission, and so, like there will be, you know that mission still going on. But ideally will have two new Rovers on the Red Planet in the matter of weeks. 

John: Super exciting. Let's keep our fingers crossed. Hank thank you for podding with me. Thanks everybody for listening, and thank you for sending in your questions at hankandjohn@gmail.com, we're sorry for all the questions we don't answer, but thank you for sending them, they are super helpful and even even your corrections, although I don't often agree with them. 

Hank: John, if you have any project for Awesome Perks that you have not got, I think that if you go right now on Monday or Tuesday, they will still be up and available and then they will never be available again. So go and get them. We are off now to record our patron only podcast. “This week in stuff” that will be fun at patreon.com/dearhankandjohn which helps to fund complexlys work. And here we will just be talking about whatever is bringing us a little bit of joy right now. 

 (40:00) to (40:24)


 Credits (39:37)



Hank: This podcast is edited by Joseph “Tuna” Metesh. It's produced by Rosiana Halse Rojas, and Sheridan Gibson. Our communications coordinator is Julia Bloom. Our editorial assistant is Deboki Chakravarti. The music you're hearing now and 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.