India on Film, 1899-1947: An Archive of 90 Historic Films Now Online

India, the largest democracy in the world, is a rising economic powerhouse, and a major player in the fields of media, entertainment, and telecommunications.

But for many armchair travelers, subcontinental modernity takes a backseat to postcard visions of elephants, teeming rustic streets, and snake charmers.

Fans of Rudyard Kipling and E.M. Forster will thrill to the vintage footage in a just released British Film Institute online archive, India on Film (see a trailer above).




1914’s The Wonderful Fruit of the Tropics, a stencil-coloured French-produced primer on the edible flora of India offers just the right blend of exoticism and reassurance (“the fruit of a mango is excellent as a food”) for a newly arrived British housewife.

A Native Street in India (1906) speaks to the populousness that continues to define a country scheduled to outpace China’s numbers within the next 10 years.

An Eastern Market follows a Punjabi farmer’s trek to town, to buy and sell and take in the big city sights.

The archive’s biggest celeb is surely activist Mahatma Gandhi, whose great nephew, Kanu, enjoyed unlimited filming access on the assurance that he would never ask his uncle to pose.

The Raj makes itself known in 1925's King Emperor's Cup Race, a Handley Page biplane arriving in Calcutta in 1917, and several films documenting Edward Prince of Wales’ 1922 tour

Explore the full BFI’s full India on Film: 1899-1947 playlist here. It features 90 films in total, with maybe more to come.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Watch 50 Hours of Nature Soundscapes from the BBC: Scientifically Proven to Ease Stress and Promote Happiness & Awe

A recent study from BBC Earth and UC-Berkeley has shown that watching nature documentaries can inspire "significant increases in feelings of awe, contentedness, joy, amusement and curiosity" and conversely "reduce feelings of tiredness, anger and stress." In short, they can engender what the authors of the study call ‘real happiness’ – a kind of happiness that leads to actual improvement in individuals’ health and wellbeing,

With that in mind, the BBC has just released 50 hours of HD "visual soundscapes" on YouTube, using leftover footage from their Planet Earth II TV seriesTen hours of mountains; ten hours of jungle; ten hours of islands; ten hours of desert; and ten hours of grasslands--they're all featured in the long, soothing soundscape playlist featured above. Use them well.

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Google Uses Artificial Intelligence to Map Thousands of Bird Sounds Into an Interactive Visualization

If you were around in 2013, you may recall that we told you about Cornell's Archive of 150,000 Bird Calls and Animal Sounds, with Recordings Going Back to 1929. It's a splendid place for ornithologists and bird lovers to spend time. And, it turns out, the same also applies to computer programmers.

Late last year, Google launched an experiment where, drawing on Cornell's sound archive, they used machine learning (artificial intelligence that lets computers learn and do tasks on their own) to organize thousands of bird sounds into a map where similar sounds are placed closer together. And it resulted in this impressive interactive visualization. Check it out. Or head into Cornell's archive and do your own old-fashioned explorations.

Note: You can find free courses on machine learning and artificial intelligence in the Relateds below.

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Dr. Jane Goodall Will Teach an Online Course About Conserving Our Environment

A quick heads up: The great primatologist and anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall--now 83 years old--will soon teach her first online course ever. Hosted by Masterclass, the course, consisting of 25 video lectures, will teach students how they can conserve the environment. It will also share Goodall's research on the behavioral patterns of chimpanzees and what they taught her about conservation. The course won't get started until this fall, but you can pre-enroll now. The cost is $90.

Other courses currently offered by Masterclass include:

Find more courses taught by star instructors here.

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