Bryan Cranston Narrates the Landing on Omaha Beach on the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion

75 years ago today, the Allies launched the D-Day invasion in Normandy, which marked a critical turning point in World War II--the beginning of the freeing of Europe from Nazi control. Above, actor Bryan Cranston commemorates the anniversary by reading a letter that Pfc. Dominick "Dom" Bart sent to his wife. A 32-year-old infantryman, Bart took part in the harrowing first wave of the massive amphibious assault. Below, we also hear Cranston reading the words of Pfc. Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, describing "his first taste of battle as a paratrooper in the D-Day invasion." As Cranston reads, you can watch "never-before-seen restored high-resolution 4K footage from Omaha Beach."

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Don't miss the very end. And don't miss The Who on tour this summer...

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Free: Play the Original “Minecraft” in Your Browser

A quick heads up from Engadget: “Minecraft is celebrating its 10th birthday by making its Classic version easily playable on web browsers. You don't need to download any files to make it work, and you don't have to pay a cent for access. Since Classic was only the second phase in the game's development cycle, its features are pretty limited. You'll only have 32 blocks to work with, most of which are dyed wool, and it's strictly creative mode only. But who needs zombies, skeletons and other mobs when you have the version's decade-old bugs to contend with, anyway?”

Click here to launch in your browser. Find more vintage video games you can play in your browser below.

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Download the ModulAir, a Free Polyphonic Synthesizer, and Make Your Own Electronic Sounds

Over the years, we've talked a fair share about electronic music--from the earliest days of the genre, through contemporary times. Now, we give you a chance to make your own electronic sounds.

According to Synthopia, a portal devoted to electronic music, "Full Bucket Music has released ModulAir 1.0 – a free polyphonic modular synthesizer for Mac & Windows." (For the uninitiated, a polyphonic synthesizer--versus a monophonic one--can play multiple notes at once.) The ModulAir "is a modular polyphonic software synthesizer for Microsoft Windows (VST) and Apple macOS (VST/AU), written in native C++ code for high performance and low CPU consumption." Watch a demo above, and download it here.

via Synthopia

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The Lighter Side of Stephen Hawking: The Physicist Cracks Jokes and a Smile with John Oliver

In our tribute to Stephen Hawking earlier today, we discussed the intellectual legacy of the departed physicist, paying particular attention to his groundbreaking work on black holes. The video above is a bit lighter. It just lets you watch Hawking in a comedic exchange with his compatriot John Oliver. If I'm not mistaken, around the 3:46 mark, you can even see him crack a smile. Enjoy.

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Finding Meaning in Music: A Short Documentary on How a Young Tech Pioneer, Confronting His Mortality, Prepared for His Final Violin Performance

The doctor breaks the news. You have terminal cancer, and you might have only a few months to live. How would you spend those final days? That's a question that Eric Sun had to confront when doctors told him he had a glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, in 2016. Only 32 years old, Sun had studied computer science and economics at Stanford, then went to work at Facebook in 2008. Everything was on track. Until it wasn't. Then big decisions had to be made.

Last month, the New Yorker published a poignant profile on Sun, documenting how, facing mortality, he found refuge--and maybe some kind of deeper meaning--in music. The related video above, "Finding Meaning in Music," lets you see Sun returning to his lifelong passion--playing violin--and getting ready for his final performance. In the end, it's art that nourishes the soul.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” Played With 167 Theremins Placed Inside Matryoshka Dolls in Japan

Back in 2011, in Tokyo, 167 musicians performed some classic Beethoven with the "Matryomin," a new-fangled instrument that lodges a theremin inside a matryoshka. A matryoshka, of course, is one of those Russian nested dolls where you find wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other. As for the theremin, it's a century-old electronic musical instrument that requires no physical contact from the player. You can watch its inventor, Leon Theremin, give it a demo in the vintage video below. Or via these links you can see the Matryomin Ensemble performing versions of Amazing Grace and Memory of Russia. Enjoy.

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on Open Culture in July, 2013. It's like the Olympics. It comes back once every four years.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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