One Day, One World, United by Film

In 2006, doc­u­men­tary film­mak­er Jehane Nou­jaim (Con­trol Room) made a wish at the TED con­fer­ence (see below) — for world peace. For Nou­jaim, peace starts with cul­tur­al exchange, with get­ting to know one anoth­er. And since we all can’t trav­el, anoth­er way to achieve this is through film and its abil­i­ty to “take you into new worlds” and “across bor­ders.”

Two years lat­er, Nou­jaim’s wish may come true, and the uni­fy­ing pow­er of film will be put to the test. May 10 marks Pangea Day, a day when peo­ple from around the world (from Mum­bai and Cairo to Kigali, Rio and LA) will come togeth­er and watch the same films made by var­i­ous inter­na­tion­al film­mak­ers. “Watch par­ties” will be held world­wide, and the event will be broad­cast via web­cast and mobile phone. Below, we’ve also post­ed a movie trail­er intro­duc­ing the con­cept of Pangea Day. For more infor­ma­tion, click here. (Thanks Natasha for the heads up.)

Nou­jaim at TED

Pangea Day Trail­er

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Teaching on YouTube Goes Viral

Last week, Alexan­dra Juhasz con­tributed a guest piece review­ing her exper­i­men­tal efforts to make YouTube an effec­tive teach­ing tool. And it did­n’t take long for the web to take notice. Soon after we post­ed her review, The Wired Cam­pus (Chron­i­cle of High­er Edu­ca­tion) took an angle on the piece. Next, the ven­er­a­ble Ars Tech­ni­ca used the post as a spring­board for its own sum­ma­ry. And final­ly, that sto­ry soon reached the home­page of, which inevitably meant that Alexan­dra’s piece got picked up by umpteen small­er blogs. It’s always fun to watch the rip­ple effects of the web go through their motions.

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Self-Regenerating Robots

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia has done it. They’ve cre­at­ed a robot that you can kick apart, and it knows how to reassem­ble itself. Eerie stuff. Give it a few decades, and these guys (the robots and the stu­dents) will be run­ning the show. (Video added to our YouTube playlist)

via Marc Andreessen’s blog

For lots of good sci­ence pod­casts, check out our list here.

The British Slant on the Mac v. PC Ads

Across the pond, Apple is run­ning a series of ads fash­ioned after the “Mac v. PC” com­mer­cials that have run so suc­cess­ful­ly in the States. Although the vocab­u­lary and accent are nat­u­ral­ly dif­fer­ent, the gist of the British ads is essen­tial­ly the same. Yes, Apple’s schtick trans­lates well, and I’m declar­ing the third one my favorite. (See the series of com­mer­cials below.)

As our read­ers from Lon­don will know (fact: we have more read­ers from Lon­don than any oth­er one city), the actors in Apple’s ads are hard­ly unfa­mil­iar. The two — David Mitchell (PC) and Robert Webb (Mac) — star in the award-win­ning Eng­lish sit­com, Peep Show, which is just about to begin a new sea­son. (Watch sec­ond clip below. Note that it fea­tures adult lan­guage and themes.)

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Body of War: Paralyzed in Iraq and the Long Road Back

On the Amer­i­can home front, the Iraq war has entered its apa­thet­ic phase. The war con­tin­ues to grind on, but the mis­sion gets far less news ink than before, and the debate over the war’s mer­its and tac­tics rarely gets hashed back through. That’s per­haps because many have decid­ed to men­tal­ly park the issue until a new admin­is­tra­tion takes over next year. Or because declin­ing home prices and ris­ing food and gas costs have elbowed the Iraq issue aside. Unde­terred, Phil Don­ahue and Ellen Spiro have co-direct­ed a new doc­u­men­tary called Body of War. Being released in US the­aters this month, the doc­u­men­tary (fea­tur­ing music arranged by Eddie Ved­der) tracks the dai­ly life of Tomas Young, a sol­dier shot and par­a­lyzed dur­ing his first week of fight­ing in Iraq, and it gives you a rare glimpse into the dif­fi­cult road that Young and oth­ers have had to trav­el. All of this makes tan­gi­ble some­thing that the cor­po­ra­tized media has­n’t cov­ered much — the real human costs of this war. To date, 4,361 Amer­i­can sol­diers have died in Iraq; over 30,000 have been injured in hos­tile action; and sui­cides of return­ing vets have report­ed­ly risen to alarm­ing rates. Below, we have post­ed the trail­er for the film. In addi­tion, I’d point you to this recent pod­cast by Bill Moy­ers (iTunesFeedWeb Site), which intro­duces you to Tomas Young, Phil Dono­hue, Ellen Spiro and the film they made.

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The Story Behind Ansel Adams’ Famous Yosemite Shots

The New York Times is run­ning an inter­ac­tive fea­ture that will give you the back­sto­ry behind Ansel Adams’ icon­ic pho­tos tak­en at Yosemite Nation­al Park. Just click on the indi­vid­ual images on this page, and you’ll get a dif­fer­ent sto­ry. (Also see the Times’ accom­pa­ny­ing piece: What Adams Saw Through His Lens.)

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Learn the Art of Pho­tog­ra­phy: The Nikon Way

How Cam­era Lens­es are Made

The Best Pho­to­blogs of 2007

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Grateful Dead Donates Archive to UC Santa Cruz

Sur­viv­ing mem­bers of the Grate­ful Dead announced Thurs­day that they will be donat­ing their archives to UC San­ta Cruz. This pod­cast (FeedWeb Site), fea­tur­ing Bob Weir and Mick­ey Hart (among oth­ers), gives you insight into the think­ing behind this move…

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Scott Sigler’s Infected: Free via Podcast, $16.47 on Amazon

Hor­ror/s­ci-fi fans, here you go… Scott Sigler’s new and very well-reviewed thriller, Infect­ed, can be down­loaded for free via pod­cast (iTunesFeedWeb site). Or you can get it in hard­back for $16.47, which I’m not dis­cour­ag­ing you from doing.

With the links above, you can down­load more free books from Sigler. But, I warn you that the books con­tain a good dose of graph­ic lan­guage.

Check out our exten­sive col­lec­tion of Free Audio­books here.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.