The President’s Guide to Science


Aired first in September, this BBC production asks famous scientists to offer important words of advice to the next American president. What does Obama need to know to make smart decisions about key issues ranging from nuclear proliferation to climate change?

Top Ten Versions of Leonard Cohen’s Classic “Hallelujah”

Hat tip to Bob for tipping us off to this collection put together by The Mirror in the UK. They take  Leonard Cohen’s classic “Hallelujah” (listen below) and then bring you the ten best cover versions. On the list, you’ll find versions by Bob Dylan, John Cale (founder of The Velvet Underground), Rufus Wainwright, Jeff Buckley, among others.

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The Oxford-Cambridge Podcasts

Two of England’s oldest universities, Oxford and Cambridge, have taken the leap into the digital age, recently launching their own podcast channels. Now, no matter where you live, you can experience the intellectual world that has given us William Gladstone, Oscar Wilde, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking (Oxford alums) and also John Milton, Charles Darwin, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Salman Rushdie (Cambridge alums).

When I first started this blog, Oxford offered up only one podcast, which was really a mini-course by Stuart Lee called Old English in Context (iTunesRSS). Fast forward a couple of years and you find a much more robust general collection (iTunesRSSWeb Site). Here’s a quick sampling of the audio & video available to you here:

Cambridge’s collection (iTunesRSSWeb Site) perhaps doesn’t have the same breadth. But it has more focus, and more video podcasts. The collection notably features The Naked Scientists (iTunes – RSS– Web Site), a well established podcast by Dr. Chris Smith, which “takes an interactive look at different aspects of science, medicine and technology.”  You’ll also find here another science podcast called “In a Blink of an Eye” (iTunes). Recorded in video, this program takes things that we see in everyday life, and then shows us what’s really happening on the atomic and molecular level. And, for the past several weeks, it has remained one of the most downloaded podcasts on iTunesU. It currently ranks fifth. Other notable podcasts include God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible, The Language of Law: Why Poetry Matters, Cambridge Codebreakers and British Intelligence, and A Future Beyond Oil.

For more free university content, check out our two collections: University Podcast Collections and Free University Courses.

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Get Wikipedia on Your Mobile Phone

A Lifehacker post reminded me to spread the word about the newish mobile version of Wikipedia. Simply bookmark this page ( on your wireless device, and you can then research all of your questions on the fly. When did the French finally get rid of Robespierre? What’s the gist of Einstein’s special theory of relativity? Where is Bhutan? You can figure it all out wherever you are.

I’m not sure how this mobile page looks on various mobile devices. But I can report that it looks a-ok on the iPhone. iPhone users can also use the new Wikipedia Mobile app that’s now available in the iTunes store.

Atlas Shrugged Updated for the Current Financial Crisis

Ayn Rand’s classic gets dusted off and humorously brought into 2008 over at McSweeney’s. Worth a read. 

As a side note, you may want to revisit the New York Times 2007 piece, Ayn Rand’s Literature of Capitalism, which talks about the influence that Atlas Shrugged (and its free market philosophy) has had on Fortune 500 CEOs and particularly Alan Greenspan, the former head of the Federal Reserve, who helped architect the deregulated banking system that’s now unwinding around us. Belatedly, Greenspan would acknowledge a “flaw in the model” that he “perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works” — which is a fancy way of saying “on second thought, maybe the free markets don’t always regulate themselves.” And there we have it, another utopian ideology collides with reality. Not the first, and it won’t be the last.

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40 Inspirational Film Speeches in 2 Minutes

Let’s ease into the weekend on a high note:

via Lifehacker via Overthinkingit

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Woody Allen on The Dick Cavett Show Circa 1970

Bad clothes, really bad TV sets, not so good hair, and some briefly good comedy — that’s what you get when Woody Allen hits the Dick Cavett Show in or around 1970. Watch it below, and get other segments here, here, and here. And find it on our YouTube Favorites.

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Animated Aurora Borealis

While working on the International Space Station, Astronaut Don Pettit created this remarkable video of the aurora borealis (otherwise known as The Northern Lights). How? By stitching together a large sequence of still images that he took from space. It makes for some good viewing.


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via NYTimes DotEarth

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.