Royal Society Launches Web Site Celebrating 350 Years of Science

A quick men­tion: The Roy­al Soci­ety, the UK’s nation­al acad­e­my of sci­ence, will cel­e­brate next year its 350th anniver­sary. To mark the occa­sion, a team of sci­en­tists and his­to­ri­ans have launched a new web site called “Trail­blaz­ing,” and it essen­tial­ly lets you take a vir­tu­al tour through three and a half cen­turies of sci­en­tif­ic dis­cov­ery (1660–2010). Mov­ing at your own pace, you can review key sci­en­tif­ic dis­cov­er­ies (some of them famous, some of them less so) and read cor­re­spond­ing com­men­tary on each one. Quite nice­ly, all of the com­men­tary can be down­loaded via one big PDF file. (It runs about 110 pages long.)

Thanks to Phan­tom Engi­neer for the tip here. And thanks all for the many leads I’ve received late­ly. They’re all real­ly appre­ci­at­ed, and they frankly make the site much bet­ter. Keep ’em com­ing.

Making Money By Giving Your Movie Away (But How Much?)

Nina Paley cre­at­ed some buzz ear­li­er this year when she decid­ed to give her award-win­ning ani­mat­ed film, Sita Sings the Blues, to the pub­lic, releas­ing it under a Cre­ative Com­mons license. This was anoth­er test of the con­cept that artists can make mon­ey by giv­ing their work away. Today, The Wall Street Jour­nal gives an account­ing of how this the­o­ry played out in prac­tice. Here’s how things break down:

  • Total dona­tions from peo­ple who appre­ci­ate her giv­ing out free con­tent: $23,000
  • Prof­its from her online store which sells mer­chan­dise and DVDs: $19,000
  • The­atri­cal dis­tri­b­u­tion rev­enues: $3,000 (out of total box office tal­ly of $22,350)
  • Addi­tion­al DVD dis­tri­b­u­tion: $3,000
  • Broad­cast tele­vi­sion dis­tri­b­u­tion: $3,000
  • Rev­enue from Cen­tral Cin­e­ma in Seat­tle which showed the film: $4,000
  • The grand total: $55,000

As the WSJ notes, these num­bers don’t reflect the mon­ey she spent mak­ing the film . (Paley puts the num­ber at $150,000 in hard costs.) They also don’t account for the indi­rect rev­enue that she will gen­er­ate down the line. But putting Sita Sings the Blues in front of so many peo­ple, the world now knows a lot more about Nina Paley and her tal­ents. I have to believe that she can trade on that (if she wants to) when­ev­er she agrees to direct a film, or accepts a speak­ing engage­ment. The WSJ equa­tion does­n’t take this piece into account (it’s admit­ted­ly hard to mea­sure), but it’s prob­a­bly the most impor­tant part of the over­all analy­sis.

You can down­load Sita Sings the Blues here, watch it on YouTube here, or find it in our col­lec­tion of Free Movies Online.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How I Sold My Book by Giv­ing It Away: You should all see this sep­a­rate post by Seth Har­wood. It focus­es on sim­i­lar issues, but trans­lat­ed to the book world.

Stanford Online Writing Courses – The Winter Lineup

A quick fyi: On Mon­day morn­ing (8:30 am Cal­i­for­nia time), Stan­ford Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies opens up reg­is­tra­tion for its win­ter line­up of online writ­ing cours­es. Offered in part­ner­ship with the Stan­ford Cre­ative Writ­ing Pro­gram (one of the most dis­tin­guished writ­ing pro­grams in the coun­try), these online cours­es give begin­ning and advanced writ­ers, no mat­ter where they live, the chance to refine their craft with gift­ed writ­ing instruc­tors. As you will see, there are a cou­ple of cours­es offered in con­junc­tion with The New York Times. The idea here is that you’ll learn writ­ing from a Stan­ford writ­ing instruc­tor and then get your work reviewed by a New York Times book critic/writer. Quite a perk. And the cours­es sell out quick­ly. For more infor­ma­tion, click here, or sep­a­rate­ly check out the FAQ and the tes­ti­mo­ni­als.

Caveat emp­tor: These class­es are not free, and I helped set them up. So while I whole­heart­ed­ly believe in these cours­es, you can take my views with a grain of salt.

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T.S. Eliot Reads The Waste Land

T.S. Eliot’s 1922 poem, The Waste Land, is often con­sid­ered one of the great poems of the 20th cen­tu­ry. Above, you can lis­ten to Eliot him­self read­ing his mod­ernist mas­ter­piece (text here). And, if you want more, how about Eliot read­ing The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, anoth­er major work, against the back­drop of Por­tishead? Sac­ri­lege, I know.

You can find both poems in our exten­sive Free Audio Book col­lec­tion, which con­tains hun­dreds of clas­sic works. Fic­tion, non-fic­tion, and poet­ry. It’s all there, and all free.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

James Joyce Read­ing from Finnegans Wake

Tchaikovsky’s Voice Cap­tured on an Edi­son Cylin­der (1899)

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Three Free Luis Buñuel Films

bunuelA quick note for US read­ers: Right now, you can find three films by Luis Buñuel, the great Span­ish (lat­er turned Mex­i­can) direc­tor. The films, pre­sent­ed by, include Death in the Gar­den (1956) and two cin­e­mat­ic works from his ear­li­er sur­re­al peri­od: Un chien andalou (1929) and L’âge d’or (1930). These films are (some­what iron­i­cal­ly) avail­able only to a US audi­ence. But if you live out­side the US, you can find many more free films in our Free Movie Col­lec­tion. As a quick side note, this col­lec­tion was the jump­ing-off point for a short inter­view that I did with Jon Gor­don, the host of the pub­lic radio show, Future Tense. You can lis­ten to it below, or catch it here. Have a good Thanks­giv­ing.

Your Favorite TED Talk Ever?

What’s the best TED Talk ever? That’s the lit­tle debate tak­ing place on, and the answer is not obvi­ous, see­ing that TED now has over 500 talks avail­able in its archive. (You can find a con­stant­ly updat­ed list of every TED Talk in a Google spread­sheet here.)

Now, what are some of the Red­dit favorites? Here are five talks that get fre­quent men­tions.

Mean­while, it’s worth men­tion­ing that TED keeps its own run­ning list of its 10 most pop­u­lar talks. Some good ones here. And now your turn. Tell us your favorites in the com­ments below, and don’t be shy.

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Get $3 in MP3s from

A quick free­bie men­tion: is cur­rent­ly giv­ing away $3 worth of MP3’s until Novem­ber 30th. That amounts essen­tial­ly to three free songs. Just click to this page, fol­low a few easy steps (includ­ing using the code code MP34FREE), and you’ll be on your way.

via Life­hack­er

The American Novel Since 1945: A Free Online Course from Yale University

The video above is the first of 26 lec­tures mak­ing up a free Yale course called The Amer­i­can Nov­el Since 1945. Taught by Amy Hunger­ford, the course intro­duces you to the nov­els of Amer­i­ca’s finest post-war writ­ers — Nabokov (émi­gré), Salinger, Ker­ouac, and Pyn­chon, and also Philip Roth, Toni Mor­ri­son, Cor­mac McCarthy and Jonathan Safran Foer. You can watch all lec­tures in the fol­low­ing for­mats: YouTube – iTunes Audio – iTunes Video. Yale also offers the files as mp3s/movs here. For more full-fledged cours­es from oth­er top uni­ver­si­ties (includ­ing many oth­ers from Yale), vis­it our col­lec­tion of Free Online Lit­er­a­ture Cours­es, a sub­set of our col­lec­tion 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

You can stream all of the lec­tures, from start to fin­ish, below:

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, 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. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.