The Essential Kurosawa

Aki­ra Kuro­sawa, the great Japan­ese direc­tor, would have turned 100 today. And to mark the occa­sion, The Guardian has assem­bled a handy guide to ten key Kuro­sawa movies. Above, we high­light a clip from Sev­en Samu­rai (1954), an enor­mous­ly influ­en­tial film both in Japan and abroad. The Guardian guide cel­e­brates this and nine oth­er major Kuro­sawa films, so it’s def­i­nite­ly worth a vis­it. Mean­while, you’ll con­ve­nient­ly find two impor­tant Kuro­sawa works (Rashomon and Throne of Blood) list­ed in our col­lec­tion of Free Online Movies.

Our Thirsty World: A Free National Geographic Download

A lit­tle belat­ed some­thing for World Water Day (yes­ter­day): Nation­al Geo­graph­ic has released a spe­cial issue that delves into the chal­lenges fac­ing our most essen­tial nat­ur­al resource. “Water: Our Thirsty World” will be soon avail­able at news­stands every­where. But, right now, you can now down­load a free inter­ac­tive ver­sion that includes all of the print mag­a­zine con­tent, plus lots of extra online good­ies. The free down­load requires reg­is­tra­tion and is avail­able only until April 2.

A great find by Maria Popo­va aka @brainpicker

For a Tiny Instant, Physicists Broke a Law of Nature

An intrigu­ing bit of news from the Yale Bul­letin. It begins:

For a brief instant, it appears, sci­en­tists at Brook haven Nation­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry on Long Island recent­ly dis­cov­ered a law of nature had been bro­ken.

Action still result­ed in an equal and oppo­site reac­tion, grav­i­ty kept the Earth cir­cling the Sun, and con­ser­va­tion of ener­gy remained intact. But for the tini­est frac­tion of a sec­ond at the Rel­a­tivis­tic Heavy Ion Col­lid­er (RHIC), physi­cists cre­at­ed a sym­me­try-break­ing bub­ble of space where par­i­ty no longer exist­ed.

You can read more about what went down here. And, if you want to brush up your physics, head over to the Physics sec­tion of our Free Online Course col­lec­tion. There you’ll find free physics cours­es from Yale, Stan­ford, MIT and oth­er fine insti­tu­tions of high­er learn­ing.

Nature by Numbers: Short Film Captures the Geometrical & Mathematical Formulas That Reveal Themselves in Nature

For cen­turies, artists and archi­tects have used some well-known geo­met­ri­cal and math­e­mat­i­cal for­mu­las to guide their work: The Fibonac­ci Series and Spi­ral, The Gold­en and Angle Ratios, The Delauney Tri­an­gu­la­tion and Voronoi Tes­sel­la­tions, etc. These for­mu­las have a real­i­ty beyond the minds of math­e­mati­cians. They present them­selves in nature, and that’s what a Span­ish film­mak­er, Cristóbal Vila, want­ed to cap­ture with this short film, Nature by Num­bers. You can learn more about the movie at the film­mak­er’s web site, and also find his lat­est film here: Inspi­ra­tions: A Short Film Cel­e­brat­ing the Math­e­mat­i­cal Art of M.C. Esch­er.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here.

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!

Amazon Releases Kindle App for the iPad & Mac OS X

A quick fyi: Ama­zon has released an app that will let you read Kin­dle texts on your Mac (final­ly!) and the upcom­ing iPad. If you’re look­ing for free Kin­dle texts, we’ve pro­duced a long list here, includ­ing many great clas­sics. You can find Kin­dle apps (all free) for oth­er devices below.

Thanks Wes for the info…

Open Video Coming to Wikipedia

Wikipedia is now open­ing the online ency­clo­pe­dia to video, giv­ing con­trib­u­tors a new way to con­vey infor­ma­tion in a rich­er way. And they’re mak­ing a point of using video in an open for­mat (Ogg The­o­ra).

Among the con­flu­ence of fac­tors com­ing togeth­er in 2010 are: 1) the grow­ing aware­ness that video is the dom­i­nant medi­um of the web and that video can help make Wikipedia arti­cles even rich­er; 2) the devel­op­ment of open source play­ers and codecs (alter­na­tives to Flash, Quick­time, Win­dows Media, and H.264, 3); the intro­duc­tion of pub­lic brows­er tools—Firefox’s Fire­fogg exten­sion, for example—for upload­ing and play­ing non­pro­pri­etary video for­mats; 4) the will­ing­ness of non­prof­its like the Par­tic­i­pa­to­ry Cul­ture Foun­da­tion and the Open Video Alliance and for-prof­its like Kaltura and Intel­li­gent Tele­vi­sion to ded­i­cate them­selves to open video; and the pro­vi­sion of strate­gic fund­ing from the Mozil­la Foun­da­tion and Ford Foun­da­tion, among oth­ers, to sup­port devel­op­ers, pro­gram­mers, and activists.  As Wikipedia board mem­ber S. J. Klein explains in a recent Open Video Alliance video short, the day is fast com­ing where video will be as easy for users to write, edit, anno­tate, and remix as text is today. (You can find more details on the cam­paign here and here.)

What are the rec­om­men­da­tions for video con­tributed to Wikipedia? They should be relat­ed to cur­rent arti­cles, short and under 100 MB, free, and avail­able to share and reuse (offered under a Cre­ative Com­mons BY-SA or equiv­a­lent license). In com­ing weeks new videos are expect­ed to pro­lif­er­ate and new strate­gies will be unfurled for work­ing with edu­ca­tion­al repos­i­to­ries of lega­cy video.

This post was con­tributed by Peter Kauf­man, the CEO and pres­i­dent of Intel­li­gent Tele­vi­sion, who shares our pas­sion for thought­ful media.

Cannes for Free!

Right in time for the week­end… Work­ing in part­ner­ship with Stel­la Artois, TheAuteurs.com is now fea­tur­ing a selec­tion of its favorite films that have played at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val.

The line­up, includ­ing many prize win­ners, fea­tures movies by Fed­eri­co Felli­ni (Amar­cord), Wong Kar-wai (Hap­py Togeth­er), Michelan­ge­lo Anto­nioni (L’avven­tu­ra), Jacques Tati (Mon oncle), and oth­ers. There are nine movies in total, filmed between 1958 and 2008. And they’re free until June. These films should be avail­able world­wide, but reg­is­tra­tion is required. Kick back and start watch­ing here.

For more great clas­sics, see our col­lec­tion of Free Movies Online.

Mark Twain Captured on Film by Thomas Edison in 1909. It’s the Only Known Footage of the Author.

Here’s a lit­tle nugget for you. The great inven­tor Thomas Edi­son vis­it­ed the home of Mark Twain in 1909, and cap­tured footage of “the father of Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture” (says Faulkn­er) walk­ing around his estate and play­ing cards with his daugh­ters, Clara and Jean. The film is silent and dete­ri­o­rat­ed. But it’s appar­ent­ly the only known footage of the author who gave us Huck­le­ber­ry Finn and Tom Sawyer. Twain would die the next year.

Find works by Twain in our col­lec­tion of Free Audio Books and Free eBooks.

And if you like what we serve up, don’t miss us on Twit­ter on Face­book. It’s any easy way to share cul­tur­al gems with fam­i­ly and friends.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mark Twain Shirt­less in 1883 Pho­to

Thomas Edi­son Recites “Mary Had a Lit­tle Lamb” in Ear­ly Voice Record­ing

Thomas Edison’s Box­ing Cats (1894), or Where the LOL­Cats All Began

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.