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A quick reminder: we’re always adding more good cul­tur­al con­tent to our Twit­ter stream. Give us a fol­low at @openculture, and we’ll keep send­ing curat­ed cul­ture (in the form of tweets and retweets) your way. So far 6,200+ read­ers have joined us there. If you appre­ci­ate what Open Cul­ture is all about, it’s a must.

You can also access Open Cul­ture on Face­book. Become a Fan (or give us a Like — what­ev­er the lat­est lin­go may be), and we’ll drop our dai­ly con­tent into your Face­book News Feed. This will give you an easy way to keep tabs on us and share the knowl­edge with your friends. Thanks for join­ing us, and spread­ing the word. Enjoy the rest of the week­end.

Stephen Hawking on Religion: ‘Science Will Win Because it Works’

A quick TV news pro­file on Stephen Hawk­ing, the phys­i­cal chal­lenges he faces, the big ques­tions he con­tem­plates, and the life lessons he has passed on to his chil­dren…

Relat­ed Hawk­ing Posts:

Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawk­ing Remixed
What Genius Looks Like at Zero Grav­i­ty

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What the Big Spill Means for Sea Life

The BP oil spill has tak­en us into some unchart­ed waters. We still don’t know how much oil is pour­ing into the ocean each day. (Here’s the lat­est esti­mate.) Nor do we know the exact toll this dis­as­ter will take on the ecosys­tem of the Gulf. We only know that things are mov­ing in a very dis­cour­ag­ing direc­tion. Above Dr. Lisa Sua­toni, a marine expert at the Nat­ur­al Resources Defense Coun­cil, answers some basic ques­tions: “Where is the oil?  What is it harm­ing?  What unique habi­tats and bio­log­i­cal diver­si­ty are at risk?” You can keep abreast of these issues at the NRD­C’s Dis­as­ter in the Gulf blog, and also help save Gulf Coast wildlife by mak­ing a dona­tion to the NRDC.

Michael Sandel: The Lost Art of Democratic Debate

If you think that civic dis­course & engage­ment still mat­ter, then Michael Sandel, the Har­vard philoso­pher, has a lit­tle some­thing for you: a refresh­er (pre­sent­ed at TED) that gets you back into the prac­tice of civic debate. Some of the top­ics cov­ered here dove­tail with themes cov­ered in Jus­tice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?, a huge­ly pop­u­lar Har­vard course that Sandel has now made freely avail­able online. You can find the course on YouTube, iTunes and Har­vard’s web site. It’s also list­ed in our big col­lec­tion of Free Online Cours­es. You’ll find it list­ed with oth­er free phi­los­o­phy cours­es.

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Andrei Tarkovsky: Two Free Films & Some Polaroids Too

A quick fyi: Film Annex is now mak­ing avail­able two films by the great Sovi­et film­mak­er Andrei Tarkovsky: Stalk­er and Andrei Rublev (Part 1 and Part 2). You can also find them list­ed in our col­lec­tion of Free Movies Online. When not mak­ing movies, Tarkovsky snapped some polaroids too

Dan Ariely on the Irrationality of Bonuses

You’ve per­haps heard the buzz around Dan Ariely’s new book, The Upside of Irra­tional­i­ty: The Unex­pect­ed Ben­e­fits of Defy­ing Log­ic at Work and at Home. (If not, read this review in the NY Times.) Appear­ing at PopTech! last year, Ariely spent 20 min­utes flesh­ing out an argu­ment in his book. A pro­fes­sor of behav­ioral eco­nom­ics at Duke Uni­ver­si­ty, Ariely turns some basic assump­tions about work­place com­pen­sa­tion right on their head … and even explains why, in some strange way, it makes sense that high­ly com­pen­sat­ed Wall Street bankers could do so much dam­age to our finan­cial sys­tem.

Note: You can lis­ten to Ariely get­ting inter­viewed ear­li­er this week on my favorite San Fran­cis­co talk show. The con­ver­sa­tion revolves around The Upside of Irra­tional­i­ty.

Bearish on the Humanities

Read­ing the press late­ly, you’d think the Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ty sys­tem is the next mort­gage mar­ket. And the human­i­ties? They’re tox­ic debt. Here’s a quick recap of the grim parade of sto­ries:

  • Last week, The New York Times set the stage with this: an arti­cle detail­ing how stu­dents are drown­ing in debt, which rais­es the ques­tions: Can stu­dents still afford Amer­i­ca’s expen­sive uni­ver­si­ties? And will banks keep mak­ing these loans? The Wash­ing­ton Exam­in­er goes fur­ther and blunt­ly asks: Is a High­er Edu­ca­tion Bub­ble about to Burst?
  • Next, in The New York­er, a wide­ly-read arti­cle offers this fac­toid: Dur­ing the com­ing decade, most of the sec­tors adding jobs in the US won’t require a col­lege degree. So some aca­d­e­mics (yes, aca­d­e­mics) are left won­der­ing, “why not save the mon­ey and put it towards a house?” Or, put dif­fer­ent­ly, is a col­lege edu­ca­tion real­ly worth the mon­ey?
  • The meme con­tin­ues yes­ter­day with David Brooks mus­ing in an opin­ion piece: “When the going gets tough, the tough take account­ing. When the job mar­ket wors­ens, many stu­dents fig­ure they can’t indulge in an Eng­lish or a his­to­ry major. They have to study some­thing that will lead direct­ly to a job.” “There already has been a near­ly 50 per­cent drop in the por­tion of lib­er­al arts majors over the past gen­er­a­tion, and that trend is bound to accel­er­ate.” So why both­er with a human­i­ties edu­ca­tion? Brooks tries to make his best case, and it’s not a bad one. But I’m not sure that a younger gen­er­a­tion is lis­ten­ing. And if you lis­ten to this 2008 inter­view with Harold Bloom, they maybe should­n’t be.
  • And just to top things off: Stan­ley Fish launch­es his own defense of a “clas­si­cal edu­ca­tion,” even if it “sounds down­right ante­dilu­vian, out­mod­ed, nar­row and elit­ist.” You get the drift. Anoth­er sign that the human­i­ties is in a bear mar­ket.

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Smile or Die: The Perils of Positive Psychology

Pos­i­tive psy­chol­o­gy is a dis­ci­pline tai­lor made for Amer­i­can cul­ture. Our cul­tur­al DNA inclines us towards opti­mism and pos­i­tive think­ing. These days we’ll even send pos­i­tive vibes your way, and what can be wrong with that? If you ask Bar­bara Ehren­re­ich, the author of the best­selling book Nick­el and Dimed, she’ll tell you what’s the prob­lem in 10 ani­mat­ed min­utes. Like the Philip Zim­bar­do video we fea­tured last week (The Secret Pow­ers of Time), this clip comes from the RSA YouTube Chan­nel, which we’ve now added to our col­lec­tion of Intel­li­gent YouTube chan­nels.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.