Marie Curie’s Ph.D. Thesis on Radioactivity–Which Made Her the First Woman in France to Receive a Doctoral Degree in Physics





For her groundbreaking research on radioactivity, Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize. Or rather, she won two, one for physics and another for chemistry, making her the only Nobel Laureate in more than one science. What’s more, her first Nobel came in 1903, the very same year she completed her PhD thesis at the Sorbonne. In Recherches sur les substances radioactives (or Research on Radioactive Substances), Curie “talks about the discovery of the new elements radium and polonium, and also describes how she gained one of the first understandings of the new physical phenomenon of radioactivity.”

So says science Youtuber Toby Hendy in the introduction below to Curie’s thesis–a thesis that made her the first woman in France to receive a doctoral degree in physics. “Following on from the discovery of X-rays by Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895 and Henri Becquerel’s discovery that uranium salts emitted similar penetration properties,” says The Document Centre, Curie “investigated uranium rays as a starting point, but in the process discovered that the air around uranium rays is made to conduct electricity.”


Her deduction that “the process was caused by properties of the atoms themselves” — a revolutionary finding that overturned previously held notions in physics — led her eventually to discover radium and polonium, which would get her that second Nobel in 1911.

Unlike her Nobel Prize in physics, which she shared with her husband Pierre and the physicist Henri Becquerel, Marie Curie won her Nobel Prize in chemistry alone. By 1911 Pierre had been dead for half a decade, but Marie’s scientific genius couldn’t be stopped from continuing their pioneering research as far as she could take it in her own lifetime. She clearly knew how vast a field her work, with and without her husband, had opened up: “Our researches upon the new radio-active bodies have given rise to a scientific movement,” she writes at the end of Recherches sur les substances radioactives. That movement continues to make discoveries more than a century later — and her original thesis itself remains radioactive.

Related content:

An Animated Introduction to the Life & Work of Marie Curie, the First Female Nobel Laureate

Marie Curie Became the First Woman to Win a Nobel Prize, the First Person to Win Twice, and the Only Person in History to Win in Two Different Sciences

Marie Curie Invented Mobile X-Ray Units to Help Save Wounded Soldiers in World War I

How American Women “Kickstarted” a Campaign to Give Marie Curie a Gram of Radium, Raising $120,000 in 1921

Marie Curie Attended a Secret, Underground “Flying University” When Women Were Banned from Polish Universities

Marie Curie’s Research Papers Are Still Radioactive 100+ Years Later

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

Lou Reed Album With Demos of Velvet Underground Classics Getting Released: Hear an Early Version of “I’m Waiting for the Man”




In 1965, Lou Reed was a 23-year-old graduate stalled in a music and art career he wasn’t sure would take off. A few years earlier a doo-wop single recorded with high school friends had been released to no avail. More recently, a parody of dance-craze singles “Do the Ostrich”, created by Reed and performed by a pick-up band of musicians, had also made its way onto wax and then right out of people’s memories. However, John Cale was in that pick-up band, and soon the two were fast friends. It was Cale who helped record Reed’s demo tape of songs that year. And it was Reed who took the tape and mailed it back to himself as a “poor man’s copyright.”

That demo tape has now been unsealed and these never-before heard recordings are heading to LP and CD and streaming. Above you can hear a very early version of “I’m Waiting for the Man,” that would get radically reworked for the Velvet Underground’s debut album.


Over rudimentary guitar plucking, Reed’s demo is slower, has harmonies, and a more decided folk bent. Reed acts out the various parts, including the “Pardon me sir, it’s the furthest from my mind” line in a faux-Brit accent. There’s even a Dylan-esque harmonica solo.

The demo tape contains other future Velvet Underground classics like “Heroin” and “Pale Blue Eyes,” but also songs that would turn up on Berlin (“Men of Good Fortune”) and a favorite cover “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams” that would pop up in Velvets sets. But there’s also songs that were never released in any format: “Stockpile,” “Buzz Buzz Buzz,” and “Buttercup Song.”

Reed had been influenced by poet Delmore Schwartz, who he’d studied under at Syracuse University. Schwartz had instilled in Reed the idea that the simplest words could have the maximum effect in the right hands. Reed’s style of street documentary and repetition came out of his relationship with Schwartz, whom Reed paid tribute to on the first Velvets album with “European Son.”

The album, all nicely remastered, will be available in the usual formats on August 26, including a bonus ep of earlier demos, including 1963 home recordings and a 1958 rehearsal. For now enjoy this glimpse into the mind of an artist about to find his place in the world, and he doesn’t even know it yet.

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How Drummer Moe Tucker Defined the Sound of the Velvet Underground

Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the Notes from the Shed podcast and is the producer of KCRW’s Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

Aldous Huxley to George Orwell: My Hellish Vision of the Future is Better Than Yours (1949)




In 1949, George Orwell received a curious letter from his former high school French teacher.

Orwell had just published his groundbreaking book Nineteen Eighty-Four, which received glowing reviews from just about every corner of the English-speaking world. His French teacher, as it happens, was none other than Aldous Huxley who taught at Eton for a spell before writing Brave New World (1931), the other great 20th century dystopian novel.

Huxley starts off the letter praising the book, describing it as “profoundly important.” He continues, “The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it.”


Then Huxley switches gears and criticizes the book, writing, “Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful. My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World.” (Listen to him read a dramatized version of the book here.)

Basically while praising Nineteen Eighty-Four, Huxley argues that his version of the future was more likely to come to pass.

In Huxley’s seemingly dystopic World State, the elite amuse the masses into submission with a mind-numbing drug called Soma and an endless buffet of casual sex. Orwell’s Oceania, on the other hand, keeps the masses in check with fear thanks to an endless war and a hyper-competent surveillance state. At first blush, they might seem like they are diametrically opposed but, in fact, an Orwellian world and a Huxleyan one are simply two different modes of oppression.

Obviously we are nowhere near either dystopic vision but the power of both books is that they tap into our fears of the state. While Huxley might make you look askance at The Bachelor or Facebook, Orwell makes you recoil in horror at the government throwing around phrases like “enhanced interrogation” and “surgical drone strikes.”

You can read Huxley’s full letter below.

Wrightwood. Cal.

21 October, 1949

Dear Mr. Orwell,

It was very kind of you to tell your publishers to send me a copy of your book. It arrived as I was in the midst of a piece of work that required much reading and consulting of references; and since poor sight makes it necessary for me to ration my reading, I had to wait a long time before being able to embark on Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Agreeing with all that the critics have written of it, I need not tell you, yet once more, how fine and how profoundly important the book is. May I speak instead of the thing with which the book deals — the ultimate revolution? The first hints of a philosophy of the ultimate revolution — the revolution which lies beyond politics and economics, and which aims at total subversion of the individual’s psychology and physiology — are to be found in the Marquis de Sade, who regarded himself as the continuator, the consummator, of Robespierre and Babeuf. The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it. Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful. My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World. I have had occasion recently to look into the history of animal magnetism and hypnotism, and have been greatly struck by the way in which, for a hundred and fifty years, the world has refused to take serious cognizance of the discoveries of Mesmer, Braid, Esdaile, and the rest.

Partly because of the prevailing materialism and partly because of prevailing respectability, nineteenth-century philosophers and men of science were not willing to investigate the odder facts of psychology for practical men, such as politicians, soldiers and policemen, to apply in the field of government. Thanks to the voluntary ignorance of our fathers, the advent of the ultimate revolution was delayed for five or six generations. Another lucky accident was Freud’s inability to hypnotize successfully and his consequent disparagement of hypnotism. This delayed the general application of hypnotism to psychiatry for at least forty years. But now psycho-analysis is being combined with hypnosis; and hypnosis has been made easy and indefinitely extensible through the use of barbiturates, which induce a hypnoid and suggestible state in even the most recalcitrant subjects.

Within the next generation I believe that the world’s rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience. In other words, I feel that the nightmare of Nineteen Eighty-Four is destined to modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblance to that which I imagined in Brave New World. The change will be brought about as a result of a felt need for increased efficiency. Meanwhile, of course, there may be a large scale biological and atomic war — in which case we shall have nightmares of other and scarcely imaginable kinds.

Thank you once again for the book.

Yours sincerely,

Aldous Huxley

via Letters of Note

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in March, 2015.

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Aldous Huxley Tells Mike Wallace What Will Destroy Democracy: Overpopulation, Drugs & Insidious Technology (1958)

George Orwell Explains in a Revealing 1944 Letter Why He’d Write 1984

Hear Aldous Huxley Narrate His Dystopian Masterpiece, Brave New World

Aldous Huxley’s Most Beautiful, LSD-Assisted Death: A Letter from His Widow

Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of badgers and even more pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads.  The Veeptopus store is here.

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The Only Surviving Manuscript of John Milton’s Paradise Lost Gets Published in Book Form for the First Time

In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake adds a note to the text that became a famous adage about John Milton’s Paradise Lostthe 10,000-line, 17th century blank verse epic about the war between heaven and hell and the failed testing of God’s premium product, human beings. Milton “wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when he wrote Devils & Hell,” Blake declared, “because he was a true Poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it.” The statement inspired “other Romantic and Gothic writers to view Satan as a hero,” the British Library writes.

Blake himself illustrated Paradise Lost in three separate commissions over the course of his career as an engraver and printer. His deep admiration for the poem helped it become a “Bible of the Romantic movement,” writes the manuscript publisher SP Books in their introduction to a rare new book publication of the only surviving manuscript of the work.


Only 1,000 numbered, large format copies of this printing are available. (We do hope a subsequent edition will appear, maybe with a transcription and annotations. But it will not be as beautiful as this sky-blue cloth-covered book with Blake’s full-color illustrations.)

The book preserves the only part of the poem that survives in manuscript: 798 lines from Book One of Paradise Lost. These are not in Milton’s hand — he had been blind since 1652, and the poem was first published in 1667. He conceived the epic in his 50s, his career in government over after the English Civil Wars and the brief period of the Cromwells’ Protectorate ended in the Restoration of Charles II. “Milton composed ‘Paradise Lost’ aloud, in bed or (per witnesses) ‘leaning backwards obliquely in an easy chair,'” Lauren Christensen writes at The New York Times, “memorizing the stanzas to be transcribed in another’s hand.”

These first few hundred lines show why Satan seems so noble to Milton’s readers; speeches by and about him portray his doomed campaign as a righteous assault on heavenly tyranny. The Romantics’ use of Paradise Lost reflects their own preoccupations, while also echoing contemporary suspicions of the poem. “The authorities were concerned,” for example, Tom Paulin notes at The London Review of Books, by an image in Book One describing Satan:

as when the sun new ris’n
Looks through the horizontal misty air
Shorn of his beams, or from behind the moon
In dim eclipse disastrous twilight sheds
On half the nations, and with fear of change

Perplexes monarchs.

“According to Milton’s early biographer, the Irish republican John Toland, Charles II’s Licenser for the Press regarded these lines as subversive,” Paulin points out, “and wanted to suppress the whole poem.” It’s surprising he was able to publish at all. Milton had vociferously supported the Puritan revolutionaries who overthrew the king’s father, Charles I, and removed his head. Milton later published several pamphlets in defense of regicide. In 1660, when Richard Cromwell’s Protectorate fell apart and Charles II returned, Milton’s works were banned by royal decree and the poet went into hiding until a general pardon.

Later critics have pointed to Milton’s political writings as evidence that he knew exactly whose party he was of. California State University’s Michael Bryson has gone so far as to argue that Milton was a secret atheist. In any case, he was a passionate believer in the overthrow of kings and the establishment of republics (for which he has become a libertarian hero). Paulin sums up the critical case for Paradise Lost as an allegory for the “lost cause” of the revolution:

Milton knew that the poem he was dictating to his amaneuensis would be scrutinized by the recently restored monarch’s Licenser of the Press, so he coded the English people’s formation of a republic as the creation of the “heavens and earth.” The idea passed the censor by, just as it has passed by many readers, but it was nonetheless Milton’s founding intention in composing his epic.

The charge that Milton made Satan a hero is hard to ignore when, reading Book One, we find the poet giving the Chief of Fallen Angels the best lines, as anyone who’s read Paradise Lost will remember. If you haven’t, just see the classic example below.

The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less than he
Whom Thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th’Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n.

Learn more about this rare manuscript edition at The New York Times‘ review and purchase one (if one remains) at SP Books.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Color Footage of the Liberation of Paris, Shot by Hollywood Director George Stevens (1944)

The above footage of Paris’ liberation in August 1944 looks and feels not dissimilar to a Hollywood movie. Part of its power owes to its being in color, a vanishingly rare quality in real film of World War II. But we must also credit its having been shot by a genuine Hollywood filmmaker, George Stevens. Having got his start in pictures as a teenager in the early nineteen-twenties (not long before making the cinematic-historical accomplishment of figuring out how to get Stan Laurel’s light-colored eyes to show up on film), Stevens became a respected director in the following decade. Swing Time, Gunga Din, The More the Merrier: with hits like that, he would seem to have had it made.

But it was just then, as F. X. Feeney tells it in the DGA Quarterly, that the war became unignorable. “The dangerous artistry of Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 valentine to Adolf Hitler, Triumph of the Will, moved Stevens to volunteer for frontline service in World War II despite his being old enough to dodge a uniform and sit things out.”


In vivid color, Stevens and his U.S. Army Signal Corps crew shot “the D-Day landings, where he was one of the first ashore; the liberation of Paris; the snowy ruins of bombed-out villages en route to the Battle of the Bulge; and, most unforgettably, the liberation of the death camp at Dachau.” (Even the celebratory events in Paris had their harrowing moments, such as the sniper attack captured at 11:54.)

Stevens went to war a filmmaker and came home a filmmaker. The long postwar act of his career opened with no less acclaimed a picture than I Remember Mama, and went on to include the likes of A Place in the Sun, Shane, and The Diary of Anne Frank, whose material no doubt resonated even more with Stevens given what he’d seen in Europe. Not all of it, of course, was the aftermath of death and destruction. These Paris liberation clips alone offer glimpses of such admirable figures as resistance fighter Simone Segouin, Generals de Gaulle and Leclerc, and even Lieutenant Colonel Stevens himself. He appears presiding over the shoot just as he must once have done back in California — and, with the war’s end in sight, as he must have known he would do again.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

Karl Marx & the Flaws of Capitalism: Lex Fridman Talks with Professor Richard Wolff

Lex Fridman, a Russian-American computer scientist and artificial intelligence researcher, hosts a popular podcast where he often interviews academics and helps them reach a surprisingly large audience. In recent weeks, he’s had long and wide-ranging conversations with NYU social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, Princeton historian Stephen Kotkin (on the history of Russia and the Ukraine war), and Stanford historian Norman Naimark (on genocide). Above you can now find his conversation with Marxist economist, Richard Wolff.

Fridman prefaces the lengthy conversation by saying, “This is a heavy topic, in general, and for me personally, given my family history in the Soviet Union, in Russia and Ukraine. Today, the words Marxism, Socialism and Communism are used to attack and divide, much more than to understand and learn. With this podcast, I seek the latter. I believe we need to study the ideas of Karl Marx, as well as their various implementations throughout the 20th and 21st centuries…. We need to consider seriously the ideas we demonize, and to challenge the ideas we dogmatically accept as true, even when doing so is at times unpleasant and dangerous.”

You can listen to their engaging conversation above, or find it on various podcasts platforms. Along the way, Wolff underscores the glaring deficiencies of capitalism, and why populists on the left and right are now looking for alternatives. And Fridman asks whether capitalism, despite its faults, may still be the best option we have. Wolff and Fridman undoubtedly have different worldviews, but the conversation is civil and deep, and worth your time.

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The Oldest House in New York City: Meet the Wyckoff House (1652)

Most 21st-century Brooklyn public elementary schoolers have taken or will take a field trip to the Wyckoff House, a modest wooden cabin surrounded by tire shops and fast food outlets.

The oldest building in NYC by a longshot, it was also the first structure in the five boroughs to achieve historic landmark status.

Primary sources place the original occupants, Pieter Claesen Wyckoff and his wife, Grietje Van Ness-Wyckoff, in the original part of the house around 1652. A single room with a packed earth floor, unglazed windows, a large open hearth, and doors at either end, it would have been pretty tight quarters for a family of 13, as host Thijs Roes of the history series New Netherland Now notes, during his above tour of the premises.


Two parlors were added in the 18th-century, and three bedrooms in the early 19th. Typical Dutch Colonial features include an H frame structure, shingled walls, split Dutch doors, and deep, flared “spring” eaves.

Its survival is a miracle in a metropolis known for its constant flux.

In the early 20th-century, descendants of Pieter and Grietje partnered with community activists to save the home from demolition, eventually donating it to the New York City Parks Department.

A late 70s fire (possibly not the first) necessitated major renovations. (And last year, flooding from Hurricane Ida clobbered its HVAC and electrical system, putting a temporary kibosh on public visits to the interior.)

Back in 2015, Roes’ companion, architectural historian Heleen Westerhuijs, was invited to inspect the attic, where she discovered impressive original beams alongside 20th-century reinforcements.

While the directors of the homestead actively recognize the community that now surrounds it with events like an upcoming celebration of Haitian culture and Vodou, and hands on activities include urban farming and composting, the original settlers of New Netherland (aka New Amsterdam, aka New York City) remain a major focus.

Any American or Canadian with the surname Wyckoff (or one of its more than 50 variants) can and should consider it their ancestral home, as they are almost certainly descended from Pieter and Grietje. While many thousands now bear the name, Pieter was the first. Volunteer genealogist Lynn Wyckoff explains:

After the English assumed control of New Netherland, residents practicing patronymics (a naming system that utilized one’s father’s name in place of a surname) were required to adopt, or freeze, surnames that could be passed down each generation. Pieter Claesen chose the name Wykhof, which most of his descendants have spelled Wyckoff. Despite many unfounded claims over the years regarding both Pieter’s ancestry and choice of surname, there is no record of Pieter’s parentage; but there is substantial evidence that he chose the name Wykhof in recognition of a farm by the same name outside of Marienhafe, Germany where his family were likely tenants.

A handful of Wyckoff family members left comments on the New Netherland Now video, including Donald, who wrote of his visit:

It was an odd  feeling to touch the hand-hewn surface of a supporting beam cut and installed by my ancestor, hundreds of years ago.  Since I am a Wyckoff, I was allowed to see some of the “off tour” bits of the house.  I live over 3k miles away, so my feet will probably never touch the ground there again.  But I’m glad NY and a lot of wonderful people have maintained my ancestral home so well and for so many years.  Hopefully it has many hundreds of years of life remaining so that people can recall a time when Flatbush was more of a farm than a city.

If you are a Wyckoff (or one of its variants), you’re invited to keep the Wyckoff Association’s family tree up to date by sending word of births, deaths, marriages, and any pertinent genealogical details such as education, military service, profession, places of residence and the like.

Explore a collection of educational activities, lessons, and color pages related to the Wyckoff House here.

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Ayun Halliday is the author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Her family’s trips to the Wyckoff House were included in the latest, NYC museum-themed issue of her zine, the East Village Inky. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Rapper Post Malone Performs a 15-Song Set of Nirvana Songs, Paying Tribute to Kurt Cobain

Nirvana’s cultural staying power is a testament to the cross-generational magic that happened when Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselić, and Dave Grohl played together for only a handful of years in the 90s. Their influence goes far deeper than 90s nostalgia for a grunge trend or the celebrity status of the late Cobain. Now almost 30 years after the frontman’s 1994 suicide, we see that influence on a generation born too late to see him live — one influenced more by hip hop than guitar rock and far less interested in challenging the capitalist status quo.

For artists like rapper Post Malone, born July 4, 1995, Cobain is a major songwriting influence, even if Post Malone’s music sounds little like Nirvana. “I loved Kurt so much,” says Malone, “and he’s been such an inspiration to me, musically.” To prove his love, he’s tattooed Cobain on “two different parts of his body,”  Sheldon Pearce writes at The New Yorker, though Cobain might not have “reciprocated the love — the rapper’s stint shilling for Bud Light probably wouldn’t fly, and Cobain once said white artists should leave rap to Black artists because ‘the white man ripped off the Black man long enough.'”


But that’s the thing about idols: once they’re gone, they no longer get a say in who worships them and how. Last year, Post delivered a Nirvana tribute to benefit the UN’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization. He did so respectfully. Backed by Travis Barker on drums, Brian Lee on bass, and Nic Mack on guitar, he honored Cobain by donning a flower print dress, and by asking his daughter, Francis Bean Cobain, for permission to do the 15-song set. “I could never want to offend anybody,” he told Howard Stern, “by trying to show support, so I just wanted to make sure that everything was okay — and it was okay, and we raised money for a good cause, and we got to play some of the most f*cking epic songs ever.”

Courtney Love expressed support, writing, “Goosebumps… Go have a margarita Post Malone. Nothing but love from here.” Grohl and Novoselić also gave Malone their full approval. The former Nirvana bassist wrote that he was “holding emotions back the whole show.” In a later interview, Grohl commented, “Even the die-hard Nirvana people that I know were like, ‘dude, he’s kind of killing it right now.'” And they were right. Above, see the one-off band play “Francis Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle,” “Come As You Are,” “About a Girl,” “Heart-Shaped Box,” and more classic Nirvana songs. The livestream raised $500,000 (including matching funds from Google) to help fight COVID-19 around the world.

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The Recording Secrets of Nirvana’s Nevermind Revealed by Producer Butch Vig

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Beautiful Taschen Art Books on Sale Through Sunday: 25%-75% Off

FYI, from now until Sunday, the art book publisher Taschen is running a summer sale, letting you enjoy up to 75% off of hundreds of display copies of fine arts books–some of which we’ve featured here before. Some titles include:

Enter the sale here. And keep in mind that some of the books sell out quickly.

Note that Taschen is a partner of ours. So if you purchase a book, it helps support Open Culture.

If you would like to get Open Culture post’s via email, please sign up for our free email newsletter here.

And 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 cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere. You can contribute through PayPal, Patreon, Venmo (@openculture) and Crypto. Thanks for your support!

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Computer Scientist Andrew Ng Presents a New Series of Machine Learning Courses–an Updated Version of the Popular Course Taken by 5 Million Students

Back in 2017, Coursera co-founder and former Stanford computer science professor Andrew Ng launched a five-part series of courses on “Deep Learning” on the edtech platform, a series meant to “help you master Deep Learning, apply it effectively, and build a career in AI.” These courses extended his initial Machine Learning course, which has attracted almost 5 million students since 2012, in an effort, he said, to build “a new AI-powered society.”

Ng’s goals are ambitious, to “teach millions of people to use these AI tools so they can go and invent the things that no large company, or company I could build, could do.” His new Machine Learning Specialization at Coursera takes him several steps further in that direction with an “updated version of [his] pioneering Machine Learning course,” notes Coursera’s description, providing “a broad introduction to modern machine learning.” The specialization‘s three courses include 1) Supervised Machine Learning: Regression and Classification, 2) Advanced Learning Algorithms, and 3) Unsupervised Learning, Recommenders, Reinforcement Learning. Collectively, the courses in the specialization will teach you to:

  • Build machine learning models in Python using popular machine learning libraries NumPy and scikit-learn.
  • Build and train supervised machine learning models for prediction and binary classification tasks, including linear regression and logistic regression.
  • Build and train a neural network with TensorFlow to perform multi-class classification.
  • Apply best practices for machine learning development so that your models generalize to data and tasks in the real world.
  • Build and use decision trees and tree ensemble methods, including random forests and boosted trees.
  • Use unsupervised learning techniques for unsupervised learning: including clustering and anomaly detection.
  • Build recommender systems with a collaborative filtering approach and a content-based deep learning method.
  • Build a deep reinforcement learning model.

The skills students learn in Ng’s specialization will bring them closer to careers in big data, machine learning, and AI engineering. Enroll in Ng’s Specialization here free for 7 days and explore the materials in all three courses. If you’re convinced the specialization is for you, you’ll pay $49 per month until you complete the three-course specialization, and you’ll earn a certificate upon completion of a hands-on project using all of your new machine learning skills. You can sign up for the Machine Learning Specialization here.

Note: Open Culture has a partnership with Coursera. If readers enroll in certain Coursera courses and programs, it helps support Open Culture.

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Google Unveils a Digital Marketing & E-Commerce Certificate: 7 Courses Will Help Prepare Students for an Entry-Level Job in 6 Months       

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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The Otherworldly Art of William Blake: An Introduction to the Visionary Poet and Painter

Given his achievements in the realms of both poetry and painting, to say nothing of his compulsions to religious and philosophical inquiry, it’s tempting to call William Blake a “Renaissance man.” But he lived in the England of the mid-eighteenth century to the near mid-nineteenth, making him a Romantic Age man — and in fact, according to the current historical view, one of that era’s defining figures. “Today he is recognized as the most spiritual of artists,” say the narrator of the video introduction above, “and an important poet in English literature.” And whether realized on canvas or in verse, his visions have retained their power over the centuries.

That power, however, went practically unacknowledged in Blake’s lifetime. Most who knew him regarded him as something between an eccentric and a madman, a perception his grandly mystical ideas and vigorous rejection of both institutions and conventions did little to dispel.


Blake didn’t believe that the world is as we see it. Rather, he sought to access much stranger underlying truths using his formidable imagination, exercised both in his art and in his dreams. Cultivating this capacity allows us to “see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower / Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour.”

Those words come from one of Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence.” Despite being one of his best-known poems, it merely hints at the depth and breadth of his worldview — indeed, his view of all existence. His entire corpus, written, painted, and printed, constitutes a kind of atlas of this richly imagined territory to which “The Otherworldly Art of William Blake” provides an overview. Though very much a product of the time and place in which he lived, Blake clearly drew less inspiration from the world around him than from the world inside him. Reality, for him, was to be cultivated — and richly — within his own being. Still today, the chimerical conviction of his work dares us to cultivate the reality within ourselves.

Related content:

Enter an Archive of William Blake’s Fantastical “Illuminated Books”: The Images Are Sublime, and in High Resolution

William Blake’s Paintings Come to Life in Two Animations

William Blake’s Masterpiece Illustrations of the Book of Job (1793-1827)

William Blake’s Hallucinatory Illustrations of John Milton’s Paradise Lost

William Blake Illustrates Mary Wollstonecraft’s Work of Children’s Literature, Original Stories from Real Life (1791)

William Blake: The Remarkable Printing Process of the English Poet, Artist & Visionary

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.


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