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Science, Maths & Technology

OpenLearn Live: 24th November 2015

Updated Tuesday 24th November 2015

Part of Ireland that started out by the South Pole. Then more free learning through the day.

OpenLearn Live brings free learning to the heart of your world. This page will be updated during the day - and you can also follow us on Twitter.

Yesterday, we asked if Adele can change the music industry; the violence in Mali explained; and chasing Chasing Perfection

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live


Today's posts


BBC Four, 10pm tonight: Shock And Awe

More electricity straight afterwards, as Jim  Al-Khalili continues his history of humanity's relationship with power. Tonight, he explores how the discovery of invention sparked - DYSWWDT? - a range of new inventions and novel applications. Jim also gets zapped by some electricity. Actually, a lot of electricity:

See more about Shock And Awe

Can you make toast with an eel? Try our Spark It Up game


BBC Four, 9pm tonight: Power To The People

The second of three programmes exploring the state of the electricity industry in the United Kingdom, with the focus this time on meeting the thirst for power with demands for ecological protection. Part of the programme will focus on the building of a power line across 137 miles of wild Scotland - the most-objected to strutural engineering project in British history.

If getting the pylons past the planners was difficult, actually getting the cables on the pylons was a whole different level of challenge, as this video shows:

See more about Power To The People

Try our Power My Postcode challenge


Tomorrow's Autumn Statement

George Osborne stands behind a camera Creative commons image Icon Mrgarethm under CC-BY licence under Creative-Commons license Did somebody just yell "cut"?

George Osborne will present his Autumn Statement tomorrow, in a harsher climate than he might have been expecting after the Tory election victory back in the Spring. Can he keep to his pledges on balancing the budget as tax receipts disappoint and security costs mount? Alan Shipman offers a guide to what to watch for:

Over the past five years the UK has continued to run its traditional current account deficit, and private investment has only belatedly started to recover from its post-crisis slump. Meanwhile, the amount that companies are stockpiling on their balance sheets is on the up. So unless investors or exporters pick up their game in the next four years, the deficit is unlikely to close even if Osborne finds another source for the £4.6 billion annual savings he sought from tax credits.

Many of the Chancellor’s recent moves are designed to shift these adverse sector balances, particularly by lifting investment back above saving – getting the private sector to run deficits so that the government doesn’t have to. Expect more lines on Wednesday to be taken from the 2012 Heseltine Report, which demanded “decisive government leadership for major infrastructure projects” and “effective public sector procurement” to support industry and innovation, gently informing the Chancellor that corporation tax cuts were not enough.

Read: What is the 2015 Autumn Statement all about?


BBC Radio 4, 3pm today: The Educators

The BBC/OU co-production celebrating education and the people who shape it returns this afternoon. The first programme in the new series explores the question of whether you can teach "character":

Find out more about this series of The Educators

Try our free course Teaching for good behaviour


Listen over lunch: Will Self and James Clerk Maxwell

All this week, Radio 4 is running a series in which Will Self drives an electric car from Edinburgh to Cambridge, exploring the legacy of James Clerk Maxwell, the man who explained electromagnetism.

Listen to the Will Self programmes online or as downloads

Try our free course on James Clerk Maxwell


Technical problems

The University as a whole has been having a bit of a nightmare with its network and systems today, so OpenLearn may have been behaving oddly, erratically or maybe even not at all for you during the course of the morning. If you've had troubles, please accept our apologies. 


A week in County Waterford: The Copper Coast

This week, to fill the space between the two episodes of Ireland With Simon Reeve, we're exploring one county in the Irish Republic - County Waterford. Yesterday, we started our tour in Dungarvan. Today, we're on the Copper Coast.

The Copper Coast, Ireland Creative commons image Icon Liz & John Wesley Barker under CC-BY-NC-ND licence under Creative-Commons license

The Copper Coast is an Geopark - a protected area of coast that was declared a UNESCO global Geopark in 2004, and just last week was given the same protected status as a World Heritage Site. The park is just over ninety square kilometres in size, running from the coast to the mountains and covering the villages of Dunhill, Annestown, Boatstrand, Kill, Bunmahon and Stradbally.

What makes the park such a joy for fans of earth sciences is that it contains a vast mix of rocks and minerals. The whole area started out down by the South Pole, the site of two major periods of volcanic activity, before drifting northwards, experiencing uplifts forming mountains, desertification grinding them down again, before arriving in its present position and getting a range of other material dumped on it by glaciation. It's ended up, as the Geological Survey of Ireland explains, as something akin to a buffet of geology:

The Copper Coast is an outdoor geology museum with a geological heritage that reflects the variety of environments under which the area has evolved over the last 460 million years. Sedimentary and volcanic rocks define a cross section through the core of an Ordovician age island arc volcanic system; closure of the Iapetus Ocean by the collision of 2 continents leading to the creation of Ireland – as part of a desert dissected by large rivers; and, finally, the effects of glaciation during the Ice Age. Cross-sections of these rocks are exposed along the spectacular cliffs and are interpreted for the public at various points.

The area's name recalls a more recent period of the area's history, when the region was the focus of Ireland's mining industry. Indeed, in the 1840s, the area was being described as the "most important mining district in the [British] Empire". However, once the easily-mined seams of copper, silver and lead had been exhausted, the economics of the industry changed - and rather than head for the prohibitively expensive under-sea metals, mining moved on. Many miners from the area relocated to the US, especially around Copper Mountain in Montana.

More on 19th century mining in the British Isles: Stories of the Great Copper Slump

Explore OpenLearn Ireland

See more about Ireland with Simon Reeve

 

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