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OpenLearn Live: 2nd September 2016

Updated Friday 2nd September 2016

The short King who secured the Vatican; Hazel Rymer on Today and the FDA bans antibiotics in soap. Then more free learning across the day.

OpenLearn Live brings together the worlds of learning and research, with the things that matter to you. This page will be updated across the day.

Yesterday, we heard about the SpaceX explosion, caught voices who saw London burn, and discovered why you should study geology

On this day last year, we featured the augmented fourth, dipped into the sharing economy and followed the ascent of woman

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live

OpenLearn Live is taking a short break; we'll be back with a couple of updates during the next two weeks and normal daily service will be resumed at the end of the month

Today's posts

America tells soap to clean up

In the US, the Food & Drug Adminstration has just banned antibiotic soaps:

In a final ruling announced Friday, the Food and Drug Administration is pulling from the market a wide range of antimicrobial soaps after manufacturers failed to show that the soaps are both safe and more effective than plain soap. The federal flushing applies to any hand soap or antiseptic wash product that has one or more of 19 specific chemicals in them, including the common triclosan (found in antibacterial hand soap) and triclocarbon (found in bar soaps). Manufacturers will have one year to either reformulate their products or pull them from the market entirely.

Read the full report at Ars Technica:FDA bans antibacterial soaps; “No scientific evidence” they’re safe, effective

Read at OpenLearn: How scientists are testing for antibiotic resistance

Are people rational?

Economists base a lot of their assumptions on people behaving in the most rational way. Thats fine... except... does that really happen?

Incidental emotions are more of a problem. If our choices can be governed by unrelated emotions, we are not always rational after all and economists' tools based on rational choice are undermined. Perhaps for this reason, economists have never to my knowledge taken these findings any further.


To our surprise, the participants' emotional state had no significant effect on their choice. Having ruled out the possibility that the films had not worked, our results appear to go against psychologists' findings about incidental emotions and instead endorse rational choice. Why?

Read the full article: Do people behave rationaly?

Will Brexit break the banks?

Could Brexit destabilise London's position as a global financial centre? Maybe, but we're all being too pessimistic, says Simeon Djankov:

There are three reasons for this continued dominance over European financial services:

The pre-eminence of the British court system in upholding the rule of law, including the protection of creditor and shareholder rights.
The superiority of the UK’s university education in economics and finance over its continental counterparts.
The UK’s tax and employment regulation that is conducive to the industry’s health and profits

Read the full article: Will Brexit mean London loses its financial dominance?

The heating planet

As it's confirmed that we've just lived through the third summer in a row that's broken heat records, the OU's Hazel Rymer joined a debate on this morning's Today programme on what is happening to our planet.

Listen to the debate online (it starts about five minutes from the end of the programme)

More from Hazel Rymer on OpenLearn

Short week: Pepin The Short

This has been a short week, so we've been celebrating people called Short. So far:

The people we've focused on so far have been called Short because it was their family name. We're rounding off with someone who was called Short because he was short of stature. Pepin The Short, King of The Franks between 751 & 768.

Statue of Pepin The Short in Wurzburg Creative commons image Icon 12345678 under Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license

The name of Pepin might be unfamiliar to you, but you'll have heard of his eldest son, Charlemagne.

In passing, this also means that Pepin is a direct antecedent of Cindy Crawford:

Charlemagne's storied reign was built on the foundations laid by his father. Initially, Pepin and his brother Carloman had split their kingship, fighting challenges from Saxons and Bavarians, and others. All challengers were repelled on the battlefield. Carloman, meanwhile, worked with St Boniface to overhaul the Frankish Church. When Carloman elected (or was encouraged) to eneter a monastry, Pepin sought Pope Zachary's support for his sole claim to a united throne.

Formally, Pepin was elected King by his people, but the Pope's support was crucial to establishing legitimacy.

The Pope was rewarded for his support when he came under attack from the Lombards - Pepin stepped up, and helped vanquish them. As part of the victory, Pepin was able to present the Pope with the papal states - locking in the power of the papacy for centuries to come.

This is an interesting story, but I expect you're wishing it could have been told through the medium of Taylor Swift parody.

Go on, then, as it's Friday:

More from OpenLearn on religion


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