OpenLearn Live makes sense of the world of free learning. Or at least we try to. This page will be updated across the day.
- Best of 2015: Miscellany
- Blade Runner
- On BBC Radio 4 and iPlayer: More Or Less
- Iran and Saudi Arabia
The Middle East has started 2016 in a way no less disturbing than the way it ended 2015, but has added a new element of jeopardy to the mix, as Iranian-Saudi Arabian relations have taken several steps backwards. What's happening? Edward Wastnidge shares his perspective in Society Matters:
The execution of the Saudi Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr on January 2, however, has brought the mutual mistrust that plagues relations between these two states fully into the open. This crisis will clearly have a major impact on the various regional conflicts that Iran and Saudi Arabia are embroiled in – but with the sanctions imposed before the nuclear dealpossibly about to be lifted , it also speaks volumes about Iran’s rapidly improving diplomatic position.
Great news - our long-running partnership with BBC Radio 4's More Or Less is continuing, and there's a new series starting today. (You can hear it in a couple of minutes on the radio, and then it'll be on iPlayer for at least a year afterwards.
Today is another one of what seems like an increasing number of days where we've caught up with the futures of science fiction:
It’s the Incept day of Roy Batty from Blade Runner. We truly are living in the future. pic.twitter.com/MKk6MBZhWv
— The Darts Side (@magicdarts) January 8, 2016
To mark the day, here's a couple of pieces on the movie. First - what does Blade Runner have to tell us about town planning? More than you might think...
Blade Runner offers a profound, and in many ways alarming, vision of the city of the future. Scott, who directed the film in the context of discussions about post-industrial society, used industrialist imagery to convey the city as an enormous machine. The replicants central to the film’s plot, the metal and glass exteriors of the city, and the constant presence of smoke and pollution reaffirm the exaggerated industrial qualities of the film’s Los Angeles. Furthermore, the only animals in the film are fake, signaling a heightened dichotomy between the built and natural environments.
More broadly, how does the "science" in this part of sci-fi stand up?
Set in 2019 in Los Angeles, cutting-edge genetic engineering and bionic technology (or at least what was considered cutting edge in the 80s) is shown to have advanced to the point at which synthetic humanoid beings, called Replicants, are produced. These humanoids are synthesised by the Tyrell Corporation, whose motto is “more human than human”.
The film explores the relationship between humans and Replicants – in particular the need to “retire” rogue Replicants – raising questions about artificial life and where the boundaries of what we consider ethical and human lie. In this way, it provides the perfect catalyst for ideas about emerging biotechnology and its wider philosophical implications.
This week, we're using our start-up segment to collapse the universe in on itself, and highlight some of the other themes that you might have missed during the last year. We've already looked back at people and places, so today, we're picking three of our other start-up themes from everything else.
One of our first big themes was parks - from the smallest, to the largest.
- Table Mountain Park
- Birkenhead Park
- Mill Ends Park, Portland
- Parque do Ibirapuera, Sao Paulo
- Vondelpark, Amsterdam
If parks was a bit much to handle, maybe a week of fascinating trees might be more suitable?