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OpenLearn Live: 15th September 2015

Updated Tuesday, 15th September 2015

From South Africa in 1990, a sign of changing times. How will.i.am is helping with the shortage of engineers. And more free learning across the day.

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OpenLearn Live brings together your world, and the world of learning and research. You can follow our Twitter stream @OpenLearnLive.

Yesterday, we started a countdown to life, asked why Americans love pumpkin and tried to understand depression a little better

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Today's Posts


Portion control

New research suggests that people overeat less because of poor self-control, and more because of the size of the portions on offer:

The data showed that people consistently consume more food and drink when offered larger-sized portions, packages or tableware than when offered smaller-sized versions, suggesting that, if sustained reductions in exposure to large sizes could be achieved across the whole diet, this could reduce average daily energy consumed from food by 12% to 16% among adults in the UK (equivalent of up to 279 kcals per day) or by 22% to 29% among US adults (equivalent of up to 527 kcals per day). The researchers did not find that the size of this effect varied substantively between men and women, or by people’s body mass index, susceptibility to hunger, or tendency to consciously control their eating behaviour.

Read Why the size of your plate might be making you overweight


Dangerous giants

As part of our continuing coverage of academic perspectives on the migration crisis, two writers from The Society Pages explore how the power of hashtags allow the public to become dangerous giants and have influence on the course of events:

Aylan’s image has galvanized attention from around the world, especially the west. The public’s concern and outrage after the photo circulated on social media has already had a significant impact on the refugee crisis. This single tragedy has become the symbol of the refugee crisis in the Middle East. The image and subsequent public outcry has led to an increase in charitable donations, impacted election campaigns, and prompted the public to demand more of their governments, resulting in western nations around the worldpledging to increase the number of refugees they will take.

Read When the public speaks


Can Will I Am fix the shortage of engineers?

The world is heading towards a shortage of engineers. It's a serious problem - without engineers, a lot of modern life just ceases to be viable. So serious, in fact, that a global summit is being held in China to address the problem. A little stardust is being added to the event by the presence of will.i.am, wearing his philanthropist and entrepreneurial hats rather than his somewhat more elaborate entertainer's hat; however, most of the event - the Global Grand Challenges Summit - has a much more serious aim: how can we ensure that the world has the engineers it needs to face future challenges?

Read more about the Global Grand Challenges Summit

Try our free course Introducing Engineering


Free course: The making of individual differences

If you enjoyed last night's programme on developments in the womb, Countdown To Life, you might like our new free course which weighs the ages old battle between nature and nurture, and asks 'what makes us us?':

All of the myriad proteins [found in the human body], the receptors, signals, channels, enzymes, transporters and transcription factors, are products of their respective alleles [variants of a gene]. New alleles can arise by mutation. When this happens, the new alleles often produce defective proteins by which is meant simply that the protein cannot do its job and as a consequence the phenotype is affected. Amadeus Mozart, Nelson Mandela and Paula Radcliffe may all have had their phenotype affected by defective proteins. But usually the exceptionally gifted are not subject to genetic studies. In contrast, and in the examples that follow, it is the adversely affected phenotype that is subject to genetic study.

Try our free course The Making of Individual Differences

Miss the programme? Find out more about Countdown to Life and how to catch-up online


Tonight, BBC Two, 9pm: The Gamechangers

It's not often we get the chance to say 'we've done something with Daniel Radcliffe'. Actually, we've never had the chance to say it before. So we're pretty excited about this. It's a drama based on the story behind Grand Theft Auto - and the battles around the cultural divide the game opened up.

The Gamechangers drama image - Daniel Radcliffe standing in front of an NYC taxi Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC

There's a lot more to this than just a cracking story, though. The drama raises questions about the ethics of gaming - and throws a light on just how successful and huge coding has been as a British cultural export. So after the drama has finished, we can take you further...

Read more about The Gamechangers

Read more on the ethics of gaming

Try your hand at some coding


This is 1990: Dismantling apartheid

This week, we're exploring some of the events of 1990 which might not make it into Shane Meadows' This Is England 1990. Yesterday, we focused on the day two discount retailers made their UK debut. Today, we're going to visit South Africa.

By any measure, 1990 was an astonishing year in South Africa. You could barely open a calendar for the year without alighting on a day something previously unthinkable happened. Nelson Mandela started the year a prisoner of the state; by Summer, he was at Wembley Stadium thanking the world. In August, the armed wing of the African National Congress, Umkhonto we Sizwe, ceased its operations after 29 years. By December, the National Party - the party of apartheid - had opened its membership to people of all races, while an anti-apartheid campaigner, Harry Schwarz, was heading to Washington to be the new ambassador.

But in a fast-moving year, 15th October 1990 still stands out as a singular day.

This was the day the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act, 1953 was repealed.

A sign on Durban beach, 1989, reserving the beach Creative commons image Icon Guinnog under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license A sign on Durban beach, 1989

This act was one of the central pillars of apartheid - it allowed public bodies to segregate facilities based on race. It went further; it explicitly stated there was no need for equality of segregated facilities (white people could have nicer things) and even allowed for complete exclusion - there was no duty to provide an alternative facility for people who weren't white.

In a year where there was much symbolic about a nation changing, the repeal of this legislation literally removed the signs of apartheid. It wasn't - by a distance - the only piece of legislation that had codified racism into South African law. But it was a key point in unpicking that regime.

Watch: Othello and apartheid

Read: Woolworths in a post-apartheid era

 

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