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- This is 1990: HTML
- Free course: Earthquakes
- BBC Four, tonight: Calculating Ada
- Listen over lunch: Beth Shapiro on de-extinction
- Learn to be a Viking
- On iPlayer: BBC Inside Science
The latest edition of BBC Inside Science is now available, with a feature on images of Pluto, questions about space elevators, and insect migrations.
You can also hear this episode at 9 pm on BBC Radio 4
We're really proud of our nearing 1000 courses here at OpenLearn, and we think that we've managed a pretty broad spread of subjects. There's always going to be areas we don't quite reach, though, and one of those is Being A Viking courses. According to the New York Times, the Norwegian government is now funding courses in Vikinghood. (Vikingness?):
Mr. Garly last month began a new job on a hillside campus in central Norway as the director of Scandinavia’s first government-funded training course on how to live like a Viking.
Or, that is, a politically correct one, purged of the bloodthirsty aggression that made the Viking Age a byword for macho violence.
“I am a very peaceful man. I have never plundered anything,” said Mr. Garly, a 36-year-old Dane whose modest stature, jocular manner and portly figure belie his enthusiasm for ancient warriors. He does, at least, have a beard.
“Rape and pillage are not part of the curriculum,” Mr. Garly added.
If you're in the mood for something interesting to listen to over lunch, why not try Five Books' interview with Beth Shapiro? She's an expert on evolution, and she talks about the process of de-extinction - bringing creatures back from extinction. It's not possible in a Jurassic Park style:
De-extinction, the idea of bringing a species back to life after it is gone, extinct, would require cloning. That requires a living cell. Once an animal is dead, there aren't any living cells in its body. The DNA starts to be broken down right away by water and oxygen and UV light and by microbes living in the soil chewing up the DNA. That's not possible.
There is something, though, that is possible, and Beth explains what that process is. She also chooses five books that describe her field of knowledge.
As part of the Make It Digital season on the BBC, tonight we're bringing you a documentary on the life and work of Ada Lovelace. The daughter of Lord Byron, an enchantress of numbers, and, crucially, the person who saw the power of Babbage's analytic engine, Ada is an extraordinary figure and - although she lived in the 19th-century figure, she is a hero for our times. Tonight, Hannah Fry tells her story.
This week, we're starting up each day with one of the stories from 1990 that won't make it into Shane Meadows' This Is England 1990. Yesterday, we discovered how interest rates in Brazil nearly hit 800,000% a year.
Today, we're going to visit the birth of a new language.
The reviews of This Is England observed how Lol's generation is probably the last you could realistically portray as not being online the whole time. It's not just accurate of how we lived in 1990; although the gang could have theoretically used the internet in 1990, they wouldn't have been able to access a page written in HyperText Mark-Up Language. Not until the end of the year, anyway, as Tim Berners-Lee hadn't invented it at the start of the year.
Like most languages, HTML wasn't totally original but built on earlier languages. Hypertext as a concept had existed for a while - Berners-Lee had gone to ECHT 90 in November, a conference which brought together European technologists interested in linking things together. And for the shape of his invention, Berners-Lee was guided by a programming language already in use at CERN, Script Generalized Mark-up Language (SGML).
The main innovation that makes HTML different from SGML - the magic which makes the web the web - was an "a" tag (the a standing for anchor). This was the signal to the machine that the text that followed was a link to elsewhere; and that one letter would drive the development of the world wide web, and the broader internet, over the following years.
Inarguably, HTML is the widest-used computer programming language in the world and even people who don't consider themselves programmers can quickly learn to use many of the basics of the language to develop simple webpages. It's possible that by now, more people are fluent in HTML than in English.