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OpenLearn Live: 26th February 2016

Updated Friday, 26th February 2016

The largest wall... the largest thing... anywhere. Then more free learning across the day.

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OpenLearn Live links the world of free learning with the things that actually matter to you. This page will be updated across the day.

Yesterday, we explored what the migration figures meant, met some rats which can smell when you're unwell, and celebrated 50 years since the OU was okayed

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Today's posts

Covering Savile

"How could Jimmy Savile have got away with it?" ask newspapers. The answer may be found - in part - in the media's approach to covering his story, explains Karen Boyle:

It would be nice to think this was a relic of a bygone age, but my work on more recent press reporting of Savile suggests there is no room for complacency. The UK press’s coverage of Savile between his death in October 2011 and three days after the ITV broadcast of Exposure in October 2012, which named him as a serial abuser of girls (the evidence of his abuse of boys came later), shows a similar sexist complicity to that of Savile’s addresses to journalists and on-screen behaviour.

At the time of his death, for instance, newspapers frequently referred to Savile as a “ladies man” or “womaniser”, also noting rumours of “underage sex”. The way he sexualised every interaction with women and girls – from incessant flirting to groping, demands for kisses, and comments on their attractiveness – was seen as part of what had made him a lovable eccentric. A national treasure.

Read the full article: How we talk about Savile

Next week's New Day

On Monday, the first new national paper since the i (or the first standalone national paper since The Post - remember that?) hits the newsstands. Is it the last twitch of a dying industry? Julie Nightingale suspects as much:

Failure, the evidence suggests, is all-too likely an option.

For a start, newspapers are an analogue product in a digital age. Why hand over hard cash to buy news to hold in your hands when you can read it on a device and from any number of sources for free? Why listen to one voice when you can hear a whole choir for free?

And nearly all news is broken now on social media. Hands up who went to a newspaper site and stuck with it throughout the day when news of David Bowie’s death broke. No one, right? Everyone was on Twitter and Facebook where the news first emerged. In an era when even the web is starting to feel more like a reference library than a breaking news platform, what is newsprint bringing to the table?

Read the full article: Is New Day a false dawn?

Wall week: Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall

This week, we've been celebrating some notable walls. If you've missed any, here's what we've featured so far:

Today, we're rounding off with the largest wall of them all. Actually, the largest anything of them all. No, not the Great Wall of China; more the opposite of that. It used to be believed that the Great Wall of China was the only man-made object you could see from space. NASA put a lot of effort into dismantling that myth, even going so far as to sniff that people made the claim before anyone had actually launched anything into space. But there are great walls in space which you can see from Earth. With the right equipment. And these great walls are the largest structures we yet know of.

Hubble image of MACS J0717 with mass overlay Creative commons image Icon NASA, ESA, Harald Ebeling (University of Hawaii at Manoa) & Jean-Paul Kneib (LAM) under Creative Commons BY 4.0 license A giant Hubble mosaic of the massive galaxy cluster MACS J0717.5+3745 using a combination of 18 images. The significant amount of dark matter in this cluster, shown in light blue, may be also similar to the Hercules%u2013Corona Borealis Great Wall

What are these Great Walls? Well, they're clumps of galactic matter. Obviously, rather large clumps - they can extend for hundreds and hundreds of millions of light years - and they're detected by measuring gamma ray bursts. Numerous galaxies that cluster together to form these structures - considered to be structures because they're connected to each other through the interactions of the component parts' gravatational fields. The Sloan Great Wall is about a billion light years across - although some experts were unconvinced there was enough evidence to declare all the parts involved as comprising a structure.

The Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall is even larger, and even more disputed. If it genuniely is a structure, it's 10 billion light years across. It'd still be 10 billion light years across if it isn't a structure, of course.

Here's a video which explains things in a bit more depth:


And, talking to Huffington Post, Dr. Jon Hakkila, who helped discover the wall, reminds us that it's only the biggest thing for the time being:

"The danger of finding the biggest, or most distant, or the oldest things in the universe is always that sooner or later someone is likely to come along and find something bigger, more distant, or older than the thing you found," Hakkila said. "So far we have not been upstaged, but it has only been about six months since we published."

See more from OpenLearn on astronomy

Take a 60 second adventure in astronomy





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