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OpenLearn Live: 31st July 2015

Updated Friday, 31st July 2015

Rounding off our Parks & Rec week, looking forward to tonight's TV, and much more free learning across the day.

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OpenLearn Live will be updated across the day. Or you could keep an eye on our Twitter stream at OpenLearnLive.

Yesterday, we looked at Cecil The Lion from three sides; unpicked the links between language and creativity; and more

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Today's posts

And to end the week...

Do animals have sex for fun? Jamie Lawson considers the question:

Given that we are most familiar with human orgasms, scientists have unsurprisingly looked for behavioural and physical correlates of what we sometimes experience – shuddering, muscular rigidity, a cessation of movement, vocalisation, changes of facial expression, ejaculation. None of these are guaranteed, and consequently we should not expect them necessarily to be associated with sex in other species. But using this method, most commonly to study non-human primates, the animals perhaps most likely to display responses similar to humans, scientists have detected  orgasm in many different species including macaques, orangutans, gorillas and chimpanzees.

In fact, very few primatologists doubt that non-human primates experience orgasm – at least, male non-human primates.There is debate [External link]   as to whether female primates (including humans) experience sexual pleasure in the same way male primates do, which raises some fairly important questions about how Western culture views female sexual agency. But some detailed studies of the stump-tailed macaque have suggested that females of this species, at least, demonstrate a capacity for orgasm.

Read Do Animals Have Sex For Fun?

The Rise and Fall of the Council Estate 

Disegno publishes a partial transcript of the council estate debate:

Daisy Froud Do you think communities being providers and procurers of housing themselves is a serious possibility. If so, what is the role of architects in that?

Paul Karakusevic I think there is a huge role. Berlin is an incredible example with its housing co-ops of the last 20 years. Community land trusts here have only in the last couple of years started to get to grips with communities getting together and buying or acquiring land in some way, commissioning offices and then actually building. It is a very embryonic process at the moment in the UK.

In Berlin, something like 30 per cent of all of housing is built through housing co-ops and with very good architectural results – they are commissioning good practices to do great work. I think that is quite an exciting thing. If London in 20 years could be like that, that would be amazing.

Try our free course Problem Populations, Problem Places 

BBC Three, tonight, 9pm: Wanted - A Very Personal Assistant

In the second of the two programmes, the young carers are trying to cope with the demands of care work. As this clips shows, they're learning to look at the world in a very different way:

Read more about the programme - and join the debates

ICYMI: Some of this week's highlights

Yes, you're busy people. Who has time to endlessly troop to OpenLearn to keep up with OpenLearn live? In case you missed some of our segments this week, here's a quick pick of some of the best items:

Neuroscience and free will - what does our brain tell us about our mind?

World Hepatitis Day: a short reading list

Obama In Africa: a short reading list

Bugs Bunny at 75

Listen Over Lunch: History Of Ideas

If you're looking for something to listen to while eating, why not catch up with our co-production History of Ideas? This week, the programme has been considering love. Here's what you can dip into:

Lisa Appignanesi on The love of children

Mark Vernon on Freud's view of love

Giles Fraser on altruistic love

Edith Hall on Platonic love

Watch our animations and find out more about the series


Monica Grady

Just starting over on Radio 4 as we put this page live, the OU's Monica Grady is on Desert Island Discs.

Here's a short clip:

And, here's one of the tracks Monica chose to keep her company, should she ever find herself washed up on a desert island somewhere:

You can listen to the full programme at the Radio 4 website

How to photograph Orion, by Monica Grady

Parks & Recreation week: Table Mountain National Park

This week, to mark the return of Parks & Recreation to UK TV, we've used that as a tenuous link to hear some stories about parks around the world. If you've been busy doing other things, you might have missed some of them. Here's where we've been so far:

The view from Table Mountain Creative commons image Icon Christopher Griner under CC-BY licence under Creative-Commons license

To round off the week, we're visiting Table Mountain National Park in South Africa. It's a big park. It's 85 square miles of park and, thanks to the titular mountain, rises over three and a half thousand feet above sea level. What's even more extraordinary is this huge parkland is, officially, an urban park, because it fits within a municipal boundary. Yes, from a park perspective, that mountain is in town.

(It's not even the biggest urban park in the world - that honour goes to Serra da Cantareira in Sao Paulo, which is about three times the size.)

Still, it is a big park. So huge, in fact, it has a species that is only found within its boundaries - Rose's ghost frog. The park is a rich environment for all manner of flora and fauna, and that's caused management some problems. The removal of non-indigenous trees and their replacement with trees more appropriate to the location hasn't been universally welcomed; in part, the non-native species originally planted for commercial exploitation were on the lowlands - so their removal has affected areas most easily reached from the suburbs of Cape Town. The change to the parts of the park used for recreation caused some vocal opposition to the plans.

Elsewhere in the park, human and nature interaction has caused problems. Fed and indulged by tourists, Chacma baboons have become accustomed to humans and can now be increasingly aggressive in their pursuit of free food.

However, these problems shouldn't take away from the massive achievement of the park - a protected space (making up part of he UNESCO Cape Floral Region World Heritage Site), attracting around a million and a half visitors annually. It's currently undergoing an 18 month, 50 million Rand investment programme to improve the offering for tourists - which in turn will help protect the park and its amazing environment.

Listen to: what is biodiversity and why does it matter?





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