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OpenLearn Live: 3rd August 2015

Updated Monday 3rd August 2015

Bringing you the best of free learning, research and analysis from across OpenLearn and around the world

OpenLearn Live is a selection of free learning and research stories from around your world. This page will be refreshed across the day, or you can follow us on our Twitter stream.

On Friday, we explored whether animals enjoy sex, how young people cope as carers, and a History of Ideas

See all OpenLearn Live


Today's Posts


Map for Monday: Strata of England and Wales

A version of George Smith's hugely influential 1815 geological map of England and Wales is about to go on display in Cambridge.

Read The first geological map of England and Wales

Explore the geology tookit


Listen over lunch: Cradle to Grave

On Saturday, Radio 4's Archive on 4 programme told the story of the NHS through the experiences of one hospital.

Listen to Cradle to Grave online

Read: The NHS doctors who shaped the NHS

Read: The birth of the Welfare State


Digital footprints

On The Conversation, Greg Singh argues that we should have the right to delete their digital indiscretions:

If we genuinely thought people should “accept us as we are, take it or leave it", then strict privacy settings wouldn’t be so popular (or desirable) as they are. There is a collision between reasonable social pressures aimed at keeping children safe online, and the need for children and young adults to be able to express themselves freely among their peers.

What's your approach to digital content? Try our Ministry of Sharing game


Musical scientists: Magnus Pyke & Thomas Dolby

If you were with us on Friday, you'll recall that OU space scientist Monica Grady was guest on Desert Island Discs last week, and that's inspired this week's start-up segment. We're going to dip a toe into the crossovers between science and music.

We're starting with this:

Thomas Dolby's 'She Blinded Me With Science', a 1982 hit on both sides of the Atlantic, had a cameo role both in the video and on the track itself for Magnus Pyke. Pyke's role here is mostly to play up to the popular idea of What A Scientist Is, and he plays it up with relish. But then, arguably, he'd built an entire career doing just that.

In the 70s, Pyke was the Brian Cox of his day - TV's go-to scientist. Television at the time wasn't the most subtle place to work - BBC One was still showing the black-face light entertainment Black And White Minstrel Show, and in that sort of environment Pyke thrived. A Professor Branestawm made flesh, Pyke had retired from a career running a research institute before tv discovered him (during his first career, his broadcasting work had been restricted to The Third Programme, forerunner of Radio 3). Viewers took to him - probably because his eccentricity wasn't an act; Pyke would later say he'd simply reached an age where he had outgrown self consciousness and so he didn't feel obliged to rein in his enthusiasm for his subject.

So successful was Pyke that in 1975, a New Scientist poll found him to be the best-known living scientist - and only Newton and Einstein kept him off the all-time top spot.

But Pyke isn't the only academic on the record - Dolby's main field is the arts (since 2014, he's been Homewood Professor Of The Arts at John Hopkins University) but he also is a notable technologist. He founded Headspace, the company which developed the RMF music file format; he's also worked extensively in the tehcnology of mobile phone synthisers - in particular with regard to ringtones. It would be wrong to blame him for the Crazy Frog, but he probably didn't help.

Magnus Pyke died in October 1992. It shouldn't have been surprising that he found himself a chart topper late in life - one of his interests was how society don't value older people; once railing against "minds so deformed, the things that 'retired' people do are not considered to be of value. They are empty, merely something to do." Although he tired of people shouting "science" at him after the record came out, he never lost his passion for spreading his enthusiasm for science with others. It was that enthusiasm which led to the collaboration with Dolby.

You can study science with the OU...

You can study music with the OU...

But if you want to mix-and-match, you could try an Open Degree

 

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