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OpenLearn Live: 9th September 2016

Updated Friday, 9th September 2016

We're just dropping by with a collection of interesting things...

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As you may know, OpenLearn Live is taking a short break during September, but we promised we'd bring you a couple of special editions gathering some interesting bits and pieces during the break. We're dropping by with something right now...

Bald eagle comes in to land on a nest Copyright free  image Icon Copyright free: John and Karen Hollingsworth, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

You can see the complete collection of OpenLearn Live here

The Paralympics

The Paralympics are getting into their stride in Rio - and we've collected a swathe of interesting pieces covering the image of the athletes, the history of the event - and a risky way of cheating...

Explore: Rio 2016: A short Paralympics reading list


A lot has been written about how the UK's decision to withdraw from the EU might change the UK's economy, but new research from the University of Sussex warns that other, poorer, countries could lose out, too:

As the UK faces one of its toughest policy challenges in designing a new trade strategy in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union, leading trade economists have come together to consider how the UK’s new trade policy could contribute to development.

It is calculated within the essays, titled ‘The impact of the UK's post-Brexit trade policy on development’, that the poorest countries save a total of €385m annually due to their preferential access to the UK market through the EU’s trade policy – a significant amount which could be lost if a trade deal with similar terms is not negotiated between the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the UK post-Brexit.

A further €205m (£172m, $229) annually could be lost by non-LDC African Caribbean Pacific developing countries (such as Ghana and Kenya) who also benefit from preferential access in the UK market.

Read the full article at the University of Sussex: Poorest countries stand to lose up to €385 million annually without UK trade deals post-Brexit

Explore our Brexit collection

A bad storm hits Brighton

Recently published, a 19th century account of a storm sweeping off the channel:

Though the night was stormy, the crash attracted hundreds of townspeople to the front.

The damage did not end with the sweeping away of the Old Chain Pier, for the enormous waves dashed the great iron girders against the piles of the new Palace Pier now in the course of erection, smashing away two piles completely and doing considerable mischief to other portions of the cast-iron framework.

Volk's Electric Railway, constructed in the sea from Brighton to Rottingdean, was in several places swept away, and the railway, which was opened with such eclat last Saturday week, has thus early met with disaster. The new large car which had been taken over to Rottingdean was thrown over and smashed to atoms, the waiting-room and landing-stage at the Brighton end were wrecked, and the damage done here alone is estimated at £3,000 or £4,000.

Read the full article: Swept away: Brighton's Chain Pier collapses during a storm

On BBC Two this Sunday: Andrew Marr explores Scotland

Join Andrew Marr for his history of Scotland's recent past, and consideration of the Union on BBC Two, Sunday at 8pm.

Read more about Scotland and The Battle For Britain

The dual camera iPhone

This week, the latest iteration of the Apple iPhone was announced with the usual mix of fanfare and protestations. The decision to remove the headphone jack focused many people's minds, but - according to Jeffrey Ferguson - it's the two cameras on the back that might be the real sign of things to come:

As appealing as this may be, adding a second rear camera offers a much more interesting set of possibilities. Having two slightly different viewpoints means live images can be processed for depth information per pixel captured, so that images gain an extra dimension of depth data. Since the distance between the two cameras is known, software can make triangulation calculations in real time to determine the distance to corresponding points in the two images. In fact our own brains do something similar called stereopsis so that we’re able to view the world in three dimensions.

The iPhone uses machine learning algorithms to scan objects within a scene, building up a real-time 3D depth map of the terrain and objects. Currently, the iPhone uses this to separate the background from the foreground in order to selectively focus on foreground objects. This effect of blurring out background details, known as bokeh, is a feature of DLSRs and not readily available on smaller cameras such as those in smartphones. The depth map allows the iPhone to simulate a variable aperture which provides the ability to display areas of the image out of focus. While an enviable addition for smartphone camera users, this is a gimmick compared to what the depth map can really do.

Read the full article at The Conversation: Dual camera smartphones – the missing link that will bring augmented reality into the mainstream

Make your own camera

Grammar Schools

In an early policy announcement by the new Prime Minister, Theresa May has signalled her intention to overturn legislation that banned the creation of new Grammar Schools. Robert A Hart and Miko Miro wonder if this move will bring forward the new meritocracy in education the PM is expecting:

Our research examined whether or not the 1944 Act made a difference to children who would have been disadvantaged in the earlier era because their parents would be unlikely to be able to pay the required secondary school fees. We compared the chances of gaining a grammar school place among boys and girls with managerial or professional fathers compared to those with skilled manual or skilled non-manual fathers or with semi-skilled or unskilled fathers.

We found no evidence of change among these socio-economic groups in the 20 years following the Act compared with the 20 years prior to it. In other words, there was no improvement in social mobility. This was also the case when we looked at family qualifications. Children from families with at least one parent who had qualifications retained a big comparative advantage in gaining a grammar school place after the Act came into force.

Read the full article at The Conversation: Grammar schools have a long history of being dominated by middle-class children





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