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Learning a New Language: Secrets of Language Learning Pros

What’s the best way to learn a new language? A really good way to approach language hacking is to look at how other people learn - especially how successful language learners pick up a new language and approach the challenges of language...Show More Summary

The Cluster at the Edge of the Universe

I love it when a piece of news comes out that ties in so neatly with a recent episode of Crash Course Astronomy: Hard on the heels of my talking about clusters of galaxies in the distant Universe, astronomers have announced they’ve found an immense cluster 8.5 billion light years away. Show More Summary

Obama Administration Promises a Machine-Readable Federal Government Organization Chart

The Open Government Partnership is an “international platform for domestic reformers committed to making their governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens.” Shortly after the OGP’s creation, in my November 2012 study, “Grading the Government’s Data Publication Practices,” I gave the OGP unenthusiastic praise. Show More Summary

Mary’s Monday Metazoan: Cute little babies!

My students told me today that instead of lecturing, I ought to show that video of drunk girls and puppies over and over. I didn’t. But apparently everyone needs some cuteness. Will this do?

Just Filling in the Bubbles

Collin Hitt writes: I study wrong answers, per your blog post today. My research focuses mostly on surveys of schoolchildren. I study the kids who appear to be just filling in the bubbles, who by accident actually reveal something of use for education researchers. Show More Summary

The shawm and its eastern cousins

I have long been intrigued by the Chinese instrument called su?nà ?? (double-reeded horn).  Because of the sound and shape of the name, and the fact that the characters used to write it both have mouth radicals, indicating that they are being used to convey pronunciation rather than meaning, I have always suspected that su?nà […]

Sauce or Gravy? The Secret, Fervent Debate at the Heart of the Italian American Spaghetti Dinner.

“The Italians of my parents’ generation are held together by the notion of the family,” wrote Martin Scorsese in his introduction to Italianamerican: The Scorsese Family Cookbook. “That is why the pasta sauce is so sacred to the Italian family.” See, now right away we have a problem. Show More Summary

A Midcentury Composer's Luminous Rainbow Wheels Representing Music Through Color

Russian composer Ivan Wyschnegradsky was a 20th-century avant-garde pianist devoted to “creating a work capable of awakening in every man the slumbering forces of cosmic consciousness,” according to his journal. To achieve this mystical ideal, he set out to create sounds that no one had ever heard before. Show More Summary

George Hrab Shows You How to Think

George Hrab is many things: A musician, a comedian, a fine dresser, and a very good friend of mine. He’s also a skeptic, and an excellent storyteller. Those last two are why I bring him up: He gave a TEDx talk about skepticism recently, and the video is now online. Show More Summary

Physics Week in Review: November 14, 2015

Jen-Luc Piquant is grieving for her beloved Paris this weekend; our hearts are with all residents of the City of Light. But there was also plenty of physics stuff this week: the first measurement of a nuclear strong force for...

Link feast

Our editor's pick of this week's 10 best psychology and neuroscience links:Be It Resolved That Humankind's Best Day's Lie Ahead (video)Steve Pinker and Matt Ridley argued in favour of the proposition at the latest Munk Debate in Toronto. Show More Summary

UPDATE: Whatever WT1109F Was, It Isn’t Any More

This morning, just before 06:20 UTC and right on schedule, a small bit of space junk called WT1109F slammed into Earth’s atmosphere at nearly 40,000 kph. The huge pressure generated as it plowed through the air heated it up, broke it...Show More Summary

Crash Course Astronomy: Gamma-ray Bursts

Back when I got my PhD in astronomy, I was pretty focused on my own research topic. Still, I grew up loving astronomy, and I never lost the bug to learn about different aspects of it. For my degree I was studying an exploding star, and...Show More Summary

Born This Day: Helen Mack

Nov 13, 1913 – August 13, 1986 Helen starred as Helene Peterson in “Son of Kong”, the quickie follow up to “King Kong”. Once again Carl Denham leads a beautiful girl into danger on Skull Island.

Is Patriotism a Good Thing? What is a Country?

The following just over the transom from 'Jacques' with responses in blue from BV: I read your blog every day. Quite apart from the high level philosophizing, it's a rare bit of political sanity and rationality and decency. Academic philosophy...

The Ozone Hole Is Nearing Record Size

Scientists who assumed the infamous ozone hole over Antarctica was steadily shrinking received an unpleasant surprise last month: The hole is approaching a size unseen in nine years, Popular Science reports. According to Live Science, in October researchers at the German Aerospace Center recorded the size of the hole in...

The Return of George Galloway

Or not. Ever since the election of Jeremy - and before - there has been whispering that the Gorgeous One, George Galloway will make a triumphant return to Labour. Ever since his expulsion from the party for "bringing it into disrepute"...Show More Summary

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