Showing all posts tagged: education

Reality is an illusion, we are the dream of a dead universe

14 September 2023

The latest Kurzgesagt video may — like a number of their recent offerings — still have an end of days theme, but at least the subject matter is a little more fanciful. Even if we’re talking about the eventual heat death of the universe, or as Kurzgesagt posits, the already happened heat death of the universe.

Bizarre right? But our (apparent) existence may in fact be a random manifestation of a dark, cold, universe. The night sky, the awesome images of the James Webb Space Telescope, and everything else that we seem to perceive and experience, is but a figment of our imagination. Life, the universe, and everything. It might as well be the name of science fiction book.

I guess then it was a waste of time booking a table at the restaurant at the end of the universe, being the title of late British author Douglas Adams’ 1980 novel. It would seem that event’s been and gone.


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How a nuclear war will start according to Kurzgesagt

26 August 2023

It’s alarming how close the world has come to nuclear conflict in the past, and on several occasions leaders with nuclear arsenals at their disposal have had their finger poised on the proverbial button. In just about every instance though, the threat of a nuclear exchange has been the result of a misunderstanding or miscommunication between nuclear armed nations.

But if one nuclear armed nation — for whatever reason — launches a strike on another, the target country has mere minutes to respond, as Kurzgesagt eloquently illustrates, in their latest video, How A Nuclear War Will Start. Doom and gloom sells I know, but Kurzgesagt have been on quite the gloomy doom-roll for a while now.


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Online symposium VOLUME seeks to encourage Australians to read more

10 August 2023

VOLUME online reading symposium banner image

Australian authors Jess Scully, Kate Larsen, and Nardi Simpson, are among speakers at VOLUME, a one day symposium, taking place online, on Thursday 21 September 2023. Amidst concerns Australians do not read enough, VOLUME will explore strategies to encourage more people to read.

Despite its ability to enhance health, knowledge, and wellbeing, support for embedding reading in our daily lives is often overlooked. With national literacy and reading rates declining for children and adults alike, it’s time for urgent action. By exploring effective approaches to encouraging reading alongside insights into advocacy from other industries, VOLUME will provide a platform to untangle the issues affecting reading engagement.

Turn off the TV an hour earlier, put down the games console, and leave your phone in the other room (unless you use it to read e-books), a few of my suggestions to make for more reading time.


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The variola virus AKA smallpox, more enlightened darkness from Kurzgesagt

9 August 2023

What’s with the doom and gloom emanating from Kurzgesagt recently? In the last few months their videos have covered a range of grim topics including biological weapons of mass destruction, the difficulty in beating cancer, black holes that destroy galaxies, and tales of woe about marauding extra-terrestrials who have Earth in their sights.

Anyone hoping for a reprieve this month will be disappointed though: their latest video explains exactly how nasty the variola virus, better known as smallpox, was, and the suffering and death it unleashed. While smallpox has officially been eradicated, the story of the virus is a potent reminder of how deadly some diseases can be. Let’s be thankful a vaccine was developed.


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Kurzgesagt: the next pandemic could be made at home, scary hey?

4 July 2023

Advances in biotechnology are being made in leaps and bounds. On one hand what is being learnt is making the world safer, but on the other, there is a downside. While cures for deadly diseases are being developed, even nastier pathogens are being created at the same time. Or could be, as Kurzgesagt explains:

We are adding knowledge at unprecedented rates, while things get ever faster and cheaper to do. This speed means we can expect even more wonderful things for humanity. Lifesaving treatments, miracle crops and solutions to problems we can’t even imagine right now. But unfortunately progress cuts both ways. What can be used for good, can also be used for bad, by accident or on purpose. For all the good biotech will do for us, in the near future it also could easily kill many millions of people, in the worst case hundreds of millions. Worse than any nuclear bomb.


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Why is cancer so hard to beat? Kurzgesagt tells us why

21 June 2023

Kurzgesagt take on the difficult questions, and come back with easy to follow, and entertaining, answers. Some forms of cancer have proved seemingly impossible to treat, but the German animation studio feels confident that will change in the not too distant future. Let’s hope so.

An undead city under siege, soldiers and police ruthlessly shooting down waves of zombies that flood from infected streets, trying to escape and infect more cities. This is what happens when your body fights cancer, more exciting than any movie. How does this battle for survival unfold?


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Quasars, the black holes that kill galaxies

13 June 2023

Quasars, are the single most powerful objects in existence, and are the subject of the latest video from Kurzgesagt. Thankfully, the nearest known such object is about six-hundred million light years away from Earth.

As small as a grain of sand compared to the Amazon River, they reside in the centres of some galaxies, shining with the power of a trillion stars, blasting out huge jets of matter, completely reshaping the cosmos around them.


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Ten years of Kurzgesagt and freely available quality content

29 March 2023

It’s been ten years since Philipp Dettmer founded educational science portal Kurzgesagt. To mark the milestone, their latest video looks at Kurzgesagt’s inner workings, and explores how the operation is financed. There may not be too much for science enthusiasts to take away, but this is invaluable learning for content producers.

Kurzgesagt charges nothing for people to access their content. Rather than imposing a paywall, they have developed other revenue streams, including a shop and sponsorships. Readers/viewers are not assailed with ads, or thoroughly annoying popup prompts to subscribe to newsletters, instead leaving the content to be enjoyed at leisure. This is the way to do it.

Thank you Kurzgesagt for the first ten years, and here’s to the next decade.


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More novels published in the 1990s are being studied at school

13 January 2023

The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye, and Vanity Fair, are among books commonly studied in high school. Despite their undoubted literary merit, many of these titles were published decades — and in some cases — centuries, ago. But things are changing, and now books written in the nineteen-nineties are beginning to make an appearance.

In the U.S. at least, according to research by The Pudding. The Things They Carried, written by Tim O’Brien in 1990, Woman Hollering Creek, by Sandra Cisneros from 1991, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (also known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone), by J.K. Rowling, and published in 1997, are among relatively recent additions to some school reading lists.

Despite the presence of Harry Potter books though, not all inclusions were particularly popular commercially. Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies, a collection of short stories published in 1999, did not chart on the New York Times Best Seller list, and barely makes the top ten-thousand frequently read books list on Goodreads. Lahiri’s work did however win a number of literary awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2000.


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Degree course pricing unfair to humanities and arts students

31 May 2022

The Australasian Council of Deans of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (DASSH) is calling for reform to higher education fee structures, which appear to be skewed against students wishing to study humanities, arts, and social sciences degrees. DASSH says recently released statistics show the cost of arts degree is up to three thousand dollar more per annum (PDF), compared to medicine or dentistry courses.

81 per cent of the nearly 14,000 Year 12 students interviewed for the report said passion would guide their choices for further study. The Universities Admission Centre Student Lifestyle Report shows only 35 per cent of students consider the cost of education when choosing their degree, and only about 40 per cent consider employment outcomes. These statistics fly in the face of the face of claims fee increases would guide student preferences under the former Government’s ‘Job Ready Graduates Package’.

Given many students are making study choices based on their passion, or what they’re really interested in, rather than the cost, or potential employment outcome, of tertiary education courses, DASSH wants to see more equitable degree course pricing.


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