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Wasting time on YouTube? Watch out, you might learn something

The world’s biggest video site, YouTube, is like a public library. It contains pretty much every kind of video, just as a library contains pretty much every kind of book. YouTube gets a lot of stick about funny cat videos and other amusing fluff, but this is no reason to avoid it as a low-brow site. Who would avoid visiting their public library for serious research just because it also contains tacky romance novels and ghost-written celebrity autobiographies?

Astrobiology: the science of speculation

If you haven’t watched the Jodie Foster film Contact, watch it now. We’ll wait.

Good, you’re back. So, do you believe she was transported through a wormhole to a distant civilization? If you do, this course is for you. It’s also for you if you don’t, because as a science, astrobiology applies rigorous critical reasoning to basic questions like ‘Is there anybody else out there?’, ‘What other forms of life are possible apart from us?’ and ‘What are the conditions elsewhere in the cosmos that might support life?’

The right angle on Common Core Geometry

Sometimes at school students miss something important due to absence, inattention, teacher sickness or sporting commitments. Alternatively they might struggle with the subject in general and need extra support to get them through the year with good grades. Conversely, some students may be particularly fascinated by a subject and wish to deepen their knowledge. In the case of geometry, which forms the foundation for many disciplines and, ultimately, careers, taking extra online classes from an expert can help students to really nail down this fundamental subject.

Can we stop hurricanes?

The 2017 hurricane season has been one of the most violent on record, with the highest number of major hurricanes since 2005 and it’s not even over yet. The storms have marched across the Atlantic in seemingly endless succession, and the alphabetic-order names have kept coming: Gert, Harvey, Irma, José, Katia, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia … let’s hope at the time of writing that there isn’t a Philippe.

IAEA updates nuclear security training

A virtual reality simulation of a nuclear facility is one of the new training tools presented at the 61st IAEA General Conference in September. Training specialists will be using it to navigate through realistic scenarios, threats and risks. The 3D tool is focused on preventative and protective measures against insider threats, and there are plans to cover other areas of nuclear security in the future.

Predicting the unpredictable: understanding the weather

It’s very British to talk about the weather. So it’s fitting that a British university – the University of Reading – offers a 3-week course called Come Rain or Shine: Understanding The Weather. Taking this course will have the effect of turning comments like ‘Looks like rain tomorrow’ into more technical and perhaps even accurate predictions. Cows lying down might mean it’s going to rain, but for the curious who want to know why it’s going to rain, this course is perfect.