Hi, I’m Nina and I’m capable of driving Mormons and Jehova’s Witnesses away, crying for mercy simply by the force of my blue-eyed gushing about the wonders of our own, known Universe. Yes, I have a problem. Or not. Depends on how you look at it. But I’m digressing. Part of the origin for the gushing is that I seem to have an endless supply of curiosity toward the world. And despite the internet being filled with cats and/or porn there are still plenty of nooks and crevices in it for learning new things. And because I’m having huge problems in coming up with the text I originally planned to write in this slot, I’m instead going to share with you my favorite sources for cool things on the internets.
Coursera is basically a portal where Universities and Polytechnics all over the world can offer online-courses on basically any subject at all. The selection they have is in a word impressive from Introduction to Guitar by Berklee College of Music to Medical Neuroscience by Duke University. Right now I’m taking a course called Functional Programming Principles in Scala with École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. The way it works is that every Monday I get a new set of videos and a homework assignment. Embedded in the videos are small quizzes that don’t influence the final grade of the course. For every assignment I have two weeks to complete the programming needed and send my solution using a build tool. The receiving end then automatically checks the style of my code and runs its own suite of tests for it then grades the assignment accordingly. As I understand it, That’s mostly how it works for all courses. And because it’s free, it’s also an excellent value for your money.
Warning! May induce the loosing of many hours to clicking all the different links.
Bad Astronomy is the fabulously entertaining blog of Phil Plait, an astronomer, a writer and a lecturer. Plait pretty much discusses anything he likes from gushing about astronomy to ranting about the abuse and neglect of science in the form of anti-vaccers, global warming denialists and pseudo-scientists of all ilks to sharing pictures of his cats. Yes, the cats do invade even this blog, but thankfully, not very often. Plait’s specialty is in explaining complex scientific phenomena in a way that pretty much anyone can understand it or at least think they do. He is also very funny. All of these are pretty good reasons for following the blog but put together they form an uninvincible package.
The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe is a weekly podcast covering all things skeptical and sciencey. The five podcasters cover news items, have guests, answer questions and have several recurring segments, of which my favorites is Science or Fiction. In it, one of the podcaster has a list of science news items, three real and one false which he (the podcaster is usually Dr. Steven Novella) proceeds to read aloud after which the other podcasters try to figure out which one is false. When everyone’s had a guess, the first podcaster then explains each item in turn. What makes it more fun than it sounds on paper is that the items are always pretty obscure and generally also seemingly outlandish. In other words, what’s not to love?
io9 is the last of my “check daily” sources and thus also the last on this list. It’s basically a portal for all things geeky ranging from comic books and movie gossip to science articles. And of course it’s the science articles that make the site most worth visiting. Like the article about the Antibiotics Apocalypse. If all you’re interested in science the site has a high noise to content ratio but if you’re interested in science fiction, fantasy or comics at all, the site is well worth following.
As I mentioned, I have an endless supply of curiosity so now I would like you to share your favorite resources. There’s always room for more.