Time to catch up on the best stories and tidbits I have come across in the past few days:
- The Royal Academy of Arts in London has an exhibition called “Australia” that is running until December. As someone who call's myself “Australian” when I want to save time, the breakdown from the Economist's Prospero blog has me very intrigued:
The show does little to consider what Australian artists are trying to say now about modern society, with its fears about climate change, further waves of immigration and the scarring of that great landscape by mining projects. Oddly, what seems most unknowable about this difficult place is not its past, which is dutifully chronicled, but its present.
- By now have all heard of the African countries and companies leapfrogging The West to foster mobile “banking” through services like mobile phones. New research has shed more light on the benefits of mobile banking for these otherwise under-served populations:
By moving the poor away from cash, it allows them a more affordable and secure way to spend and transfer money. And because digital transactions can reduce costs to financial providers by up to 90 percent, it becomes an attractive business proposition.
- Ever since discovering Khan Academy and reading Salman Khan's book, I have been raving about the “flipped classroom” idea to anyone who would listen. Well, a new study has found the flipped classroom improves grades by 5%, which, apparently, is nothing to sneeze at:
If 5% doesn’t sound like a lot of improvement, prepare to be disappointed: researchers rarely find anything bigger. I collected every quality piece of research from 1980, related to how high school preparation impacts college performance (in the same subject). The average impact of taking a year of any high school subject is around 2-4% on the final grade in college (out of 100).
- It always annoys me the Soviet Union is used as an example of an atheistic society – after all, what better label is there than “religion” of the cults of Stalin and Lenin? However, Slate's history blog does have some fascinating examples of Soviet anti-religious propaganda.
- Hitting up Slate again, their sports blog has an interesting article on how perfectly humans are built for running, especially long distance running. But what really caught my attention is the idea of a human vs. horse race.
Green insisted a human could beat a horse in a long race, and to prove his point he helped instigate the marathon in 1980. For the next 24 years, he found himself losing the argument as riders on horseback left human runners behind. But then it finally happened—in 2004 a British man named Huw Lobb won. Three years later Germany’s Florian Holzinger outran the horses, as did one other human contestant.
That is all.