40 great websites where you can learn something new every day.


A few decades ago, when you wanted to learn something new it typically meant spending a couple of evenings a week at a local school, taking a photography or bookkeeping class from a bored night school instructor.

woman laptop

Today, the worlds of learning and personal or professional development are literally at your fingertips.

The open learning movement has made the opportunity to get smarter in your spare time completely accessible to anyone with an internet connection, and it’s exploded in recent years.

On one of the more popular online learning sites, Udemy, there are over 30,000 courses available … and that’s just on one site!

So here’s what I want you to do: Challenge yourself to learn something new every day. It can benefit your career, your personal life, and your mental well-being, making you a happier and more productive person overall.

To help you get started, here are 40 amazing places to learn something new:

1. Lynda: Where over 4 million people have already taken courses.

2. Your favorite publications: Make time to read and learn something new every day from your favorite blogs and online magazines.

3. CreativeLive: Get smarter and boost your creativity with free online classes.

4. Hackaday: Learn new skills and facts with bite-sized hacks delivered daily.

5. MindTools: A place to learn leadership skills (see more great places to learn leadership skills online here).

6. Codecademy: Learn Java, PHP, Python, and more from this reputable online coding school.

7. EdX: Find tons of MOOCs, including programming courses.

8. Platzi: Get smarter in marketing, coding, app development, and design.

9. Big Think: Read articles and watch videos featuring expert “Big Thinkers.”

10. Craftsy: Learn a fun, new skill from expert instructors in cooking, knitting, sewing, cake decorating, and more.

11. Guides.co: A massive collection of online guides on just about every topic imaginable.

12. LitLovers: Practice your love of literature with free online lit courses.

13. Lifehacker: One of my personal favorites!

14. Udacity: Learn coding at the free online university developed by Sebastien Thrun.

15. Zidbits: Subscribe to this huge collection of fun facts, weird news, and articles on a variety of topics.

16. TED Ed: The iconic TED brand brings you lessons worth sharing.

17. Scitable: Teach yourself about genetics and the study of evolution.

18. ITunes U:  Yale, Harvard, and other top universities share lecture podcasts.

19. Livemocha: Connect with other learners in over 190 countries to practice a new language.

20. MIT open courseware: To learn introductory coding skills; plus, check out these other places to learn coding for free.

21. WonderHowTo: New videos daily to teach you how to do any number of different things.

22. FutureLearn: Join over 3 million others taking courses in everything from health and history to nature and more.

23. One Month: Commit to learning a new skill over a period of one month with daily work.

24. Khan Academy: One of the biggest and best-known gamified online learning platforms.

25. Yousician: Who said when you learn something new it has to be work-related?

26. Duolingo: A completely free, gamified language learning site (find more language learning sites here).

27. Squareknot: Get creative with other creatives.

28. Highbrow: A subscription service that delivers five-minute courses to your email daily.

29. Spreeder: How cool would it be to be able to speed read?

30. Memrise: Get smarter and expand your vocabulary.

31. HTML5 Rocks: Google pro contributors bring you the latest updates, resource guides, and slide decks for all things HTML5.

32. Wikipedia’s Daily Article List: Get Wikipedia’s daily featured article delivered right to your inbox.

33. DataMonkey: The ability to work with data is indispensable. Learn SQL and Excel.

34. Saylor Academy: Offers a great public speaking course you can take online, and see more free public speaking courses here.

35. Cook Smarts: Learn basic to advanced food prep and cooking techniques.

36. The Happiness Project: Why not just learn how to be happy? I’d give five minutes a day to that!

37. Learni.st: Expertly curated courses with the option of premium content.

38. Surface Languages: A good choice if you just need to learn a few phrases for travel.

39. Academic Earth: Offering top quality university-level courses since 2009.

40. Make: Learn how to do that DIY project you’ve had your eye on.

There’s no reason you can’t learn something new every day, whether it’s a work skill, a fun new hobby, or even a language!

The Strongest Acids In The World


Acids are molecules that easily become negatively charged. But we aren’t talking about your regular, every day acids here—instead, we’re referring to “super acids,” and they’re just as corrosive and dangerous as you might assume. Chemists often use these strong acids to create better plastics and fight off city smog. Discover more ways chemists are using superacids to improve the world in the video below.

 The Power Of Superacids

How can acid PREVENT acid rain?

Use Poinsettias To Test For Acid

Learn how you can make homemade pH paper with leftover poinsettia plants.

Beware Of Azidoazide—The World’s Most Explosive Chemical

Azidoazide is so sensitive that it will explode even when left completely alone.

Snowfall was recorded in the Sahara Desert for the first time in 37 years.


It snowed on December 19 in the Sahara Desert, and NASA’s Landsat 7 satellite was there (or rather, hundreds of miles overhead) to see it.

The photo comes from Landsat 7’s Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus visible-light camera, and depicts the first snowfall recorded in the massive African desert in 37 years.

 

The snow-covered area depicted in the photo lies on the northern end of the desert, near the Moroccan-Algerian border and the town of Aïn Séfra. Here’s the full image, which you can click to enlarge:

This map shows the approximate region of the photo, with images from previous years for comparison:

Screen Shot 2016 12 22 at 3.33.58 PMNASA

NASA notes that snow is not all that rare on the African continent, with regular snowfall on high peaks like Kilimanjaro and sites where people ski in South Africa.

Photographer Karim Boucheta was in the right place at the right time to capture photos of the Saharan snowfall from the ground, and he’s posted them to Facebook

Why Do Intelligent People Have A Harder Time In Life?


You think that smart people have it easy in life? Well, think again because with the higher IQ you get some unexpected disadvantages as well.

Nocturnal creatures

Research shows that people with a higher IQ stay up later at night so wake up later as well. Experts say that this shouldn’t come as a surprise because intelligent people often choose the late hours to read, study, analyze or write. This wakes up their brain so they have a harder time falling asleep later. The downside is that a good night sleep is crucial for your overall health and normal functioning of your organism.

Difficulties finding a partner

Another downside of being smart is the social awkwardness, especially throughout highschool, and for some even in their early twenties. Some even experience this during their entire life because they always feel better in their own company or in the company of people they already know well.  This is bad because it means that they have a hard time meeting a partner because they’re shy and reclusive but they sometimes can even have unreasonably high standards. The good news is that once they find the perfect partner they enjoy a much better sex life than people with an average IQ.

They’re no stranger to telling lie

Intelligent people rightfully know that they’re the smarter ones in the room. Some people don’t care much about this and can fit in almost every crowd. But there are those who use their intellect so abuse and make fun of others. In other words, they feel and act superior, throw around ‘smart’ words and have a tendency to tell a lie or two to improve first impressions. This also means they can be kind of mean at times and nobody likes men people.

They believe in unbelievable things

Some studies have shown that extremely intelligent people believe in some pretty strange things. For example, the subjects from one such study believed that the creature in the picture were real even though it was obvious it’s photo shopped. Experts aren’t really sure why is this so but they believe it might have something to do with an increased sense of confidence and high intelligence, even when they’re wrong.

Self-destructive tendencies

Intelligent people stay away from dangerous stuff because it’s only logical to, right? Maybe it only seems that way because we all think since they’re smart they must avoid everything dangerous and unhealthy, but the reality is much different. Why? Because intelligent people are very curious by nature and often that curiosity leads them to dangerous and complicated situations, like drug and alcohol addictions. Several studies have shown that they have auto destructive tendencies.

 

For the First Time in History, We Are Seeing Alien Worlds


IN BRIEF
  • A new instrument known as CHARIS was able to isolate light reflecting from an exoplanet — a fairly difficult feat, given that these planets are dimmer than the stars they orbit.
  • In total, there have been 3,537 exoplanets in 2,653 planetary systems and 596 multiple planetary systems confirmed – CHARIS will only help that number grow.

ANALYZING LIGHT

A team of scientists and engineers at Princeton University just gave exoplanet research a long-needed boost. Using a new Earth-bound instrument, the scientists were able to isolate light reflecting from far-out exoplanets.

This new instrument is known as CHARIS, an acronym for Coronagraphic High Angular Resolution Imaging Spectrograph. It was built by a team led by N. Jeremy Kasdin, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton. CHARIS features nine mirrors, five filters, two prism assemblies, and a microlens array. It weighs 226.8 kg (500 lbs), and is maintained at -223.15 C (50 Kelvin, -369 F).

Credits: N. Jeremy Kasdin, et al. / Princeton University

According to the team, CHARIS was able to isolate light reflecting from an exoplanet — a fairly difficult feat, given that these planets are dimmer than the stars they orbit.

“By analyzing the spectrum of a planet, we can really understand a lot about the planet. You can see specific features that can allow you to understand the mass, the temperature, the age of the planet,” researcher Tyler Groff explained.

UNDERSTANDING EXOPLANETS

Exoplanets are planets found outside of the solar system, orbiting another star. We owe most of our success at finding exoplanets to the Kepler space telescope.  But apart from where they are located, there really isn’t much we know about them.

CHARIS can help change that. It has been more than three decades since the first known exoplanets were discovered in the 1990s, and our fascination with them has only increased – especially since they could potentially support life (as a future home for us or a current one for extraterrestrial civilizations).

“With CHARIS spectra we can now do a lot more than simply detect planets: we can measure their temperatures and atmosphere compositions,” said Olivier Guyon, faculty member at the University of Arizona and head of the adaptive optics program at the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii, with which CHARIS works in conjunction.

Exoplanet research is bound to get even better in the next couple of years, with the capabilities of CHARIS, together with the Subaru Telescope, and with the James Webb Space Telescope’s scheduled launch in 2018.

“There is a lot of excitement,” said Tyler Groff, a member of the Princeton research team currently working in NASA. “[CHARIS] is going to open for science in February to everyone.”

Common Analgesics May Increase Risk for Hearing Loss


Prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen modestly increases the risk for hearing loss in older women, a prospective analysis of data from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) I has found. A similar relationship was not seen with aspirin.

The effect may not be large, but “given the high prevalence of analgesic use, a small increase in risk could have important public health implications,” Brian Min-Hann Lin, MD, from the Channing Division of Network Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues write. “If this is a causal relation, it suggests that a substantial proportion of hearing loss attributable to use of analgesics is potentially preventable.”

The researchers report their findings December 14 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Aspirin, NSAIDs and acetaminophen are the most commonly used drugs in the United States, but there is evidence that they may be ototoxic, especially in high doses, the authors explain.

The NHS began including questions about aspirin, acetaminophen, and NSAID use in its biannual questionnaire in 1990. In 2012, the questionnaire included questions about hearing loss and time of onset, for the Conservation of Hearing Study (CHEARS).

The researchers analyzed data from 55,850 CHEARS participants after excluding those whose hearing loss began before 1990 or who had a history of chemotherapy for cancer other than nonmelanoma skin cancer.

At baseline in 1990, the participants had a mean age of 53.9 years (standard deviation, 6.5). There were 18,663 incident cases of hearing loss reported over 873,376 person-years of follow-up.

Compared with use for less than 1 year, NSAID and acetaminophen use for more than 6 years were independently associated with multivariable-adjusted relative risks (RR) of 1.10 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.06 – 1.15; P for trend < .001) and 1.09 (95% CI, 1.04 – 1.14; P for trend < .001), respectively. Aspirin use was not (RR, 1.01; 95% CI, 0.97 – 1.05; P for trend = .35). These relationships did not change after adjustment for waist circumference and body mass index as continuous variables and exclusion of women with a history of tinnitus.

Similarly, NSAID use on 2 or more days per week, compared with less than 2 days per week, was associated with a multivariate-adjusted RR for hearing loss of 1.07 (95% CI, 1.01 – 1.13), as were regular acetaminophen use and regular use of multiple analgesics (RR, 1.19; 95% CI, 1.08 – 1.32). Regular use of aspirin alone was not associated with hearing loss (RR, 1.01; 95% CI, 0.98 – 1.05).

The study followed each woman until she reported onset of hearing loss or developed cancer. The researchers adjusted for covariates known to be risk factors for hearing loss, including age, race, body mass index, waist circumference, alcohol consumption, diet, potassium, magnesium, level of physical activity, smoking, diabetes, hypertension, tinnitus, and use of other analgesics. Follow-up ended in 2012.

Noting that analgesic use may be associated with tinnitus, the authors also performed a secondary analysis that excluded women who reported onset of tinnitus before the onset of hearing loss.

To estimate the degree to which analgesic use contributed to the women’s hearing loss, the investigators calculated the population attributable fraction (PAF) of hearing loss among the study participants. With the assumption of a causal relationship between the medications and hearing loss, regular use of NSAIDs was associated with a PAF of 4.0, and acetaminophen, with a PAF of 1.6%. Regular use of multiple analgesics was associated with a PAF of 5.5%.

Mechanisms by which these drugs may affect auditory function include impairing outer hair cell function, reducing cochlear vascular supply, and inhibiting cyclooxygenase. Acetaminophen may render the cochlea more susceptible to noise-induced damage, and in animal models, there is evidence that acetaminophen and one of its metabolites “may cause ototoxicity through oxidative stress mechanisms.”

This is the first published study to assess the relationship between duration of NSAID use and risk for hearing loss in women, the authors write.

Study limitations include a cohort composed almost completely of older white women and reliance on the participants’ self-reports regarding their use of analgesics and the age at which they noticed their hearing declining.

Nevertheless, “[c]onsidering the high prevalence of analgesic use and the high probability of frequent and/or prolonged exposure in women of more advanced age, our findings suggest that NSAID use and acetaminophen use may be modifiable risk factors for hearing loss,” the authors conclude.

Promising Topline Results for Pimavanserin in AD


Topline, phase 2 trial results with the antipsychotic drug pimavanserin (Nuplazid, Acadia Pharmaceuticals) in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) psychosis showed a statistically significant reduction in psychosis among those taking pimavanserin vs placebo, the company has announced.

A selective serotonin inverse agonist preferentially targeting 5-HT2A receptors, pimavanserin has a different biological mechanism than other antipsychotics.

Earlier this year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved pimavanserin tablets for the treatment of hallucinations and delusions associated with psychosis in Parkinson’s disease (PD).

The new double-blind, placebo-controlled exploratory trial included 181 patients with AD psychosis in the United Kingdom (mean age, 86 years). These patients were randomly assigned to receive 34 mg of pimavanserin or placebo daily.

The primary endpoint was antipsychotic efficacy, as measured by the mean change in the Neuropsychiatric Inventory-Nursing Home (NPI-NH) Psychosis score (combined hallucinations and delusions domains) from baseline to week 6 of dosing. Patients continued dosing to week 12 to provide information on secondary endpoints, including changes in cognition.

At week 6, patients taking pimavanserin had a 3.76-point improvement in the NPI-NH Psychosis score compared with a 1.93-point improvement for placebo, representing a statistically significant (P = .0451) comparative improvement. Baseline mean scores were 9.52 and 10.00 for the pimavanserin and placebo groups, respectively.

Atypical antipsychotics have been associated with worsening of cognitive function in patients with AD. Over the course of 12 weeks of treatment in the current study, pimavanserin did not impair cognition as measured by the Mini-Mental State Examination score and was similar to placebo.

On the secondary endpoint of mean change in NPI-NH Psychosis score at week 12, pimavanserin maintained the psychosis improvement seen at the week 6 primary endpoint. This, however, did not statistically separate from placebo.

Pimavanserin was generally well tolerated, and the safety profile was consistent with that reported in previous studies. A preliminary analysis of safety data found that the most common adverse events were falls, urinary tract infection, and agitation. The mortality rate was similar in two study groups.

In the earlier PD trial, the effectiveness of pimavanserin was shown in a 6-week clinical trial of 199 participants. That study showed the drug to be superior to placebo in decreasing the frequency and/or severity of hallucinations and delusions without worsening the primary motor PD symptoms.

Hallucinations or delusions occur in as many as 50% of patients with PD at some time during the course of their illness and can be profoundly disturbing and disabling, according to experts in the field.

Despite some concerns about an increased risk for severe adverse events, including death, and the small number of patients tested, members of the FDA’s Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee had determined that Acadia had shown its drug to be effective and safe in patients with PD and that its benefits outweigh the risks.

As with other atypical antipsychotic drugs, pimavanserin has a boxed warning alerting healthcare professionals about an increased risk for death associated with the use of these drugs to treat older people with dementia-related psychosis.

Pimavanserin was granted breakthrough therapy designation for the treatment of hallucinations and delusions associated with PD. According to the FDA, this designation is designed to expedite the development and review of drugs that are intended to treat a serious condition and for which preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over available therapy on a clinically significant endpoint.

The drug was also granted a priority review, which provides for an expedited review of drugs that offer a significant improvement in the safety or effectiveness for the treatment, prevention, or diagnosis of a serious condition.

“Alzheimer’s disease patients suffer from a number of debilitating symptoms, of which psychosis carries a poor prognosis and is associated with earlier placement into nursing homes,” said Steve Davis, Acadia’s president and chief executive officer, in a press release.

The new data, he said, “provide solid evidence that pimavanserin can improve psychosis in another major neurological disorder and provide strategic momentum for the further development of pimavanserin to address the needs of AD psychosis patients.”

Soccer Parents, Rejoice! This New Minivan Drives Itself


IN BRIEF
  • Google’s self-driving car initiative, now a separate company named Waymo, has added 100 autonomous Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans to its fleet of test vehicles.
  • With an estimated 95 percent of all traffic fatalities the result of human error, widespread adoption of autonomous cars could save millions of lives.

Google has been working on a self-driving car project for the past seven years, and just last week, it set up a separate company under the Alphabet umbrella to move the project forward. That company, now called Waymo, takes its mission of providing safe, fully autonomous vehicles to a new level with the addition of 100 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans to its test fleet.

The minivans were produced by Fiat Chrysler specifically for Waymo in close tandem with the Alphabet company. This means that the self-driving technologies in these Pacifica minivans were not add ons — Waymo’s onboard computer power, sensors, and telematics are as much part of the Pacifica as its own electrical, powertrain, and structural systems (including the chassis), all modified and optimized for Waymo’s autonomous driving tech.

Credit: Waymo

Everything took only six months to design and build, according to Chrysler, with engineering teams from both companies working hand in hand in the vehicle’s development. The Pacifica will join Waymo’s fleet of self-driving cars by early next year for more testing on public roads.

Although Google’s self-driving car project had its share of bumps along the road, Waymo presents its autonomous vehicle tech as “a safer driver that is always alert and never distracted.” Indeed, with 95 percent of all traffic fatalities the result of human error, self-driving cars are expected to save millions of lives, so the more variety we get in the types of self-driving vehicles available, the more likely we are to eventually have every car on the road be capable of autonomy.

LISTEN TO A SONG WRITTEN BY ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, INSPIRED BY THE BEATLES


SONY CSL Research Laboratory

 

SONY CSL Research Laboratory

SONY CSL Research Laboratory has produced an AI-written song that sounds amazingly like the Beatles.

The Beatles may have ended decades ago, but AI is making good (if derivative) hits that sound an awful lot like something off “Revolver.”

Sony CSL Research Laboratory is releasing an album next year of songs written by Artificial intelligence, and the first hit track may be this uncanny number programmed in the style of The Beatles (in all honesty it sounds a little more like The Beach Boys to me, at least through the intro).

The effort was not totally computer generated, of course. French composer Benoît Carré arranged and produced the harmonies for the songs. He also wrote the lyrics. Using Sony’s Flowmachines system, the team selected a Beatles style and, well, here it is:

Song URL on Youtube: https://youtu.be/LSHZ_b05W7o

13 Ways to Hunt Intelligent Aliens


No Intelligent Aliens -- Yet

No Intelligent Aliens — Yet

Really. Where are all the aliens? We should have been probed, exterminated, assimilated, infected, invaded or abducted by now, shouldn’t we?

The Fermi Paradox ponders the lack of evidence of another transmitting intelligent civilization — of all the stars and all the galaxies in the universe, you’d think one intelligent alien race would have bothered to call by now? Either we’re on the interstellar “do not call” list, or we’re the most advanced life form out here (scary thought), or (even scarier) we’re the only life form out here.

The search for any extraterrestrial life is one of the most profound things we, as a species, can do. But as any other life beyond Earth’s shores has yet to be discovered, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) can be a hard-sell. Still, the search continues and scientists are thinking up more and more extreme ways to fine-tune our high-tech array of astronomical instruments to detect intelligence in the stars.

Here are the weird and wonderful ways scientists hope to snare an intelligent alien.

http://www.space.com/20155-hunting-intelligent-aliens-extreme-seti.html

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