Coding is not “fun”, it’s technically and ethically complex

By Walter Vannini

Programming computers is a piece of cake. Or so the world’s digital-skills gurus would have us believe. From the non-profit’s promise that ‘Anybody can learn!’ to Apple chief executive Tim Cook’s comment that writing code is ‘fun and interactive’, the art and science of making software is now as accessible as the alphabet.

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Would your mobile phone be powerful enough to get you to the moon?

Graham Kendall, University of Nottingham

Many people who are old enough to have experienced the first moon landing will vividly remember what it was like watching Neil Armstrong uttered his famous quote: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.“. Half a century later, the event is still one of the top achievements of humankind. Despite the rapid technological advances since then, astronauts haven’t actually been back to the moon since 1972.

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Audio Illusions: Can We Trust Our Ears?

We all know how our eyes can easily be deceived, as there are a lot of visual illusions that trick our eyes. But, it turns out our ears can be deceived too. We can easily be fooled into hearing something that actually isn’t there. ASAPScience published an amazing video about audio illusions.

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Time alone (chosen or not) can be a chance to hit the reset button

Solitude has become a topic of fascination in modern Western societies because we believe it is a lost art – often craved, yet so seldom found. It might seem as if we ought to walk away from society completely to find peaceful moments for ourselves. Yet there is a quote I really like from the book Solitude: In Pursuit of a Singular Life in a Crowded World (2017) by the Canadian journalist Michael Harris:

I don’t want to run away from the world – I want to rediscover myself within it. I want to know what happens if we again take doses of solitude from inside our crowded days, along our crowded streets.

Michael Harris
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Can a 4-day work week save the planet?

Anupam Nanda, University of Reading

The idea of a four-day working week is gaining traction. Recently, several high-profile companies have trialled reduced hours. And in the UK, the Labour Party has pledged a 32-hour four day work week within ten years should it come to power.

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5 ways to be productive while working from home

Fuschia Sirois, University of Sheffield

If you have been asked to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic to help slow the spread of the virus, you might be quite happy about it at first. Think of the benefits such as saving on commuting time and expenses, and being in a comfortable environment.

But the home environment has numerous distractions that can make it easy to procrastinate and not get your work done. Whether you are new to working from home or are a long-time remote worker who struggles with staying on task some days, these evidence-based strategies can help you reduce procrastination and stay productive.

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How to spot a conspiracy theory when you see one

Anyone who engages critically with the phenomenon of conspiracy theories soon encounters a conundrum. Actual conspiracies occur quite regularly. Political assassinations, scandals and cover-ups, terrorist attacks and a lot of everyday government activity involves the collusion of multiple people in the attempt to bring about a desired outcome.

Jovan Byford, The Open University

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How to spot bogus science stories and read the news like a scientist

Doug Specht, University of Westminster and Julio Gimenez, University of Westminster

When fake news, misreporting and alternative facts are everywhere, reading the news can be a challenge. Not only is there plenty of misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other scientific topics floating around social media, you also need to read science stories, even well-known publications, with caution.

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Pseudoscience is taking over social media – and putting us all at risk

Santosh Vijaykumar, Northumbria University, Newcastle

Search for “climate change” on YouTube and before long you’ll likely find a video that denies it exists. In fact, when it comes to shaping the online conversation around climate change, a new study suggests that deniers and conspiracy theorists might hold an edge over those believing in science. Researchers found evidence that most YouTube videos relating to climate change oppose the scientific consensus that it’s primarily caused by human activities.

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