Why Study Economics?
Posted: 22 October 2014
Dylan Thomas poetry
If you enjoy language and thinking about how it can be used and the effects it can create, you might like to explore some of Dylan Thomas's work. It's a particularly good time to do this, as 2014 is the centenary of his birth.
- Poem: The Hunchback in the park (watch the BBC film, read the text, look at the GCSE Bitesize resource)
- Poem: Do not go gentle into that good night (read or listen to the text)
- Poem: Fern Hill (read or listen to the text, watch film about the place)
- Poetic 'Play for voices': Under Milk Wood (listen to the BBC Radio play)
Do you like one or more of these? Why? How would you describe Dylan Thomas's writing to someone who has never read any? Can you see any connections with other poets & poems that you have read?
Further reading & events
- John Goodby (ed), The collected poems of Dylan Thomas (Hachett, 2014).
- BBC Radio 3 Dylan Thomas Centenary essays, including Dylan's Bardic Heritage (links with Wales's poetic past), Dylan over the Pond (his influence on black American writers) and Crossing Dylan's Boundaries.
- Dylan Thomas Festival events in Swansea include:
- Mon 27 Oct onwards - Love of Words Exhibition
- Sun 26 Oct - A 36 hour reading of Thomas's works
- Thurs 30 Oct - A discussion with John Goodby about the new collection of Thomas's poems (see above)
- Thurs 6 Nov - Contemporary poets discuss Thomas's influence
Posted: 18 October 2014
The Cycle of Terms
'Parking problems': bicycles pile up outside King's. Credit: Phil Shirley
Full term began for our current Cambridge students last Thursday. To celebrate the new academic year, join them in their morning pedal to lectures by watching this video.
A number of our current students write about a typical day during termtime in their King's Student Perspectives.
All the best for the new academic year to everyone!
Posted: 13 October 2014
Beverley Literature Festival 2014
Beverley Minster: one of Britain's largest and most imposing parish churches. Image credit: Mill View
- On the closing weekend of this year's Beverley Literature Festival, there is still time to hear Shirley Williams talking about the life and work of her mother, pacificst and novelist Vera Brittain (1893-1970). Beverley Minster, 7.30pm to 8.30pm, Saturday 11 October
- The Festival on the Run continues: John Godber's specially commissioned play Who Cares about the NHS is being performed by the University of Hull's Drama Department. Catch it at Goole Library and Holme Village Hall on Saturday 11 October, Withernsea Centre on Saturday 18 October, and Hedon Library on Saturday 25 October
Posted: 10 October 2014
Faith and religion at Cambridge Festival of Ideas
The Cambridge Festival of Ideas is a full programme of mostly free events encouraging you to explore the arts, humanities and social sciences, meet academics and students, and engage with the University.
If you are interested in faith and religion, you might enjoy some of the following events:
- Mon 20 Oct - Who am I? Buddhist angles.
- Tues 21 Oct - Are people born to believe?
- Tues 21 Oct - Fixed image & the created self
- Tues 21 Oct - Meet the Chaplains
- Wed 22 Oct - Identity and immortality
- Wed 22 Oct - ‘New Atheism’ in C17 England?
- Wed 22 Oct - Sport and religion in Britain today
- Thurs 23 Oct - Three theories of everything (booking required)
- Sat 25 Oct - Hindu identity in an age of migration (booking required)
- Sun 26 Oct - Festival Choral Evensong
- Mon 27 Oct - Health of the Church of England?
- Mon 27 Oct - The humanist condition (booking required)
- Wed 29 Oct - Identity politics & Anglican Church
- Thurs 30 Oct - Open-mindedness in science and religion (booking required)
- Thurs 30 Oct - Faith and national identity
- Fri 31 Oct - Medieval manuscripts of the Jewish festival prayer-book
- Sat 1 Nov - What is a Daoist?
- Sun 2 Nov - From the selfish me to the selfless self (booking required)
Posted: 9 October 2014
Beginning New Testament Greek
Theology and Religious Studies students at Cambridge study a scriptural language in first year, choosen from New Testament Greek, Hebrew, Qur'anic Arabic or Sanscrit. You don't need to have studied foreign languages before, and this is a great opportunity to learn one of the original languages in which the texts of a major world religion were written.
If you are interested in New Testament Greek, we hope that you will find the new website launched by Cambridge Divinity Faculty useful:
Posted: 9 September 2014
Open House London (Sat 20 & Sun 21 September)
On the weekend of 20 and 21 September, there's a chance to explore building design and architecture in London. This is Open House London, which encourages you to explore buildings and spaces, including ones that aren't normally open to the public.
Posted: 4 September 2014
Economic Success Drives Language Extinction
Uluru, Northern Territory, Australia, named by the local Pitjantjatjara people. The Pitjantjatjara language is classified as vulnerable by UNESCO. Image credit: Sjoerd van Oosten.
A new study has revealed that economic growth and globalisation are driving the loss of minority languages.
The researchers, including Cambridge Zoologist Tatsuya Amano, used the criteria for defining endangered species (as defined by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature) to measure the rate and extent of language loss. They then analysed the geographical distribution of the endangered languages in order to draw conclusions about how and why they have gone into decline. Dr. Amano explained that:
As economies develop, one language often comes to dominate a nation's political and educational spheres. People are forced to adopt the dominant language or risk being left out in the cold - economically and politically.
The researchers argue that conservation efforts should therefore be focused on minority languages in more economically developed regions, such as northwestern North America and northern Australia.
Read the researchers' findings in full in Tatsuya Amano et al, 'Global Distribution and Drivers of Language Extinction Risk,' Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 281 (October 2014).
Consult the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.
Look into the conservation efforts of the Endangered Language Alliance in New York City and the online Endangered Languages Project. National Geographic's Enduring Voices project has produced eight online talking dictionaries in an effort to conserve minority languages.
- What are the benefits / risks of applying the criteria for defining endangered species to minority languages?
- How best can minority languages be protected? Or should they be protected at all?
Posted: 3 September 2014
As well as the podcasts, there is also a book. Credit: Mark Larson (cropped)
Philosophy Bites is a good source of short interview podcasts with professional philosophers on all kinds of topics.
Recent interviews include:
- Tamar Gendler on Why Philosophers Use Examples
- Amia Srinivasan on Genealogy
- Seth Lazar on Sparing Civilians in War
- Chris Betram on Rousseau's Moral Psychology
- Roger Scruton on the Sacred
- Regina Rini on the Moral Self and Psychology
- Simon Blackburn on Narcissism
- Norman Daniels on the Philosophy of Healthcare
- Tom Stoneham on George Berkeley's Immaterialism
- Michael Ignatieff on Political Theory and Political Practice
If there is a particular area that interests you, you may like to look at this list organised by theme.
Posted: 25 August 2014
The Baroque in Britain
Credit: Adam Foster (cropped)
Radio 4 iplayer has a useful series of 15 minute programmes on the Baroque in Britain presented by Tim Marlow:
- Klaus Carl and Victoria Charles, Baroque Art (New York: Parkstone Press International, 2014)
- Ernst Hans Gombrich, The Story of Art (several editions)
Posted: 23 August 2014
If you live too far away to visit Cambridge
Different people need different facilities. This is one of the treadmills in the King's Vaults gym.
It is not unusual to make a successful application without ever having set foot in Cambridge. Don't worry if it is not practical for you to visit as there is no requirement to do so.
Since we welcome applicants who live a long way from Cambridge, we do our best to ensure that all the infomation that you need to make a strong application is on our website (see the relevant subject page and how to apply in particular), as well as virtual tours and the life and facilities sections so that you can get a sense of King's as a place:
- The grounds of King's - 360 degree tour
(click on 'Navigate' in the top left corner to explore other parts)
- King's College Library - 360 degree tour
- King's College Chapel - 360 degree tour
- Life at King's
We also have a dedicated page for if you don't feel very well supported for your application, and the student perspectives are particularly useful.
Posted: 16 August 2014
Young Geographer of the Year Competition
A glacial river. Credit: Mike Beauregard
The annual Young Geographer of the Year Competition is run by the Royal Geographical Society in conjunction with Geographical Magazine. There are four categories for different age groups including 14-16 (Years 10 and 11) and 16-18 (Years 12 and 13), as well as younger pupils.
This year's question is: How can Geography help you?
- Students in Years 10 and 11 are asked to produce an annotated diagram or map to answer the question
- Students in Years 12 and 13 are asked for a 1,500 word essay, which can include illustrations, maps or graphs.
The deadline for entries is Friday 24 October 2014.
If you might like to enter, please read the full information on the Royal Geographical Society website.
Posted: 13 August 2014
Credit: Juan Pablo Ortiz Arechiga (cropped)
Have you read George Orwell's Animal Farm (first published in England in 1945)? It is just under 100 pages and is widely available in local libraries - why not read the book (or listen to it) without reading anything about it, and see what you make of it. Can you briefly jot down your impressions of what is important in the book? If you are able to get to a local library, you could then do some research about what other people have written on the themes in it.
- George Orwell, Animal Farm (Penguin, 1996)
Posted: 10 August 2014
Thames Tideway Tunnel
London City Airport and the Thames. Credit: pencefn
According to King’s Engineer Mark Ainslie, ‘engineers are people who apply Maths and Physics to solve problems … in a creative way.’
So try applying your own Maths and Physics to a real life engineering problem: how to tackle the problem of overflows from London's Victorian sewers. Designed for up to 4 million people 150 years ago, the sewers are not big enough to serve 8 million Londoners today, causing 55 million tonnes of raw sewage to wash into the tidal Thames every year.
Thames Water's proposed solution is the Thames Tideway Tunnel, running for 25 kilometres, at a depth of up to 65 metres below the river. Tunnelworks is an online resource put together by Thames Water, in which you are asked to apply your Mathematics and Physics to the project.
Taking place for the first time throughout September 2014, Totally Thames is an exciting new, month-long celebration of the river across its 42 London miles:
- On Sunday 7 September, Kirkaldy Testing Museum presents Safe to Cross? Testing London's Bridges. Visit the pioneering Victorian engineer David Kirkaldy's workshop on the South Bank and see his hydraulic powered Universal Testing Machine test metals to destruction.
- On Sunday 7 and Sunday 14 September, visit Crossnesss Pumping Station, part of Sir Joseph Bazalette's original Thames sewerage system, to see the 150 year-old pumping engines.
Posted: 8 August 2014
Hull History Centre
Image credit: gnomonic
The Hull History Centre brings together the material held by the City Archives and Local Studies Library with those held by the University of Hull. These include the City’s borough archives, dating back to 1299 and amongst the best in the country; records relating to the port and docks of Hull; papers of companies and organisations reflecting Hull’s maritime history; papers of notable individuals including Andrew Marvell, Philip Larkin, Amy Johnson and William Wilberforce; records relating to local and national politics and pressure groups; and over 100,000 photographs, illustrations; maps and plans, newspapers, special collections and reference sources relating to Hull and the East Riding.
Posted: 7 August 2014
BALTIC, Gateshead: get involved with contemporary art
It is currently showing exhibitions by Daniel Buren (until 12 October) and Lydia Gifford (until 2 November). The gallery is free to use and open to all daily from 10am to 6pm (10.30am on Tuesday). You can also drop into the BALTIC Library, in which you can browse books and journals on contemporary art and design.
BALTIC is currently recruiting a team of enthusiastic and motivated 14 - 25 year-olds to help create and curate new ways to get involved with contemporary art. See the BALTIC website to find out more.
Posted: 6 August 2014
CREST Awards: for project work in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
Making a pin-hole camera. Credit: Tess Watson
The British Science Association supports, assesses, and awards students undertaking project work in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. You can register and work towards one of their CREST Awards either through your school / college or independently. You could build a pin-hold camera, design a bespoke fitness regime and diet for an athlete, or investigate the effect of natural and chemical additives in bread.
Look at the British Science Association website to find:
- More project ideas for your CREST Award
- How to register for, and get started on, your CREST Award
- Your CREST Award local coordinator
Good luck and enjoy!
Posted: 5 August 2014
'The words on the page': practical criticism
Close reading. Credit: Radek Szuban
Practical criticism is a skill required in all three years of the Cambridge English degree. Developed by Cambridge literary critic I. A. Richards in the 1920s, the exercise is designed to make you focus on 'the words on the page.' You are given an unseen text and asked to respond to its form and meaning.
This year, Cambridge students hit the headlines when they were asked to analyse Morrissey's Autobiography (2013) and Andre Letoit's (Koos Kombuis) 'Tipp-Ex Sonate' (1985) (a poem with no words, only punctuation) in their practical criticism papers.
Why not try your hand at practical criticism yourself? The Faculty of English's Virtual Classroom provides a good starting point:
You can also read I. A. Richards, Practical Criticism (1929).
Posted: 1 August 2014
Siegfried Sassoon's war diaries published in the Cambridge Digital Library
Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967). Credit: Pere Ubu
The Cambridge University Library holds the papers of its former student and First World War poet Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967). Now, for the first time, Sassoon's journals are freely available online as part of the Cambridge Digital Library.
Amidst the daily minutiae of life in the trenches, Sassoon recorded:
- the first day of the Somme, 'a sunlit picture of Hell,' on July 1916
- the Battle of Arras, during which he was 'fully expecting to get killed,' but was instead shot in the shoulder by a sniper, causing a dramatic deterioration in his handwriting from 15 - 16 April 1917
- draft and fair copies of his 'Soldier's Declaration' against the conduct of the war, written and issued in June-July 1917
- an early version of his poem 'The Dug-Out,' with an additional, excised verse, written in July 1918 and published in Picture-Show (1919)
The Siegfried Sasoon diaries had previously been edited by Rupert Hart-Davies and published in the 1980s. So how does seeing the original manuscript versions change our perceptions of Sassoon's life and poetry? Does seeing the mud and candlewax on their pages add to a historian's understanding of Sassoon's experience in the trenches? How useful is either textual criticism (the effort to establish a text as nearly as possible to its original form) or genetic criticism (the effort to trace and understand the process of writing a text) to a literary scholar?
Posted: 31 July 2014
Women in Engineering
"the number of women in engineering remains very low at 6%, which has not significantly changed in all the years this survey has been carried out."
Why are there so few female engineers? Zoe Conway reported from the Crossrail 2 project on why engineering remains a male-dominated industry for Radio 4's Today programme this morning.
The Women's Engineering Society was founded in 1919 by women engineers in the First World World War who wished to continue their work in peacetime. They support prospective women engineers in gaining the Advanced Leaders Award for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).
Here in Cambridge, the Department of Engineering holds an Athena SWAN Bronze Award, in recognition of its commitment to promoting and supporting the careers of women in engineering. Ann Dowling, Head of the Department, offers the following advice to young women engineers:
- try always to respond positively to opportunites that come your way;
- don't wait for the 'perfect time' before applying for things - sometimes you just have to have a go;
- find a field of resarch that really interests you and has scope to expand in the future.
Posted: 31 July 2014
Biologising the Social Sciences
Spoiling for a fight? Credit: driki
Academics have increasingly turned to evolutionary explanations for the human condition, variously arguing that:
- The male human face has evolved to withstand fist fights. See David R. Carrier and Michael H. Morgan, ‘Protective buttressing of the hominin face,’ Biological Reviews (2014).
- Babies cry at night to prevent parents further procreating, resulting in potential sibling rivals. See David Haig, ‘Trouble Sleep: Night waking, breastfeeding and parent-offsprng conflict,’ Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health, 2014 (2014), 32-39.
- Teen boys develop acne on their faces to deter females from fertile but psychologically immature mates. See Dale F. Bloom, ‘Is acne really a disease?’ Medical Hypotheses, 62 (2004), 462-469.
But are there limits to the explanatory power of evolution? David Canter, Professor of Psychology at the University of Huddersfield, thinks so. He made a trenchant case against biologising the social sciences in David Canter, ‘Challenging neuroscience and evolutionary explanations of social and psychological processes,’ Contemporary Social Science, 7 (2012), 92-115.
You can listen to David Canter debate the issues with Alice Roberts, Professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham, on Radio 4's Inside Science programme (the item begins at 18 minutes).
How far would you take evolutionary explanations of human behaviour?
Posted: 29 July 2014
Mathematical ways to spend your summer
A spiral pattern in an aloe plant. Credit: Kai Schreiber
NB the 'stages' mentioned on the NRICH website correspond to UK Key stages. As a guide:
- Stage 3 uses maths you would normally meet before the age of 14
- Stage 4 uses maths you would normally meet before the age of 16
- Stage 5 uses maths you would normally meet post 16.
Posted: 27 July 2014
Centre for Computing History
A Namco NeGcon controller for Playstation. Image credit: Blake Patterson
A Centre for Computing History opened in Cambridge earlier this year, which offers a fascinating exploration of the historical, social and cultural impact of developments in personal computing. It is open to visit Wed - Saturday each week, and there are also lots of workshops and talks over the summer that may be of interest. See full details on the website.
Online resources include:
For information about the history of computing at Cambridge, you may be interested in:
Posted: 26 July 2014
Sutton Hoo and the British Museum
The Sutton Hoo helmet at the British Museum. Image credit: Rob Roy
If you would like to explore Anglo-Saxon history and archaeology, you might enjoy visiting the sixth and early seventh century burial mounds and the Exhibition Hall at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, or the Sutton Hoo and Europe AD300 - 1100 collection at the British Museum in London.
- AD700 - Sutton Hoo on the Current Archaeology website (part of the Current Archaeology timeline of Britain)
- The Sutton Hoo Helmet - a Radio 4 programme in the History of the World in 100 objects series.
- King Raedwald - a Radio 3 programme in The Essay series.
- Martin Carver, Sutton Hoo: Burial Ground of King's? (London: British Museum Press, 2000)
Posted: 25 July 2014
The College gardens are regularly used for outdoor theatre in the summer.
In the nice weather, you might enjoy some outdoor Shakespeare if you're visiting Cambridge. The Cambridge Shakespeare Festival is on at the moment and four new plays are about to start their run:
- Othello in Trinity College Gardens (28 July - 16 August)
- Twelfth Night in St John's College Gardens (28 July - 16 August)
- The Merchant of Venice in Robinson College Gardens (28 July - 23 August)
- The Taming of the Shrew in Homerton College Gardens (28 July - 23 August)
Performances start at 7.30pm, and if you bring proof that you're a student in full-time education, you can get a concession ticket for £11. Please see the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival website for full details and booking.
Posted: 24 July 2014
Navigation at sea in the eighteenth century
Navigation at sea was a real problem in the eighteenth century. Although ships could work out their latitude from the position of the sun, it was difficult to know how far east or west they were. In 1714 a Longitude Act was passed, offering rewards of up to £20,000 for anyone who could solve the problem of finding longitude at sea.
The National Maritime Museum and Cambridge University have put the archives relating to this period of exploration and invention online - do watch the film and explore the website. If you live near enough to visit Greenwich, you may enjoy one of the Longitude Season events.
Posted: 23 July 2014
How well do you know your local area?
Berwick upon Tweed, Northumberland. Image credit: Laszlo Ilyes
If you live in England or Wales, do have a look:
Further ways of exploring the census data are available in:
Posted: 22 July 2014
Tony Blair: Twenty Years On
Tony Blair in Davos in 2009. Credit: World Economic Forum
Key figures and commentators from the Blair years have been reflecting on Blair's legacy in the newspapers:
- John McTernan, 'Tony Blair: his legacy will be debated but not forgotten,' Telegraph, 20 July 2014
- John Rentoul, 'Two decades on, what is Tony Blair's legacy worth,' Independent, 20 July 2014
- Michael White, 'Twenty Years of Tony Blair: totting up the balance sheet,' Guardian, 21 July 2014
You could follow up on these assessments by reading more about Tony Blair in his own words...
- Tony Blair, The Journey (London: Hutchinson, 2010)
... and in the view of political scienitsts:
- Blair's Britain, 1997 - 2007, ed. by Anthony Seldon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)
How have assessments of Tony Blair's leadership and legacy changed over the course of the past twenty years and why?
Posted: 21 July 2014
The Virtual Chopin
The Chopin statue in Deansgate, Manchester. Image credit: Mike Kniec (cropped)
Have you come across any music by Fryderyk Chopin that you can think of? He was a nineteenth century composer and is the subject of The Virtual Chopin presented by Professor John Rink from Cambridge University Faculty of Music.
- You can listen to Chopin's music on the British Library website.
- The website for primary sources that Prof Rink mentions is the OCVE (Online Chopin Valiorum Edition)
- See Chapter 7 in Richard Taruskin, Music in the Nineteenth Century (Oxford University Press, 2009)
- You may also enjoy the Fryderyk Chopin resources on BBC Music
Posted: 20 July 2014
The Raspberry Pi
A Raspberry Pi. Photo credit: Teardown Central
The Raspberry Pi is a flexible low-cost computer. It is great for experimenting with programming and electronics.
The Raspberry Pi website includes an introduction, quick start guide, software downloads and lots of other information to help you get started on all kinds of projects.
There are three models:
- Model A (15 British pounds / 25 US dollars)
- Model B (22 British pounds / 35 US dollars)
- Model B+ (22 British pounds / 35 US dollars)
There are lots of resources available online so if you have a particular interest, do search for it. Here are a few useful sites:
- Frequently asked questions about the Raspberry Pi
- Adafruit Tutorials
- Robot and sensors workshop
- BCPL Programming on the Raspberry Pi
- Google CODER for Raspberry Pi
Posted: 19 July 2014
Trainers, pumps, plimsolls or daps?
Plimsolls? No, daps. Credit: dave
How do you refer to the appropriate footwear for a PE class? Trainers, pumps, plimsolls, or daps? The word you use almost certainly reflects where you live, or where you grew up.
Researchers in Linguistics can use lexical variation (our choice of words or phrases), phonological variation (the way in which we pronounce certain words), and syntactic variation (the way in which we construct sentences) to draw maps of dialect variation, such as those produced by the Multilingual Manchester project.
King's teacher and researcher Bert Vaux and his colleague Scott Golder created a dialect survey whilst he was at Harvard in 2002 which went viral when it was featured in the New York Times last year. Bert says:
"What's been most exciting about the newest viral episode is the demonstration over a pool of several million test subjects that it is possible to identify the regional origins of English speakers just from subtle lexical 'tells.'"
You can hear Bert discussing the latest success of the survey and the conclusions he drew from it on National Public Radio (NPR) in the U.S. in February.
If you'd like to contribute to Bert's ongoing research, you can take the Cambridge Online Survey of World Englishes now.
Posted: 18 July 2014
RIBA Stirling Prize 2014 Shortlist
The Shard from Tower Bridge. Credit: Loco Steve
The Shard: do you love it or hate it? The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) have nominated the controversial London skyscraper for its Stirling Prize 2014. The Prize is awarded annually to the best building in the UK by RIBA chartered architects and International Fellows, or in the rest of the EU by a RIBA chartered architect.
The full shortlist is:
- Library of Birmingham
- London Aquatic Centre
- Liverpool's Everyman Theatre
- London School of Economics Saw Swee Hock Student Centre
- London Bridge Tower / The Shard
- Manchester School of Art
The debate about the worthiness of the contenders, the injustice of the omissions, and the rightfulness of the eventual winner has begun. Join in the debate on Building Design Online.
Posted: 17 July 2014
Summer Reading (and Writing)
Credit: Pam loves pie
As you break up for the vacation, you may be resolving to read through the pile of books that has built up on your bedside table during a busy academic year. But how do you make your summer reading count? As the University of Cambridge advises its students:
Reading for a degree requires different reading skills to reading for pleasure. Developing understanding through reading needs to be an active process, whereby you engage with the text, question and develop your ideas in response to it.
Listen to Hanna Weibye (one of the King's Fellows in History) making a similar point, when she recommends that you read as widely and as critically as possible.
One way to read effectively is to... write! Once you've read a text, why not write and share a review of it? The Wellcome Trust blog offers advice on how to write a news story from a scientific paper. The Guardian's Blogging Students advise on how to blog.
Posted: 15 July 2014
The Life Scientific
In the Life Scientific on Radio 4, Professor Jim Al-Khalili talks to leading scientists about their life and work, finding out what inspires and motivates them. It is fascinating to hear how their academic interests were sparked and developed as they studied and how this led them to forge a career in science.
This morning's programme featured Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, Britain's largest medical research funding charity. Farrar reflected on how his undergraduate studies in Medicine at University College London took him away from medical practice and into clinical research:
The degree opened my eyes to the fact that you could dream a little bit beyond facts and you could ask questions and you could design things to try and answer them.
As a result of his experience as a junior doctor treating patients infected with HIV in the early 1980s, Farrar was inspired to take a PhD in immunology. For sixteen years he was Director of Oxford University's Clinical Research Unit in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where he researched the outbreak of SARS and avian influenza in the region.
If you wish to pursue a career in clinical research, like Farrar, there is the possibility of combining your clinical studies with a PhD. You can read about the MB/PhD programme at Cambridge here.
The Wellcome Trust works to make inspiring, high-quality science education available to all young people. It publishes the Big Picture, an online journal exploring the implications of cutting-edge science. Its June issue includes a feature on citizen science and makes suggestions of how to get involved in scientific research yourself over the summer vacation.
Posted: 15 July 2014
BODY WORLDS Vital - the exhibition of real human bodies (Newcastle, 17 May - 2 November)
The Life Science Centre in Newcastle. Credit: Samuel Mann
If you are interested in anatomy, physiology and health, there's a fascinating exhibition of real human bodies, specimens, organs and body slices at the Life Science Centre in Newcastle upon Tyne. The exhibits have been preserved through Plastination (which you can learn more about at the exhibition).
Posted: 13 July 2014
World population day
Credit: Sherrie Thai
It was World Population Day this week (11 July). Here are some of the articles published:
- History, facts and risks of overpopulation (International Business Times article)
- Which six countries hold half the world's population? (Pew Research Center article. What is the Pew Research Center?)
Posted: 12 July 2014
Wrexham Science Festival (17 - 25 July, North Wales)
St Giles Church, Wrexham.
Image credit: Alan Myers
- Climate Change: The truth, the whole truth and nothing but… what the world’s top climate scientists agree upon
- Black Holes — What are they and why are they so weird?
- Heavy Metal Marine Biology - A Rocking Guide to the Seas
- How well do renewable energy technologies pay back the carbon and energy that is initially invested in them?
Posted: 10 July 2014
Virginia Woolf exhibition (London, 10 July-26 October)
Orlando (1928) is a semi-biographical novel. Credit: crowbot
Virginia Woolf is amongst the most well-known writers of the twentieth century. Do you know what her writing is like?
There is a Virginia Woolf exhibition over the summer (10 July to 26 October) at the National Portrait Gallery in London. It explores Woolf's achievements as a novelist, intellectual, campaigner and public figure.
If you plan to visit the exbibition, you may like to read some of Woolf's work in advance. If you're not sure where to start, here are some suggestions to choose from:
- Novels such as Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), or The Waves (1931)
- Collections of short stories e.g. A Haunted House and Other Short Stories (1944)
Posted: 6 July 2014
What makes a good question in mathematics?
Credit: Roland O'Daniel
Here are some questions that +plus Magazine has explored:
...and here are some puzzle questions (and links to solutions):
Posted: 3 July 2014
BBC Radio 3 resources
Credit: Jason Hollinger
If you are interested in studying Music, we advise you to get to know as much music as possible, including musical repertoires other than those related to your principal instrument(s). Have you explored the BBC Radio 3 resources? These include:
Posted: 2 July 2014
Cambridge Architecture: exhibition of student work (11-16 July in London)
Preparation in Cambridge for a previous ArcSoc exhibition
ArcSoc, the Cambridge University Architecture Society, invites you to attend its summer show:
- Dates: Friday 11 to Wednesday 16 July 2014
- Location: Testbed 1, 33 Parkgate Road, London, SW11 4NP
- Opening times: 10am-6pm
- Website: ArcSoc
This annual exhibition is entirely planned, built and curated by students. It's a great opportunity to get an insight into the Architecture Department and the work of students from first year to fifth year.
Free public lectures and a day for prospective students are also planned - see the ArcSoc website.
Posted: 1 July 2014
Precision: the Measure of All Things
Big Ben: accurate to one second an hour, but today we can build clocks that loose one second in 138 million years. Credit: Taz Wake
There was an interesting TV documentary last night telling the history of the science of measurement.
Throughout our history, developments in our ability to measure the world around us have changed our lives. In the documentary, Prof. Marcus du Sautoy explores how seconds and metres came to be as two of the most fundamental units of measure, how distance and time are linked, and the quest for ever greater precision in science.
Catch it on BBC iplayer:
Further documentaries in the same series will be on in the next couple of weeks:
Posted: 26 June 2014
Screenshot from Duolingo. Credit: Kristian Bjornand
One of the challenges of learning a foreign language is that you're constantly learning new vocabulary and grammar, yet you also need to meet words that you've previously learnt regularly enough for them to stick in your mind and become part of your active vocabulary.
Here are some resources that you may find useful and enjoyable:
- Duolingo enables you to learn languages whilst translating the internet.
- Anki allows you to build and practice your own vocabulary lists.
- Memrise uses memory technology as you work through courses. You can read about how it helps you with your language learning. When browsing courses, if you use the search function, you can type in say 'A level French' and find courses such as:
- You might like to take the 1,000 words vocabulary challenge.
Reading in your language is an important habit to get into. It is not easy, but the more you do it, the more enjoyable it becomes. Do ask your teacher to recommend texts that you could try at your current language level, and look at magazines / newspapers as well.
Credit: Damian Cugley
There are a range of ways to approach reading, and it's good to vary what you're doing. Sometimes you might read a short passage and look lots of words up, other times you could read to get the gist, and only interrupt yourself to look occasional words up. You may also like to explore parallel texts, as these have the language you're learning on one side and the text in English on the other, which can be very helpful.
Posted: 26 June 2014
In Our Time
A King's supervision in progress
What do we mean when we say that we're looking for students who can think critically and independently?
Listening to Radio 4's In Our Time programme will give you an insight into what Cambridge is looking for in our students, our methods of teaching and learning, and our interviews. Each week, presenter Melvyn Bragg discusses a topic in depth with three academics. You'll notice how in the course of forty-five minutes the guests identify the key questions to be addressed, examine all sides of the debate, frame clear and confident arguments of their own, and engage enthusiastically and flexibly with each other. Much of the teaching and learning at Cambridge happens in similar small group discussions, known as supervisions. In many respects, our interviews model the format of a supervision, so that we admit the students who will benefit most from this style of teaching.
But most importantly, tuning into In Our Time will give you insight into your subject, whatever it may be! The BBC has an archive of 646 programmes and counting, which cover wide-ranging topics in culture, history, philosophy, religion, and science. Last week, Melvyn Bragg and his guests discussed the philosophy of solitude. This week, they'll discuss the medieval writer and mystic Hildegard of Bingen. Whatever your interests, you'll find a relevant programme. You're just as likely to become fascinated by a topic you'd never heard of or thought about before.
Posted: 25 June 2014
Universities Celebrate the Tour de France in Yorkshire and Cambridge
Bicyles outside King's Credit: Paul Shirley
The Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2014 is coming to Britain!
The West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds is showing Maxine Peake's tribute to British cycling champion Beryl Burton from 30 June to 19 July. The theatre is also host to a panel discussion on women in sport on 30 June.
The University of York cycled the solar system last weekend in readiness for Stage 2.
Academics from Sheffield Hallam University will lead athletes and commentators in a discussion of the Tour de France's impact on science and techology, health, and economy in its Science of Cycling event on 30 June.
The peloton will roll past King's College at the start of Stage 3. The University of Cambridge Museums are marking the occasion. The Polar Museum is holding an exhibition called 'Reinventing the Wheel: Bicyles in the Polar Regions' from 10am to 4pm on 1 - 12 July. The Fitzwilliam is hosting Cambridge Cycle of Songs on the steps of the museum from 11.30 to 12.30 on 7 July. Local school choirs will sing from nine pieces specially commissioned from composers and poets to celebrate iconic locations along the Tour's route in Cambridge.
As the Tour crosses the English Channel again, Britain's celebration of the bicycle continues. The annual Stockton Cycling Festival returns on 11 - 13 July.
Posted: 24 June 2014
Tails You Win: The Science of Chance
Credit: David Melchor Diaz
There is another opportunity to watch David Spiegelhalter's Tails You Win: The Science of Chance documentary on the BBC iPlayer. David Spiegelhalter is "Professor Risk," or more properly Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk in the Statistical Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. He shows us how to use (or how not to use!) statistics to understand the risks we face in everyday life.
Posted: 18 June 2014
Use Your Local Library
King's graduate Zadie Smith (English, 1994-1997) celebrated and defended local libraries in this 2012 essay, explaining that:
"Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay."
As your exams come to an end and a lovely, long Summer beckons, you'll have more time to read around your subject. If you don't already use your local library, you will find out where it is and what it has to offer here. If your local library doesn't have what you're looking for, you can request an inter-library loan.
Your local university library may be able to help, too. For example, Newcastle University's Sixth Form Access Scheme provides reference facilities for Year 12s and 13s in the North East of England. The University of Reading Library offers similar opportunities to local sixth formers.
Posted: 17 June 2014
Summer Science Exhibition in London (1-6 July)
The Royal Society has an annual display of the most exciting cutting-edge science and technology in the UK, including everything from artifical intelligence and car crash investigation to tropical storms, ultrasonic waves, and immune-bacterial interactions
Do make a note if you live close enough to visit. The dates are 1-6 July this year, and the exhibition will take place at 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG (near Charring Cross tube station).
Posted: 13 June 2014
Slavery: Past and Present
Street art by Paul Don Smith. Credit: MsSaraKelly
The University of Hull's Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation hosts research into both historical forms of slavery and contemporary forms of enslavement. You can watch Prof. Catherine Hall (UCL) deliver the Institute's Annual Alderman Sydney Smith Lecture on 'Re-thinking the Legacies of Slavery.'
Hull Museums have extensive collections celebrating the work of local son and anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce (1759 - 1833). You can visit Wilberforce House Museum to see the collections for yourself.
Liverpool is home to the International Slavery Museum.
The University of Cambridge offers some resources for the study of slavery here.
Anti-Slavery Day is on Saturday 18 October this year. How will you mark it?
Posted: 11 June 2014
Fantasy GCSE Set Texts
What set texts did you read for your GCSE English Literature?
In the Guardian this weekend, authors chose the set texts they would like GCSE students to read. Cambridge Classicist Mary Beard took the opportunity to 'bring in the classical world by the back door, via some great works of English literature.' She set William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar (1599); Robert Graves, I Claudius (1934); Chrisopher Logue, War Music (1959 - 2011); and Carol Ann Duffy, The World's Wife (1999).
- Which texts would you set GCSE students?
- In making your choice, what is the most important consideration? Introducing students to classic works, or engaging their interests? Representing a range of literary genres and periods, or promoting particular approaches and topics? Capturing the national heritage, or celebrating cultural diversity?
Posted: 9 June 2014
'Eugene' Passes the Turing Test
Sixty-five years ago, King's mathematician and pioneer computer scientist Alan Turing famously asked 'Can Machines Think?' To answer his own question, he conceived a test in which questions would be put to both a human and a machine, in an attempt to distinguish one from another. On Saturday, the Turing Test was passed for the very first time by supercomputer 'Eugene Goostman,' which convinced some of the judges that it was a thirteen year-old boy from Odessa, Ukraine.
- Is 'Eugene' really thinking?
- What are the limits to artificial intelligence?
Talk to 'Eugene' yourself (you may have difficulty accessing this site due to the extent of public interest at the moment!)
Read more about the sixty-five year history of the Turing Test in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Posted: 9 June 2014
Universities Week: 9 - 15 June 2014
Elvet Bridge on the River Wear, Durham. Credit: Tim Rawle
Next week is Universities Week! From Monday 9 to Sunday 15 June, universities across the UK are inviting us to be inspired, get involved and discover the work that they are doing to improve the way we live our lives.
As part of Universities Week 2014, you can...
- Dive into Durham. Find out about the amazing discoveries made by Gary Bankhead, underwater archaeologist at the University of Durham, in the River Wear. The exhibition opens at Palace Green Library, Durham, on Saturday 7 June
- Try to tell a human from a machine at Turing 2014. King's mathematician Alan Turing famously asked 'Can machines think?' The University of Reading is conducting live Turing tests - pitting man against machine - at the Royal Society in London on Saturday 7 June
- View the Cleveland College of Art and Design's Degree Exhibition 2014. The students' work will be showcased to the public at Church Square, Hartlepool from Friday 6 to Saturday 14 June
Posted: 5 June 2014
Vice Chancellor celebrates Britain's 'living languages'
Credit: Helder da Rocha (cropped)
Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University, yesterday made a persuasive case for learning languages. He was speaking from personal experience; as the Welsh-born son of Polish refugees, he spoke Polish at home and learned English when he began school at the age of five. He has found that bilingualism is an asset, both to the individual and to the nation:
These are real languages: living languages that give people a huge insight into culture and give the children who can speak them additional opportunities.
'I'd love to see more children in Britain having more than one language,' he concluded.
Whether or not you study a language as part of your degree, you can always take a language course alongside your undergraduate studies. The MML Certificate and Diploma is available, both for students starting new languages, or those continuing a language they studied at school. There are also a range of Language Centre Courses, as well as opportunities to study a language independently using the Language Centre's resources. The Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic Department provides free classes in Modern Icelandic and Irish. There are also more informal opportunities to learn and speak a foreign language. Student societies organise conversation meetings, such as the CU German Society's Stammtisch where society members meet in the pub to socialise in German.
Posted: 4 June 2014