Beethoven’s 10th Symphony

How a team of musicologists and computer scientists completed Beethoven’s unfinished 10th Symphony Ahmed Elgammal, Rutgers University When Ludwig von Beethoven died in 1827, he was three years removed from the completion of his Ninth Symphony, a work heralded by many as his magnum opus. He had started work on his 10th Symphony but, due to deteriorating health, wasn’t able to make much headway: All he left behind were some musical sketches. Ever since then, Beethoven fans and musicologists have puzzled and lamented over what could have been. His notes teased at some magnificent reward, albeit one that seemed forever out … Continue reading Beethoven’s 10th Symphony

Mapping the contours of Jihadist groups in the Sahel

Folahanmi Aina, King’s College London The Sahel region, an area covering 3 million sq km, has been a hotbed of Islamic Jihadi groups in recent years. Today, the region has no fewer than seven insurgent groups scattered in six countries. The area stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean and encompasses a dozen countries. These include Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, The Gambia, Guinea, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal. Jihadi groups have taken advantage of a number of underlying conditions, which fuel local grievances across the Sahel. These include endemic poverty, inequality, high unemployment levels, … Continue reading Mapping the contours of Jihadist groups in the Sahel

From poo politics to rubbish disposal: 5 big questions about the International Space Station becoming a movie set

Alice Gorman, Flinders University On October 5, an unusual crew will fly to the International Space Station. Director Klim Shipenko and actor Yulia Peresild will spend a week and a half on the station shooting scenes for the Russian movie Challenge. Peresild plays a surgeon who must conduct a heart operation on a sick cosmonaut. This is an exciting — if controversial — development for the station, which orbits around 400 km above Earth. Commercial use of its facilities could be a funding avenue to keep it in orbit. A Japanese documentary and an American movie, starring Tom Cruise, are … Continue reading From poo politics to rubbish disposal: 5 big questions about the International Space Station becoming a movie set

How the world’s biggest Islamic organization drives religious reform in Indonesia – and seeks to influence the Muslim world

Ahmet T. Kuru, San Diego State University After its return to power in Afghanistan, the Taliban are again imposing their religious ideology, with restrictions on women’s rights and other repressive measures. They are presenting to the world an image of Islam that is intolerant and at odds with social changes. Islam, however, has multiple interpretations. A humanitarian interpretation, focusing on “rahmah,” loosely translated as love and compassion, has been emphasized by a group I have studied – Nahdlatul Ulama, which literally means “Reawakening of the Islamic Scholars.” Nahdlatul Ulama, or NU, was founded in 1926 in reaction to the Saudi … Continue reading How the world’s biggest Islamic organization drives religious reform in Indonesia – and seeks to influence the Muslim world

Nicki Minaj’s COVID-19 vaccine tweet about swollen testicles signals the dangers of celebrity misinformation and fandom

Sarah R. Olutola, Lakehead University Rapper and pop singer Nicki Minaj made headlines after her Sept. 13 tweet about her as-of-yet unidentified cousin’s friend in Trinidad, who was dumped at the altar by his wife-to-be because “the vaccine” — presumably for COVID-19 — allegedly made his testicles swell. Trinidad and Tobago’s health minister said two days later the claim was debunked after being investigated. MSNBC political commentator Joy Reid expressed concern for Minaj’s 22 million Twitter followers, arguing Minaj used her platform “to put people in the position of dying from a disease they don’t have to die from.” Speaking … Continue reading Nicki Minaj’s COVID-19 vaccine tweet about swollen testicles signals the dangers of celebrity misinformation and fandom

Scouse Soldiers:

The organised crime gangs of Merseyside Robert Hesketh, Liverpool John Moores University Like many urban areas in the UK, Merseyside has a long and notorious history of street gangs. From the Cornermen and High Rip gangs of the 19th century, to the Croxteth Crew, Nogga Dogs and Moss Edz, the self-perceived North Face “Scouse Soldiers” of today, all have left a dark and deadly legacy. As someone who has always lived on a former Merseyside council housing estate in Knowsley, one of the most socially excluded and poverty-stricken areas in the UK, and an academic whose research has focused on youth … Continue reading Scouse Soldiers:

Work-life balance:

What really makes us happy might surprise you Lis Ku, De Montfort University Finding the right work-life balance is by no means a new issue in our society. But the tension between the two has been heightened by the pandemic, with workers increasingly dwelling over the nature of their work, its meaning and purpose, and how these affect their quality of life. Studies suggest people are leaving or planning to leave their employers in record numbers in 2021 – a “great resignation” that appears to have been precipitated by these reflections. But if we’re all reconsidering where and how work slots … Continue reading Work-life balance:

Giant Ice Rock Exploded Over Sodom 3,600 Years Ago

A giant space rock demolished an ancient Middle Eastern city and everyone in it – possibly inspiring the Biblical story of Sodom Christopher R. Moore, University of South Carolina As the inhabitants of an ancient Middle Eastern city now called Tall el-Hammam went about their daily business one day about 3,600 years ago, they had no idea an unseen icy space rock was speeding toward them at about 38,000 mph (61,000 kph). Flashing through the atmosphere, the rock exploded in a massive fireball about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) above the ground. The blast was around 1,000 times more powerful than the … Continue reading Giant Ice Rock Exploded Over Sodom 3,600 Years Ago

How you can help your pussy cat

Why the pandemic made some cats sick with stress – and how we can help them Lauren Finka, Nottingham Trent University Those of us who own pets probably enjoyed their company in the depths of the pandemic. Not only are pets potentially good for our physical health, they also benefit our mental wellbeing. Indeed, they may have even been a way of coping with pandemic-fuelled mental health problems. But this is still an emerging area of research, so the impacts of pet ownership on human health aren’t always clear cut. Recent research suggests that having to care for a pet during … Continue reading How you can help your pussy cat

Five intellectual fashion statements from history that anticipated today’s dark academia trend

Serena Dyer, De Montfort University Writing with a quill pen dipped in ink, sitting in the flickering of candlelight in a book-lined study, and vintage tweed paired with knitted jumpers and brogues have all become the height of fashion for autumn 2021. Known as dark academia, this trend has brought the hallowed halls of ancient universities to the digital worlds of TikTok and Instagram. On Instagram, the tag #darkacademia now has over 1 million posts, and Grazia has named the aesthetic as autumn 2021’s biggest trend. The TikTok generation has keenly embraced the tweedy cosiness of scholarly life. Centred around … Continue reading Five intellectual fashion statements from history that anticipated today’s dark academia trend