Review: Magic in the Middle Ages

Magic in the Middle Ages is a Coursera course offered by theĀ Universitat de Barcelona. It is actually the fifth course from Coursera that I have done and the third one done purely for my own interest. I was initially quite excited because of the topic but, since completing it, I have lost a fair bit of enthusiasm. That’s not to say that it is entirely without merit but I think that, currently, it is not taking advantage of the format and could be aimed better for a Coursera audience.

The course aims to teach students about magic in the middle ages, this includes how magic was perceived, different magical practices and the treatment of magic in both Christianity and Islam. As with most of these courses, it primarily consists of a series of short video lectures followed by a multiple choice quiz each week. There are also two short essays in this course which are judged by your peers. Continue reading

Passing time by looking back

As I’ve been jumping from place to place as part of the beginning of my PhD, I’ve had little time to post. That’s probably not going to change much in the near future so this blog may go fairly quiet. To keep things going, I will share an older video that shows the history of humanity in two minutes and which always gives me the shivers. Hopefully everyone can recognise the majority of the events and concepts that are shown as many are iconic in their own right.

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To do science

What does it mean to do science? I have a few suggestions that I want to put out there but the first we need to decide what science itself is. The first thing most people think about when they think of science is “what scientists do.” They might say that science is what people in white coats do in the laboratory. If you study science, that is certainly what you will learn but we also know that what physicists do in a lab and what biologists do in a lab are quite different. What do they both do that is the same? Science is not about specific subjects; it’s a way of thinking. All scientists try to think logically, to ask questions and following them up with experiments or observations that will give them the evidence needed to answer their questions. Continue reading

P.L.U.C.K

It would be wrong to say that you can’t learn anything from music or video games or any sort of pop culture. Indeed it was through the music of System Of A Down that I was first introduced to the Armenian genocide. The song P.L.U.C.K, standing for politically lying, unholy, cowardly killers, from their self-titled album was dedicated “…to the memory of the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide, perpetrated by the Turkish Government in 1915.” This means something to the band as the members all have Armenian ancestry and the genocide of their people is something that is still denied by the Turkish government to this very day. Not everyone denies the labelling of the atrocity as a genocide, at least 20 countries have formally recognised it as a genocide, and France has now gone so far as to make it illegal to deny the Armenian genocide. Continue reading