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Happy Birthday, Dear Vincent!

Vincent van Gogh was born 158 years ago on 30 March 1853 in Groot-Zundert, a village in the southern Netherlands. He died, largely unknown, at the age of 37 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Today, he is widely regarded as one of the most important contributors to the foundation of modern art.

For his birthday we found this gem of digital artist Philip Scott Johnson who has morphed Vincent van Gogh’s self portraits into this great video.

Meanwhile swiss comedian and cabaret artist Ursus Wehrli has tidyed up the artist’s bedroom and has given a very entertaining TED Talk about his project Tidying Up Art.

However, due to time and self inflicted gun shots, visiting van Gogh today should bring you to Auvers-sur-Oise next time you come to France. Happy Birthday, Vincent van Gogh!

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S.

Salman Khan’s TED talk on how and why he has built his Khan Academy

This is a must see video on the future of education and it will definitely put a smile on your face. The Khan Academy is known for the comprehensive video library that its founder Salman Khan started creating during his hedge fund days to help out his younger cousins with algebra.

Thanks to recent funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Google, the Khan Academy now builds software and tools for teachers and students in the classroom, too. Khan’s aim is to humanize the classroom trough technology in order to enable self paced learning.

What started out as a few algebra videos has grown to over 2,100 videos and 100 self-paced exercises ranging from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history. Just give it a try!

www.khanacademy.org

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B.

Big Edutech in a little package

Siftables aims to enable people to interact with information and media in physical, natural ways that approach interactions with physical objects in our everyday lives.

David Merrill and Jeevan Kalanithi of Sifteo first came up with a prototype for game cubes when studying human-computer interaction at the MIT Media Lab. During their research they realized that the way humans typically interact with physical objects is by picking them up to examine and arrange them. So they decided to create a digital gaming platform that incorporates the physical experience of playing a boardgame. They called it “Siftables” and David demonstrated their invention in an inspiring TED Talk in 2009.

“Traditional game consoles have lost the tangible and interactive nature of classic tabletop games like Mahjong and dominoes, that bring people together,” said Jeevan Kalanithi, co-founder of Sifteo. “Players tell us that Sifteo cubes reduce „screen stare?, banish tired thumbs and give families and individuals a more „natural? way to have fun,” said Kalanithi.

In January at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas Sifteo got a lot of coverage in the media and won some nifty awards. Early Access packs have been sold out within a few days. You can sign up here for updates on when more will be available: www.sifteo.com/early_access

In my opinion these cubes may be the next big thing in technology and education because they let your ideas flow outside the box (or the screen). Watch the video from 2:23 and you will immediately see the great potential for mathematics education packed in these small cubes.

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T.

Top 10 TEDtalks

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Here is a short list of what TEDsters liked most over the past few years. These are really inspiring ideas on education, motivation, mind, creativity and passion. If you can’t get enough of that you should definitely have a look at our complete list of 750+ TED talks.

1) Jill Bolte Taylor
My Stroke of Insight

2008
Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions — motion, speech, self-awareness — shut down one by one. An astonishing story.

https://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/229

6) Dan Pink
Surprising Science of Motivation

2009
Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories — and maybe, a way forward.

https://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/618

2) Patti Maes and Pranav Mistry
Sixth Sense Demo

2009
This demo — from Pattie Maes’ lab at MIT, spearheaded by Pranav Mistry — was the buzz of TED. It’s a wearable device with a projector that paves the way for profound interaction with our environment. Imagine “Minority Report” and then some.

https://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/481

7) Hans Rosling
The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen

2006
The Swedish professor dances through a spectacular animation of world development. With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, statistics guru Hans Rosling debunks myths about the so-called “developing world.”

https://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/92

3) Ken Robinson
Schools Kill Creativity

2006
Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

https://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/66

8 ) Benjamin Zander
On Music and Passion

2008
Benjamin Zander has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it — and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections.

https://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/286

4) Tony Robbins
Why We Do What We Do

2006
Tony Robbins discusses the “invisible forces” that motivate everyone’s actions — and high-fives Al Gore in the front row.

https://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/96

9) Barry Schwartz
The Paradox of Choice

2005
Psychologist Barry Schwartz gives a profound, witty discourse on why more freedom doesn’t equal more happiness. In Schwartz’s estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.

https://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/93

5) Elizabeth Gilbert
Nurturing Creativity

2009
Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk. The best-selling author bares her struggle to repeat the success of Eat, Pray, Love.

https://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/453

10) V.S. Ramachandran
On Your Mind

2007
A brain scientist in a leather jacket tell us how “this 3-pound mass of jelly … can contemplate the meaning of infinity.” Vilayanur Ramachandran tells us what brain damage can reveal about the connection between celebral tissue and the mind, using three startling delusions as examples.

https://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/184

www.ted.com

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S.

Street View for the Milky Way

Humanity has gone a long way from the first scientific map of the universe created by Copernicus in 1543. Nowadays we have not only expanded our knowledge about ‘the starry sky above us’ but also improved our technologies to represent and visualize large amounts of data.

For the last 12 years, Carter Emmart, Director of Astrovisualization at American Museum of Natural History, has been coordinating efforts of scientists, artists and programmers to build a complete 3D visualization of the universe. In a recent TED talk he explained the latest results of his efforts and – at least a bit – the universe.

‘The Known Universe’ visualizes data from the Digital Universe Atlas, the most complete (and downloadable) 3D atlas of the universe. Ben R. Oppenheimer likens the atlas to Mercator’s invention of the globe: “It gave everyone a new perspective on where they live in relation to others, and we hope that the Digital Universe does the same on a grander, cosmic scale.” But do we really get beyond the horizon and understand our planet as a limited condition? There is still a long way to go, but better visualization may help.

Carter Emmart’s film was also part of a recent exhibition at the Rubin Museum of Art.

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