comics
Listen to Stephen Fry and Watchmen’s Dave Gibbons Discuss the Art of Sound on Comic Books

Vworp. Kapow. Biff, bang, pow! The onomatopoeic words we’ve seen splayed out across comic pages over the years are some of the most important parts (and iconic) of the medium. But how do artists and writers actually come up with the words? For legendary Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons, there’s a lot of fun involved. Read More >>

education
5 Cool Skills to Pick Up on a Lunch Break

If you often get the feeling there just aren’t enough hours in the day, then the lunch break your bosses should generously afford you could be one opportunity to make more of your time (and it beats listening to co-workers talking about sports you don’t watch). Give yourself thirty minutes a day five days a week and you could be well on your way to being a polymath by picking up one of these five skills. Read More >>

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An Actual Blacksmith Explains Why You Should Strike While the Iron Is Hot

You have to strike while the iron is hot. You can’t have too many irons in the fire. It has a nice ring to it. Go at something hammer and tongs. These are all idioms that have origins in blacksmithing, so Scott Wadsworth of Essential Craftsman decided to literally show us what all those idioms look like when performed in real life and explain how they are related to their meaning. Read More >>

language
This Tiny Coin Contains a Microscopic Archive of 1,000 Different Languages

If you want to ensure your files are safe, it’s a good idea to back them up in multiple places. And that’s the basic idea behind the Rosetta Wearable Disc. Printed in microscopic text on one side is an archive of 1,000 different human languages used in 2016. By producing multiple copies, language enthusiasts can ensure that there’s a better chance this archive will survive for centuries. Read More >>

science
How Would We Even Make First Contact with Aliens?

There are aliens out there (and if there aren’t any, it’s just more fun to believe that there are). But if they are out there, how do we find them? Once we find them, how do we contact them? And once we contact them, how do we actually communicate with them? Read More >>

language
Old Norse Sounds Like Elvish

Historical linguist Dr Jackson Crawford teaches Old Norse, and his YouTube videos are fascinating. Read More >>

animals
Grown-Up Dogs Don’t Care About Your Stupid Baby Talk

You know that thing you do where you talk to your dog like it’s a baby? New research shows that puppies respond well to this silly form of speech, but older dogs couldn't give a crap. So, stop doing it when your dog grows up. Read More >>

emoji
Translation Company Wants/Needs to Hire an Emoji Interpreter

Machines aren't good enough yet for London-based translation company Today Translations, which would like to hire an emoji specialist to ensure that its digital communications don't accidentally offend anyone by, say, having the wrong-coloured face turn up in an incorrect social context and triggering World War III. Read More >>

science
This Simulation of a Monkey Speaking Is the Stuff of Nightmares

New research shows that macaques have a vocal tract capable of emitting human-like speech, but they lack the brain circuitry to make words happen. That may be a good thing, because their simulated speech is creepy as hell. Read More >>

artificial intelligence
Will Siri Ever Learn Scottish?

Ask any Scottish person who lives in England, or has been to England, or has ever met an English person, and they’ll tell you about ‘the look’: people smiling at you with a knitted brow, nodding but baffled. It’s the look people get when they have no idea what you’re saying, no matter how often you repeat it. Sometimes they pat you on the arm, conciliatory, in case you’re trying to start a fight. Read More >>

language
What Arrival Gets Right About Talking to Superintelligent Noisesquids From Space

It’s difficult for linguists to explain to people we meet what it is that we do, and why we are so fascinated with it. Finally, popular culture is giving us a reference point. Arrival doesn’t assume we’ll be able to communicate with aliens with some advanced technology that makes no sense. Instead, it explores how that kind of “universal translator” could come to be in the first place. Read More >>

language
2016’s Word of the Year is, Unsurprisingly, “Brexit”

The use of the word "Brexit" rocketed by some 3,400 per cent this year, leaving dictionary maker Collins in no doubt as to what it means -- it's the Word of the Year. Read More >>

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How the Vulgarity of South Park Changed Television

South Park is unabashedly vulgar. The language can be crude and the action is sometimes, um, a little much—but the comedy is biting, the issues are relevant, and it’s done so much to change what television looks and sounds like today. Read More >>

ios
iOS Autocomplete Writes Nuclear Physics Paper

A man who was baffled to be invited to submit a paper on nuclear physics despite knowing nothing about nuclear physics managed to blag his way to acceptance anyway, by using the iOS autocomplete function to submit a load of keyword-packed rubbish -- and it was so impenetrable no one realised and the paper was accepted. Read More >>

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Why Americans and the British Spell English Words Differently

Have you ever wondered why Americans and Brits spell English differently? How are colour and color the same word? Centre and center? What’s up with that? Read More >>