But the question isn’t silly, and the people asking it aren’t philistines, necessarily. The same concern that provokes the question also makes it hard to answer. The show is extraordinarily popular. Everyone thought it would be a success, but few imagined that it would rival a Lady Gaga concert as a hot ticket. Within a week of its opening, those who waited for reviews or were too busy to book, found themselves out of luck. The show, which closes on February 3rd, was completely sold out. In spite of the National Gallery’s policy that tickets bought from scalpers (and eBay) would not be honoured, people were buying these £16 tickets for more than ten times that much. Gossip columnists have reported on the fashionable people who are desperate to prove they have not missed out.
Paradoxically, it was God who saved Christopher Hitchens from the Right. Nobody who detested God as viscerally, intelligently, originally and comically as C. Hitchens could stay in the pocket of god-bothered American Conservatism for long. When he bared his fangs and went for God’s jugular, just as he had previously fanged Henry Kissinger, Mother Teresa and Bill Clinton, the resulting book, God Is Not Great, carried Hitch away from the American Right and back towards his natural, liberal, ungodly constituency. He became an extraordinarily beloved figure in his last years, and it was his magnificent war upon God, and then his equally magnificent argument with his last enemy, Death, that brought him “home” at last from the misconceived war in Iraq.
The startup, founded by Wharton dropout Jospeh Cohen, hopes to take on the billion dollar incumbent, Blackboard, by selling direct to professors and bypassing the red tape and slow sales cycle of academic IT departments. Blackboard rakes in $400 million of the $500 million spent on this type of software per year, Mr. Cohen said, but Coursekit isn’t interested in that money. “Our business model is not to compete with Blackboard by selling software,” Mr. Cohen told Betabeat. “It’s to create large audiences of students and teachers that we can then leverage for all sorts of things.
Joel’s an Angel now. Wow.
Mazur’s physics class is now different. Rather than lecturing, he makes his students do most of the talking.
At a recent class, the students — nearly 100 of them — are in small groups discussing a question. Three possible answers to the question are projected on a screen. Before the students start talking with one another, they use a mobile device to vote for their answer. Only 29 percent got it right. After talking for a few minutes, Mazur tells them to answer the question again.
This time, 62 percent of the students get the question right. Next, Mazur leads a discussion about the reasoning behind the answer. The process then begins again with a new question. This is a method Mazur calls “peer Instruction.” He now teaches all of his classes this way.