World’s Strangest

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Why Are First-Year Students Called Freshmen?

Image credit: Duke.edu There was a time when almost every university student was a sophomore.  Well, a sophister, to be exact, but that’s where the word “sophomore” originated. A sophist was a wise man (derived from the Greek word sophos), so when Henry VIII endowed the “new” Cambridge University in the 16th century, it was decided [...]

Cheating Scandal in a Harvard Government Class

A cheating scandal has rocked the venerated Harvard University: Harvard University is investigating allegations that almost half the students in an undergraduate class last spring may have plagiarized or "inappropriately collaborated" on [...]

Scientists engineer first ‘cyborg’ tissue

Researchers at Harvard University are blurring the lines between organic and electronic systems. ‘Cyborg’ tissue comprised of both organic material an…

The Dark Side of Creativity

We all want to be creative, but according to recent studies, there is a dark side of creativity: Francesca Gino of Harvard University and Dan Ariely [...]

The Amorphous Creeping Menace

(YouTube link) It may look like a simple piece of plastic, but this robot has the moves! In fact, that’s what it is for -to test out news ways for a robot to move. Developed by researchers at Harvard University, this soft robot was inspired by the movements of squid and worms. Link -via Cosmic Variance

Mesmerizing Pendulum Waves

(Video Link) This simple but beautiful video from Harvard University shows fifteen pendulums of increasing length swinging to and fro. Sometimes they appear to be in sync, but at other times, not. Here’s why: The period of one complete cycle of the dance is 60 seconds. The length of the longest pendulum has been adjusted so that [...]

App for Detecting Land Mines

Engineering students at Harvard University have developed a cell phone app that, when paired with an ordinary metal detector, can be used effectively to detect land mines. Instead of just beeping when it passes over a metal object, these enhanced metal detectors present the shape of the object found below ground: Land mines, with their circular [...]

The Late Movies: Harvard Class Day Speakers

In 1968, the Senior Class Committee at Harvard University began inviting its own speaker to Class Day. The annual ceremony is scheduled the day before commencement and is a chance for Harvard’s senior class to socialize before graduating. This year, the hilarious Amy Poehler will address the graduates. Here’s a roundup of some notable former [...]

Fighting Fire with Electricity

Forget the water hose! Firefighters of the future may simply “zap” fire out of existence with an electric wand: Currently, firefighters use water, foam, powder, and other substances to tame flames. But a team from Harvard University’s Whitesides Research Group has shown that electric fields can snuff out fires too—potentially reducing water damage as well as [...]

A Cometarium

Harvard University’s Putnam Gallery has a collection of historical scientific instruments. Pictured above is Benjamin Martin’s cometarium, which dates back to about 1766. Here’s what it did: This apparatus was designed to demonstrate how the speed of a comet varies in its orbit according to Kepler’s law of equal areas. The comet Benjamin Martin chose for [...]