How much money should the Tooth Fairy leave?

4 minutes

Summerhill

28 minutes

Mercury in transit

1 minute

Romanticism: poetry and philosophy

20 minutes

Forms (process)

2 minutes

It’s a bull market for baby teeth, so spare a thought for the Tooth Fairy

One of the earliest references to the modern Tooth Fairy – that enigmatic trader of cold, hard cash for defunct deciduous teeth – is found in a 1908 ‘Household Hints’ item in the Chicago Daily Tribune:

If he takes his little tooth and puts it under the pillow when he goes to bed, the Tooth Fairy will come in the night and take it away, and in its place will leave some little gift. It is a nice plan for mothers to visit the 5-cent counter and lay in a supply of articles to be used on such occasions.

Since then, the going rate for a tooth has risen considerably, especially over the past two decades, during which the average sum paid out by the Tooth Fairy has ballooned to more than $4 – a rate that far outpaces US inflation over the same period. So what explains the increase? This short video from NPR’s Planet Money podcast pulls an unexpected amount of quirky humour from the peculiar puzzle, dissecting what the rising cost of doing tooth business says, not just about markets, but human values as well.

Producer: Bronson Arcuri, Benjamin Naddaff-Hafrey

Website: Planet Money

The school where children make the rules and learn what they want to learn

Established in 1921 by the Scottish writer and educator Alexander Sutherland Neill (1883-1973), Summerhill School in England helped to pioneer the ‘free school’ philosophy, in which lessons are never mandatory and nearly every aspect of student life can be put to a vote. Neill’s radical and controversial view of education was centred on his belief that ‘if the emotions are free, the intellect looks after itself’. Today, despite a series of clashes with Ofsted (the UK’s Office for Standards in Education) in the 1990s and 2000s, Summerhill still operates as a private boarding and day school in Suffolk for pupils from age five upwards.

Neill’s teaching methods and a rising countercultural movement inspired similar institutions to open around the world. Released in 1966, Summerhill explores the school’s educational philosophy by letting Neill and the many international pupils speak for themselves. Candid moments and scenes that evoke the rhythms of daily life at the school give a sense of the children’s lived experience. With an evenhanded approach, the film finds both potential pitfalls and benefits to a Summerhill education – including the results of letting children and teens run laissez-faire around the clock, and the possibilities for students who struggle in the rigid structures of traditional schools.

Director: Dennis Miller

Producer: Cecily Burwash

Website: National Film Board of Canada

Watch the rare, awesome spectacle as Mercury passes between the Earth and Sun

Although Mercury orbits the Sun once every 88 Earth days, the three bodies align only about 13 times a century due to the planets’ relative orbital planes. One such ‘Mercury transit’ occurred on 11 November 2019. This short video highlights the rare event as recorded by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory in a variety of ultraviolet light wavelengths. The resulting celestial spectacle demonstrates the vast size differences between the Sun and its nearest-orbiting planet to awesome effect. For NASA, however, the observation is more than just public outreach eye candy: scientists use these events to help understand the gravitational interactions of planets and stars in hopes of discovering planets outside our solar system.

Video by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Producer: Genna Duberstein

What can the Romantics teach us about confronting modern problems?

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?
From ‘Lines Written in Early Spring’ (1798) by William Wordsworth

The Romantic thinkers, poets, composers and artists valued emotion over reason. Reacting to the Enlightenment’s emphasis on rationalism, they embraced Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s dim view of modernity, expressed in The Social Contract (1762), that ‘Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.’ This analysis from the UK video essayist Lewis Waller uses three poems to trace Romanticism across three key movements – the writings of Francophone thinkers including Rousseau, the work of English poets such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, and the ideas of German philosophers, including F W J von Schelling and Friedrich Schlegel. In examining this artistic and intellectual history, Walker draws out several ways in which Romanticism offers a valuable humanistic perspective on urgent contemporary questions, including the climate crisis and poverty. Read more on the need for a new Romanticism in the face of scientism here.

Director: Lewis Waller

Video by Then & Now

Behold the invisible swoosh and swirl of athletic movement in digital art

Forms is a collaboration between the London-based visual artists Memo Akten and Davide Quayolas, and it generates dynamic digital art from the bodies of world-class athletes at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Inspired by modernist and early photographic interrogations of bodies in motion, such as Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No 2 (1912), the project, in Akten’s words, plays with ‘abstract forms, visualising unseen relationships – power, balance, grace and conflict – between the body and its surroundings’. Forms (Process) demonstrates the relationship between the source video imagery and the project’s resulting animations. Watch an excerpt from the final version of Forms here, and learn more about the inspiration behind the piece in this Twitter thread from Akten.

Video by Memo Akten, Quayola

It’s a bull market for baby teeth, so spare a thought for the Tooth Fairy

One of the earliest references to the modern Tooth Fairy – that enigmatic trader of cold, hard cash for defunct deciduous teeth – is found in a 1908 ‘Household Hints’ item in the Chicago Daily Tribune:

If he takes his little tooth and puts it under the pillow when he goes to bed, the Tooth Fairy will come in the night and take it away, and in its place will leave some little gift. It is a nice plan for mothers to visit the 5-cent counter and lay in a supply of articles to be used on such occasions.

Since then, the going rate for a tooth has risen considerably, especially over the past two decades, during which the average sum paid out by the Tooth Fairy has ballooned to more than $4 – a rate that far outpaces US inflation over the same period. So what explains the increase? This short video from NPR’s Planet Money podcast pulls an unexpected amount of quirky humour from the peculiar puzzle, dissecting what the rising cost of doing tooth business says, not just about markets, but human values as well.

Producer: Bronson Arcuri, Benjamin Naddaff-Hafrey

Website: Planet Money

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