BU Astronomers Stare into Darkness

black hole

Last week, a team of astronomers announced that they had captured the first-ever image of a black hole in space. While this discovery is amazing for a myriad of reasons, we can personally take pride in knowing that some Core DNA went into this amazing discovery. As Core alum Peter La Fountain pointed out, Core Curriculum professor and BU Astronomer Alan Marscher was one of the 200 scientists on the black hole team. La Fountain continued to say that “Research doesn’t come out of a… black hole… it comes from prioritizing resources to advance public knowledge.” We couldn’t agree more!

While we’re on the topic of black holes, please enjoy some Jukebox the Ghost!

Core’s Very Own on CNN

Caroline Brantley, Core alumna ’18 and CAS ’19, appeared on CNN last week talking about the 2020 election. The clip can be viewed below:

Postcards to the Core: from Paris, March 2019

Our Core alumna sent us a digital postcard all the way from Paris! Thank you to Hannah Jew for her note.

As a conversation with a certain little Cat revealed that my real postcard got lost dans la poste, a digital postcard:

Dear Core,

I hope the semester back home is moving along swimmingly. Here in Paris, I’ve been enjoying the historic Caveau de la Huchette, home to jazz luminaries and down the street from Shakespeare and Co, the closest thing I can find to a Parisian Core Office (no photos allowed, sadly). Their motto- Live For Humanity. Sounds like one of our t shirts, non?

With love,

* Corelovespostcards. Whether youre at home or abroad now, wed love to get one from you. Our address is easy: Core Curriculum, Boston University, Boston MA 02215.

Bach Remembered with Interactive AI


I think this is how Johann Sebastian Bach would have wanted to be remembered– with an interactive AI on the homepage of a massive search engine.

Today’s Google Doodle allows the user to input their own melody and create a four-part Bach-esque piece. The machine analyzed 306 Bach compositions to learn how to recognize patterns and harmonies, and uses this knowledge to emulate Bach’s signature style. Try it for yourself here!

The Evolution of “Instapoetry”

Image result for rupi kaur

Anyone with an Instagram account should recognize this kind of poetry- printed in a typewriter font, preaching love and positivity, and never more than a few words in a few lines. “Instapoets” have become a new sensation, with these writers collecting thousands to millions of followers for their craft. And why not? The images are aesthetically appealing, and the short universal phrases could provide comfort and familiarity to anyone.

Well, some critiques argue that it isn’t poetry at all. Even R.M. Drake, an Instapoet with 1.9 million followers, has said that he does not consider his own work poetry. Others agree by saying it is too simple, too universal, and too much like commercial products. But Instapoets have defended themselves against what they view as this elitist criticism- Amanda Lovelace said that the term “Instapoets” itself is used to separate them from “real poets” aka dead white, straight, cisgender, males.” As opposed to some more esoteric poetry, Instagram poetry is both easily accessible and easily understood by the general public. So are Instapoets letting poetry evolve and survive in the new digital world, or destroying it all together?

The Good-Enough Life


As Er watches dead souls choose new lives in Plato’s Myth of Er, he is surprised to see Odysseus chooses a life of a farmer. Instead of another life of greatness and fame, he chooses the middle path of an ordinary man.

Many thinkers and characters strive for greatness, and some even manage to achieve it (Core is a “Great Books” program, after all). But as Avram Alpert writes in his award winning op-ed, greatness is not necessarily good. While the good-enough life may not lead to fame and fortune, learning to seek the good is learning to find happiness where you are.

You may not be immortalized by the gods, but if you can enjoy little things like some good coffee, a book, or some unseasonably warm weather, you may be better off than Odysseus in the long run.

“Donald in Mathmagic Land:” Ancient Math in Animation

Back in the heyday of Disney’s educational production, the company produced a 27 minute featurette which was wildly popular, having been used in American schools throughout the 60s and nominated for an Academy Award. Donald Duck enters a word where tress have square roots, birds recite pi, and the voice of adventure guides him through the wonderland of mathematics. Relevant for us in Core, Donald meets Pythagoras, who not only shares with him the secret of the Parthenon, but conveys to Donald and the audience that math isn’t just for eggheads but gives us music, architecture, art, games, and reveals to us the secrets of the human body. The golden rectangle of old is all around us, so maybe we should be less afraid of math and more willing to do our CC212 homework instead of putting it off until the last minute.

The video can be found here. Don’t fear numbers for, as Galileo says,“Mathematics is the alphabet with which God has written the universe”.

God in Binary

We talk a lot about God in Core. Humans have found unimaginably different ways to conceive of superior beings, and this 2002 episode of the animated series “Futurama” is no exception. Check out the clip above for a God that speaks in binary, sees everything, does little, and can predict your every move (unless you do something he didn’t predict).

#iHeartCore Day Valentines

Can’t choose between your boo and your favorite philosopher? Now you don’t have to! In honor of both Valentine’s Day and #iHeartCore day, we present these Core-themed Valentines, fit for spreading all kinds of Core love.


Historical Finds: Soviet Gulag Prison Tattoos

Russian Gulaggulag

Think you could get ink like this in Cambridge?

The Soviet Gulag was an expansive system of imprisonment, as “undesirables” were removed from society through prisons, camps, and remote exile. Yet a new culture emerged from this alienation, captured here in almost 3,000 drawings of prison tattoos captured by a prison guard in the middle of the 20th century. These tattoos identified a prisoner’s status, their time spent in the system and where they had been imprisoned, their reason for imprisonment, and also used just for decoration and political statements. And through these images, we can see the prisoners of the gulag system through a humanized lens (after all, most of them are incredibly amusing).