Did you know that some famous literary classics almost ended in a completely different way?

Did you know that some famous literary classics almost ended in a completely different way? If you are fine with spoilers, read on...

Great Expectations

Great Expectations by English novelist Charles Dickens follows the life of Pip, a young orphan who dreams of transcending his humble origins and becoming a gentleman. Through a mysterious benefactor, Pip is granted financial resources, thus fulfilling his aspirations. However, his newfound wealth and status lead him down a path of self-discovery, where he encounters various characters who shape his journey.

Dickens initially penned a bleak conclusion for this masterpiece. However, prior to its publication in 1861, a group of his trusted friends intervened, urging him to reconsider the ending. They proposed a revision that would introduce a glimmer of hope, a chance for the protagonist Pip and his beloved Estella to mend their broken relationship. Although Dickens approached this alteration with a hint of reluctance, he ultimately embraced the suggestion and made the change.

A Farewell to Arms

 A Farewell to Arms by American novelist Ernest Hemingway is a novel that was published in 1929. This classic follows the story of an American ambulance driver named Frederic Henry, who serves in the Italian army during World War 1. The book explores important themes such as love, war, and the feeling of disappointment that comes from witnessing the horrors of battle. Hemingway's portrayal of how people respond to tragedy makes this book a significant and enduring piece of literature. Interestingly, Hemingway went through extensive revisions to find the perfect ending for the book. In 1958, he mentioned in an interview that he rewrote the ending 39 times until he was satisfied. However, in a 2012 edition of the book, his grandson Sean Hemingway, shared that he discovered an astonishing 47 different alternative endings to the book hidden within his grandfather's papers.

Rinkitink in Oz

Rinkitink in Oz is a delightful children's fantasy novel written by American author L. Frank Baum and published in 1916. It is part of the famous Oz series, which includes the beloved classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz It follows the jolly character Rinkitink from the kingdom of Gilgad, who unexpectedly ventures into the magical Land of Oz with Prince Inga and a talking goat named Bilbil Baum wrote 14 Oz books in his lifetime. However, Rinkitink in Oz the 10th book in the Oz series. stands out as a unique entry. Although it is widely regarded as an excellent story, around 90% of the tale unfolds outside of Oz. Only at the very end does Dorothy make a sudden appearance to introduce the heroes to the wonders of Oz The reason for this divergence is quite straightforward the book was originally written as a standalone fairy tale with no connection to the Oz universe, a decade before its inclusion in the series. When in need of a new Oz book and feeling weary after a busy period of writing. L. Frank Baum repurposed Rinkitink's story and reworked its ending to integrate it into the popular series. The great news is that despite its deviation from the typical Oz setting. Rinkitink in Oz is considered one of the finest stories in the entire series.


Persuasion is English novelist June Austen's final completed novel, written after Emma and finished in August 1816, a year before her death at the age of 41 The stony follows Anne Elliot, who is persuaded by her family to decline a marriage proposal from Captain Frederick Wentworth, Years later, circumstances reunite them, compelling Anne to confront her emotions and societal expectations Interestingly, the published ending of the book was not Austen's original one. In James Edward Austen-Lengths A Memoir of Jane Austen, the authors nephew included the "cancelled chapters associated with the book, revealing Austen's first ending of the novel. However, she became dissatisfied with it and rewrote the chapters between July and August 1816. These unique pages are the only surviving manuscript of a novel Austen planned and completed for publication The revised ending, was published in the first edition of the novel in 1818. Since the release of A Memoir of Jane Austen in 1871, both readers and critics have agreed that Austen made the right choice by selecting the altemate ending. It is widely regarded as superior for it offered a greater emotional depth and artistry.

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What is the psychology of languages?

Is there a “right age” to learn a new language? When are we most receptive to learning a language? How do children learn languages? What are the benefits of picking up a foreign language? Let's find out...

How do children learn language?

One researcher called Noam Chomsky believed that the ability to team language is innate. Every child instinctively knows how to combine nouns and verbs to form the structure of sentences, and he will learn to do so regardless of whether he is taught to do so. The researcher had observed that children all over the world, no matter what language they speak, acquire language at around the same ages-they will learn their first words at the same time, speak bwo-word phrases at the same time and start speaking in sentences at the same age

Another researcher B. F. Skinner disagreed. He believed that children learn language through experience and rewards and punishment. For instance, if there is a dog in the room and the child says 'dog, his mother will reward him with a smile. The child thus learns that dog is the correct term for the creature and will use it the next time. Similarly, teachers and parents will criticise incorrect grammatical constructions and reward correct ones, and that is how the child learns to speak correctly.

Is there a right age to learn a language? One can learn to speak a language at any time. However, there seems to be a 'critical period for language development-about age 5, when we are most receptive to learning a language. It is easier to pick up a language at this age.

Learning foreign languages

Research has demonstrated many benefits of learning a foreign language. Apart from the obvious benefits of learning about a new culture and being able to communicate better with people from different countries, it also helps to develop several mental skills. When you learn a new language, you tend to pay more attention to grammar rules and sentence construction, and through this, you get a better understanding of the structure of language. Ultimately, this helps you to use your original language more effectively. Learning French will thus make you a better English speaker as well. Individuals who speak more than one language have been found to have better attention spans. They may be better at multi-tasking and decision making.

Learning a language can also boost our memory. Some researchers have found that learning a new language helps to enhance the development of certain areas of the brain-you actually build grey matter, just as exercising helps to build muscles! Bilinguals, i.e., people who can speak two languages, have been found to develop Alzheimer's disease (a disorder in old age where people lose their memory) at a much later age than those who speak just one language.

Quick tips

We can use psychological principles to help us leam a foreign language. Here are some tips.

  • Language is best learnt in the natural surroundings where it is spoken, rather than in a classroom. Hence, speaking to others who speak the language and leaming conversational phrases, is more effective than mere rote repetition of words and grammatical structures.
  • Exposure is key-it is useful to immerse yourself in the language, rather than devote one hour per day to studying the language. The reason why people who go to a foreign country learn to speak the language quickly is that they are surrounded by it. Watching movies, listening to songs, reading books and talking to people in the language will be of great help. You can also keep little vocabulary chits around your house write a cand saying the French word for mirror and place it next to the mirror, the word for ‘toothbnish' near the toothbrush, etc.
  • Working on all aspects of the language speaking, listening, reading and writing is helpful to understand how a word is written and pronounced.
  •  Practise-One of the best ways to learn a language is to keep speaking it, rather than passively listening. Do not worry about making mistakes. Talking to native speakers of that language, forming a study group where all of you converse in that language completely, is very effective. Online groups are also available.
  • Have fun with it-Having fun with learning helps to keep you motivated. Singing songs, playing word games, enacting plays in the language, etc. will help you learn it better.

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What is the cherry blossom festival?

The Japanese call it 'Sakura Matsuri' It is a festival held in spring every year all over Japan and also in a number of other countries. It celebrates the blooming of the cherry trees and is a time for locals to have a picnic or hanami and enjoy the pleasant weather outdoors. There are blossom-viewing parties held both in the cities and the countryside.

The tree that is so revered is the Yoshino cherry tree or sakura that puts out exquisite pale pink blossoms. The cherry blossom is Japan's national flower. It is grown for its ornamental beauty and does not bear fruit.

Short but colourful life

To the Japanese, cherry blossom symbolises the ephemeral or transient quality of life. It features prominently in Japanese art, literature and folklore. At the picnics and parties, guests compose short poems or create brush paintings on the spot in celebration.

Cherry blossom festivals are a Occasion for street fairs, with stalls selling local craft and food. Visitors can also relish traditional theatre and dance performances.

The arrival of the cherry blossom is tracked closely with round-the-clock - news reports providing updates on exactly where and when the fabled flowers will appear. The blossoming begins in January in Okinawa and reaches Kyoto and Tokyo in April. It blooms last in Hokkaido in the northern reaches a few weeks later. The flower was used to whip up patriotic fervour during World War Il with the soldiers' sacrifice compared to the falling of the blossoms. Japanese pilots on suicide missions painted the cherry blossom on the side of their planes.

Blooming friendship

Japan has gifted thousands of cherry trees as a goodwill gesture to several countries. The cities which have nurtured these cherry orchards hold a cherry blossom festival every spring, just like in Japan. One such city is Washington D.C. which received 3,000 trees from Japan in 1912.

Every spring, the Tidal Basin along the Potomac River in Washington DC erupts in a shower of white and pink as thousands of cherry blossom trees bloom in all their glory.

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What is the 2000 year old pizza Pompeii?

Even the ancient Romans liked their pizza Archaeologists in Pompeii said Tuesday they had found depicted on an ancient fresco the precursor to the modern-day pizza-but without the cheese and tomatoes.

The 2,000-year-old painting- discovered in the middle of a half-crumbled wall during recent digs at the sprawling archaeological site - depicts a silver platter holding a round flatbread, alongside fresh and dried fruits such as pomegranates and dates and a goblet filled with red wine.

What was depicted on the wall of an ancient Pompeian house could be a distant ancestor of the modern dish," said experts at the archaeological park in a statement.

Pompeii's director, Gabriel Zuchtriegel, said the newly uncovered fresco shows the contrast between "a frugal and simple meal, which refers to a sphere between the bucolic and the sacred... and the luxury of silver trays and the refinement of artistic and literary representations."

How can we fail to think, in this regard, of pizza, also born as a 'poor dish in southern Italy, which has now conquered the world and is also served in starred restaurants," Zuchtriegel added. AFP


  • A devastating volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 buried the Roman city in thick ash, hiding from view its many treasures that archaeologists continue to slowly bring to light.
  • Archaeologists estimate that 15 to 20 percent of Pompeii's population died in the eruption, mostly from thermal shock as a giant cloud of gases and ash covered the city.


  • The fresco is believed to refer to the "hospitable gifts" offered to guests, following a Greek tradition dating to the 3rd to 1st centuries BC and described by imperial Roman-era writers including Virgil and Philostratus.
  • It reveals an atrium of a house that included an annex with a bakery.
  • In the working areas near the oven, the skeletons of three victims have been found in the past weeks.

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What is the significance of Artemis Accord for India?

India's aspirations in the outer space and acceptance of the Artemis Accords have affirmed the country's interest in building a greater relationship with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and its partners. As the space community lauds India's acceptance of the Artemis Accords, let us know more about it.

Artemis Accords

The Artemis Accords are part of the Artemis programme, which is a mega-initiative by NASA with the aim to land the first woman and first person of colour on the Moon, make new scientific discoveries, and explore more of the lunar surface. Artemis is the name of the goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology and also the twin sister of Apollo.

The Artemis Accords were established in 2020 by NASA, the U.S., and seven other founding member nations - Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, UAE, and the U.K. This June 21, India became the 27th country to sign the Artemis Accords.

The Artemis Accords are a set of non-binding guidelines designed to guide civil space exploration and use in the 21st Century. It is a NASA-led effort to return humans to the moon by 2025, with the ultimate goal of expanding space exploration to Mars and beyond.

The Artemis Accords reinforce and implement key obligations in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty (which provided the basic framework for international space law). The accords also affirm the importance of the Rescue and Return Agreement opened in 1968, which emphasises the responsibility of nations to safely return astronauts and equipment to Earth.

Besides, the accords emphasise the need to preserve historically significant human or robotics landing sites, artefacts, spacecraft, and other evidence of activity on celestial bodies.

Outer Space Treaty

The Outer Space Treaty is an international treaty binding the parties to use outer space only for peaceful purposes. The treaty was enforced on October 10, 1967, after being ratified by the U.S., then Soviet Union, the U.K.. and several other countries.

The treaty prohibits countries from placing nuclear arms or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit, on the Moon, or on other bodies in space. Also, no country can claim sovereignty over the Moon or other celestial bodies. The countries are liable for any damage caused by objects launched into space from their territory.

India and the Artemis Accords

India's Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and NASA had been working together in several lunar missions. However, the cooperation was limited to sharing knowledge. With the signing of the Accords, India and the US will share data, technology, and resources, and work together in ensuring the safety and sustainability of exploring the Moon.

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Do board games improve math skills?

We've intuitively known that most board games have a positive effect on us. Be it mental well-being, some form of learning, or even strategizing, board games contribute immensely. Given that they also help us stay away from our devices during the duration when we are playing the game, they are bound to become more popular in the future.

A new study has now validated part of what we've known intuitively, stating that board games based on numbers enhance mathematical ability among children. Their results, which is based on a comprehensive review of research published on this topic over the last 23 years, are published in the peer-reviewed journal Early Years in July.

19 studies from 2000

In order to investigate the effects of physical board games in promoting leaning, the researchers reviewed 19 studies published from 2000 onwards. These studies involved children under the age of 10 and all except one focused on the relationship between the board games and the mathematical skills of the players.

Children participating in these studies received special board game sessions led by teachers, therapists, or parents. While some of these board games were numbers-based like Snakes and Ladders and Monopoly, others did not focus on numeracy skills. These sessions were on average held twice a week for 20 minutes over two-and-a-half months.

Based on assessments on their mathematics performance before and after the intervention sessions, the studies came to their conclusions. Right from basic numeric competency like naming numbers and understanding their relationship with each other, to more complex tasks including addition and subtraction, mathematical ability received a boost in more than half the cases.

Beneficial for all learners?

 While the review established the positive effect of numbers-based board games for children, especially those young, it would be interesting to find out if such an approach would also be beneficial for all learners, including first-generation learners. By improving their fundamental understanding of numbers. children stand to gain as it helps ward off their fear of mathematics and numbers.

The study, meanwhile, also highlighted the lack of scientific evaluation to determine the impact of board games on the language and literacy areas of children. This research group plans to investigate this in their next project.

There is a need to design board games for educational purposes, both in terms of quantity and quality. The researchers believe that this is an interesting space that would open up in the coming years.

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What are sand dollars?

When alive, they look like huge coins with their flat, disk-shaped body. But mostly you would come across them when they have deceased. You might notice these patterned white shells in the sand. These star-stamped skeletons (tests) are much sought-after by beachcombers. (But let us warn you, it is never advised to pick up these creatures, dead or alive). Meet sand dollars, the bottom-dwelling creatures in the ocean.

Also called sea biscuits or sand cakes, the sand dollars belong to the order Clypeastroida. They are close relatives of sea urchins and heart urchins and are adapted to burrow themselves in sandy substrates. They dwell in the tropical and temperate waters throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Measuring from 5 to 10 cm in diameter, the sand dollars are invertebrates belonging to the class of marine animals known as echinoids. They have a radiating arrangement of parts.

The holes in their skeleton are what you notice first. But these aren't there just for design sake. Arranged in a unique petal fashion these sets of gas-and water-processing pores are called lunules and act as pressure drainage channels.

The upper surface of their body showcases what is called pentaradiate (five-fold) symmetry From its centre, a pattern of five "petals" spread out. The mouth of this unique creature is located at the centre of its body's underside.

While alive, the sand dollars have bristles known as spines which even cover their star design and they appear in hues ranging from reddish-brown to purple. When they die, these skeletons turn white, bleached by the sun, which is how you may often find them on the beach.

They breathe through the "petaloids", a set of tiny holes in the skeleton. They live in the sand, using their spines to burrow into the sand. If the water is still, they can be seen standing upright, with one of their ends buried in the sand and they lie down or burrow themselves under the sand if the waters get rough.

Adult sand dollars live on the sea floor while the larva (also called pluteus) floats among the ocean's planktons. The juveniles are seen in the subtidal zones while the adult sand dollars live in the intertidal zone.

Some of the threats these creatures face include bottom trawling, ocean acidification, climate change and so on. It is illegal to remove the sand dollars in most regions. Why we suggest that you should never pick them up is that you may not know if they are dead or alive. They can survive out of water for only a few minutes.


Sand dollars use their spines to eat. They feed on small food particles in the sand and are said to take two whole days to digest food.

The creature gets its name from the resemblance it has to dollar coins. Other names include "sand cake," "sea biscuit," "cake urchin," "pansy shell", "sea cookie" and so on.

A sand dollars age can be ascertained by the number of rings it sports on the plates of the creature's test. As they grow, the number of rings increases.

The larva of the sand dollar splits itself into two identical clones to hide from predators.

* The mouth of a sand dollar is called Aristotle's lantern.

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Who is a citizen journalist, and can you be one?

Have a smart phone with a good camera? You can get a scoop if you are at the right spot at the right time. Nowadays, newspapers and TV channels encourage ordinary people to actively participate in news-making by requesting them to send reports, videos and photographs of incidents taking place where they live. This is called citizen journalism or participatory journalism. Citizens post comments on news sites and blogs, and write letters to the editor. Citizen journalists perform the important task of pointing out errors and bias in media reports. They may even land a 'scoop', getting to the breaking news before the media, by virtue of being on the spot at the right time! Reports featuring celebrities and politicians antics, police misbehaviour or even footage of crimes in progress, are often the result of citizen journalism. Terrorist bombings, natural disasters and major accidents have also been covered extensively by citizen journalists. Citizen journalism has been possible because of the easy availability of high-quality mobile cameras and recorders, as well as the reach of social media. Any incident is capable of going viral' on the Internet in a matter of minutes.

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In the rich tapestry of Shakespearean plays, there exists a character who, despite its comedic antics, embodies far more depth and significance than meets the eye - the Shakespearean fool. Distinguishing this character from a clown isn't merely a matter of costumes and gags; it delves into their roles and impact within society. The Shakespearean fool, unlike a traditional clown, possessed a multifaceted role. Such characters were not just jesters for entertainment but often served as insightful commentators, revealing truths about other characters and situations through wit, irony, and satire. They often disguised their wisdom within their humorous dialogues, speaking uncomfortable truths that others dared not vocalise.


Types of Shakespearean Fools

In the Bard's theatricalmasterpieces, the depiction of fools transcends a singular archetype, offering a spectrum of characters that exemplify diverse facets of wit, wisdom, and societal critique. One such variant is the "clown," a character like the Fool in King Lear or Feste in Twelfth Night. They skilfully interweave jests and puns with profound insights, often using humour to shield poignant observations on the world around them. Their seemingly light-hearted banter belies a deep understanding of the underlying truths of the society they inhabits.  Contrasting the down is the 'wise fool', epitomised by character such as touchstone in as you like it. These figures posses an innate preceptiveness that belies their outward Appreance of buffoonery.  Their playful antics serve as a tool to unravel the hypocrisies and challenge conventional wisdom. In addition, the "moral fool" emerges in characters like Edgar disguised as Poor Tom in King Lear. These individuals adopt a guise of madness or folly to navigate perilous circumstances. Through their seemingly irrational behaviour

Court jesters  

Court jesters were the predecessors of the Shakespearean fool, and held a pivotal position in the monacrch's courts across the world. Beyond providing amusement, they acted as truth-tellers in a world where criticising those in power was perilous.


The iconic attire of a courtjester from its unique cap with bells and colourful costumes were symbols of their privilege to talk and mock without the fear of punishment. Beyond playing the role of injecting levity into a situation these comics possess a very rare privilege-free speech.

Comedy in the contemporary world Connecting the iconic Shakespearean archetype to modern stand-up comics unveils a similar underlying principle. Many contemporary stand-up comics, akin to the English playwright's stock character, use humour as a medium for societal commentary. However, they do not don a garb that could help them evade punishment for speaking truth to power or even expressing their personal opinions on a sensitive tonic that has rattled society.

The social impact By dressing reality in humour, comedy invites audiences to reflect on society's shortcomings, absurdities, and hypocrisies. It's a mirror held up to society, making us laugh while revealing uncomfortable truths. Challenging authority and societal norms provides a space for dissent and fosters critical thinking. In essence, the Shakespearean fool, the court jesters of history, and the stand-up comics of today share a common thread - they harness the power of comedy to illuminate truth.The laughter they induce in the guise of entertainment acts as a vehicle to convey profound insights, provoke contemplation, and challenge societal norms. As we laugh along, we also find ourselves introspecting, confronting uncomfortable realities, and perhaps, contemplating the change we wish to see in the world.

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How to taste a rainbow with your ears?

If you ever listen deeply to a song on your headphones and focus intensely, you might sometimes see colours emerging in your mind that align with the songs mood or pace.

The science of perception

 Perception is highly variable. As human beings, our range of perception evolved to exclude the nanoscale and macroscale, and we learned to perceive only "medium-sized objects moving at medium speeds". We, as evolutionary organisms, have developed brains that understand only what we need in order to function in the world. And that means our tools of sensory perception are cultivated and specialised according to our domain of operation. We're perception specialists. And specialists can only ever handle a narrow dimension. But here's the good news dimension. But here's the good news: this doesn't have to limit our ability to put our extinction tools of preception to much better use and produce a much more lucid mental model of our reality.

Synaesthesia is the ability of brains to create collaboration between our memories and the sensory regions; here, sights, sounds, colours, tastes, shapes all interact to produce cross-integrated modes of perception - you can hear in colour, taste sights, see sounds, and all that jazz, as per Sussex-University research.

The combinatorial strategy

A well-documented tool of information-processing and storage is Mnemonics a mental tool that help us remember things more easily. Mnemonics employ a similar mechanism to synaesthesia. It works on the same principle of interconnecting concepts and associating new objects with pre-existing memories.

Any higher level of perception and information-processing seems to require a combinatorial strategy. Given that our perception is limited by the bandwidth of our senses, it becomes all the more useful - if not imperative - that we make efforts to increase interaction between the brain's domains and sensory inputs to produce a more cohesive and comprehensive view of the world.

Disinhibited feedback theory

 Neurobiologist J. Neufeld believes that the brains of synaesthetes are not much different from that of your everyday friend. But synaesthetic sensations can occur when the barriers between our sensory-processing regions of our brain recede or fall away. In this state of disinhibition, cognitive signals flow more freely between and along our sensory hierarchies and neural pathways. Thus, an optical stimulus (an object or word we see or read) might trigger or bleed into the olfactory (smell-sensing) cortex, producing a sensation of fragrance or odour associated with the word or object.

How does it work?

Synaesthesia is about the interaction between domains of your brain that hitherto worked in isolation. It's collaborative, integrative, interactive. It seems to fortify or strengthen a perception by combining more layers of sensory input in its formation. Like an artist fully recreates a face by accreting dabs of paint of varied shades to define each contour. Like a lump of sugar dissolves fully into a cup of tea to make it sweet. Like you find a joke hilarious because you've processed the punchline simultaneously in two different dimensions of perception the literal, and the ticklish nonsensical - and, therefore, the double-entendre shocks you into laughter.

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