9 Enlightening Courses You Can Take Online in March 2019

iStock.com/damircudic
iStock.com/damircudic

These days, you can learn just about anything online, whether it's through YouTube videos, independent research, or Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs). Websites like Coursera, edX, and Udemy offer a wealth of classes that will teach you everything you didn't have the chance to learn in school, whether it's practical kitchen skills, esoteric historical information, or off-beat science. There’s no shortage of unique courses to dive into, and many of them are free—or at least much cheaper than their offline equivalents. Here are some of the most intriguing ones you can take in March 2019.

1. Bake Artisan Sourdough Bread Like a Professional

Baking your own bread is trendier than ever, but that doesn't mean it's easy. From making a sourdough starter from scratch to mixing, shaping, and baking loaves, this course will teach you how to make bread the Old World way. Instructor Teresa L. Greenway will walk you through the process of making your own crispy, chewy bread at home through four hours of video, 28 articles, and 33 downloadable resources you can review at your own pace. Along the way, you'll learn about the basics of fermentation, gluten formation, hydration, and more, including a crash course in the long history of bread-making. While this is one of the pricier online class options, its price tag pales in comparison to what you'd pay for in-person classes somewhere like King Arthur Flour's baking school. (And if you find the class doesn't quite rise to the occasion, Udemy has a 30-day money-back guarantee.)

Sign up on Udemy for $100.

2. The Truth About Cats and Dogs

If you've ever wondered why dogs love to dig or cats love cardboard boxes, this class offered by the University of Edinburgh is for you. The nine-hour course promises to give you scientific insights into these two species’s behavior, exploring how dogs and cats see the world, how they communicate, and how you can improve their lives. Though it's designed to be completed in five weeks, the flexible deadlines can fit whatever your personal schedule allows.

Sign up on Coursera for free. The optional certificate costs $49.

3. Star Trek: Inspiring Culture and Technology

Since it first premiered as an NBC television series in 1966, Star Trek has spawned multiple television series, films, comic books, and novels, becoming a juggernaut of nerd culture like no other. It has had such a big impact on American society, in fact, that you can take a course dedicated to its influence, from fandom phenomena to how it shaped the television we watch today. It's offered by SmithsonianX, the Smithsonian Institution's free course program.

Sign up on edX for free. The optional certificate, which includes bonus course content, costs $40.

4. Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction

Perfect for fans of historical tales like The Favourite (2018), this online class taught by University of Virginia English professor Bruce Holsinger details the rise of historical fiction from the 18th century to today. You'll discuss what exactly makes a work of historical fiction, read classics of the form by writers like James Fenimore Cooper and Charles Dickens, and hear from a modern author.

Sign up on Coursera for free. The optional certificate costs $49.

5. The Science of Happiness

Since it first launched in 2014, this class from the University of California, Berkley's Greater Good Science Center has consistently been one of the most popular MOOCs out there. It provides scientific insight into what it takes to live a fruitful life, all backed by psychological research. Previous participants have reported feeling a boost in positive feelings for months after taking the eight-week class.

Sign up on edX for free. The optional certificate costs $49.

6. Osteoarchaeology: The Truth in Our Bones

You can learn a surprising amount of information about a person just from studying their bones. This course offered by Universiteit Leiden in The Netherlands examines everything we can learn just from looking at skeletal remains, from information about that person's health and diet to where they migrated and the kind of activities they performed when they were alive.

Sign up on Coursera for free. The optional certificate costs $49.

7. Mix World-Class Cocktails: Secrets of a Champion Mixologist

If you've always wanted to be able to get behind a bar and whip up incredibly creative cocktails, award-winning mixologist Paul Martin's course is for you. You'll get 2.5 hours of video instruction plus 16 downloadable resources to help make you the best bartender you can be, whether you're a complete newbie or an established professional. "You will learn key mixing techniques, how to produce the finest examples of the great classic cocktails, the secrets and methods for producing the most popular contemporary cocktails perfectly, and finally how to produce some show-stopping cocktail garnishes to give your cocktails that 'rock-star' presentation," Martin promises. By the end of the course, you'll have mastered 16 different classic cocktail preparations, including the perfect martini, a "sublime" cosmopolitan, and more. The course is expensive for an online class, but it's much cheaper than your standard in-person bartending school.

Sign up on Udemy for $200.

8. Pixel Art for Video Games

Video games have come a long way since the 16-bit era, but there is a unique beauty to pixel art that still makes it appealing today. This course taught by game artist Marco Vale will teach you how to make your own, professional-level pixel art. You'll learn how to draw and animate characters from different perspectives, bringing your bite-sized imaginations to life.

Sign up on Udemy for $70.

9. History of Rock Music I: From the Early Blues to the 1960s

For all those folks that love to rock and roll all night, this introductory course takes you through some of the highlights of rock music history. Taught by Vasilis Kallis, an associate professor of music theory at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus, the class looks at rock 'n' roll through theory, composition, and cultural history. Not only will you learn about some of the genre’s most prominent artists and styles, but you will also explore the cultural and economic factors that contributed to the impact these artists had on society at large.

Sign up on Udemy for $60.

Start Your Morning Right With the Alarm Clock That Makes You Coffee

For those who can't function in the morning, a cup of coffee is key. For those who can't even function enough to make that cup of coffee, there's the Barisieur. This innovative alarm clock (now available at Urban Outfitters) awakens the sleeper with the smell of coffee and the gentle rattle of stainless steel ball bearings as the water boils.

Take sugar or milk? There's a special compartment for milk so the liquid stays fresh and cool until you're ready to use it in the morning. On the front, there's a drawer for sugar. The whole tray can even be removed for easy cleaning.

Not a coffee fan? The Barisieur also brews loose-leaf tea.

The milk vessel of the coffee alarm clock
Barisieur, Urban Outfitters

The gadget also has an actual alarm that can be set to sound before or during the coffee making process. 

This invention was thought up by product designer Joshua Renouf as part of his studies at Nottingham Trent University in the UK. Though the idea started as just a prototype for class back in 2015, Renouf managed to make it a reality, and you can now buy one of your very own.

At $445, the alarm clock is quite an investment, but for coffee lovers who have trouble forcing themselves out of bed, it might be more than worth it. Go ahead, picture waking up slowly to the smell of roasted coffee beans and only having to sit up in bed and enjoy.

Buy it at one of the retailers below:

[h/t: Design-Milk.com]

A version of this article first ran in 2015. It has been updated to reflect the product's current availability.

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If March 15 Is the Ides of March, What Does That Make March 16?

iStock.com/bycostello
iStock.com/bycostello

Everyone knows that the soothsayer in William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar was talking about March 15 when he warned the Roman emperor to "beware the Ides of March." We also all know Caesar's response: "Nah, I gotta head into the office that day." But if March 15 is the Ides of March, what does that make March 16?

At the time of Caesar's assassination, Romans were using the Julian calendar (introduced by Julius Caesar himself). This was a modified version of the original Roman calendar, and it is very similar to the one we use today (which is called the Gregorian calendar). A major difference, however, was how Romans talked about the days.

Each month had three important dates: the Kalends (first day of the month), the Ides (the middle of the month), and the Nones (ninth day before the Ides, which corresponded with the first phase of the Moon). Instead of counting up (i.e., March 10, March 11, March 12), Romans kept track by counting backwards and inclusively from the Kalends, Ides, or Nones. March 10 was the sixth day before the Ides of March, March 11 was the fifth day before the Ides of March, and so on.

Because it came after the Ides, March 16 would’ve been referred to in the context of April: "The 17th day before the Kalends of April." The abbreviated form of this was a.d. XVII Kal. Apr., with "a.d." standing for ante diem, meaning roughly "the day before."

So, had Julius Caesar been murdered on March 16, the soothsayer's ominous warning would have been, "Beware the 17th day before the Kalends of April." Doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

This story first ran in 2016.

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