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      Hunting Witches

      Are you a witch? A surprising number of people say they are. But that admission could have once resulted in death. This was especially the case after Pope Innocent VIII issued a papal bull on December 5, 1484, that condemned witchcraft, igniting a witch-hunting hysteria that lasted for years.
      “The Hammer of Witches”
      This 1486 work—later described as “cruelly misogynistic”—became the standard textbook on witchcraft. It spelled out how to recognize witches and exterminate them.
      The witch hunts
      By the late 18th century, as many as 60,000 people had been executed for allegedly engaging in witchcraft.
      How many witches are in a coven?
      Over the years, various theories have been proposed to explain witchy groups.
      Did rye bread cause the Salem witch trials?
      In 1692–93 witch hysteria gripped a Puritan village in Massachusetts Bay Colony. But was the alleged bewitchment actually a disease called ergotism?
      Witchcraft today
      Learn about the history and beliefs of Wicca.

      When Giants Roamed the Earth

      Humans might be on the top of the heap today, but set the clock back 50 million years or so and things change dramatically. Physical descriptions like “the size of a school bus” are ground-shakingly common. Phrases like “omnivorous predator” make it abundantly clear where, exactly, Homo sapiens might have found themselves in the food web.
      You’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat
      article / Science
      Heritage Auctions/Shutterstock.com
      This Is a Whale?!?
      article / Science
      Encyclop?dia Britannica, Inc.
      A Cow-Sized Pig with Jaws Like a Hyena
      article / Science
      Encyclop?dia Britannica, Inc.

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      Botanize!
      Botanize! is a podcast that will introduce you to some of the world’s most remarkable plants, fungi, and algae. These overlooked organisms have fascinating evolutionary stories to tell about survival, exploitation, adaptation, and general scrappiness, and every episode will pique your curiosity. From parasitic plants to kelp forests, Botanize! aims to showcase some of Earth’s finest nonanimal life-forms and their brilliant ecologies.
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      So far there have been five notable mass extinctions on Earth. A growing number of ecologists, climatologists, and other scientists argue that we’re now in the midst of a sixth. Postcards from the 6th Mass Extinction is a podcast that attempts to personalize extinction, emphasizing the survival challenges that familiar, often cherished, forms of life currently face, while at the same time considering the pivotal roles they play in their own ecosystems.
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      Hear the stories that propelled us to the present day through insights that lend perspective to our world with a nod to our own humanity. Britannica media editor Kurt Heintz, together with Emily Goldstein and Meg Matthias, is on a mission to spotlight poignant and noteworthy events for every day of the year.

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      5 Exciting Gift Ideas For Families!

      Britannica’s team has compiled our favorite non-toy gifts for families this holiday season. From our newly launched hard-cover books for kids, ranging from $10-$22, to holiday bundles that include resources your family needs to stay entertained, connected and informed in 2021, we’ve got you covered.

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      Now on Sale: "A Great Book for the Whole Family”

      “Wow! This book is exceptional in every way and my whole family loves it. Even my 5 year old will spend hours with this book, marking pages she wants to return to later and read together. As a parent, it is so fun to have a kids book that I also learn from and love.” - Amazon Reviewer, Oct 2020

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      The Britannica Kids’ Holiday Bundle is the perfect gift for the smarty pants in your life. Includes access to Britannica Kids + thousands of on-demand films and documentaries + the - just released - ALL NEW Kids’ Encyclopedia book! Find hands-on activities, interactive games, homework help, and over 130K articles covering thousands of topics.

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      Entertainment & Pop Culture Entertainment & Pop Culture
      Entertainment and leisure activities have been a part of all cultures in one form or another since the ancient times, whether the activity in question involved participating in a dance performance, attending a Broadway show, going to a music festival, or watching a movie.
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      Geography & Travel Geography & Travel
      Planet Earth contains some extraordinarily diverse environments, some of which are easily habitable and some not so much. In different areas of Earth, one might find sweltering deserts, dense tropical rainforests, or bone-chilling tundras. Each biome and habitat comes with its own selection of flora and fauna, and it may include physical features such as canyons, volcanoes, rivers, or caves. Human beings have built homes in many different environments, settling the area and organizing it into units such as cities, states, regions, and countries, each with its own points of interest. Shifting trends in human migration have resulted in a human geography that is profoundly different from that of centuries ago.
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      Health & Medicine Health & Medicine
      The study of the human mind and body, how these function, and how they interact—not only with each other but also with their environment—has been of utmost importance in ensuring human well-being. Research on potential treatments and preventive medicine has expanded greatly with the development of modern medicine, and a network of disciplines, including such fields as genetics, psychology, and nutrition, aims to facilitate the betterment of our health.
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      Lifestyles & Social Issues Lifestyles & Social Issues
      It's easy enough to agree that human beings all around the world have certain basic requirements that must be fulfilled in order to ensure their individual and collective well-being. History has shown us, however, that it's not so easy to form societies or communities that fulfill these requirements for all members. The fight over human and civil rights has persisted for hundreds of years and remains alive today, both within the borders of nations and on an international scale. It has led to large-scale social movements and reforms concerning issues such as suffrage, slavery, women's rights, racial discrimination, environmentalism, gay rights, and more.
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      Literature Literature
      With the development of language, the human imagination has found a way to create and communicate through the written word. A literary work can transport us into a fictional, fantastic new world, describe a fleeting feeling, or simply give us a picture of the past through novels, poems, tragedies, epic works, and other genres. Through literature, communication becomes an art, and it can bridge and bond people and cultures of different languages and backgrounds.
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      Philosophy & Religion Philosophy & Religion
      Humans have long pondered not only how we came to be but also why we came to be. The earliest Greek philosophers focused their attention upon the origin and nature of the physical world; later philosophers have theorized about the nature of knowledge, truth, good and evil, love, friendship, and much more. Thus, philosophy involves a methodical assessment of any and all aspects of human existence and experience. The realms of philosophy and religion have sometimes intersected in conducting inquiries such as these. As with philosophy, the study of religion underscores how humankind has long speculated about its origins. The possibility of a higher being (or beings) to which livings things owe their existence has long captived human thought. Many religions also offer their own views on the nature of good and evil, and they may prescribe guidelines and judgment on different kinds of human behavior.
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      Politics, Law & Government Politics, Law & Government
      The world today is divided territorially into more than 190 countries, each of which possesses a national government that claims to exercise sovereignty and seeks to compel obedience to its will by its citizens. Governments can be classified in any number of ways. For example, they might be classified by the number of rulers, thus distinguishing government by one (as in a monarchy or a tyranny) from government by the few (in an aristocracy or oligarchy) and from government by the many (as in a democracy). Governments can also be classified by mode of succession; for example, ascension to governmental leadership may follow the rules of hereditary succession, or it may be determined through elections or by force. Governments also vary in terms of the laws and rules of conduct that each political entity follows.
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      Science Science
      How can the sky be blue one day and stormy the next? Why do heavy objects tend to fall downwards when dropped? How are birds able to fly (and why can’t I do the same?)? Human beings have long been curious about the world in which we live, striving to identify connections among the phenomenons we witness and to understand how it all works. The field of science has developed over many centuries as a way of studying and understanding the world, beginning with the primitive stage of simply noting important regularities in nature and continuing through the rise of modern science. The modern-day sciences cover a vast range of fields, including biology, chemistry, meteorology, astronomy, physics, and much more.
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      Sports & Recreation Sports & Recreation
      Physical contests and recreational games have long played a part in human society. In both team and solo sports, the human body has been pushed to its limits in the name of improving athletic performance and to break record upon record. The ancient Olympic Games are an early example of the contests in which humans have engaged to showcase physical prowess. In modern times, sports and games have evolved into a lucrative and competitive industry, while other leisure activities, such as card and video games, can be competitive or can just be a way to unwind or socialize.
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      Technology Technology
      Humankind has long striven to improve its living conditions through the development of tools, instruments, and transportation and communications systems, all with the goal of making our lives easier, more productive and—why not—more fun, too! Thanks to human curiosity and technological research, many significant inventions have been made throughout history that in turn made a difference in our daily lives.
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      Visual Arts Visual Arts
      These are the arts that meet the eye and evoke an emotion through an expression of skill and imagination. They include the most ancient forms, such as painting and drawing, and the arts that were born thanks to the development of technology, like sculpture, printmaking, photography, and installation art, the latter a combination of multiple creative expressions. Though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, different eras in art history have had their own principles to define beauty, from the richly ornamented taste of the Baroque to the simple, utilitarian style of the Prairie School.
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      World History World History
      Does history really repeat itself, or can we learn from the mistakes of those who came before us? History provides a chronological, statistical, and cultural record of the events, people, and movements that have made an impact on humankind and the world at large throughout the ages. Investigating the causes and results of past events is critically important in gaining a full understanding and perspective of present-day issues.
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