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Top Picks: 'Our Little Sister,' the Moasure app, and more

The novel 'Conclave' by Robert Harris is hard to put down, the podcast 'The Ark' is great for nature fans, and more top picks.

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Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

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Religious mystery

Thriller writer Robert Harris follows his just-completed trilogy on Cicero and ancient Rome with a contemporary novel set in nearby Vatican City. In Conclave, which takes place in the near future, a Francis-like pope dies, setting in motion a high-pressure closed-door mystery: choosing a new pontiff. The mystery isn’t centered on a murder; instead, the intrigue revolves around the politics and maneuvering surrounding several of the cardinals who are considered front-runners in the next papal election, or conclave. Harris tells his story through the dean of the College of Cardinals, a man of shaken faith committed to doing the right thing even as he faces a slew of unforgiving decisions and potential scandals. As for putting this one down? You don’t have a prayer.

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Temperature history

Where did the Fahrenheit temperature scale come from and why does the United States use it? Derek Muller of the YouTube channel Veritasium investigates these questions in a new video  that delves into the surprising history of the science that is part of our everyday lives. You can find the clip at http://bit.ly/fahrenheitvideo.

Handy measuring

With the Moasure app, the next time you’re measuring something, all you’ll need is your phone. Simply move your phone from one spot to another and the app will do the work for you. Moasure also measures angles. The app is $1.99 for iOS.

Intriguing nature

Nature fans should check out The Ark Podcast, by Aeron Allen. It takes a look at creatures as varied as the Chinese giant salamander and the Philippine eagle. You can find the intriguing installments at https://soundcloud.com/thearkpodcast.

Good sisters

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In the film Our Little Sister, written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, a trio of grown sisters (Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa, and Kaho) invite their half-sibling (Suzu Hirose) to live with them. “Kore-eda has a gift for portraying goodness that is quite rare,” Monitor film critic Peter Rainer writes of the film. “He does so without a whisper of banality.” The movie is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.