12 Essential Scientific Concepts

Rated 3 out of 5 by from Understanding Quantum World DVD frames duplicate spoken text which is confusing Guide could improve by having an index or glossary Some terms / concepts used but not explained such as Eigenvalues
Date published: 2020-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Older Retired Reviewer Professor Viskontas is a Lecturer I wished I had when I was enduring University life so many years ago...Her presentation is enjoyable, entertaining, and highly informative...The course is a servey of probably entry level science with a few nuggets of higher level science but well within the understanding of most...I highly suggest one get the course...
Date published: 2019-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from will keep my grandnephews busy summer vacation I will be watching this on my digital library as it is one of the many DVDs I bought for grands. I am so glad that the Great Courses enables my watching and their learning.
Date published: 2019-06-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easily clarifies key concepts and every educated person should watch these videos.
Date published: 2019-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Balanced coverage of many scientific concepts This is the second course I've completed by Dr. Viskontas, and once again, it was very satisfying and enjoyable. She is professional, enthusiastic, and often points out what science does not yet know, along with what science has discovered. Most of the topics are related to her specialty, neuroscience. But I also got the impression that she has advanced knowledge in the other topics, such as electricity, magnetism, etc. She presents the topics clearly and in a well organized manner. There are often many new terms, so one would be advised to replay lectures if one cannot keep up with the often somewhat complex explanations. The on screen graphics help a lot, so the video version is recommended. I especially enjoyed the last lecture about emergent theories, which can help explain how order can sometimes come out of chaos, with examples being ant colonies, schools of fish, even the development of the City of San Francisco. This is not a simple course, but careful attention can bring the viewer ample rewards.
Date published: 2018-12-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from So disappointing ~ great potential, but... Sorry, but the deluge of seemingly endless names and terms was far too overwhelming & confusing for me: seemed like an impressive listing of hard-to-pronounce chemicals, actions, procedures, situations etc, but simply too, too much, made the first six lectures terribly boring, despite this lady's upbeat presentation. The extreme overkill of technical terms continued throughout the course; most were brand-new to me, but I am not an expert in any of the fields. The lectures on the eye and ear are standard stuff, very competently done, easy to follow. The talks on neuro-plasticity were most illuminating... mind you, it wasn't news to me that if you don't keep up practice in a highly skilled arena, you will lose ability! I found the lecture on magnetism convoluted & complex: somewhat puzzling, really ~ and I thought I already understood magnetism. Oh well, we move on to electricity and a far more interesting lecture. Other lectures I'd put in the OK category, but overall this series did not impress me too favourably and I'll be selling it & moving on.
Date published: 2018-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent presentation This is an excellent presentation of a variety of interesting scientific subjects. The lecturer kept me interested throughout the course. Recommended for listeners with a little scientific background but not absolutely necessary.
Date published: 2018-08-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Below average by Great Courses standards I only buy Great Courses in audio format and listen to them while on my 1-hour walks. Most science courses are not suited for audio-only, including this one. Many chapters of "12 Essential Scientific Concepts" are incomprehensible, like the biochemistry of protein synthesis via DNA & RNA. The others are of mediocre quality.
Date published: 2018-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A stimulating and thoroughly enjoyable course! I had previously enjoyed Dr. Viskontas' 'Brain Myths', and so I was perhaps predisposed to high expectations with this course. I was NOT disappointed! Without exception, each lecture was pleasure to listen to - a characteristic that is essential if one is to fully absorb the intellectual content. Although I was familiar with much of the cosmology, quantum mechanics and classical physics that Indre presented, the early lectures on neuroscience provided me with a great deal of new and exciting material. I would heartily recommend the course to anyone with a desire to increase - or, indeed, refresh - their understanding of contemporary science.
Date published: 2018-05-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Ambitious goal! Trying to cover the whole of science in one short course made meant that the acceleration though each topic was breath taking. As a refresher, for someone already somewhat familiar with most of the topics, I enjoyed it; otherwise I think the ideas would be coming at you to quickly.
Date published: 2018-03-26
Rated 2 out of 5 by from 12 Essential Scientific Concepts Honestly I'm disappointed. I feel I should have bought the book since she reads her text and she is not as engaging as other professors. Not disputing the content but I find myself drifting away sometimes listening to the course.
Date published: 2017-12-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from - little feel for the topic Wife & I bought this- didn't find that it conveyed an understanding of the basic ideas and focused on very specific examples/topics rather than the overall concept. It's been a couple of years and I don't recall a lot of details but we gave up without completing the series
Date published: 2017-11-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fine introduction Maybe I shouldn't review this, as I skipped all the biology classes (I have an advanced degree in microbiology). But I need to say that I immensely enjoyed the physics classes; I thought her presentations were very clear. I would suggest this to anyone wanting an introduction to current science. She covered a topic I had no exposure to,namely emergence (hello, Amazon.... I bought two books). The professor profile says she's an opera singer as well as a scientist. I would like to have heard her, but considering that she was discussing gravity, organic chemistry, and quantum mechanics, it was not at all obvious where music would go....
Date published: 2017-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I'm thoroughly enjoying this course, but taking my time with it because it has been 53 years since I graduated college and my major in under grad and graduate level was lit, not math or science. Reading the course material before I watch the video helps me get it and I will watch it all again because repetition definitely helps. Thank you! I have another one which I'll watch after this one. I'm looking to fill in the gaps because my knowledge of physics was very limited before watching this course.
Date published: 2017-05-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from very well presented. approach to the topics not quite what I expected, but demost rated a thorough knowlegde and skill in making the subjects interesting. I'm not certain who the target audience is,but some science background is useful in füll appreciation of thr information. highly recommend ,but not for everyone
Date published: 2017-05-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course! I love this course. I really like the way this was done. This is the only course that I bought twice. The first one was the audio, it was so good that I had to see it. So I bought the video version. Buy the video version. I have bought other courses because of what is in this one. Well done.
Date published: 2017-04-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Need a team teaching approach Choosing only 12 concepts from science to cover is a difficult task and these 12 are well chosen. My studies have been in physics and not life sciences and I hoped the first half or so of this course would begin to fill in some gaps in my education. I was not disappointed. What I did not expect was Dr. Viskontas would do such a great job of relating basic physics concepts to physiology and biology. Because of that, her lectures on thermodynamics, energy and fluid mechanics were very illuminating even though the physics content was quite basic. This view of these concepts would be very helpful to any physics teacher. I also hoped that a neuroscientist would have much to add to my understanding of hearing and vision. The discussion of the problems of creating a unified sensory experience in the brain was exciting as well as amazing. I would say the first 16 lectures were excellent and often exceeded my expectations. The last 8 however met my (much lower) expectations. No one can be expert at all 12 of these concepts and given her background it was no surprise that these last lectures were more superficial and lacked any novel insights. They were much more like reading an article in a popular magazine than a college level class. This course would have benefitted from a team teaching approach where the last third was handed off to someone with a background in physics or cosmology. The middle third would have benefitted from combining their knowledge and backgrounds as well but her ability to relate those concepts to her personal experience carried it off. While there were a few things to quibble about in lectures 17 through 24 there was one serious error that should be corrected. When a violin string vibrates more strongly (louder) the peaks get larger but their spacing does not change. That would mean their wavelength and therefore their pitch would change and this does not happen. If it did, you couldn’t tune a stringed instrument because the pitch would change as the loudness decreased. In contrast, when the energy of a photon or an elementary particle increases, the wavelength does decrease and presumably the same is true in string theory. Another mistake is in the guidebook question for lecture 15. When you put your thumb over the mouth of a garden hose the pressure in the fluid does not increase. The speed of the fluid increases and when this faster flowing fluid hit pebbles in your driveway it knocks them harder. This is difficult to get students to understand so it’s bothersome when an instructor gets it wrong. But it really just shows when anyone tries to cover such a wide range of topics, multiple editors with various backgrounds should be used. A final comment is about her speaking style. If you are put off by it in her first lecture don’t give up. I almost did and I would certainly have lost a lot if I did so. In the first lecture, following all those rules of good public speaking she modulates her voice in pitch and intonation and changes the speed of her speech in exaggerated and unnatural ways. It reminded very strongly of Miss Nancy from Romper Room speaking to 4 year olds! With each subsequent lecture however, she relaxed and it became first less annoying and by the last half she did quite well.
Date published: 2017-04-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Hints This course really seems to emphasize some of the most key scientific concepts I've been able to harness since I was last in school. The build blocks of DNA, the mechanism behind acoustics and some of classical and quantum realms were very puzzling and much counter intuitive. It's the counter intuitiveness I enjoy the most and the way Indre expresses them with a lot of thought was excellent. I feel as a whole this course has helped gather some of the most essential tools in science with so much ease and understanding to take forward and thrive while I commit myself to further studies with the great courses.
Date published: 2016-11-02
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Way outside her specialty I watch lectures with my son. It's quite common for me to hit the pause button and explain how something could be misleading because some details were left out in the interests of time. In this one, far too many explanations were of stuff that really wasn't quite right. It sounds as though she compiled the course from knowledge she cobbled together from sophomore-level classes herself, rather than having deep expertise of her own. A survey course that ranges across all the natural sciences should have sections written by professors each discipline, even if one serves as lecturer for the whole thing. She's presumably a brilliant cognitive neuroscientist, but no one is brilliant in every area of the natural sciences. And it shows.
Date published: 2016-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great way to reorganize one's thinking I bought this course to listen to while on a road trip. The presenter's style is wonderful. Yes, she is reading from a script, but the script is well written and organized. It helped "correct" some mis-information learned years ago. I really enjoyed listening to the series, and plan to replay it on another trip soon.
Date published: 2016-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Right up with the best courses I have taken It is nearly sixty years since I studied freshman level science classes and I found it fascinating to learn of the amazing advances and beautiful models and theories that have developed since those days.. As Indre hoped, her course did expand my sense of wonder and feed my imagination while sparking my curiosity to explore the topics she discussed by reading her recommendations. Her presentation was excellent, and the lectures flew by,. i felt I was in the room with her and enjoyed the clear diction and carefully selected illustrations and everyday examples she cited. As the course brochure suggested my enjoyment was greatly enhanced by using the course transcript and repeating the more technical lectures after all I am not as quick on the uptake as I once was! So thank you Professor Indre
Date published: 2016-04-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from An Okay Great Course The lecturer is quite knowledgeable and enthusiastic about what she is presenting, however for the most part the material is dry and dull. I have purchased numerous Great Courses and this is only the second one with which I have been displeased. In regards to a few lectures there is too much anatomical detail as if the professor is trying to fill space or time.
Date published: 2016-01-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Recommend course, but important caveats This course did cover a wide array of scientific concepts, but I did not find it to be appropriate as an introduction to science. For that I would recommend Dr. Hazen's "Joy of Science." That is longer, but builds on and from the basics of each field. If your science background is limited, I would suggest getting a video version. I used an audio version, and I assume that the visuals would enhance understanding. If you have some broad scientific background, the audio version should be fine. I also strongly recommend reviewing the material in the course book. I did that after listening, but I think that doing it before listening would have been helpful. I generally try to read the course book before listening in science courses. I can see now that that would have been a very good idea with this course. One reason I make these recommendations is that it was difficult to see what the 12 concepts are. Even looking at the course book did not help very much with that. The first topic seems to be life with 2 lectures. The second topic appears to be evolution, which seems to get 4 lectures. There is some flow from topic to topic. She does discuss the linkages. There was, however, no point at which she clearly laid out those 12 concepts, even in the course overview. The Course Scope in the course book does seem to say what these are, but not very clearly. On the plus side, on my 2 basic criteria, the course does well. These criteria are: was it thought-provoking, and did it make me want to learn more on the topic(s). It definitely did those things very well. Another plus, the professor was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable across this broad range of topics. She also seems interesting in her own right. Not only is she an outstanding scientist, but she is also a well-regarded opera singer. On the negative, as several people have noted, she did seem to be reading.
Date published: 2015-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great place to begin scientific exploration I waffled about purchasing this course as I felt it might not go into each subject as deep as I would normally like. And, for me, that turned out to be the case. However, I did enjoy the course. This course is well-suited for someone who is starting a journey of scientific exploration. The course will probably also appeal to viewers who would like to learn how scientific concepts tie into biology. The professor admits that the course is meant to spark your curiosity in the topics presented. That goal was achieved and the result is very enjoyable.
Date published: 2015-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Top marks in all catagories Without a doubt this has been the most interesting, valuable and well done Great Course that I have completed so far. The lecturer is phenomenal. Her ability of explain complex concepts in a simple, straightforward way is unparalleled. This course brought together a wide range of scientific disciplines and concepts and showed how they are all interrelated in ways that I never thought of. While I thought I kept fairly up to date with scientific concepts, the last three topics were eye-opening (particle physic, string theory and emergence). I couldn't have asked for a more stimulating set of lectures that the ones that were so ability delivered in this course.
Date published: 2015-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 12 Essential Scientific Concepts I own several audio courses by The Great Courses, and this is one of the best. I have listened to it three times. The author covers every scientific concept imaginable, and uses clear, every-day analogies to make them understandable, yet is also able to get into the depth of each subject. She includes the most current scientific concepts, including the questions/controversies surrounding them. Being a musician, I also love the fact that she correlates some of the concepts and consequences to music:). The author also has a pleasant voice and a very approachable style. As one of the reviewers said, "I need more stars" for rating this course!!
Date published: 2015-06-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So Good I Need More Stars This course is one everybody should take. It exceeds the usual high marks because the professor not only explains the subjects clearly, but her second profession (an opera singer) enables her to enunciate her words and not speak through her nose as ever so many speech-untrained people do. Viskonta keeps the focus on science—which is proper because it is the subject of the course not to mention it is our only source of knowledge—and she does not stray into any form of mysticism, the supernatural or “junk science” such as the scientifically discredited creationism. A delight in itself. Professor Viskonta illustrated extraordinarily difficult topics with ease, and, for the first time, I understood the thinking which underlies String Theory as well as the basic concept. The only improvements I can see are minor. I think she should have defined “universe” (everything that exists) sooner than Lecture 22 and then use the word consistently. For example, there cannot be two universes if the universe is everything that exists. She struggles with the concept of time. Perhaps it might be helpful to define time as the measurement of motion. Just as the concept of “causality” applies to events and entities within the universe, but not to the universe as a whole, so the concept of “time” applies to events and entities within the universe, but not to the universe as a whole. The universe (existence) did not begin. Existence did not, at some point in time, spring into existence. Time is a measurement of motion; motion presupposes entities that move. If nothing existed, there would be no time. Which means, time is in the universe—the universe is not in time. Her easy manner and clear explanations will keep you mentally engaged on important scientific subjects for the entire series.
Date published: 2015-06-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Information With One Glaring Bias Based on the video format: I would consider Professor Viskontas a staunch Evolutionist. Evolution is one of the 12 Concepts but not Creationism. I expect a professor teaching general topics to suppress such biases unless they are either presenting a course on Evolution or one on Creation. I believe this is an improper scientific method for teaching. I expect this opinion shall generate many "thumbs down" but I am ok with that. I learned a lot from this series of lectures but I felt that it was tainted with a constant bias toward Evolution. Evolution is not an essential concept; it is a theory. Ms. Viskontas has evolution as a central concepts all throughout her lectures. Regarding her presentation style I found it very pleasant. She is photogenic, personable, and easy to listen to. I think that those who criticize her for reading off the teleprompter as being ridiculous. They should try to commit 12 hours of material on a huge amount of scientific subjects to memory. I did not find her presentation method distracting at all. Finally, with the aforementioned objections in mind, I find the amount of detail perfect. I had to rewind several times but that is the beauty of recorded material which makes such repetition possible. No one can be a specialist in all the fields of science covered in this series. I find her understanding of so many concepts amazing and refreshing. There are entire courses offered on all these subjects if one needs such a thing. Her presentation is straight-forward and direct. I found the information stimulating and thought-provoking. I feel that appropriate brevity was given on the subjects covered without feeling like the topics were skimmed over. I feel like there are too many people who rate themselves as necessary critics of the subjects covered in order to make themselves seem superior scientists. I need not discuss the subjects that are included in this lecture series because these are already enumerated on this website. I give this series a high recommendation as a stepping stone in a quest to understand any particular discipline of science.
Date published: 2015-05-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 12 Essential Scientific Concepts Professor Viskontaks amazes with her vast understanding of these diverse concepts, and conveyed in a way that most can really understand. She delivers her lectures with such energy and emotion that it's difficult to stop listening. This is a great course for those who like to continually expand their knowledge of the world in which we live. Delightful!
Date published: 2015-03-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent choices of scientific concepts reviewed I have been purchasing Great Courses since they were still the Teaching Company in the 1990s and now have watched at least 250 of them and they are all great. This one I enjoyed especially as I am a retired research physicist and love to keep abreast of not only what is going on in physics but the other sciences as well. This course gave a wonderful background in what is happening not just in my field but in other very interesting scientific fields. I now understand the latest theories and how the work. It is excellent background.
Date published: 2015-02-23
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12 Essential Scientific Concepts
Course Trailer
The Miracle of Life
1: The Miracle of Life

To truly understand what makes life special, you have to understand the fundamental makeup of life. In this first lecture, investigate the basic chemistry of living organisms, from the fundamental importance of water and carbon to the critical functions of proteins-the molecules that allow cells to survive, reproduce, and adapt.

34 min
The Organization of Life
2: The Organization of Life

Turn now to cells and the intricate organization of life. As you take an in-depth tour of eukaryotic cells (the kind your body is made of), you'll learn how to make sense of mitochondria, lysosomes, and other cell parts. You'll also see cellular organization at work in everything from making proteins to generating energy.

29 min
Evolution-The Tireless Tinkerer
3: Evolution-The Tireless Tinkerer

Today, Charles Darwin's landmark theory of evolution is biology's fundamental organizing principle. So how did this revolutionary idea come about, and what were its roots? What scientific evidence proves the fundamental importance of evolution? What do antibiotics reveal about how the tireless tinkering of natural selection works in everyday life?

30 min
Other Mechanisms of Evolution
4: Other Mechanisms of Evolution

Explore some alternative mechanisms through which species can change, including genetic drift and gene flow, and the key role allele frequency plays in our understanding of evolution. You'll also examine the Hardy-Weinberg principle, used by evolutionary scientists to determine whether a population is actually evolving, and which mechanisms are driving the evolution.

31 min
DNA and Heritability
5: DNA and Heritability

Professor Viskontas takes you back to the birth of genetics through the pioneering work of Gregor Mendel. Then, she shows you how to understand DNA as a simple code read by cells to produce new cellular components. And finally, she breaks down the complexities of how genes express themselves: through the generation of proteins.

30 min
Epigenetics, Mutations, and Gene Insertion
6: Epigenetics, Mutations, and Gene Insertion

It turns out that our genes aren't fixed but change across our lifespans. In this fascinating lecture, investigate three major ways in which that happens: epigenetics, the modification of gene expression through environmental changes; mutations, which involve alterations in the genetic code; and gene insertion, in which viruses play a surprising role.

31 min
The Illusion of Coherence-How We See
7: The Illusion of Coherence-How We See

The way you see is modular-but your consciousness is coherent. How is this possible? To answer this perplexing question, you'll explore the biology of the eye and investigate the curious "binding problem" at the heart of the intersection between neural physiology, cognition, and the philosophy of consciousness.

29 min
Acoustic Perception Deconstructed
8: Acoustic Perception Deconstructed

First, get a better understanding of how our ears are built, and how that construction affects the hearing process. Then, learn why hearing loss offers the perfect demonstration of just how complex this process is. Finally, consider the essential subjectivity of pitch and how hearing and sight interact with one another.

30 min
Our Changing Brain
9: Our Changing Brain

Science has revealed that our brains actually change shape over time. But how? Where in the brain does this occur? How are memories created? What is the relationship between brain plasticity and learning (or unlearning) skills and habits? These are just four of the many questions you'll encounter in this first lecture on neuroplasticity.

29 min
Plasticity, Brain Training, and Beyond
10: Plasticity, Brain Training, and Beyond

Delve deeper into the implications of neuroplasticity, and how we can harness its power to stave off the cognitive effects of aging, recover from disease, and master complex skills. The secrets lie in specific parts of the brain, like the hippocampus and specific proteins, like the brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF.

31 min
Magnetism and Its Magic
11: Magnetism and Its Magic

Magnetism is undoubtedly a strange aspect of the scientific world. Here, Professor Viskontas reveals what we know (and have yet to uncover) about magnets and how they work. You'll learn what makes a magnet magnetic, how spinning electrons create magnetic fields, the secrets of ferromagnetism, and much more.

28 min
Electrical Forces, Fields, and Circuits
12: Electrical Forces, Fields, and Circuits

To truly understand magnetism, you have to understand its cousin: electricity. First, get a primer on the basics of electricity. Then, explore the concept of electric potential (a combination of an object's electric charge and its position to other charged objects) and find out how electric circuits actually work in the human body and beyond.

28 min
Thermodynamics-Heat, Energy, and Work
13: Thermodynamics-Heat, Energy, and Work

Explore the concept of power in the inanimate world-as predicted through the three fascinating laws of thermodynamics (which describe the relationship between heat and work). Along the way, you'll understand how an ideal engine works and witness thermodynamics in action through the famous examples of steam and internal combustion engines.

29 min
Metabolism-Energy in the Cell
14: Metabolism-Energy in the Cell

See how the laws of thermodynamics apply to metabolism, the energy exchanges between cells that keep us alive. Explore the inner workings of metabolism with detailed investigations of photosynthesis and cellular respiration. Learn how metabolism plays a role in today's metabolic engineering, a process by which we harness single-celled organisms to create useful products.

31 min
Fluid Mechanics-Pressure, Buoyancy, Flow
15: Fluid Mechanics-Pressure, Buoyancy, Flow

Professor Viskontas offers you a clear explanation of how aerodynamics (or fluid mechanics) works. Central to this illuminating lecture: the opportunity to finally make sense of the fundamentals of this scientific concept, including buoyant force, the relationship between pressure and depth, Bernoulli's equation, and the equation of continuity.

28 min
Navigation and Propulsion in Fluids
16: Navigation and Propulsion in Fluids

How has our greater scientific understanding of fluid mechanics given us the tools to move (and dominate) the land, sea, and air? How do we power the machines that allow us to do so? What's the difference between form drag and skin friction? What's actually happening when your plane hits turbulence?

30 min
The Big Bang That Didn't
17: The Big Bang That Didn't

Travel back to the very start of time and navigate the murky-but undeniably eye-opening-science behind the Big Bang. As you evaluate this scientific theory by considering the evidence available, you'll also ponder three ways the universe could end: the Big Crunch, the Big Freeze, and the Big Rip.

29 min
The Four Forces of Nature
18: The Four Forces of Nature

Explore the four fundamental forces of nature, which scientists believe have guided the formation, expansion, and essence of our universe since it began. Not only will you learn the nuances of the strong force, the weak force, the electromagnetic force, and gravity-you'll learn the practical implications this knowledge has given us.

32 min
The Elements of Everything
19: The Elements of Everything

Break down the elements of the periodic table and discover how it explains why elements behave the way they do-and points the way to elements that we have yet to discover. Afterward, peek inside the atom and explore subatomic particles, including fermions and the long-elusive Higgs boson.

29 min
Looks like a Particle, Acts like a Wave
20: Looks like a Particle, Acts like a Wave

Is light a wave or a particle? To find the answer, comb through revolutionary ideas by Max Planck and Albert Einstein to encounter the wave-particle duality (a paradox best captured by the famous Heisenberg principle). Then, investigate some of the applications of this duality, specifically through the development and use of lasers.

30 min
Quanta, Uncertainty, and a Cat
21: Quanta, Uncertainty, and a Cat

Quantum mechanics is full of strange contradictions, including a cat that is simultaneously alive and dead. Professor Viskontas introduces you to the Copenhagen Interpretation-the most popular (though still not universally accepted) way to think about this field. You'll also consider some of quantum mechanics' remarkable applications, from nanoscience to quantum computing.

31 min
String Theory, Membranes, and the Multiverse
22: String Theory, Membranes, and the Multiverse

What exactly is string theory? What can M-theory and the behavior of black holes reveal about it? How does the theory of Loop Quantum Gravity explain how gravity works at the quantum level? Answers to all this and more are here in this lecture on a mind-bending scientific concept.

31 min
Emergence-Simple Rules, Complex Systems
23: Emergence-Simple Rules, Complex Systems

The science of emergence explains how simple agents together perform complex feats that are impossible for individual agents to accomplish on their own. Consider what emergence can tell us about seemingly chaotic scenarios through several case studies from wildlife, including ant colonies and flocks of birds.

31 min
Order out of Chaos
24: Order out of Chaos

Continue your look at the most interesting ideas in emergence. First, learn about artificial intelligence and social robotics. Then, ponder the rise of the theory of mind and human self-awareness. Finally, discover how modern cities are emergent structures-and how we play the role of the simple agents that make them function.

32 min
Indre Viskontas

The beauty of science is that with each question that is answered, many more questions are raised; each discovery helps us develop more refined queries about the world around us.


University of California, Los Angeles


University of California, San Francisco

About Indre Viskontas

Dr. Indre Viskontas is an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at the University of San Francisco and Professor of Sciences and Humanities at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she is pioneering the application of neuroscience to musical training. Professor Viskontas received her Bachelor of Science degree with a Specialist in Psychology and a minor in French Literature at Trinity College in the University of Toronto. She also holds a Masters of Music degree in vocal performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She completed her PhD in cognitive neuroscience at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she studied the neural basis of memory and reasoning. Her post-doctoral work at the University of California, San Francisco explored the paradoxical facilitation of creativity in patients with neurodegenerative diseases.

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