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36 Big Ideas

Take an unforgettable look at 36 big ideas—in everything from science to philosophy—with this collection of Great Courses lectures.
Special Collection - 36 Big Ideas is rated 2.8 out of 5 by 14.
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Rated 3 out of 5 by from Uneven, not very satisfying This is a compilation of single lectures from many different series. This means some are interesting, some are not and many do not really stand alone well. They often refer to subject they will cover in other episodes, but since this is the only episode you will hear, it leaves you without answers and a little unfulfilled.
Date published: 2020-01-05
Rated 2 out of 5 by from 36 bid ideas I bought this a few months ago. There were a few good lectures but no opportunity to download a transcript
Date published: 2019-07-05
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Biggest disappointment of all the courses so far We got this course three years ago to listen to on trips. This is a “special collection” (of which the company had promoted several in the couple of years before we ordered it), sort of their version of TED talks I guess: individual (unrelated) lectures culled from multiple courses, ostensibly an exciting potpourri of dynamic lectures on fascinating and diverse topics. However, for me the premise doesn’t work, because: (1) the best professors develop their courses thematically, referring backwards and forwards in the series to tie things together, and it’s exasperating in this format since you have no way to access that information; (2) a number of the lectures rely on definitions, concepts, people, and other materials important to the present lecture that they have previously introduced in the course; (3) there was no course booklet or outline—or any biographic information on the presenters other than the voice-over introduction to each one; and (4) there is overlap in subject matter in a number of the lectures. While this may be a smart marketing move, targeting established customers and put together at little cost, I for one won't consider purchasing other such "highlight reel" collections in the future.
Date published: 2019-01-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Context seems to matter... Interesting that this course as a collection of lectures from other courses gets only a 2.9 rating when the average of the courses that these lectures come from is 4.4. This certainly reflects the limitations that a 'best of' collection of lectures has. I, like other reviewers, at this point in time, already have most of these lectures in their original courses (and in video). The price complaint may have already been addressed with the current audio only version priced at $24.95. Suited only for a limited customer base--but still great lectures!
Date published: 2018-11-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Overpriced Sampler without Schema I am 70 and winding down my 49th year in education-last 20 doing university teacher prep, I have happily devoted a large portion of available funds to about 75 Great Courses Courses. I like the idea of the sampler idea, but think it should be available free or a $10 download. It would be interesting to organize profs' differing opinions on the same topic with intro and connecting narratives added. All of the reviews are accurate and helpful. Please listen to your old timers. Have not listened to course so star rating are speculative,
Date published: 2017-01-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A near miss This course seems to be a "best of" series of highlights from a number of other courses. The lecturers are mostly great but each lecture seems too linked to the rest of its original course to stand apart from that course successfully. It is a bit frustrating to hear so many references to other important material. Several of the lectures are hard to follow because of the missing preceding or succeeding materials. That said, I now am interested in getting a new course or two...
Date published: 2016-11-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Back to the drawing board Like so many of the other reviewers, I have listened to/watched a great many TC courses. I thought that this would be an introduction to some I have not done yet, and I guess it is, but if it was intended to pique interest it failed. It's incoherent. The idea is interesting, but the realization is lacking. I suspect I am intended to experience the joy of serendipity. I didn't, instead it left me wondering if someone spent too much time listening to Creative Thinker's Toolkit, and too little realizing that organization and planning are not your enemy. Fortunately, I listened to the local library copy. I should have recognized something was up when there were no prior holds, because that NEVER happens with my local library. I suggest you try before you buy.
Date published: 2015-03-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from COURSE GUIDEBOOK MISSING The individual lectures are interesting; however, the course would be much more valuable if a written course guidebook were included. Reading the guidebooks is sometimes very helpful for reinforcement of the spoken information in the lectures and for clarifying unfamiliar names and other terms which may not be completely understood during the lectures. Since these are all recycled lectures from other courses, one is left wondering why the Teaching Company could not have simultaneously recycled the corresponding written sections from the original course guidebooks.
Date published: 2015-01-01
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Overview

The Great Courses has introduced millions of lifelong learners to some of the biggest ideas out there. Enjoy a collection of 36 lectures specially curated from some of our most popular courses and get a fresh learning experience in a wide range of disciplines. Religious writings that may have been forged; a universal template of world myths; the science of tasting colors—Join us for an intriguing tour of big ideas!

About

John McWhorter

Far from being a language in decline, we have reason to believe that English, with all its beauty and quirks and illogicities, will be carried far into the future.

INSTITUTION

Columbia University

John McWhorter is an Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He earned a PhD in Linguistics from Stanford University. He is the author of several books, including The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language; Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter; and Word on the Street, a book on dialects and Black English. He has also been published in outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, and he has appeared on Dateline and Good Morning America, among other platforms.

By This Professor

Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage
854
Language Families of the World
854
Language A to Z
854
Ancient Writing and the History of the Alphabet
854
Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius

To study the deepest impulses in human nature, we see the lure of wealth and conquest, the deep-seated urge for fame and glory, the quest for higher ends, a basic human determination.

INSTITUTION

University of Tennessee

Dr. Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius is Lindsay Young Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He earned his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving his doctorate, Dr. Liulevicius served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. Professor Liulevicius has won many awards and honors, including the University of Tennessee's Excellence in Teaching Award and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. At the university he teaches courses on modern German history, Western civilization, European diplomatic history, Nazi Germany, World War I, war and culture, 20th-century Europe, nationalism, and utopian thought. Dr. Liulevicius has published numerous articles and two books: War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, National Identity, and German Occupation in World War I and The German Myth of the East, 1800 to the Present.

Professor Liulevicius participated in The Great Courses Professor Chat series. Read the chat to learn more about diplomacy and war

By This Professor

Turning Points in Modern History
854
A History of Eastern Europe
854
The Rise of Communism: From Marx to Lenin
854
History's Greatest Voyages of Exploration
854
The Secret World of Espionage
853
Communism in Power: From Stalin to Mao
854
John R. Hale

The most important record of religious history resides not in books and sacred texts but buried in the earth.

INSTITUTION

University of Louisville
Dr. John R. Hale is the Director of Liberal Studies at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. He earned his B.A. at Yale University and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in England. Professor Hale teaches introductory courses on archaeology, as well as more specialized courses on the Bronze Age, the ancient Greeks, the Roman world, Celtic cultures, the Vikings, and nautical and underwater archaeology. An accomplished instructor, Professor Hale is also an archaeologist with more than 30 years of fieldwork experience. He has excavated at a Romano-British town in Lincolnshire, England, and at the Roman Villa of Torre de Palma in Portugal. Among other places, he has carried out interdisciplinary studies of ancient oracle sites in Greece and Turkey, including the famous Delphic oracle, and participated in an undersea search in Greek waters for lost fleets from the time of the Persian Wars. Professor Hale has received many awards for distinguished teaching, including the Panhellenic Teacher of the Year Award and the Delphi Center Award. His writing has been published in the journals Antiquity, The Classical Bulletin, the Journal of Roman Archaeology, and Scientific American.

By This Professor

The Art of Public Speaking
854
The Great Tours: Greece and Turkey, from Athens to Istanbul
854
Exploring the Roots of Religion
854
Peter M. Vishton

The human mind remains one of the most mysterious and fascinating frontiers of modern science. Exploring that frontier yields useful knowledge as well as insights about ourselves.

INSTITUTION

The College of William & Mary
Dr. Peter M. Vishton is Associate Professor of Psychology at The College of William & Mary. He earned his Ph.D. in Psychology and Cognitive Science from Cornell University. Before joining the faculty of William & Mary, he taught at Northwestern University and served as the program director for developmental and learning sciences at the National Science Foundation. A consulting editor for the journal Child Development, Professor Vishton has published articles in many of the top journals in the field of psychology. Among these are Psychological Science, Science, and the Journal of Experimental Psychology. He is also the creator of the DVD What Babies Can Do: An Activity-Based Guide to Infant Development. In addition to teaching, Professor Vishton devotes much of his career to researching the perception and action control of both infants and adults. His studies-funded by prestigious institutions, including the National Institute of Child Health and Development and the National Science Foundation-focus on cognitive, perceptual, and motor development; visually guided action; visual perception; computational vision and motor control; and human-computer interface. Professor Vishton has presented his findings at numerous conferences and invited talks throughout the United States and Europe.

By This Professor

Understanding the Secrets of Human Perception
854
Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You
854
Scientific Secrets for a Powerful Memory
854
Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive
854
Robert Sapolsky

We humans activate the stress-response for reasons of psychological factors, and that's simply not what the system evolved for. If you do that chronically, you're going to get sick.

INSTITUTION

Stanford University
Dr. Robert Sapolsky is John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professor of Biological Sciences at Stanford University and Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery in Stanford's School of Medicine. Professor Sapolsky earned his A.B. summa cum laude in Biological Anthropology from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in Neuroendocrinology from The Rockefeller University in New York. He is also a research associate at the Institute of Primate Research operated by the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi. Dr. Sapolsky is a recipient of a MacArthur genius fellowship. His teaching awards include Stanford University's Bing Award for Teaching Excellence and an award for outstanding teaching from the Associated Students of Stanford University. Professor Sapolsky is the author of several books, including Stress, the Aging Brain and the Mechanisms of Neuron Death (MIT Press, 1992); The Trouble with Testosterone (Macmillan Library Reference, 1997); and Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: A Guide to Stress-Related Diseases and Coping (W.H. Freeman, 1995), which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He also regularly contributes to magazines and journals such as Discover, Science, Scientific American, Harper's, and The New Yorker.

By This Professor

Stress and Your Body
854
Biology and Human Behavior: The Neurological Origins of Individuality, 2nd Edition
854
Being Human: Life Lessons from the Frontiers of Science
854
Dorsey Armstrong

Every turning point discussed in these lectures shifted the flow of the river of history, bringing us ever closer to the modern world.

INSTITUTION

Purdue University

Dorsey Armstrong is a Professor of English and Medieval Literature at Purdue University, where she is also the head of the Department of English. She received her PhD in Medieval Literature from Duke University. She is the executive editor of the academic journal Arthuriana, which publishes cutting-edge research on the legend of King Arthur, from its medieval origins to its modern enactments. She is a recipient of the Charles B. Murphy Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award, Purdue’s top undergraduate teaching honor. Her other Great Courses include The Black Death: The World’s Most Devastating Plague and The Medieval World.

By This Professor

King Arthur: History and Legend
854
Years That Changed History: 1215
854
La Peste Negra: La Plaga Más Devastadora del Mundo
854
Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
854
The Black Death: The World's Most Devastating Plague
854
The Black Death: New Lessons from Recent Research
854
Great Minds of the Medieval World
854
Robert C. Solomon

What I want to ask you is to look at emotions, as I have, as something wondrous, something mysterious, something exotic, as well as something dangerous, something profound, and something valuable.

INSTITUTION

The University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Robert C. Solomon was the Quincy Lee Centennial Professor of Business and Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, where he taught for more than 30 years. He earned his undergraduate degree in molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania and his master's and doctoral degrees in philosophy and psychology from the University of Michigan. He held visiting appointments at the University of Pennsylvania; the University of Auckland, New Zealand; UCLA; Princeton University; and Mount Holyoke College. Professor Solomon won many teaching honors, including the Standard Oil Outstanding Teaching Award; the President's Associates Teaching Award (twice); and the Chad Oliver Plan II Teaching Award. In addition, he was a member of Academy of Distinguished Teachers at UT, which is devoted to providing leadership in improving the quality and depth of undergraduate instruction. Professor Solomon wrote or edited more than 45 books, including The Passions, About Love, Ethics and Excellence, A Short History of Philosophy with Professor Kathleen Higgins, A Better Way to Think about Business, The Joy of Philosophy, Spirituality for the Skeptic, Not Passion's Slave, and In Defense of Sentimentality. He also designed and provided programs for corporations and organizations around the world. Professor Solomon passed away in early 2007.

By This Professor

No Excuses: Existentialism and Meaning of Life
854
Sean Carroll

We need to push on our understanding of cosmology, particle physics, gravity, not to mention how complexity and entropy evolve through time, and eventually you'll be able to really understand what our theories predict.

INSTITUTION

Johns Hopkins University

Sean Carroll is the Homewood Professor of Natural Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University and both a member of the Fractal Faculty and an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. He received his PhD in Astrophysics from Harvard University. He is the author of several books, including Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime, and the host of the weekly Mindscape podcast. He has been awarded prizes and fellowships by the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Guggenheim Foundation, among others.

By This Professor

The Many Hidden Worlds of Quantum Mechanics
854
The Higgs Boson and Beyond
854
Edwin Barnhart

In my own experience as an explorer, it's almost always the case that the locals knew where lost places were all along. The discoverer is just the first person to ask the right questions.

INSTITUTION

Maya Exploration Center

Dr. Edwin Barnhart is director of the Maya Exploration Center. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin and has over 20 years of experience in North, Central, and South America as an archaeologist, explorer, and instructor. In 1994, Professor Barnhart discovered the ancient city of Maax Na (Spider-Monkey House), a major center of the Classic Maya period in northwestern Belize. In 1998 he was invited by the Mexican government to direct the Palenque Mapping Project, a three-year effort to survey and map the unknown sections of Palenque's ruins. The resultant map has been celebrated as one of the most detailed and accurate ever made of a Maya ruin. In 2003, he became the director of Maya Exploration Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the study of ancient Maya civilization. The center leads study-abroad courses for college students and tours for the general public in the ruins of the ancient Americas, among its other research and educational activities. Professor Barnhart has taught archaeology and anthropology at Southwest Texas State University, and currently teaches University of Texas travel courses for college professors on ancient Andean and Mesoamerican astronomy, mathematics, and culture. Over the last 10 years, he has appeared multiple times on the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and Japanese NHK Public Television. He has published over a dozen papers and given presentations at eight international conferences.

By This Professor

Ancient Civilizations of North America
854
Lost Worlds of South America
854
Exploring the Mayan World
854
Maya to Aztec: Ancient Mesoamerica Revealed
854
Patrick Grim

In the end, imagining a world of fact without value is quite nearly impossible for creatures like us. Our lives are woven in terms of the things we value.

INSTITUTION

State University of New York, Stony Brook

Dr. Patrick Grim is Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He graduated with highest honors in anthropology and philosophy from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He was named a Fulbright Fellow to the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, from which he earned his B.Phil. He earned his Ph.D. from Boston University. Professor Grim is the recipient of several honors and awards. In addition to being named SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor, Dr. Grim has been awarded the President and Chancellor's awards for excellence in teaching and was elected to the Academy of Teachers and Scholars. The Weinberg Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan in 2006, Professor Grim has also held visiting fellowships at the Center for Complex Systems at Michigan and at the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. Professor Grim, author of The Incomplete Universe: Totality, Knowledge, and Truth; coauthor of The Philosophical Computer: Exploratory Essays in Philosophical Computer Modeling; and editor of the forthcoming Mind and Consciousness: 5 Questions, is widely published in scholarly journals. He is the founder and coeditor of 25 volumes of The Philosopher's Annual, an anthology of the best articles published in philosophy each year.

By This Professor

Mind-Body Philosophy
854
The Philosopher's Toolkit: How to Be the Most Rational Person in Any Room
854
Mark A. Stoler

History is an interpretive discipline in which we try to understand not only the past, but also the present by looking into the past.

INSTITUTION

The University of Vermont

Dr. Mark Stoler, who holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin, is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Vermont. An expert in U.S. foreign relations and military history, as well as the origins of the cold war, Professor Stoler has also held teaching positions at the United States Military Academy, the Army Military History Institute, the Naval War College, and-as a Fulbright Professor-the University of Haifa, Israel. He is the recipient of the University of Vermont's Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award, the George V. Kidder Outstanding Faculty Award, and the University Scholar Award, as well as the Dean's Lecture Award for Outstanding Scholarship and Teaching, awarded by the university's College of Arts and Sciences. Professor Stoler also has been honored as an author when his Allies and Adversaries: The Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Grand Alliance, and U.S. Strategy in World War II received the Society for Military History's Distinguished Book Award for 2002. The book is one of several he has written or cowritten, including Allies in War: Britain and America Against the Axis Powers, 1940-1945; Debating Franklin D. Roosevelt's Foreign Policies, 1933-1945; Major Problems in the History of World War II; George C. Marshall: Soldier-Statesman of the American Century; and The Politics of the Second Front: American Military Planning and Diplomacy in Coalition Warfare, 1941-1943.

By This Professor

The Skeptic's Guide to American History
854
Ken Albala

It may seem monomaniacal, but I teach about food, I write about food, I love to cook, I read about food for leisure-what better recipe is there for happiness than to make work and play completely seamless?

INSTITUTION

University of the Pacific

Ken Albala is a Professor of History at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, where he won the Faye and Alex Spanos Distinguished Teaching Award and has been teaching for more than two decades. He holds an MA in History from Yale University and a PhD in History from Columbia University. He is the author or editor of more than two dozen books on food, including Eating Right in the RenaissanceFood in Early Modern EuropeCooking in Europe, 1250–1650The Banquet: Dining in the Great Courts of Late Renaissance EuropePancake: A Global History; and Beans: A History, winner of the International Association of Culinary Professionals Jane Grigson Award. He also coedited The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industries; Human Cuisine; Food and Faith in Christian Culture; and A Cultural History of Food in the Renaissance. He served as the editor of several food series with more than 100 titles in the past two decades. He also edited the four-volume Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia and the three-volume SAGE Encyclopedia of Food Issues and coedited the journal Food, Culture & Society. His textbook Three World Cuisines: Italian, Mexican, Chinese won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Foreign Cuisine Book in the World. He also coauthored the cookbook The Lost Art of Real Cooking and its sequel, The Lost Arts of Hearth and Home, a handbook of kitchen and home projects. His most recent book is Noodle Soup: Recipes, Techniques, Obsession.

By This Professor

Food: A Cultural Culinary History
854
Cooking across the Ages
854
Robert M. Hazen

The best thing about teaching a Great Course is how much you learn in the process-from colleagues, from the fabulous Great Courses professional staff, and from listeners, who send amazing stories and ask amazing questions.

INSTITUTION

George Mason University

Dr. Robert M. Hazen is Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Earth Sciences at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, and a research scientist at the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Professor Hazen earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in geology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned a Ph.D. in Earth Science from Harvard University and did post-doctoral work at Cambridge University in England before joining the Carnegie Institution. At Carnegie, Dr. Hazen's research focuses on high-pressure organic synthesis and the origin of life.

Professor Hazen has authored 15 books, including the best-selling Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy and The Sciences: An Integrated Approach. He has written over 220 articles for both scholarly and popular publications such as Newsweek, Scientific American, The New York Times Magazine, Technology Review, and Smithsonian Magazine.

He has received the Mineralogical Society of America Award, the American Chemical Society Ipatieff Prize, the Educational Press Association Award, the American Crystallographic Association's Science Writing Award, and Fellowship in the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Professor Hazen serves on the advisory boards for The National Committee for Science Education, Encyclopedia Americana, NOVA, and the Carnegie Council. He appears frequently on radio and television programs on science.

By This Professor

The Origin and Evolution of Earth: From the Big Bang to the Future of Human Existence
854
Steven L. Goldman

After 50 years, I continue to find new depths and fresh excitement in studying the history and philosophy of science.

INSTITUTION

Lehigh University

Dr. Steven L. Goldman is the Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Lehigh University, where he has taught for 30 years. He earned his B.S. in Physics at the Polytechnic University of New York and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Boston University.

Before taking his position at Lehigh, Professor Goldman taught at The Pennsylvania State University, where he was a cofounder of one of the first U.S. academic programs in science, technology, and society studies.

Professor Goldman has received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award from Lehigh University. A prolific author, he has written or edited eight books, including Science, Technology, and Social Progress, and he has an impressive list of scholarly articles and reviews to his credit. He has been a national lecturer for the scientific research society Sigma Xi and a national program consultant for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

By This Professor

David Sadava

The DNA double helix, discovered in 1953, is one of the great icons of science in our society, rivaling the atom in its pervasiveness in our culture.

INSTITUTION

City of Hope Medical Center, Claremont Colleges

Dr. David Sadava is Adjunct Professor of Cancer Cell Biology at the City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte, CA, and the Pritzker Family Foundation Professor of Biology, Emeritus, at The Claremont Colleges. Professor Sadava graduated from Carleton University as the science medalist with a B.S. with first-class honors in biology and chemistry. A Woodrow Wilson Fellow, he earned a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of California, San Diego. Following postdoctoral research at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, he joined the faculty at Claremont, where he twice won the Huntoon Award for Superior Teaching and received numerous other faculty honors. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Colorado and at the California Institute of Technology. Professor Sadava has held numerous research grants and written more than 55 peer-reviewed scientific research papers, many with his undergraduate students as coauthors. His research concerns resistance to chemotherapy in human lung cancer, with a view to developing new, plant-based medicines to treat this disease. He is the author or coauthor of five books, including the recently published 10th edition of a leading biology textbook, Life: The Science of Biology, as well as a new biology textbook, Principles of Life.

By This Professor

What Science Knows about Cancer
854
Stephen Nowicki

It's almost 75 years later, and we find ourselves in much the same position as Wells described in 1929. Our knowledge of biology has exploded in recent years and it continues to expand exponentially.

INSTITUTION

Duke University

Dr. Stephen Nowicki is Bass Fellow and Professor of Biology at Duke University. He is also Dean and Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education at Duke, and holds appointments in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and in the Neurobiology Department at Duke University Medical Center. Prior to taking his position at Duke, he was a post-doctoral fellow and assistant professor at The Rockefeller University. Professor Nowicki earned his undergraduate degree and a master's degree at Tufts University, and his Ph.D. from Cornell University. He is the recipient of the Robert B. Cox Distinguished Teaching Award from Duke University. He has been awarded fellowships from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Professor Nowicki has published more than 65 scholarly articles in academic journals and is coauthor of the book The Evolution of Animal/Communication: Reliability and Deceit in Signaling Systems.

By This Professor

Biology: The Science of Life
854
Jay L. Garfield

The beauty of 'doing' philosophy is that we don't have to make yes-or-no choices.

INSTITUTION

Smith College

Dr. Jay L. Garfield is Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Philosophy, and director of both the Logic Program and of the Five College Tibetan Studies in India Program at Smith College. The holder of a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh, Professor Garfield also serves on the faculties of the University of Massachusetts, Melbourne University in Australia, and the Central University of Tibetan Studies in India. A specialist in the philosophy of mind, foundations of cognitive science, logic, philosophy of language, Buddhist philosophy, cross-cultural hermeneutics, theoretical and applied ethics, and epistemology, he has been widely honored by fellow scholars. Professor Garfield has written more than 100 scholarly articles and reviews and has written or edited, alone and with colleagues, more than 15 books, including Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way: Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika (2002); Empty Words: Buddhist Philosophy and Cross-Cultural Interpretation (2006); Buddhist Philosophy: Essential Readings (2009); Pointing at the Moon: Buddhism, Logic, Analysis (2009); Trans-Buddhism: Transmission, Translation and Transformation (2009); Moonshadows: Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophy (2010); and The Oxford Handbook of World Philosophy (2010).

By This Professor

Meaning of Life: Perspectives from the World's Great Intellectual Traditions
854
H. Craig Heller

Keep those neurons busy!

INSTITUTION

Stanford University
Dr. H. Craig Heller is the Lorry I. Lokey/Business Wire Professor of Biological Sciences and Human Biology at Stanford University. He earned his Ph.D. in Biology from Yale University. Over the past three to four decades, virtually all biology undergraduates at Stanford have learned physiology from Professor Heller. In recognition of his outstanding performance, he received the Walter J. Gores Award for excellence in teaching and the Kenneth M. Cuthbertson Award for exceptional contributions to Stanford University. The coauthor of more than 200 peer-reviewed research papers, Professor Heller incorporates a wide range of topics into his research, including thermoregulation, hibernation, circadian rhythms, sleep, learning and memory, and human physical performance. His current focus is on the role of sleep and circadian rhythms in learning and memory as applied to the development of therapies for the learning disabilities associated with Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Heller's laboratory is also dedicated to developing technologies for the efficient regulation of heat into and out of the body. Professor Heller is a coauthor of a leading college textbook, Life: The Science of Biology, now in its 10th edition, and the new biology textbook, Principles of Life.

By This Professor

Secrets of Sleep Science: From Dreams to Disorders
854
Monisha Pasupathi

I became a professor in the first place so that I could spend my life learning; the opportunity to both learn and tell others about the process of learning was irresistible.

INSTITUTION

University of Utah

Dr. Monisha Pasupathi is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Utah. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford University. She joined the faculty at Utah in 1999 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Germany. Professor Pasupathi has been honored multiple times for her teaching. She was named Best Psychology Professor by her university's chapter of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology. Psi Chi also awarded her the Outstanding Educator Award and Favorite Professor Award. Professor Pasupathi's research focuses on how people of all ages learn from their experiences, particularly through storytelling. She is coeditor of Narrative Development in Adolescence: Creating the Storied Self, and her work has been published widely in scholarly journals.

By This Professor

How We Learn
854
Scott Huettel

Over the past half-century, decision scientists have identied anomalies, or biases, in people's behavior that can't readily be explained with traditional economic models.

INSTITUTION

Duke University

Professor Scott Huettel is the Jerry G. and Patricia Crawford Hubbard Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. He earned his Ph.D. from Duke in Experimental Psychology and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in functional brain imaging and decision science at the university’s medical center. He is also the founding Director of the Duke Center for Interdisciplinary Decision Science. Professor Huettel is a leading researcher at the intersection of behavioral economics and neuroscience. His laboratory uses a combination of behavioral, genetic, physiological, and neuroscience techniques to discover the neural mechanisms that underlie higher cognition, with a focus on economic and social decision making. He is an author of more than 100 scientific publications, including articles in Science, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Neuron, Psychological Science, and other top journals in several fields. His research has been featured in CNN, Newsweek, Money magazine, NPR Science Friday, and many other media outlets. He is lead author on a primary textbook in neuroscience, Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and he is a coeditor of the textbook Principles of Cognitive Neuroscience. Professor Huettel is a recipient of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring from the Duke University Graduate School, and has been recognized as one of the top 5 percent of undergraduate instructors at Duke.

By This Professor

Behavioral Economics: When Psychology and Economics Collide
854
Marc Zender

The invention and development of writing is a fascinating subject; it sheds light on human ingenuity, complexity, and even on civilization itself.

INSTITUTION

Tulane University

Dr. Marc Zender is Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Tulane University and a research associate in Harvard University’s Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions Program. He earned his Honors B.A. in Anthropology from The University of British Columbia and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Archaeology from the University of Calgary. Professor Zender has published extensively on Mesoamerican languages and writing systems, especially those of the Maya and Aztecs (Nahuatl). He has done archaeological and epigraphic fieldwork throughout Mexico and Central America and currently works as an epigrapher for both the Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance Project and the Proyecto Arqueologico de Comalcalco in Tabasco, Mexico. Professor Zender is the coauthor of Reading Maya Art: A Hieroglyphic Guide to Ancient Maya Painting and Sculpture. He is the director of Precolumbia Mesoweb Press, an associate editor of The PARI Journal, and a contributing editor to Mesoweb, a major Internet resource for the study of Classic Maya civilization. His research has been featured in several documentaries on The History Channel and by the BBC. As a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer in anthropology at Harvard from 2004 to 2011, Professor Zender was a seven-time recipient of the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching. He also received the distinguished Petra T. Shattuck Excellence in Teaching Award in 2008.

By This Professor

Writing and Civilization: From Ancient Worlds to Modernity
854
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.

INSTITUTION

University of California, San Francisco

Indre Viskontas is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of San Francisco, where she runs the Creative Brain Lab. She earned a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles. She has published more than 50 original papers and chapters related to the neural basis of memory and creativity. A passionate science communicator, she has appeared on major TV and radio programs and hosts the popular science podcast Inquiring Minds as well as the podcast Cadence: What Music Tells Us about the Mind.

By This Professor

12 Essential Scientific Concepts
854
How Digital Technology Shapes Us
854
Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience
854
Creativity and Your Brain
854
Bart D. Ehrman

After his crucifixion, Jesus' disciples came to believe he'd been raised from the dead and made a divine being. What had seemed like defeat became for them the ultimate cosmic victory.

INSTITUTION

The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Dr. Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He completed his undergraduate work at Wheaton College and earned his M.Div. and Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. Professor Ehrman has written or edited 27 books, including four best sellers on The New York Times list: Misquoting Jesus: The Story behind Who Changed the Bible and Why; God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question-Why We Suffer; Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know about Them);and Forged: Writing in the Name of God-Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. Professor Ehrman also served as president of the Society of Biblical Literature, Southeastern Region; book review editor of the Journal of Biblical Literature; editor of the Scholars' Press monograph series The New Testament in the Greek Fathers;and coeditor-in-chief for the journal Vigiliae Christianae. Professor Ehrman received the John William Pope Center Spirit of Inquiry Award, the UNC Students' Undergraduate Teaching Award, the Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty, and the Bowman and Gordon Gray Professorship (awarded for excellence in undergraduate teaching).

By This Professor

How Jesus Became God
854
The New Testament
854
Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication
854
The Triumph of Christianity
854
Dr. Grant L. Voth

No idea of any single culture will ever capture the entire human sense of god, or creation, or the hero; and to get a more complete human picture, we have to look at the myths of many cultures.

INSTITUTION

Monterey Peninsula College
Dr. Grant L. Voth, is Professor Emeritus at Monterey Peninsula College. After earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Greek, he received his Master of Arts degree in English Education from St. Thomas College and his doctorate in English from Purdue University. Professor Voth was the Monterey Peninsula Students' Association Teacher of the Year and the recipient of the first Allen Griffin Award for Excellence in Teaching in Monterey County. Professor Voth is the author of more than 30 articles and books on subjects ranging from Shakespeare to Edward Gibbon to modern American fiction, including the official study guides for 26 of the plays in the BBC Television Shakespeare project. He created a series of mediated courses in literature and interdisciplinary studies, one of which won a Special Merit Award from the Western Educational Society for Telecommunication. Professor Voth's other Great Courses include A Day's Read, The History of World Literature, Myth in Human History, and The Skeptic's Guide to the Great Books.

By This Professor

Great Mythologies of the World
854
Steve Joordens

Human memory is absolutely amazing. It keeps us connected with our past while preparing us for our future.

INSTITUTION

University of Waterloo
Dr. Steve Joordens is Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto Scarborough, where he has taught since 1995. He earned a doctorate in cognitive psychology from the University of Waterloo. Honored repeatedly as both teacher and researcher, Professor Joordens is on the cutting edge of the emerging field of cognitive prosthetics to assist both learning-disabled patients as well as patients with Alzheimer's disease. He is a frequent speaker at professional conferences, where he consistently earns best in session honors. In addition to publishing many articles on human memory, consciousness, and attention in empirical and theoretical psychology journals, Professor Joordens earned both the Premier's Research Excellence Award and the National Technology Innovation Award-the latter for the creation of an Internet-based educational platform that supports the development of critical thinking and clear communication skills in any size classroom. His teaching skills have also earned him repeated honors, including the President's Teaching Award, his university's highest teaching honor; the Scarborough College Students' Union Best Professor Award; a provincially sponsored Leadership in Faculty Teaching Award; and four nominations for Television Ontario's Best Lecturer Competition, which include two Top 10 finishes.

By This Professor

Memory and the Human Lifespan
854
Daniel W. Drezner

Those radically opposed to capitalism are less dangerous to prosperity than those who are so fervent in their support of the free market that they threaten to subvert the very system that they claim to love.

INSTITUTION

Tufts University

Dr. Daniel W. Drezner is Professor of International Politics at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He earned his B.A. in Political Economy from Williams College and his M.A. in Economics and Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University. Beyond academia, Professor Drezner served as an international economist in the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of International Banking and Securities Markets. He has also worked for the RAND Corporation; consulted for various for-profit, nonprofit, and public-sector agencies; and provided expert testimony for both houses of Congress. Professor Drezner was a nonresident fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow, and a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University's John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies. Professor Drezner is the author of four books, including All Politics Is Global. He blogs daily for Foreign Policy magazine, for which he is a contributing editor, and he has published articles in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He has provided expert commentary on the global political economy for the BBC, C-SPAN, CNN International, MSNBC, Fox News, and ABC's World News Tonight.

By This Professor

Foundations of Economic Prosperity
854
Sherwin B. Nuland

The underlying philosophy of the Hippocratic physicians was that disease involves a patient’s entire body and mind, so therapy must be directed to the whole context of the patient’s life situation rather than a small part of it.

INSTITUTION

Yale School of Medicine

Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland (1930-2014) was Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Yale School of Medicine and Fellow of the university's Institution for Social and Policy Studies. He served on the executive committees of Yale's Whitney Humanities Center and its Interdisciplinary Bioethics Project. Professor Nuland was a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, New York University, and the Yale School of Medicine, from which he earned his M.D. After training in surgery at the Yale-New Haven Hospital, he practiced and taught there for three decades. He considered the bedside and operative care of over 10,000 patients to be the most rewarding work of his career. He taught bioethics and medical history to undergraduates and medical students. Dr. Nuland is the author of eight books, including Doctors: The Biography of Medicine and The Wisdom of the Body. He is also the author of How We Die, a reflection on the modern way of death, which was on the New York Times best-seller list for 34 weeks. This book won the National Book Award and was a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize and the Book Critics Circle Award. Dr. Nuland has written dozens of articles for magazines and periodicals, including The New Yorker, Time, Life, National Geographic, Discover, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times.

Shaun Nichols

I think that regardless of whether you think that fate or karma exists, it’s a really interesting question of why it’s such a powerful cultural force. Why do people believe in these things?

INSTITUTION

Cornell University

Dr. Shaun Nichols is Professor of Philosophy at The University of Arizona. He holds a joint appointment in Philosophy and Cognitive Science. Professor Nichols earned his bachelor's degree in Philosophy from Stanford University and his Ph.D. from Rutgers University. He previously taught at the College of Charleston, where he held the Harry Lightsey Chair of Humanities, and at the University of Utah. The 2005 recipient of the Stanton Award, given to innovative scholars working at the intersection of philosophy and psychology, Professor Nichols has published widely in both disciplines. He is the author of Sentimental Rules: On the Natural Foundations of Moral Judgment, and the coauthor of Mindreading: An Integrated Account of Pretense, Self-awareness and Understanding Other Minds. He is the editor of The Architecture of the Imagination and the coeditor of Experimental Philosophy. Professor Nichols, whose research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, has published more than 50 articles in academic journals in psychology and philosophy. He serves on several editorial boards, and at The University of Arizona he directs a research group on experimental philosophy.

The Big Bang

01: The Big Bang

CONCEPT: The universe came into existence not as an explosion but as an expansion of space itself. The big bang theory proposes that the universe (with all its matter and energy) came into existence at one moment in time not as an explosion, but as an expansion of space itself. What observations support this theory? Find out the surprising conclusions today’s astronomers draw. from The Joy of Science, Lecture 32

34 min
Astronomy

02: Astronomy

CONCEPT: Almost everything we know about the distant stars comes from electromagnetic radiation traveling at 186,000 miles per second. Almost everyone loves astronomy, but few of us realize that it’s the science (and art) of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting photons from space. What are astronomical data? How are they collected by telescopes in space and on Earth? And how do astronomers gather, interpret, and explain what they find? from The Joy of Science, Lecture 29

30 min
Time’s Arrow

03: Time’s Arrow

CONCEPT: The essence of time is its one-way, asymmetrical direction. Break an egg. Melt an ice cube. Mix coffee and cream. Each starts with an ordered state and ends with one that is much more disorderly. Examine the entropy of the universe and the one-way direction of time. from Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time, Lecture 4

30 min
Time Travel

04: Time Travel

CONCEPT: Real time travel would involve not de- and rematerializing, but moving through all intervening points between locations in space-time. Use a simple analogy to understand how a time machine might work. Unlike movie scenarios featuring dematerializing and rematerializing, a real time machine would be a spaceship that moves through all the intervening points between locations in space-time. from Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time, Lecture 19

31 min
String Theory, Membranes, and the Multiverse

05: String Theory, Membranes, and the Multiverse

CONCEPT: Tiny, one-dimensional strings could actually be the foundation of our entire physical universe. 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 these mind-bending scientific questions await you in this lecture. from 12 Essential Scientific Concepts, Lecture 22

32 min
Three Faces of Information

06: Three Faces of Information

CONCEPT: Ours is, without a doubt, an age of information. Consider that information could be independent of content—a radical idea that’s led to powerful information technologies that continue to change our world. By viewing DNA and black holes as actual structures of information, scientists now think that information is physically real. This lecture will take you on a mind-bending trip to the frontiers of science. This lecture is from Great Scientific Ideas That Changed the World by Dr. Steven L. Goldman, the Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Lehigh University.

29 min
The Human Asteroid

07: The Human Asteroid

CONCEPT: Despite our great strides in biological understanding, the diversity of species on our planet is decreasing at an alarming rate. Just as we find ourselves on the brink of truly understanding life’s diversity, we find ourselves on the brink of losing it. This concept is your window into the world of biodiversity. How do we measure biodiversity loss? And, more important, why should we care? from Biology: The Science of Life, Lecture 72

32 min
What Is the Meaning of Life?

08: What Is the Meaning of Life?

CONCEPT: Surprisingly, vastly different civilizations come to some of the same conclusions about the answers to the meaning of life. What is the underlying meaning of life? While there may not be a single answer on which everyone can agree, there are recurrent themes that appear in the investigations of vastly different civilizations. Take a closer look at some of them in this lecture. from The Meaning of Life, Lecture 36

32 min
Psychology and Free Will

09: Psychology and Free Will

CONCEPT: Unconscious stimuli can actually have a profound effect on the choices you think you make independent of anything else. Although we may believe we understand our own minds and motivations, many psychologists believe we don’t have as much insight into the choices we make as we might think. This lecture describes experiments that demonstrate the effect of unconscious stimuli on our behavior. from Great Philosophical Debates: Free Will and Determinism, Lecture 15

32 min
What Is Existentialism?

10: What Is Existentialism?

CONCEPT: Existentialism is not a gloomy, anxious philosophy but a way of thinking that can be positive-minded and invigorating. Existentialism is recognized as a movement—rather than a school of thought or doctrine—and can be traced throughout the history of Western philosophy. You’ll discover that at the heart of this revolutionary philosophical outlook runs an emphasis on individualism, passion, and freedom. from No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life, Lecture 1

30 min
Infancy Gospels

11: Infancy Gospels

CONCEPT: Many of the most revealing stories about the life, deeds, and sayings of Jesus never made it into the New Testament. The four Gospels of the New Testament say very little about Jesus's life as an infant and a young boy. This "lost period" is the subject of several early gospels, including the Proto-Gospel of James and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. What do these early gospels say? And why did they not make it into the New Testament? from Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication, Lecture 10

32 min
The Problem of Pseudonymity

12: The Problem of Pseudonymity

CONCEPT: Many religious writings in the ancient world were forged—sometimes by the author’s followers instead of the author himself. Explore the hard evidence that some of the letters circulating in Paul’s name were actually forged by other Christian writers. The New Testament contains both authentic and pseudonymous Pauline letters; and knowing who wrote what can have a profound effect on our understanding of the Bible and its history. from The History of the Bible, Lecture 4

31 min
Cosmic Hub at Stonehenge

13: Cosmic Hub at Stonehenge

CONCEPT: Ancient civilizations built amazing structures with mysterious purposes. Stonehenge is the iconic Neolithic and Bronze Age structure that represents the pinnacle of the megalithic tradition. Explore the history of this impressive wonder and mull over various interpretations archaeologists have put forth about this sacred landscape’s true purpose. from Exploring the Roots of Religion, Lecture 26

31 min
Washington—Failures and Real Accomplishments

14: Washington—Failures and Real Accomplishments

CONCEPT: George Washington’s least-known presidential and military successes were actually his most important contributions to American history. Surprisingly, it may actually be George Washington’s least-known presidential and military accomplishments (and failures) that had the most dramatic impact on the early history of the United States of America. Learn why these “negative contributions” and “non-events” have often been ignored by many historians. from The Skeptic’s Guide to American History, Lecture 4

29 min
The Black Death

15: The Black Death

CONCEPT: The Black Death, which killed up to one-half of Europe’s population, made social mobility possible for the first time. The Black Death had a cataclysmic impact on medieval history, changing almost every aspect of life in the space of just a few short years. But one of the most intriguing changes was positive: social mobility that gave more power and autonomy to peasants and less to nobles. from Turning Points in Medieval History, Lecture 21

31 min
Gutenberg’s Print Revolution

16: Gutenberg’s Print Revolution

CONCEPT: The Protestant Reformation, the Renaissance, and the Scientific Revolution would never have happened were it not for one single invention: the printing press. Trace how Johannes Gutenberg’s introduction of a press with movable type sparked a print revolution. His press became a key factor in the Protestant Reformation, the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, and the standardization of vernacular languages. from Turning Points in Modern History, Lecture 3

32 min
Mysteries of the Industrial Revolution

17: Mysteries of the Industrial Revolution

CONCEPT: The Industrial Revolution could only have happened in England, and only at the time in history that it did. Conditions for an industrial revolution were ripe in France, China, and the Ottoman Empire in the 1800s. So why was England the country where this landmark economic event occurred—and why could it only have been England? Find out by examining various explanations at individual, national, and global levels. from Foundations of Economic Prosperity, Lecture 9

33 min
A Renaissance in the Kitchen

18: A Renaissance in the Kitchen

CONCEPT: Renaissance court banquets were so grand that each of a typical banquet’s dozen courses was an entire meal in itself. Experience the mind-boggling grandeur of a Renaissance court banquet thrown on January 23, 1529, by the son of the duke of Ferrara. As you’ll learn, Renaissance banquets were less about taste and more about overwhelming the diner by the variety and elegance of each course. from Food: A Cultural Culinary History, Lecture 15

31 min
The Khipu

19: The Khipu

CONCEPT: The world’s largest untranslated written language was made with strings and knots. How did the Inca Empire manage to be so organized, expansive, and efficient? The answer: a set of strings tied with many tiny knots. Learn how these khipus acted as recording devices for everything that could be recorded in a normal document, from population censuses to histories to simple instructions. from Lost Worlds of South America, Lecture 21

34 min
Japanese—The World’s Most Complex Script

20: Japanese—The World’s Most Complex Script

CONCEPT: Japanese writing is the most complicated script ever devised, and its complexity will likely never be abandoned. Borrowed and adapted from the Chinese, Japanese writing is the most complicated script ever devised. Find out how Japanese writing took on the complex form it has today, why attempts to simplify it have had little success, and the reason it’s unlikely the system will ever be abandoned. from Writing and Civilization: From Ancient Worlds to Modernity, Lecture 6

23 min
The Monomyths of Rank and Campbell

21: The Monomyths of Rank and Campbell

CONCEPT: There exists a universal template for mythic archetypes that overrides cultural origin. Heroic journeys enchant and inspire us—no matter what cultural heritage they originate from. Analyze this fascinating universality with a close look at the monomyths, a concept put forward by Otto Rank and Joseph Campbell. from Myth in Human History, Lecture 25

31 min
Why Texting Is Misunderstood

22: Why Texting Is Misunderstood

CONCEPT: Until the advent of e-mail and text messages, there was no truly conversational form of writing analogous to conversational speech. Contrary to what you may think, e-mail and texting aren’t bad writing. Rather, as Professor McWhorter shows, they’re a form of speech produced on the fly rather than with careful, largely solitary concentration, and they can actually tolerate a greater diversity of structures and vocabulary than formal writing can. from Myths, Lies, and Half Truths of Language Usage, Lecture 23

31 min
The Hard Problem of Consciousness

23: The Hard Problem of Consciousness

CONCEPT: Current scientific knowledge may be unable to accurately explain our subjective experiences. If there is a defining problem in the philosophy of the mind today, it is the idea of accounting for our subjective experiences. Go inside what David Chalmers calls the “hard problem of consciousness,” which offers some intriguing perspectives on how we perceive our experiences and ourselves. from Philosophy of Mind: Brains, Consciousness, and Thinking Machines

32 min
Our Changing Brain

24: Our Changing Brain

CONCEPT: The human brain is not a static organ but has the ability to continually remold itself (like plastic) throughout a person’s life. Follow the evolution of neuroscience and discover how our brains—from the smallest brain cell to sweeping regions across the brain—demonstrate plasticity. Then learn about the stream of chemical reactions that affect memory, skill acquisition, and more. from 12 Essential Scientific Concepts, Lecture 9

30 min
The Strange World of Dreams

25: The Strange World of Dreams

CONCEPT: Dreams have a powerful influence on our memory, our creativity, and our ability to recover from trauma. Before modern scientific methodology, the veracity of dream theories proved to be problematic; despite the subjectivity of Freud’s theories, they couldn’t be proven wrong. Find out how recent dream research offers new findings about the brain during sleep. from Secrets of Sleep Science: From Dreams to Disorders, Lecture 12

29 min
What Babies Know

26: What Babies Know

CONCEPT: Babies are born with innate scripts that help them immediately make sense of the world through learning. While it may seem that newborns start life with a blank slate, they actually come outfitted with the capacity to start learning right away. Find out what early infancy research reveals about habituation, the importance of dishabituation, and how scientists perform testing on infants. from How We Learn, Lecture 6

30 min
Synesthesia—Tasting Color and Seeing Sound

27: Synesthesia—Tasting Color and Seeing Sound

CONCEPT: Some people have the ability to make different perceptive connections, such as associating letters with colors. What does blue taste like? What is the sound of the number five? People with synesthesia have answers to these seemingly bizarre questions. Learn about the ways in which their brains draw connections between different sensory inputs, and discover some interesting facts about normal perception as well. from Understanding the Secrets of Human Perception, Lecture 22

30 min
This Is Your Brain on Metaphors

28: This Is Your Brain on Metaphors

CONCEPT: Metaphors are scientifically proven to literally change how (and what) you think. Discover how metaphors have an enormous, scientifically proven power on our minds. It turns out that your brain processes metaphors, analogies, parables, and other figures of speech (with all their confusion and symbolism) in very concrete ways—and it can sometimes even fall for just how literal they can seem. from Being Human: Life Lessons from the Frontiers of Science, Lecture 11

32 min
The Ancient “Art of Memory”

29: The Ancient “Art of Memory”

CONCEPT: An ancient mnemonic strategy dating back to ancient Greece is still one of the best techniques for aiding in memory recall. Memory improvement is far from a new goal. Here, learn about the Method of Loci, an ancient mnemonic strategy that dates back to classical Greece and Rome and was originally used to help people memorize large numbers of individuals. How does this strategy work? And what does it tell us about memory? from Memory and the Human Lifespan, Lecture 2

32 min
The Pleasures and Pains of “Maybe”

30: The Pleasures and Pains of “Maybe”

CONCEPT: Our brains prefer random rejection over always getting what we want. Go inside the neurobiology behind how (and why) we’re willing to tolerate such long delays in gratification. You’ll learn how gratification postponement explains why humans have achieved so much as a species, and also why we’re susceptible to crippling addictions. from Being Human: Life Lessons from the Frontiers of Science, Lecture 7

28 min
Stress and Growth—Echoes from the Womb

31: Stress and Growth—Echoes from the Womb

CONCEPT: While in the womb, a fetus can sense—and respond to—the environmental stressors of its mother. Explore the consequences stress can have on fetal life. You’ll learn how the biology of the mother-fetus relationship is such that everything that goes on in the outside world (including something as straightforward as extremely loud noises) can be experienced as stress inside the womb. from Stress and Your Body, Lecture 6

32 min
Frontiers of Cancer Treatment

32: Frontiers of Cancer Treatment

CONCEPT: Personalized, engineered viruses can target tumors—but ignore normal cells. Today’s scientists can combat resistant cancers in a cutting-edge way: by creating special proteins and introducing them into a patient’s immune system cells; in essence, a cell vaccine that is a “self-vaccine.” Find out how it’s done in this look at the frontiers of how biotechnology is transforming how we treat cancer. from What Science Knows About Cancer, Lecture 22

33 min
Harvey, Discoverer of Circulation

33: Harvey, Discoverer of Circulation

CONCEPT: A description of blood circulation from 1628 is actually the greatest contribution ever made to the art of healing. Is it possible that a description of how blood circulates that dates back to the early 17th century could be the greatest contribution ever made to medicine? Investigate how the discoveries of William Harvey became a landmark moment in the history of medical science. from Doctors: The History of Scientific Medicine Revealed through Biography, Lecture 4

32 min
The Evolution of Behavior

34: The Evolution of Behavior

CONCEPT: Species use behavior to maximize the number of copies of their genes that are passed on to subsequent generations. This lecture on the evolution of the brain and behavior reviews the mechanisms of evolution, and then looks at the ways species can maximize (through behavioral means) the number of copies of their genes that are passed on to the next generation. from Biology and Human Behavior, Lecture 10

31 min
When Incentives Backfire

35: When Incentives Backfire

CONCEPT: Economic incentives such as money can actually backfire and discourage behavior rather than encourage it. One of the most striking findings in behavioral economics research: Economic incentives (such as money) can actually backfire and discourage behavior rather than encourage it. Learn how this conclusion was reached through elegant studies, including one about the timing of parents who are picking up children at daycare¬¬¬. from Behavioral Economics: When Psychology and Economics Collide, Lecture 21

31 min
How Emotions Are Intelligent

36: How Emotions Are Intelligent

CONCEPT: Our emotions have what philosophers call intentionality, which requires actual intelligence. Emotions, as it turns out, aren’t just feelings—they actually have intelligence. Here, explore the concept of emotional intelligence and the idea that emotions are actually engagements with the world that give us insights into its nature (and, like all intelligence, can sometimes be false). from Passions: Philosophy and the Intelligence of Emotions, Lecture 13

32 min