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Understanding the Science for Tomorrow: Myth and Reality

Explore the many possibilities of what your future may look like with this unforgettable survey of today's most advanced research in fields such as engineering, biology, chemistry, and theoretical physics.
Understanding the Science for Tomorrow: Myth and Reality is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 59.
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Rated 2 out of 5 by from Course on the future prepared 12 years ago This professor is great, and the set of topics is still relevant though a bit dated, but the state of the art has changed dramatically in 12 years. This is glaringly obvious in the artificial intelligence lecture, which seems like ancient history. This is not the instructor's fault: time has passed. But I must suggest that the great courses is not doing the right thing by leaving this course on the site in its current version. Invite the professor to prepare an updated course, and expect to need periodic revisions in the future. Thank you.
Date published: 2023-05-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thanks What a spectacular and insightful course! Life changing!
Date published: 2023-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A WORTHWHILE 30,000 FOOT VIEW Although I have no science background, this course was comprehensible and worthwhile. Prof. Grossman touches on several topics relating to science's advances that I find concerning. For example, he says: "the ability for MRIs to read brain signals has important implications for future technologies that interface with the brain. One of the single greatest advances in brain science and technology will be new ways to read the neural activity inside the brain." Considering the enormous amount of propaganda in both the mainstream media and the educational system, I would be concerned 50s new tools of intrusion would only be misused. For another example, he says: "and one possible future scenario, we may be able to develop treatments--perhaps based on nanotechnology--better able to repair, at the cellular or molecular level, anything that goes wrong before it manifested itself as a noticeable problem... Some scientist now believe that one day humans could live to be 300 or even 400 years old." Of this possibility, I would have to wonder who would be the chosen ones to live so long. It certainly would not be the masses, who the elite have exposed with malice and forethought to the Covid-19 "scamdemic." Regarding the genetic engineering food, he writes" "the process of genetic engineering has been done for millennia as an early form of applying scientific understanding to the development of new food, namely connecting color to taste and nutrition, by selecting favorable qualities to breed." These favorable qualities always seem to be at odds with time-tested, helpful organic agriculture, including animal based agriculture, that climate alarmists seem bent on eliminating. Although Prof. Grossman's the agendas in this course is evidently not to take stands on controversial topics, I do have to give him credit when towards the end (Lecture 22) he says: "prediction markets extended to a larger audience may provide a buffer limiting bogus attempts aimed at predicting the future but a changing it such as polling by the media." I commend him for at least indirectly looking at biased "push polls."
Date published: 2022-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Presentation of cutting edge technologies Prof. Grossman presents excellent lectures on cutting edge present technology, how it works, its impact on society, and future uses as well as the possible evolution of these technologies. He covers a variety of technologies including nanotechnology, solar energy, hydrogen energy, genetic engineering, fission, fusion, development of computer chips, AI, and robotics in a clear fashion so that one that is not a techie can grasp. He is an enthusiastic presenter and imparts his joy of science to his listeners.
Date published: 2022-06-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good information. I bought this a few months ago and after reviewing was impressed by the knowledge of future tech.
Date published: 2022-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must! This course is superb. Professor Grossman does an excellent job of explaining the revolutionary changes that will affect everything in our worlds. The range of topics and his ability to make them understandable to the lay person are remarkable.
Date published: 2022-03-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Mind stretching and thought provoking Professor Grossman offers an overview of key niches of science, and the applications they foretell, that seem likely to affect our lives in the next decades. He ties together current conclusions of science with how they might be used to engineer real products. In several cases he demonstrates how advances in one area of science can enable or stimulate real break-through in another area. I have just reached the midpoint in the series of 24 lectures, which I watch as I eat lunch each day. I am familiar with some of the topic areas, and less so of others. I find the most value to me lies in the synthesis of this survey. Prof Grossman hits just the right level to get the science across in order to demonstrate the value of applications it might enable. I strongly agree with his selection of topics. And I am regularly impressed with Prof. Grossman’s broad expertise to explain and relate them. This series of lectures is obviously dated. The copyright on the book is 2011. The lectures include comments on the “recent” IBM Watson beating Jeopardy pros (Jan 2011) and Sarkozy being president of France (left office 15 May 2012). Of the technologies discussed in the first half of the course, some have made significant advances since this time, e.g. semiconductors, DNA sequencing machines, computer memory densities. That being said, the direction of these advances is consistent with Prof Grossman’s statements. I am willing to accept that real advances in applied science turn out to be more complicated, take more time and cost more than anyone predicted. I have already recommended this course to friends, even as I wish it could be updated.
Date published: 2022-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well presented As a physicist of a certain age I found the course able to refresh some knowledge long forgotten and also to bring me right up to date on what is current.
Date published: 2022-02-05
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Explore the many possibilities of what your future may look like with Understanding the Science for Tomorrow: Myth and Reality, an unforgettable survey of today's most advanced research in fields such as engineering, biology, chemistry, and theoretical physics. These 24 lectures by Professor Jeffrey C. Grossman delve into the genuine science of today's-and tomorrow's-hottest issues in an accessible manner that sidesteps myths and helps you grasp these sometimes esoteric but always important topics.


Jeffrey C. Grossman

The Sun is the opposite of a laser. If it were a laser, we'd have an easier time making solar cells because we could tailor our converters of light energy to one specific wavelength.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Jeffrey C. Grossman is Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He earned his B.A. in Physics from Johns Hopkins University and his M.S. in Physics and his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before joining MIT, Professor Grossman founded and headed the Computational Nanoscience research group at the University of California, Berkeley, which focused on designing new materials for energy applications. At MIT, he heads a research group devoted to understanding, predicting, and designing novel materials with applications in energy conversion, energy storage, and thermal transport. As a Lawrence Fellow at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, he received the Physics Directorate Outstanding Science and Technology Achievement Award. He was also awarded a coveted Sloan Fellowship soon after joining MIT. Professor Grossman's current research centers on the development of new solar thermal fuels, the design of nano-scale technologies for sequencing DNA in hours, three-dimensional photovoltaic panels, new materials to convert waste heat into electricity, and more. He has also developed entirely new ways to encourage idea generation and creativity in interdisciplinary science, including 'speedstorming,' a method of pair-wise idea generation that works similarly to a round-robin 'speed-dating' technique.

By This Professor

Thermodynamics: Four Laws That Move the Universe
Understanding the Science for Tomorrow: Myth and Reality
Understanding the Science for Tomorrow: Myth and Reality


Changing the Game

01: Changing the Game

Before you can understand the science of tomorrow, you need to understand how science works. Here, explore the process of scientific discovery (rooted in the scientific method), how information is tested and shared, the intricate relationship between science and technology, how we know when science is right (or wrong), and more.

29 min
Magnetism - The Science of Attractions

02: Magnetism - The Science of Attractions

Professor Grossman helps you make sense of magnetism, explains its importance to your world, and offers exciting examples of the promises of new technologies. These include everything from cell phones that could run for two years on a single charge to mag-lev trains that could take you from Los Angeles to New York in under 10 minutes.

28 min
Transportation - The Science of How We Move

03: Transportation - The Science of How We Move

What will the future of transportation, on land and in the air, look like? What role will hybrid-electric, plug-hybrid, and all-electric cars play? How can we build airplanes that travel faster and carry larger loads? And what about jetpacks—are they really possible or just a novelty of science fiction? Find the answers to these and other questions here.

33 min
Computers - Trillions of Bits per Second

04: Computers - Trillions of Bits per Second

Computers have undoubtedly revolutionized life—and will continue to do so for years to come. First, survey the fast-paced history of computers. Then, focus on possible limits to computing power. Finally, investigate possible technologies such as optical computing, quantum computing, and computing devices so small they can be woven into your clothes.

29 min
Artificial Intelligence - Thinking Machines

05: Artificial Intelligence - Thinking Machines

You don't see much artificial intelligence (AI) in your life. Or do you? Find out what the future will look like by exploring key questions. Where did the idea for AI come from, and how does it work? What are some challenges hindering its widespread development? Where can you find it at work in tasks such as driving and cleaning?

26 min
Robotics - Living with Machines

06: Robotics - Living with Machines

Robots are more than just Hollywood fantasy—they may soon become a reality of everyday life. In this lecture, learn the radically different approaches taken by today's robots to achieve specific tasks or functions; meet robots such as Elektro and ASIMO; and explore robots—both large and small—in the home, at war, and in performing surgery.

25 min
Microscopes - The Power of Seeing It All

07: Microscopes - The Power of Seeing It All

Make sense of how microscopes have dramatically expanded our ability to see into smaller and smaller worlds. You'll discover how microscopes evolved since the days of Galileo, learn why it is now possible to see individual atoms through superpowered microscopes, and travel to the frontier of tomorrow, with its "atom smashers", 3-D imaging, and more.

30 min
Nanotechnology - The New Science of Small

08: Nanotechnology - The New Science of Small

In the first of two lectures on this revolutionary subject, explore the "what" of nanotechnology—the purposeful engineering of matter at scales of less than 100 nanometers. Among the topics you'll learn about: what nanotechnology is, how it works, and how nanoscience has appeared in nature all along.

31 min
Nanotechnology - Changing Everything

09: Nanotechnology - Changing Everything

Turn now to some concrete applications of nanotechnology in today's world. Professor Grossman covers four areas: new materials (such as powerful new adhesives); energy (including the development of cheaper solar cells); health (through highly sensitive disease detectors and drug delivery systems); and the environment (in nanoparticles that can detoxify common contaminants).

31 min
Genetic Engineering - Life's Building Blocks

10: Genetic Engineering - Life's Building Blocks

We now have the potential for a revolution in biology and medicine based on our newfound ability to engineer life by accessing, modifying, and altering pieces of the inner "source code" of life itself: DNA. This lecture demystifies genetic engineering and reveals some of the many promises it holds.

32 min
Synthetic Life - Making Life from Scratch

11: Synthetic Life - Making Life from Scratch

Is it possible to "make" life in a lab? If so, how? Welcome to the world of synthetic life, which involves building new life forms from non-living substances. Learn how new strains of algae and viruses can help solve a variety of real-world problems. Also, encounter samples of life that—shockingly—exist without DNA as we know it.

30 min
The Brain - Your Body's Supercomputer

12: The Brain - Your Body's Supercomputer

Study the brain as an intricate network of "wires" responsible for every facet of your life. First, explore the structure and function of this impressive organ. Then, discover how science has helped us know what we know about how the brain works. Finally, ponder what we still have yet to uncover.

28 min
Cancer and Aging - Can They Be Defeated?

13: Cancer and Aging - Can They Be Defeated?

When and how will we finally cure cancer? How far can we lengthen the span of our lives? These two piercing questions are at the heart of this lecture on the life and death of cells; how we understand what's going on in them, and how we can possibly better control them.

31 min
Powerful Viruses - Future Friend or Foe?

14: Powerful Viruses - Future Friend or Foe?

What is a virus, and how is it different from a bacterium? How are vaccines made, and is it possible to make a universal vaccine to protect us against all viruses? What knowledge and tools will be using to fight viruses in the near future? And how can viruses be essential to life on Earth?

29 min
Food or Famine - Science Holds the Key

15: Food or Famine - Science Holds the Key

Science and technology have radically changed how—and what—we eat. Here, examine why food is so important to our life; new advancements in how food is packaged and preserved; and the benefits and risks of genetically modifying food. Finally, close by taking a peek at what a meal from the future may very well look like.

28 min
Water—The Currency of the Next Century

16: Water—The Currency of the Next Century

Because of its growing scarcity around the world, water is primed to be the currency of the next century. Professor Grossman shows you how existing and upcoming technologies—including nanomaterials—can help alleviate the problems of water scarcity and contamination, and can offer new approaches to desalinate seawater.

33 min
Biofuels—The Fuel of the Future?

17: Biofuels—The Fuel of the Future?

Investigate one of the hottest topics in the landscape of renewable energy: biofuels. Here, you'll learn what sets them apart from fossil fuels, how they're made from substances such as corn and algae, and some of the obstacles and drawbacks that still remain toward their mass use, such as high costs and low efficiency.

29 min
Solar Cells—Electricity from the Sun

18: Solar Cells—Electricity from the Sun

Continue looking at alternative energy sources with this lecture on solar cells, also known as solar photovoltaics. Why is the most abundant renewable resource in the universe the least used? What can be done about it? Gain a newfound appreciation for our sun and the ways it can power our lives in the coming decades.

31 min
Batteries—Storing Energy Chemically

19: Batteries—Storing Energy Chemically

Unlike other energy sources currently in use, batteries offer a direct release of stored energy as electricity. Explore how far we can push current battery technology and vastly improve our ability to store energy in this manner. Also, take a peek at possible batteries of tomorrow, including lithium-air batteries and transparent batteries.

31 min
The Hydrogen Economy—Fact or Fiction?

20: The Hydrogen Economy—Fact or Fiction?

Imagine a planet that runs on hydrogen, an element that is enormously abundant and completely clean. How would it work, and what would we use it for? Would a hydrogen-powered car be dangerous? What will a future global hydrogen economy look like? What technological advancements are still needed to make this idea a reality?

30 min
Nuclear Energy—Harnessing Star Power

21: Nuclear Energy—Harnessing Star Power

Focus on the promising—yet controversial—topic of nuclear energy. Learn what makes it different from other forms of energy; how it's produced; the hot-button issues of safety and nuclear waste; and why nuclear fusion may just offer the best direction for nuclear science to take in the future.

29 min
Prediction—From Storms to Stocks

22: Prediction—From Storms to Stocks

It's tough to make predictions. But thanks to recent advancements, we're coming closer than ever before to mastering the science of forecasting. In this lecture, Professor Grossman discusses the latest developments in our ability to better understand and master volatile systems, including the weather, earthquakes, and the stock market.

30 min
Communication—Transcending Time and Space

23: Communication—Transcending Time and Space

Survey the driving forces behind the evolution of communication throughout history, from the development of language to the Internet. Then, take a closer look at future directions for how we communicate, including tools that allow us to speak different languages with ease and the seamless integration of machines and our minds.

30 min
Science in the Future

24: Science in the Future

Examine scientific ideas that, however thrilling, still remain distant possibilities, such as time travel. Then, Professor Grossman ends the course with a passionate discussion about the challenges of his profession and the continued hope of science and technology to solve today's most pressing challenges.

31 min