Science is such a vast arena of knowledge that people looking for a better grasp of its secrets often wonder where to begin. The answer: with the essentials. Now, finally satisfy your desire for scientific inquiry in a way that makes this enormous field accessible, understandable, and undeniably captivating.
Professor Viskontas boils down the scientific world into 12 key concepts every educated person should know. Devoting two lectures to each concept to give you more time to engage with it, her 24-lecture series is an engaging and enlightening introduction to everything from the behavior of subatomic particles to the latest theories about the Big Bang.
Throughout, you'll get accessible looks at key building blocks of scientific knowledge, including brain plasticity, fluid mechanics, electromagnetism, genetics, quantum theory, emergence, evolution, thermodynamics, the Big Bang, and the nature of matter. Each concept is presented in a clear, concise way that will inform and delight you, and that will give you the opportunity to probe the invisible life of living cells, visit the universe seconds after its birth, and much more.
Concepts that may have eluded you in school, that you may not be familiar with, or that you simply never appreciated for their intricate beauty are now brought to vivid life in a way that sticks. Welcome to the world of science - reduced to its powerful essence.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2014 The Great Courses (P)2014 The Teaching Company, LLC
The first chapter is narrated in such a oh so sweet over enthusiastic manner that I was almost sick listening to it. However, the narrator must have reviewed this or gained some feedback as this level of exuberance was thankfully curbed in the subsequent chapters. The content is definitely worth the effort.
Some interesting thoughts but I gave up as so dull to listen to
Not one for a long car journey
"Excellent overview of major science concepts"
Yes - I'm a fan of her podcast, Inquiring Minds
The last two lectures on emergence
Professor Indre Viskontas provides a deft overview of 12 major science concepts, ranging from the macro - the creation of the universe, principles of physics and black holes to the micro - the human neuron and quantum mechanics. She communicates her excitement for the subject matter throughout, while acknowledging the limitations of current science and potential for future advancement.
The final two lectures, on the new science of emergence, were particularly fascinating to me, as it was a completely new topic to me, unlike some of the others.
The only flaws in the recording were a few missed edit points in later lectures - one line repeated twice.
"Misleading title, centered on life sciences"
The title of the book sounds very broad and general but is misleading: most chapters are centered, or come back in some way to life sciences. The author has a background in neurosciences and this shows up throughout to book. For example, even the chapters on electricity or magnetism, while they do contain the physical explanations, eventually come back to the role of these phenomena in biological processes. The author even (ab)uses of analogies with biological systems, e.g. explaining the flow of electrons through a wire by comparing it to blood flowing through a vessel. If you have an "engineer" type of mind or not really into interested in life sciences, you can find better similar books.
The author/narrator also sounds overly (constantly) excited, which I personally find more tiresome to listen to than a neutral tone.
"A little too advanced, but worth the effort."
While I found the content presented a little too advanced in the short time it was covered (unless you've got a decent scientific foundation), I was able to take away enough information to advance my understanding of big concepts from biology to physics.
Professor Indre Viskontas did a better job explaining the hard aspects of scientific thought than any other I have listened to. Great job Professor.
"Interesting. You almost need a pencil an paper."
Yes, it’s fairly comprehensive and easily intellectually digestible. The ideas flow together fairly well.
"Not what the title promises"
The first 10 chapters seem to be more about physiology than anything else. This may be better suited to people with interests to workings of human body and cognitive systems, but this is not what the title promises.
Very informative and mentally stimulating book. Very dense in some parts but if you can get through this I think you can find this book very rewarding
"Mother Nature is not a driving force in Science"
Nope, lots of better science books out there.
Author kept referring to Mother Nature doing, thinking, or deciding things. While this may have been common in the 1800's I find it disconcerting in a modern science book.
Nope, poor grasp of science puts the ghost in the machine instead of explaining how things actually work
Kept getting the impression that author was going to try to sell something. Script and delivery were closer to a late-night sales person than someone trying to teach science.
"Author's knowledge of physics may not be perfect"
Yes, I'd try another book from The Great Courses (And I've tried "Your deceiptive mind..." - absolutely brilliant), not sure if I'd try another book from this author
I have a major in physics and I'm not sure if the author understands well the physical concepts and problems she is trying to explain. Different people may have different views, but I tend to disagree with several statements she made during the lecture. This makes me think she may not truly understand other scientific concepts too and so I'd not recommend this book and this author to my friends and family.
"For scientists and non-scientists alike"
I liked her delivery--I am sure it was much more interesting to me than just reading the material
She is brilliant and engaging. She made what could be some very dry material interesting. And she is funnily.
I liked the end where she started talking about ants and how they work together, and then moves to socialization among people.
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