Biological Anthropology: An Evolutionary Perspective [TTC Video]

Biological Anthropology: An Evolutionary Perspective [TTC Video]
Biological Anthropology: An Evolutionary Perspective [TTC Video] by Barbara J King
Course No 1573 | AVI, DivX5, 1500 kbps, 640x432 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 3.57GB

When we consider ourselves, not as static beings fixed in time but as dynamic, ever-changing creatures, our viewpoint of human history becomes different and captivating.

The crucial element of "time depth" has revolutionized the very questions we ask about ourselves. "Who are we?" has turned into What have we become? What are we becoming?"

What makes this viewpoint possible is the evolutionary perspective offered by biological anthropology through the study of the evolution, genetics, anatomy, and modern variation within the human species.

A Discipline of Far-Ranging Questions

  • Are the great apes a unique break point from the past—and toward the human—because they can understand other beings' mental states?
  • Did we destroy the Neandertals?
  • Did modern Homo sapiens evolve entirely on the African continent, replacing other hominid forms as they fanned out into Asia and Europe? Or did they evolve simultaneously and in the same direction on all three continents?
  • Did hunting and its requirements for cooperation and intelligence make us human?
  • What is the role of our evolution in determining social hierarchy? gender roles? obesity? morning sickness in pregnancy?
  • How is evolution active in human development today?

As Dr. King addresses these and other questions in this scientific story, you will come to see evolution as not simply a textbook theory but a vital force.

Understand the Forces that Continue to Shape Us

In this course, award-winning teacher and scholar Barbara J. King—a William and Mary University Professor of Teaching Excellence from 1999-2002—delves into the story of how, why, where, and when we became human.

These lectures will help you understand the forces that have shaped, and continue to shape, our species.

"An evolutionary perspective on human behavior," notes Dr. King, "results in more than just knowledge about dates and sites—when and where specific evolutionary milestones likely occurred.

"It is also a window on the past and future of our species. An entirely new way of thinking comes into focus when we consider the human species within an evolutionary perspective."

Enjoy the Fruits of a Century of Scholarship

While covering these subjects in this 24-lecture series, Dr. King synthesizes the best that more than a century of scientific scholarship has to offer across a variety of disciplines.

Biological anthropologists study primate anatomy and behavior both to understand evolution and to learn more about our common ancestor.

Biological anthropologists are joined by molecular anthropologists to better understand hominids by studying fossils, ancient skeletal remains, and lifestyle information such as cave art and stone tools.

Case Studies that Clarify Evolution and Its Power

Dr. King begins by explaining key mechanisms through which evolution functions, citing famous and definitive case studies that demonstrate these forces.

In one such landmark study, for example, biologists Peter and Rosemary Grant returned to the Galapagos Islands more than 100 years after Darwin's first voyage to conduct research on island finches.

In 1977, a drought-induced scarcity of soft, edible seeds brought forth in the very next generation a population of finches with larger, stronger beaks capable of crushing larger, tougher seeds.

Extraordinarily, in 1985, heavy rains produced a surplus of softer seeds, and natural selection produced a succeeding generation of the smaller-beaked variety.

Evolution had occurred in two different directions within a decade. This "natural selection" is the theoretical tool of evolution, which helps us make sense of these facts.

Learn Why Evolution Remains Important to Us Today

Perhaps the greatest measure of this theory's power is its relevance to our lives today.

  • Did you know that the gene which causes sickle cell anemia must be inherited from both parents to cause the disease but the disease does not occur when only a single gene is inherited?
  • Or that the single gene, in fact, affords protection from malaria?
  • Or that race, a category so securely ingrained in our consciousness, is practically meaningless in biological terms?
  • Or how to evaluate the claim that a gene can be responsible for a certain personality trait?

Take a Glimpse Into Our Selected Primate Heritage

With an understanding of the basic mechanisms of evolutionary change in hand, the course looks at how our ancient primate ancestors adapted.

Consider the anatomical features we share with monkeys, great apes, and other primates. Our large brains, grasping hands, and forward-facing eyes allowing us to perceive depth are critical to the way we function in the world.

Yet the fossil record tells us that some 70 million years ago these distinctive primate features did not exist.

What caused the first primates to emerge from existing mammalian populations?

One proposed solution was that the appearance of insects living in the lower canopies of trees offered a plentiful food resource to those species adapted to procure it. Could depth perception and grasping ability have provided an advantage here, and hence been naturally selected?

This is the function of biological anthropology: confronting the facts, then suggesting and testing possibilities.

A Course as Much About the Present as the Past

With so much of evolutionary history taken up with the past, the insights gained in these lectures may tempt you to add questions of your own:

  • Is human evolution still a force in today's world?
  • Hasn't our modern, mobile culture rendered evolution irrelevant?

In fact, human evolution is a stronger force than ever, interacting with human culture in complex ways.

Issues such as obesity, AIDS, and genetics are all discussed. And you may well find these lectures opening your eyes to the extraordinary ways in which the biological power of natural selection is still at work in the world today.

Biological Anthropology: An Evolutionary Perspective [TTC Video]

Zoology: Understanding the Animal World [TTC Video]

Zoology: Understanding the Animal World [TTC Video]
Zoology: Understanding the Animal World [TTC Video] by Donald E Moore III
Course No 1266 | M4V, AVC, 3000 kbps, 640x360 | AAC, 256 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 11.93GB

For young and old alike, zoos are one of the most popular places to visit. Each year, over 185 million people visit accredited zoos and aquariums throughout the United States for close encounters with some of the most adorable, exotic, and strange animals on our planet.

Chief among these zoos is the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. The overarching goal of this remarkable modern zoo is to educate everyday people about the astonishing range of animal species: how they live, how they develop, and how they impact the world. Thousands flock to this beautiful zoo every day to visit animals they’ve never before seen and, often, never knew existed.

Helping the average visitor navigate this exciting world are zoologists, the hard-working scientists whose research in areas like animal intelligence, ecology, behavior, and conservation are helping us make better sense of the animal world, from mosquitos and monarch butterflies to polar bears and great white sharks. Much of what we know—and are currently learning—about animals is thanks to the scientific field of zoology.

As much as we love an informative trip to the zoo, the truth is that you can’t learn everything there is to know about animals with the occasional visit. But by exploring zoology and the tireless work of zoologists at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo—and other zoological parks and aquariums across the country—you’ll find your next trip to the zoo more rewarding, more enriching, and much more satisfying.

In Zoology: Understanding the Animal World, The Great Courses teams up with the Smithsonian, the acknowledged leader in animal research, conservation, and education, to bring you 24 visually rich lectures that take you behind the scenes of not only the animal world but of the scientists trying to understand how it works. Dr. Donald E. Moore III—director of the Oregon Zoo and senior science advisor at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo—has crafted a wonderful introduction to the fundamentals of zoology through the eyes of a trained zoologist, bringing you up close and personal with a breathtaking variety of animal species: crocodiles, birds of prey, lions, dolphins, giant pandas, elephants, and more. Packed with exclusive footage from zoos, research parks, and animals in their natural habitats, as well as interviews with other Smithsonian scientists, these lectures will reveal the hidden world of animals in a way no textbook could ever hope to do.

Learn What Zoologists Do

According to Professor Moore, zoologists do a lot more than tend animals for the zoo.

“Modern zoological research is discovering subtle but important differences between species that aren’t necessarily apparent to the naked eye,” he says at the start of Zoology. “While most of the time, the public sees a zoo as an entertaining and educational way to spend a Saturday afternoon (and it very much is), your average accredited zoo is also a vital part of research and conservation activities going on across the world.”

To make this scientific field a little more manageable to grasp, and to guide your learning in a way that builds upon insights, Professor Moore has organized the lectures into three general sections.

  • Start with the basics of zoology. Topics include the intriguing relationship between genetics and environment, sexual behaviors in different animal groups, parenting styles and their evolutionary importance, and the role conservation plays in our current research into the animal kingdom.
  • Dive into the different orders of life on our planet. It’s a colorful tour that takes you from the ocean depths to the highest tree tops and reveals the characteristics of different animal orders (invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, fish, mammals) as well as the astounding diversity within them.
  • Investigate special subjects intriguing today’s zoologists. How do animals interact with their environments and with one another (including human beings)? How do we study animal intelligence, and can animals think? What diseases threaten animals in the wild and in zoos? How can we ensure the survival of endangered species?

Meet Incredible Animals

Of course, the most fascinating part of Zoology: the animals themselves. Each of Professor Moore’s lectures features some of most incredible animals on Earth. And thanks to the special footage from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and others, you’ll be able to see these and other animals in action—without the crowds. Not only this, but you will see exclusive behind-the-scenes footage only available in this course, including a sneak peek at a baby giant panda filmed months before the first public viewing. Just a few of the animals you will meet include:

  • Golden lion tamarins. One of the most amazing examples of unique parental care in mammals, golden lion tamarin family groups benefit from sub-adult helpers that act as “teenager” babysitters. This behavior also helps these “teenagers” become better parents when they have babies of their own.
  • Corals. Important ocean resources, corals are the basis of an entire ecosystem—and they’re also a resource to human beings. Home to worms, conchs, spiny lobsters, fish, and more, the world’s vibrant and multi-colored coral reefs surpass even tropical rainforests in their levels of biodiversity.
  • Crocodiles. Unlike most other non-avian reptiles, crocodiles provide extensive maternal care. A mother crocodile can hear the vocalizations from her hatching young and will actually open the nest to help them emerge more easily. She’ll then guard her young for up to two years after hatching.
  • Giant Pandas. Normally, zoologists expect an animal’s diet to reflect its physiology, and vice versa. Not so with giant pandas, which are one of the most inefficient feeders on the planet. These animals have the physiology of a carnivore, but they eat a diet made almost entirely of tough, woody bamboo.
  • Mosquitos. The lowly mosquito is considered the deadliest animal on Earth. According to research by the World Health Organization, mosquitos spread diseases—such as malaria, West Nile virus, yellow fever, and dengue fever—that kill more than 2.5 million people each year.

You’ll also learn a host of other interesting facts about what zoologists now know of animal life. Did you know that biological outcomes like the average time until reproduction all scale to body mass? So, for example, a half-ounce mouse can have five or 10 litters of babies each year, while a five-ton elephant can only have one baby every five or so years.

In fact, you may be surprised to discover some things you thought you knew. Many people believe birds live in nests, however, this is mostly a myth. A bird creates a nest solely for the purpose of laying and hatching eggs. A larger, more ornate structure called a bower is designed to attract a mate for the unique bower birds (the avian equivalent of flowers and chocolate).

And what can learning about other animals tell us about humans? Well, for one thing human beings have one of the most dilute milks of all mammals, with low percentages of milk proteins and fat. In fact, dairy cow milk is fairly similar to our own, which is probably one of the reasons many of us can digest it. These are just a few of the amazing things zoology has to teach us.

Can’t-Miss Footage and Interviews

Dr. Moore has spent nearly 40 years as a zoo director and conservation biologist interacting with a plethora of animals. He brings these decades of experience in—and passion for—the animal kingdom to every lecture in Zoology.

Along with the animals and the exclusive, can’t-miss footage of zoo life, this course also takes you inside laboratories and research centers for interviews with other Smithsonian scientists. Their stories and insights will add additional layers to your understanding of cheetahs, pollinators, species conservation, and so much more.

It’s a wide, wild world out there. And with this engaging and informative series, you’ll be better equipped to get out there and discover the wonders that live in it, whether they’re in your local zoo, aquarium, a national park, or right in your own backyard.

Zoology: Understanding the Animal World [TTC Video]

Mastering Differential Equations: The Visual Method [TTC Video]

Mastering Differential Equations: The Visual Method [TTC Video]
Mastering Differential Equations: The Visual Method [TTC Video] by Robert L Devaney
Course No 1452 | M4V, AVC, 1500 kbps, 640x480 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 7.74GB

For centuries, differential equations have been the key to unlocking nature's deepest secrets. Over 300 years ago, Isaac Newton invented differential equations to understand the problem of motion, and he developed calculus in order to solve differential equations.

Since then, differential equations have been the essential tool for analyzing the process of change, whether in physics, engineering, biology, or any other field where it's important to predict how something behaves over time.

The pinnacle of a mathematics education, differential equations assume a basic knowledge of calculus, and they have traditionally required the rote memorization of a vast "cookbook" of formulas and specialized tricks needed to find explicit solutions. Even then, most problems involving differential equations had to be simplified, often in unrealistic ways; and a huge number of equations defied solution at all using these techniques.

But that was before computers revolutionized the field, extending the reach of differential equations into previously unexplored areas and allowing solutions to be approximated and displayed in easy-to-grasp computer graphics. For the first time, a method exists that can start a committed learner on the road to mastering this beautiful application of the ideas and techniques of calculus.

Mastering Differential Equations: The Visual Method takes you on this amazing mathematical journey in 24 intellectually stimulating and visually engaging half-hour lectures taught by a pioneer of the visual approach, Professor Robert L. Devaney of Boston University, coauthor of one of the most widely used textbooks on ordinary differential equations.

Differential Equations without Drudgery

A firm believer that there is no excuse for drudgery in a subject as fascinating as differential equations, Professor Devaney draws on the power of the computer to explore solutions visually. Throughout these graphics-intensive lectures, you investigate the geometric behavior of differential equations, seeing how the computer can calculate approximate solutions with as much precision as needed. And you may be surprised to learn how easily you can calculate and display approximate solutions yourself, even using nothing more than an ordinary spreadsheet. Best of all, the visual method means that unrealistic simplifications need not be applied to a problem.

Among those who will benefit from the exciting approach in Mastering Differential Equations are

  • college students currently enrolled in a differential equations course, who want the enriching perspective of a leader in the visual approach to the subject;
  • anyone who has completed calculus, is ready to take the next step, and is eager to see how the tools of calculus are applied to give startling insights into nature;
  • those who took differential equations in the past and would like a refresher course, especially one that shows today's revolutionary new tools for demystifying and extending the reach of the subject;
  • anyone who finds math exciting, is up for a challenge, and wants a new window into the elegantly simple structure at the heart of nature's most complex phenomena.

Beautiful Ideas plus Amazing Applications

Differential equations involve velocity, acceleration, growth rates, and other quantities that can be interpreted by derivatives, which are a fundamental concept of calculus. Often expressed with utmost simplicity and mathematical elegance, differential equations underlie some of nature's most intriguing phenomena:

  • The first and most famous differential equation is Isaac Newton's second law of motion (F = ma), which relates force, mass, and acceleration, allowing the velocity and position of an accelerating object to be determined at any point in time.
  • The Lorenz differential equation for modeling weather describes the behavior of the atmosphere in terms of a single fluid particle, showing how nature's inherent chaos can be modeled with surprisingly simple mathematics.
  • Differential equations have been used to model the catastrophic behavior of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which famously collapsed in 1940, and London's Millennium Bridge, which appeared headed for the same fate before it was quickly closed for modifications in 2000.
  • The precipitous drop in the North Atlantic haddock population can be understood as the bifurcation point in a differential equation, in which a slight change in one parameter—the harvesting rate—produces a drastic effect on population growth.

These and countless other applications illustrate the unrivaled ability of differential equations to stop time and sharpen our view into the past and future—a power that has grown enormously with advances in computer technology, as you explore in depth in this course.

A Taste of 21st-Century Mathematics

Each of the four sections of Mastering Differential Equations begins with a phenomenon that can be modeled with differential equations. As you probe deeper, fundamental ideas (the derivative, integral, and vector field) and other relevant tools from calculus are introduced, along with new mathematics, including four lectures on linear algebra and five lectures on chaos theory.

In the first section, you cover first-order differential equations, which involve only the first derivative of the missing function being sought as a solution. When possible, you solve the equations analytically, while making use of a wide range of visual tools, including slope fields, phase lines, and bifurcation diagrams. You also learn how computers use a simple algorithm to generate approximate solutions—and how these techniques can sometimes fail, often due to chaos.

In the second section, you turn to second-order differential equations—those that involve both the first and second derivatives. Using the mass-spring system from physics as a model, you learn that solutions are relatively straightforward as long as the mass-spring system is not forced. But when periodic forcing occurs, much more complicated behaviors arise.

In the third section, you focus on systems of differential equations, starting with linear systems and the techniques of linear algebra, which are pivotal for solving such problems. Then you shift to nonlinear systems, investigating competing species, oscillating chemical reactions, and the Lorenz system of weather modeling—which led to the famous "butterfly effect," one of the ideas that spawned chaos theory.

The final section goes deeper into chaos theory, introducing you to the cutting-edge field of dynamical systems, whose development has exploded, thanks to the rise of visual methods. Here you focus on iterated functions, also known as difference equations. Using the logistic population model from biology, you learn to analyze and understand the sudden appearance of chaos. Then you move onto the complex plane to graph the visually stunning chaos that emerges in such fractal forms as the Mandelbrot set, taking you into realms of cutting-edge mathematics.

The winner of many teaching honors, including the prestigious Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished University Teaching from the Mathematical Association of America, Professor Devaney is especially excited about the modern mathematics that he brings to this course. Just a few years ago, he notes, students studying differential equations seldom ventured beyond 18th-century mathematics. But Mastering Differential Equations guides you into the 21st century, showing how this deceptively simple tool—the differential equation—continues to give surprising and spectacular insights into both the world of mathematics and the workings of the universe.

Mastering Differential Equations: The Visual Method [TTC Video]

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