A Field Guide to the Planets [TTC Video]

A Field Guide to the Planets [TTC Video]
A Field Guide to the Planets [TTC Video] by Sabine Stanley, PhD
Course No 9566 | MP4, AVC, 2000 kbps, 1280x720 | AAC, 192 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x31 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 11.76GB

Humanity’s first steps on the Moon were an immense accomplishment in 1969 and a fantastic milestone in the history of space exploration. And yet, how little we knew about our solar system as compared to what we know now!

Since those famous steps were taken, we’ve discovered what is approaching 200 additional moons of all shapes, sizes, and compositions. We’ve sent spaceships and robotic laboratories to photograph and study each of the planets, dozens of moons, and even the Sun. We’ve discovered ring systems around three additional planets; landed robotic explorers on Mars, on asteroids, and even on comets. We’ve also found thousands of exoplanets around other stars, with implications for our own origins. There has never been a more exciting time than today to explore and understand our solar system and beyond with A Field Guide to the Planets.

Your instructor, Professor Sabine Stanley, a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University, guides you on a thrilling ride of discovery, illustrated by the phenomenal images NASA has gathered from throughout the solar system. In 24 lectures, you will experience a journey that was never before possible as your professor makes these astronomical wonders accessible to anyone, allowing you to experience, via our robot explorers, what it is like to visit worlds that were previously unknown.

What Is Our Solar System?

When we think of the solar system, we tend to visualize it in two dimensions, generally as a map with planets orbiting in almost circular ellipses around the Sun. We also imagine some moons in that same plane, an asteroid belt, a few more planets and satellites, and maybe a comet coming in at a different angle. Our visual map tends to end with Neptune, the eighth and farthest planet from the Sun, and the Kuiper Belt objects, including Pluto.

And yet the solar system is also so much more. We now know that even Neptune’s orbital distance is less than one tenth of one percent of the distance from the Sun to the farthest objects bound by its gravity—the Oort Cloud, a spherical shell of small icy bodies orbiting the Sun 50,000 times farther out than the Earth. The solar system that began its formation 4.5 billion years ago is still a work in progress today—a three-dimensional, dynamic, ever-changing system of energy and matter all gravitationally bound to our star.

And if we had any doubts about the continuing forming and re-forming of the solar system, recent exploration has allowed us to:

  • Witness for the first time a collision between two bodies in the solar system—Jupiter’s gravity capturing comet Shoemaker–Levy 9, ripping the comet apart, and causing it to crash into the planet;
  • Monitor active volcanic eruptions on moons of Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune; and
  • Discover propeller moonlets constantly shaping and reshaping the rings of Saturn.

These and other observations have helped fill out our knowledge of the solar system—and by doing so, has helped us better understand our own place in the universe, too.

A Grand Scale and Unique Features

Earth is home to spectacular features created by erosion, plate tectonics, and collision impacts over billions of years. But many of Earth’s features pale in scope compared to those on other planets and moons. As we’ve explored farther out into the solar system, we’ve encountered features whose magnitude we hadn’t anticipated or even imagined, such as:

  • Jupiter’s Auroras. Some of the most energetic auroras in the solar system, they are 1,000 times more powerful than those on Earth and are emitted not just as visible light, but as high-energy X-rays.
  • Verona Rupes. A cliff face on Uranus’ moon Miranda, measuring 20 kilometers high. With a gravitational acceleration 100 times smaller than Earth’s, a rock falling from the top would take almost 12 minutes to reach the bottom.
  • Olympus Mons. Located on Mars, it’s the solar system’s tallest mountain and largest known volcano, measuring an amazing 27 kilometers tall. But when it comes to volcanic activity, Jupiter’s moon Io is the winner with 400 active volcanoes mapped to date.
  • Diamond Rain. On Uranus and Neptune, it’s possible that carbon atoms could condense into crystals of diamonds that would rain out through the icy layer above. Uranus might even have an ocean of carbon under high pressure with floating chunks of solid “diamond-bergs.”

With Professor Stanley’s guidance, you’ll learn more about these and dozens of other unexpected features and objects—from the surprising prevalence of water throughout the solar system (even on blazing hot and dry Mercury); to puzzling shapes on the Moon; to the quantity of near-Earth objects we need to track for safety, now numbering upwards of 20,000.

Looking Outward to Understand Ourselves

One thing we’ve learned from our solar system exploration is precisely how the Earth is unique—and not just because our planet is teeming with life: Earth is the only planet or moon whose surface has been constantly reformed by the process of plate tectonics.

While all planets and moons have a hot core and experience the process of outward cooling— and some are even transformed by their own geological processes—the Earth is the only body whose outer layer is formed of rigid plates that “float” on top of the mantle. Across billions of years, these plates have ridden on top of and underneath each other, causing earthquakes and volcanoes. But this process, along with weathering and erosion, also means that the surface history of our planet has been almost completely erased.

The only way we can learn about the earliest history of Earth is by exploring the nearby terrestrial planets and moons. And we continue to make new discoveries using fieldwork from decades earlier. In fact, the oldest Earth rock ever found was discovered in 2019—when scientists re-examined Moon rocks Apollo 14 brought back almost 50 years ago. Embedded in this cache of Moon rocks was a 2-gram fragment whose chemistry indicated it came from the Earth almost 4 billion years ago, likely jettisoned onto the Moon by a collision with a large asteroid.

Did you know the Earth shares its orbit around the sun with an asteroid? We already knew other planets had so-called Trojans asteroids that share an orbit with a planet at a stable point either in front of or behind the planet—but we did not know Earth had a Trojan until it was discovered by NASA’s WISE mission in 2011. We’ve also been able to make amazing headway into understanding the building blocks of life and how they might be more common throughout the solar system than we had thought. In fact, we have discovered complex hydrocarbons on several bodies in the solar system. This suggests that we may be able to learn about the earliest development of life on Earth from the processes we study on these other moons and planets.

With A Field Guide to the Planets, you will experience a uniquely satisfying, vicarious journey—to every major destination in our solar system, and really understand a whole range of features with the excitement of a traveler who’s just returned from a truly eye-opening trip. You will look to humanity’s next space missions with new anticipation, and experience our own Earth with greater understanding and appreciation than ever before.

A Field Guide to the Planets [TTC Video]

The Rise of Communism: From Marx to Lenin [TTC Video]

The Rise of Communism: From Marx to Lenin [TTC Video]
The Rise of Communism: From Marx to Lenin [TTC Video] by Professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, Ph.D.
Course No 8071 | MP4, AVC, 2000 kbps, 1280x720 | AAC, 192 kbps, 2 Ch | 12x27 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 5.16GB

Communism has decisively shaped the modern world. After the Second World War, Marxist regimes ruled over one-third of the population of the globe. Even today, after the fall of the Soviet Union, communist ideas continue to steer current events in Eastern Europe and East Asia.

According to award-winning historian Professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, to understand the inner dynamics of communist thought and rule (and the reasons they linger in places like Cuba, North Korea, and China), you have to go back to the crucial beginnings of communism. How did it become such a pervasive economic and political philosophy? Why, of all places, did it first take root in early 20th-century Russia?

These and other questions all get addressed as part of a fascinating story that stretches from the intellectual partnership between Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the late 19th century to the Russian Revolution of 1917 to the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924. It’s a story whose drama, Professor Liulevicius notes, “has few equals in terms of sheer scale, scope, or suffering.”

The Rise of Communism: From Marx to Lenin invites you to go inside communism’s journey from a collection of political and economic theories to a revolutionary movement that rocked the world. Rich with historical insights, these 12 lectures zero in on the “how” and “why” of the Bolsheviks rise to power and how communist ideas worked in theory and practice—and how they didn’t. You’ll meet thinkers and revolutionaries like Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, and Leon Trotsky. You’ll unpack the meaning of texts like Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto. And, you’ll experience the shock and awe of events including the Paris Commune and the October Revolution. After these 12 lectures, you’ll have a new and rewarding understanding of one of the most important—and problematic—economic and political philosophies of the modern age.

Unearth the Roots of Communist Thought

As shaped by Karl Marx, communism is defined as the abolition of private property. Along with this came the promise of social equality and a liberation from history’s record of struggle, exploitation, and suffering. “From each according to his ability,” Marx said, “to each according to his need.”

In The Rise of Communism: From Marx to Lenin, you’ll examine five internal contradictions within the philosophy of communism that recurs throughout the historical record, sometimes in different forms. They include:

  • The role of the individual in communism,
  • The geographical spread of communism,
  • The ties between communism and nationalism,
  • The evolution of communism into a tradition, and
  • The idea of communism as a political religion.

As the 12 lectures of this course examine events throughout decades of history, two main periods of time will be discussed.

  • In “The Spectre Haunting Europe” (named for the opening line of The Communist Manifesto), you’ll examine the utopian movements that influenced Marx and Engels, and how these leaders came to develop their revolutionary philosophies.
  • In “Lenin and the Founding of the Soviet Union,” you’ll discover how Lenin became the first person to put Marxist ideas into action by violently seizing power in the wreckage of the Russian tsarist empire and the chaos of the First World War.

Explore Decades of Political Turbulence

Moving chronologically through some of the most turbulent decades of modern history, The Rise of Communism: From Marx to Lenin explores terms, ideas, events, and people that you may have heard of in other historical surveys—but never delved into with such depth or insight.

  • Dialectical Materialism: Marx’s doctrine was based on historical (or dialectical) materialism and postulated the basis of reality as rooted in matter, not ideas. Human reality was, at base, economic—even if people were unaware of this. Thus, there could be no just law as such, but only a legal system protecting the interests of the ruling class.
  • The Paris Commune: The radical socialist government that ruled Paris for 10 weeks in 1871 (March 18-May 28) would become a template for understanding later revolutionary action. Despite its failure, the Paris Commune was viewed by Marx and Engels as the first living example of the “dictatorship of the proletariat.”
  • The Okhrana: After the 1881 assassination of Tsar Alexander II, the Okhrana (“guard department”) came into being. A secret police force organized to quell radicalism, the Okhrana also undertook psychological warfare operations. The organization is suspected to have written the notorious anti-Semitic text, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
  • Red October: Celebrated as the Great October Socialist Revolution, the 1917 seizure of power in Russia by Lenin and the Bolsheviks gave birth to a state devoted to the overthrow of all other world states. For this reason, some historians believe the Cold War didn’t begin after the Second World War but rather with this coup.
  • “The Internationale”: The song that became emblematic of international socialism was written during the Paris Commune by a Parisian transport worker. In the decades that followed, “The Internationale” became an inspiration to marchers, instilled fear in the ruling classes, and would later become the national anthem of the Soviet Union.

Crafted by a Knowledgeable Professor

While the topic of communism with its intricate links between philosophy and history might seem intimidating to tackle, Professor Liulevicius takes care to make the subject easy for anyone to understand.

A lecturer of some of the most popular modern history courses of the Great Courses, Professor Liulevicius has crafted another lecture series that offers an uncompromising look at one of the dominant political ideologies of the 20th century, exploring the origins of communist thought and the communist state.

The Rise of Communism: From Marx to Lenin is a fascinating, and sobering, study of how ideas and theories rise to power in a bid to create a new civilization—whatever the human cost. And it’s the first part of a lecture series of upcoming Great Courses by Professor Liulevicius that will continue the story of global communism. It’s the first chapter in a long story that would see the brutal rule of Joseph Stalin, the expansion of communism into Eastern Europe and Asia, and the eventual decline and fall of the Soviet Union.

The Rise of Communism: From Marx to Lenin [TTC Video]

Years That Changed History: 1215 [TTC Video]

Years That Changed History: 1215 [TTC Video]
Years That Changed History: 1215 [TTC Video] by Professor Dorsey Armstrong, PhD
Course No 3323 | MP4, AVC, 1372 kbps, 960x540 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x31 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 7.96GB

What is so important about the year 1215? There are some history buffs who may be able to tell you that 1215 is the year the Magna Carta was signed, but there are even fewer who know that King John of England’s acceptance of this charter was only one of four major, world-changing events of this significant year. In fact, the social, cultural, political, geographical, and religious shifts that occurred in this year alone had such a huge impact on the entire world, it warrants an entire course of study for anyone truly interested in the pivotal points of history that brought us to where we are now.

As it turns out, the year 1215 was a major turning point in world history. Although the drafting of the Magna Carta is perhaps the best-known event of 1215, anyone in Europe at the time would have told you the meeting of the Church’s Fourth Lateran Council was much more significant. Meanwhile, in Asia, a Mongol ruffian named Genghis Khan was embarking on a mission for world domination, highlighted by his success at the Battle of Beijing, while Islam was experiencing a Golden Age centered around Baghdad’s House of Wisdom. Other cultures and societies around the globe were also experiencing pivotal moments in their development—from the Americas to Africa and Asia and beyond.

These seismic events were only possible thanks to a confluence of global conditions, starting with the climate. Although we might not be familiar with the specifics, the ripple effect from these events can still be felt all over the world today. Years That Changed History: 1215 is a unique course, offering you the chance to delve into one of the most interesting periods in world history. Over 24 fast-paced lectures, Professor Dorsey Armstrong of Purdue University gives you the Big History of this surprisingly impactful year, introducing you to the people, events, and wide-ranging influences of the year 1215.

Among other fascinating discoveries, you will:

  • Investigate how climate changes affected the population of Europe.
  • Explore the circumstances for the Magna Carta, which originally had nothing to do with rights or liberty for everyday people.
  • Find out what a Lateran council is, why the fourth one mattered so much, and what happened at the earlier councils.
  • Tour the world beyond Europe to gain a true sense of global history.

This last point about “global history” is an important one. Most history courses have to select a theme, which by its nature limits the scope of the curriculum. In choosing a year as her theme, Professor Armstrong is able to take you around the world, from the ancient Maya to the House of Baghdad to Shogun Japan.Years That Changed History: 1215 takes the world as its theme—and what a truly captivating world it is!

Explore the Big History of a Little Year

Eight centuries ago, in the span of just 12 short months, the world witnessed a series of historic milestones—from the signing of the Magna Carta to the conquest of China by the Mongols—but history is only as interesting as the context that shapes it. What led to these events? How did they change the world? And why do they matter to us now? The historical approach known as Big History is one that gives context by widening the lens on singular events—and that’s exactly what Professor Armstrong does throughout this course.

To take one example, we think of the Magna Carta today as a powerful document. After all, it’s the Magna Carta—the “Great Charter”—and provides the foundation for English law and the subsequent drive for human rights and democracy. Doesn’t it?

Well, maybe. As you’ll learn early in the course, the Magna Carta was actually a document designed to appease a handful of aristocrats who had taken umbrage at King John. The king and 25 nobles gathered in a field at Runnymede, agreed on the terms laid out in this charter, and—supposedly—settled their differences. Three months later, King John had the pope annul the document, nearly reducing it to what could have been a mere footnote in history.

Of course, that’s not the only story—nor the end of the document. To give you a truly thorough look at the Magna Carta and its impact, Professor Armstrong takes you back to the Battle of Hastings and lays out the post-Conquest development of medieval English society. She then follows the story out of the Middle Ages, through the Early Modern period, and into the Enlightenment to show how the Magna Carta was resurrected, edited, and rewritten to suit the needs of future people over a long period of evolution.

Throughout this course, you’ll encounter event after event that seemed small on the surface—for instance, when Genghis Khan invaded modern-day Beijing, the locals quickly threw in the towel—but that had consequences that echoed through time. You’ll also take time to consider how it was that an uneducated, lower-caste man from the Mongolian steppes was able to become one of the best military strategists the world has ever seen—arguably a singular event in world history.

History Is a Story about People

Great events matter because of the impact they have on the human story, and this course takes you inside some of the most consequential events in world history. If you stepped back in time to 1215 and asked anyone in Europe what the most important event of the year was, everyone would likely answer the Fourth Lateran Council—the convening of Church leaders to hash out the finer points of theological debate.

Professor Armstrong takes you inside this massive gathering, analyzes the debates, and outlines the worldwide repercussions of the Council. Although seldom discussed today, one of the most monumental results of the Council was the elevation of marriage to the level of a sacrament. Other major consequences include attempts at curbing unlicensed religious figures (an attempt that mostly failed, as the appearance of the character of the Pardoner in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales over a century later would attest), the doctrine of transubstantiation, and the celibacy of the priesthood.

Despite the seemingly clear-cut, linear way we often learn history, as you’ll discover, history is the result of messy human affairs and processes. To bring this material to life, Professor Armstrong introduces you to the people behind the headlines. For instance:

  • See why St. Francis of Assisi formed his own religious order.
  • Find out what insights Hildegard of Bingen, Héloïse, and Eleanor of Aquitaine give us about women in the medieval world.
  • Meet Avicenna, Averroës, Saladin, and other figures critical to intellectual life in the Islamic Golden Age.
  • Delve into the players and tensions surrounding the Great Schism of 1054, and the relationship between Rome and Constantinople in 1215.

As you travel around the world during this year, you’ll also explore the culture of the Samurai in Japan, unpack the Catholic Church’s rationale for the Crusades, dive into the weird world of the Icelandic Saga, and so much more.

One of the most fascinating stories you will encounter is that of the Mongols. Because so many of us have experienced history taught from the Western perspective, you were likely led to think of the Mongols as bloodthirsty barbarians who sacked great cities and wreaked havoc on the world. The truth, however, is much more complicated—and more interesting. Professor Armstrong takes you into the Mongolian Empire and shows you how Mongol leaders actually strove to take care of their conquered territories.

Travel the World in 1215

People are indeed at the heart of this powerful history, and Professor Armstrong brings her trademark depth and passion to this truly historic moment across the globe. Leave Europe to explore life in the Pueblo, Inca, and Maya communities in the Americas. Then head to Africa to survey empires in modern-day Ethiopia, Mali, and Zimbabwe—and even travel to the real city of Timbuktu.

The world of 1215 was not connected like it is today, but in surveying so many corners of the globe, you will see common themes that connect us all. Years That Changed History: 1215 is, ultimately, not about a year—but about people.

Years That Changed History: 1215 [TTC Video]

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