Understanding Complexity [TTC Video]
11 August 2015, 14:47
Course No 5181 | AVI, XviD, 753 kbps, 640x480 | MP3, 96 kbps, 2 Ch | 12x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 2.24GB
In fact, complexity science is a discipline that may well hold the key to unlocking the secrets of some of the most important forces on Earth. But it's also a science that remains largely unknown, even among well-educated people. Now you can discover and grasp the fundamentals and applications of this amazing field with Understanding Complexity. Professor Scott E. Page—one of the field's most highly regarded teachers, researchers, and real-world practitioners—introduces you to this vibrant and still evolving discipline. In 12 lucid lectures, you learn how complexity science helps us understand the nature and behavior of systems formed of financial markets, corporations, native cultures, governments, and more.
Recent years have seen the introduction of concepts from the new and exciting field of complexity science that have captivated the attention of economists, sociologists, engineers, business people, and many others.
- tipping points, the sociological term used to describe moments when unique or rare phenomena become more commonplace;
- the wisdom of crowds, the argument that certain types of groups harness information and make decisions in more effective ways than individuals;
- six degrees of separation, the idea that it takes no more than six steps to find some form of connection between two random individuals; and
- emergence, the idea that new properties, processes, and structures can emerge unexpectedly from complex systems.
Interest in these intriguing concepts is widespread because of the utility of this field. Complexity science can shed light on why businesses or economies succeed and fail, how epidemics spread and can be stopped, and what causes ecological systems to rebalance themselves after a disaster.
In fact, complexity science is a discipline that may well hold the key to unlocking the secrets of some of the most important forces on Earth. But it's also a science that remains largely unknown, even among well-educated people.
What Makes a System Complex? What defines a system as complex, as opposed to being merely "complicated"? The answer lies in the presence of four factors:
- A population of diverse agents, all of which are
- Connected, with behaviors and actions that are
- Interdependent, and that exhibit
Understanding Complexity is filled with insights not only into the systems around you, but into yourself as well. For example, you discover how your own consciousness is perhaps the ultimate example of a complex system, as billions of neurons coalesce and communicate to create the mystery of awareness.
Similarly, your own local city is another pointed example of a complex system, with its storefronts, trash collection schedules, police activity, and more that organize themselves into the patterns and rhythms that make life in your particular area entirely different from life in another. Then there are the financial markets, business sectors, global regions, ecological and climatic systems, and more—all complex systems that you work with or are affected by daily.
Understanding these and other complex systems is important for several reasons:
- They're often unpredictable.
- They sometimes produce events with global ramifications.
- They're remarkably robust and can withstand substantial trauma and variation.
Most important, however, are the stakes, which, in a modern world so interconnected that the links between systems are often invisible, are far different from what they once were. Our social, economic, and political worlds are more complex than they were years ago, and they may become too complex for us to understand unless we develop new ways of seeing and thinking about them.
Discover New Tools for Understanding
While modern decision-making theory has long been the "canonical" tool for guiding choices in the business, government, and nonprofit sectors, complexity science takes it a step further and provides us with a useful model for understanding and determining what to do in these complex systems. Understanding Complexity shows you how the ideas and tools made possible by complexity science—such as agent-based computer modeling, which builds a complex system for individual agents—can effectively take on those problems that decision-making theory cannot.
In one of the many illuminating examples Professor Page uses throughout the course, he reveals how such a model showed architects how a change in the shape of a ballroom with its doors on two opposite walls—from a square to a long rectangle with the doors on two opposite walls—made it much less likely that people fleeing a fire would jam the doorways. The narrower shape encouraged people to approach the doors straight-on instead of at a sharp angle.
Learn a New Way to See the World
Professor Page maintains an active involvement with the Santa Fe Institute, the interdisciplinary think tank recognized as the nerve center of complexity theory research, and his depth of knowledge in, and passion for, complexity science shines through in each of these 12 lectures.
Designed to be both a comprehensive and accessible gateway into the world of complexity science, the course features nearly 40 two- and three-dimensional computer graphics and a variety of highly illustrative thought experiments—to say nothing of the teaching skills that have earned Professor Page several awards and a career as a national speaker.
By the conclusion of Understanding Complexity, you'll have attained a new lens through which to better view, understand, and make sense of your world. While the systems you explore in this course will continue to remain complex, the science behind them will attain a startling new level of clarity.
- Complexity—What Is It? Why Does It Matter?
- Simple, Rugged, and Dancing Landscapes
- The Interesting In-Between
- Why Different Is More
- Explore Exploit—The Fundamental Trade-Off
- Emergence I—Why More Is Different
- Emergence II—Network Structure and Function
- Agent-Based Modeling—The New Tool
- Feedbacks—Beehives, QWERTY, the Big Sort
- The Sand Pile—Self-Organized Criticality
- Complexity versus Uncertainty
- Harnessing Complexity
Ancient Empires before Alexander [TTC Video]
11 August 2015, 14:42
Course No 3150 | AVI, XviD, 722 kbps, 640x480 | MP3, 96 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 6.7GB
Ponder the term "the ancient world" for just a moment. What personalities, images, and events come to mind? For most of us, the legacy of the ancient world is symbolized by the twin pillars of Western civilization: the empires of Greece and Rome. But what about the empires that came before them?
Although realms such as Akkad, Assyria, Babylon, Hatti, and Ur dwell on the fringes of recorded history, they nevertheless represent human civilization's first experiments in empire building. Their intriguing reigns
- gave birth to the political, judicial, religious, and military systems that would influence the administration of subsequent empires;
- steered earlier societies on a course that would eventually lead to our modern world's intricate system of nations, states, and countries; and
- played key roles in episodes in ancient history, such as the Babylonian captivity, the Trojan and Peloponnesian wars, and the eventual rise of the Greek and Roman empires.
The fascinating stories behind these empires are required knowledge for you to develop a full understanding of the ancient world in its entirety.
Ancient Empires before Alexander is your opportunity to finally complete your knowledge of the ancient world with a comprehensive look at history's first empires. Professor Robert L. Dise Jr. of the University of Northern Iowa—an expert on the history of the ancient world—examines these fascinating kingdoms as their own unique subjects, ones that reflect the struggles, successes, and failures of establishing an empire. Over the course of 36 insightful lectures, follow the Egyptians, the Mycenaean Greeks, the Persians, the Carthaginians, and others as they rise to glory, create administrative and military structures, clash with one another, and eventually collapse.
How Do Empires Rise? Why Do They Fall?
Until 200 years ago, these empires were little more than names. Some had even been entirely forgotten. Recently, however, profound advances in archaeology and history have vastly improved our knowledge about the world's first empires—those that provided the foundation for future empires to follow.
As Ancient Empires before Alexander is a course on the rise and fall of history's earliest empires, you spend much of the course immersed in the political, administrative, and military details of these thrilling civilizations. While social and cultural issues are not unimportant to the rise and fall of empires, they often play secondary roles, according to Professor Dise; rather, the aim of his lectures is to place each of these empires within a larger exploration of empire building.
Employing a wealth of archaeological and archival evidence, Professor Dise brings the ancient world's diverse empires to life through an analysis of three basic questions:
- How did this particular empire emerge?
- How was it governed and defended?
- How and why did it ultimately fall?
These three seemingly simple questions, you quickly discover, raise a host of profound issues on the growth, development, and failures of vast imperial systems. Their answers also provide you with invaluable insights into the similarities and differences between the course's rich offering of empires—how one empire's success could be another's undoing, how administrative and imperial practices evolved from one realm to the next, and how the creation of new forms of rule and defense adapted to challenges from both geography and neighboring empires.
Ancient History's Greatest Empires—Revealed!
Throughout Ancient Empires before Alexander, you immerse yourself in the details of the dozen empires that flourished in the 2,000 years before the conquests of Alexander the Great paved the way for the triumphs of the Roman Empire. Grounded in a chronological approach, the lectures begin in ancient Mesopotamia and span the river valleys, deserts, and mountain ranges of the Near East. You encounter these empires and others:
- The Akkadian Empire, the first empire in human history established in the late 3rd millennium B.C. by Sargon the Great. Sargon and his successors pioneered the techniques of imperial rule and set a pattern on which later Mesopotamian empires would emulate and elaborate.
- The Empire of Hatti, which dominated Asia Minor. The emergence of this empire in the early 2nd millennium B.C. presaged the downfall of Mesopotamia's power in the ancient world. Unlike strongly centralized Mesopotamian empires, Hatti—home to the Hittites—was very loosely structured and almost feudal in nature.
- The Persian Empire, which would grow into the largest empire the ancient world had yet seen, stretching from Libya to India. This wealthy empire supported local autonomy within its imperial unity and displayed a tolerance for its bewildering diversity of peoples. Alexander the Great, however, would spell doom for this impressive civilization.
- The Carthaginian Empire, a sea empire (thalassocracy) that consisted of Phoenician settlements along the coast of the western Mediterranean and possessed far-flung trading networks. Carthage would eventually be destroyed by Rome during the Punic Wars of the 3rd century B.C.
In addition, you discover fresh new perspectives on more familiar ancient empires, including Israel, Babylon, and Egypt, as well as the interactions—both friendly and antagonistic—between these and other kingdoms.
These thrilling empires, you learn, owe much to the leaders who ruled them and the warriors who protected them. As you explore each empire, you also meet some of the ancient world's most captivating figures and place their lives and deeds in the context of their respective kingdoms. Throughout the lectures, you come across awe-inspiring individuals such as
- Hammurabi, famed for his code of laws and renowned for being a hands-on administrator of his empire;
- Solomon, who succeeded his father David as king of Israel and centralized royal power;
- Xerxes, who led a massive Persian invasion of the Greek city-states, only to leave the empire weakened and vulnerable to foreign attack; and
- Hannibal, the brilliant Carthaginian general who engineered a series of stunning defeats of the Roman army yet failed to stop Rome's rise to imperial power.
An Invaluable Guide through the Ancient World
You'll find no better guide through the palatial halls, administrative offices, war-torn battlefields, and sacred temples of these diverse empires than Professor Dise. A passionate teacher and military historian who has spent his career immersed in this historical era, he packs each lecture of Ancient Empires before Alexander with a range of rich historical sources on which our current understanding of the ancient Near East rests, including
- more than a million cuneiform tablets from imperial and municipal archives;
- colorful narratives written by Greek, Roman, and Hebrew sources; and
- archaeological remains excavated from once-lost cities and kingdoms.
With Professor Dise, you learn how to comb through these intriguing records, dodging pitfalls of misinterpretation and bias while teaching yourself how to examine historical documents and archaeological findings with a seasoned eye. You'll quickly become a more trained observer of human history and more informed about the ways the past is recorded and passed down to subsequent generations.
Spanning thousands of years of human history and encompassing regions both familiar and forgotten, Ancient Empires before Alexander is a remarkable tour through the unfamiliar reaches of the ancient world. It's an exciting way to explore the legacies of the world's earliest empires and an unforgettable opportunity to complete your grasp of the ancient world—in all its marvelous diversity.
- A Meditation on Empire
- Lands, Seas, and Sources
- Sargon and the Dawn of Empire
- The Third Dynasty of Ur
- The Empire of Hammurabi
- Mitanni and the Kassites
- The Rise of Hatti
- The Government of Hatti
- Hatti at War
- The Climax and Collapse of Hatti
- The Rise of the Egyptian Empire
- The Imperial Army and Administration
- The End of the Egyptian Empire
- The Minoan Thalassocracy
- Mycenae and the Dawn of Greece
- The Collapse of the Mycenaean World
- The Birth of Israel
- The Empire of David and Solomon
- The Dawn of Assyria
- The Rise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire
- The Government of Assyria
- Assyria at War
- The Climax and Collapse of Assyria
- The Neo-Babylonian Empire
- The Rise of the Persian Empire
- The Outbreak of the Greek Wars
- Xerxes and the Invasion of Greece
- From Plataea to the Peace of Callias
- The Persian Empire from 450 to 334
- The Government and Army of Persia
- Alexander and the Fall of Persia
- The Origins of Carthage and Its Empire
- Ruling and Defending Carthage's Empire
- The First War with Rome
- Hannibal and the Fall of Carthage
- Ancient Empires before Alexander, and After
Redefining Reality: The Intellectual Implications of Modern Science [TTC Video]
10 August 2015, 00:46
Course No 4140 | MP4, x264, 1500 kbps, 720x480 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 13.31GB
No subject is bigger than reality itself, and nothing is more challenging to understand, since what counts as reality is undergoing continual revision and has been for centuries. For example, the matter that comprises all stars, planets, and living things turns out to be just a fraction of what actually exists. Moreover, we think that we control our actions, but data gathering systems can predict, with astonishing accuracy, when we will get up in the morning, what items we will buy, and even whom we will marry.
The quest to pin down what's real and what's illusory is both philosophical and scientific. At its core, it is nothing less than the metaphysical search for ultimate reality that goes back to the ancient Greeks. And for the last 400 years, this search has been increasingly guided by scientists, who create theories and test them in order to define reality and then redefine it as new theories replace old.
In physics, biology, psychology, economics, and many other fields, defining reality is a task that needs frequent updates. Consider these once solid facts that were later thrown into doubt:
- Space and time: Nothing is more real to us than our experience of space and time, which is why one of the greatest revolutions in human thought is Einstein's discovery that these two seemingly stable features of the universe are surprisingly fluid in ways that defy common sense.
- Matter: It seems obvious that matter down to the smallest scale should have measurable properties: it's either here or there, it's spinning this way or that. But quantum mechanics shows that subatomic particles are in many places and states at the same time - until you measure them.
- Mathematics: What could be more ironclad than the truths of mathematics? Yet in the 1930s, Kurt Godel showed that the field was built on shifting sands - that no set of axioms designed to serve as the foundation of mathematics could be both self-consistent and complete.
- Life-giving sun: Plants need sunlight; animals eat plants or other animals; therefore all life on Earth ultimately depends on the sun. This seemed indisputable, until scientists discovered colonies of life in the dark ocean depths, feeding on mineral-rich hot fluids from volcanic vents.
When faced with reversals such as these, it's tempting to give up and conclude that nothing will ever be certain. But there's a more rewarding way to look at it, which is that every successful new theory is an improvement on its predecessor, drawing the net ever more tightly around reality, whose form is gradually coming into focus.
Redefining Reality: The Intellectual Implications of Modern Science gives you the thrill of this exciting quest in 36 wide-ranging lectures that touch on many aspects of the ceaseless search for reality, both scientific and philosophical. From the birth of the universe to brain science, award-winning Professor of Philosophy Steven Gimbel of Gettysburg College shows that separating the real from the illusory is an exhilarating intellectual adventure.
And since dealing with reality is an experience we all share, this course is designed for people of all backgrounds. No prior training in science or philosophy is assumed. Furthermore, the richness of Professor Gimbel's presentation assures that even those who have studied this problem in depth will find new connections and unexpected insights. Dr. Gimbel's thoroughness makes Redefining Reality an unrivaled introduction to key themes in the history of science and philosophy.
The How and Why of Reality
You begin with the contrasting views of two of the most influential philosophers who ever lived: Plato and Aristotle. According to Plato, reality resides in an abstract world of forms that can only be perceived by the mind; while for Aristotle, reality is right here in this world. It was this elevation of the material realm by Aristotle that launched what we think of as science.
Science was part of philosophy until the 16th and 17th centuries. The turning point came with Isaac Newton's laws of motion and principle of universal gravitation, which showed that the world is governed by natural laws. Newton's supremely successful mathematical theory established science as a separate mode of inquiry and provided a model for the ambitions of all future scientists. Henceforth, science was devoted to explaining how the world works. Speculation about why it works the way it does remained the province of philosophy.
A striking case of when a philosophical subject suddenly became scientific occurred in 1965, with the discovery of the fossil radio signal from the big bang, the moment when the universe can be said to have begun. Before this discovery, the notion of a beginning to time was largely theological. After, it was a scientific problem that could be quantified and explored in detail. In Redefining Reality, you examine scores of similar examples of reality in transition, including these:
- Ghost in a machine: Traditionally, doctors saw the human body as a closed system inhabited by a soul - a "ghost in a machine." The discovery of disease-causing microbes led to a new paradigm: the body as a fortress under attack. Today there's a revised view: microbes are considered crucial to human life.
- Economics: Newton's success in physics inspired the field of economics. But attempts to predict the complexities of production, consumption, and trade defied exact mathematical analysis. Recent theories have revised our view of economic reality by factoring in the human tendency for irrational economic choices.
- Artificial intelligence: Can machines think? One current view is that a machine capable of human-like responses to questions would indeed have a mind. But philosopher John Searle's famous "Chinese Room" thought experiment suggests that the imitation of outward behavior is not enough to constitute a mind.
- Free will: One outcome of today's revolution in big data is that computers can now predict what individuals will do in many situations, including who is likely to commit a crime. These techniques challenge the age-old belief that we have free will - that our actions are the result of deliberate personal choices.
The Art of Reality
Scientists and philosophers are not alone in grappling at an intellectual level with reality. Some of the most accessible interpretations are by painters, novelists, filmmakers, and other artists, whose works not only draw on the latest discoveries but also sometimes inspire them. Professor Gimbel includes examples in practically every lecture, such as the following:
- Alice in Wonderland: Written by mathematician Charles Dodgson (whose pen name was Lewis Carroll), Alice's adventures can be read as an investigation of the paradoxical worlds that are possible when logic is set loose. Wonderland represents the death of the rationalist project.
- Pointillism, cubism, and surrealism: These new modes of representation in the visual arts arose concurrently with the triumph of the atomic theory of matter and the radical new picture of reality offered by relativity and quantum mechanics.
- Reality TV: The legacy of Darwin and his successors pervades one of modern media's most popular genres: reality television. From Survivor to Top Chef, these unscripted shows illustrate such Darwinian ideas as survival of the fittest and creative adaptation.
- Hybrids and chimeras: Ancient myths spanning many cultures depict winged horses, minotaurs, mermaids, griffins, and other impossible crosses between different creatures. These stories prefigure today's real hybrids produced by genetic engineering.
A distinguished teacher, scholar, and author, Professor Gimbel has a gift for giving clear and concise explanations of concepts that can be notoriously difficult, such as special and general relativity, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, Godel's incompleteness theorem, chaos theory, and string theory. He also has a detective's instincts for connecting the dots, marshaling evidence to spotlight historical trends. One trend that you will learn about in Redefining Reality is the gradual redefinition of humans, for we have developed the power to alter our own reality in major ways - to defeat diseases, compensate for disabilities, enhance our mental well-being, and augment our intellect with computers. Where is that trend going? Take this fascinating course to find out.
- Metaphysics and the Nature of Science
- Defining Reality
- Mathematics in Crisis
- Special Relativity
- General Relativity
- Big Bang Cosmology
- The Reality of Atoms
- Quantum Mechanics
- Quantum Field Theory
- Chaos Theory
- Dark Matter and Dark Energy
- Grand Unified Theories
- Quantum Consciousness
- Defining Reality in the Life Sciences
- Genes and Identity
- The Birth of Psychology
- Jung and the Behaviorists
- The Rediscovery of the Mind
- The Caring Brain
- Brain and Self
- Evolutionary Psychology
- The Birth of Sociology
- Competition and Cooperation
- Race and Reality
- Social Progress
- The Reality of Money
- The Origin of Life
- Exoplanets and Extraterrestrial Life
- Technology and Death
- Cloning and Identity
- Genetic Engineering
- Medically Enhanced Humans
- Transhumans: Making Living Gods
- Artificial Intelligence
- The Internet and Virtual Reality
- Data Analytics