The Secret Life of Words [TTC Video]
03 April 2014, 12:35
Course No 2140 | WMV, 640x480 | WMA@128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 16.19GB
English is changing all around us. We see this in new words such as “bling” and “email,” and from the loss of old forms such as “shall.” It’s a human impulse to play with language and to create new words and meanings—but also to worry about the decay of language. Does text messaging signal the end of “pure English”? Why do teenagers pepper their sentences with “like” and “you know”?
By studying how and why language changes and the story behind the everyday words in our lexicon, we can learn a lot about ourselves—how our minds work and how our culture has changed over the centuries.
Beyond this, words are enormously powerful. They can clarify or obscure the truth, set a political agenda, and drive commercial enterprises. They have the power to amuse and to hurt. They can connect us to each other or drive us apart. Sometimes words are unsayable, and other times words fail us completely because, for all the vibrancy and breadth of English, we still have major gaps in the lexicon.
In The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins, you’ll get a delightful, informative survey of English, from its Germanic origins to the rise of globalization and cyber-communications. Award-winning Professor Anne Curzan of the University of Michigan approaches the subject like an archaeologist, digging below the surface to uncover the story of words, from the humble “she” to such SAT words as “conflagration” and “pedimanous.”
In this course, you’ll
- discover the history of the dictionary and how words make it into a reference book like the Oxford English Dictionary (OED);
- survey the borrowed words that make up the English lexicon;
- find out how words are born and how they die;
- expand your vocabulary by studying Greek and Latin “word webs”; and
- revel in new terms, such as “musquirt,” “adorkable,” and “struggle bus.”
Professor Curzan celebrates English for all its nuances and curiosities. By stepping back to excavate the language as a linguist, she shows you there is no such thing as a boring word.
Chart the Story of Cultural Contact
Why do most words for animals in the field—cow, sheep, pig, deer—come from Old English while most words for meat on the table—beef, mutton, pork, venison—come from French? It turns out that when the Normans invaded England in 1066, their language infiltrated ours, and English owes much to the Norman rulers of the 11th and 12th centuries.
As you’ll learn in The Secret Life of Words, English is an omnivorous language and has borrowed heavily from the many languages it has come into contact with, from Celtic and Old Norse in the Middle Ages to the dozens of world languages in the truly global 20th and 21st centuries. Indeed, the story of English is the story of cultural contact, as you’ll see when you
- meet the Norman-French rulers who gave us much of our language for government, politics, the economy, and law;
- encounter the infusion of Latin and Greek during the Renaissance, which provided English the language of science, the arts, music, education, literature, and linguistics; and
- take an A-to-Z tour of words from the world’s languages, from Arabic, Bengali, and Chinese to Yiddish and Zulu.
The world has never had a language as truly global as English, yet the language is not globally uniform. In addition to understanding the influence of cultural contact, you’ll learn about many of the regional differences within English, both inside the United States and throughout the world, with a specific look at British versus American English, the Midwest vowel shift, the synonyms of “y’all,” and more.
As Professor Curzan takes you through the centuries and around the world to reveal how our language came to be, she unpacks the myth that there was once a “pure English” that we can look back to with nostalgia. Even during the Renaissance, English purists were concerned about the infiltration of foreign words into English. You’ll delight in learning about the “ink-horn controversy,” named for the purists’ objections to long, Latinate words that required more ink to write.
This debate between the purists and the innovators has continued for centuries. Benjamin Franklin railed against using the word “notice” as a verb. Twentieth-century prescriptivists condemned the common use of the sentence adverb “hopefully.” And the stigma against the word “ain’t” is alive and well today. But are the prescriptivists right? Is English really in a state of decay?
See Why It’s an Exciting Time for English
Professor Curzan sympathizes with the impulse to conserve the old language, even citing the verb “interface” as one of the words she wishes would just go away. Yet despite this sympathy, she also recognizes the naturalness of change. Had the ink-horn purists had their way, we would be using Old English compounds such as “flesh-strings” for “muscles” and “bone-lock” for “joint.”
Because our language is always in flux, a study of English words allows you to trace
- technological innovations—“app,” “Google,” and the prefix “e-”;
- historical events—“chad,” “9/11,” and “bailout”;
- cultural changes—“flexitarian,” “unfriend”;
- human creativity and playfulness—“Googleganger,” “Dracula sneeze,” and “multislacking”; and
- conversational discourse markers—“um,” “well,” “now.”
In fact, Professor Curzan points out that with the rise of electronically mediated communication, future linguists may look back on the late 20th and early 21st centuries as a key moment in the language’s history, as revolutionary as the printing press. Throughout The Secret Life of Words, she reflects on such questions as these:
- Where do new words come from? Who has the authority to coin a word?
- How have text messaging, social media, and instant messaging affected our use of language?
- Who owns language? Can a corporation control a word?
- Is it possible to reform language?
Along the way you’ll look at gendered language and how words such as “hussy” and “mistress” have become pejorative; Internet communications and the nuance to acronyms such as “LOL”; technology-inspired new language such as “texting”; taboo words; and the language of sports, politics, love, and war.
You’ll discover that far from being a mere practicality, wordplay is a uniquely human form of entertainment. This course provides a wonderful opportunity to study slang and the creation of new words. You may not come away using terms like “whatevs,” “traffic-lighty,” or “struggle bus” in casual conversation, but you’ll love studying the linguistic system that gives us such irreverent—and fun—slang, from “boy toy” to “cankles.”
A Vibrant, Professional Guide
At the heart of this course is the wonderful Professor Curzan. With energy, enthusiasm, and a democratic approach to language, she takes you on a journey from Beowulf and the Battle of Hastings to modern-day blogs and chat rooms. She brings you teenage slang and Internet-speak, and she delves deeply into the history of English and the field of linguistics.
As an award-winning professor, a member of the American Dialect Society, and a member of the American Heritage Dictionary’s usage panel, Professor Curzan knows her material, and she presents a wealth of information in this comprehensive course. But since the material is so enjoyable—“geektastic,” you might say—it hardly feels like learning.
By course end, you’ll come away with a new appreciation for the many varieties of English, and you’ll be equipped with the tools to build on these linguistic foundations. From the subtle negotiation of a word like “well” in conversation to the hidden relationship between “foot” and “pedestrian,” once you begin to explore the secret life of words, your understanding of English will never be the same.
Course Lectures Titles:
- Winning Words, Banished Words
- The Life of a Word, from Birth to Death
- The Human Hands behind Dictionaries
- Treasure Houses, Theft, and Traps
- Yarn and Clues—New Word Meanings
- Smog, Mob, Bling—New Words
- “Often” versus “Offen”—Pronunciation
- Fighting over Zippers
- Opening the Early English Word-Hoard
- Safe and Sound—The French Invasion
- Magnifical Dexterity—Latin and Learning
- Chutzpah to Pajamas—World Borrowings
- The Pop/Soda/Coke Divide
- Maths, Wombats, and Les Bluejeans
- Foot and Pedestrian—Word Cousins
- Desultory Somersaults—Latin Roots
- Analogous Prologues—Greek Roots
- The Tough Stuff of English Spelling
- The b in Debt—Meddling in Spelling
- Of Mice, Men, and Y’All
- I’m Good … Or Am I Well?
- How Snuck Sneaked In
- Um, Well, Like, You Know
- Wicked Cool—The Irreverence of Slang
- Boy Toys and Bad Eggs—Slangy Wordplay
- Spinster, Bachelor, Guy, Dude
- Firefighters and Freshpersons
- A Slam Dunk—The Language of Sports
- Fooling Around—The Language of Love
- Gung Ho—The Language of War
- Filibustering—The Language of Politics
- LOL—The Language of the Internet
- #$@%!—Forbidden Words
- Couldn’t (or Could) Care Less
- Musquirt and Other Lexical Gaps
- Playing Fast and Loose with Words
Thermodynamics: Four Laws That Move the Universe [TTC Video]
26 March 2014, 08:22
Course No 1291 | WMV, 640x360 | WMA@128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 9.47GB
What is heat? What is temperature? What is energy? What is time? When we look beneath the surface of these everyday terms to learn how scientists understand them, we encounter a realm of fundamental processes that rule the universe.
This is the domain of thermodynamics, the branch of science that deals with the movement of heat. Nothing seems simpler, but nothing is more subtle and wide-ranging in its effects. And nothing has had a more profound impact on the development of modern civilization.
Thermodynamic processes are at the heart of everything that involves heat, energy, and work, making an understanding of them indispensable for careers in engineering, physical science, biology, meteorology, and even nutrition and culinary arts. Consider these applications of the laws of thermodynamics:
- The Industrial Revolution in the 1700s harnessed fire and fuel to produce power, leading to new forms of manufacturing, transportation, and the breathtaking array of technologies we have today—thanks to a mastery of thermodynamics.
- New advances in alternative energy, fresh water production, materials science, communication, computing, and a host of other fields are in the works as thermodynamic processes are being applied at scales as small as the quantum realm.
- Thermodynamic concepts play a pivotal role in understanding the evolution and fate of the universe. The second law of thermodynamics led to the discovery of entropy, which explains the arrow of time and the unidirectionality of all processes.
- In daily life, thermodynamics explains why salt melts ice, why conventional car engines are so inefficient, and why the cheese on a hot slice of pizza burns the roof of your mouth, but the crust at the same temperature doesn’t.
When Albert Einstein contemplated the laws of thermodynamics, he was awestruck. “It is the only physical theory of universal content that … will never be overthrown,” he wrote. Of the famous second law, the English scientist and novelist C. P. Snow cited it as equal to Shakespeare’s plays in its importance to the cultural literacy of every educated person.
Thermodynamics: Four Laws That Move the Universe gives you an in-depth tour of this vital and fascinating science in 24 enthralling lectures that are suitable for everyone from science novices to professionals in the field who wish to review elementary concepts and formulas. Your teacher is Professor Jeffrey C. Grossman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a scientist at the forefront of research on new materials with applications in energy conversion, energy storage, and clean water.
Four Far-Reaching Laws
The four laws of thermodynamics describe how energy moves, why it changes from one form to another, and how matter is affected during these transformations. You begin with the zeroth law (so named because it is fundamental to the other laws), which defines the concept of temperature in terms of thermal equilibrium. The first law is a declaration of the conservation of energy principle. The second law explains why heat always flows from hot to cold. And the third law deals with the impossibility of reaching absolute zero.
With these laws as a launching point, you learn foundational concepts that are critical pillars of science and engineering—ideas such as entropy, chemical potential, Gibbs free energy, enthalpy, osmotic pressure, heat capacity, eutectic melting, and the Carnot cycle. These and other ideas shed light on many phenomena in the natural world, and they are the analytical tools that engineers use to create new devices and technologies.
Professor Grossman cites the cell phone as an example. Of the approximately 100 stable elements found in nature, the typical cell phone uses 64, each chosen to perform a specific function based on its thermodynamic properties, and each laboriously extracted from the earth and processed to do its job.
Seeing Is Believing!
Professor Grossman is a born educator and showman. In nearly every lecture, he puts on his lab coat and goggles and smashes, breaks, ignites, or otherwise converts energy from one form into another—showing thermodynamics in action.
Thermodynamics is also illustrated with scores of informative diagrams, animations, and simple equations that add depth and clarity to the presentation. For example, you learn how phase diagrams are a powerful tool for discovering how temperature, pressure, and other variables affect the solid, liquid, and gaseous phases of matter. Professor Grossman compares phase diagrams to the GPS unit on a car: They tell you exactly where you’re going when you apply different conditions to a material.
Intriguingly, phase diagrams reveal that water and other liquids have a “triple point,” where they can simultaneously freeze and boil. Professor Grossman demonstrates this astonishing phenomenon on camera. Some of his other eye-opening experiments include the following:
- Work = heat: The first law of thermodynamics relates heat to mechanical motion. See how a piece of cotton can be set afire by striking a piston with a hammer, thanks to the change from work to heat, which is explained by an equation called the ideal gas law.
- When 1+1 doesn’t equal 2: Combine 50 milliliters of water with an equal volume of ethanol and you get 97—not 100—milliliters of the combined solution. Ethanol molecules are able to fit inside open spaces between water molecules—an illustration of the thermodynamic concept of partial molar volume.
- Alternative engines: We are all familiar with heat engines that extract power from burning fuel, such as the internal combustion engine. But there are many other ways to convert energy into work. See how engines can be built so they are powered by magnetism, phase change, entropy, and surface tension.
- Potato battery: Insert a copper wire and a zinc wire into a potato. Connect the wires to an LED. Voila: light! Where is the electricity coming from in this demonstration of electrochemical energy? What is the role of the potato? The answers may surprise you.
You will also see a balloon resist popping while held in a flame, a hundred dollar bill set on fire without charring, and a massive 10-foot-high eruption caused by a very simple chemical reaction. Each of these experiments is designed to make the challenging concepts of thermodynamics memorable and intuitive.
At the end of Thermodynamics, Professor Grossman gives a glimpse of his own pioneering research on clean energy and water. Having come this far in the course, you will truly appreciate his excitement over innovative solar thermal fuels and desalination membranes, both based on thermodynamic principles. Best of all, you will understand how and why they work!
- Thermodynamics—What’s under the Hood
- Variables and the Flow of Energy
- Temperature—Thermodynamics’ First Force
- Salt, Soup, Energy, and Entropy
- The Ideal Gas Law and a Piston
- Energy Transferred and Conserved
- Work-Heat Equivalence
- Entropy—The Arrow of Time
- The Chemical Potential
- Enthalpy, Free Energy, and Equilibrium
- Mixing and Osmotic Pressure
- How Materials Hold Heat
- How Materials Respond to Heat
- Phases of Matter—Gas, Liquid, Solid
- Phase Diagrams—Ultimate Materials Maps
- Properties of Phases
- To Mix, or Not to Mix?
- Melting and Freezing of Mixtures
- The Carnot Engine and Limits of Efficiency
- More Engines—Materials at Work
- The Electrochemical Potential
- Chemical Reactions—Getting to Equilibrium
- The Chemical Reaction Quotient
- The Greatest Processes in the World
Behavioral Economics [TTC Video]
26 March 2014, 07:28
Course No 5532 | WMV, 640x360 | WMA,@128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 9.99GB
Behavioral economics is the scientific study of decision making, and of the related topics of valuation, exchange, and interpersonal interactions. Drawing on methods from psychology, sociology, neurology, and economics, this remarkable discipline illuminates one of the most deeply fundamental activities of human existence: the decision process.
From the moment we wake in the morning, we are confronted with decisions—from what to buy at the supermarket or how to spend the weekend to which career path to pursue, which car to buy, or how to invest our money. Most of the time we make good decisions. But some of the time we don’t. Whether our decisions are successful or less than optimal influences how our lives unfold.
Paradoxically, although we are constantly making decisions, we rarely reflect on the actual process of decision making itself. Making decisions can seem largely intuitive—and intuitions don’t always lead to happy outcomes. But what if you could be fully aware of the process? What might life be like if you could put your hands on the gears of decision making—the specific patterns of perception and cognition that shape your choices—and turn the process to your advantage?
Behavioral economics offers just that possibility. With an incisive focus on human behavior, behavioral economics uncovers what is usually hidden from view in our decision-making process, exploring the key motivators for our decisions, such as probability, risk, reward, and the passage of time. In doing so, it sheds fascinating light on our psychology and on how our brains process information and shape our perceptions as we make decisions.
Most important, by applying its unique approach to many kinds of real-life choices, behavioral economics offers powerful, practical tools for making better and more satisfying decisions.
As a case in point, behavioral economics identifies many human biases or behavioral tendencies that influence our decisions, sometimes outside of our awareness. Behavioral economists show, for example, that our brains predispose us to see things that are familiar as being better or more valuable—making name-brand merchandise or stocks of familiar companies seem desirable. This innate human tendency can lead to bad economic decisions.
The good news, as behavioral economics clearly shows, is that our customary processes and patterns of decision making are not inevitable. By becoming aware of them and watching how they operate in our daily actions, we can open new possibilities for our own behavior and for decision making that can meaningfully improve our quality of life.
In Behavioral Economics: When Psychology and Economics Collide, award-winning Professor Scott Huettel of Duke University leads you in a penetrating look at the processes of decision making that are an integral part of human life. In 24 revealing lectures, you’ll study how behavioral economists look at decision making and explore a set of core principles that offer profound insight into how we gather information and integrate multiple factors to reach decisions. Using real-life examples and case studies, each topic builds to concrete recommendations so that you can understand the patterns of decision making, the purposes they serve, and how to use your knowledge to make more effective and beneficial decisions.
Uncover the Hidden Structures in Decision Making
Professor Huettel brings focus to intriguing and seemingly paradoxical questions regarding human behavior:
- Why does voluntary blood donation decline steeply when people are paid for it?
- When faced with the same medical condition, why do doctors choose objectively better treatment for their patients than they do for themselves?
- Why do employees often fail to enroll in beneficial retirement plans, including plans requiring no financial contribution on their part?
All of these may seem counterintuitive, yet they have a deep structure that we can understand when we apply the tools of behavioral economics. In grasping the underlying factors in decision making, you’ll explore key topics such as these:
- Simple rules: “heuristics”: Study the common internal guidelines people use to streamline decision making, or “heuristics”; observe four of the most prevalent ones, using real-life examples; and identify where heuristics are helpful and where they fail.
- Decisions regarding probability: Learn how human beings convert objective information about probability into a subjective sense of what may happen—an approach filled with error—and grasp two methods for improving probability-based decisions.
- Time-related decisions: Consider why decisions involving time are so challenging; study how time influences the subjective value of money; and learn key strategies for making better time-related decisions.
- Dealing with risk: Examine the element of risk tolerance in decision making; investigate the dynamics of perceived benefits versus perceived risks in decision problems; and study principles for successfully managing risk.
- High stakes: medical decisions: Uncover three core factors that influence how we make medical decisions, and learn how to apply the principles of behavioral economics to improve choices in this area.
- Group decision making: Explore how the diversity of groups benefits decision making, and investigate the principles that lead to good group decisions and how to use those principles in a range of practical contexts.
Behavioral Biases: Turning Limitations into Strengths
As a central element of these lectures, Professor Huettel highlights cognitive patterns that influence our behavior, pushing us toward safety, temptation, or immediate rewards. Among these is what behavioral economists call confirmation bias—the tendency, in decision making, to intuitively seek evidence that confirms our existing beliefs, or to reinterpret evidence that argues against existing beliefs. Using clear-cut examples, you’ll learn how you can counteract or minimize this bias, leading to better-informed and wiser choices.
The course concludes with an in-depth look at two highly effective approaches to shaping decisions. “Precommitment” to a course of action involves making a binding decision in the present for benefits that will occur in the future. “Reframing” strategies alter how the facts of a decision are evaluated against some reference point, allowing critical new insights to appear. You’ll explore the powerful effects of precommitment and reframing in examples ranging from economic transactions and consumer choices to decisions regarding investment and retirement.
Practical Leverage for Empowering Choices
In Behavioral Economics: When Psychology and Economics Collide, you’ll gain a much deeper awareness of how you make decisions, and what steps you can take to make better ones. Professor Huettel illustrates each concept with meaningful stories, analogies, and case studies, relating the material directly to the decisions all of us make as a central part of living. This unique inquiry offers you important knowledge and insights for one of life’s most essential skills.
Course Lecture Titles:
- What Is a Good Decision?
- The Rise of Behavioral Economics
- Reference Dependence—It’s All Relative
- Reference Dependence—Economic Implications
- Range Effects—Changing the Scale
- Probability Weighting
- Risk—The Known Unknowns
- Ambiguity—The Unknown Unknowns
- Temporal Discounting—Now or Later?
- Comparison—Apples and Oranges
- Bounded Rationality—Knowing Your Limits
- Heuristics and Biases
- Randomness and Patterns
- How Much Evidence Do We Need?
- The Value of Experience
- Medical Decision Making
- Social Decisions—Competition and Coordination
- Group Decision Making—The Vox Populi
- Giving and Helping—Why Altruism?
- Cooperation by Individuals and in Societies
- When Incentives Backfire
- Precommitment—Setting Rationality Aside
- Framing—Moving to a Different Perspective
- Interventions, Nudges, and Decisions