The Lives of Great Christians [TTC Video]

The Lives of Great Christians [TTC Video]
The Lives of Great Christians [TTC Video] by William R Cook
Course No 6481 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.62GB

The followers of Jesus, who came to be called Christians, have practiced and preached their beliefs for centuries. Their actions and achievements, their abilities and energies, have changed the course of history and the nature of belief. Many are well known, but many more are obscure or even nameless. The Lives of Great Christians will introduce you to some of Christianity's luminaries. You will know once you meet them why they are great, and you will be interested and inspired by the many ways they found to live lives of faith.

You will stand spellbound in the crowd, listening to Bernardino and Augustine preach and teach. You will visit the solitary cells and see the visions of Bernard, Clare, and Catherine. You will witness the negotiations as Gregory VII and Leo IX reform the Church. You will hear the verdict of heresy against John Hus and Martin Luther. You will cross the Egyptian desert to seek the wisdom of Antony, and you will keep company with saints, missionaries, and martyrs. And as you do, you will learn what Christians believe, how that belief has shaped world history, and what these stewards of faith can tell us today.

Christianity is more than doctrine or theology, and even more than prayer. For many it is the daily effort to live one's faith in every time and place. The Lives of Great Christians introduces you to those who have done so over the centuries and shows the many paths they found. You will learn about real lives that exemplify Christian faith in action:

  • Bernard brought 30 friends and relatives along to enter the monastery with him.
  • Clare ran away to follow Francis and created a new form of spiritual community for women.
  • Antony lived alone in the desert for 87 years, reading the Book of Nature and communing with God in solitude.
  • Maximilian Kolbe took the place of a family man condemned to death in Auschwitz.
  • The monks of Athos live as hermits as well as in communities, dedicating themselves to a life and place largely unchanged since the 10th century.

If you are a student of history, you will understand more about Christianity's role in it. Christianity didn't just change believers; it defined all of Europe, eastern as well as western, and set many of the world's nations on a course still apparent today. Your appreciation of these eminent Christians' lives will rise with illuminating examples of Christianity's role in world history and culture, as well as intellectual and political contexts:

  • The Crusades: Efforts to reclaim the Holy Land from the Muslims often included persecuting the Jews at home.
  • The Plague Years: Recurrent epidemics decimated populations and caused political and economic instability and labor shortages. Many blamed Church corruption and saw the plagues as God's punishment.
  • The Church of England: When Henry VIII divorced the pope so he could divorce Catherine of Aragon, he set the stage for centuries of continuous dissent.
  • The Reformation: When the Church cracked down on dissidents, Brother Martin Luther took his stand.

If you are curious about the future of Christianity, you will find out how dynamic it has always been—and still is. Christianity has never been a monolithic and unchallenged set of practices and beliefs but a community with a long history of growth and change that continues today. From that community have come inspirational leaders such as Mother Teresa, who called loneliness the greatest problem of our time. She acted on her belief that no one, no matter how poor or sick, should die alone, and won the Nobel Peace Prize. And Gustavo Gutiérrez, the founder of Liberation Theology, declared that the Church's highest duty was to the poor, a belief that has changed the nature of Christian ministry in Latin America and beyond.

Luminaries of Christianity

The Lives of Great Christians is a wide-ranging chronological survey. Dr. Cook, a vigorous and articulate lecturer, defines Christians as followers of Jesus, and considers especially the lives of those who have sought the virtues of humility, faith, and charity. How does a Christian life combine action, thought, prayer, and contemplation? How are Christian lives different in different times, places, and situations? "What does it mean to be a great Christian?" Dr. Cook asks. "There are an awful lot of answers, and some of them may surprise you."

The course ranges across 21 centuries, five continents, and several denominations. Dr. Cook, a medieval historian with a special interest in the history of Christianity, calls on his scholarly knowledge and also on personal experience to introduce us to those he calls "superstars of faith."

We learn about real human beings with real difficulties and imperfections—Paul the impatient, Augustine the lusty, Catherine the stubborn, Martin Luther the intolerant—who have achieved spiritual distinction. Many, like Augustine, Bernard, Francis, and Clare, have changed the nature of Christianity itself. They spring to life against a backdrop of Church history, culture, and politics.

We come away with a vivid sense of the world these believers lived in—how they were part of their time, as well as how they transcended their times. When Clare ran away to follow Francis rather than marrying, for example, her family lost a chance to make an economic alliance. And when Bernard preached against persecuting the Jews during the Crusades, he stood against prevailing opinion. As we follow Christianity's institutional and political development we come to understand the continuing role of reformers: Bernard, John Hus, Martin Luther, and John Wesley, churchmen themselves who followed their faith and found themselves bitterly at odds with other churchmen.

Human, Imperfect—and Faithful

This course will give you a clearer understanding of how Christianity has developed and changed. You will see Christianity in action, whether the action is Antony the hermit moving deeper and deeper into the desert as seekers and askers overrun him, or Benedict working out his rules for monastic life.

Dr. Cook starts by sharing his perspective: "I'm a Christian. I'm a Catholic. I'm an active Catholic." Eloquent, knowledgeable, amusing, and warm, he calls on his broad understanding of history and culture and on his personal and spiritual experience to examine "people whose lives are eloquent testimonies to the struggle … to live an authentic Christian life."

Dr. Cook shows us human beings with imperfections and inadequacies: Bernardino hunted witches and hounded homosexuals; Bernard preached death to Muslims in the Second Crusade; Martin Luther urged the persecution of the Jews; and Thomas More wrote fierce attacks on Luther. Nevertheless, they put aside their selfishness and resistance as best they could to follow Jesus, sometimes in harmony with the Church but sometimes despite it.

How Have We Loved?

"How did I make judgments in putting together a course about who the great Christians are?" asks Dr. Cook. "To me, the 17th-century German Lutheran Johann Arndt said it best: When we stand before Christ the judge, Christ is not going to ask us what we know. He is going to ask us how we have loved."

The Lives of Great Christians [TTC Video]

Fundamentals of Photography II [TTC Video]

Fundamentals of Photography II [TTC Video]
Fundamentals of Photography II [TTC Video] by Joel Sartore
Course No 7931 | M4V, AVC, 640x360 | AAC, 256 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 14.18GB

Great photography goes beyond knowing about how lenses and f-stops work. It’s about creative problem solving under real-world conditions. Taking great photographs means knowing how to choose the right tool or apply the right technique to capture your subject in the best possible way. Photographers who wish to excel—professional and recreational alike—need to have a solid foundation of technical skills and the ability to apply that knowledge intuitively to a wide range of scenarios and subjects. For example:

  • How do professional photographers anticipate and capture "the decisive moment" that separates a snapshot from a great composition?
  • Under what conditions should you ignore your camera's warnings and push the limits of manual mode to best reflect the scene?
  • What are the technical tricks and equipment that professionals use to quickly turn harsh lighting, reflections, or cluttered environments to a photographer's advantage?

By exploring, and practicing, the same skills, tips, and techniques professional photographers use in the field to solve a range of visual problems, you can take your photography to a whole new level—no matter what your subject. And you can transform yourself from a good photographer into a great one.

Now, in Fundamentals of Photography II, a vibrant and vital continuation of our best-selling Fundamentals of Photography, you’ll hone your skills, improve your ability to optimize picture-perfect moments, and capture jaw-dropping images. Filmed entirely on location and designed as an extension of the first course, Fundamentals II adds new skills to your repertoire and expands upon the skills you already know. It's your chance to rejoin award-winning National Geographic Photographer Joel Sartore for an even deeper dive into the secrets of powerful photography, as he shows you how to apply your hard-learned technical knowledge to take amazing photographs out in the real world. In these 24 lessons, you’ll cover advanced topics like:

  • professional shooting techniques
  • night photography and time exposures
  • working with studio lighting setups—and taking those setups outdoors
  • specialty filters
  • shooting over and under water
  • and much more!

You’ll explore a wide variety of fascinating photographic challenges out in the field, and you’ll spend some time in the studio for an insider’s look at how photographers go through the editing process. Professor Sartore will add more tools to your photographer’s toolbox and, in his words, “unleash everything I’ve ever thought about photography and cover the gamut of what you can do with a still camera.”

Out of the Studio and into the Real World

Professor Sartore has designed this course as a follow up to his wildly popular Fundamentals of Photography course. Mimicking the progression of his in-person workshops, Fundamentals II takes you out of the studio and into the real world as you go on-location and learn to apply the tools and techniques you already have at your disposal. While you are there, he also teaches you a plethora of more advanced techniques, adding to your photographic toolbox of knowledge. Each lesson drops you into a different scenario and lets you shoot alongside a master of the craft as he approaches situations, identifies and overcomes various challenges, and produces engaging, breathtaking photography from seemingly simple events and subjects.

  • Adapting to unusual lighting: If photography is the art of capturing light, then how do you make the best of situations that challenge you with difficult lighting? Explore how to properly utilize side lighting, ghost lighting, colored lighting, and more.
  • Black-and-white photography: There’s a unique mood to black-and-white photos. You’ll be surprised at how different the world looks through a monochromatic lens, and how choosing black and white frees you to do things you’d never dream of doing in color.
  • Smartphone photography: Most of us now take photographs with our smartphones every day—but that’s no excuse to forget the art of great photography. Discover some insider tips and strategies for making the most of your smartphone camera.

During some lessons, you’ll get the unrivaled opportunity to join Professor Sartore on special field assignments—observing a master photographer throughout his creative process, watching him interact with his subjects, consult his photographic instincts, and resolve common challenges in order to tell profound, lyrical stories.

Add to Your Photographer’s Toolbox

Even if you already have a decent-sized toolbox of photographic tips and tricks, Fundamentals of Photography II gives you even more to adapt to what (and where) you’re shooting. Great photography, says Professor Sartore, “takes more tools in the toolbox.” And to that end, he’s packed each of these lessons with specific strategies—many of which will surprise you with just how dramatically they can change the way you take photographs.

  • If you're working in low ambient light and want to capture a moving target, try employing rear-curtain sync, which triggers the flash towards the end of the shutter duration. The result will be an artistic motion trail recording the movement of the subject with a sharp and highly focused, subject at the end.
  • Want an interesting aerial perspective on your subject? Depending on the subject, you can just look down on it from your standing height using a wide-angle lens and, here's the real trick, cutting out the frame of reference. This even works well for subjects with geometric or graphic patterns.
  • Think your chances of taking great outdoor photos end when the sun sets? Think again, as Professor Sartore explores how to use and effectively capture moonlight, starlight, urban lights, and more.

Hone Your Skills with a Master Photographer

What makes Professor Sartore such a rare and delightful photography instructor is that he is an excellent mentor as well as a talented artist. A teacher of the highest caliber, he knows how to share his knowledge and creative process with other photographers (both professional and amateur) in a clear and engaging manner. He makes photography exciting and inspiring. And he doesn’t shy away from highlighting common mistakes and missteps even the most seasoned professionals can make from time to time, making this course valuable for photographers of all levels.

This visually dazzling course is an excellent opportunity to learn from this master photographer, whose photographs have earned him the Best Picture Award from National Geographic magazine and the Veolia Environment Award for wildlife photography—and whose work has been covered by national broadcasts including the CBS News Sunday Morning show, National Geographic’s Explorer, NBC’s Nightly News, and NPR’s Weekend Edition.

“Good is what your mind imagines, but great is often what reality gives you,” says Professor Sartore. And to get great photos, you have to get out there in the field and start looking at the world with your eyes—and your skills—prepared to overcome challenges and find the best story. Consider the 24 lessons of Fundamentals of Photography II your gateway to taking better, richer photos.

Fundamentals of Photography II [TTC Video]

The World's Greatest Geological Wonders: 36 Spectacular Sites [TTC Video]

The World's Greatest Geological Wonders: 36 Spectacular Sites [TTC Video]
The World's Greatest Geological Wonders: 36 Spectacular Sites [TTC Video] by Michael E Wysession
Course No 1712 | M4V, AVC, 640x360 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 16.6GB

Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Mount Fuji, the Galapagos Islands. These natural wonders are on everyone’s list of must-see attractions that are both spectacular and geologically fascinating. But what of Ha Long Bay, the Columbia Glacier, Erta Ale lava lake, and the Great Blue Hole? They also belong on the list, along with more than 200 other sites, both famous and obscure, that are well worth a visit to see breathtaking vistas combined with the grandeur of geological forces in action.

Shaped by erosion, plate tectonics, volcanic eruptions, and other processes over the course of billions of years, Earth is a planet of immense variety. Impressive geological scenes are everywhere. But only a select few—whether astonishing valleys, mountains, waterfalls, or other formations—qualify as geological wonders that are not only memorable and worth a special trip, but that also tell us something profound about the way the world works.

For example, consider these lesser-known but awe-inspiring places:

  • Ha Long Bay: Thousands of limestone towers soar upward out of this bay of mystery and beauty in Vietnam. The formation is what geologists call a karst landscape, sculpted from the slow dissolution of soluble rock by rain and groundwater.
  • Columbia Glacier: One of the most intensively studied glaciers in the world, this magnificent river of ice twists its way for 50 kilometers from Alaska’s coastal range into the sea. Such glaciers advance and retreat for unknown reasons.
  • Erta Ale: In rare cases, lava from a volcano will continuously feed into the volcanic crater and bubble away like a seething caldron. Of the five active lava lakes in the world, the longest running is in a volcano called Erta Ale in Ethiopia.
  • Great Blue Hole: What could cause a nearly perfect circle of intensely deep blue water in the middle of a shallow reef? The Caribbean’s Great Blue Hole tells a surprising story of repeated glaciations and rising and falling seas.

Whether you are planning your next vacation or exploring the world from home, you owe it to your planet to know the places that make it exceptional throughout the solar system. The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders: 36 Spectacular Sites is your gateway to an unrivaled adventure. In 36 lavishly illustrated half-hour lectures that are suitable for nonscientists and geology enthusiasts alike, Professor Michael E. Wysession of Washington University in St. Louis introduces you to Earth’s most outstanding geological destinations.

During more than three decades as an award-winning teacher and geophysicist, Professor Wysession has traveled the globe, getting to know Earth’s most intriguing geological formations. In The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders, he focuses on the leading contenders in 36 categories, from deserts to river deltas to fossil quarries to fjords. After touring his top choice in detail, he presents at least four runners-up that are every bit as spectacular. By the time you complete this course, you will have experienced more than 200 different geological wonders in nearly 120 countries.

Prepare to Be Surprised

Geological wonders impress us for many reasons. They are exceptionally beautiful or mysterious. They relate to us on a practical level, cutting a natural route through a mountain range or providing a source of valuable minerals. They may have played a role in human history, such as the picturesque Greek island of Santorini, which is the remnant of a volcano that erupted in ancient times, possibly ending the Minoan civilization. Natural wonders also teach us about Earth’s interconnected systems, and they put time into perspective. A million years is nothing in the life story of a canyon, a cave, or a continental rift.

Moreover, great landscapes, like great works of art, surprise us:

  • Grand Canyon: No one is prepared for that first glimpse of the Grand Canyon, which suddenly appears as a breathtaking series of chasms in a seemingly featureless plateau. Which raises the question: Why is there a deep canyon here at all?
  • Himalayas: If you go to the top of Mount Everest, you will find marine limestone with fossils. In other words, the roof of the world is made of rocks that came from the bottom of sea! Nothing better demonstrates the power of Earth to move crustal plates.
  • Amazon basin: The Amazon is a river of superlatives. At the point where it drains into the Atlantic Ocean it contains as much water as the next seven largest rivers combined. Twenty percent of the fresh water entering the ocean comes from this mighty river basin.
  • Hawaii: The big island of Hawaii is not only the biggest volcano on Earth; it’s the biggest mountain on Earth of any kind. Measured from its base on the sea floor, it is almost twice as high as the tallest land mountain.

Fire up Your Imagination!

As part of your grand tour, Professor Wysession often gives tips on side trips and other attractions you can find when you visit one of the sites on his list. He also gives cultural background. For example, many geological wonders, such as Mount Fuji in Japan and Ayres Rock in Australia, have long been considered sacred to the people who live in their vicinity. Other locations may seem at first glance to be overwhelmed by hotels, shops, and other tourist amenities. But most of these sites are so vast that it’s not hard to escape into pure nature. And in all cases, if you know the story behind the place that you’re visiting, then just being there, even for a short time, is an experience never to be forgotten.

The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders takes you to stunning locales that spark your imagination. One of the top wonders in anyone’s book is Yellowstone National Park, located primarily in Wyoming. The geysers, bubbling hot springs, and colorful geological formations are awe-inspiring to behold. Even more awesome is the knowledge that nearly the whole park is an enormous volcanic crater, sitting atop a massive, active magma chamber that could erupt at any time. A look at a map of North America shows that the continent has been slowly drifting across a hotspot in Earth’s mantle, which has been responsible for a whole series of “Yellowstones” over the course of millions of years.

The course also probes questions such as these:

  • Why do waterfalls form? Standing at the dazzling Iguazu Falls along the border of Brazil and Argentina, you may wonder why such features are so rare, since rivers and cliffs are common. Learn that the distinctive structure of the rock beneath a river determines whether falls will form.
  • Why does nature prefer hexagons? On close inspection, Devils Tower in Wyoming is made up of hexagonal columns of volcanic rock. Probe the connection between this geological feature and the cells of a honeycomb or the tiles on a bathroom floor.
  • Are meteor craters always circular? Meteor Crater in Arizona is nearly circular, as are most of the countless craters on the moon—even those formed by meteors that strike at low angles. Investigate the amazing physics of an object impacting at escape-velocity speed.
  • Where are the still undiscovered natural wonders? All of the spectacular geological formations on the surface of Earth have been found. But underground, dramatic caves wait to be discovered. Explore an exceptional example that recently came to light in Mexico.

Professor Wysession winds up the course with a tour of geological wonders on other planets, as Earth is not alone in having impressive volcanoes, canyons, and other attractions. But Earth’s combination of plate tectonics, flowing water, a relatively dense atmosphere, and life has created formations that are unique in the solar system. Take advantage of The World’s Greatest Geological Wonders to discover what makes our planet so spectacular. There’s truly no place like home!

The World's Greatest Geological Wonders: 36 Spectacular Sites [TTC Video]

Quantum Mechanics: The Physics of the Microscopic World [TTC Video]

Quantum Mechanics: The Physics of the Microscopic World [TTC Video]
Quantum Mechanics: The Physics of the Microscopic World [TTC Video] by Benjamin Schumacher
Course No 1240 | AVI, DivX, 720x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | 6.81GB

One day in 1900, German physicist Max Planck told his son that he had made a breakthrough as important as Isaac Newton's discovery of the workings of the universe. Planck had reached the surprising conclusion that light behaves as if it is packaged in discrete amounts, or quanta, a seemingly simple observation that would lead to a powerful new field of physics called quantum mechanics.

In the following decades, a series of great physicists built on Planck's discovery, including Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Louis de Broglie, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, Richard Feynman, and many others, developing quantum mechanics into the most successful physical theory ever devised—the general framework that underlies our understanding of nature at its most fundamental level.

Quantum mechanics gives us a picture of the world that is so radically counterintuitive that it has changed our perspective on reality itself, raising profound questions about concepts such as cause and effect, measurement, and information. Despite its seemingly mysterious nature, quantum mechanics has a broad range of applications in fields such as chemistry, computer science, and cryptography. It also plays an important role in the development and innovation of some of today's most amazing—and important—technologies, including lasers, transistors, microscopes, semiconductors, and computer chips.

Quantum Mechanics: The Physics of the Microscopic World gives you the logical tools to grasp the paradoxes and astonishing insights of quantum mechanics in 24 half-hour lectures designed specifically for nonscientists and taught by award-winning Professor Benjamin Schumacher of Kenyon College.

No comparable presentation of this subject is so deep, so challenging, and yet accessible. Quantum Mechanics is generously illustrated with diagrams, demonstrations, and experiments and is taught by a professor who is both a riveting lecturer and a pioneer in the field, for Professor Schumacher is an innovator in the exciting new discipline of quantum information.

Think Like a Physicist

Working on the principle that any discovery made by the human mind can be explained in its essentials to the curious learner, Professor Schumacher teaches you how to reason like a physicist in working out the features of the quantum world. After taking this course, the following apparently inexplicable phenomena will make sense to you as logical outcomes of quantum processes:

  • That quantum particles travel through space in the form of waves that spread out and are in many places at the same time
  • That quantum mechanics takes us to a bedrock level of reality where objects are utterly simple, identical in every respect
  • That two quantum particles can interact at a distance in a way that seems almost telepathic—a phenomenon that Albert Einstein called "spooky"
  • That even in the complete vacuum of empty space, there is still a vast amount of energy bubbling into and out of existence

Regarding the last phenomenon, you could say that quantum mechanics not only changes our view of everything, it also changes our view of "nothing!"

Quantum Puzzles

Quantum mechanics has even entered popular language with expressions such as "quantum leap," which is often used inaccurately to mean a radical transformation. In quantum mechanics, a quantum leap is the minimum change in the energy level of an electron, related to the discrete units of light energy discovered by Max Planck.

Another familiar expression is the "uncertainty principle," an idea formulated by Werner Heisenberg in the 1920s. Again, popular usage can be misleading, since one often hears the term used to mean the unavoidable disturbance caused by making an observation. But in quantum mechanics the concept refers to an elementary feature of the microworld—that certain properties have no well-defined values at all.

Little wonder that quantum mechanics is one of the few fields in which philosophical speculation goes hand in hand with scientific breakthroughs. Consider these quantum puzzles that have striking philosophical implications:

  • Schrödinger's cat: Erwin Schrödinger noted that the standard Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics makes it possible for a cat to be considered simultaneously dead and alive when exposed to a potentially lethal quantum situation.
  • Bell's theorem: John Bell showed that we must either give up the idea that particles have definite properties before they are measured, or we must imagine that all the particles in the universe are connected by a web of instantaneous communication links.
  • Many-worlds interpretation: In a scenario adopted by many science fiction authors, Hugh Everett III argued that every possible outcome of every quantum event takes place in a limitless branching series of parallel universes—of which we see only one.

Clear, Enlightening, and Thorough

Quantum Mechanics begins by exploring the origin of quantum mechanics and its golden age of discoveries in the early 20th century before taking you deeply into the key concepts and methods of the discipline. Then Professor Schumacher rounds out the course with a discussion of selected topics, including the potentially revolutionary applications of quantum cryptography and quantum computing. Throughout, he adheres to the following very helpful ground rules, tailored to give those without any previous preparation in math and physics a clear, enlightening, and thorough introduction to quantum mechanics:

  • He presents the real theory of quantum mechanics, not a superficial popularization.
  • He simplifies the subject to highlight fundamental principles.
  • He uses thought experiments, or hypothetical examples, as a tool for probing quantum phenomena.
  • He teaches you rudimentary symbols and rules that allow you to calculate the outcome of various quantum experiments.

One thought experiment that Professor Schumacher returns to involves a Mach-Zehnder interferometer, a simple arrangement of mirrors and detectors that illustrates basic properties and paradoxes of quantum mechanics. By considering the different paths that a photon can take through the interferometer, you discover such key principles as constructive and destructive interference, Max Born's probabilistic explanation of quantum phenomena, and Niels Bohr's concept of complementarity that led to the Copenhagen interpretation—the view of quantum mechanics since the 1920s.

Lucid, witty, and intensely interesting, Dr. Schumacher's lectures are illustrated with scores of insightful graphics. You are also introduced to a celebrated visual aid used by physicists themselves: the Feynman diagram, made famous by Nobel Prize–winner Richard Feynman as a cartoon-like shorthand for keeping track of quantum particles as they ceaselessly interact, change their identities, and even move backward through time!

Be Part of a Great Tradition

Richard Feynman was a graduate student of the eminent theoretical physicist John A. Wheeler—and so was Professor Schumacher, who earned the last Ph.D. that Dr. Wheeler supervised. Wheeler, in turn, was mentored by Niels Bohr, who studied with Ernest Rutherford, one of the pioneers of nuclear physics at the turn of the 20th century. Therefore, as you watch Quantum Mechanics, you are part of an unbroken chain of thinkers who have transmitted ideas and added to them across the decades, pondering, probing, and making remarkable discovery after discovery to uncover the secrets of our physical world.

Quantum Mechanics: The Physics of the Microscopic World [TTC Video]

The Western Literary Canon in Context [TTC Video]

The Western Literary Canon in Context [TTC Video]
The Western Literary Canon in Context [TTC Video] by John M Bowers
Course No 2120 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 6.71GB

The Western literary canon has come to epitomize the official—and sometimes controversial—list of works that every educated person should know.

Among its more than 3,000 works are the Odyssey, Beowulf, Hamlet, and War and Peace—all of which have stood the test of time to become essential aspects of Western culture and our reading lives. Even if you haven't read some of them, you've undoubtedly heard of them—their mere titles are synonymous with greatness.

But what exactly is the Western literary canon? Why does it contain certain works and not others?

What is its history? What is its future?

Most important: What do particular works in the Western canon tell us about the development of literature and civilization?

You explore these and other thought-provoking questions in The Western Literary Canon in Context, a thorough investigation of more than 30 key works of the Western canon and the critical roles they played—and continue to play—in the development of Western literature. Over the course of 36 lectures, award-winning professor and author John M. Bowers of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas takes you from the formation of the Bible to the postcolonial literature of the late 20th century, revealing the exciting stories behind these classic works and their often surprising connections with one another.

It's an insightful approach that will reshape your thoughts about the evolution of literature and will open your eyes to the hidden dialogue among Western civilization's most cherished and influential authors.

Explore Key Influences

Great literature has always played a central role in Western civilization and our lives. It has given us creation myths, celebrated the glories of our past, shown us new ways to envision our future, helped us make sense of tragedy, inspired political movements, and instigated social change. The important role of books in our lives makes understanding canonic works all the more essential to understanding our culture.

The various entries in the Western literary canon also encompass a wide variety of subjects, genres, themes, and literary styles that set the standards that today's authors follow. We study Beowulf to get the best example of epic Old English poetry; we study Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway to understand stream of consciousness as a narrative technique; and we study William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury to experience the complexity of the American South.

In addition, studying these works in their various political, religious, and cultural contexts helps you see and appreciate the lively dialogue between authors and works within the Western literary canon. As the poet (and member of the canon) T. S. Eliot wrote in a 1919 essay, "You cannot value [the artist] alone. You must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead."

The Western Literary Canon in Context is your opportunity to delve into hallmark works of the canon specifically chosen to exemplify its growth within a series of similar themes. You gain invaluable insights into the stories behind these masterpieces and some of the important elements involved in canon formation:

  • The influence of editors: Canon formation, you discover, is a critical part of the Bible's enduring legacy to Western literature. In the 4th century, Eusebius of Caesarea sorted out the body of Christian scriptures and established 20 books of the New Testament, acknowledging the Acts of the Apostles while rejecting the Gospel of St. Thomas, for instance. Later that century, Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria issued a list of 27 New Testament books that would prevail as the standard—he even used the word "canonized."
  • The influence of culture: You see how some of the West's greatest cultures fostered the creation of key canonic works and how some works, in turn, became part of that culture's soul. Homer's epic poem, the Odyssey, helped cement the idea of a Greek hero in its characterization of the crafty warrior Odysseus, while Virgil's Aeneid, commissioned by the Roman emperor Augustus, celebrated the origins of the Roman Empire.
  • The influence of education: The best way to get into the canon is to get into the classroom, where we are first introduced to the Western canon's great works. While teaching at Oxford, J. R. R. Tolkien pushed to get Beowulf on the required reading list—and even today the college classroom remains the typical place readers first encounter the poem.
  • The influence of controversy: Many of the Western canon's works were controversial upon their publication, drawing both the anger of religious and political establishments and the appreciation of literary critics. The "racy" elements of works like Ovid's Metamorphoses and James Joyce's Ulysses shocked contemporary readers but later were celebrated for their influence on Western storytelling techniques and the groundbreaking new ways they explored the human spirit.

Participate in a Riveting Literary Discussion

The Western Literary Canon in Context's approach to the masterpieces of Western literature focuses on the unique connections between each work and its predecessors.

You follow and participate in a riveting literary discussion, witnessing how, through their works, history's great writers have "talked" with one another across time. You come to understand that the books in the Western literary canon were not created in a vacuum but instead were shaped by the literary traditions that came before them. As Professor Bowers emphasizes, the Western literary canon generates itself backward.

For example:

  • When Virgil wrote the Aeneid, he echoed the Homeric epics the Iliad and the Odyssey to reflect the transition of power from the Greek to the Roman world and similarly the transition of culture from Greek literature to Latin poetry. In the Divine Comedy, Dante's Christian epic, Virgil would be portrayed as Dante's spiritual guide during his journey through Hell and Purgatory.
  • Voltaire's Candide contains numerous allusions and references to canonic authors and works. The Venetian nobleman Pococurante mocks authors like Homer and Milton when he gives Candide a tour of his library, while the hidden realm of El Dorado to which the title character flees bears a striking resemblance to the world in Sir Thomas More's Utopia.
  • Herodotus and Thucydides are considered the fathers of history, and their respective works The Histories and The Peloponnesian War provide us with the two major models for history writing. Herodotus sought to find the root causes to explain the military and national events of the Peloponnesian War, while Thucydides structured his history like an Athenian tragedy.
  • John Milton's epic religious poem, Paradise Lost, is a catalog of the canonic works that precede it, from Plato's The Apology of Socrates (in Satan's use of persuasion with rhetoric) to William Shakespeare's Hamlet (in Satan's motive of revenge against God).

As you progress through The Western Literary Canon in Context, from the ancient Greek tragedies of Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides to the multicultural themes of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, you see that as the cultural landscape changes, so, too, does our reading of these works.

Ponder the Western Canon's Future

The Western canon continues to broaden its definitions in the 20th century with stylistically unique works such as T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land." As Western civilization expanded, its literature also expanded to encompass Eastern literary themes. What was once a canon dominated by Western themes and works started to become increasingly diverse.

Many of the works and authors you examine in the final lectures of The Western Literary Canon in Context have not been touched on in previous Teaching Company literature courses. While the canonic status of these contemporary works is still up for debate, Professor Bowers makes convincing arguments for the worth of these recent novels:

  • Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain
  • Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children

Analyzing these recent works gives you a wealth of ideas as to the possible future of the Western canon and offers you insights into works that may well be the canonic masterpieces of the next 100 years.

Take a Panoramic Look at Literature

With more than 30 years of experience teaching literature at a variety of universities, including Princeton University and the University of Virginia, Professor Bowers has a passion for literature that is contagious. The recipient of a Nevada Regents' Teaching Award, he draws rich connections between works as diverse as The Tempest, Dante's Divine Comedy, St. Augustine's Confessions, and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and makes you think about these icons of our literary tradition as an essential part of our world.

Novels, poems, plays, histories, and philosophical treatises: All of the masterpieces studied here provide, at their core, engaging literary experiences that have captivated readers for centuries. As you study the importance of the Western literary canon in works such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Decameron, and The Charterhouse of Parma, you find yourself immersed in worlds of adventure, intrigue, and fantasy and exploring a range of human themes like romantic love, chivalric honor, and religious devotion.

A panoramic look at literature, The Western Literary Canon in Context proves to you the central importance of these cultural milestones and reveals their timeless legacies. The course is your opportunity to witness a rich literary dialogue and take an amazing journey through thousands of years of literary beauty, grace, and humanity. You'll never think about these classic works the same way again.

The Western Literary Canon in Context [TTC Video]

War and World History [TTC Video]

War and World History [TTC Video]
War and World History [TTC Video] by Jonathan P Roth
Course No 8870 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 48x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 8.98GB

For thousands of years, military engagements between opposing nations and societies have had important effects on all aspects of human civilization. While the most direct and recognizable impacts of war are the victories and defeats that shape the course of history, warfare also affects human culture in ways that are not always appreciated or understood.

Surprising as it may seem, war often creates as well as destroys. As the most complex of all human endeavors, warfare—from ancient to modern—has spurred the growth of essential new technologies; demanded the adoption of complex economic systems; shaped the ideology and culture of nations; promoted developments in art and literature; and spread faith across the globe.

Consider, for example, just a few intriguing facts about the important role of warfare in human history:

  • The banking and credit systems that are mainstays of our culture developed as a specific response to the needs of war.
  • Although wars often appear to emerge from conflict within political systems, in many cases— such as the Ottoman Empire and the European nation-states—the political systems themselves emerged from the activity of war.
  • The New England colonies in the United States would probably never have survived economically if it were not for huge profits from piracy and privateering.

Here, then, is a highly provocative encounter with history. In War and World History, celebrated military historian and Professor Jonathan P. Roth of San José State University offers you a fresh and challenging insight into human societies through a deep look at the effects and roles of war.

These 48 lectures take you on an exploration of humanity's interface with armed conflict across five continents. But this is far from a traditional approach to military events. This panoramic series is not the history of battles or military campaigns, but the story of the intimate interconnections of war with human cultures and societies and how these connections have shaped history.

As a penetrating view of the many contexts and meanings of warfare, War and World History is for anyone interested in understanding the evolution of our civilization, past and present.

The Global Terrain of Human Conflict

Huge in scope and fascinating in its details, War and World History explores the complex effects of culture, economics, politics, and religion on war—and war's influences on them. In this context, you chart the colorful history of the practice and methodology of warfare.

As your guide, Professor Roth is unusually well qualified to present a broad-minded view of these events. A war protester in his youth, he later served for six years in the New York Army National Guard, then became an acclaimed scholar of warfare. With his richly informed perspective, the lectures unfold as an enthralling inquiry into the nature of organized conflicts.

In probing the links between evolving human cultures and warmaking, the course reveals the ways in which the fate of civilizations is determined by the fate of military events.

But there's another core feature of the lectures: Seen through the lens of armed struggle, this is world history itself at its most vivid and compelling. You witness the dramatic rise of organized societies, economic systems, empires, and nations, as well as world-shaping creeds, ideologies, cultural forms, and developing conceptions of religion, citizenship, and social identity.

Professor Roth makes the great scope of the material directly understandable by focusing the lectures around the core themes of economics, politics, religion, and social culture in their relation to warfare.

War Pays Its Way

In the 8th century B.C. the Phoenicians—famous as traders—staked out maritime colonies across the Mediterranean. Their goal: vast profit from silver, slaves, and other commodities. But this trade came about through warfare and was pursued in support of warfare. Backed by the first warships designed specifically to fight other ships, the Phoenicians' trade in silver funded the armies of the Assyrian Empire.

This deep interweaving of warfare with economies forms a theme you investigate across the arc of history. In selected lectures you learn

  • how the cost of a single medieval castle consumed as much as a third of a kingdom's entire revenue;
  • how bitter conflict over war budgets led to the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215;
  • how Renaissance credit and banking empires arose in response to the financial strains of war;
  • how the victory of liberal democracies over totalitarian regimes in the 20th century was due to successful management of capitalist economies.

The "Anatomy" of Warfare

Throughout War and World History, the lectures highlight the vital methodology and organization of war and the military cultures that grew from them.

You trace the fortunes of the chariot in the Bronze Age as it spread across the Asian core, revolutionizing battle and spurring the "chariot nobility," as nobles were granted lands and incentives to produce chariots for royal armies.

In classical Greece, hoplite soldiers rejected the aristocratic tradition of individual combat, facing the enemy as a phalanx in a wall of shields. You learn how this practice bred an ideology of equality and how the hoplite system had political features that remain important today.

Among many "engagements" with military methodology, you study the momentous rise of the regiment and the vast 18th-century European naval system. And you consider the factors that allowed Spanish forces numbering in the hundreds of men to defeat Aztec armies of tens of thousands.

World-Conquering Empires, Nation-States, and Ideologies

At the heart of the series, you explore the political contexts of war over three millennia, as societies, empires, and political systems flourished or fell by military means.

  • You trace the role of militaries in the great empires, from Rome's profit-based warmaking to the gunpowder conquests of the Safavid Persians to the global reach of Europe's colonial powers.
  • You study the feudal system, west and east, in the Middle Ages and the power structures of lords, vassals, and armored horsemen.
  • You explore the 17th-century European nation-state, where militaries were "nationalized" into central governments and military service was imbued with ideology of citizenship and loyalty to state.
  • You define the crucial military underpinnings of nationalism, Communism, and Fascism in the modern era.

War and the Gods

The interface of warfare with religion breeds some of the most unusual and poignant of history's conflicts.

In the early societies, you see how the Assyrians delivered military reports to the temples of the god Assur, on whose behalf they waged war, and how the Achaemenid Persians conceived of the earth as a spiritual battlefield, with two supreme beings locked in a violent struggle of good versus evil.

You follow religious conquests from Asia to the New World, as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and even Buddhism spread through military force. You probe the Christian and Muslim ideologies of holy war, the bloody Sunni-Shi'a split within Islam, and the Catholic wars against the pagans, the Byzantine orthodoxy, and the Protestants.

Here you find some of the most jarring details of humanity's propensity for violence. You encounter the Hindu justification for killing in war—that war itself is an illusion—and the Christian "paramilitary" monks who attacked pagan temples and carried out assassinations.

The Colorful Instruments of Conflict

The history of warfare reads as a dynamic, overlapping series of technological inventions, as weapons systems arose and mutated, changing military practice and reaching across cultures.

Central to this theme, you trace the history-making military revolutions, including those of the bow, the horse, the sword, and gunpowder. You follow the two separate gunpowder revolutions; first in China, where the technology originates, and second in western Europe, where the practice of "corning" gunpowder vastly increased its power, transforming warfare worldwide.

You mark the great changes in weaponry brought by the Industrial Revolution, as advances in firearms, explosives, and shipbuilding galvanized arms industries. And you see how these factors led to the global military dominance of the European powers.

War's Deep Imprints in Social Life and Culture

Throughout the course, you delve into the fascinating ways in which war shapes social culture—and social culture shapes wars.

In ancient Greece, you enter the symposia—rich banquets where young aristocrats trained for war through songs, poems, and ritual drinking. You learn the uncommon role of gender on the Asian steppes, where women rose as distinguished warriors and were buried with their weapons.

In the feudal era, you study the codes of courtly conduct, chivalry, and honor of the European, Muslim, and Asian cultures.

You consider the Renaissance intellectual revolutions in science, philology, and humanist philosophy, and you see how these were profoundly influenced by thinking about war, and how, in turn, they changed military theory forever.

And you see key imprints of war through the centuries in the relations of class and race and in the literature of heroes, history writing, and art.

The lectures pulsate with intriguing facts and anecdotes that bring the material vibrantly to life. You learn the origin of chess pieces in the divisions of the Indian army, and the military source of the legend of the Amazons. You learn of the military work of Leonardo da Vinci and the war-making role of early Catholicism, as Pope Julius II, in full armor, led an army against Venice.

From first to last, Professor Roth presents the epic story of armed struggle in a way that is both graspable and deeply insightful. Clearly delineating the underpinnings of economics, politics, religion, and culture in their embrace with warfare, he knits together the history-making processes and events that gave us the world we know today.

In the global landscape of human societies, War and World History defines patterns and currents of civilization that are critical to our thinking about humanity's past, present, and future. Probe these pivotal and revealing features of history and deepen your understanding of our extraordinary, evolving world.

War and World History [TTC Video]

World War II: A Military and Social History [TTC Video]

World War II: A Military and Social History [TTC Video]
World War II: A Military and Social History [TTC Video] by Thomas Childers
Course No 810 | AVI, XviD, 640x432 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 30x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.36GB

Fifty-five million people died in the Second World War, the greatest conflict in human history.

Fifty years later, these lectures ask and answer important questions about this war:

  • Might Hitler have been stopped sooner?
  • Should Roosevelt have foreseen Pearl Harbor?
  • Could more lives have been saved as the Holocaust became known?
  • Did Truman have to use the atomic bomb at Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
  • Did the Allies come closer to losing World War II than we would like to think?

The origins and expansion of the war in Europe and the Pacific are examined. Military and political strategies and failures are analyzed. Social and economic effects of the war are assessed.

World War II: A Military and Social History [TTC Video]

Origins of the Human Mind [TTC Video]

Origins of the Human Mind [TTC Video]
Origins of the Human Mind [TTC Video] by Stephen P Hinshaw
Course No 1663 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.61GB

For thousands of years, the human mind has been shrouded in mystery. Elusive in nature, the subject has prompted an intensive study of several puzzling questions about what the mind is, what it's made of, how it works, and how it differs from our brains. With the latest advancements in both our understanding of the brain and the technology we use to look inside it, scientists have vastly improved their understanding of the human mind. Now, more so than at any other point in human history, we can better explain and describe

  • how the human mind has evolved, both on the scale of our entire species from the dawn of humanity to the present, and on the individual level from birth to adulthood;
  • the ways our genes and environments work together to mold the people we become;
  • the sources, symptoms, and potential treatment methods for debilitating mental disorders such as depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and autism;
  • why our intensely social species has the dynamic capability to both ostracize and empathize with the humanity of our fellow individuals; and much more.

Despite its mysterious nature, the human mind and its complexities lie at the heart of who we are as human beings. It shapes our everyday lives and defines our individual personalities. And grasping both the mind's scientific origins and its biological workings is essential to any well-rounded understanding of possible answers to questions that have fascinated and perplexed humanity throughout history.

Origins of the Human Mind is your authoritative guide to the latest information and viewpoints on what neurobiologists, psychologists, and other scientists know about this fascinating subject. These 24 intriguing and enlightening lectures lay bare the inner workings of our minds—and it's all brought to you by award-winning Professor Stephen P. Hinshaw, an instructor whose training as a clinical psychologist straddles both the science of the mind and its impact on individual lives. His comprehensive and unbiased approach to this subject reveals how the science of the human mind applies to the life of our species—and to your own life as well.

Explore the Mind on Two Fascinating Scales

So what, exactly, is the human mind? Our minds, according to Professor Hinshaw, are not disembodied entities completely separate from our brains. Rather, they are a rich, diverse, and utterly complex set of mental and emotional experiences that originate in our brains and interact with our surrounding environment.

Grasping such a concept might seem like a daunting task, but Professor Hinshaw's approach is methodical, organized, and compelling. The foundation of Origins of the Human Mind lies in its exploration of theories about how the mind works on two key scales, each of which offers its own fascinating insights into how and why our minds operate the way they do:

  • The evolutionary scale (phylogeny): This scale offers you a captivating window into how minds evolved over hundreds of millions of years and led to the development of brain plasticity, intense emotional bonds, complex executive functions, the potential for culture and invention, and more.
  • The individual scale (ontogeny): This scale shows you how changes made on an evolutionary level unfold throughout a single human lifespan, from infancy to adolescence to adulthood to advancing old age.

Examining these scales in depth—and together—allows you to notice similarities and differences in viewpoints and approaches that you wouldn't get from an intense focus on one or the other. It also demonstrates how viewing the development of the mind on a large and small scale simultaneously provides us with the best possible picture about what the mind truly is.

Get Answers to Provocative Scientific Questions

But what makes Origins of the Human Mind so essential to your grasp of contemporary scientific issues are the answers that Professor Hinshaw provides to some of the most provocative questions involved in the study of the human mind:

  • What roles do the building blocks of the brain—such as neurons, synapses, and neurotransmitters—play in operating both the normal and abnormal human mind?
  • Is your mind genetically predisposed to act the way it does, or is it shaped by your environment and upbringing?
  • If mental disorders like depression and schizophrenia are so harmful, why haven't the maladaptive genes that cause them been bred out through natural selection?
  • Why is there such a long period of helplessness required for full brain maturation, and why does the majority of brain development occur after birth?
  • How different, if at all, are the cognitive skills and behavioral patterns of men and women?

Some of the conclusions reached by today's scientists may simply confirm what you've always intuitively suspected. Others may challenge what you thought you knew about your mind. In all instances, however, these answers bring you closer than ever to scientific frontiers we've only recently discovered.

Discover the Humanity behind the Science of the Mind

Professor Hinshaw has made a career of studying the human mind from multiple points of view. Yet it's his background in clinical psychology, his distinguished career as a scientist, and his position as Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, that make him an invaluable guide through the often perplexing territory of the human mind.

His ability to make clear sense of a range of scientific topics (including evolution, behavioral genetics, and neurobiology), combined with his ability to distill the humanity hidden within grand scientific theories and concepts, makes these lectures as compassionate as they are comprehensive. Whether discussing the development of emotions and instincts, comparing the 21st-century human brain to that of its primitive ancestor, or even relating his own family's personal struggles with mental illness, Professor Hinshaw always avoids turning this course into a dry accumulation of facts and data devoid of personal meaning.

Instead, he's crafted Origins of the Human Mind to be a multifaceted look at one of the hottest subjects in the scientific world. And while more work needs to be done until we finally solve the riddles of our minds, by the conclusion of the last lecture you'll find yourself better prepared to understand the discoveries of tomorrow as they arise.

Origins of the Human Mind [TTC Video]

Death, Dying, and the Afterlife: Lessons from World Cultures [TTC Video]

Death, Dying, and the Afterlife: Lessons from World Cultures [TTC Video]
Death, Dying, and the Afterlife: Lessons from World Cultures [TTC Video] by Mark Berkson
Course No 6822 | M4V, AVC, 854x480 | AAC, 160 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 2.29GB

It’s a universal truth: Everyone—including you—will eventually die. Other forms of life on our planet will also die, but we might be the only living creatures who cannot help but contemplate our own mortality. After thousands of years of pondering it, we still find death one of life’s most perplexing mysteries—yet it doesn’t have to be the most frightening.

Death serves as the horizon against which our lives unfold and shapes the choices we make about how to live. In fact, the knowledge of mortality has inspired much of human activity—religion, philosophy, music and visual arts, even scientific endeavors and monumental architecture have all been driven by our understanding of death. Whether viewed as a transition to paradise or punishment, an ultimate separation or ecstatic joining, the end of existence or the beginning of a new way of being, many cultures have learned to see death as a window into the true meaning of life. The subject, therefore, deserves our close consideration.

Death, Dying, and the Afterlife: Lessons from World Cultures is an uplifting, meaningful, and multidisciplinary exploration of life’s only certainty. While we’re predisposed to look on death with fear and sadness, it’s only by confronting and exploring death head-on that we can actually embrace the important role it plays in our lives. Death, it turns out, is a powerful teacher, one that can help us

  • think responsibly and deeply about the meaning and value of life;
  • connect with the beliefs and traditions of cultures and faiths different from our own;
  • gain the wisdom and guidance to live a richer, more fulfilling life while we have it.

As religion scholar and award-winning Professor Mark Berkson of Hamline University says, “Reflecting on death and dying is an essential part of the examined life.” Take a wide-ranging look at this undeniably confounding and fascinating subject. Bringing together theology, philosophy, biology, anthropology, literature, psychology, sociology, and other fields, these 24 lectures are a brilliant compendium of how human beings have struggled to come to terms with mortality. You’ll encounter everything from ancient burial practices, traditional views of the afterlife, and the five stages of grief to the question of killing during wartime, the phenomenon of near-death experiences, and even 21st-century theories about transcending death itself. Prepare for a remarkable learning experience that brings you face-to-face with the most important topic mortals like us can consider.

Get Answers to Profound Questions about Death

“Thinking about death is not simply the price we have to pay for a fuller, more honest understanding of our lives,” says Professor Berkson. “Reflecting on death can have a remarkably positive effect on one’s life.”

With personal and cultural enlightenment as the overarching goal, his lectures provide you with comprehensive, eye-opening answers to several major questions surrounding the topic of death.

  • How do we think and feel about death? Several lectures are devoted to the ways we conceptualize and form attitudes about death—as good, as bad, or as nothing at all. Topics you’ll explore include common symbols of death, different medical and spiritual definitions of death, the phenomenon of death denial, and the rationality of fearing our eventual death.
  • How do we experience death? Emphasizing the fields of sociology, anthropology, and psychology, you’ll get an in-depth look at how human beings from a cross-section of cultures and traditions experience death—both their own and that of loved ones. How do different people cope with grief in different ways? What are the backstories behind various burial rituals? What does it mean to die well?
  • How do religions approach death and what comes after? A major part of this course is devoted to comparing and contrasting Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Daoist, and Confucian attitudes toward death. You’ll learn how these great world faiths explain the existence of death, their beliefs regarding what happens to us after we die (including various manifestations of paradise and hell), their rituals for handling corpses, and much more.
  • When (if ever) is it justified to take a life? You’ll also get an opportunity to plunge into the fierce debates over the deliberate taking of a human life, whether through suicide, euthanasia, or warfare. In all cases, Professor Berkson presents both sides of the argument, giving you the cultural background and information you need to better understand others’ opinions and beliefs, and to better support—or revise—your own.
  • How important is death to our understanding of our humanity? Spend time focusing on what natural science has revealed about death and the process of dying—and the possibility of somehow transcending or avoiding death entirely. Also, probe historical efforts to extend human life, and ponder the ethical and social dilemmas of immortality.

Professor Berkson is a gentle but persistently curious guide, leading you through these topics with wonder, reverence, and occasionally even humor.

Join Great Thinkers in Pondering the Problem of Death

Throughout Death, Dying and the Afterlife: Lessons from World Cultures, you’ll hear a chorus of voices from multiple disciplines, cultures, and time periods as they offer their unique, sometimes shocking, and sometimes refreshing perspectives on the problem of death. These voices range from noted poets and celebrated scientists to philosophers (both ancient and modern) and spiritual leaders, including:

  • the Buddha, who, in an effort to help people find freedom from suffering, taught that if we don’t have a distinct self to begin with, death really takes nothing from us
  • St. Paul, whose writings in the New Testament about the defeat of death through Jesus Christ (“O death, where is thy sting?”) have gone on to inspire billions of Christians around the world
  • Epicurus, the ancient Greek philosopher who believed that because death deprives us of sense experience (and all good and bad consists of experience), it can’t be bad for us at all
  • Albert Camus, the popular Existentialist writer who questioned whether or not suicide was the appropriate response to the hopeless absurdity of life
  • Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, whose groundbreaking book On Death and Dying (1969) introduced readers to the now-classic five stages of the grieving process
  • Dylan Thomas, whose oft-recited poem, “Do not go gentle into that good night,” is a rousing cry of defiance, urging the reader to fight back against death as long as possible

Some of these voices and viewpoints will console you; others may trouble you. But all of them will add intriguing layers to your understanding of what death and dying have meant to so many people who came before you.

Lectures That Will Magnify Your Life

A master scholar and multi-award-winning teacher, Professor Berkson is a wonderful instructor who treats the subject of death in great detail—while respecting the importance of numerous beliefs and ways of thinking about the topic. He’s as adept at talking about Puritan burial rites in colonial America as he is breaking down the ethical complexities of taking a life to alleviate suffering. He’s a teacher who’s not only an expert in such heady subject matter but also someone constantly in awe at just how powerful death has been across cultures and throughout time.

Death, Dying, and the Afterlife: Lessons from World Cultures acts as a memento mori (a reminder of death common to medieval art): something used not for the sake of morbidity but as a spur for people to perfect themselves while still alive.

“Many religious traditions teach that a form of regular death reflection can deepen one’s appreciation for life,” Professor Berkson notes. “And in some traditions, it can actually lead to spiritual transformation or awakening. As the poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, “Whoever rightly understands and celebrates death at the same time magnifies life.”

Death, Dying, and the Afterlife: Lessons from World Cultures [TTC Video]

Dark Matter, Dark Energy: The Dark Side of the Universe [TTC Video]

Dark Matter, Dark Energy: The Dark Side of the Universe [TTC Video]
Dark Matter, Dark Energy: The Dark Side of the Universe [TTC Video] by Sean Carroll
Course No 1272 | AVI, XviD, 512x384 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | 4.3GB

There's more to the universe than meets the eye—a lot more. In recent years, scientists have discovered that 95% of the contents of the cosmos are invisible to our current methods of direct detection. Yet something is holding galaxies and galaxy clusters together, and something else is causing space to fly apart.

Scientists call these invisible components dark matter and dark energy; "dark" because these phenomena do not emit light, not because we are not learning more and more about them. In fact, dark matter and dark energy are the most eagerly studied subjects in astronomy and particle physics today.

If and when we discover this matter, it will further validate the "standard model" of physics which, so far, is the best description of how our universe works; if we cannot find this matter, or if it does not exist, then we will completely need to rethink the current "standard model" theory.

Join the exciting search for these mysterious phenomena in Dark Matter, Dark Energy: The Dark Side of the Universe, a mind-expanding, 24-lecture course taught by Dr. Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist with a profound knowledge of the field. Starting with the early 20th-century work of Albert Einstein in theoretical physics and Edwin Hubble in observational astronomy, Dr. Carroll takes you through the key concepts of this revolutionary view of an expanding universe, concepts which have brought us—for the first time in history—to the brink of knowing what the universe is made of.

Welcome to the Dark Side

Everything you see with your eyes and with powerful instruments—stars, planets, galaxies, dust, and gas—and everything that you think of as atom-based matter is only 5% of what we now know exists. The rest is what Dr. Carroll calls the "dark sector," which consists of the following:

  • Dark matter: First proposed in the 1930s, the idea that there is missing mass influencing the behavior of galaxies began to look more and more likely from the 1970s on. We know that it is matter because we can detect its gravitational influence on visible matter, but we cannot see it. An inventory of the distribution of dark matter throughout space shows that it constitutes 25% of the energy density of the universe.
  • Dark energy: The greatest discoveries are the unexpected ones, which was the case in the late 1990s when two teams of astronomers competing to measure the rate at which the expansion of the universe is slowing down (as virtually everyone thought it must be) discovered that it is speeding up instead. A previously unknown, all-pervasive dark energy must be at work, representing 70% of the energy density of the universe.

Together, dark matter and dark energy account for all but a tiny fraction of everything there is; the ordinary matter that is left over is like the seasoning on the main dish. The story of how we arrived at this startling cosmic recipe is an absorbing drama that takes you through the breakthrough discoveries in astronomy and physics since the turn of the 20th century.

Concept by concept, Dark Matter, Dark Energy gives you the tools to appreciate this subject in depth. Dr. Carroll explains why scientists believe we live in a smooth, expanding universe that originated in a hot, dense state called the big bang.

You investigate the features of the infant universe that led to the large-scale structure we observe today, explore the standard model of particle physics and see how it provides the framework for understanding the interaction of all matter and radiation, and come to understand why dark matter and dark energy are logical consequences of a range of scientific theories and observations and how together they complete a grand picture of the universe.

Deduce the Existence of the Dark Sector

Several significant clues disclose the existence of dark matter and dark energy. In the case of dark matter, we have the evidence of:

  • Galaxy dynamics: The motions of the stars in galaxies and galaxies within clusters indicate that there is far more matter than is implied by visible stars and gas.
  • Echoes of the big bang: Variations in the leftover radiation from the big bang demonstrate that there must be dark matter pulling the ordinary matter we see.

Dark matter is clear to see compared to dark energy, which reveals itself subtly but unmistakably through:

  • Exploding stars: Type Ia supernovae provide a standard candle to measure the distances to faraway galaxies. By combining this information with redshift (which measures how fast a galaxy recedes), astronomers conclude that something is causing galaxies to recede at a faster and faster velocity.
  • Geometry of space: Observations that space is "flat" (with neither positive nor negative curvature) imply a total energy density for the universe that is stunningly consistent with the dark energy hypothesis.

Each of these techniques deduces the existence of dark matter or dark energy from the gravitational fields they cause. But what if our theory of gravity is faulty? Could adjustments to Einstein's general theory of relativity, which forms our modern understanding of gravity, do away with the need for the dark sector?

You explore a theory called Modified Newtonian Dynamics, which successfully dispenses with dark matter in individual galaxies. This theory fails, however, when applied to clusters and has nothing to say about the expansion of the universe.

"It is impossible, in principle, to think of a theory in this day and age that will completely do away with dark matter," says Dr. Carroll, pointing in particular to a convincing piece of evidence from the aftermath of the collision of two galaxies.

Known as the Bullet Cluster, it shows a central region of ordinary matter (evident through telltale x-ray emissions), on either side of which are far more extensive clouds of what can only be dark matter, disclosed by gravitational lensing.

Explaining away dark energy is similarly difficult, because it requires revising the fundamental equation of general relativity. "The problem is that this equation of Einstein's is actually quite remarkable," says Dr. Carroll. "If you try to mess with it just a little bit, you break it."

The overriding question remains: What are dark matter and dark energy? We do not yet know for certain, but physicists have come up with an array of creative ideas and ways to test them. Dark Matter, Dark Energy covers the most promising proposals and looks ahead to experiments that will dramatically improve our understanding of the dark sector.

Take a Voyage of Scientific Discovery

Dr. Carroll has a knack for explaining the latest complex picture of the universe in easy-to-follow terms—a skill honed by his more than 250 scientific seminars, colloquia, educational discussions, and popular talks. Relaxed, eloquent, wryly funny, and brimming with ideas, he has received the Graduate Student Council Teaching Award from MIT for his course on general relativity, as well as research grants from NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation.

With his expert guidance, your previously held ideas about the fate (and possibly the origin) of the universe will be altered permanently. A rich voyage of scientific discovery, Dark Matter, Dark Energy provides you with a comprehensive look at these two mysterious phenomena—and their startling implications for our understanding of the universe.

Dark Matter, Dark Energy: The Dark Side of the Universe [TTC Video]

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