Understanding the Brain [TTC Video]

Understanding the Brain [TTC Video]
Understanding the Brain [TTC Video] by Jeanette Norden
Course No 1580 | AVI, XviD, 496x368 | MP3, 56 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | 7.02GB

Everything that goes on inside your body and every interaction you have with the outside world is controlled by your brain. It allows you to cope masterfully with your everyday environment. It is capable of producing breathtaking athletic feats, sublime works of art, and profound scientific insights. It also produces the enormous range of emotional responses that can take us from the depths of depression to the heights of euphoria.

Considering everything the brain does, how can this relatively small mass of tissue possibly be the source of our personalities, dreams, thoughts, sensations, utterances, and movements?

Understanding the Brain, a 36-lecture course by award-winning Professor Jeanette Norden of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, takes you inside this astonishingly complex organ and shows you how it works, from the gross level of its organization to the molecular level of how cells in the brain communicate. With its combination of neurology, biology, and psychology, this course will help you understand how we perceive the world through our senses, how we move, how we learn and remember, and how emotions affect our thoughts and actions.

Solving the Mystery of the Brain

The ancient Egyptians discarded the brain during mummification while carefully preserving other organs; to them, the brain was of no importance. Starting with the Greek physician Hippocrates, however, observers began tracing more and more of our sensory, nervous, and intellectual activities to the brain—and eventually to specific regions of the brain.

The brain is still a mystery in many respects—for example, we still are unsure as to how consciousness is generated—but recent decades have seen unparalleled advances in understanding how the brain does what it does. In the last 50 years, an explosion of knowledge about the brain's structure and function has occurred. Scientists have performed amazing research by using tools such as MRIs and PET scanning to get a better grasp on deciphering the mysteries of how this important organ works.

Due to these technological advances, we can now pinpoint:

  • where light that enters the eye is converted into the subjective experience of sight
  • where pressure waves that reach the ear are processed into sound
  • where fear is generated
  • which areas of the brain are involved in spoken and written language
  • where the deep chemistry of love is kindled

What You Will Learn

Understanding the Brain provides you with an in-depth view of the inner workings of your brain. Your tour starts with the organization of the central nervous system at the gross, cellular, and molecular levels, then investigates in detail how the brain accomplishes a host of tasks—from seeing and sleeping to performing music and constructing a personal identity.

  • The Structure of the Brain: Lectures 1–11 cover the cellular structure and the overall layout of this intricate organ. You learn how the brain develops during gestation, and are introduced to the technical vocabulary that you will use throughout the course.
  • Brain and Mind: Lectures 12–19 explore how the brain and mind are thought to be related by examining the sensory functions of sight, hearing, and bodily sensation. You analyze the motor system, which governs how movement is initiated and coordinated, and explore Parkinson's disease and its progressive impairment of movement.
  • Higher-Order Cognitive Functions: Lectures 20–29 discuss the areas of the brain thought to be responsible for language, emotion, executive function, and cognition—abilities that, in large part, define us as humans. You look at the underlying neurological mechanisms and explore their role in various phenomena like depression, musical ability and appreciation, and drug use.
  • Special Topics: Lectures 30–36 look at several subjects of universal interest. Are the brains of males and females different? How does the brain regulate sleep and dreaming? What is consciousness? And how can you understand the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease?

Our insights into the functioning of the brain often come from cases where something has gone wrong, such as strokes, tumors, injuries, neurological diseases, and mental illnesses—pathologies that vividly demonstrate the distinct roles played by the various affected regions. An expert neuroscientist, Dr. Norden provides a fascinating presentation of these cases.

Know Your Mind

We now know that something important is always going on inside our brain and, as Understanding the Brain illustrates, if you know what to look for, you can observe specific aspects of your own brain in action:

  • Vision: The "now you see it, now you don't" feeling you get when you see an illusion is your brain trying to interpret raw data from the eyes. Far from taking a picture of the world and sending it to the brain, the eyes actually transmit very little information; "seeing" is a creation of the brain.
  • Thought: Sometimes, you can have trouble thinking after taking an antihistamine. This is because antihistamines do not just combat the effects of an allergy, they also block histamine as a neurotransmitter in the brain, altering your ability to think and process information.
  • Motor skills: When you learn how to walk, ride a bicycle, knit, dance, or perform some other motor skill, you reach a point where all of a sudden you are able to coordinate the new movement. That is because specialized neurons in your brain's cerebellum are now firing in sequence.
  • Emotion and memory: Think about doing your taxes. Does that thought elicit a particular emotion? We do not just remember something; our memories are colored with emotion. All of our experiences are influenced by previous experiences through complex loops in the brain's limbic system.
  • Social bonding: Your feeling of well-being with your spouse or friends has a neurochemical basis. The neurotransmitter oxytocin is found in very high concentrations in the limbic systems of animals that bond socially.
  • Consciousness: Sometimes, you can arrive at work with very little memory of the details of your journey; obviously you were not unconscious, but you were not fully aware either. This occurs when your brain is in "autopilot" mode—where it was in control without your being conscious of all that was happening around you.

Appreciate the Wonder of the Brain

As a researcher, Dr. Norden has participated in an ongoing scientific revolution. She is also a nationally recognized educator, singled out as one of the most effective teachers in America in What the Best College Teachers Do. Among Dr. Norden's special qualities cited in the book is this simple, but highly effective, approach to teaching: "Before she begins the first class in any semester, she thinks about the awe and excitement she felt the first time anyone explained the brain to her, and she considers how she can help her students achieve that same feeling."

You can share her consuming passion for the intricacies of the brain in this lively and engaging course, which Dr. Norden has designed specifically for those without a background in science. "All you need to bring is your own brain and a desire to learn," she says.

Thus equipped, you will explore a broad range of exciting topics in neuroscience. Above all, you will come away from Understanding the Brain with a deeper knowledge of how the brain is organized—and a feeling of wonder and appreciation for all that it accomplishes.

Understanding the Brain [TTC Video]

Robotics [TTC Video]

Robotics [TTC Video]
Robotics [TTC Video] by John Long
Course No 1312 | WMV, WMV3, 640x360 | WMA, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | 10.51GB

Robots. The mere word conjures up a bevy of mind-bending images pulled straight from popular science fiction tales. But robots aren’t just the stuff of entertainment. They’re real. They’re everywhere around you. And they’re transforming your life in ways you can’t imagine.

Ours is a world increasingly defined by the cutting-edge field of robotics. Today, we live among marvelous machines that can do things like:

  • provide support for soldiers in challenging terrain,
  • assist highly trained surgeons in performing medical procedures more precisely,
  • explore the harsh environments of space that astronauts can’t yet visit,
  • manufacture products with a speed unmatched by human hands.

In short, the future of human civilization depends on collaborative robotics: humans and machines working together. According to robotics expert and award-winning professor John Long of Vassar College, “Robots are what computers and self-propelled vehicles were to the 20th century: a technological revolution that impacts nearly every aspect of our lives, businesses, and security.”

Yet for all their seen (and unseen) prevalence, robotics remains mysterious to most of us. How exactly do robots work? What does it take to build a robot that can, for a period of time, perform tasks and make decisions with little human input? What are the most revolutionary robots at work today? How do we balance the technological benefits of robots with the potential risks they pose to pre-existing ways of life?

To answer these and other questions is to take an in-depth journey into an exciting world; a journey Professor Long and The Great Courses present in the 24 incredible lectures of Robotics. Using in-studio robot demonstrations, videos of other state-of-the-art robots, 3-D animations, and other amazing visual aids, Professor Long demystifies the world of robots and provides a comprehensive introduction to these intelligent machines. Whether you’re looking to grasp the hard science of how robots work or simply curious about the implications of robots for society, consider this course your official passport to an astonishing new world.

Intriguing Scientific Terrain

Professor Long’s course is an encyclopedic yet accessible introduction to one of the most important areas of modern science. From the concept of robotic autonomy to the inner workings of sensors to the intriguing possibilities of the future, Robotics covers every major topic in the field.

  • How robots work: To better appreciate robots, you have to know how they operate. You’ll watch Professor Long take robots apart to demonstrate how they work using actuators, controllers, and other key parts; discover how roboticists design robots using insights from animal and human behavior; and even learn DIY skills for building your own robot.
  • Where robots work: Many lectures focus on the wide range of environments and real-world scenarios where robots are already proving to be indispensable to how you live. You’ll explore robots in factories, homes, and hospitals; in the air, on land, and under the sea; on mission-critical battlefields and awe-inspiring voyages to distant planets.
  • Robots and our future: With so many robots around us, it seems like the future is already here. So what do the next decades have in store? Swarm robots, humanoid robots, robots that learn from each other, and even self-reproducing robots are just some of the many topics you’ll uncover as Professor Long explains the latest research in robotics.

As you proceed through this course, you’ll also get a look at some of the major ideas and ethical dilemmas involved in the world of robotics.

  • Trade-offs: Robots can’t do everything well. One universal lesson about robot bodies is that there are always trade-offs involved in designing them (such as building a robot for maneuverability instead of efficiency).
  • The Three Laws of Robotics: Isaac Asimov’s famous principles emphasize that robots may in no way injure humans. So how are these laws compromised (or circumvented) by military robots designed to target and eliminate human threats?
  • The uncanny valley: Developed in the 1970s, this hypothesis proposes that as robots become more human in appearance, our affinity for them grows. But once robots appear too human, they simply become disturbing.

Fascinating Robots of Today—and Tomorrow

Of course, the most enjoyable part of

Robotics
is the robots themselves.

You’ll get the opportunity to meet, learn about, and even witness in action an amazing roster of robots that are transforming our everyday lives. Robots that are simple and complex, large and small; robots that work on land, that hover in the air, that swim underwater; robots that work in our homes, our factories, our hospitals; robots that clean rooms and mow lawns and even perform surgery.

  • Roomba: This popular home robot cleans floors by using infrared sensors to detect walls and a homing beacon to return it to its charging station. The design trade-off with a robot like Roomba is that while it can easily transition from bare floors to carpet, it can’t move up and over stairs.
  • Wave Glider: This robotic “platform” has solved two major challenges aquatic environments present to robotics. Since Wave Glider’s wave-based power supply is endless, energy isn’t a problem. And because Wave Glider lies at the water’s surface, it can easily navigate using GPS.
  • Robonaut 2: One of the most exciting projects in orbital robotics is Robonaut 2, a humanoid robot consisting of a head, torso, and two independently functioning arms. Its goal is to safely assist astronauts working in the International Space Station.
  • Da Vinci: A variation on the classic robot arm, Da Vinci is a tele-operated robot helping to lead the charge in medical robotics. This highly advanced robotic surgical system moves robotic arms and tiny hand-like manipulators inside the human body, making minimally-invasive surgery even less invasive
  • EATR: The Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR) actually ingests organic matter for fuel. This wheeled ground robot’s external combustion engine uses biomass to generate electrical power—making it perfect for operating in remote areas for long periods of time.

Not only will these and other robots open your eyes to the intricate details of how robots are designed, built, and improved upon, they’ll illuminate how roboticists tackle everyday challenges and create technological advancements that are central to the way we live today – and the way we’ll live tomorrow.

Robots—Explained by a Brilliant Innovator

Transforming our studios into a veritable robotics laboratory, Professor Long lets you experience the trials and triumphs of robotics firsthand. Director and co-founder of Vassar’s Interdisciplinary Robotics Research Laboratory, he’s researched, designed, and built robots with funding from major government agencies, including the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Small Business Administration. He takes you behind the scenes to show you what worked, what didn’t, and why.

You’ll also witness how robots operate at the level of the wire and sensor; how they’re built, taken apart, and rebuilt for different uses; how they’re designed using the latest technological advancements; and more. Packed with robot demonstrations and 3-D animations, these visually stimulating lectures are an exciting exploration of robotics at every level.

Ultimately, it’s all in service of Professor Long’s overarching goal: to make you more informed and engaged with this increasingly important technology, which brings together the fields of engineering, computer science, neuroscience, and biology. Robotics shows you how we have been using robots to transform our world for decades—and how, in the decades to come, they will continue to revolutionize our lives.

Robotics [TTC Video]

Particle Physics for Non-Physicists: A Tour of the Microcosmos [TTC Video]

Particle Physics for Non-Physicists: A Tour of the Microcosmos [TTC Video]
Particle Physics for Non-Physicists: A Tour of the Microcosmos [TTC Video] by Steven Pollock
Course No 1247 | AVI, XviD, 480x352 | MP3, 96 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | 5.27GB

This two-part series explains, in easily accessible terms, the discovery of the infinitely small particles-the quarks and neutrinos, muons and bosons-that make up everything in nature, from microbes to stars.

Would you like to know how the universe works? Scientists have been asking that question for a long time and have found that many of the answers can be found in the study of particle physics, the field that focuses on those impossibly tiny particles with unbelievably strange names - the hadrons and leptons, baryons and mesons, muons and gluons - so mystifying to the rest of us.

And now, in a fascinating and accessible series of 24 lectures, you can take the mystery out of the remarkable field that in only 100 years has unlocked the secrets of the basic forces of nature.

Professor Pollock will make you familiar with the fundamental particles that make up all matter, from the tiniest microbe to the sun and stars. And you'll also learn the "rules of the game" - the forces that drive those particles and the ways in which they interact - that underlie the workings of the universe.

The lectures have been designed to be enriching for everyone, regardless of scientific background or mathematical ability. Virtually all you'll need as you enter this fascinating world are your curiosity, common sense, and, as Professor Pollock notes, "an open mind for the occasional quantum weirdness." As you move through the lectures, you'll also gain a knowledge of how those particles fit into perhaps the greatest scientific theory of all time: the Standard Model of particle physics; a grasp of key terms like "gauge symmetry," "quantum chromodynamics," and "unified quantum field Theory;" and an appreciation of how particle physics fits in with other branches of physics - including cosmology and quantum mechanics - to create our overall understanding of nature.

Particle Physics for Non-Physicists: A Tour of the Microcosmos [TTC Video]

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