The Black Death: The World's Most Devastating Plague [TTC Video]

The Black Death: The World's Most Devastating Plague [TTC Video]
The Black Death: The World's Most Devastating Plague [TTC Video] by Dorsey Armstrong
Course No 8241 | M4V, AVC, 852x480 | AAC, 160 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 5.45GB

In the late 1340s, a cataclysmic plague shook medieval Europe to its core. The bacterial disease known to us as the Black Death swept westward across the continent, leaving a path of destruction from Crimea and Constantinople to Italy, France, Spain, and ultimately most of Europe, traveling as far west as England and Iceland. Within these locations, the plague killed up to 50% of the population in less than 10 years—a staggering 75 million dead.

Many of us know the Black Death as a catastrophic event of the medieval world. But three vital elements of the story often go unrecognized:

  • The Black Death was arguably the most significant event in Western history, profoundly affecting every aspect of human life, from the economic and social to the political, religious, and cultural.
  • In its wake, the plague left a world that was utterly changed, forever altering the traditional structure of European societies and forcing a rethinking of every single system of Western civilization: food production and trade, the Church, political institutions, law, art, and more.
  • In large measure, by the profundity of the changes it brought, the Black Death produced the modern world we live in today.
While the story of the Black Death is one of destruction and loss, its breathtaking scope and effects make it one of the most compelling and deeply intriguing episodes in human history. Understanding the remarkable unfolding of the plague and its aftermath provides a highly revealing window not only on the medieval world but also on the forces that brought about the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and modernity itself.

Speaking to the full magnitude of this world-changing historical moment, The Black Death: The World’s Most Devastating Plague, taught by celebrated medievalist Dorsey Armstrong of Purdue University, takes you on an unforgettable excursion into the time period of the plague, its full human repercussions, and its transformative effects on European civilization.

A Catastrophe Unprecedented in Human Experience

In 24 richly absorbing lectures, you’ll follow the path of the epidemic in its complete trajectory across medieval Europe. You’ll examine the epidemiological causes of the disaster; the social panic it spawned; its influence on religion, society, politics, economics, and art; and the long-term consequences for a continent that, less than two centuries later, would have the technology and the wherewithal to explore a new world.

In the process, you’ll learn about these remarkable and emblematic effects of the Black Death:

  • By revealing the corruption and inadequacies of the Church in the face of people’s desperate need, the plague sowed the seeds of the Reformation.
  • The plague upended the class system in Europe, permanently changing the balance of power between laborers and lords, peasants and nobles.
  • The epidemic transformed social opportunities for the working and merchant classes: peasants could become clergy, serfs could become tenant farmers, merchants could marry into the nobility, and women could enter trades and professions.
  • Perhaps most surprising of all, those who survived the plague were often wealthier than they’d been before, and had access to more opportunities.

These changes utterly upended structures of social, economic, and religious power that had been in place for centuries, leaving chaos in their wake—and room for new ideas and institutions to arise.

An Epic Story of Loss and Metamorphosis

In measuring the Black Death’s vast societal impact, you’ll explore subject matter such as:

  • The medical causes and underpinnings of the plague – Investigate the epidemiology of Yersinia pestis, the plague bacterium. You’ll study the three main varieties of plague, how the disease was transmitted, and how other disease factors may have contributed to the Black Death’s monumental devastation.
  • The epidemic’s transit across medieval Europe – Track how the plague traveled by both maritime and overland trade routes, and witness the individual stories and shattering drama of its arrival in communities such as Florence, Avignon, Walsham, and Paris.
  • The Black Death’s impact on religion and faith – Discover how the Church appeared powerless to provide any remedy or relief from the plague, which eroded its prestige, moral authority, and temporal power. Observe how direct expressions of religious devotion by common people, such as pilgrimage, flagellation, and veneration of saints, increased dramatically in response to the plague’s ravages.
  • The plague and European economies – Examine how the huge loss of labor and manpower led to social mobility and greatly increased economic opportunities for workers and merchants, and accelerated the rise of the merchant class to rival the economic power of the nobility.
  • Political reverberations of the Black Death – Grasp how the political scene in many places changed dramatically, as nobles came under new economic pressure. The traditional ruling order of those who fight (nobles), those who pray (clergy), and those who work (everyone else) was undone by the new power of labor and trade, and the nobles’ attempts to maintain their previous status triggered unrest and revolts.
  • The historical legacy of the epidemic – Take account of the ways in which the events of the Black Death shaped the future of the West, leaving behind a world in which serfs could buy their freedom, and where, for the first time, leaders and governments were answerable to every level of society.

The Astonishing Human Dimensions of the Plague

In a masterful act of historical storytelling, Professor Armstrong reveals the unfolding of the plague as an endlessly surprising and enthralling saga, illuminating the story with vivid maps, works of art, and manuscripts, as well as gripping contemporary accounts by writers such as Boccaccio and Petrarch. In the course of the narrative, you’ll encounter the full spectrum of poignant human reactions to the epidemic, from terrified families abandoning their stricken children and clergy recoiling from the dying to astounding individual acts of compassion and self-sacrifice for loved ones and strangers alike.

You’ll bear witness to many psychosocial responses, among them the Flagellant movement, whose members publicly tortured themselves to appease the wrath of God; the French town whose populace believed riotous merrymaking would keep the plague at bay; and a range of extreme behavior from hedonistic indulgence and crazed dancing to the tragic scapegoating of Jewish communities. In a fascinating view into the medieval mindset, you’ll explore 14th-century theories of the plague, from theological constructs to explanations of its origins in astrological conjunctions, “corrupted air,” and earthquakes. You’ll also encounter, in medical treatises, the singular figure of the plague doctor, dressed in broad-brimmed hat, long coat, and a beaked, birdlike mask filled with sweet-smelling herbs.

Professor Armstrong details how the plague brought new forms of visual art, such as the extraordinary paintings of the Danse Macabre and Triumph of Death traditions. In the unusual economic climate of the times, plague-themed works of art were commissioned not only by the nobility, but also by the likes of bakers, gardeners, and blacksmiths. And you’ll discover how, in the midst of devastation, the plague directly inspired some of the greatest literary masterpieces the world has ever produced, such as the works of Boccaccio, William Langland, and Geoffrey Chaucer.

Majestic in scope and remarkable in detail, The Black Death: The World’s Most Devastating Plague takes you to the heart of one of Western history’s most catalytic and galvanizing moments, the effects of which gave us the modern world.

The Black Death: The World's Most Devastating Plague [TTC Video]

Introduction to Nanotechnology: The New Science of Small [TTC Video]

Introduction to Nanotechnology: The New Science of Small [TTC Video]
Introduction to Nanotechnology: The New Science of Small [TTC Video] by Shana Kelley, Ted Sargent
Course No 1324 | MP4, AVC, 640x480 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 2.15GB

In 1959, renowned physicist Richard Feynman delivered a prophetic talk to colleagues. He pointed out that no law of nature exists that can prevent scientists from manipulating individual atoms and making almost any product imaginable. It was a bold prediction filled with mind-boggling applications ripped straight from the pages of a science fiction novel.

Now, half a century after Feynman's forecasts, these science fiction conceits are fast becoming scientific fact. And it's all the result of scientists' meticulous investigations into the nanoworld—the atomic realm where distances are measured in billionths of a meter. What we've discovered at the nanoscale has sparked an ever-expanding technological revolution—one that will continue to touch nearly every aspect of human life and will fast become a game-changer in many fields, including

  • engineering, where experiments in materials science will deliver new materials with spectacular properties;
  • communications, where computers are quickly becoming smaller and more powerful than ever before; and
  • medicine, where new technologies can soon help doctors target and treat diseases and illnesses that traditional medical tools can't touch.

In fact, you can already witness the startling power of nanotechnology in once-fantastical but now-possible tools, products, and services such as these:

  • Smartphones: These ubiquitous devices add a multitude of features to a mobile phone, including a web browser, camera, media player, GPS unit, and energy-dense battery.
  • Nano-packaged drugs: Synthetic nanostructures such as liposomes can deliver medication directly to diseased cells, avoiding damage to healthy tissues.
  • Gold nanoparticles: Uniquely useful, nano-size particles of gold have applications ranging from inexpensive pregnancy tests to pathogen-killing treatments.

These and countless other developments are made possible by new techniques that operate at an inconceivably tiny scale. The nanoworld has now become a workshop for chemists, biologists, physicists, and engineers as they collaborate to create a flood of innovations that are defining 21st-century technology.

Two prominent specialists team up to explore this exciting new frontier in Introduction to Nanotechnology: The New Science of Small. In 24 accessible and visually rich half-hour lectures, you get an in-depth explanation of nanotechnology and how it is possible to work in a domain that is nine orders of magnitude smaller than humans—comparable to the difference in scale between you and the sun.

Your guides are Professors Ted Sargent and Shana Kelley of the University of Toronto. One is an electrical engineer, the other a biochemist. Both are dynamic researchers, inventors, and entrepreneurs at the forefront of this amazing interdisciplinary effort.

Into the Nanoworld

Professor Sargent begins the course with a series of lectures that orient you to the nanoscale and then cover some of the most significant developments in electronics that have made use of nanotechnology in computers, communications, and imaging.

Then Professor Kelley delivers a sequence of lectures on her specialty: the biological applications of nanotechnology, especially to medicine. Since the biology of life happens at the nanoscale—in proteins and DNA—research in this area holds great promise for new diagnostic techniques and treatments.

The two professors combine for a lecture on their respective research teams, giving a fascinating glimpse of the collaboration between scientists and engineers as they probe and create the nanoworld. Professor Sargent follows with a look at the beautiful and distinctive shapes revealed at the nanoscale, as well as a sustained investigation of developments that are transforming the way we produce, store, and use energy. The course concludes with each professor giving a lecture on more futuristic examples of nanotechnology, from biologically based nanorobots to smart dust and invisibility cloaks.

Stranger than Fiction

If some of the ideas of nanotechnology sound familiar, that is because science fiction has paved the way. The 1966 movie Fantastic Voyage depicted a submarine and crew shrunk to miniature size and then sent on a life-saving mission through the bloodstream of a comatose patient. Similarly, the Star Trek series featured a small-scale technological marvel called the tricorder, which, among its other functions, could diagnose any disease.

While so far these devices are fictional, aspects of them are now in the works, along with other incredible developments that you learn about in Introduction to Nanotechnology:

  • Nanosurgery: Nanotweezers and nanolasers can target individual cells or even the substructures within cells, bringing elements of Fantastic Voyage to the practice of surgery.
  • Chip-based medicine: Professor Kelley's lab has pioneered nanosensors for cancer diagnosis that are real-life forerunners of Star Trek's tricorder.
  • Cloak of invisibility: A plot device in Harry Potter is becoming achievable with nanotechnology, which shows a way of cloaking certain wavelengths of light to render an object invisible.
  • Artificial photosynthesis: Inspired by plants, researchers are exploring different nanosolutions to energy's holy grail—the production of fuel from sunlight in ways that equal or better what plants achieve.
  • Virus-built batteries: Nanotechnology includes developments that are even stranger than fiction. One is a microbattery constructed with the help of a genetically modified virus.

A Surprisingly Visual Experience

Amazingly, scientists can see into the nanoworld by using special instruments that rely on the wave properties of electrons or the force fields of atoms to reveal details more than a thousand times smaller than the resolving power of the most powerful optical microscopes.

Professors Sargent and Kelley tour many of the sights in this now-accessible realm, including the atoms in a superlattice, carbon nanotubes, quantum dots, nanopillars, and other synthetic constructions. But did you know that medieval stained glass windows are also a nano-phenomenon? Although the artisans a thousand years ago didn't realize it, the color effects they achieved by grinding finer and finer metal powders for pigments relied on resonance effects at the nanoscale. The same principle underlies plasmonics, a new technique for manipulating light as it bounces between atoms.

Or did you know that the patterns and colors on butterfly wings are another nanoeffect? As you discover in Lecture 23, small changes in nanostructures on the insect's wings cause light to reflect different colors. And in the same lecture, you learn how single-celled diatoms are the ultimate nanoengineers, creating beautifully complex and functional shapes. One of the goals of researchers is to use these tiny creatures to build structures with special properties, effectively employing diatoms as on-site workers in the nanoworld.

Prepare for the Future

Nanotechnology is today's most powerful engine of innovation, turning cutting-edge research into applications at an astonishing rate. Professors Sargent and Kelley are unusually well qualified to describe every step in this process; both have founded successful companies that bring nanotechnology to the marketplace. Both have been named "top innovators" by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's prestigious Technology Review.

As smartphones get smarter, computers get faster, medical care gets better targeted, new materials with surprising properties appear, and the promise of unlimited clean energy seems within reach, the importance of nanotechnology in our lives will only increase. Introduction to Nanotechnology is your unrivaled guide to how we got here and where we're going. Professors Sargent and Kelley encourage you to be informed and stay tuned. It's going to be an exciting ride.

Introduction to Nanotechnology: The New Science of Small [TTC Video]

Understanding the Science for Tomorrow: Myth and Reality [TTC Video]

Understanding the Science for Tomorrow: Myth and Reality [TTC Video]
Understanding the Science for Tomorrow: Myth and Reality [TTC Video] by Jeffrey C Grossman
Course No 1391 | MP4, AVC, 640x480 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 2.35GB

Science and technology are, without a doubt, two forces that will change the way you live your life in the coming months, years, and decades. Nanotechnology, quantum computing, genetic engineering; these and other fascinating fields have the power to revolutionize almost every aspect of existence, including how you eat and drink, how you communicate, how you travel, how you learn—even how long you live.

And in recent decades, these forces have evolved and developed at a lightning-fast pace. So fast, in fact, that the future of science and technology couldn't be any more exciting than it is now, as scientists are on the cusp of breakthroughs, including

  • new energy sources such as biofuels, solar photovoltaics, and nuclear fusion;
  • smaller, more powerful computers that can tap into the secrets of artificial intelligence and operate advanced robotic systems;
  • tools and equipment for making water safer to drink and food easier to grow, package, and preserve; and
  • new devices for speeding up the ways we travel from place to place and the ways we communicate and share information with one another.

These and other scientific breakthroughs of tomorrow will do more than enhance and improve everyday life. They also will help solve some of our world's most pressing crises and dilemmas, including food and water shortages, clean and reusable energy needs, detection and curing of life-threatening illnesses, and so much more. And while some of these promises are surrounded by hype and myth, the truths about them are more startling—and more important—than you ever imagined.

Explore the many possibilities of what your future may look like with Understanding the Science for Tomorrow: Myth and Reality, a scientifically accurate and enlightening survey of today's most advanced research in fields such as engineering, biology, chemistry, and theoretical physics. These 24 lectures by research scientist and Professor Jeffrey C. Grossman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology delve into the genuine science of today's—and tomorrow's—hottest issues in an accessible manner that helps you grasp these sometimes esoteric topics. They are designed for anyone curious about the current state of science and technology and where it is likely to be heading in the near future.

Investigate a Range of Real-World Applications

"For millennia, science has given us knowledge of how the world works that has led, in turn, to more magnificent discoveries and extraordinary innovation,"says Professor Grossman. "And yet rarely, if ever, has there existed a role for science, a scale for science, and an absolute need for science as there exists today."

In Understanding the Science for Tomorrow, you'll see firsthand how recent developments in science and technology can potentially fulfill this need in a range of modern-day, real-world areas.

  • Transportation: The key challenge of today's transportation lies in improving overall efficiency without limiting range and, possibly, speed. You'll discover how scientists are developing ways to face and overcome this challenge by exploring the science behind hybrid and electric cars, mag-lev trains, artificial fuels, and more.
  • Computing: Computers have literally revolutionized the world and are primed to do so even more in the coming years. You'll make sense of everything from optical computing, in which information travels as light instead of electrons, to quantum computing, which would allow us to tackle problems that today's computers are unable to even formulate.
  • Medicine: Nanotechnology, which involves the purposeful engineering of matter at scales of less than 100 nanometers, has untold ramifications for the medical field. You'll see how recent and future developments can change the ways we heal wounds, detect diseases, deliver drugs to specific areas of the body, and even show us what goes on inside cells.
  • Energy: Today, most of our energy comes from coal, gas, and oil. But this may not be the case in the near future. You'll investigate ways in which materials such as the sun, hydrogen, electricity, and even crops such as sugar and corn are poised to radically alter the way we make, use, and store energy.

In discussing these and other subjects, Professor Grossman takes care to explain the basic science behind them in terms that are easy to understand. He also shows the intricate connections between advancements in one field (such as energy) and their impact in a host of other areas (such as transportation, food production, and computing). You'll come to see science as a giant, interconnected web supporting not just one area of your everyday life but all of them.

Get Intriguing Sneak Peeks at New Scientific Developments

Understanding the Science for Tomorrow is filled with intriguing sneak peeks at the latest developments and technologies in a range of scientific fields. With his characteristic insight and contagious excitement, Professor Grossman reveals what you can possibly expect from these and other marvels.

  • Robotics: While still in the research and development phase, some primitive molecular machines (nanorobots) have been built and tested. The first useful applications of these machines might be in medicine, where they can be used to identify and destroy cancer cells, or for detecting the concentration of toxic chemicals in the environment.
  • Genetic engineering: There is the potential for great changes in biology and medicine based on genetic engineering. In the near future, it may be possible for us to make DNA sequencing available and affordable, leading to personalized medicine in which treatment can be customized to each individual's specific genome.
  • Biofuels: While biofuels based on food crops are not well-suited for fueling the entire world because they threaten food supplies, second- and third-generation biofuels get around this dilemma by using biomass from crops not meant to be used as food or even waste from the food industry.

In discussing these and other eye-opening topics, Professor Grossman always makes a point to emphasize fact and truth over fiction and hype. As startling as these possibilities for the future may be, there are still plenty of challenges that scientists are facing, as well as tradeoffs that need to be considered from the development and adoption of these scientific advancements.

Discover How Science and Technology Are Redefining Your World

In addition to showcasing his ability to sidestep media buzz and present only the reality of each of these scientific fields while peering responsibly into the future, Professor Grossman brings his celebrated teaching style to each of these 24 engaging and densely illustrated lectures. An expert in fields from computational science and energy storage to nanotechnology and thermodynamics, he's skilled at bringing such a broad range of scientific disciplines into a single, concise, and comprehensive package. And his research work at MIT finds him every day on the frontier of devising and developing new technologies for addressing the scientific dilemmas of today and tomorrow.

By the final lecture of Understanding the Science for Tomorrow, you'll have a stronger sense of some important fundamental scientific principles being used right this moment to innovate your life. You'll also find yourself filled with a sense of excitement and wonder for both how, and how quickly, science and technology are working to make your world a better place.

Understanding the Science for Tomorrow: Myth and Reality [TTC Video]

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