Language Families of the World [TTC Video]

Language Families of the World [TTC Video]
Language Families of the World [TTC Video] by Professor John McWhorter, PhD
Course No 2235 | MP4, AVC, 1372 kbps, 960x540 | AAC, 126 kbps, 2 Ch | 34x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 10.14GB

Language, in its seemingly infinite variety, tells us who we are and where we come from. Many linguists believe that all of the world’s languages—over 7,000 currently—emerged from a single, prehistoric source. While experts have not yet been able to reproduce this proto-language, most of the world’s current languages can be traced to various language families that have branched and divided, spreading across the globe with migrating humans and evolving over time.

In Language Families of the World, Professor John McWhorter of Columbia University takes you back through time and around the world, following the linguistic trails left by generations of humans that lead back to the beginnings of language. Utilizing historical theories and cutting-edge research, these 34 astonishing lectures will introduce you to the major language families of the world and their many offspring, including a variety of languages that are no longer spoken but provide vital links between past and present.

An Incomplete Family Tree

The English language comes from the immense family known as Indo-European, a group that has been traced and reconstructed perhaps most thoroughly of all the language families. In fact, it is the extensive study of this family that essentially built the foundations of formal linguistic science. Other language families, like the Niger-Congo, the Afro-Asiatic, and Austronesian families, are becoming more and more known through study, but there is still a long way to go to uncover the earliest foundations of the families that comprise the thousands of languages spoken around the world today.

Professor McWhorter demonstrates how, through a combination of the known and the unknown, of tangible evidence and shifting hypotheses, linguists trace and reconstruct languages. It’s often a tangled and complex undertaking, with many theories taking root before being reevaluated—or disproven altogether. As you better understand the methods linguists use and the ideas they have developed, you will explore a host of fascinating questions, including:

  • How are similarities in languages determined?
  • Why do some languages seem related but are not, while others that appear fundamentally different are actually part of the same family?
  • What is the effect of geography—and even topography—on language?
  • Who determines the difference between a language and a dialect?
  • When does a language “officially” split into separate ones?

Filling in the Blanks of Language

As in life, the one constant in language is change. Even looking back just some hundreds of years, what we know as Middle English is barely intelligible to contemporary English speakers. Thanks to many similarities and the volume of writing that exists between the days of Chaucer’s English and now, the transition can be fairly easy to trace. However, since not every language has a clear, uninterrupted line of progression or a written record to follow through the ages, how do linguists reconstruct older languages? How do they identify a language family?

As Professor McWhorter explains: “The fundamental trait of a language family is that linguists can posit a proto-language from which the modern languages developed via regular sound changes.” This is easiest to do with groups of languages that are relatively new and thus still share a lot of features. Professor McWhorter uses the languages of Polynesia to illustrate this kind of reconstruction in its simplest form before turning to the more complicated ways linguists fill in the blanks with languages that have changed over longer periods and spread over vast distances.

Sometimes, as with the Indo-European family, there are copious written records to help cover the gaps, but often it is a matter of using core words and cognates to make the necessary connections. Like detectives, linguists must follow the clues they are given and throughout these lectures you will be able to follow the process like Watson to Professor McWhorter’s Sherlock Holmes. Along the way, you will look at language through many linguistic lenses, such as:

  • Structure and parts of words, like roots, stems, prefixes, and suffixes (morphology);
  • How sounds are organized in language (phonology);
  • The history and origin of particular words (etymology);
  • Word order and arrangement (syntax);
  • The meaning and implications of words (semantics), and many more.

If language change makes it so difficult for linguists to make clear connections between past and present, it is important to understand the nature of those changes, as well as how those changes both help and hinder investigation. Languages experience change for many reasons, including:

  • Time. Every generation alters the language(s) they inherit, through both the addition of new words and structures and the gradual erosion and extinction of others as cultures and societies change.
  • Distance. The farther away groups of speakers become, the more linguistic changes crop up between their “versions” of the language. Sometimes this results in dialects, other times in completely new languages.
  • Contact. Two unrelated languages thrown into proximity will sometimes create a mix of the two and can evolve into a new language altogether, or the influence of a dominant language can create a linguistic area with many shared characteristics among several languages.
  • Force. Sometimes—often as the result of war, colonialism, or invasion—languages can be forced to change to fit a new reality or go extinct altogether.

Languages Past, Present, and Future

Languages like Chinese, Spanish, English, Arabic, Hindi, and Russian are some of the most widely spoken in the world and have been extensively studied. They can all provide deep insight into the nature of language and how it can change over time. Yet they are only a very small fraction of the immense number of languages and dialects you will encounter as you tour the world via linguistics. Following the trails of language across land and sea with Professor McWhorter will allow you to trace migration patterns and social contact between different peoples, as well as better understand important aspects of history and geography that continue to evolve and influence the world we live in today.

Utilizing maps, graphics, photographs, and a plethora of written examples and illustrations, Language Families of the World makes the complex and ever-changing world of language an engaging journey. From the “click” languages of sub-Saharan Africa and the little-known languages of New Guinea to the shrinking varieties of Native American grammar and the isolated Basque tongue in the heart of Europe, you will encounter an astonishing range of languages. Through them, you will reveal amazing facets of speech that defy conventional wisdom and demonstrate the immense range of human linguistic ingenuity.

While most animals communicate in some form, language—complete with grammar, syntax, dialects, vocabulary, and so much more—appears to be a uniquely human trait. When we understand not just the nuts and bolts but the extensive history and cultural power of language, we better understand ourselves, as well as the world and the people we share it with.

Language Families of the World [TTC Video]

Understanding the Quantum World [TTC Video]

Understanding the Quantum World [TTC Video]
Understanding the Quantum World [TTC Video] by Erica W. Carlson, PhD
Course No 9750 | MP4, AVC, 2000 kbps, 1280x720 | AAC, 192 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 11.17GB

Quantum mechanics has a reputation for being so complex that the word “quantum” has become a popular label for anything mystical or unfathomable. In fact, quantum mechanics is one of the most successful theories of reality yet discovered, explaining everything from the stability of atoms to the glow of neon lights, from the flow of electricity in metals to the workings of the human eye.

At the same time, quantum mechanics does have a mysterious side, symbolized by the famous thought experiment concerning the fate of Schrödinger’s cat, a hypothetical feline who is both dead and alive in a quantum experiment proposed by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger.

In Understanding the Quantum World, Professor Erica W. Carlson of Purdue University guides you through this fascinating subject, explaining the principles and paradoxes of quantum mechanics with exceptional rigor and clarity—and using minimal mathematics. The winner of multiple teaching awards, Professor Carlson is renowned for her “fantastic ability to develop and implement tools that help students learn a challenging subject”—in the words of one of her admiring colleagues. With her guidance, anyone can get a fundamental understanding of this wide-ranging field.

In these 24 half-hour lectures, you discover:

  • What distinguishes quantum physics from classical physics,
  • The major breakthroughs in the field and who made them,
  • How to see quantum “weirdness” as a normal aspect of matter,
  • Experiments that demonstrate quantum phenomena,
  • Quantum theory’s many applications and physical insights,
  • The probable fate of Schrödinger’s cat, and much more.

How to Learn Quantum Physics

Custom animations and graphics, analogies, demonstrations—whatever works to convey a concept, Professor Carlson uses it. You will begin Understanding the Quantum World by covering the central paradox of the field: the wave-particle duality of matter. One of the key ideas here is that waves can come in countable “quantum” units. Dr. Carlson demonstrates this with a slinky being oscillated back and forth, which generates standing waves that can be likened to quantum waves of electrons orbiting the nucleus of an atom.

Professor Carlson has a special affinity for analogies, and she uses them frequently, noting that while scientists prefer the precision of mathematics, for non-scientists an apt analogy is often the best route to an “aha” moment of insight. For example:

  • The Copenhagen coin: A spinning coin is neither heads nor tails until an observation is made. Similarly, the Copenhagen interpretation considers a quantum particle to lack definitive properties until it is measured. Before that, it’s a matter of probabilities, just as a spinning coin can be considered 50 percent heads and 50 percent tails.
  • Quantum gear shifter: Energy levels in an atom are quantized like the gear shifter in a car, which can go from first to second to third gear, but not to second-and-a-half. For gears, the limitation is the individual teeth in a gear wheel, while atoms are limited by the possible standing wave patterns in different atomic energy states.
  • The roller coaster that could: The uncanny ability of quantum particles to pass through potential energy barriers is like a roller coaster that doesn’t have enough speed to surmount a high hill but nonetheless appears on the other side. If a coaster had a long tail to its wavefunction, then it could!
  • Surfing electrons: Next time you turn on a light, think of the electrons in the wire as surfing on quantum waves, from the outer shell of one metal atom to the next, to carry current to the light bulb. Imperfections in the metal’s atomic lattice and other factors cause occasional “wipeouts,” giving rise to electrical resistance.

One of the hardest things to picture in the quantum world is the three-dimensional shape of atomic orbitals. These shapes reveal how electrons are bound to atoms and the probability of finding electrons in specific regions. Here, Dr. Carlson draws on the visualization software that physicists themselves use, which turns atoms into multicolored animations where the probability distribution is a gauzy cloud and shifting colors signify properties such as phase. These visualizations give an eerie look into a domain trillions of times smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. And for anyone studying physics or chemistry, Professor Carlson provides a handy mnemonic for remembering the nomenclature of the different atomic orbitals.

An Astonishing Range of Applications

Quantum physics is more than just a fun intellectual exercise. It is the key to countless technologies, and also helps to explain how the natural world works, including living systems. Professor Carlson discusses many such examples, among them:

  • Color vision: What we perceive as color has its origin in quantum events in the outside world, which produce photons of visible light. Color-sensitive cones in our eyes detect some of these photons. Depending on their wavelength, the photons trigger quantum reactions that our brains interpret as different colors.
  • Global Positioning System (GPS): GPS satellites are essentially atomic clocks in orbit, sending out very accurate time signals based on tiny transitions in energy states of cesium atoms. The time for the signal to reach Earth gives the distance to the satellite. Signals from four GPS satellites suffice to fix a position exactly.
  • Flash memory: Smart phones, solid-state hard drives, memory sticks, and other electronic devices use flash memory to store data with no need for external power to preserve information. When it’s time to erase the information, quantum tunneling allows electrons that encode the data to be quickly discharged.
  • Superconductivity: Dr. Carlson covers the crucial difference between the two classes of subatomic particles—fermions and bosons. Then, in a later lecture, she shows that, under special conditions, fermions can be induced to behave like bosons, leading to a frictionless state of zero electrical resistance known as superconductivity.

These and other successes in understanding and manipulating nature make the mysteries and paradoxes of quantum theory seem almost like a scientific detour into a strange new world. This is what Nobel Prize–winning physicist Richard Feynman had in mind when he urged, “I think it is safe to say that no one understands quantum mechanics. Do not keep saying to yourself …‘but how can it be like that?’ because you will go … into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that.”

On the other hand, even as scientists invent new uses for this astonishingly powerful tool, they can’t help but speculate on how it can be like that—as you do as well in this remarkable course.

Understanding the Quantum World [TTC Video]

The Agency: A History of the CIA [TTC Video]

The Agency: A History of the CIA [TTC Video]
The Agency: A History of the CIA [TTC Video] by Professor Hugh Wilford, PhD
Course No 8000 | MP4, AVC, 2000 kbps, 1280x720 | AAC, 192 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x28 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 10.68GB

Since the eve of the Cold War, the Central Intelligence Agency has been tasked by the U.S. government with keeping watch on an increasingly dangerous and unstable world. Few organizations are as fascinating, as mysterious—and as controversial.

Also known as “the Agency” or “the Company,” the CIA has a dual mission: to gather critical intelligence and analysis and to conduct covert operations aimed at safeguarding U.S. security interests. To do this, its officers work primarily in the shadows, dealing in spies and secrecy, which has led to questions about the organization’s geopolitical role, and the tradeoffs between intelligence work and democratic transparency:

  • Is the CIA operating as it was intended to, or is it in desperate need of repair?
  • What lessons has the CIA learned from its greatest successes and its worst failures?
  • How does intelligence gathering actually work, both for and against U.S. interests?
  • Has the CIA fulfilled its difficult mission for the world’s largest democracy thus far?

According to CIA expert Hugh Wilford, there’s a fundamental tension buried within the heart of the CIA’s mission to protect the American government and people: a tension between democratic accountability and the inherent need for secret government power. Throughout its epic (and surprisingly recent) history, the CIA has swung back and forth between these principles.

What many don’t realize is that it’s U.S. citizens who check the CIA’s power, and who bear the responsibility of staying informed about what the CIA has done and continues to do at home and abroad in their name. In The Agency: A History of the CIA, Professor Wilford of California State University transforms decades of academic research into an engrossing 24-lecture course that helps you better understand the roles the CIA has played in recent American history, from the eve of the Cold War against communism to the 21st-century War on Terror. With his outsider’s objective perspective, Professor Wilford offers an unbiased exploration of the CIA’s inner workings, its successful—and disastrous—operations, its innovations in technology and espionage, and its complex relationship with U.S. presidents and popular culture. In this course, you will find all the information you need to be able to make your own conclusions about what the CIA might have done right, what it might have done wrong, and what it should do in the future.

Investigate the CIA’s Great Successes…

Prior to the birth of the CIA in 1947, Americans entertained strong suspicions of international involvement and excessive government power. That changed, however, with the onset of World War II and the subsequent Cold War against communism—both of which paved the way for advocates of intelligence and international intervention to overcome the nation’s “anti-spy” tradition.

So, what can we make of the CIA’s record in espionage and intelligence? Does it all add up to a failure or to a success?

To answer this complicated question, The Agency guides you through decades of espionage and covert operations. After a look at the CIA’s origins—including the agency’s most obvious predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS—and the organization’s evolution from a strict intelligence agency to the United States’s premier covert-action unit, you’ll delve into some of the most remarkable and fascinating successes, including:

  • The sound intelligence the CIA’s U-2 spy plane program provided to President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which highlights the agency’s prowess in using technological innovations to fulfill its mission;
  • The admirable performance of the CIA throughout much of the Vietnam War during the 1960s and 1970s, during which it provided solid battlefield intel and sensible strategic assessments about the negative long-term prospects of U.S. involvement; and
  • The recent successful disruptions of terrorist plots in the ongoing War on Terror, including the foiling of a June 2018 plot (involving the deadly toxin ricin) by a suspected Islamist extremist in Cologne, Germany.

…and Its Stunning Failures

A balanced exploration of the CIA should also take into account the CIA’s many controversial intelligence errors, and Professor Wilford devotes equal time to these historic failures.

You’ll learn how these—sometimes catastrophic—moments came about as the result of everything from bureaucratic knots to the Agency’s surprising lack of human intelligence about volatile regions around the world, including the former communist bloc in Eastern Europe and the Muslim world.

Throughout The Agency, you’ll consider how the CIA often failed or fell short concerning:

  • The Soviet Union’s acquisition of the atomic bomb,
  • The fall of China to the forces of communism,
  • North Korea’s invasion of South Korea,
  • The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and
  • How long it took to notice the rise of radical Islamism (including the September 11 attacks).

Meet the Men Who Shaped the CIA

Professor Wilford also takes you inside the shadowy world of the CIA, revealing not just how it operated on the domestic and international stage, but also how it operated as its own organization that evolved in step with changing times in American history.

You will meet the individuals who shaped the CIA over the course of decades—some of whom had different ideas of what role the CIA should play at home and abroad—including figures such as:

  • William “Wild Bill” Donovan: If any individual could be called the father of the CIA, it’s Donovan, appointed by President Roosevelt in 1941 to coordinate intelligence information with historically unprecedented powers over civilian and military agencies (a department renamed the Office of Strategic Services after the Pearl Harbor attack).
  • George F. Kennan: This State Department Russia expert, responsible for the conversion of the CIA into a covert-ops shop, urged the U.S. government to adopt a series of aggressive measures against the Soviet Union—including the policy of rolling back the borders of the communist empire.
  • Edward Lansdale: As a CIA operative in Vietnam, Lansdale waged political warfare against the northern Vietnamese government of Ho Chi Minh (including the use of psy-ops targeting Catholics in the north); his story helps you form a more complete understanding of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
  • James Angleton: One of the CIA’s most compelling personalities, Angleton was responsible for leading a dramatic hunt for Soviet moles inside the CIA—a search which had an enormous impact on the agency’s mission at a crucial moment in its existence and which personified national fears that the CIA would abuse its covert power.

Explore Fascinating CIA Operations

How, exactly, did the CIA plan and conduct its intelligence gathering and covert action? The Agency leads you through various operations throughout the CIA’s history; ops that are equal parts controversial and thrilling.

These include:

  • PB-SUCCESS, the CIA’s codename for its 1954 Guatemala operation that proved (for the CIA, at least) that covert action could be a Cold War magic bullet;
  • The Berlin Tunnel, the CIA’s first major venture into SIGINT (signals interception) that involved the construction of a secret tunnel from the U.S. sector to the Soviet side; and
  • MK-ULTRA, a program run by biochemist Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA’s Technical Services Staff that studied the possible effects of hallucinogens in interrogations.

You’ll also get fresh perspectives on historical moments with which you may already have some passing familiarity, including the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Iran-Contra Affair, and the Iraq War. In many cases, the lectures lead you to consider important questions about both the nature of the CIA and its role in shaping modern history. What makes particular regions of the world ripe for the CIA’s attention? How successful are techniques like drone strikes, rendition, and interrogation? Is the CIA more productive or counterproductive when it comes to foreign affairs?

Along the way, you will also explore how the reality of the CIA compares with the wealth of popular culture that depicts the agency, as well as how the CIA itself has directly and intentionally used literature, film, and other media as tools in its own operations.

An Objective Look at the CIA

For his entire life, Professor Wilford has been fascinated by spies and spying—a fascination that’s undeniably contagious. He’s researched and published extensively on the history of the CIA and international U.S. relations, and has interviewed former spies.

“I’m not going to come down strongly on one side of the debate about the CIA,” Professor Wilford says. “As someone who grew up in England, I still have a bit of an outsider perspective that I think helps make my approach to the CIA fairly objective.”

The result is a thorough, well-balanced exploration of one of America’s most intriguing organizations. So, join the debate with The Agency and start forming your own opinions about an organization that will continue to play a pivotal, game-changing role in history for years to come.

The Agency: A History of the CIA [TTC Video]

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