Everyday Engineering: Understanding the Marvels of Daily Life [TTC Video]
06 June 2016, 11:53
Course No 1116 | M4V, AVC, 640x360 | AAC, 256 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 21.86GB
Look around you. Great masterpieces of engineering are everywhere. As soon as you get out of bed in the morning, you are putting centuries of scientific and mechanical ingenuity to use. So familiar are these structures, inventions, and services that they are all but invisible. Yet they are just as remarkable as great works such as the Parthenon, the Eiffel Tower, and the Panama Canal.
Consider for a moment the wonders of these marvels that have likely already played an important part in your day today:
- Residential construction: Built with common materials and simple tools, the modern house is a technological system for living. It provides protection and comfort, access to life’s necessities, and a flexible space for work and recreation.
- Telecommunications: Able to link you to any phone in the world, the traditional phone system is miraculous enough. Even more wondrous is the array of services available through new telecommunications technologies such as cellular networks.
- Transportation: You can get there from here, thanks to automotive engineering, petroleum drilling and refining, satellite navigation, and a road system that is fast, safe, and goes almost everywhere.
- Water and power: Your house would be dark and bleak without connections to infrastructure systems that supply fresh water, dispose of wastewater, and furnish a power source—electricity—that provides illumination and animates most of your household appliances.
All of us use these technologies, and knowing how they work empowers us in major ways. Anyone who owns a home or is in the market for one benefits enormously from understanding how it is constructed and how the roof, insulation, plumbing, wiring, heating, and cooling systems are integrated into the building. Anyone who’s buying a car or needs to get one fixed can rest easier knowing how spark plugs, transmissions, tires, and brakes do their jobs.
And because the development and use of everyday technologies—from solar cells to cell towers—are often strongly influenced by public policy, understanding everyday engineering helps us make more informed decisions about the kinds of policy initiatives we wish to support.
Plus, the achievements of everyday engineering are worth admiring for their own sake. They represent some of the most inspired thinking of our civilization, and by looking under the hood to see how these technologies operate, you learn about basic scientific principles that apply throughout the world.
For these reasons and more, Everyday Engineering: Understanding the Marvels of Daily Life is an indispensable guide to the way things work in the world around you. Conducting this eye-opening tour is Professor Stephen Ressler of the United States Military Academy at West Point, an award-winning civil engineer and a nationally honored leader in engineering education.
In 36 half-hour lectures, richly illustrated with instructive physical models, computer animations, and graphics designed by Professor Ressler himself, you start by learning how a house is put together with all its subsystems. Then you move outside to trace the origin and route of water, power, and telecommunications networks. Finally, you hit the road to discover how automobiles function and how roads and highway bridges are engineered.
Along the way, Everyday Engineering investigates power plants, dams, aqueducts, railroads, communication satellites, home energy efficiency, simple machines around the house, recycling, and many other topics. No background in science or engineering is needed to follow this riveting presentation, which gives you deep insight into the underlying simplicity of the complex systems that enhance our lives.
See Familiar Things with New Eyes
As an example of how Professor Ressler can turn everyday devices into a fascinating lesson in creative problem solving, he devotes an entire lecture to the faucet, showing how the problem of delivering hot and cold water into a sink has elicited a host of solutions—some practical, others not. We are all familiar with automatic faucets in public restrooms that defeat our initial attempts to get them to work, or two-handled faucets that lack clues about which way to turn the knobs. You’ll be surprised by the subtlety of the problem and the wide array of approaches, which is typical for issues of user-centered design.
Other intriguing insights you’ll get from the course include:
- The genius of building codes: Houses are such complex technological entities that you might think an engineer would be needed to design each one. But building codes effectively serve as a substitute for an engineer’s judgment, specifying construction methods at a high level of detail.
- Gone with the wind: Compared to traditional masonry and timber-framed dwellings, modern light wood frame houses are so light and sturdy that it’s possible to imagine one being lifted from its foundation by the wind and transported intact far away—as happened in the classic 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz!
- Save money and go green: Professor Ressler has plenty of advice for enhancing the energy efficiency of your home. People in the market for a new home should know about the latest trend in efficiency: the net-zero-energy house. Thanks to passive-solar design and in-home renewable energy sources, it requires no net input of energy over the course of a year.
- Talking torque: The key to understanding how power is transmitted from an engine to the wheels of a car is the concept of torque—the tendency of a force to cause rotation—which helps explain power, acceleration, speed, fuel economy, and why internal combustion vehicles require multiple gears.
A Field Guide to Everyday Technology
Professor Ressler notes that his approach to Everyday Engineering is inspired by a very familiar genre: “Many people, myself included, find great satisfaction in identifying stars in the night sky, in distinguishing a red-tailed hawk from a turkey vulture,” he says. “The technological world is certainly no less interesting, but lacks the guidebooks available to stargazers and birdwatchers. I hope this course will provide just such a resource by serving as a sort of field guide to everyday technology.”
With this outlook and the enlightening information in these lectures, you will be able to look at the world around you and decipher mysteries such as these:
- The unassuming utility pole: Next time you’re stuck in traffic, savor the complexity of the common utility pole, which typically has three high-voltage power distribution feeders, three insulators, and a neutral wire; and might also carry transformers, circuit breakers, low-voltage distribution lines, and telecommunications cables.
- Ballet of the bulldozers, scrapers, and dump trucks: Ever wonder why so many kinds of earthmoving machines are needed at a highway construction site? They’re following precisely choreographed instructions on a mass diagram, with each type of vehicle moving soil according to its optimum operating range.
- The power outage puzzle: Sometimes electrical power goes out and then seconds later returns. What’s usually happening is that a specialized circuit breaker, called a recloser, has tripped in response to a short circuit, such as a tree falling on a power line. The device automatically restores power if the fault has cleared.
- Mystery of the missing web page: Web pages can get stuck in the process of loading, while you stare at the spinning wait cursor on the screen. The problem is usually heavy Internet traffic, which exceeds the storage capacity of a router somewhere in the network. The overflow packets of information that comprise the web page are sometimes simply lost.
One of the pleasures of Everyday Engineering is the meticulous care that Dr. Ressler has taken in preparing over 150 working models that explain everything from an arch dam to the universal joint in a car’s drive shaft. He also delights in the unexpected: in the last lecture he switches gears by examining a famous case when technology failed during the Great Northeast Blackout of 2003. Triggered by high electrical demand during a sweltering summer day, a short circuit due to overgrown trees, and a software bug that disabled a control room alarm system, the cascading series of breakdowns produced the worst-ever electric power blackout in North America.
This incident serves as a graduation exercise for the course. Having explored the workings of the electrical power grid in previous lectures, you’ll find that you understand the crisis in perfect detail. Indeed, you’ll be ready to apply your broad understanding of everyday engineering to any technological issue that crosses your path in the future.
The Age of Pericles [TTC Video]
06 June 2016, 11:29
Course No 3317 | MP4, AVC, 640x480 | AAC, 160 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 1.79GB
We call it the "Golden Age"—the period during the 5th century B.C. when the Greek city-state of Athens experienced a cultural flowering of extraordinary power and importance for Western culture. It is a period that still calls to us, still echoes, as we read the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, or Euripides; gaze at architectural wonders like the Parthenon; consider the wisdom passed down from Socrates and Plato; or, perhaps most of all, consider the origins of our own democracy.
The Age of Pericles uses the career of the leading Athenian politician and general from c. 450–429 B.C. as a prism through which to view this brief but remarkable era, and to ask why that echo has persisted for so long.
In the generation that followed Pericles's appearance on the public stage shortly after the Persian wars, Athens rapidly transformed the alliance of Greek states—an alliance first created as a defense against the Persians—into a true Aegean empire, dominated by the Athenians and their mighty navy.
But this dramatic increase in military power, cultural influence, and prestige was also accompanied by something unique: the growth of full participatory democracy.
This course examines the daily workings of that democracy and the whole of Athenian culture, including:
- how Athenians were trained for citizenship
- what Athenian democracy actually meant in practice
- the profound role of religion in Athenian life.
Were there Stains on the "Golden Age"?
But in examining the lives of Athenian men and women, this course also confronts aspects of the "Golden Age" whose echoes are far less glorious. It asks, fo example, what freedom and autonomy really meant to a society that relied on slaves and was ruthless in its treatment of its subjects.
To answer this and other questions, the course constantly juxtaposes the striking accomplishments of Athenian culture in such fields as philosophy, tragedy, comedy, sculpture, and architecture with its equally striking flaws, including:
- the exclusion of women from public life
- Athenian reliance on slavery, including the abuse of those slaves
- the cruel treatment of other Greek populations.
In following Athens from the height of its power to its defeat at the hands of the far different Greek city-state of Sparta, these lectures produce a portrait of a complex people and a complicated culture whose ties to our own civilization are not casual, but deeply meaningful.
The Living Dialogue that is History
Gandhi was once asked what he thought of Western civilization, notes Professor Jeremy McInerney. He replied that he thought it would be a ‘good idea.'
"In the world after September 11, we have come to realize that there are those who loathe and despise everything Western," says Professor McInerney. "If that is so, then it is worth asking, ‘What is valuable in Western culture?'
"The Greeks demand that we learn about our own history, the roots that connect us to the past, the avenues by which the past has become the present. If our culture has real meaning, and if notions of justice, freedom, and equality are to be a reality, then we cannot live in a vacuum in which history is forgotten. We have to be aware of the past and engage with the living dialogue that is history."
The "Right" of Freedom?
As he leads you through daily life in Athens, Professor McInerney not only weaves in the underlying beliefs that drove those daily events, but also draws analogies with contemporary ideas and events to reveal how we are both like and unlike those ancient Athenians.
He reveals, for example, the origins of British common law in the archives of Athens as he explores some of the legal testimony left behind by the Athenians.
He also compares our conception of the term freedom with what the Greeks understood it to be, including the role of their stunning victory over the Persians in helping to amplify that understanding.
And if you are surprised to learn that the ancient Athenians—whom so many of us idealize as the spotless source of our ideas about democracy—considered freedom to be simply a status, and not a right at all, you'll likely be even more surprised to learn what comes next, for one of the Athenians' most important philosophical justifications for slavery was penned by, of all people, Aristotle.
Equally troubling to our contemporary ears, though hardly unexpected in the ancient world, was the position occupied by women, no matter how high on the social ladder.
Much of that becomes clear in Professor McInerney's argument that Aspasia, the long-term mistress of Pericles—what we would consider his common-law wife—and mother of his son, was never a prostitute, as her origins are commonly portrayed.
Dr. McInerney uses the famous case of a woman named Neaera to show how many different forces (particularly the concerns of property and citizenship, including Pericles's own role in redefining the latter) combined to sharply limit the role of women in ancient Athens. One of the most striking examples of that came in the famous funeral oration given by Pericles to honor the fallen of the first year of the Peloponnesian War against Sparta.
In an address otherwise remembered as an expression of the ideal of moderation—and perhaps the closest thing we have to a statement of the ideology of classical Athens—Pericles also reveals that for Athenian men, a public image was a source of pride, while for women such an image was cause for shame, as it went against the idea that women should be only in the background.
A Window on Ancient Athens
This well-rounded portrait of almost every aspect of Athenian life during the Golden Age includes:
- The different ways Athens and Sparta raised their children. Including the Spartan practice of giving girls only the lightest of garments, the idea being to inure them to the cold to make them healthy and vigorous enough to raise the next generation of Spartans.
- The fate of Athenian girls as mothers and managers of the household. Their figures on pottery have lighter skin—evidence of a life properly spent indoors—while Athenian boys received an intensely rich education.
- Young Pericles's role in bringing Aeschylus's masterpiece, The Persians,to the stage, what it meant to his own career, and what it said about the obligations of the very rich in Athens
- Why did Spartans reject the aid of Athens in putting down a slave revolt? The public humiliation over the rejection later led to the 10-year banishment of Cimon, the leading politician in Athens.
- Solon, the Athenian lawgiver, introduced reforms including an important shift to wealth—which could be acquired—rather than birth as the determining factor of one's place in Athenian society.
- Examining Thucydides's terrifying description of the Plague's physical and social impact on Athens—including the death of Pericles—and its possible role in the ultimate defeat of Athens by Sparta.
- Athenians organized their busy lives around two distinct calendars, secular and religious; discover the Panathenaea, an extraordinary festival and procession that honored Athena. As one scholar has described that special day, "The city would have been resounding to the bellowing of cattle being dragged off to their slaughter. The acropolis, by the end of the day, would have been drenched in blood, flowing all over the rock, from the animals that had had their throats cut."
An Obsession with Property
The Athenians were obsessed with protecting the value of a family's property, and laws about marriage and inheritance created constant legal maneuvering.
Professor McInerney outlines the detailed record of a legal case that gives us a glimpse of the actual property and real goods of a well-to-do Athenian family, and the role of slavery in sustaining those families in their wealth.
He also describes Greek ideas about death and the way to honor both ordinary citizens and fallen heroes, including mourning processions that became so overwhelming that laws had to be passed to limit their size and cost; terracotta tubes leading into a burial mound to permit blood libations to be offered to the spirits; and the possibility that the bones brought back to Athens by Cimon—which he claimed to be those of Theseus, slayer of the Minotaur—might have been those of a dinosaur.
Art in the Age of Pericles
You examine the details of how some of the greatest plays of the Athenian stage were brought to life, such as:
- Prometheus hurling defiance at the gods after giving fire to mankind in Aeschylus's Prometheus Bound
- the surprising interpretation Professor McInerney gives to Euripides's Medea, revealing deeper meanings than those of the traditional reading of "Hell hath no fury"
- the vigor and openness of Athenian comedy, in which no subject and no person, no matter how powerful, was above criticism and the most pointed satire imaginable.
A "Complex, Complicated Civilization"The Age of Pericles tells the story of a time and people to whom we are inextricably bound. As Professor McInerney notes, "the Greeks established democracy, valued the rule of law, and articulated definitions of freedom and virtue. At the same time they owned slaves, denied women a public voice, and asserted their racial superiority.
"They were a complex, complicated civilization, and we are their descendants. These lectures examine that relationship, exploring much that was good and bad in the Golden Age of Pericles. By engaging with the Greeks, we may come to understand our own world more fully."
How to Program: Computer Science Concepts and Python Exercises [TTC Video]
04 June 2016, 17:49
Course No 9151 | M4V, AVC, 640x360 | AAC, 256 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 12.02GB
Learning a new language opens a wealth of opportunities. But there’s one language family that provides benefits like no other: the languages of computer programming. Now widely taught in schools—even in elementary schools—programming is an eminently learnable skill that gives you unrivalled problem-solving power you can apply in all areas of life. Programming is also a fun, creative activity that imparts deep insights into how we control the devices that influence virtually every aspect of our lives.
Writing computer code has truly gone mainstream in recent years. Simple, general-purpose computer languages that resemble English can be readily used by anyone, thanks to fundamental building blocks that allow even complete beginners to write short pieces of working code, while also taking the mystery and complexity out of more complicated scripts. Remarkable advances in hardware and in user interfaces mean that skills that were once highly technical, complicated, and difficult to learn are today within the reach of everyone who is willing to engage with a computer.
And now a pathbreaking guide is available with How to Program: Computer Science Concepts and Python Exercises. These 24 engaging and information-rich half-hour lessons use one of the world’s most accessible, popular, and powerful computer languages, Python 3, as a gateway to the universe of programming. Taught by Professor John Keyser of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University, one of the top-ranked computer science programs in the country, this unique video course offers the following advantages:
- From the very first lesson, Professor Keyser plunges you into Python coding and the concepts of computer science, with a friendly and accessible style that has won him numerous teaching awards.
- The Python computer language (named after the comedy troupe Monty Python) is ideal for beginners, with code based on ordinary English words and the flexibility to create many useful and creative programs.
- The course covers fundamental ideas with clarity and depth, teaching you programming from the most basic commands to the techniques that help you develop ambitious pieces of software.
- Professor Keyser focuses on practical problem-solving, presenting dozens of real-life examples and exercises, walking you through solutions, and helping you practice and build your skills.
Following some of the lessons, Professor Keyser leads you through supplementary problems that reinforce key programming strategies. In addition, the guidebook that accompanies the course features dozens of additional drills and practice exercises, always with answers, together with a reference section that includes definitions of computer science terms, important Python commands, and other useful information. No matter what level of experience and skill you have with computers, you can rest assured that this course will suit your needs from the first step: walking you through how to install Python 3 and the programming editor PyCharm, both of which are available free online.
Programming Made Crystal Clear
Assuming no prior background in computer science, Professor Keyser’s lessons are so clear, carefully paced, and comprehensive that they will appeal to both novice and experienced programmers. Even those who use Python often will learn new and useful tips that fill gaps in their understanding, clarify concepts that were previously obscure, and broaden one-task tricks into versatile tools. As a result, this course is perfect for
- beginners and students—from teenagers to retirees—who have never written a line of code;
- self-taught programmers who want to deepen their knowledge of program design and make their code more efficient and elegant;
- programmers new to Python, and Python users who want to upgrade their skills to the newest version of Python and more effectively exploit its many features;
- professionals at any stage of their career who recognize the benefits of better understanding the technology that modern businesses rely on;
- anyone wanting a fascinating insider’s perspective on how to think about all the ways we tell
- those who never dreamed that coding could be as exciting, intellectually stimulating, and rewarding as it truly is.
Build Your Programming Fluency
There are numerous programming tutorials and videos available online, but they are generally brief or narrow, giving you only specific and specialized instructions without context. How to Program is a college-level course with more than a semester’s worth of material explored over 12 hours of lessons that you can pause, practice, and watch again as you hone your skills, guided by an expert teacher. And while you can find snippets of pre-written Python code online that may or may not work for your needs, this course takes you from writing individual lines of code to designing and thinking about code like a programmer, teaching you broadly applicable rules and tools that you use to create your own custom-made programs.
Professor Keyser begins with the basic code commands, and you start programming with him right away. In Lesson 1, you write a one-line program knowing just one command! You quickly build from there, mastering core principles and tools, including operators and variables, conditionals and loops, strings and files, functions, modules, packages, and more. By the end of the first half of the course, you will have tried out all of the most important fundamentals of programming.
The first half of the course provides the foundation of programming, while the second half of the course explores a wider range of applications and deeper principles, both of which also help you further consolidate your understanding of programming fundamentals. Applications include the coding behind games and graphics, as well as teaching you how to analyze sports statistics, simulate a retirement fund, and direct the path of a simple robot. Along the way, you get a feel for when to use a top-down design or a bottom-up strategy. You discover the power of object-oriented programming and the trade-offs of sequential programming versus event-driven programming. And you see for yourself how data structures and algorithms make possible even more powerful programs. Best of all, these and many other concepts become second nature as your programming fluency grows.
Discover a New World in Coding
“I got hooked writing my first simple computer program back in third grade,” recalls Professor Keyser. This course will show you how fun, creative, and empowering programming can be. Professor Keyser’s approach is clear, practical, and engaging—it’s easy to see why his teaching has been honored so many times. Throughout the course, he offers tips on how to be a better programmer, hard-won lessons from decades of coding, and reflections on the aspects of programming that are most rewarding:
- Practical: Often it’s faster to write a program to perform a task, such as repeated calculations or opening two applications in tandem, than it is to track down an existing piece of software that does exactly what you need. And as your coding skill grows, you’ll find that you are creating unique programs that other people need.
- Exhilarating: Figuring out how to apply the tools to solve each programming problem is a unique challenge, a puzzle that often has several solutions—but which is fastest, simplest, most efficient? Even debugging offers new and exciting mysteries to solve. When the pieces finally fall into place, you get a wonderful feeling of accomplishment that a mental model has been turned into working software.
- Creative: Programming lets you express your creativity, allowing you to implement your ideas in code. And just as there is never simply one way to express a thought in a language, there are usually many ways to get a program to do what you want. A good design sense will point you to the optimum solution for your particular problem.
- Transformational: Programming transforms the way you think, training you to look at problems logically, develop plans that can be followed sequentially, and recognize how to break down a complex task into more manageable pieces. All of these are useful approaches in areas outside of computing.
So, as with any new language, programming opens up a new world, while also influencing the way you look at your old, familiar world. It may be that as you work through the enjoyable and challenging exercises in How to Program, the most important benefit you are gaining is not only a toolkit to help you create your own programs in Python 3—it’s also a set of enhanced mental tools for every sphere of life.