Being Human: Life Lessons from the Frontiers of Science [TTC Video]
26 February 2016, 16:22
Course No 1686 | MKV, AVC, 960x720 | AAC, 96 kbps, 2 Ch | 12x30 mins | 2.21GB
Understanding our humanity—the very essence of who we are and how we live our lives—is one of the deepest mysteries and biggest challenges in modern science.
Why do we have bad moods? Why are we capable of having such strange and vivid dreams? How can metaphors and symbols in our language hold such a powerful sway on our thoughts and actions?
As we learn more about the mechanisms of human behavior through evolutionary biology, neuroscience, anthropology, psychology, sociology, and other related fields, we're discovering just how intriguing the human species is. And while scientists are continually uncovering deep similarities between our behavior and that of other animals, they're also finding a wealth of insights into everything that makes us unique from any other species on Earth.
Join acclaimed neurobiologist and award-winning Professor Robert Sapolsky of Stanford University for a surprising, amusing, and undeniably fascinating study of what makes you you. Being Human: Life Lessons from the Frontiers of Science is a 12-lecture course that takes you to the front lines of scientific research and offers you a new perspective on the supposedly quirky nature of being ourselves. Thought-provoking, witty, and sometimes myth-shattering, this course is sure to have you thinking about, observing, and even appreciating your own life in novel ways.
Explore Mysterious, Everyday Human Behaviors
"The more science learns about the mechanisms of human behavior, the more intriguing our species becomes," notes Dr. Sapolsky, a renowned neuroscientist and primatologist. Whether we're falling in love, performing a spiritual ritual, or enjoying poetry and fashion, our brains have a unique aptitude for handling complex patterns of experience and conduct. And when it comes to our behavior, it is the nature of humans to be remarkably unconstrained by our nature.
Being Human explores this intrigue by investigating a series of topics that concern both mysterious and sometimes even mundane aspects of human behavior.
- Bad moods: We've all gotten into an argument with another person at some point in our lives, one that can completely ruin our outlook on the day. But when you pause and consider the anatomy of a bad mood from a scientific perspective, you find that different parts of the brain actually recover from conflict at different speeds—and as a result, just when you thought it was over with, the argument starts all over again.
- Nostalgia: Why do we sometimes long for the fashions, foods, and music of our youths? Why are we sometimes resistant to change after we reach a certain point in our lives? The answers lie in research findings in psychology and neurobiology, which have revealed new information about our desire for stability and habitual behaviors.
- Dreams: Scientists are now closer than ever before to understanding just why our dreams can sometimes be extremely bizarre. The key lies in the frontal cortex of the brain that, during dreaming, decreases its activity and opens the gates for dreamlike imagery that seems so unconnected to our everyday experiences.
Bold Experiments, Fascinating Case Studies
Central to our increased understanding of human behavior is the intriguing research behind it. Being Human is filled with stories of bold experiments and case studies—some of them conducted in the field by Professor Sapolsky himself—that illuminate the intricacies of our behavior.
- Junk-food monkeys: Professor Sapolsky recounts his study of East African baboons that turned from their natural diet in favor of trash from a nearby tourist lodge. Their experience with a Western diet highlights how its negative effects (such as soaring levels of insulin) and positive effects (such as decreased infant mortality) can cross species.
- Mind-controlling parasites: Central to our understanding of how parasites can change human behavior is the study of similar parasites in other parts of the natural world. You'll encounter one extraordinary parasite that makes rats become attracted to the smell of cats. What does this say about our own brain's susceptibility to foreign influences?
- Replacing love with technology: Is new technology necessarily better for healthy development? To answer this question, you'll investigate one historical case in which the health of premature children, born into wealthy families, suffered because they were raised using a state-of-the-art machine instead of with the love and care of a mother.
Rethink What It Means to Be Human
In addition to these and other experiments and studies, every lecture of Being Human showcases the brilliant mind and celebrated teaching style that have made Professor Sapolsky one of the most acclaimed members of The Great Courses faculty. He has also been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a MacArthur "genius" fellowship, Stanford University's Bing Award for Teaching Excellence, and an award for outstanding teaching from the Associated Students of Stanford University.
As we learn more about the evolutionary and physiological roots of humans, we eventually have to ask ourselves: Am I just another primate? Is "me" just a bunch of brain cells?
"Much of what you'll learn in Being Human will be surprising," says Professor Sapolsky. "Some of it will be amusing. But I'm sure every lecture will have you rethinking what it means to be human."
Major Transitions in Evolution [TTC Video]
26 February 2016, 16:17
Course No 1518 | MKV, AVC, 960x720 | AAC, 96 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | 4.61GB
How and when did life on Earth get to be the way it is today?
- Imagine a world without bees, butterflies, and flowering plants. That was Earth 125 million years ago.
- Turn back the clock 400 million years, and there were no trees.
- At 450 million years in the past, even the earliest insects had not yet developed.
- And looking back 500 million years-a half-billion years before the present-the land was devoid of life, which at that time flourished in a profusion of strange forms in the oceans.
These and other major turning points are the amazing story of evolution, the most remarkable force in the history of Earth, the organizing principle throughout the biological sciences, and the most important mechanism scientists use to understand the varieties of life on our planet.
To learn about these major transitions, each of which brought forth new possibilities for life, is to embark on an unforgettable look into the past. It's also a captivating opportunity to get a deeper understanding of how evolution works, to draw intricate connections between living things, and to think about life-not just yours but the lives of everything around you-in new ways.
Major Transitions in Evolution tells this science-detective story in 24 lavishly illustrated lectures that focus on the giant leaps that gave rise to nature's boundless diversity. In a course of breathtaking scope, you study the conditions that led to the first complex cells, flying insects, flowering plants, mammals, modern humans, and many other breakthroughs. And in the process of studying the past, you gain a powerful understanding of the present world.
Given the broad scope of the subject, this course is taught by two professors: Anthony Martin, a paleontologist and geologist at Emory University, and John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Each is an outstanding teacher in his field, adept at making the subject interesting and accessible no matter what your background in science. And in the final lecture, the two appear together for an absorbing conversation on common themes in the epic saga of life on Earth.
Giant Leaps that Brought Us to Today
Among the major transitions you cover are these:
- From simple to complex cells: Life's first major evolutionary transition was the leap from basic prokaryotic to more complex eukaryotic cells, which contain a nucleus and other specialized structures. This was the crucial step that eventually led to plants and animals.
- From fish to four legs: The iconic image of evolution is a fish emerging onto land. This transition might not have happened without shade provided by the newly developing forests, whose protective canopy gave the first fishapods protection from the sun.
- Dinosaurs become birds: Dinosaurs didn't go completely extinct; they survive today as birds, whose distinctive wings, feathers, and other features are visible in transitional fossils such as Archaeopteryx, from about 150 million years ago.
- Modern humans: The evolution of tree-dwelling primates to upright-walking apes later led to the evolution of modern humans-a species that invented agriculture, poetry, computers, and the techniques to trace its own lineage and that of all life.
You also explore many other transitions that occurred between these milestones, and you take an intriguing look ahead to speculate about the future direction of evolution. From the deep past until today, evolution has been a story with countless subplots, false leads, and reversals of fortune. But it has had one overarching theme-that life is wondrous, resilient, and endlessly surprising.
Dutch Masters: The Age of Rembrandt [TTC Video]
26 February 2016, 07:48
Course No 7180 | AVI, XviD, 576x432 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | 9.56 GB
Holland in the 17th century was home to the most remarkable concentration of artistic talent and accomplishment in modern history. From this tiny land came the great masters Vermeer, Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Pieter de Hooch, and Rembrandt, as well as an abundant assembly of memorable artists.
To this day, these compelling pictures take our breath away-an unrivalled heritage of portraits, still lifes, landscapes, marine paintings, and profoundly observant images of everyday Dutch life that continue to grace museums throughout Europe and America.
Why are our eyes mesmerized by the glistening stream issuing from the pitcher in Vermeer's The Milkmaid? How does our understanding deepen with each moment we spend taking in the revealing details of his Woman Holding a Balance? What are the means that create the self-contained intimacy that glows from de Hooch's A Mother's Duty, or from his Interior with Women Beside a Linen Chest?
We are forever astonished by the inclusive sweep of Rembrandt's art, which encompasses the brooding power of The Mill and the moving immediacy of The Jewish Bride. That unsurpassed image of human devotion was painted with such astonishing bravura that Vincent Van Gogh, sitting spellbound before the painting in Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum two centuries later, was impelled to say: "One must have died several times to paint like that."
Learn What Made the Art of Holland so Special
What was it that made Holland so special, that nourished great masters and produced artists like Jan van de Cappelle, Meindert Hobbema, Jacob van Ruisdael, Pieter Saenredam, Gerard ter Borch, Hendrick Terbrugghen, and so many others?
And what of the extraordinary technical ability of Holland's artists? They commanded a realistic technique so descriptive and alive that their work seemed like a transcription of life itself. Many people today think of the Dutch artists as "realists." But is this really true? Were they, instead, the creators of a parallel reality-often preoccupied with concerns of faith and morality, and expressing deeper truths through the familiar realities they were painting?
Dutch Masters: The Age of Rembrandt will introduce you to the art of 17th-century Holland. It traces the development of this renowned, independent school of painting, and the great seafaring nation that produced the new society that would be reflected in that new art. The course concludes with the achievements of Holland's greatest and most versatile genius, Rembrandt, whose range of work-including his remarkable etchings-claims the final seven lectures.
Your introduction to this marvelous world is a visually sumptuous one, as Professor William Kloss-well known to Teaching Company customers from his A History of European Art and Great Artists of the Italian Renaissance-shows you the work of more than 100 artists and guides you through more than 450 masterful paintings.
How Deep Meaning Can Hide in the Tiniest Detail
Painting by painting, you'll see how each artist's technical choices-about composition, lighting, color, or brushstrokes, to name a few-contribute to a work's overall impact and statement. And you'll see how even the smallest detail of content can speak volumes. For instance, the artist may depict a room and include a painting hanging on a wall within that room, and that painting within the painting may have significant meaning. The same may be true of an artist's choice of background props or secondary figures in the painting.
Dutch artists created paintings that offered insights into history and commerce. They created great religious works that not only interpret biblical narratives but address the spiritual conflicts of the period. And they also placed on canvas every facet of daily domestic and social life in "genre" paintings, one of the most characteristic categories of Dutch art.
Whether you're new to art or an experienced museumgoer, Dutch Masters: The Age of Rembrandt is a delight, filled with insights into the explosive inventiveness of Dutch art as it interpreted and reinvented the reality of Holland-the most dynamic nation in 17th-century Europe.