Great Scientific Ideas That Changed the World [TTC Video]

Great Scientific Ideas That Changed the World [TTC Video]
Great Scientific Ideas That Changed the World [TTC Video] by Steven L Goldman
Course No 1120 | AVI, XviD, 621 kbps, 432x304 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 6.2GB

Why has science so dramatically altered how we live and how we think about ourselves? What is the greatest scientific idea of all time? According to Professor Steven L. Goldman, one is tempted to speak of scientific discoveries as the source of science's power to be a driver of social change—that scientists have been discovering new truths about nature, and that the change follows from that. But I argue that it is scientific ideas that are responsible for this change. Ideas are the source of science's power—not discoveries."

And what is the greatest scientific idea of all? For Professor Goldman, that is surely the very idea of science, for as he puts it, "The idea of science itself is an idea that had to be invented."

In Great Scientific Ideas That Changed the World, you will explore ideas that—when society has been willing to pursue them—have helped form the foundation of modern life. You'll interpret the term "scientific idea" broadly, so as to include ideas that made science possible at all, as well as ideas that make science immensely powerful.

You will discover there is no sharp distinction between ideas that are classified as scientific and those that are classified as philosophical or mathematical, or even between scientific ideas and political, religious, or aesthetic ideas. Alfred North Whitehead, for example, famously linked the emergence of modern science in the Christian West to the belief in a single, law-observing Creator of the universe.

The New Dot-Com World

New ideas affect society in unpredictable ways. A perfect example is the evolution of the Internet from a modest U.S. Department of Defense-funded computer network project to a global technology that has transformed commerce, industry, politics, warfare, communication, education, entertainment, and research. We are still unfolding the unexpected and sometimes disturbing consequences of a few innovative ideas that enable computers in different locations to share information in real time, ideas that underlie the Internet's astonishing capabilities.

What we do know is that science has changed our lives—but how it does so, and why it is able to do so, tells us as much about ourselves as it does about science.

Moreover, as unpredictable as science may be, Professor Goldman argues that for 200 years now the interaction of science and technology with society has been the primary driver of social and cultural change, first in the West, then globally, and at an accelerating rate. During this period, social and personal values and relationships; social, political, and economic institutions; and cultural values and activities have changed and continue to change almost beyond anything our great-grandparents (or sometimes even parents) would recognize. What has transformed entire ways of life that had previously been entrenched for centuries or millennia?

There are objects, of course—the telephone, automobile, airplane, television, computer—that appear to be causes of social change. But identifying these artifacts does not reach down to the causes of innovation itself, nor does it expose those features of the sociocultural infrastructure that enable innovations to become causes of social change. Artifacts, in spite of their high visibility, are symptoms of causes at work; they are not themselves causes.

Learn How Society Affects Ideas

It is not only television, the automobile, or the Internet that have changed society. Instead, forces at work in society have caused television and automobiles and the Internet to take on the changing forms they take. One of these forces is ideas—new scientific ideas, originating in the past and subsequently internalized by society. These ideas have shaped both our social and cultural affairs and the lines along which society is most open to change.

For instance, the notion that there are laws of nature seems to reflect a political idea. There can be no doubt that mathematical and aesthetic ideas were central to the 17th-century Scientific Revolution. Furthermore, distinguishing science and technology is fuzzy, too—especially since the late 19th century, when scientific knowledge and technological innovation began to be coupled systematically in industrial, academic, and government research laboratories.

Each of Professor Goldman's 36 lectures highlights in a provocative way a single idea or development critical to the development of science in the West. The lectures are broadly chronological, beginning with prescientific know-how and the invention of writing, and advancing through modern times all the way to the development of chaos theory. In each lecture, Professor Goldman looks at not only the content of an idea that is fundamental for science, but also how that idea arose and what its impact has been throughout the centuries.

In the first third of the course, Professor Goldman engages in a sort of "reverse engineering" of what we mean by science today, identifying the origins of features that now seem essential for the existence of modern science.

Lecture 1 begins by looking back at the already impressive prescientific skills and know-how humans had achieved by the 4th century B.C.E., and Lecture 2 discusses the invention of writing and the spread of writing systems and texts from 3500 B.C.E. to the beginning of Classical antiquity.

Who Invented Ideas?

The invention of writing may not seem a scientific idea at all. Yet there is a profound assumption underlying the invention of writing, whose controversial implications are reflected in Socrates's argument against writing, as recounted in Plato's dialogue Phaedrus. Writing is also a technology and serves as a shining example of how technologies embody ideas, even though we tend to ignore the ideas when our attention dwells only on what the technologies do, how they do it, or what the consequences have been.

Between 500 B.C.E. and 300 B.C.E., Greek philosophers developed highly specific concepts of knowledge, reason, truth, nature, mathematics, logic, knowledge of nature, and the use of mathematics to describe nature—all in ways that continue to inform the practice of science to the present day. Lectures 3–5 are devoted to these ideas and their legacies.

Lecture 6 discusses the first appearance in Western history, perhaps in world history, of the idea of techno-science—technology derived from theoretical knowledge rather than from practical know-how. This was largely a Greek idea that was applied in the context of the rising Roman Empire, and the lecture describes selected Roman-era technologies that influenced modern science and engineering.

Lectures 7–11 explore a set of interrelated developments that together constitute a bridge between the ancient and early modern eras:

  • The idea of the university and its role as a progenitor of modern science
  • Medieval machinery and Europe's first Industrial Revolution
  • The Renaissance ideas of progress, the printed book, and mathematics as the language of nature.

All of these ideas are fundamental for science as we know it, and they are also fundamental for the rise of engineering and technological innovation.

Lecture 12 discusses Copernicus's idea of a moving Earth, the cultural consequences of that idea, and its subsequent evolution into an astronomical theory. Copernicus himself was wrong about a great deal—for example, planets move in orbits that are elliptical, not circular—but his idea helped clear the way for the foundational ideas of modern science that you'll explore in Lectures 13–17. Among these are the idea of method, mathematical ideas such as algebra and calculus, ideas of conservation and symmetry, the creation of instruments that extend the mind and not only our senses. All together, these ideas created a new conception of knowledge of nature.

Lectures 18–28 explore 19th-century scientific ideas of immense social, cultural, intellectual, as well as scientific, influence:

  • Time is an active dimension of reality and not merely a passive measure of change.
  • A chemical atom is an expression of a generic idea of fundamental units with fixed properties out of which nature is composed.
  • The cell theory of life, the germ theory of disease, and the gene theory of inheritance, can all been seen as conceptually allied to the atom idea—to the powerful notion that natural phenomena can be analyzed in terms of fundamental building blocks.
  • Energy, immaterial force fields, and relationships offer a contrasting, yet equally powerful, conception of processes as the most elementary features of nature.
  • Science can be allied systematically with technology—knowing with doing—to synthesize a new world.
  • Evolution epitomizes a process-oriented approach to science and can be extended from biology to scientific thinking generally.
  • Natural phenomena have a fundamentally probabilistic and statistical character.
  • New social institutions can play a pivotal role in science's ability to transform the world.

Lectures 29–35 discuss increasingly sophisticated scientific ideas of the 20th century, including relativity, quantum theory, the expanding universe, computer science, information theory, molecular biology; as well as the idea of systems, especially chaotic systems and self-organizing systems, plus the related ideas of ecology.

Lecture 36 concludes by reviewing today's ideas about science and technology in upcoming fields such as cognitive neuroscience, bio- and nanotechnology, and physicists' search for a Theory of Everything, and considers ideas, and their likely roles as motivators of future change.

Great Scientific Ideas That Changed the World [TTC Video]

I, Spy: How to Be Your Own Private Investigator [Audiobook]

I, Spy: How to Be Your Own Private Investigator [Audiobook]
I, Spy: How to Be Your Own Private Investigator [Audiobook] by Daniel Ribacoff, read by Fred Berman
2016 | MP3@64 kbps + EPUB | 5 hrs 15 mins | 144.95MB

Have you ever wanted to be your own private eye? Have you ever wanted to track down long-lost relatives or people who've scammed you? Have you ever wanted to know if your kids really are where they say they are? Or if your significant other is cheating on you? Or how to locate assets in order to collect on a judgment?

World-renowned private investigator Dan Ribacoff will show you how. With decades of experience in public safety, private investigation, and credibility assessment, Dan will teach you:

  • The do's and don'ts of surveillance
  • How to conduct a stakeout - from what to wear to what to bring
  • How to track down anyone anywhere
  • How to collect and interpret evidence
  • How to tell if someone is lying
  • How to utilize informants
  • How to protect your home, your valuables, and your privacy
  • How to go off-grid, for now or forever
  • How to know if you're being stalked
  • The fundamentals of garbage retrieval
  • And much, much more!

Learn the art of private investigation from a pro. With Dan's time-tested tips and stories of true-crime detection - straight from the gritty streets of New York City - you'll be hot on the trail in no time!

In Other Words [Audiobook]

In Other Words [Audiobook]
In Other Words [Audiobook] by Jhumpa Lahiri, read by the Author
2016 | MP3@64 kbps + EPUB | 6 hrs 37 mins | 189.63MB

From the best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize winner, a powerful nonfiction debut - an "honest, engaging, and very moving account of a writer searching for herself in words" (Kirkus Reviews).

In Other Words is a revelation. It is at heart a love story - of a long and sometimes difficult courtship and a passion that verges on obsession: that of a writer for another language. For Jhumpa Lahiri, that love was for Italian, which first captivated and capsized her during a trip to Florence after college. Although Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterward, true mastery always eluded her.

Seeking full immersion, she decides to move to Rome with her family for "a trial by fire, a sort of baptism" into a new language and world. There, she begins to read and to write - initially in her journal - solely in Italian. In Other Words, an autobiographical work written in Italian, investigates the process of learning to express oneself in another language and describes the journey of a writer seeking a new voice.

Presented in a dual-language format, this is a wholly original book about exile, linguistic and otherwise, written with an intensity and clarity not seen since Vladimir Nabokov: a startling act of self-reflection and a provocative exploration of belonging and reinvention.

Read by the Author, in both English and the original Italian

From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History [TTC Video]

From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History [TTC Video]
From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History [TTC Video] by Kenneth J Hammon
Course No 8320 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 6.46GB

In a world growing increasingly smaller, China still seems a faraway and exotic land, with secrets and mysteries of ages past, its history and intentions veiled from most Westerners. Yet behind that veil lies one of the most amazing civilizations the world has ever known. For most of its 5,000-year existence, China has been the largest, most populous, wealthiest, and mightiest nation on Earth. And for us as Westerners, it is essential to understand where China has been in order to anticipate its future. This course answers this need by delivering a comprehensive political and historical overview of one of the most fascinating and complex countries in world history.

A Civilization so Advanced …

  • China had a theory of social contract, the "Mandate of Heaven," in place by 1500 B.C.E., 3,000 years before Western philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.
  • It had seen the rule of three classical dynasties before 200 B.C.E.
  • It developed agriculture and writing independently of outside influence.
  • In Confucius and Laozi—among others—it had philosophers of the Axial Age as influential as were Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle in ancient Greece.
  • While the Roman Empire was at its zenith, China's Han dynasty ruled over an empire superior in almost every measurable way, including technological advancement.

… Its Wonders Were Thought to Be Lies

The veil that hides China's extraordinary past from many of us today is far from a new one. When Marco Polo wrote of the wonders he had seen over his 20 years in China, most of his fellow Venetians could not accept his descriptions of a civilization that rivaled their own. They contemptuously referred to the book he wrote about his adventures as "The Millions”—the number of lies they believed marched across its pages. Those Venetians had chosen to turn away from a precious opportunity to glimpse China's wonders and better understand the world.

Every lecture of From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History may seem like a journey across a virgin landscape, for the ground it covers has been largely unexplored in the history courses most of us in the West have taken.

You learn about:

  • The powerful dynasties that ruled China for centuries
  • The philosophical and religious foundations—particularly Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism—that have influenced every iteration of Chinese thought
  • The larger-than-life personalities, from both inside and outside its borders, of those who have shaped China's history.
  • As you listen to these lectures, you see how China's politics, economics, and art reflect the forces of its past.

Explore China's Subtleties with an Expert

Few nations have as long and intricate a history as China. To bring alive the subtleties of that history in only 36 lectures requires a teacher intimately familiar with not only his subject, but the needs of listeners who may well be peering for the first time beyond that curtain that has long veiled the mysteries of China—indeed, of all Asia—from the eyes and understanding of Westerners.

Born and raised in Ohio, Professor Kenneth J. Hammond himself made that intellectual and cultural journey. He has lived and worked in Beijing and established exchange programs with schools in China and Korea.

In guiding you through the five millennia of China's history, he has organized his lectures around several major themes:

  • The evolution of the social and political elite and how they acquired and asserted their power as rulers
  • The history of political thought and the ways the Chinese have organized their society and government from the shamanistic roots of that political thought to the crafting and adapting of the Imperial Order, the rise of Communism, and the introduction of capitalism as China seeks economic growth
  • How the Chinese have thought and written about themselves and the world
  • The connections between economic and social life and the worlds of art, literature, and philosophy
  • The interaction among cosmological ideas, the metaphysical insights of Buddhism and religious Daoism, and the perennial mysticism of popular religion
  • China's history as it relates to the world beyond its borders.

China's Story: From Night Skies Ablaze to Opium

Dr. Hammond's lectures are richly detailed and lead you on compelling forays across many aspects of China's story. From a governing perspective, you'll learn how the short-lived Qin dynasty—with "legalism"as its often brutal ideology of governance—became the first unified empire, laying the basis for an enduring imperial order. And how the implementation of the imperial civil service examination system in the late 10th century gave intellectual issues renewed importance, and made the 11th century flourish with great debate and discussion about literature, philosophy, government, and art. You'll also learn the eye-opening story of how China was betrayed by the Allies at Versailles, precipitating riots in Beijing and helping pave the way for the emergence of the Communist Party.

From an historical point of reference, you'll see how a concubine named Wu Zetian rose to become the first and only empress to rule China . You'll also learn how opium became the commodity that allowed Great Britain to pry open China to the avarice of the West, making millions of Chinese into addicts, inciting the Opium Wars and a profound humiliation for China. You'll also be fascinated by the extraordinary story of a failed examination candidate named Hong Xiuquan, whose certainty that he was Jesus' younger brother drove him to lead a revolution that nearly succeeded in overthrowing the Qing dynasty. And then examine the conquest of China by the Mongols, including a riveting discussion of their culture and tactics.

You'll also explore how select artistic and intellectual events shaped China's history. For example, learn about the great ceramic center at Jingdezhen, which, in the 12th century, became one of the first true industrial cities in world history, its massive production lines setting the night sky ablaze with the glow from their great kilns. You'll be introduced to the Neo-Confucianist teachings of Zhu Xi, one of the great figures in Chinese intellectual history, whose sharply divergent commentaries on classical Confucian texts placed an emphasis on moral self-cultivation and the role of the individual. And finally, you'll visit the golden age of the Ming dynasty, when art and literature flourished amid economic growth and the revival of a great merchant class, including the invention of a postal system that became the foundation of a great trading network.

China: A Major Player

China continues to reassert itself as a major force. These above samplings can only hint at the fascination of this course and the immensity of its scope. However, the full course offers the history of this vast nation, reminding us that China is no stranger to that stage and, indeed, has more often than not been the most extraordinary player on it.

From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History [TTC Video]

How to Boost Your Physical and Mental Energy [TTC Video]

How to Boost Your Physical and Mental Energy [TTC Video]
How to Boost Your Physical and Mental Energy [TTC Video] by Kimberlee Bethany Bonura
Course No 1931 | MP4, AVC, 1024x576 | AAC, 64 kbps, 2 Ch | 12x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 2.3GB

Wouldn’t it be great if you could wake up every morning full of life and enthusiasm for a brand new day? If you loved going to work, and got a positive charge out of all your relationships? If you always had an unending reserve of energy?

Most of us no doubt feel energetic some of the time, but as we get older, the stressors and responsibilities of life, and the weight of our myriad obligations, inevitably take their toll, leaving us feeling tired, worn out, and generally depleted.

While energy is a limited resource within the body, there are things you can do to help you conserve the energy you have and tap into hidden energy reserves.

  • Perform daily exercises, breathing rituals, and meditations to recharge your batteries.
  • Adjust your diet and sleeping habits to operate more efficiently from one day to the next.
  • Re-allocate wasted energy toward higher priorities, such as your family and friends.
  • Find purpose in your work and relationships to boost your energy for the long run.

How to Boost Your Physical and Mental Energy offers a step-by-step curriculum for tapping into those hidden wells of energy and injecting your life with a much-welcomed jolt of vitality—that joie de vivre we all wish we had. Taught by Dr. Kimberlee Bethany Bonura, a highly acclaimed fitness and wellness consultant, these 12 accessible lectures serve as a toolkit for a more energetic you. Dr. Bonura shows you a series of practical exercises that will increase your energy in the short term, and you also learn how to make a personalized blueprint for long-term success.

When physicists talk about human energy, they talk about calories and joules, whereas most of us simply want to feel good and charged up. There is a science behind that ineffable sense of vitality, and Dr. Bonura shows you the latest research on everything from sleep to mindfulness to the importance of play and emotional well-being. How to Boost Your Physical and Mental Energy shows you how a few simple strategies could mean the difference between guzzling coffee while slouched over the breakfast table and walking out the front door with a spring in your step.

Learn Strategies for Self-Care

There are no shortcuts to an energetic life—no miracle tonic or 10 superfoods you must eat every day—but like weeding a garden for optimal growth, daily self-care is nonetheless critical to maximizing your energy. Dr. Bonura reveals several practices that can make a profound difference in how you feel throughout the day. In this course, she examines energy’s relationship to:

  • Breathing: Facilitate relaxation through meditation and mindfulness.
  • Work: See how to manage and protect your energy on the job.
  • Relationships: Make sure your social life nurtures your energy levels.
  • Environment: Streamline your life by simplifying daily decisions.
  • Diet: Discover a few sensible guidelines rather than obsessing over calories.

You might be surprised to learn that one of the simplest ways to increase your energy is by sleeping eight hours a night. We’ve all heard that recommendation, but research confirms that people who get enough rest are in fact more alert, and more precise in their thinking, than those who only sleep a few hours a night.

Such advice is simple—eat well, sleep eight hours a night, nurture good relationships—but rather than being a luxury for those with unlimited time, proper self-care is a matter of self-preservation. Following Dr. Bonura’s guidelines will be a powerful step toward invigorating your life.

Discover a Toolkit of Practical Exercises

This course’s goal is ambitious: it seeks to help you build a more meaningful, enjoyable life. But these lectures also constitute a practical toolkit, offering a wealth of exercises you can try right away in your living room alongside Dr. Bonura, including:

  • Meditation and mindfulness
  • Breathing exercises
  • Restorative yoga
  • Acupressure

You’ll also discover some “quick fixes” for an immediate boost of energy, such as chewing mint gum, drinking a glass of water, or simply walking in place. These exercises integrate physical well-being with mental health, helping you maximize your energy on all fronts.

Consider How to Live a Purposeful Life

While self-care is crucial for boosting energy from one day to the next, sustainable physical and mental energy is only possible within the framework of a meaningful life. An energetic life is a purposeful life, so Dr. Bonura challenges you to think about how you spend your days: are you satisfied with your career? With your relationships? What does success mean to you?

Energy is a limited resource, and may be wasted if channeled unproductively. The good news is that you can consciously choose where and how to allocate your energy. Practicing mindfulness, making time for play, considering your emotional perspectives, and reducing your cognitive load all help you move from a quick boost to sustained energy. The key is making choices that promote a happy life.

Whatever your age and whatever your health circumstances, How to Boost Your Physical and Mental Energy is an invaluable guide for increasing your ability to do the things you want to do in life.

How to Boost Your Physical and Mental Energy [TTC Video]

The Guide to Essential Italy [TTC Video]

The Guide to Essential Italy [TTC Video]
The Guide to Essential Italy [TTC Video] by Kenneth R Bartlett
Course No 3032 | MP4, AVC, 784 kbps, 1024x576 | AAC, 68 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 6.45GB

“You may have the universe, if I may have Italy.“ — Giuseppe Verdi

Anyone who is familiar with Italy—its glorious architecture, epic history, exquisite fine arts, and majestic landscape—understands Verdi’s passionate words. For centuries, Italy has been an irresistible magnet for people from all corners of the world, attracting the most illustrious men and women of every age as well as visitors from every walk of life. Today, it remains a mecca for cultural travelers, uplifting, fascinating, and enchanting all who travel there.

But what is behind Italy’s remarkable appeal? What makes this country such an inexhaustible place of discovery, unforgettable to so many?

Historically, Italy is one of the central fonts of Western culture, as the center of the Roman Empire, the cradle of Christianity, and the place where the Renaissance flowered. The sheer geographical density of masterpieces of art is one of the marvels of the world. Italy contains a stunning mix of history, architecture, art, and culture, all within settings of astonishing beauty. From its fabulous panorama of history and art, dating from ancient times to the modern, to its luminous landscapes and incalculable jewels of architecture, it would be hard to exaggerate the riches of this extraordinary country.

  • Rome — A majestic, one-stop compendium of Western civilization, encompassing wonders from the ancient Palace of Domitian and the great Colosseum to landmarks of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the modern era in multilayered profusion
  • Assisi — The lovely Umbrian hill town whose Church of St. Francis is one of the greatest monuments in European art
  • Florence — A matchless treasure house of Renaissance, Gothic, and Baroque art and architecture, where the masterworks of Michelangelo, Bernini, Brunelleschi, Caravaggio, and numerous others abound
  • Pompeii — An amazingly preserved ancient time capsule, revealing the intimate realities of daily life in the Roman Empire
  • Venice — A city that is itself a sublime work of art, and whose magical waterways and exquisite architecture give us one of the world’s most romantic and historically rich destinations

The Great Courses, in collaboration with the renowned Smithsonian, brings you The Guide to Essential Italy, your own grand tour of Italy that focuses on the most historically and artistically compelling sites. A world expert in cultural travel for over 45 years, Smithsonian Journeys, the Institution’s worldwide travel program, has created an Italian itinerary that has been honed over time to present a fascinating picture of this amazing destination. With their experts, we created a circuit that explores some of the most culturally significant landmarks, gives the opportunity to view countless impressive masterworks of artistic genius, and examines the impact of Italian history on the rest of the world. A breathtaking travel journey, this 36-segment course is a video tour and travelogue that lets you walk the streets and savor the heritage of Italy’s premiere destinations of Rome, Tuscany, and Venice, with side trips to additional treasures of Italian civilization.

The Guide to Essential Italy is a specially tailored journey of a kind no guidebook anywhere can offer—a personally guided tour that lets you explore the most famous and culturally important sites: splendorous palaces, grand piazzas, dazzling statuary, glorious cathedrals and churches, monumental artworks, and much more. In the process, you’ll take time to visit hidden gems and less traveled byways, and to make unusual and fascinating discoveries.

Your guide is Professor Kenneth R. Bartlett of the University of Toronto, an esteemed historian and scholar who knows these remarkable places in intimate detail, having traveled to Italy every year since 1970. As a cultural tour leader there for decades, Professor Bartlett knows Italy like few others do, and demonstrates a special talent for uncovering its most memorable historic, cultural, and artistic riches.

Professor Bartlett introduces you to the essential sites of these incredible cities, using location footage from the Smithsonian Journeys program as well as plenty of detailed maps so that you always know exactly where you are. In superbly illuminating commentary, he reveals the history and cultural significance of these places in detail, and offers viewing tips for appreciating what you’ll experience—whether you’re planning a trip to Italy, thinking of traveling there, or would simply like to discover this superlative culture from your armchair. Each lecture in this course is organized as a detailed walking tour, which you can take with you and listen to as you walk through the vias of Italy, as well as follow and enjoy as a spectacular visual journey from the comfort of home. Plus, the Smithsonian provides travel advice that appears at the end of every lecture: dozens of expert suggestions for off-the-beaten-path opportunities to explore more about the art, architecture, history, culture, and landscape. These tips build upon the professor’s vivid insights and offer fresh nuances to consider.

The Eternal City

Your Italian journey begins in the phenomenal urban landscape of Rome. In a full fourteen lectures on this center of Western civilization, you’ll delve into historic treasures such as these:

  • At sites such as the Forum Romanum, the Colosseum, the Claudian aqueduct, and the massive Baths of Diocletian, appreciate the majesty and power of the Roman Empire as well its astounding feats of architecture and engineering.
  • Explore great Renaissance and Baroque palaces evoking the lavish opulence of the Roman nobility, including the Chigi Palace and Palazzo Borghese, among the grandest private houses in all of Rome, and the Villa Farnesina,one of Rome’s most glorious jewels.
  • Among triumphs of civic architecture, admire theCampidoglio, Michelangelo’s masterpiece of urban planning; the Piazza Navona, crowned by Bernini’s spectacular Fountain of the Four Rivers; and the 19th-century Victor Emmanuel Monument.
  • Experience the splendor of the Roman church at the Capitoline, the papal basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace and Basilica of St. Peter, and Bernini’s superlative Cornaro Chapel.

Florence and Tuscany

Here, embark on the glorious Florentine streets as you uncover the dramatic history of the city-state and savor the masterworks of art that have defined Florence for the ages.

  • Chart the development of the Florentine republic at sites such as the majestic Bargello and Palazzo della Signoria; stand in awe of the Medici monarchy at the Palazzo Vecchio, Fortezza da Basso, and the Chapel of the Princes;
  • View Botticelli and da Vinci at the renownedGalleria degli Uffizi, Rubens and Raphael at the Palazzo Pitti, and the genius of Michelangelo at the Accademia, all among the greatest repositories of art in the world.
  • Admire the extraordinary Duomo, whose dome is one of the wonders of the entire Renaissance; Ghiberti’s golden doors for the Baptistery, which Michelangelo declared worthy to be the Gates of Paradise; and the Boboli Gardens, among the most uniquely beautiful gardens on earth.
  • On your way to Florence, stop at the hill towns of Orvieto, noted for its religious architecture; Siena, where you’ll enjoy the most beautiful piazza in all of Italy; and San Gimignano, with its celebrated medieval towers.

Venice: “La Serenissima”

In the course’s final section, you’ll experience the ethereal beauty and historic magnificence of Venice, a city like none other in the world.

  • Investigate the history and ethos of the Venetian republic and its trading empire, as you view triumphal public architecture on the Molo of Venice, the Piazzetta San Marco, and the Piazza San Marco, attesting to Venetian glory and independence.
  • Explore the Gothic masterpiece of the Doge’s Palace, with its resplendent decoration exalting the Venetian state, and the Byzantine-style Basilica of San Marco, with its exquisite Door of the Flowers, elaborately adorned façade, and transcendent gilded interior.
  • Travel by vaporetto on Venice’s romantic canals and waterways, and visit wondrous churches constructed by merchants to proclaim their power and influence, sumptuous Baroque palaces and waterside museums, and imposing commercial buildings from Venice’s maritime past.
  • Walk the winding backstreets of this most dreamlike of cities, and discover jewels such as the beloved Rialto bridge, the splendid Augustinian church of San Stefano, and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, a treasure trove of art and one of Venice’s greatest wonders.

A Journey to the Heart of Italian Culture

As a notable benefit of the course’s walking tours, you’ll discover exceptional gems that most tours don’t have time for. You’ll encounter the remarkable “talking statues” of Rome, explore daily life in a Florentine Renaissance palace, and visit the prison cell in Venice where Casanova was held—until, of course, he escaped!

Vivid 3-D maps allow for clear understanding of the sites, and special-access video footage takes you inside museums, numerous architectural landmarks, and brings alive additional side trips to the volcanic ruins of Pompeii and the idyllic hill towns of Arezzo and Perugia. Each lecture includes the Smithsonian’s travel insights, which are carefully crafted to lead you deeper into Italian art and culture with additional on-the-ground experiences.

In The Guide to Essential Italy, you’ll travel through the towering human achievements and the ravishing beauties of this extraordinary country—its incomparable art, romantic streets and piazzas, glories of architecture, and multifaceted history. These 36 richly enjoyable lectures form a unique resource for both the traveler and the appreciator of an endlessly fascinating culture.

The Guide to Essential Italy [TTC Video]

Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do [Audiobook]

Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do [Audiobook]
Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do [Audiobook] by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, read by Richard McGonagle
2010 | MP3@64 kbps + EPUB | 9 hrs 50 mins | 270.9MB

The bestselling author of Linked returns with a ground breaking new theory that will enthrall fans of The Tipping Point

Can we scientifically predict our future? It's a mystery that has nagged scientists for perhaps thousand of years. Now Albert-László Barabási-the award-winning author of the sleeper hit Linked- explains how the digital age has yielded a massive, previously unavailable data set that proves the daily pattern of human activity isn't random, it's "bursty." We work and fight and play in short flourishes of activity followed by next to nothing.

Compellingly illustrated with the account of a bloody medieval crusade in sixteenth-century Transylvania and the modern tale of a contemporary artist hunted by the FBI, Bursts reveals that we are far more predictable than we like to think.

Hogs Wild: Selected Reporting Pieces [Audiobook]

Hogs Wild: Selected Reporting Pieces [Audiobook]
Hogs Wild: Selected Reporting Pieces [Audiobook] by Ian Frazier, read by the Author
2016 | MP3@64 kbps + EPUB | 12 hrs 27 mins | 343.35MB

"A master of both distilled insight and utter nonsense" (The Believer), Ian Frazier is one of the most gifted chroniclers of contemporary America. Hogs Wild assembles a decade's worth of his finest essays and reportage and demonstrates the irrepressible passions and artful digressions that distinguish his enduring body of work.

Part muckraker, part adventurer, and part raconteur, Frazier beholds, captures, and occasionally reimagines the spirit of the American experience. He travels down South to examine feral hogs and learns that their presence in any county is a strong indicator that it votes Republican. He introduces us to a man who, when his house is hit by a supposed meteorite, hopes to "leverage" the space object into opportunity for his family, and a New York City police detective who is fascinated with rap-music-related crimes. Alongside Frazier's delight in the absurdities of contemporary life is his sense of social responsibility: There's an echo of the great reform-minded writers in his pieces on a soup kitchen, opioid overdose deaths on Staten Island, and the rise in homelessness in New York City under Mayor Bloomberg.

In each dizzying discovery, Hogs Wild unearths the joys of inquiry without agenda, curiosity without calculation. To listen to Frazier is to become a kind of social and political anthropologist - astute and deeply engaged.

Here I Am: A Novel [Audiobook]

Here I Am: A Novel [Audiobook]
Here I Am: A Novel [Audiobook] by Jonathan Safran Foer, read by Ari Fliakos
2016 | MP3@64 kbps + EPUB | 16 hrs 59 mins | 473.83MB

In the book of Genesis, when God calls out, "Abraham!" before ordering him to sacrifice his son, Isaac, Abraham responds, "Here I am". Later, when Isaac calls out, "My father!" before asking him why there is no animal to slaughter, Abraham responds, "Here I am".

How do we fulfill our conflicting duties as father, husband, and son; wife and mother; child and adult? Jew and American? How can we claim our own identities when our lives are linked so closely to others'? These are the questions at the heart of Jonathan Safran Foer's first novel in 11 years - a work of extraordinary scope and heartbreaking intimacy.

Unfolding over four tumultuous weeks in present-day Washington, DC, Here I Am is the story of a fracturing family in a moment of crisis. As Jacob and Julia Bloch and their three sons are forced to confront the distances between the lives they think they want and the lives they are living, a catastrophic earthquake sets in motion a quickly escalating conflict in the Middle East. At stake is the meaning of home - and the fundamental question of how much aliveness one can bear.

Showcasing the same high-energy inventiveness, hilarious irreverence, and emotional urgency that listeners and critics loved in his earlier work, Here I Am is Foer's most searching, hard-hitting, and grandly entertaining novel yet. It not only confirms Foer's stature as a dazzling literary talent but reveals a novelist who has fully come into his own as one of the most important writers in America.

The Wonder Trail: True Stories from Los Angeles to the End of the World [Audiobook]

The Wonder Trail: True Stories from Los Angeles to the End of the World [Audiobook]
The Wonder Trail: True Stories from Los Angeles to the End of the World [Audiobook] by Steve Hely, read by the Author
2016 | MP3@64 kbps + EPUB | 7 hrs 47 mins | 214.4MB

Steve Hely, writer for The Office and American Dad!, and recipient of the Thurber Prize for American Humor, presents a travel book about his journey through Central and South America. Part travel book, part pop history, part comic memoir, Hely's writing will make listeners want to reach for their backpacks and hiking boots.

The Wonder Trail is the story of Steve's trip from Los Angeles to the bottom of South America, presented in 102 short chapters. The trip was ambitious - Steve traveled through Mexico City, ancient Mayan ruins, and the jungles, coffee plantations, and remote beaches of Central America; across the Panama Canal; by sea to Colombia; to the wild Easter celebration of Popayán; to the Amazon rainforest, the Inca sites of Cuzco and Machu Picchu; to the Galápagos Islands and the Atacama Desert of Chile; and down to the jagged and wind-worn land of Patagonia at the very end of the Western Hemisphere.

Steve's plan was to discover the weird, wonderful, and absurd in Central and South America, to seek and find the incredible, delightful people and experiences that came his way. And the book that resulted is just as fun. A blend of travel writing, history, and comic memoir, The Wonder Trail will inspire, inform, and delight.

Native: Dispatches from an Israeli-Palestinian Life [EPUB]

Native: Dispatches from an Israeli-Palestinian Life [EPUB]
Native: Dispatches from an Israeli-Palestinian Life by Sayed Kashua
2016 | EPUB | 3.25MB

Sayed Kashua has been praised by the New York Times as “a master of subtle nuance in dealing with both Arab and Jewish society.” An Arab-Israeli who lived in Jerusalem for most of his life, Kashua started writing with the hope of creating one story that both Palestinians and Israelis could relate to, rather than two that cannot coexist together. He devoted his novels and his satirical weekly column published in Haaretz to telling the Palestinian story and exploring the contradictions of modern Israel, while also capturing the nuances of everyday family life in all its tenderness and chaos.

With an intimate tone fueled by deep-seated apprehension and razor-sharp ironic wit, Kashua has been documenting his own life as well as that of society at large: he writes about his children’s upbringing and encounters with racism, about fatherhood and married life, the Jewish-Arab conflict, his professional ambitions, travels around the world as an author, and—more than anything—his love of books and literature. He brings forth a series of brilliant, caustic, wry, and fearless reflections on social and cultural dynamics as experienced by someone who straddles two societies. Written between 2006 and 2014, Native reads like an unrestrained, profoundly thoughtful personal journal.

An Apology for Idlers [EPUB]

An Apology for Idlers [EPUB]
An Apology for Idlers by Robert Louis Stevenson
2009 | EPUB | 1.87MB

An irresistible invitation to reject the work ethic and enjoy life's simple pleasures (such as laughing, drinking and lying in the open air), Robert Louis Stevenson's witty and seminal essay on the joys of idleness is accompanied here by his writings on, among other things, growing old, visiting unpleasant places and the overwhelming experience of falling in love.

Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.

The Formation of the Economic Thought of Karl Marx: 1843 to Capital (Radical Thinkers) [EPUB]

The Formation of the Economic Thought of Karl Marx: 1843 to Capital (Radical Thinkers) [EPUB]
The Formation of the Economic Thought of Karl Marx: 1843 to Capital (Radical Thinkers) by Ernest Mandel
2016 | EPUB | 0.51MB

A clear and compact guide to Marx’s road to Das Kapital

Ernest Mandel traces the development of Marx’s economic ideas from the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts to the completion of the Grundrisse. In a series of crystalline chapters, he provides an overview of subjects central to Marxist economic theory. Mandel focuses on Marx’s concept of alienation, which gained much currency among Marxists in the twentieth century, and traces the development of debates surrounding the labour theory of value, and Marx’s writings on communism and “crisis.” These discussions remain pertinent today, and these texts vital to all those who wish to interpret and to change the world.

Gem in the Lotus: The Seeding of Indian Civilisation [EPUB]

Gem in the Lotus: The Seeding of Indian Civilisation [EPUB]
Gem in the Lotus: The Seeding of Indian Civilisation by Abraham Eraly
2002 | EPUB | 1.07MB

This sweeping account of ancient India begins with the Indus Valley civilization, then moves on to the Vedic Aryan culture, the age of religious and philosophical ferment, the tenets of Jainism, the founding and consolidation of Buddhism, and Alexander the Great’s advance into India. It concludes with the Mauryan Empire, which, in the 3rd century BC, united an enormous area of the Indian subcontinent. As in The Mughal Throne, Abraham Eraly provides a superb portrait of Indian life and culture.

Discovering the Vedas: Origins, Mantras, Rituals, Insights [EPUB]

Discovering the Vedas: Origins, Mantras, Rituals, Insights [EPUB]
Discovering the Vedas: Origins, Mantras, Rituals, Insights by Frits Staal
2008 | EPUB | 4.86MB

This is a remarkable book. It untangles the many complexities of the Vedas and combines Staal’s scholarly respect for the texts, with explanations that are lucid and occasionally witty. His insights are thoughtful and perceptive. Romila Thapar In this unprecedented guide to the Vedas, Frits Staal, and the celebrated author of Agni: The Vedic Ritual of the Fire Altar and Universals: Studies in Indian Logic and Linguistics examines almost every aspect of these ancient sources of Indic civilization.

Staal extracts concrete information from the Oral Tradition and Archaeology about Vedic people and their language, what they thought and did, and where they went and when. He provides essential information about the Vedas and includes selections and translations. Staal sheds light on mantras and rituals, that contributed to what came to be known as Hinduism. Significant is a modern analysis of what we can learn from the Vedas today: the original forms of the Vedic sciences, as well as the perceptive wisdom of the composers of the Vedas.

The author puts Vedic civilization in a global perspective through a wide-ranging comparison with other Indic philosophies and religions, primarily Buddhism For Staal, originally a logician, the voyage of discovering the Vedas is like unpeeling an onion but without the certainty of reaching an end. Even so, his book shows that the Vedas have a logic all their own. Accessible, finely-argued, and with a wealth of information and insight, Discovering the Vedas is for both the scholar and the interested lay reader.