Understanding the Science for Tomorrow: Myth and Reality

Course No. 1391
Professor Jeffrey C. Grossman, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Course No. 1391
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Course Overview

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

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

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

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

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

Investigate a Range of Real-World Applications

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

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

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

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

Get Intriguing Sneak Peeks at New Scientific Developments

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

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

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

Discover How Science and Technology Are Redefining Your World

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

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

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24 lectures
 |  Average 29 minutes each
  • 1
    Changing the Game
    Before you can understand the science of tomorrow, you need to understand how science works. Here, explore the process of scientific discovery (rooted in the scientific method), how information is tested and shared, the intricate relationship between science and technology, how we know when science is right (or wrong), and more. x
  • 2
    Magnetism—The Science of Attractions
    Professor Grossman helps you make sense of magnetism, explains its importance to your world, and offers exciting examples of the promises of new technologies. These include everything from cell phones that could run for two years on a single charge to mag-lev trains that could take you from Los Angeles to New York in under 10 minutes. x
  • 3
    Transportation—The Science of How We Move
    What will the future of transportation, on land and in the air, look like? What role will hybrid-electric, plug-hybrid, and all-electric cars play? How can we build airplanes that travel faster and carry larger loads? And what about jetpacks—are they really possible or just a novelty of science fiction? Find the answers to these and other questions here. x
  • 4
    Computers—Trillions of Bits per Second
    Computers have undoubtedly revolutionized life—and will continue to do so for years to come. First, survey the fast-paced history of computers. Then, focus on possible limits to computing power. Finally, investigate possible technologies such as optical computing, quantum computing, and computing devices so small they can be woven into your clothes. x
  • 5
    Artificial Intelligence—Thinking Machines
    You don't see much artificial intelligence (AI) in your life. Or do you? Find out what the future will look like by exploring key questions. Where did the idea for AI come from, and how does it work? What are some challenges hindering its widespread development? Where can you find it at work in tasks such as driving and cleaning? x
  • 6
    Robotics—Living with Machines
    Robots are more than just Hollywood fantasy—they may soon become a reality of everyday life. In this lecture, learn the radically different approaches taken by today's robots to achieve specific tasks or functions; meet robots such as Elektro and ASIMO; and explore robots—both large and small—in the home, at war, and in performing surgery. x
  • 7
    Microscopes—The Power of Seeing It All
    Make sense of how microscopes have dramatically expanded our ability to see into smaller and smaller worlds. You'll discover how microscopes evolved since the days of Galileo, learn why it is now possible to see individual atoms through superpowered microscopes, and travel to the frontier of tomorrow, with its "atom smashers", 3-D imaging, and more. x
  • 8
    Nanotechnology—The New Science of Small
    In the first of two lectures on this revolutionary subject, explore the "what" of nanotechnology—the purposeful engineering of matter at scales of less than 100 nanometers. Among the topics you'll learn about: what nanotechnology is, how it works, and how nanoscience has appeared in nature all along. x
  • 9
    Nanotechnology—Changing Everything
    Turn now to some concrete applications of nanotechnology in today's world. Professor Grossman covers four areas: new materials (such as powerful new adhesives); energy (including the development of cheaper solar cells); health (through highly sensitive disease detectors and drug delivery systems); and the environment (in nanoparticles that can detoxify common contaminants). x
  • 10
    Genetic Engineering—Life's Building Blocks
    We now have the potential for a revolution in biology and medicine based on our newfound ability to engineer life by accessing, modifying, and altering pieces of the inner "source code" of life itself: DNA. This lecture demystifies genetic engineering and reveals some of the many promises it holds. x
  • 11
    Synthetic Life—Making Life from Scratch
    Is it possible to "make" life in a lab? If so, how? Welcome to the world of synthetic life, which involves building new life forms from non-living substances. Learn how new strains of algae and viruses can help solve a variety of real-world problems. Also, encounter samples of life that—shockingly—exist without DNA as we know it. x
  • 12
    The Brain—Your Body's Supercomputer
    Study the brain as an intricate network of "wires" responsible for every facet of your life. First, explore the structure and function of this impressive organ. Then, discover how science has helped us know what we know about how the brain works. Finally, ponder what we still have yet to uncover. x
  • 13
    Cancer and Aging—Can They Be Defeated?
    When and how will we finally cure cancer? How far can we lengthen the span of our lives? These two piercing questions are at the heart of this lecture on the life and death of cells; how we understand what's going on in them, and how we can possibly better control them. x
  • 14
    Powerful Viruses—Future Friend or Foe?
    What is a virus, and how is it different from a bacterium? How are vaccines made, and is it possible to make a universal vaccine to protect us against all viruses? What knowledge and tools will be using to fight viruses in the near future? And how can viruses be essential to life on Earth? x
  • 15
    Food or Famine—Science Holds the Key
    Science and technology have radically changed how—and what—we eat. Here, examine why food is so important to our life; new advancements in how food is packaged and preserved; and the benefits and risks of genetically modifying food. Finally, close by taking a peek at what a meal from the future may very well look like. x
  • 16
    Water—The Currency of the Next Century
    Because of its growing scarcity around the world, water is primed to be the currency of the next century. Professor Grossman shows you how existing and upcoming technologies—including nanomaterials—can help alleviate the problems of water scarcity and contamination, and can offer new approaches to desalinate seawater. x
  • 17
    Biofuels—The Fuel of the Future?
    Investigate one of the hottest topics in the landscape of renewable energy: biofuels. Here, you'll learn what sets them apart from fossil fuels, how they're made from substances such as corn and algae, and some of the obstacles and drawbacks that still remain toward their mass use, such as high costs and low efficiency. x
  • 18
    Solar Cells—Electricity from the Sun
    Continue looking at alternative energy sources with this lecture on solar cells, also known as solar photovoltaics. Why is the most abundant renewable resource in the universe the least used? What can be done about it? Gain a newfound appreciation for our sun and the ways it can power our lives in the coming decades. x
  • 19
    Batteries—Storing Energy Chemically
    Unlike other energy sources currently in use, batteries offer a direct release of stored energy as electricity. Explore how far we can push current battery technology and vastly improve our ability to store energy in this manner. Also, take a peek at possible batteries of tomorrow, including lithium-air batteries and transparent batteries. x
  • 20
    The Hydrogen Economy—Fact or Fiction?
    Imagine a planet that runs on hydrogen, an element that is enormously abundant and completely clean. How would it work, and what would we use it for? Would a hydrogen-powered car be dangerous? What will a future global hydrogen economy look like? What technological advancements are still needed to make this idea a reality? x
  • 21
    Nuclear Energy—Harnessing Star Power
    Focus on the promising—yet controversial—topic of nuclear energy. Learn what makes it different from other forms of energy; how it's produced; the hot-button issues of safety and nuclear waste; and why nuclear fusion may just offer the best direction for nuclear science to take in the future. x
  • 22
    Prediction—From Storms to Stocks
    It's tough to make predictions. But thanks to recent advancements, we're coming closer than ever before to mastering the science of forecasting. In this lecture, Professor Grossman discusses the latest developments in our ability to better understand and master volatile systems, including the weather, earthquakes, and the stock market. x
  • 23
    Communication—Transcending Time and Space
    Survey the driving forces behind the evolution of communication throughout history, from the development of language to the Internet. Then, take a closer look at future directions for how we communicate, including tools that allow us to speak different languages with ease and the seamless integration of machines and our minds. x
  • 24
    Science in the Future
    Examine scientific ideas that, however thrilling, still remain distant possibilities, such as time travel. Then, Professor Grossman ends the course with a passionate discussion about the challenges of his profession and the continued hope of science and technology to solve today's most pressing challenges. x

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  • 224-page printed course guidebook
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Your professor

Jeffrey C. Grossman

About Your Professor

Jeffrey C. Grossman, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dr. Jeffrey C. Grossman is Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He earned his B.A. in Physics from Johns Hopkins University and his M.S. in Physics and his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before joining MIT, Professor Grossman founded and headed the Computational Nanoscience research group at the...
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Reviews

Understanding the Science for Tomorrow: Myth and Reality is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 45.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from My only beef with all these courses is no backup. It would be nice to be able to ask questions and get answers. Also would be nice to be questioned for comprehension.
Date published: 2016-08-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Tmorrow's World Today. A highly entertaining and intriguing course in general but the Professor does appear to contradict himself occasionally especially in the guide book. The animations graphics, video clips and visuals are excellent, however. All in all a good course worthy of recommendation.
Date published: 2016-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Valuable and Important Course Professor Grossman is a steady, even-tempered lecturer who does a great job in each lecture of giving necessary background in a comprehensible way and then highlighting a few of the ways current problems or technological challenges in the particular field might be addressed in the future. He has a fresh, positive outlook on the possibilities that science offers to solve many of our seemingly insoluble problems, and his forecasts for future technological advances are always interesting and exciting to contemplate. A valuable and important course that I highly recommend to all.
Date published: 2016-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Extremely informative course bringing us up to date with all recent technological advances and offering a stimulating perspective of the future. Dr. Grossman's explanations are very clear and easy to follow.
Date published: 2015-03-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Downplays the Risks of New Technology An excellent course by an extremely knowledgeable and articulate professor. My only criticism is that Professor Grossman says far too little about the risks of new technologies. It only takes a retrospective view of past disasters to remind ourselves that we need to be wary of unintended consequences of new scientific developments. His course would have more credibility if he had devoted more time to such dangers. As a physician, I am in the habit of weighing the potential benefit of any treatment against its potential risks. Sadly, in medicine we have a bad habit of prescribing new drugs too enthusiastically, since their possible dangers take time to become fully apparent. Let us hope that Professor Grossman will correct this imbalance in the next edition of his excellent course.
Date published: 2015-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course, great lecturer Among the very best I have viewed. The instructor delivered the lecture crisply and clearly. Plenty of visuals, good range of topics and examples.
Date published: 2015-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Interdisciplinary Science Feast I was amazed to find a professor who could speak the languages of chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics and engineering in a single course, but Dr. Grossman does it! This is a feast of advances in biological and medical sciences, genetic-modified livestock and crops, energy production, nano-structures, information management and more.. Dr. Grossman is at his best describing and discussing consumable and renewable energy sources as he is a materials-science physicist/engineer. Because of the scope of the course, there is some variability in presentations, but, overall, the course is excellent. I was put-off by the high-tech sounds and figures that were used to direct the viewer's attention to points. They were, in my opinion, shrill and distracting. Moreover, many of the figures used to illustrate points were small and unreadable. This is an excellent course taught by an outstanding professor at M.I.T.
Date published: 2013-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb Course This course was exactly what I wanted and expected. Professor Grossman is very informed and knows how to explain things precisely and in a way that conveys a true understanding of some of these complex subjects. He also expresses his own opinions that are based on the science at hand. Politics plays no part in what he is saying. I was left with a firm grasp of the concepts and a feeling that I know what the future may look like. Highly recommend!
Date published: 2013-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Intro to Emerging Technologies Professor Grossman does an excellent job on introducing the student to the science and technologies that will be shaping the world of the future. It is remarkable that he can discuss such a wide range of science and technologies with such clarity of understanding and ability to translate deep technical topics into layman's terms. It is clear from the historical examples presented that we have depended on science and technology for the improvements in our lives and our planet, and that we will continue to rely on advances in these areas well into the future. Fortunately we have science efforts on-going, like those of Prof. Grossman's own research to help us tackle the problems of the planet and humankind going forward. Unfortunately, as he points out in his last lecture, we are not investing enough in science education, scientific research, or science/technology career development to insure that the on-going benefits from science and technology persist going forward. Hopefully people who take this course will be inspired to help do something about this enigma. As for the content of the course one must remember that the topic is quite broad and thus Prof. Grossman's lectures only serve as an introduction to each technology. However, as someone who has spent his career in technology spanning several areas covered in the course, I found the material presented in my areas of expertise covered the core knowledge and were quite accurate. I appreciated the way that Prof. Grossman spoke to advances in his research area, nanotechnology, not only in specific lectures on that topic but in other lectures as well. For anyone interested in learning more about what technologies will be changing our lives for the better in the coming decades, I recommend you take this course, if not for yourself, then for your children and grandchildren. I applaud Dr. Grossman for his efforts to help educate the layperson on emerging science and technology trends, not only in this course but through his other activities.
Date published: 2013-06-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Uncoordinated and inconsistent. The many graphics that bore no or little relevance to what was being said became annoying and distracting. The course lacks continuity and structured conception. The tone has a somewhat sensationalistic feel to it, which is an ill choice for an educational production.
Date published: 2013-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! Love it! I am only on lecture 8 but over the course of only 2 days! I cannot stop myself from watching all lectures and absorbing all this great information I am learning. This course is a highly recommended for everyone who is awe-inspired by technology and human advances in the scientific field. This is an immensely interesting course and the professor is great! Giving this class anything less than 5 stars would be disrespectful and dishonest to the value that it provides.
Date published: 2013-01-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic! I received this course as a gift from my daughter last Christmas and have watched Professor Grossman's classes while I walk the treadmill in the morning. I knew I had to write a review when I realized how bummed I was to finish the courses and lose my workout companion! Professor Grossman's instruction is wonderful. I may be fooling myself but I feel like I went from 0 to 60 in understanding the science of our day. Given that I frequently despair for the state of our planet, learning about the coming technological advances gave me much-needed hope. One last thing. Professor Grossman has no lisp. I don't know what the earlier reviewer could have been hearing, but on my system: zero lisp.
Date published: 2012-12-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good content, but.. This course has a lot of good content. However, the lecturer speaks with a lisp that is somewhat distracting, and there are a lot of added sound effects of the type that some find juvenile and distracting.
Date published: 2012-12-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Gets one thinking about possibilities The best part of this course is when Professor Grossman describes the advancements that are now leading edge, and ways scientists are trying to approach current issues and limitations, and suggests potential breakthroughs we could see in the near future. The lectures on materials science (the presenter's background) are particularly fascinating; those on the biological sciences are a bit weak. A few of the lectures spend too much time developing background descriptions of well-known principles, and then run short on time to better describe the current status of what is being tried. His discussions of alternative fuels and batteries, such as real limitations for hydrogen transport and storage, inefficiency of biofuels etc., help one understand facts behind often politically charged green technologies. By it's nature, this lecture will become dated and need to be updated in a few years to stay relevant. But for its scope and provoking ideas, I think it is well worth watching.
Date published: 2012-11-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from like the course, not the format I was fascinated by the topic. Some of the information was familiar to me. What I liked the best was the future possibilities and speculations. It gave me some optimism for our poor old planet. I agree with others who state the graphics were sometimes too small, and weren't on the screen long enough; I was able to pause the disc to give me more time. I found that they also contained hard to read labels, and many of the items shown in the graphics were not explained, as if the graphics were generic and not specific to the topic being discussed. I like the older courses where the professors are talking to a live audience. I value their quirks, spontaneity and enthusiasm. I did not get this sense from this new format where it seems that an actor could be reading the material from a prompter. It takes out part of the joy of learning.
Date published: 2012-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Let The Eyes Be Opened I loved the course -- Professor Grossman guides us on a truly fascinating journey to the future. Ten years ago we wouldn't believe any of it, but now we know what's coming down the Pike, so to speak. Buy this for your kids and grandkids -- they are going to live with all this wondrous stuff. I'd love to see another course from this Professor.
Date published: 2012-05-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a perfect course!! I have read some reviews that some of the information may not be accurate; mostly the ones that are not in the professors field of materials science. This may be true, although i think he is wrong in the future projections. I can think they are probably talking about his lectures on food, water, and similar ones. I don't think this is a problem as this course is designed as a quick introduction to each course and a look at the future directions the science may take. The professor gives several possible ways a particular field may go, and gives caveats. this is why i would say the stated problem doesn't take away from the course. now the praise, it gives good descriptions that most laymen would not have a problem understanding; while not taking away from the necessary understanding for the rest of the lecture. The best part is the future tech discussed are discussed in a manner that makes you wish it was already here. a good course to go along with this is "Impossible: Physics beyond the Edge" as this course will give the line we will be able to advance to, and the other course will give the science that is on the other side of the line.
Date published: 2012-04-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An antidote to apathy towards science Professor Grossman's charismatic presentation of this course provides an excellent example of the antidote scientists need to employ to counter the general apathy towards scientific inquiry and discovery that seems to plague non-scientists of all ages, education levels, economic stripes, etc. in the US. His enthusiasm for all of the subjects covered in this course, combined with what is clearly a deep understanding of the underlying scientific principles and an ability to convey complex ideas in an accessible manner without being condescending -- "experts" everywhere take note: even kindergartners don't want to be talked to (or more accurately, talked at) like a bunch of kindergartners! -- effortlessly engages viewers/listeners such that they can't help but take away both information and enthusiasm to learn even more -- exactly what any great course should provide.
Date published: 2012-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Overview and Framework The material was both informative and accessible for both technical and non-technical backgrounds. In addition to providing a good fundamental understanding of the material, the course provided a good framework for exploring the lecture topics further. Furthermore, Professor Grossman distinguishes where technologies are limited by the laws of science and where there is opportunity to delve further. Very interesting course!
Date published: 2012-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great course Professor Grossman has a real gift for conveying scientific ideas - what a great learning experience!
Date published: 2012-03-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting and Informative I found this course interesting and informative - in the areas in which the professor specializes and is best-informed - nanotechnology, materials science, eg areas involving primarily physics. In general, in lectures centering on biology, especially medicine - and some on chemistry - I noticed a significant number of factual and conceptual errors. The feeling that I couldn't trust the information in those fields detracted from the course for me. On the other hand, I really enjoyed his explanations and speculations in his given fields. I found his somewhat staccato delivery a little annoying at times - and it seemed as if he said "for example" at least a thousand times! I have mixed feelings on the visual aids - some were simply too busy or flashed too quickly on screen to be helpful. Although I do have some criticisms as above, overall I enjoyed the course and found it to be a worthwhile expenditure of time.
Date published: 2012-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The lay person sees the hard sciences as domains for the very few highly trained specialists that can understand mathematical theories and complex experiments. Professor Jeffrey Grossman, an internationally acclaimed materials physicist proves this view wrong. In his course, "Understanding the Science of Tomorrow: Myth and Reality", Prof. Grossman explains in a very accessible, yet rigorous, way the basic steps of the scientific method and how scientific research is driving the technology advances that will impact the life of everyone in the near and long term future. Prof. Grossman draws directly from his extensive experience working at the forefront of materials science to explain recent advances and current challenges in the fields of nanotechnology and materials for clean energy sources, such as photovoltaic cells and batteries. But science is shaping our world not only by introducing new materials. Prof. Grossman explains the conceptual advances and the discoveries in fields such as artificial intelligence, prediction sciences, biotechnology, and computer science that have made possible the disruptive technological innovations that are shaping our world and societies. In his lectures, Prof. Grossman shows an intimate understanding of the ideas and challenges in today’s science and explains these ideas in a way that is compelling and accessible to the general public. Clarity, depth, and the great relevance of the concepts covered in these lectures are the strengths that will make this course reach and educate a vast audience of non-specialists.
Date published: 2012-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is the way a Great Course should be This is an outstanding course that immerses the viewer into a vast array of topics that are at the frontiers of modern science. There is no doubt that this science is very complex, yet Prof. Grossman manages to talk about these intricate issues in a non-scary way, without overloading with equations and formulas, which makes it accessible for a very wide audience. Everybody can learn a great deal from these lectures - from school children, who just are discovering the world around them, to college students to whom this course may spark an interest in an area of future study, to a casual viewer who just wants to get a grasp of the scientific buzzwords that we are surrounded with (Genetic Engineering? Huh?), and to those who already are scientists and professionals to whom the course reveals the vast network of connections between different fields of science. On top of the great content, the presentation is impeccable and enthusiastic. The viewer will be drawn into an obvious fascination with what the science of tomorrow may bring which emanates from Prof. Grossman‘s charismatic delivery. This course is highly recommended to everyone.
Date published: 2012-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Future of Science is Small The was a great overview of where the future of science is headed in the 21st century and beyond. I found the topics that will use nanotechnology particularly interesting. If fact, another title of this lecture series could be "go small." Although Professor Grossman's area of expertise is in materials science, he moves easily from topic to topic that are as different as genetics and quantum mechanics. His presentation is clearly elucidated, easy to follow, with excellent teaching graphics and pictures. He also manages to smother some fanciful ideas of the future that we've seen in TV shows such as Star Trek, Babylon 5, and Space Family Robinson. They either clearly violate known laws of physics ("Warp 9, Mr. Sulu) or show us that we have not developed the technology to make them happen (phasers, teleportation, et. al.). The final lecture, Science in the Future, is a peroration that promotes science not to develop knowledge, but as an essential aid to the future of the human race.
Date published: 2012-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Scientific Complexity Comes Alive In Understanding the Science for Tomorrow: Myth and Reality, Professor Grossman has created an outstanding and important contribution. He has made extended matter clear to the non-expert, without giving up any scientific relevance or precision. In fact, anyone can learn from this material - from school children who are simply curious about science to scientists who are deeply interested in fields other than their own. It has been a pleasure to see so much complexity come alive! As a semi-retired professor of physics, I myself have faced the challenge of explaining seemingly complex topics. Professor Grossman has risen to this challenge in a visionary mode. His choice of topics forecasts a bright future for mankind
Date published: 2012-02-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Dummed down The content is dummed down to the point where it is not suitable for educated adults. I would recommend it for the age group 10-16 who have never had a basic science course.
Date published: 2012-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Message of Hope Sometimes reading about news in the world about issues like extreme poverty, global warming, or water shortages, can make people feel profoundly discouraged In "Understanding the Science for Tomorrow: Myth and Reality," Professor Grossman suggests that there is hope in scientific exploration, and that science as a knowledge base can improve and heal the world. After seeing and listening to these tapes, I am more confident about a variety of issues. For instance, I have a better understanding about hour scientists are developing new forms of energy and energy usage.Professor Grossman is also a great storyteller, which makes the experience of learning from him a pleasure!
Date published: 2012-01-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Bit Disappointed Having watched many outstanding Teaching Company courses, I was a bit disappointed with this one. I realize that it is difficult to present a course on such a broad subject matter to a general audience. I found myself watching a lot of what I thought would be well known by a Teaching Company audience. Professor Grossman was best at talking about his specialty field of nanotechnology. His presentation was enthusiastic and flawless. Many of the graphs were difficult to read because the font was too small, the information depicted was too cramped, and they were not displayed long enough.
Date published: 2012-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from very exciting! Many years ago (generations, actually) I was an undergraduate at MIT. Although I did not become a scientist, I have never lost interest in science, and have always been interested in the latest developments. Professor Grossman's exceptionally clear and lucid lectures have rekindled my interests so much, that I am compelled to write this little review even before finishing watching all the lectures. Some of the lectures (e.g. nanotechnology) were so exciting that I found myself literally on the edge of my seat. I know I'll be listening to many of them a second time. Now, in a lecture series like this, one can always argue with the choice of content, and there are doubtless dozens of topics not included that might qualify as the "science of tomorrow". (I would have included recent findings in Parapsychology ----e.g.the PEARS lab experiments------that directly challenge the materialist paradigm). Nevertheless, one can't cover everything in just 24 lectures, and the topics in this lecture series are certainly representative of what the "science of tomorrow" might look like. Professor Grossman's lectures are both authoritative and informal. He is at his best when he allows his own personal enthusiasm to shine through the lectures. Listening to him, one almost gets the sense of being part of the research itself. He makes it come alive. I am new to "The Great Courses", but if the very high quality Prof. Grossman's lectures is typical of the other courses, I shall be ordering more....
Date published: 2012-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Education for the Whole Family Science for Tomorrow is a fascinating introduction to a wide variety of topics that is both educational and entertaining. Professor Grossman makes even the sometimes difficult topics approachable, not just for adults, but for students, as well. Our 9 year old even prefers to watch these lectures over playing with his XBox Kinect. Sometimes we watch as a family, sometimes he watches on his own...he can't get enough, he is thoroughly engaged. While I agree with the reviewer about topics not being in depth, the goal seems to be to familiarize the viewer with the topic, not to present a graduate level course. One definitely can meet the stated objectives in the course description of Understanding the Sciences of Tomorrow as the course explains well the "basic science behind them in terms that are easy to understand" not just for adults but even for younger audiences. That said, there is enough depth to make these fascinating topics intriguing for even well read individuals. Most of us may have some familiarity with some of the topics presented, but he variety of topics makes it highly likely that everyone can learn from this course. And while there is no one lecture given over to the topic of Climate Change (and isn't it likely that such a topic could be a whole series in and of itself?), there is plenty of discussion on topics that will impact our world from a climate change perspective. Most notable among these is the discussions about transportation and powering vehicles for tomorrow. These topics provided information for great dinner table conversation for a multiple family dinner on New Year's Eve. This series is a great value and will be appreciated by people with a variety of interests and backgrounds.
Date published: 2012-01-04
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