New Releases on Sale
New Releases on Sale
  • Cooking across the Ages

    Professor Ken Albala, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Instant Video, DVD
    In Cooking across the Ages, award-winning Professor Ken Albala of the University of the Pacific takes us on a fascinating international journey through civilization across the ages and around the world—all through the lens of cooking. In 24 fascinating lectures while he cooks, Dr. Albala welcomes you into his own home kitchen, encouraging you to explore unfamiliar cuisines as a type of gastronomic time travel that will allow you to get a taste of history like you’ve never experienced before!
    View Lecture List (24)
    In Cooking across the Ages, award-winning Professor Ken Albala of the University of the Pacific takes us on a fascinating international journey through civilization across the ages and around the world—all through the lens of cooking. In 24 fascinating lectures while he cooks, Dr. Albala welcomes you into his own home kitchen, encouraging you to explore unfamiliar cuisines as a type of gastronomic time travel that will allow you to get a taste of history like you’ve never experienced before!
    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  Cooking across the Ages
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      Understanding Culture through Cooking
      What can you learn about different cultural groups of people through the lens of their cookbooks? A lot, as Professor Ken Albala illustrates by looking at two chicken recipes 200 years and a continent apart. Learn to cook a recipe from the 1748 French cookbook Le Nouveau Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois, and another from The Can-Opener Cookbook of 1953. x
    • 2
      Ancient Rome: Cooking with Apicius
      Are the recipes in De re coquinaria—the oldest complete recipe book in the Western tradition—bizarre and disgusting, or do they reflect a time of elegance and luxury? Historians have expressed a gamut of opinions. As you explore its sala cattabia, minutal of apricots, and botellum, you might be surprised to find three delicious, and even somewhat familiar, dishes. x
    • 3
      Imperial China: Soybeans and Dumplings
      Examine the Chinese Wei dynasty’s Qi Min Yao Shu, an encyclopedic manual containing “essential techniques to benefit the people” and learn about Chinese agricultural practices going back to antiquity. Explore the fermentation practices of the time, using both bacteria and mold, and follow a scaled-down recipe to create an intensely flavored fermented black bean dish. x
    • 4
      Medieval Egypt: Chickpeas and Phyllo Dough
      From 14th-century Egypt, explore recipes that reflect the interchange between the many cultures of the Eastern Mediterranean of the time—Alexandria, Venice, and Constantinople, just to name a few. Learn to make the sweet Byzantine specialty known as himmas kassa, and a super light and flaky phyllo dough stretched to the size of a table, just as Professor Albala remembers his grandmother doing. x
    • 5
      Feast like a Viking with Meat and Beer
      Explore the oldest-known cookbook in Medieval Europe, the 13th century’s Libellus de arte coquinaria. With its terse recipes of meat, fowl, fish, and sauces, it seemed to be written for a noble audience, not the common cook. Learn to make “hunter-style” fish pie with animal bones—and beer, much safer than drinking water at the time. x
    • 6
      Medieval France's Touch for Sugar and Spice
      Meet the first celebrity chef—Guillaume Tirel, known as Taillevent—who served in the 14th century as master chef in the French imperial courts. His Le Viandier was not an introduction to cooking but served as an aid to help people remember how to cook the classics. Dive into his recipe for a polysavory white stew of capons, along with individual tarts with banners for your guests. x
    • 7
      Renaissance Italy's Sweets and Pasta
      Explore the earliest printed cookbook, composed in Italy in the early 15th century and printed around 1470—making it one of the first generation of books in print on any subject. Learn to create its blancmanger, a combination of capon breast, white flour, rosewater, sugar, and almond milk that still exists today in Turkish cuisine. And discover how to make pasta by feel and texture, no measurements allowed. x
    • 8
      Crafting Aphrodisiacs from the Renaissance
      Renaissance medicine promoted the idea that some foods made you hot, some cold, some promoted healthy libido and reproduction, and some not. Explore the 1560 cookbook of Domenico Romoli, which combined recipes with medical advice. Learn to make his chickpea fritters, zeppole, and sofrito of chopped beef. x
    • 9
      Aztec Tortillas and Chocolate
      While no written recipes exist from Aztec culture—either because they were intentionally destroyed by colonial invaders or accidentally by the passage of time—we can infer what they ate and cooked from other literature that did survive, and by studying the ecology of the area. Master the secrets of an Aztec specialty: drinking chocolate poured from on high to create a special froth, as well as their turkey tamales. x
    • 10
      Papal Rome: Meat Rolls and Eggplant
      Explore the encyclopedic wonders of the Opera, a 1570 cookbook by Bartolomeo Scappi. Unusual for its time, Opera was a cookbook written specifically to teach cooking. With directions and recipes from the Late Renaissance style, and using lavish and contrasting flavors, you will create delicious meat rolls, salami, and an eggplant dish. x
    • 11
      Dining with Don Quixote in Imperial Spain
      Spain became a gastronomic model for much of Europe in the 17th century, with its culinary influence becoming widespread even after suffering military defeat. As you cook its olla podrida, discover the riot of flavors—lamb, beef, pig’s feet, chestnuts, turnips, and more—in this “rotten pot” that became popular throughout Europe. x
    • 12
      Portugal and Japan: Cakes and Katsuobushi
      Explore the fascinating decades of exchange between Portugal and Japan in the 16th century-before Japan turned to cultural isolation-and discover which Portuguese foods are still part of Japanese cuisine today. Explore the process of creating fine dried fish flakes from skipjack tuna, and learn why the dried blocks of this fish are so prized that they're often even given as wedding presents. x
    • 13
      Vegetarian India: Jackfruit and Rice
      Explore the ethical vegetarianism of the Jain people in 16th century Kallahalli, today's southwestern India. As reflected in recipes from the Soopa Shastra, a cookbook commissioned by the local magnate of the area, the Jains used fresh, local ingredients to their best advantage. Learn to cook a stuffed cake, tamarind rice, eggplant, plantain, and a jackfruit soup. x
    • 14
      The Birth of French Haute Cuisine
      In every account of the birth of French haute cuisine, credit is given to Francois Pierre de La Varenne for charting the course forward. Among his many innovations was the creation of the roux, a combination of fat and flour used to thicken a sauce. Follow his lead in creating a flavorful bouillon from beef, mutton, and fowl; a potage of chickens garnished with asparagus; and soft cakes without cheese. x
    • 15
      Post-Puritan England: Hippocras and Cookies
      Did Lettice Pudsey create all the recipes in the 17th-century manuscript attributed to her? Or do as many as 13 others also deserve credit? Whatever the answer, Pudsey had great culinary skills and she wanted her peers to know it. Explore her hippocras, a delicious spiced wine, and the astounding flavors of her “capon in whit broth.” x
    • 16
      China's Last Dynasty: Elegant Simplicity
      Explore the fascinating cookbook of the great Qing Dynasty poet Yuan Mei. Writing Recipes from the Garden of Contentment as a reaction to the elite dining of the Chinese court, his recipes are relatively simple, traditional, and made to highlight the natural state of ingredients. Learn to cook his pork tenderloin, wheat gluten, and a simple rice porridge typically eaten for breakfast. x
    • 17
      Early America: Johnnycake and Pumpkin
      Amelia Simmons, universally recognized as the first truly American cookbook author, wrote recipes for “all grades of life,” from elegant households to the most humble farmer, in the democratizing spirit of the early Republic. Explore her recipes to create a cornmeal-based johnnycake, a type of corned beef, and a predecessor to the pumpkin pie. x
    • 18
      The French Canadian Tourtiere Meat Pie
      La Cuisinière Canadienne, published in 1840, was the first Canadian cookbook. The authors created the recipes they imagined the early 17th-century Quebec settlers would have eaten—and once in writing, they became the tradition. Discover the extraordinary flavors of the tourtière, a meat pie traditionally served on Christmas or New Year’s Day. x
    • 19
      Victorian Working-Class Meals
      Alexis Soyer, author of the 1855 Shilling Cookery for the People, gained popularity initially as the chef at a fashionable club in London, but later as an inventor and philanthropist who started soup kitchens during the Irish potato famine. Explore his recipes for vermicelli and macaroni, fried fish “Jewish fashion,” and beef pudding. x
    • 20
      Imperial Germany's Cabbage and Sauerbraten
      Henriette Davidis wrote the most popular German cookbook of the 19th century, Praktisches Kochbuch (Practical Cookbook). For the first time in history, with urbanization and the birth of a working class, she knew German women might not have learned to cook before marriage, so she wrote this book for them. Follow her recipes for a delicious red cabbage, sauerbrauten, and bread dumplings. x
    • 21
      Imperial Russia's Piroshki and Coulibiac
      Examine A Gift to Young Housewives by Elena Molokhovets, published during the Russian empire in the final decades before the revolution, featuring the foods eaten by the Russian elite. Learn to make pirozhki iz vermisheli, Salad Olivier (known simply as Russian salad outside the country), and the delicious sweet Blinchiki for dessert. x
    • 22
      Brazil and West Africa: Black Bean Stew
      Explore the rich cuisine of 19th-century Brazil with its indigenous American, West African, and Portuguese influences. From the Cozinheiro Imperial, first published in 1838, learn to cook vatapá with mandioca flour, green beans and shrimp, and a delicious black bean stew using every part of the pig, including tail and ears. x
    • 23
      America's Can-Opener Cookbook
      Discover the 1954 Can-Opener Cookbook, a reflection of the mid-century focus on all things convenient—a time when having a can on the pantry shelf was considered easier, more dependable, and more hygienic than fresh food. Follow the recipes to create quick crab meat Lorenzo, jambalaya, and a light blancmange made with instant vanilla pudding mix. x
    • 24
      The Foodie Era: Cooking with the World
      In the 1980s, when cooking became an official leisure activity and mark of cultural status, Nathalie Dupree, Jacques Pepin, and Martin Yan each had a television cooking show. These programs exposed people to great cooking and encouraged them to step into their own kitchens. Learn to create Dupree's macaroni pie, to bone a chicken Pepin style, and to cook the chicken thighs in a wok as Yan taught. x
  • Rise of the Novel: Exploring History's Greatest Early Works

    Professor Leo Damrosch, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Instant Video, DVD
    In the 24 lectures of Rise of the Novel, you will take a journey from the birth of the novel to the height of the form in the mid-19th century—and better understand what this literary form can tell us about human nature and our unquenchable thirst for great stories. With Professor Emeritus Leo Damrosch of Harvard University as your guide, you will dive into some of the most notable works that helped create and shape the novel over the course of more than three centuries.
    View Lecture List (24)
    In the 24 lectures of Rise of the Novel, you will take a journey from the birth of the novel to the height of the form in the mid-19th century—and better understand what this literary form can tell us about human nature and our unquenchable thirst for great stories. With Professor Emeritus Leo Damrosch of Harvard University as your guide, you will dive into some of the most notable works that helped create and shape the novel over the course of more than three centuries.
    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  Rise of the Novel: Exploring History's Greatest Early Works
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      Rediscovering the Novel
      Dive into the study of the novel with a look at what defines this particular form and how it emerged from earlier types of storytelling. Novels seek to make sense of human behavior in ways that can be more comprehensible—and more enjoyable—than those we can find in real life. Get an overview of the essential nature of novels versus other literary forms. x
    • 2
      Roman Novels: Satyricon and The Golden Ass
      Travel back to ancient Rome and look at two works of prose fiction that would influence later writers: The Satyricon and The Golden Ass. Though their structures and tropes are fundamentally different from most modern novels, their impact can be traced through some of the works that later came to define the novel. x
    • 3
      Don Quixote and the Picaresque Novel
      Turn now to the work considered to be the foundational novel in the Western tradition, Don Quixote. Beginning with a look at the picaresque storytelling that prefigures Quixote, you'll see how the novel fits into a larger literary tradition while it also presented something new that would eventually become the preeminent mode of modern fiction. x
    • 4
      Don Quixote: A Deeper Look
      Don Quixote is actually two novels in one—with the first part published in 1605 and the second part in 1615, later combined into the single work we recognize today. Examine the ways the second part shows the evolution of the novel through Cervantes’s movement away from the picaresque and into a smoother, more cohesive narrative with deeper themes than the first part. x
    • 5
      La Princesse de Clèves and the French Novel
      La Princesse de Clèves is the first great novel in French and precedes English novels by about 40 years. Here, you will take a look at how a novel written by an aristocratic woman created a benchmark for the novel form. Also, you will examine why its style and psychological assumptions differ dramatically from the later novels that would be inspired by a middle-class reading public and its values. x
    • 6
      The Realistic Novel: Robinson Crusoe
      Published in 1719, Robinson Crusoe is a fantasy masquerading as realism. Look at the ways Defoe uses first-person perspective and the trappings of autobiography to craft a character that has achieved an almost mythical status in Western culture. Take a closer look at the structure and style of this influential story and why it became so popular. x
    • 7
      The Satiric Novel: Gulliver's Travels
      Dive into the satirical journey of Gulliver’s Travels, a work that brilliantly combines novelistic realism and fantasy, to powerful effect. Gulliver also reflects the growing influence of novels, with Jonathan Swift borrowing—and parodying—elements from Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. How did a story involving giants and anthropomorphic horses help shape the novel as we know it? x
    • 8
      Manon Lescaut: A Tale of Passion
      Originally appended to a much larger work, the tragic French novel Manon Lescaut presents two ways of looking at passion: as self-destructive obsession or as a heroic assertion of transcendent love. Explore how Prevost’s novel looks at the tension between different sets of values in a rapidly changing world and why interpretations of the story—including major operatic adaptations—have shifted over time. x
    • 9
      Joseph Andrews: An Epic Parody
      Shift from the tragic to the comic with a look at Joseph Andrews. Originally conceived as a parody of Samuel Richardson's popular epistolary novel Pamela, Henry Fielding's humorous epic took on a creative life of its own through a witty narrator, optimistic viewpoint, and palpable affection for his characters. x
    • 10
      The Psychological Novel: Clarissa
      In his immense novel Clarissa, Samuel Richardson offers a unique window into the inner experience of individuals as told in their own words. See how this tragic novel, conveyed in a series of letters, allows a deep look into personal psychology while also commenting on the wider society's changing perspectives on love, marriage, and personal choice. x
    • 11
      The Great Comic Novel: Tom Jones
      Tom Jones is widely considered Henry Fielding's masterpiece. Both richly imagined and endlessly entertaining, the novel is a comic journey that is rooted in Fielding's optimistic view of human nature. In the first of two lectures on this work, get an introduction to the themes of the novel and how it compares to other works from the same period. x
    • 12
      Plot and Structure in Tom Jones
      In this second lecture on Tom Jones, continue your examination of Fielding's techniques and intentions as Tom hits the road on a series of picaresque-inspired adventures. Explore how the many secondary storylines are integrated into the fabric of the larger story, with a surprise ending that encourages us to ponder how we interpret the events of our own lives. x
    • 13
      Philosophical Satire in France: Candide
      Together with Gulliver's Travels, Candide ranks among the greatest satires ever written. This witty, overtly artificial novel takes jabs at both political and religious authority through a series of deliberately implausible events. Reveal the philosophy that underpins Voltaire's work as you look at episodes from this influential story. x
    • 14
      Comic Travel Letters: Humphry Clinker
      Turn now to The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, which combines different elements—travel narrative, family drama, epistolary character study—to create a narrative that gives multiple perspectives on shared experiences. See how this comic novel uses satire to examine relationships, morality, religion, and more with surprising depth and candor. x
    • 15
      English Metafiction: Tristram Shandy
      How does a plotless, metafictional narrative full of digressions become a cult hit and a precursor to modernist fiction? Look at the ways Lawrence Sterne plays with language and the structure of the novel itself to create an exuberant work full of double entendres, bizarre circumstances, and heartfelt emotion to create the indelible Tristram Shandy. x
    • 16
      French Metafiction: Jacques the Fatalist and His Master
      Inspired by Tristram Shandy, Denis Diderot set out to create a deeper and more challenging metafiction in Jacques the Fatalist and His Master. Discover why this ambitious novel was not published in the author's lifetime, as you explore the ways it critiques the social and philosophical issues of his day and blurs the boundaries between author and reader. x
    • 17
      The French Romantic Novel: Julie
      Begin your exploration of Jean Jacques Rousseau's novel Julie, or the New Eloisa by relating it to his brilliant social and political theories. Then, explore the searching examination of love and friendship that made this the most popular novel of the entire 18th century. x
    • 18
      The Amoral Novel: Les Liaisons dangereuses
      Les Liaisons dangereuses is an amoral book with a moral message—namely, to offer a critique of the selfish cruelty of the French aristocracy in the 18th century. Professor Damrosch shows how Laclos uses the epistolary form to create uncertainty rather than reveal truth as he constructs a story of sociopathic manipulation and cruelty. x
    • 19
      Pride and Prejudice: The Best English Novel?
      One of the most beloved novels of all time, Pride and Prejudice shows a master novelist at work. See how Jane Austen revolutionized third-person perspective by ingeniously merging it with the consciousness of individual characters. Then, dive into the social and economic context of the novel and what it has to say about women's inner lives and struggles. x
    • 20
      Emma: Better Than the Best English Novel?
      Take another look at the work of Jane Austen, this time with her comedic coming-of-age novel Emma. Ostensibly the story of a rich girl who spends her time meddling in other people's lives, Emma masterfully uses setting, character, and free indirect discourse to show an intelligent heroine learning how to truly know herself and better understand the people around her. x
    • 21
      The German Romantic Novel: The Sorrows of Young Werther
      Turn now to 18th-century Germany for a look at a novel that would become an international sensation: The Sorrows of Young Werther. Through this work, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe would capture the disaffection of a generation of young people and create a new movement in literature, a genre of rebellion against conformity that would become Romanticism. x
    • 22
      The Horror Novel: Frankenstein
      Few could have guessed that a horror story written by a teenage girl would become a powerful myth with global impact, but that is exactly what Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein did. Travel back to 1816, the “year without a summer,” to trace the origins and influence of this iconic novel as an exploration of philosophy, science, and the eternal human battle with mortality. x
    • 23
      A French Masterpiece: The Red and the Black
      Stendhal, a former military administrator and diplomat, published The Red and the Black in 1830. The novel is a challenging, many-layered narrative that was too new and too experimental to be popular in its own time. Look at the ways Stendhal interrogates French society after the fall of Napoleon and uses irony to confront the conformity and ambitions he saw as detrimental to personal happiness. x
    • 24
      An English Masterpiece: Middlemarch
      George Eliot’s Middlemarch is regarded by many as the greatest novel in the English language. A story about choices and human relationships, it explores the limitations that can shape a human life in unexpected—and sometimes tragic—ways. Bring your study of the novel to an end with a look at why this sprawling, emotionally rich story is so often considered the height of the novel form. x
  • When Everything Fails: Surviving Any Disaster

    Professor Stephen Owen, PhD

    Available Formats: Instant Video, DVD
    Living through a disaster is not a question of if—it’s a question of when. Are you ready? When Everything Fails: Surviving Any Disaster offers a practical guide for protecting yourself, your family, and your community. Taught by Professor Stephen Owen of Radford University, these 14 fast-paced lectures will arm you with information for planning ahead so you can prepare for the effects of a disaster or catastrophe.
    View Lecture List (14)
    Living through a disaster is not a question of if—it’s a question of when. Are you ready? When Everything Fails: Surviving Any Disaster offers a practical guide for protecting yourself, your family, and your community. Taught by Professor Stephen Owen of Radford University, these 14 fast-paced lectures will arm you with information for planning ahead so you can prepare for the effects of a disaster or catastrophe.
    View Lecture List (14)
    14 Lectures  |  When Everything Fails: Surviving Any Disaster
    Lecture Titles (14)
    • 1
      How Prepared Are You for a Disaster?
      Welcome to your journey of preparedness! Begin your course with a self-assessment. Explore the different types of disasters and reflect on your baseline. Do you know the hazards around you on a regular basis? Do you have plans for shelter or evacuation? What about communication? x
    • 2
      Developing a Preparedness Plan
      After reviewing a few basic concepts-such as the difference between an emergency, a disaster, and a catastrophe-Professor Owen walks you through the fundamentals of a good preparedness plan. From identifying risks around you to building physical and digital go kits," you are on your way." x
    • 3
      Identifying Hazards and Responses
      Prevent, protect, mitigate, respond, recover: This simple framework is a way of thinking, designed around FEMA's National Preparedness Goal, a recipe for identifying and preparing for potential hazards. From here, the next step is to equip yourself and establish a few practices that will serve you if-or when-disaster strikes. x
    • 4
      Making Decisions in a Disaster
      Decision-making is a critical component of surviving a disaster. In an emergency situation, your mind won't operate like it does in day-to-day life, which is why preparation and planning are so critical. Here, learn to size up emergency situations, guard against normalcy bias," and act appropriately under stressful circumstances." x
    • 5
      Essential Lifesaving Skills
      Knowing the basics of CPR, first aid, fire extinguishers, and more, might one day save a life-yours or that of someone around you. Take a look at some of the practical skills you would be wise to develop, from operating an AED to shutting off utilities. See where you should look for more comprehensive hands-on training. x
    • 6
      What to Do in a Fire
      A fire is one of the most common disasters you might encounter, and one for which you can readily prepare. Learn the basics of fire safety, from developing a home fire safety plan to specific things you can do to reduce your risk of fire in the home. This lecture also shows you the fundamentals of how fires work, including flashovers and backdrafts. x
    • 7
      When the Earth Shakes or Opens
      Depending on where you live, earthquakes may pose a serious threat to your life or property, and what makes them so frightening is they can strike without warning. Learn how best to stay safe during and after an earthquake. Then consider two other geologic hazards-volcanos and sinkholes. x
    • 8
      Surviving Hurricanes and Other Storms
      Take a crash course in some of the more common weather hazards, from hurricanes and tornadoes to floods and blizzards. We will all experience extreme weather at some point, and this lecture arms you with information about the dynamics of weather systems as well as precautionary measures you can and should take. x
    • 9
      Coping in an Active Shooter Situation
      We might associate the word disaster" with accidents or environmental hazards, but it can also include human-created activity, particularly violence. Active shooter situations are all too common, so preparation is crucial. Here, you will learn about situational awareness and the "run, fight, hide" response." x
    • 10
      Helping Others in a Disaster
      Shift your attention from specific types of disasters to the way communities respond. As you will find out in this lecture, one emergent behavior" following a disaster is a sense of community bonding and altruism. Examine a few of the ways you can help after a disaster, from volunteering to donations." x
    • 11
      First Responders and How They Work
      In this first lecture of three lectures on community infrastructure, you will review some of the public safety issues typical to many places, as well as how first responders operate within the community. Popular media often mischaracterize the roles of police, firefighters, and emergency medical services, so take a real-world look at what these organizations do in urgent situations. x
    • 12
      The First Responders Many Never See
      Police and firefighters may be on the visible front lines of a disaster scene, but communities require numerous individuals and agencies in order to respond effectively and recover. From scientists researching risks to public works departments or public health officials coordinating recovery, uncover society's hidden responders. x
    • 13
      How Disaster Response Is Coordinated
      Delve into the fascinating world of incident command. In the wake of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, federal government officials saw the need for coordination among many players in an emergency. The Incident Command System (ICS) is a set of common languages and procedures that can help us all do our best during and after a disaster. x
    • 14
      The Challenges of Disaster Recovery
      When disasters strike, urgency pervades as individuals, emergency personnel, and local governments work to respond. But what happens after the crisis has passed? In this final lecture, consider the short- and long-term effects a disaster may have for individuals and communities. x
  • The Great Questions of Philosophy and Physics

    Professor Steven Gimbel, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Instant Video, DVD
    Dr. Steven Gimbel of Gettysburg College shows how physics and philosophy work together to reveal the true nature of the universe. Physics makes the discoveries and philosophy interprets the results. Those results have been very odd since the turn of the 20th century—with relativity, quantum theory, and Big Bang cosmology overthrowing our conventional picture of reality.
    View Lecture List (12)
    Dr. Steven Gimbel of Gettysburg College shows how physics and philosophy work together to reveal the true nature of the universe. Physics makes the discoveries and philosophy interprets the results. Those results have been very odd since the turn of the 20th century—with relativity, quantum theory, and Big Bang cosmology overthrowing our conventional picture of reality.
    View Lecture List (12)
    12 Lectures  |  The Great Questions of Philosophy and Physics
    Lecture Titles (12)
    • 1
      Does Physics Make Philosophy Superfluous?
      Trace the growth of physics from philosophy, as questions about the nature of reality got rigorous answers starting in the Scientific Revolution. Then see how the philosophy of physics was energized by a movement called logical positivism in the early 20th century in response to Einstein's theory of relativity. Though logical positivism failed, it spurred new philosophical ideas and approaches. x
    • 2
      Why Mathematics Works So Well with Physics
      Physics is a mathematical science. But why should manipulating numbers give insight into how the world works? This question was famously posed by physicist Eugene Wigner in his 1960 paper, The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences." Explore proposed answers, including Max Tegmark's assertion that the world is, in fact, a mathematical system." x
    • 3
      Can Physics Explain Reality?
      If the point of physics is to explain reality, then what counts as an explanation? Starting here, Professor Gimbel goes deeper to probe what makes some explanations scientific and whether physics actually explains anything. Along the way, he explores Bertrand Russell's rejection of the notion of cause, Carl Hempel's account of explanation, and Nancy Cartwright's skepticism about scientific truth. x
    • 4
      The Reality of Einstein's Space
      What's left when you take all the matter and energy out of space? Either something or nothing. Newton believed the former; his rival, Leibniz, believed the latter. Assess arguments for both views, and then see how Einstein was influenced by Leibniz's relational picture of space to invent his special theory of relativity. Einstein's further work on relativity led him to a startlingly new conception of space. x
    • 5
      The Nature of Einstein's Time
      Consider the weirdness of time: The laws of physics are time reversable, but we never see time running backwards. Theorists have proposed that the direction of time is connected to the order of the early universe and even that time is an illusion. See how Einstein deepened the mystery with his theory of relativity, which predicts time dilation and the surprising possibility of time travel. x
    • 6
      The Beginning of Time
      Professor Gimbel continues his exploration of time by winding back the clock. Was there a beginning to time? Einstein's initial equations of general relativity predicted a dynamic universe, one that might have expanded from an initial moment. Einstein discarded this idea, but since then evidence has mounted for a Big Bang." Is it sensible to ask what caused the Big Bang and what happened before?" x
    • 7
      Are Atoms Real?
      Compare proof for the reality of atoms with evidence for the existence of Santa Claus. Both are problematic hypotheses! Trace the history of atomic theory and the philosophical resistance to it. End with Bas van Fraassen's idea of constructive empiricism," which holds that successful theories ought only to be empirically adequate since we can never know with certainty what is real." x
    • 8
      Quantum States: Neither True nor False?
      Enter the quantum world, where traditional philosophical logic breaks down. First, explore the roots of quantum theory and how scientists gradually uncovered its surpassing strangeness. Clear up the meaning of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which is a metaphysical claim, not an epistemological one. Finally, delve into John von Neumann's revolutionary quantum logic, working out an example. x
    • 9
      Waves, Particles, and Quantum Entanglement
      Quantum mechanics rests on an apparent category mistake: Light can't be both a wave and a particle, yet that's what theory and experiments show. Analyze this puzzle from the realist and empiricist points of view. Then explore philosopher Arthur Fine's natural ontological attitude," which reconciles realism and antirealism by demonstrating how they rely on different conceptions of truth." x
    • 10
      Wanted Dead and Alive: Schrodinger's Cat
      The most famous paradox of quantum theory is the thought experiment showing that a cat under certain experimental conditions must be both dead and alive. Explore four proposed solutions to this conundrum, known as the measurement problem: the hidden-variable view, the Copenhagen interpretation, the idea that the human mind collapses" a quantum state, and the many-worlds interpretation." x
    • 11
      The Dream of Grand Unification
      After the dust settled from the quantum revolution, physics was left with two fundamental theories: the standard model of particle physics for quantum phenomena and general relativity for gravitational interactions. Follow the quest for a grand unified theory that incorporates both. Armed with Karl Popper's demarcation criteria, see how unifying ideas such as string theory fall short. x
    • 12
      The Physics of God
      The laws of physics have been invoked on both sides of the debate over the existence of God. Professor Gimbel closes the course by tracing the history of this dispute, from Newton's belief in a Creator to today's discussion of the fine-tuning" of nature's constants and whether God is responsible. Such big questions in physics inevitably bring us back to the roots of physics: philosophy." x