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Publisher's Summary

Science is such a vast arena of knowledge that people looking for a better grasp of its secrets often wonder where to begin. The answer: with the essentials. Now, finally satisfy your desire for scientific inquiry in a way that makes this enormous field accessible, understandable, and undeniably captivating.
Professor Viskontas boils down the scientific world into 12 key concepts every educated person should know. Devoting two lectures to each concept to give you more time to engage with it, her 24-lecture series is an engaging and enlightening introduction to everything from the behavior of subatomic particles to the latest theories about the Big Bang.
Throughout, you'll get accessible looks at key building blocks of scientific knowledge, including brain plasticity, fluid mechanics, electromagnetism, genetics, quantum theory, emergence, evolution, thermodynamics, the Big Bang, and the nature of matter. Each concept is presented in a clear, concise way that will inform and delight you, and that will give you the opportunity to probe the invisible life of living cells, visit the universe seconds after its birth, and much more.
Concepts that may have eluded you in school, that you may not be familiar with, or that you simply never appreciated for their intricate beauty are now brought to vivid life in a way that sticks. Welcome to the world of science - reduced to its powerful essence.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2014 The Great Courses (P)2014 The Teaching Company, LLC
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Tanglebones on 03-24-14

Excellent overview of major science concepts

Would you listen to 12 Essential Scientific Concepts again? Why?


Have you listened to any of Professor Indre Viskontas’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes - I'm a fan of her podcast, Inquiring Minds

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The last two lectures on emergence

Any additional comments?

Professor Indre Viskontas provides a deft overview of 12 major science concepts, ranging from the macro - the creation of the universe, principles of physics and black holes to the micro - the human neuron and quantum mechanics. She communicates her excitement for the subject matter throughout, while acknowledging the limitations of current science and potential for future advancement.

The final two lectures, on the new science of emergence, were particularly fascinating to me, as it was a completely new topic to me, unlike some of the others.
The only flaws in the recording were a few missed edit points in later lectures - one line repeated twice.

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36 of 36 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Andy Olsen on 09-16-15


Professor Indre Viskontas did a better job explaining the hard aspects of scientific thought than any other I have listened to. Great job Professor.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Christopher O'Brien on 07-21-17

Fascinating, informative and entertaining.

I look forward to revisiting these lectures soon after further background reading. I would definitely recommend.

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5 out of 5 stars
By X. Luo on 04-07-17

So enjoyable and informative

I love every sentence of the book.

It is inspiring, educative, and fascinating. I would love to read more of the like.

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