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  • The Mayo Clinic Guide to Pain Relief

    Professor Barbara K. Bruce, Ph.D., L.P.

    Available Formats: Video Download, Audio Download, DVD, CD

    If your life or the life of someone you love has been hijacked by pain, you’re not alone. One out of every three U.S. adults lives with chronic pain. In The Mayo Clinic Guide to Pain Relief with Barbara K. Bruce, Ph.D., L.P., you will learn new science-based behaviors that can lessen your pain, how to build a health care team, and how to create your individualized pain-management program addressing issues of physical stamina, stress management, social support, sleep, and mood.

    View Lecture List (12)

    If your life or the life of someone you love has been hijacked by pain, you’re not alone. One out of every three U.S. adults lives with chronic pain. In The Mayo Clinic Guide to Pain Relief with Barbara K. Bruce, Ph.D., L.P., you will learn new science-based behaviors that can lessen your pain, how to build a health care team, and how to create your individualized pain-management program addressing issues of physical stamina, stress management, social support, sleep, and mood.

    12 Lectures  |  The Mayo Clinic Guide to Pain Relief
    Lecture Titles (12)
    • 1
      Why Pain Matters
      One out of every three people suffers from chronic pain-pain that either never goes away or returns again and again. Although pain is a universal experience, there are ways you can manage pain effectively - and live an enjoyable and fulfilling life. Learn from case studies of people who have dealt with chronic pain and how their experiences may help you. x
    • 2
      What Is Pain?
      The latest neurological research reveals that the brain's physical, emotional, and cognition centers all play significant roles in our perception of pain. The fascinating neurology of pain reveals why the most effective pain-control programs address the body, the mind, and the body-mind interaction. x
    • 3
      Common Causes of Chronic Pain
      Many conditions can lead to chronic pain, but one more recently discovered cause is central sensitization. This syndrome is caused by dysregulation of the spinal cord, the brain's thalamus, hypothalamus, and amygdala, and alterations in how pain is experienced. Central sensitization is thought to be the underlying cause of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and more. x
    • 4
      Medication for Chronic Pain: Why and Why Not
      What are the short-term benefits and the long-term risks of using anti-inflammatories, analgesics, opioids, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and other pharmacological treatments for chronic pain? Learn when drugs can be helpful and when it's time to address the bigger goal of successfully managing chronic pain-and managing life-without them. x
    • 5
      How Exercise Helps with Chronic Pain
      Study after study has shown that exercise releases endorphins, improves blood flow to the brain, reduces fatigue, improves sleep quality, and even helps build emotional resilience. But what's the most significant issue in developing an appropriate exercise program for a person with chronic pain? Moderation. Moderation. And more moderation. Learn why. x
    • 6
      Manage Your Stress to Manage Your Pain
      No matter its cause, stress signals your body to release cortisol-its primary fight-or-flight hormone-which increases your perception of pain, causes more stress, and even doubles the symptoms of pain that you experience. Learn how to break this cycle by identifying and reducing the real stressors in your life and adopting new behaviors that reduce stress and pain. x
    • 7
      Social Support for Pain Management
      Medical research consistently shows that people with rich social support networks are healthier in almost every way. But you might be surprised to learn what type of social support doctors have found most helpful for those with chronic pain, and who benefits. Learn how to initiate, develop, and nurture these significant relationships. x
    • 8
      How to Sleep When You Have Pain
      People with chronic pain are more likely to have sleep problems that impact their daily lives and are three times more likely to be diagnosed with a sleep disorder. Recent research reveals many complex relationships between pain and sleep-and the best ways to get the sleep needed to lessen stress and pain. x
    • 9
      The Vicious Cycle of Pain and Mood
      Symptoms of chronic pain are rarely stable, leading to good days and bad days - and unpredictable changes in mood. It's impossible to completely disentangle chronic pain from mood, especially since the emotions and pain that you feel travel along the same nerve pathways through your body. But help is available for mood disorders, and you can learn how to minimize their impact on your life. x
    • 10
      Building a Pain Management Team
      Do you wish you had one person to lead your health care team? One person to coordinate, explain, and integrate information from your other doctors-to explain all your options and develop the best possible pain-management plan for you? You do. Learn why your primary care physician is almost always best for the job. x
    • 11
      Creating a Pain Management Plan
      Use everything you've learned in the first 10 lectures of this course to create your own effective pain management plan - one that meets your personal goals and identifies the lifestyle interventions that are most appropriate for you in the areas of exercise, stress reduction, social support, improved sleep, and emotional health. x
    • 12
      Active Sessions: Exercise and Relaxation
      Begin two aspects of your pain management plan right now. Let experts gently guide you through physical exercise and meditation practices that will start you on your journey. Learn how to calm your busy mind and improve your chances of directing it where you want it to go-toward relaxation and comfort. x
  • The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age

    Eamonn Gearon,

    Available Formats: Video Download, Audio Download, DVD, CD

    It is nearly impossible to overstate the power and importance of the crucial 500-year history of the Abbasid Empire. The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age is your opportunity to get to know the story and the accomplishments of this great period in human civilization. Taught by acclaimed lecturer Eamonn Gearon, these 24 remarkable lectures offer brilliant insights into an era too often overlooked by traditional history textbooks.

    View Lecture List (24)

    It is nearly impossible to overstate the power and importance of the crucial 500-year history of the Abbasid Empire. The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age is your opportunity to get to know the story and the accomplishments of this great period in human civilization. Taught by acclaimed lecturer Eamonn Gearon, these 24 remarkable lectures offer brilliant insights into an era too often overlooked by traditional history textbooks.

    24 Lectures  |  The History and Achievements of the Islamic Golden Age
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      From Camels to Stars in the Middle East
      Step back to one of the most important yet overlooked periods in human history. Your tour of the Golden Age of Islamic Civilization begins with the who, what, why, where, when, and how of this great period and its impact. Explore the Abbasid Empire and see how it bridged the ancient world and the Renaissance. x
    • 2
      Ibn Battuta's Search for Knowledge
      As a truly international, intercultural, interracial, and even intercontinental era, great travelers abound. Here, you will meet the Moroccan wayfarer Ibn Battuta and trace his journey across Northern Africa and the Middle East in the century after the Mongol sack of Baghdad. Gain new insights into the era-including whether it ever truly come to an end. x
    • 3
      Arabian Nights Caliph: Harun al-Rashid
      Get to know the great Caliph Harun al-Rashid and Baghdad's House of Wisdom, which was the largest depository of books in the world at that time-and served as the engine that drove much of the Golden Age. Then shift your attention to the Arabian Nights collection of stories and legends to discover the source of al-Rashid's enduring fame. x
    • 4
      The Arab World's Greatest Writer: al-Jahiz
      Considered by many scholars to be the finest writer of Arabic prose who ever lived, al-Jahiz was a brilliant stylist and author of more than 200 works, many of which survive today. In this lecture, you will uncover the origins of Arabic writing before turning to the life and works of al-Jahiz. x
    • 5
      Algebra, Algorithms, and al-Khwarizmi
      The field of mathematics owes a tremendous debt to the Islamic Golden Age. Mathematicians such as Omar Khayyam (who is perhaps better known today as a poet) and al-Khwarizmi built on the work of Babylonian, Greek, and Indian mathematicians to systematize and explain algebra and symbolic algorithms. Survey this critical period of mathematics history. x
    • 6
      Baghdad's House of Wisdom
      During the Abbasid Empire, Baghdad's House of Wisdom was the world's preeminent center for translation and original research. Find out why translation flourished in this era, and meet two of the Golden Age's most important translators: Hunayan Ibn Ishaq and al-Kindi. Then consider the intellectual legacy of the Arabic translation movement. x
    • 7
      Muhammad, the Hadith, and Imam Bukhari
      Hadith" refers to the collected sayings of Muhammad outside of the Quran, all of which were gathered and sifted in an amazing feat of research by Iman al-Bukhari 200 years after Muhammad's death. Journey with al-Bukhari as he wrestles with the authenticity of hundreds of thousands of hadith-and how his work continues to impact Islam today." x
    • 8
      Interpreting and Defending the Quran
      Delve into the realm of Quranic exegesis from the year 750 until about 1258. By considering the life of al-Tabari, one of the most important commentators in Islamic history, you will uncover the method and implications of tafsir, or exegesis. Your study will take you into controversial territory with a look at the infamous Satanic Verses. x
    • 9
      The Arab Herodotus: al-Masudi
      Examine the life and times of one of the era's great travel writers. Following the journey of al-Masudi gives you a broad tour of the Islamic Golden Age and its history. After reviewing his biography and reflecting on his reasons for traveling, you will survey the many subjects he wrote about, from geography and geology to the strategy of backgammon. x
    • 10
      Cairo, al-Haytham, and the Book of Optics
      Al-Haytham's seven-volume Book of Optics is one of the most fascinating works of scientific enquiry in the Golden Age. After reviewing the wider context of Cairo in the 10th century, delve into al-Haytham's experimentation with optics and the eye. Find out why many modern scholars have called him the world's first true scientist. x
    • 11
      Master Muslim Scholar: al-Biruni
      This lecture introduces you to al-Biruni, a scholar and polymath who left a mark on physics, math, astronomy, geography, anthropology, history, and much more. Born in modern-day Uzbekistan, his pursuit of learning and dissemination of knowledge is unparalleled. See what made his scholastic approach and his research methodology so groundbreaking. x
    • 12
      Astronomy in the Islamic Golden Age
      It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the Islamic Golden Age on the field of astronomy, as evidenced today by the number of stars with Arabic names. Focusing on the work of three Islamic astronomers, you'll explore the difference between astronomy and astrology, and unpack the many scientific advancements of the era. x
    • 13
      Medieval Muslim Medicine and Hospitals
      Continue your study of the Golden Age's many scientific achievements with a look at the development of medicine and the rise of what today we would call the teaching hospital. Along the way, you will encounter one of the greatest medical minds of all time, Ibn Sina (better known in the West as Avicenna). x
    • 14
      Alchemistry and Chemistry in Early Baghdad
      The word scientist" wasn't invented until the 19th century, but we would nonetheless apply the word to the many scientific thinkers of the Golden Age. Here, you'll witness the process of experimentation that was the start of the scientific method, and you'll see how scientists of the time advanced the field of chemistry." x
    • 15
      The Fertile Crescent, Water, and al-Jazari
      The Middle East's river systems and irrigation methods were vital for the Abbasid Empire to thrive. After learning about the geography and agricultural techniques of the Golden Age, you'll turn your attention to the link between agriculture and politics-and round out your study of water with a look at some beautiful gardens. x
    • 16
      Jewish Scholar in Cairo: Moses Maimonides
      The 12th century Jewish scholar Moses Maimonides offers great insight into the relationship among the three Abrahamic religions-Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Delve into the politics of Cordoba in Andalusia, Spain, during the Golden Age, and then consider Maimonides' scholarship-including his philosophy about the relationship between faith and reason. x
    • 17
      The Banu Musa's Inventions and Automatons
      From water fountains to self-playing musical instruments, the Golden Age saw an astounding amount of ingenuity. Take a look at a few of the era's most interesting and delightful inventions and automations, and then examine the life and work of al-Jazari, who today is considered the father of robotics."" x
    • 18
      Mosques, Architecture, and Gothic Revival
      The development of architecture is a gradual process of shifting styles from one generation to the next, and the 500 years of the Islamic Golden Age gave the world striking advancements in both religious and military architecture. Here, tour the architecture of great mosques and arches, and see how the era influenced the later European Gothic Revival. x
    • 19
      Arabic Verse, Love Poetry, and Wine Songs
      Examine the lives and work of three powerful poets: Abu Nuwas, Abu Tammam, and al-Mutanabbi. Reflect on the role of poetry in the Golden Age, including forms and subject matter, and examine the relationship between poetry and the multicultural world of the Abbasid Empire. x
    • 20
      Medieval Mastermind: Avicenna (Ibn Sina)
      Ibn Sina-or Avicenna-is arguably the most important philosopher in Islamic history, as well as one of the most influential thinkers of all time. Find out what makes him such an important figure in the history of philosophy, and how he built on the tradition of Aristotle. Then shift your attention to his arguments in the realms of ontology and cosmology. x
    • 21
      Entertaining in the Time of the Abbasids
      Shift your attention from the great minds of the Golden Age and find out how people of the time relaxed. As you learn about the era's food and music cultures, you'll uncover quite a few surprises-such as the origins of the traditional three-course meal. You'll also discover that celebrity cookbooks promoting the latest dietary fad are not a modern invention. x
    • 22
      Calligraphy, Carpets, and the Arabic Arts
      We're all familiar with the geometric designs of the mythical flying carpets, but there is an astounding array of Islamic art from the period. Here is your chance to revel in the fine arts of the Islamic Golden Age, which in addition to geometric patterns, included stunning calligraphy, plant or vegetal designs, and figurative representations. x
    • 23
      When Did the Islamic Golden Age End?
      Scholars conveniently cite the Mongolian sack of Baghdad in 1258 as the end of the Golden Age, but as you have seen in this course, the truth is more complex. Consider several reasons why the era came to an end-including outside invaders, shifting finances, changes in faith, and plain old human folly. x
    • 24
      Ibn Khaldun on the Rise and Fall of Empire
      Conclude your survey of the Islamic Golden Age with a big-picture look at what followed, including the rise of the Ottoman Empire, the Black Death, and the emergence of gunpowder. While golden ages must inevitably subside, this final lecture gives you the opportunity to reflect on one of the most stunning eras in all of human history. x
  • The History of Spain: Land on a Crossroad

    Professor Joyce E. Salisbury, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Video Download, Audio Download, DVD, CD

    Spain has played a unique and pivotal role in Western civilization. In this course, you’ll learn its epic history, from its rule under Rome and the breathtaking drama of Islamic Spain to its emergence into the modern world, as well as its phenomenal contributions to art, architecture, literature, music, and learning. Travel with us to this remarkable culture, and savor the great human drama of the story of Spain.

    View Lecture List (24)

    Spain has played a unique and pivotal role in Western civilization. In this course, you’ll learn its epic history, from its rule under Rome and the breathtaking drama of Islamic Spain to its emergence into the modern world, as well as its phenomenal contributions to art, architecture, literature, music, and learning. Travel with us to this remarkable culture, and savor the great human drama of the story of Spain.

    24 Lectures  |  The History of Spain: Land on a Crossroad
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      From Stones to Bronze: Prehistoric Spain
      Begin by exploring the origins of human settlement on the Iberian Peninsula. Learn how the rich spiritual life of early hunter/gatherers in Spain is reflected in magnificent cave paintings. Study the geography of the peninsula, and how it drew peoples from Africa and the Middle East. Finally, discover the extraordinary megalithic tombs of early Copper and Bronze Age builders. x
    • 2
      Celtic, Phoenician, and Greek Colonists
      Follow three remarkable immigrant groups who left their mark on Spanish culture. First, trace the impact of the Celts and the technology they brought to the region. Learn about the Phoenicians, famous as mariners, and their legacy of trade and engineering. Continue with the singular influence of the Greeks, who shaped the history and culture of the peninsula for future immigrants. x
    • 3
      Rome Conquers the Iberian Peninsula
      Roman conquest changed the peninsula in ways that endure today. Track the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage, through which Iberia became part of the Roman Empire. Observe how Rome joined the Iberian provinces together, created thriving cities, and developed commerce. Learn about the marvels of Roman engineering, infrastructure, and mining, through which Spain grew rich. x
    • 4
      Christianity Comes to Hispania
      Witness the events through which Christianity took root on Spanish soil. Learn about early Christian communities in Spain, and the factors that led to persecution and martyrdom of Christians. Chart the role of Spanish churchmen in the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church, how pagan practices were transformed into Christian ones, and how Spain became a bulwark of church orthodoxy. x
    • 5
      Barbarian Tribes Divide the Peninsula
      As Rome's empire waned, Germanic and Iranian tribal groups besieged Spanish territories. Take the measure of these peoples, and the new agricultural technology, clothing, and other innovations they brought with them. Observe how they partitioned and ruled different areas of the peninsula, and how their culture and religion kept them separate from Spain's Roman population. x
    • 6
      The Visigoths Unite Spain
      As a prelude to the three-century rule of the Visigoths, learn how the Goths penetrated Roman territories, and how they came to dominate Spain. Study the structure of Visigoth society, which gave rise to influential legal codes, monasticism, and great scholars such as Isidore of Seville. Take account of Toledo as a center of learning, and the diffusion of Visigothic scholarship and culture. x
    • 7
      Islam: The New Religion
      Islam was to play a critical role in Spanish history. As background, delve into the founding of Islam by Muhammad, its five tenets or “pillars”, and how the new religion spread with astonishing speed. Witness the Muslim invasion that conquered most of Spain, and observe how the invaders ruled, coexisting effectively with Jews and Christians. x
    • 8
      Conflict within Islam
      Internal divisions in the Muslim world shaped Islamic rule of Spain. Investigate issues concerning the larger governance of Islam that led to enmity between Muslim Spain and the Caliphate in Bagdad. Study the role of the Frankish king Charlemagne in these conflicts, and trace conspiracies and rebellions within Muslim Spain that culminated in the establishment of the Caliphate of Cordoba. x
    • 9
      The Moors and the Glory of al-Andalus
      Relive the golden age of Islamic Spain, as the capital city of Cordoba emerged as a center of learning, art, and beauty. First, take account of the agricultural advancements and artisanal industries that underlay Cordoba's prosperity. Then, follow developments in music, poetry, intellectual life, science, engineering, and architecture that made al-Andalus famous throughout the world. x
    • 10
      The Christian Reconquista
      This lecture charts the centuries-long process by which Christians gradually reclaimed the lands of Islamic Spain. Learn how pilgrimage to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela became a catalyst for the Christian cause. Explore four critical events in the Reconquista: the conquest of Toledo, the taking of Valencia by “El Cid”, the creation of Portugal, and the final conquest of Granada. x
    • 11
      Medieval Spanish Culture
      Discover how the melding of Spanish Islamic culture and medieval Christian ideas produced dazzling masterpieces of architecture. Travel to the times of king Alfonso the Wise, whose rich court life fostered scholarship and medicine, as well as courtly entertainments such as music, sports, and bullfighting. Learn about the flourishing of trade, highlighting the complex wool and textile industry. x
    • 12
      The Sephardim: Iberian Judaism
      Follow the changing fortunes of the Jewish people on Spanish soil, beginning with how they arrived in Spain, and how they prospered under Roman rule. Trace repression of Jews under the Visigoths, and how Jewish scholarship and poetic art thrived in Muslim Spain. Then witness the trials of Jews under subsequent Christian rule, leading to the 15th century exodus of many Jews from Spain. x
    • 13
      Gypsy Influences on Spain
      Gypsy immigrants to Spain left a far-reaching imprint on Spanish culture. Here, uncover the origins of gypsy peoples, their itinerant nature, and note how they were originally welcomed by Spanish kings and nobles. Study subsequent oppression of gypsies, the nature of gypsy culture, and the iconic flamenco music and dance that is deeply linked with Spanish gypsies. x
    • 14
      The Growth of Catholic Religious Passion
      Grasp how Spain was brought into the conflict of the Protestant Reformation. Assess the Catholic Counter-Reformation, as it sought to connect the faithful more directly to God through reinvigorated spirituality and mysticism. Learn how the Council of Trent, codifying Catholic doctrine, led to the horrors of the Inquisition, and how Catholic theology was expressed in glorious Baroque art. x
    • 15
      Columbus and the New World
      European contact with the isolated Americas dramatically changed the world. Begin by delving into the self-education of Columbus, and the lead-up to his legendary voyages. Follow Columbus’s travels, and the impact of his “opening” of the New World. Finally, track further European ventures into the Americas, the Columbian Exchange of foodstuffs, and the devastation wrought by European diseases. x
    • 16
      Conquistadors and Missionaries
      Spain now extended both its empire and its Catholicism into the New World. Witness the exploits of Hernán Cortés, who battled the Aztec Empire in the quest for gold, and of Francisco Pizarro and his brutal subjugation of the Incas. Then, take account of the Catholic missionaries who followed, intent on converting native souls, and how Spanish empire building was undergirded by slavery. x
    • 17
      The Spanish Main: Trade Convoys and Piracy
      Spain's empire in the New World spawned a vast commercial revolution. Learn about Spanish silver mining in South America, and agricultural riches from giant haciendas producing sugar and tobacco. Follow the transport of Spanish goods in armed convoys, and the resulting golden age of piracy, as both pirates and government-sanctioned privateers preyed on treasure-laden ships. x
    • 18
      The Golden Age of the Spanish Habsburgs
      Here, encounter Spain's king Philip II, architect of a magnificent era. Observe his strategic moving of the royal capital to Madrid, and his creation of architectural works such as the fabulous El Escorial. Learn how Philip and his sons fostered an artistic heritage emblemized by visionaries such as the painter Velasquez, composers de Victoria and Guererro, and writers Lope de Vega and Cervantes. x
    • 19
      Religious Wars on Muslims and Protestants
      Now witness the Ottoman incursions against Christian lands and shipping that resulted in the massive naval battle of Lepanto. Then, see how the clash with Protestants involved Spain in religious bloodshed in the Netherlands, the assault on Britain of the Spanish Armada, and the Thirty Years War. Note how the ruinous costs of these wars prefigured the downfall of the Habsburg Dynasty. x
    • 20
      The 18th-Century Bourbon Kings of Spain
      Learn how the French House of Bourbon assumed the Spanish throne, and how they transformed Habsburg Spain. In particular, review the reforms instituted by Carlos III, highlighting his architectural and urban planning achievements, and his reforms of education, industry, banking, and religion. Then trace the effects on Spain of the French Revolution and the ascension of Napoleon. x
    • 21
      Spain Loses Its Empire
      Follow Napoleon’s crusade to impose a new French dynasty on Spain, and the cultural backlash of Romanticism that rejected the “universal” principles of the Enlightenment. Witness the emergence of Spanish nationalism, the ensuing deep political strife regarding how to govern the country, and see how the spread of nationalist ideologies culminated in the independence of Spain’s colonies. x
    • 22
      20th-Century Spanish Modernism
      Following World War I, Spain emerged at the forefront of a revolution in the European arts. Grasp the extraordinary innovations of the painters Picasso, Miró and Dalí, the architect Antoni Gaudí, and the contributions of musical masters Segovia and Casals. Also, delve into the political factors that led to the disintegration of Spain’s constitutional monarchy. x
    • 23
      The Spanish Civil War and Franco's Reign
      Study the political antagonisms within Spain which led to the outbreak of civil war in 1936. Track the unfolding of the war, leading to the ascension to power of the dictator Francisco Franco. Then take account of Franco's lengthy, authoritarian regime, and how he strove to create a national identity for Spain through the mediums of the church, language, and Spanish culture. x
    • 24
      Modern Spain: Still on a Crossroad
      Conclude with reflections on Spain's recent history. Look into such subjects as the restoration of the Spanish monarchy, Spain's contemporary links with Latin America, separatist movements within the country, its new secularism and religious freedoms, its popularity as a travel destination, and its diverse economy. Contemplate why this great land stands on a crossroads of the future. x
  • Learning French: A Rendezvous with French-Speaking Cultures

    Professor Ann Williams, Ph.D., DEA

    Available Formats: Video Download, DVD

    In Learning French: A Rendezvous with French-Speaking Cultures, you will gain a practical, in-depth introduction to a beautiful language. In these 30 step-by-step lectures, Professor Ann Williams has crafted an effective and engaging course that gives you the core building blocks while also giving you crucial insight into the relationship between language and culture—perfect for anyone serious about learning French.

    View Lecture List (30)

    In Learning French: A Rendezvous with French-Speaking Cultures, you will gain a practical, in-depth introduction to a beautiful language. In these 30 step-by-step lectures, Professor Ann Williams has crafted an effective and engaging course that gives you the core building blocks while also giving you crucial insight into the relationship between language and culture—perfect for anyone serious about learning French.

    30 Lectures  |  Learning French: A Rendezvous with French-Speaking Cultures
    Lecture Titles (30)
    • 1
      Welcome to the French-Speaking World
      Bonjour! Begin your voyage with a global look at the French language and French-speaking countries around the world. Learning a new language is an active process, and language is deeply connected to the cultures where it is spoken. In this first lecture, you will survey a few patterns and rules to jump-start your understanding of French. x
    • 2
      Ici, on parle français: French Is Spoken Here
      One important facet of the French-speaking world is that manners and politeness still matter. Discover a few essential phrases that will ensure you don't commit any faux pas before you've even had a chance to open your mouth. Then survey the basics of numbers, definite and indefinite articles, the alphabet, and geography. x
    • 3
      French around the World
      Continue your exploration of French manners and culture and build on the phrases from the first lecture. Then reflect on several “word families” that will help you build your vocabulary and make connections across the language. Along the way, you’ll also pick up a few common verb forms, adjectives, and adverbs. x
    • 4
      Francophone Towns and Villages
      When traveling in French-speaking countries, the verb aller – “to go” – is one of the most useful. Get to know this verb along with important question words such as “How much?” “Why?” and “When?” This lecture also gives you a chance to listen to a great deal of spoken French to help you practice your de-coding skills. x
    • 5
      Weather, Seasons, and Some Geography
      Find out how to discuss the weather, as well as what the weather is like in different parts of France. Then shift your attention to times of year—seasons, months, and dates. While you learn about the weather and time, Professor Williams also introduces you to a few new verb forms to help you talk about preferences and things to do. x
    • 6
      La Vie en France: Life in France
      Continue your study of time by examining the days of the week, times of day, and typical French routines throughout the day. More verb forms will help you express what you want to do, what you can do, and what you have to do. And of course, you'll also gain plenty of practice speaking and listening. x
    • 7
      Vacations and Leisure Activities
      In addition to teaching you the language, this course also serves as a cultural toolkit. You may know that the French enjoy their leisure time, so here you will discover the language of vacation and leisure, including the major French holidays. You’ll also get your first glimpse of the “imperative mood.” x
    • 8
      À table: Daily Meals
      You won't get far in a French-speaking country without being able to talk about food and drink, particularly given that mealtime is often sacred in the French culture. This lecture takes you through breakfast and lunch, showing you how to express hunger and thirst, how to order, and the necessary vocabulary to enjoy your meal. x
    • 9
      Buying Groceries
      Shift your attention from ordering food in restaurants to buying food (and other items) from the store. Find out how to count and calculate totals, and review the language and cultural considerations of making a purchase. Then tackle a few more regular and irregular verb forms to help you build your communications skills. x
    • 10
      Where to Eat
      Going to a market or restaurant is a culinary adventure. Here, you will put together several things you’ve learned from previous lectures and take a virtual trip to a restaurant. Professor Williams walks you through a typical dialogue with a waiter. You’ll also begin to examine different verb “moods”—the conditional, the indicative, and the imperative. x
    • 11
      The Life of the Traveler
      This first of several lectures on traveling through a French country arms you with the language around the daily routines of a tourist. Step into a Parisian hotel and have a conversation with a clerk to make sure you have somewhere to stay for the night. Continue your study of grammar with a look at pronominal and reciprocal verbs. x
    • 12
      Public Transportation
      This second lecture takes you on a journey around France to immerse you in the language of transportation to help you get from point A to point B. Professor Williams gives you a few common verbs and expressions to help you talk about where you came from, where you're going, and how to get there. x
    • 13
      Travel and Technology
      While values evolve very slowly, cultures often change quickly due to new devices. Round out the unit on life as a tourist with an examination of modern technology. Reflect on the French value of privacy and investigate the way smart phones and the internet have changed the nature of privacy—and the way we travel. x
    • 14
      Souvenirs de voyage
      In this lecture, you'll gain a few helpful tools for learning about other cultures and the objects you'll encounter. Discover the vocabulary to talk about clothing and houses, and then review the grammar you've learned thus far. In French, the verbs will always be with us, so take a few moments to survey some new verb forms as well as the subjunctive mood. x
    • 15
      Les Vêtements: How and Why to Dress
      Revisit some of the verbs you've already encountered to help you dress with style, particularly faire (to do or make), savoir (to know), and voir (to see). Build on what you've learned about the subjunctive mood to help you make your sartorial decisions. What you learn here will help you to dress your best for your travels. x
    • 16
      The Home and Private Spaces
      Your final cultural stop around France is the home. Tour the house to uncover the vocabulary of different rooms and their functions, as well as some regional differences in architecture. Then delve into a few “tricky translations” where you must choose the right word for the right situation. x
    • 17
      « Je fais des progrès en français ! »
      Visit the town of Lyon with Professor Williams to review what you've learned from the past few lectures and see how well prepared you are to navigate an unfamiliar city. Continue studying how get around and ask for directions. Learn a few additional nuances to the vocabulary you've acquired. x
    • 18
      La Musique, le théâtre et la danse
      You can't understand a culture without understanding its arts. Here, Professor Williams transitions to a multi-lecture unit on the arts, beginning with the world of performing arts. The great news is that much of the vocabulary of music, theater, and dance involves English cognates. This lecture also introduces the past tense. x
    • 19
      La Littérature et le cinéma
      Shift your attention from the stage to the realm of literature and cinema. Learn key words to help you navigate the bookstore and talk about novels, biographies, histories, poems, and more. Continue your study of verb tenses, which are the building blocks for telling a story. x
    • 20
      L'Art et les artistes
      Delve into the visual arts: sculpture, painting, and photography. As you build your vocabulary, you will also add new tools to your storytelling repertoire. With a particular focus on the verb “to be”—être—Professor Williams introduces the imperfect tense, which will better help you describe what is going on in a given situation. x
    • 21
      Le Patrimoine: Museums
      In addition to the arts, cultural heritage is important in French-speaking cultures. Your first stop is the museum, and your survey helps you put together much of what you learned in the previous unit. Review the major verb tenses—present, past, composé, and imperfect—and learn how to distinguish the different types of past tense. x
    • 22
      Le Patrimoine: Customs
      Consider the relationship between customs and heritage, and uncover the language for French myths and traditions. Then hone the necessary skills to help you follow a story in French. Find out how to make your descriptions livelier with adjectives and adverbs, including words of “degree”—très, trop, peu, and the like. x
    • 23
      Le Patrimoine: Places to Visit
      Travel through history and around French-speaking countries to explore several cultural heritage sites. You'll unpack how heritage refers both to the legacy of the past that we benefit from today, as well as what we will pass onto the future. On your tour, you will learn a series of new comparative adjectives. x
    • 24
      Le Tourisme et les régions
      Because of the connection between language and culture, there are many commonalities among French-speaking countries. But regional differences also abound. From food to everyday activities, explore what makes different countries and regions in France unique. From the Alps to Bordeaux, witness the diverse and exciting variety of the French-speaking world. x
    • 25
      Les Fêtes et les festivals
      One of the joys of travel is seeing the cultural connections and distinctions from one place to the next. In this lecture, use the language of celebrations to gain insight into the culture. Festivities include parties, commemorations, and…rodeos! You’ll also revisit the conditional “would” tense as well as a few verbs with irregular stems. x
    • 26
      Underlying Cultural Values
      While culture often changes, values tend to remain constant, with roots in major historical events such as the French Revolution. Reflect on important values in French-speaking countries, particularly hospitality. Your foray takes you through the language of government, politics, fraternity, and liberty. x
    • 27
      Aventures: Conversation
      The difference between mere tourist travel and adventure is that adventure is about immersion, which requires you to engage on a deeper level. This unit gives you that deep engagement, beginning here with the art of conversation. Discover the rhythms of French conversation and some of the cultural rules to set you up for success. x
    • 28
      Aventures: Telling a Story
      Continue your adventure by rounding out your skills to tell and follow a story. A new verb tense—the pluperfect—will help you tell personal stories, show the link between past and present events, and forge a connection with another person. Practice listening, reading and telling stories. x
    • 29
      Aventures: Reading Cultures
      You’ve already encountered the subjunctive tense Now take it to the next level to help you “read” a culture. Refine your ability to observe and analyze the world around you thanks to cultural artifacts. How do people dress? What do they eat? How do they greet each other? This crucial skillset will help you navigate almost any new place. x
    • 30
      Your Future with French
      You've come a long way in these 30 in-depth lectures. Learning a new language is a lifelong adventure, but before she leaves you, Professor Williams has one more lesson in verbs to impart. Walk through the ins and outs of the future tense and look to tomorrow. Then wrap up what you've learned so you can continue your adventures in learning French. x
  • The Apocryphal Jesus
    Course  |  The Apocryphal Jesus

    Professor David Brakke, Ph.D., M.Div.

    Available Formats: Video Download, Audio Download, DVD, CD

    Much of what we know about Jesus today comes from apocryphal sources rather than the Bible. The Apocryphal Jesus is your chance to learn about the early Christian world from a variety of sources—many of which have been considered heretical. Over 24 revealing lectures, Professor Brakke explores the stories and ideas that shaped the foundations of early Christian thought—and continue to influence Christianity today.

    View Lecture List (24)

    Much of what we know about Jesus today comes from apocryphal sources rather than the Bible. The Apocryphal Jesus is your chance to learn about the early Christian world from a variety of sources—many of which have been considered heretical. Over 24 revealing lectures, Professor Brakke explores the stories and ideas that shaped the foundations of early Christian thought—and continue to influence Christianity today.

    24 Lectures  |  The Apocryphal Jesus
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      The Influence of Apocrypha
      The term “apocrypha” comes from the Greek and means “hidden” or “secret.” The apocryphal writings of early Christians have a reputation for being heretical because they are not part of the New Testament’s 27 canonical books. But as you will learn in this first lecture, these early Christian writings have contributed greatly to Christian culture and doctrine. x
    • 2
      Jesus and Mary in the Proto-Gospel of James
      Begin your foray into the early Christian apocrypha with an extended reflection on the Virgin Mary. You may think you know her from the New Testament gospels, but you might be surprised to find out that much of her life's story actually comes from the Proto-Gospel of James, which fills in many of the gaps from the canonical gospels. x
    • 3
      Young Jesus in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas
      The Infancy Gospel of Thomas is considered a bizarre book, offering what some see as troubling insight into the childhood of Jesus, portraying him as both amazingly divine but also troublingly human. Delve into some of the scholarly debates around this book and find out why it was so popular in the Middle Ages. x
    • 4
      Joseph and the Magi in the Apocrypha
      The New Testament gospels leave many questions on the table: Why was Mary a virgin if she was married to Joseph? How did Joseph feel about his wife bearing the child of the Lord? In this lecture, see how many early Christian apocryphal works humanize Joseph and resolve some of the questions—and contradictions—of the New Testament. x
    • 5
      The Apocrypha and the Cult of Mary
      While Mary is present in the canonical gospels, it's really in the early Christian apocrypha that she becomes the leader among the saints. Explore several key texts to uncover what we know about Jesus' mother, her relationship with the disciples, and what makes her unique among New Testament figures. Better understand her special place in Christianity today. x
    • 6
      Lost Gospels and Fragments
      Not all apocryphal works have survived, and many of the ones we have today exist only as fragments. Survey several important fragments and lost gospels—how we discovered them and what they say—to gain a fascinating glimpse of early Christian beliefs and controversies that we would not know about otherwise. x
    • 7
      Sayings of Jesus from the Gospel of Thomas
      The Gospel of Thomas is the most famous—even infamous—apocryphal gospel, suppressed by the Church for its supposed heresy. As you’ll find out in this lecture, the gospel compiles the sayings of Jesus and is modeled on the wisdom books from the Old Testament. This “living Jesus” provides a radically different angle on the meaning of Jesus’ life and teachings. x
    • 8
      Jesus's Statements beyond the Gospels
      Not all of Jesus’ words come directly from the canonical gospels. These words—known as “agrapha”—come from numerous sources: books of the New Testament other than the gospels, the works of early Christian authors such as Origen, and alternative manuscripts of the New Testament gospels. Examine several of these sources to gain new insights into Jesus. x
    • 9
      Conversations with the Living Jesus
      The gospel writers recorded much of Jesus’ life, but they also acknowledged that they didn’t record everything. Much of what he said is recorded in so-called “dialogic gospels,” accounts of Jesus in lengthy conversations with one or more of his disciples. Study three of these unique works and gain new theological insight into Christianity. x
    • 10
      The Gospel of Judas's Gnostic Vision
      Judas Iscariot is one of the most infamous figures in the Christian Bible, but the Gospel of Judas gives us a new perspective on this traitorous disciple. In this lecture, Professor Brakke introduces you to Gnosticism and shows how, in this gospel, Judas' betrayal of Jesus points to a greater truth about divinity and the material reality of the world. x
    • 11
      The Gospel of Peter and the Talking Cross
      Jesus designated Peter as the founder of the Church, which arguably makes him one of Christianity’s most important disciples. The Gospel of Peter, however, adds some complexity to Peter’s story—and it reframes the story of the Crucifixion to help make Christianity more compatible with the politics of the Roman Empire. x
    • 12
      The Apocrypha and Pilate's Sanctification
      In the early centuries, Christianity became a Roman religion, which created awkwardness given that the Roman Pontius Pilate crucified Jesus. Find out how certain apocryphal texts—including the Gospel of Nicodemus, also known as the Acts of Pilate—dealt with this problem by recasting Pilate as a sympathetic figure and, ultimately, a Christian saint. x
    • 13
      Dialogues with the Risen Jesus
      The New Testament tells us Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to the apostles before ascending into heaven. While the canonical gospels left Jesus' words a mystery, many apocryphal writers filled in the gaps. Examine several of these dialogic gospels to learn what Jesus told his followers after the resurrection. x
    • 14
      Hope and Adventure in the Acts of John
      Many of the apocryphal gospels were essentially novels written during the early Christian era, and they were filled with adventurous tales of shipwrecks, necrophilia, self-mutilation, and other wild stories. Dive into the Acts of John to consider this fascinating genre of literature and what it offered audiences of the time—as well as historians today. x
    • 15
      Social Disruption in the Acts of Paul
      Historians agree that this fragmentary work presents us a largely invented character, yet the Acts of Paul also gives us a remarkable challenge to the basic structure of Roman society—the household, the city, the empire, and even the Church. Examine this subversive book and discover a version Christianity that completely upends the reigning social order. x
    • 16
      Thecla: Independent Woman of the Apocrypha
      Continue your study of the Acts of Paul and turn to his disciple, Thecla, who is one of the most interesting women in early Christian writing. Although she likely did not exist in real life, she represents many women who did, and her story gives us a powerful look at the role of women in early Christian society. x
    • 17
      Miracles and Magic in the Acts of Peter
      As you have seen, Peter may have been the first leader of the Church, but he was a flawed leader. The fragmentary Acts of Peter builds on his story from the canonical gospels and shows us a fascinating, if somewhat troubling, figure. Learn more about Peter and his miracles, and find out why he was crucified upside down. x
    • 18
      Peter versus Paul in the Pseudo-Clementines
      Each of the surviving apocryphal acts of the apostles make one apostle its hero, but they don't disparage the other apostles. However, the Pseudo-Clementine texts present a dramatic fight surrounding the early Church. This theological mess may pose a problem for historians, but it is nonetheless an important piece of early Christian literature. x
    • 19
      The Acts of Thomas and the Mission to India
      How did Christianity get to India? Did Thomas really travel across the Middle East and preach the gospel in South Asia? Historians debate these questions and more, but regardless of the literal truth, the Acts of Thomas provides spiritual guidance about humanity's place in the world and challenges us to liberate ourselves. x
    • 20
      Spiritual Love in the Acts of Andrew
      While it was not the most profound of early Christian writings, the Acts of Andrew contains some of the strangest stories in all of early Christian literature, including tales of cannibals, myriad seductions, jilted husbands, and a human-killing giant serpent. Learn about some of these exciting stories, consider the book's genre, and reflect on the role of women. x
    • 21
      Forged Letters of Jesus and the Apostles
      The letter is one of the most important forms of Christian communication, from the New Testament letters of Paul through today's Papal addresses. In the early Christian world, apocryphal letters abounded, many of them forged. Examine the content of some of these letters, including ones purportedly written by Jesus. x
    • 22
      Revelations That Didn't Make the Bible
      The New Testament Book of Revelation is not the only apocalypse narrative from the first centuries of the Common Era. In this lecture, you'll explore the content and theology of several other Christian apocalypses and consider why the Revelation to John made it into the canon while the many other apocalypses did not. x
    • 23
      Tours of Hell before Dante
      You might be surprised to learn the canonical New Testament does not present a single consistent picture of the afterlife in general or hell in particular, yet visions of damnation exist in much of the early Christian apocrypha, including the Apocalypses of Peter and Paul. Take a tour of hell through several of these works and review their continued influence. x
    • 24
      Apocrypha after the New Testament
      Although the New Testament was codified in the fourth century, apocryphal books continued to be written into the Middle Ages. Round out the course by surveying the later Christian apocrypha and witness the way the creative flourishing of Biblical writing continued through the Middle Ages and even into the present. x
  • The Theory of Everything: The Quest to Explain All Reality

    Professor Don Lincoln, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Video Download, DVD

    Taught by noted physicist Dr. Don Lincoln of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, this course follows the search for a theory that explains all physical reality—a theory of everything. Dr. Lincoln covers recent developments in particle physics and cosmology, plus the background needed to appreciate the centuries-long search for this holy grail of science. Only high-school-level math is used.

    View Lecture List (24)

    Taught by noted physicist Dr. Don Lincoln of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, this course follows the search for a theory that explains all physical reality—a theory of everything. Dr. Lincoln covers recent developments in particle physics and cosmology, plus the background needed to appreciate the centuries-long search for this holy grail of science. Only high-school-level math is used.

    24 Lectures  |  The Theory of Everything: The Quest to Explain All Reality
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      Two Prototype Theories of Everything
      Embark with Dr. Lincoln on a search for a theory of everything-a simple and comprehensive explanation for all physical phenomena in the universe. Confront the incompatibility of our two best prototypes: the standard model of particle physics and the general theory of relativity. x
    • 2
      The Union of Electricity and Magnetism
      Learn how two seemingly separate phenomena, electricity and magnetism, were shown by James Clerk Maxwell in the 1860s to be aspects of a single underlying force, demonstrating how unification works in physics. Then see how Maxwell's equations of electromagnetism make a remarkable prediction. x
    • 3
      Particles and Waves: The Quantum World
      Follow one of the strangest turns in modern science: the discovery of the paradoxical world of light, which spawned the theory of quantum mechanics. Discover how light and matter behave as both particles and waves, and look at evidence for this curious feature of the quantum world. x
    • 4
      Einstein Unifies Space, Time, and Light
      Trace the reasoning that led Einstein to his special theory of relativity, proposed in 1905. Address common misconceptions about this startling new view of time and space, which led to ideas such as mass-energy equivalence, the impossibility of faster-than-light travel, and the space-time continuum. x
    • 5
      Relativistic Quantum Fields and Feynman
      Take a deeper step into the quantum world, observing how the theory of quantum electrodynamics, or QED, unites quantum mechanics with special relativity. Discover that the handy sketches of subatomic behavior called Feynman diagrams (named after physicist Richard Feynman) are really equations in disguise. x
    • 6
      Neutrinos Violating Parity and the Weak Force
      Study the weak nuclear force, which is responsible for beta decay: the emission of an electron from a nucleus during radioactive decay. Discover that much more is going on, including weird transformations that pose a challenge to a theory of everything. x
    • 7
      Flavor Changes via the Weak Force
      Analyze more idiosyncrasies of the weak force, focusing on the three massive particles that mediate its interactions. Discover that the weak force is unique in its ability to change a characteristic called flavor, and learn that at high energies the weak force is exceptionally strong. x
    • 8
      Electroweak Unification via the Higgs Field
      A key step in the quest for a theory of everything has been the realization that the electromagnetic and weak forces are aspects of the same force. Follow the saga of electroweak unification, which culminated in the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012. x
    • 9
      Quarks, Color, and the Strong Force
      Explore the force that helps hold the atomic nucleus together, called the strong force. Chart the discovery of this mysterious mechanism-which only works at extremely short range-and see how it led to concepts such as quarks, gluons, and the color force, which is responsible for the strong interaction. x
    • 10
      Standard Model Triumphs and Challenges
      Bring together all the concepts studied so far to gauge how close physicists are to a theory of everything. Focus on the shortcomings of the standard model. Then zero in on two burning questions: Why is the mass of the Higgs boson so low, and why does matter predominate over antimatter? x
    • 11
      How Neutrino Identity Oscillates
      Transition to a new perspective as Professor Lincoln spotlights speculative ideas that may contribute to a theory of everything. In this lecture, explore the mysteries of neutrinos, which are extraordinarily hard to detect yet hold intriguing clues about the possible unity of fundamental forces. x
    • 12
      Conservation Laws and Symmetry: Emmy Noether
      Consider why mathematics is such an effective tool for describing nature. Then focus on mathematician Emmy Noether's remarkable insight that links symmetries in the equations of a physical system to conservation laws, such as the conservation of energy and conservation of momentum. x
    • 13
      Theoretical Symmetries and Mathematics
      The first inklings of a successful theory of everything will probably arise from symmetries and group theory. Prepare for this epochal moment by digging into these important mathematical ideas. Also, learn to approach proposed theories of everything with fascination, tinged with healthy skepticism. x
    • 14
      Balancing Force and Matter: Supersymmetry
      One of the most attractive ideas for physicists searching for a theory of everything is supersymmetry, which treats force- and matter-carrying particles as interchangeable. Explore major problems that supersymmetry solves and the shortcomings that convince some scientists that perhaps some other ideas must also be considered. x
    • 15
      Why Quarks and Leptons?
      The fundamental building blocks of matter are thought to be quarks (which interact by the strong force) and leptons (which interact by the electromagnetic and weak forces). But could there be a deeper level? Explore the theory of preons, which may be even more fundamental than quarks and leptons. x
    • 16
      Newton's Gravity Unifies Earth and Sky
      Gravity is by far the weakest of the fundamental forces. Learn how Newton achieved the first major unification in physics by showing that terrestrial and celestial gravity are the same. He also tacitly equated inertial mass and gravitational mass, leading to the startling theory 250 years later. x
    • 17
      Einstein's Gravity Bends Space-Time
      Built on the equivalence of inertial and gravitational mass, Einstein's general theory of relativity explains gravity in a surprising new way. See how matter and energy determine the shape of space and time. Investigate confirming evidence for general relativity, including the discovery of gravitational waves in 2015. x
    • 18
      What Holds Each Galaxy Together: Dark Matter
      Trace the discovery of missing mass surrounding most galaxies, which leads scientists to infer that 85% of all matter is "dark" and can't be observed directly. Evaluate the major theories about this discrepancy, and consider its implications for a theory of everything. x
    • 19
      What Pushes the Universe Apart: Dark Energy
      Turn to dark energy, the ghostly energy field that appears to be pushing the universe apart at an ever-greater rate. Learn how this extraordinary discovery was made in 1998, and explore theories that attempt to explain dark energy and its strange consequences. x
    • 20
      Quantum Gravity: Einstein, Strings, and Loops
      A theory of everything must fit gravity into the quantum realm, reconciling the general theory of relativity with the standard model of particle physics. Explore the features of gravity that make this unification so difficult, and evaluate two intriguing approaches: superstring theory and loop quantum gravity. x
    • 21
      From Weak Gravity to Extra Dimensions
      Venture into extra dimensions to investigate gravity's extraordinary weakness compared to the other fundamental forces. This journey also sheds light on the possible creation of subatomic black holes in particle accelerators and why tiny black holes pose no risk to humanity. x
    • 22
      Big Bang and Inflation Explain Our Universe
      Starting with the big bang, plot the history of our universe, focusing on events in the tiniest fraction of the first second, when phenomena such as supersymmetry, superstrings, and quantum loops may have come into play. Consider the explanatory power of the theory of cosmic inflation. x
    • 23
      Free Parameters and Other Universes
      Now step into the realm of other universes. Do they exist? If so, how could we possibly know? Start by examining the free parameters that govern the structure and behavior of our universe. Then seek answers to four crucial questions that address why the parameters take the values that they do. x
    • 24
      Toward a Final Theory of Everything
      Finish the course by reviewing unified theories since Newton, analyzing a remarkable equation that brings major insights together and represents the current status of a theory of everything. Then look ahead to the next steps, and hear Dr. Lincoln's own research agenda for this momentous quest. x
  • The Science of Flight
    Course  |  The Science of Flight

    Professor James W. Gregory, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Video Download, DVD

    Taught by Professor James Gregory of Ohio State University, with commentary by Smithsonian curators and examples from the National Air and Space Museum, this course is a treasure trove for all who wonder where lift comes from, how a pilot flies a plane, what air traffic controllers do, and many other things about flight, including how rockets and orbits work. Extensive graphics make the concepts clear.

    View Lecture List (29)

    Taught by Professor James Gregory of Ohio State University, with commentary by Smithsonian curators and examples from the National Air and Space Museum, this course is a treasure trove for all who wonder where lift comes from, how a pilot flies a plane, what air traffic controllers do, and many other things about flight, including how rockets and orbits work. Extensive graphics make the concepts clear.

    29 Lectures  |  The Science of Flight
    Lecture Titles (29)
    • 1
      Fundamentals of Flight: Gliding
      How did two world-class pilots coax their glider to a new altitude record? Focus on this feat as a lesson in the key principles of winged flight—including angle of attack, lift, drag, thrust, and weight. Also explore “the miracle on the Hudson,” when airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger glided his jet to an emergency water landing. Close your first lesson with an investigation of the control inputs: yaw, roll, and pitch. x
    • 2
      Balloons, Buoyancy, and the Atmosphere
      Balloons were the first vehicles to fly and Archimedes' principle is the secret of their lift-carrying power. Use the ideal gas law to determine air density and the hydrostatic equation to chart air pressure versus altitude. Then apply these concepts to lighter-than-air craft to learn how the Breitling Orbiter balloon was able to circumnavigate the globe non-stop. x
    • 3
      Takeoff: How Wings Produce Lift
      Lift is the fundamental force involved in winged flight. It is also fraught with misunderstanding. Debunk a popular but incorrect explanation of lift, known as the equal-time theory. Then gain a deep appreciation for the power of air flowing around an airfoil at differing angles of attack. Also examine Albert Einstein's misguided attempt to design a better airfoil. x
    • 4
      Drag Trade-Offs and Boundary-Layer Turbulence
      Focus on parasitic drag, a byproduct of moving an aircraft through the air, which has no practical benefit and is therefore like a parasite. Zero in on two aspects of parasitic drag: skin friction and pressure. Observe how these phenomena arise and how they can be reduced, which is a key goal of aircraft design. Learn about laminar flow as well as golf ball design. x
    • 5
      Stall Events and Lift-Induced Drag
      Aerodynamic stall occurs when lift suddenly decreases, causing drag to rise steeply. Consider the role of stall in several notable air accidents, and see a demonstration in which Professor Gregory deliberately pilots a plane through a stall, showing how to recover. Also look at technological measures to combat stall and the problem of induced drag. x
    • 6
      Wind Tunnels and Predicting Aerodynamics
      Starting with the Wright brothers, trace the role of wind tunnels for studying lift and drag on aircraft structures—research that sparked the rapid advancement of aviation. Aerodynamic research also involves analysis and computations. Get a taste of this process by analyzing conservation of mass, momentum, and energy as they relate to lift and drag. x
    • 7
      Propeller Aircraft: Slow and Efficient
      Apply concepts of lift and drag to propulsion, focusing on the internal combustion engine and propeller—still the most efficient power plant for aircraft flying at low speeds. Study the four-cycle engine and the design of propellers, which are rotating wings twisted to present an optimum angle of attack across their entire length. x
    • 8
      Jet Aircraft: Thrust to Fly Fast
      Propeller-driven aircraft drop sharply in efficiency at high fractions of the speed of sound. For sustained high-speed flight, a different propulsion system is needed—the jet engine. Trace the history of jets and their super-efficient variant used on commercial airliners—the high-bypass turbofan, a machine so intricate and beautiful that a piece of one is on display at the Museum of Modern Art. x
    • 9
      Aircraft Structures and Materials
      For anyone who gets the jitters during heavy turbulence, fear not: the plane is designed to take it! Follow the evolution of airframes from wood to metal to today's composite materials. Consider the problem of designing a sturdy structure that is still light enough to fly efficiently. Also look at tragic accidents that revealed the limits of certain materials and led to safer planes. x
    • 10
      Aircraft Stability and Flight Control
      Trace the quest for stable, controlled flight back to aviation pioneers Samuel P. Langley, the Wright brothers, and Glenn Curtiss. Stability means producing forces that restore an aircraft to equilibrium when perturbed, while control entails deflection of control surfaces to alter the pitch, roll, or yaw effects that act on the aircraft's center of gravity. x
    • 11
      Flying Faster and Higher
      Enter the realm of extreme flight, exploring how fast and how high a plane can go. The answers are remarkably precise and help define a given aircraft's flight envelope. Learn how aeronautical engineers calculate parameters such as airspeed for best climb angle, service ceiling, absolute ceiling, time to climb, stall speed, maximum speed, and speed for optimal cruise. x
    • 12
      Breaking the Sound Barrier and Beyond
      During and just after World War II, the quest for ever faster fighter planes reached an apparent natural barrier—the speed of sound. On approaching this limit, aircraft became unstable and uncontrollable. Discover how a new approach to aircraft design solved the problem of compressibility and shock waves in this transonic region, paving the way for supersonic flight. x
    • 13
      Long-Distance Flight and Predicting Range
      Planes take off with only the fuel required for the planned trip—plus a safety margin. Since there are no filling stations in the sky, the calculations must be precise, taking account of the plane’s performance characteristics, the weather, and other factors. Learn the equations that pilots use and hear a riveting story about what happens when they get it wrong. x
    • 14
      Aerobatics and Dogfighting
      Dogfighting is not just about stick-and-rudder skills; a pilot must understand the physics behind aerial maneuvering. Focus on turn performance, which is the key factor that limits maneuverability and is the cause of many fatal loss-of-control accidents. Learn how energy management is the secret of success in aerial combat, and get tips on performing a barrel roll. x
    • 15
      Mission Profiles and Aircraft Design
      Roll up your sleeves and learn how to design an aircraft, using an approach that has hardly changed in a century of building new airplanes. Start out by determining the weight values, maximum lift coefficient, wing loading, and thrust-to-weight ratio. Next lay out a configuration. Finally, iterate, making modifications and adjustments to perfect your vehicle. x
    • 16
      Primary Cockpit Instruments
      Focus on the science and engineering of the flight instruments. First, look at the hazards faced by even experienced pilots in the era before the altimeter and attitude indicator, learning how these vital instruments work. Then consider the importance of the airspeed indicator, turn coordinator, heading indicator, and vertical speed indicator. x
    • 17
      Air Traffic Navigation and Communication
      On a typical weekday, five to ten thousand aircraft are in the air over the U.S. at a given moment, flying to different cities at varying speeds and different altitudes. Survey the methods, tools, and jargon of air traffic controllers, who keep this traffic moving safely and expeditiously. Also look ahead to next-generation enhancements in the air traffic control system. x
    • 18
      Flight Autonomy and Drones
      Automated flight systems are increasingly used in human-piloted aircraft, where their nearly fail-safe expertise creates some unusual problems. Also look at remotely piloted vehicles, also called drones. Pioneered by the military, these are taking to the sky for a variety of practical civilian missions, including recreational uses. x
    • 19
      Helicopters and Vertical Flight
      Helicopters are so unlike fixed-wing aircraft in appearance and operation that it's hard to believe they work on the same aerodynamics principles. Focus on their ingenious rotor blades, which are rotating wings. Explore the challenge of flying a chopper, and learn why it's safer to lose power at altitude in a helicopter than in an airplane. x
    • 20
      Rocket Science and the Evolution of Launch
      Fly beyond the atmosphere with the only vehicle now capable of reaching space—the rocket. Discover that rocket science is not “rocket science,” in the sense of being extraordinarily difficult. It’s just basic physics and chemistry. Review the fundamentals of solid and liquid propellants, thrust, specific impulse, stability, nozzle design, and the advantages of using multiple stages. x
    • 21
      Orbiting Earth Means Always Falling
      Having ascended into space in the previous lecture, now investigate your orbital options. Whether you go into a circular, elliptical, or Earth-escape orbit—or make it into orbit at all—depends on your cutoff velocity. Calculate different orbits, including the Hohmann transfer ellipse needed for efficiently changing orbits. Also relive the orbital rendezvous exploits of Gemini 8 and Apollo 11. x
    • 22
      To Mars and Beyond: Gravity-Assist Flight
      Venture beyond Earth to the realm of the planets. Interplanetary trajectories require exquisite timing so that the target planet is in exactly the right spot when the spacecraft arrives, often by a Hohmann transfer ellipse. Consider two fuel-saving approaches to these marathon journeys—gravity assists and ion propulsion. x
    • 23
      Atmospheric Reentry: Ballistic, Skip, Glide
      Now return to Earth, analyzing the problem of decelerating from orbital or escape speed to a gentle touchdown on land or water. Calculate the amount of energy that must be lost during the plunge through the atmosphere, and consider three approaches to reentry, including that of the Space Shuttle, which unfortunately ended tragically for Columbia in 2003. Also look at the dire reentry scenario faced by Apollo 13 in 1970. x
    • 24
      The Future of Air and Space Flight
      Close by probing future developments in air and space flight. See these two realms combined in two vehicles: the White Knight aircraft that launches the Space Ship One capsule, and the proposed Mars atmospheric flyer. Consider technically possible devices such as the space elevator, solar-powered aircraft, and personal air vehicles. And that's just the beginning, for the sky is truly the limit! x
    • 25
      Bonus Material: Gustave Eiffel's Wind Tunnels
      Interview with Dr. John Anderson regarding Gustave Eiffel's Wind Tunnels and his career as an applied scientist in the field of aerodynamics. Dr. Anderson is the Curator of Aeronautical Engineering, Aeronautics Department at Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. x
    • 26
      Bonus Material: Engineering Faster Flight Speeds
      Interview with Dr. John Anderson regarding flight speed engineering. x
    • 27
      Bonus Material: Why the Wright Flyer Succeeded
      Interview with Dr. John Anderson regarding how and what contributed to the success of the Wright Flyer. x
    • 28
      Bonus Material: The Wright Brothers' Innovations
      Interview with Dr. Tom Crouch regarding the many innovations of the Wright Brothers. Dr. Crouch is the Senior Curator, Aeronautics Department at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. x
    • 29
      Bonus Material: Higher, Farther, Faster
      Interview with Dr. Roger D. Launius, Former Associate Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs with Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. x
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