TTC - Understanding the Universe with Alex Filippenko
TTC - Understanding the Universe with Alex Filippenko
TTC - Understanding the Universe with Alex Filippenko
Price: $23.98 FREE for Members
Type: Audio Book
Format: mp3
Language: English

Albert Einstein once observed that "The most incomprehensible thing about the Universe is that its comprehensible." Astronomythe science of the Universeis in large part a working-out of this insight. That something as vast and old as the cosmos possesses an order and acts according to knowable laws is indeed a source of wonder.

Probably youve felt this wonder while gazing at the boundless blue firmament or watching the hard, gemlike flames of the stars burning against the night sky. If you have, then this course is for you.

If youve ever asked yourself whats out therewhether there might be other galaxies like the Milky Way, other stars like our Sun, other planets similar to Earth, or whether were really alone in the vastness of spacethen you owe it to yourself not to miss this exceptional new series.

Youll be delighted and at times spellbound by these lectures, which are so lavishly illustrated that we are offering them in the video format only. They contain more visual images than have ever appeared in a Teaching Company coursemore than 600 of them all told, including numerous full-color photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope. In addition, there is a wealth of other graphics that will instruct, enlighten, and even amuse you.

Professor Alex Filippenko drew up many of these graphics himself. They reflect his enormous learning, his knack for clarity and compression, and at times his whimsical bent. You should find them exceptionally helpful, for he wields these teaching tools with consummate skill. With such aids in the hands of one of Americas most brilliant young astronomers, and without the need for an extensive background in mathematics or physics, youll gain a solid grasp of the basic laws that govern the cosmos and make it a far more amazing place than most of us suspect.

Youll learn about the history of astronomy, including the contributions made by its most towering figures. Youll hear as well of the most recent technological breakthroughs in astronomical observation, and receive an expert interpretation of the latest informed theorizing about questions surrounding the origin, destiny, and fundamental dynamics of the cosmos.

Professor Filippenko teaches astronomy at the University of California at Berkeley, one of Americas premier centers of scientific investigation. His principal research interests are supernovae (exploding stars), active galaxies, black holes, and observational cosmology. More than 260 scientific publications and some 280 abstracts and astronomical circulars have reported the results of his work. His research accomplishments have also won him recognition in the form of several major awards, including the Newton Lacy Pierce Prize of the American Astronomical Society.

Moreover, Professor Filippenko has distinguished himself as a teacher. Youll see why he has won both of UC-Berkeleys top two teaching awards, and why in 1995 students voted him Best Professor on campus. One student raved, "Filippenko is an incredible lecturer. Hes the most enthusiastic professor I have seen on campus, and the subject matter is fascinating." His rare ability to convey complex material in an understandable, engaging way led Professor Filippenko to prominent roles in such widely viewed television documentaries as "Mysteries of Deep Space" and "Stephen Hawkings Universe."

After viewing Understanding the Universe, listening to Professor Filippenkos explanations of astronomical phenomena, and seeing many of these phenomena for yourself in the photographs, you will understand why he has won repeated praise from fellow scientists and students alike.

It is difficult to describe in this limited space how much information Professor Filippenko conveys in a thoroughly understandable way, making this a captivating course for almost everyone. Here is an attempt to give you some idea.

Youll start with a lecture summarizing the golden age of astronomy in which we live, and then learn about the enormous time and distance scales relevant to the study of the cosmos. After that, Professor Filippenko turns to a discussion of light, the "supreme informant" of the Universe.

While discussing light, which is so crucial to astronomers, Professor Filippenko devotes a whole lecture to telescopes. Youll learn how Galileo began using one in 1609 to view craters on the Moon, sunspots, the phases of Venus, and four moons of Jupiter. And youll come to understand the extraordinary additions that modern telescopes (particularly the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck telescopes in Hawaii) are contributing to our knowledge of the cosmos.

In subsequent lectures, the professor leads you on a fascinating exploration of the Solar System. Youll examine the intriguing surface of Mars, and learn why some scientists are suggesting that primitive life may have arisen on the red planet long ago. Youll study Saturns famous rings and the incredible variety of Jupiters moons. Youll investigate comets and meteoroids, which wreak havoc when large ones collide with Earth.

Fully seven of Professor Filippenkos lectures are devoted to the study of stars, natures nuclear reactors. Youll learn how they condense from interstellar gas and dust, composed mostly of hydrogen made in the Big Bang, the explosion that began the cosmos. Youll study how the distance of stars can be calculated, how their "luminosity" (power) is measured, and how their age can be determined.

Youll also learn about the death of stars, which may well be their most intriguing state. While some stars burn out quietly, others, called supernovae, explode with a brightness that can rival the light of a small galaxy. The remnant of a dead star is a neutron star. Professor Filippenko says that these can be compared in size with a cityif you can imagine a city with more mass than the Sun! Of course, no discussion of stars could be considered complete without an examination of black holes, and the professor will not leave you wanting.

To illuminate the physics of these remarkable entities, Professor Filippenko asks what would happen if you were somehow to fall into such a "heart of darkness." As seen from the outside, he explains, you would take an infinite amount of time to fall in because your clocks, both mechanical and biological, would appear to outside observers as having stopped. But from your perspective, all your clocks would be ticking away as usual. And if you were to somehow avoid the black holes "event horizon," that imaginary surface from which nothing can escape, you would have aged less than your friends on Earth! Unfortunately, black holes probably cannot be used for travel to other Universes or to other parts of our Universe.

Dr. Filippenko then describes galaxies, the building blocks of the Universe, and presents compelling evidence for large quantities of "dark matter," which can be detected only through its gravitational effects. He also explores the mysterious quasars, which are powered by supermassive black holes.

After commenting on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, he turns to speculations at the cutting edge of cosmology, where science begins to give way to metaphysics or even theology. Will the Universe expand without end, or eventually collapse? Can there be only one Universe, or might there be others? Must a Universe have only four dimensions, or could there be more? If you have even an inkling of curiosity about such matters, youll find this discussion of the Big Crunch, the steady-state Universe hypothesis, "superstring" theories, and the "inflationary" cosmos a fascinating and fitting end to this look at the incomprehensible wonder of the comprehensible Universe.

Understanding the Universe is for you if you are a beginner who wants to know more about the cosmos and would welcome an introduction to the most mind-boggling physical concepts imaginable. It is for you if you already enjoy astronomy and want to learn more about its intricacies. And it is for you even if you are a real astronomy buff who wants to understand the latest cosmological theories and gain a deeper knowledge of cosmic processes.

Available on Videotape and DVD

Images are presented by the hundreds and are so integral to the course's content, we are exclusively offering it on videotape and DVD.



Part I: Unlocking the Secrets of the Universe

Lecture 1: A Grand Tour of the Cosmos

Lecture 2: Journey Through Space and Time

Lecture 3: LightThe Supreme Informant

Lecture 4: The Fingerprints of Atoms

Lecture 5: Tools of the Trade

Lecture 6: Space Telescopes and the Celestial Sphere

Lecture 7: Our SunThe Nearest Star

Lecture 8: Lunar Phases and Glorious Eclipses

Part II: The Solar System

Lecture 9: The Early History of Astronomy

Lecture 10: The Copernican Revolution

Lecture 11: On the Shoulders of Giants

Lecture 12: One Small StepThe Earth and Moon

Lecture 13: Paradise LostVenus and Mars

Lecture 14: Planetary BehemothsJupiter and Saturn

Lecture 15: Distant Worlds and Solar System Debris

Lecture 16: Comets and Catastrophic Collisions

Part III: The Stars and Their Lives

Lecture 17: Distant Suns

Lecture 18: Social StarsBinaries and Clusters

Lecture 19: Natures Nuclear Reactors

Lecture 20: The Fate of Our Sun

Lecture 21: Exploding StarsCelestial Fireworks

Lecture 22: The Corpses of Massive Stars

Lecture 23: Hearts of Darkness

Lecture 24: The Quest for Black Holes

Part IV: A Universe of Galaxies

Lecture 25: Starting at HomeThe Milky Way

Lecture 26: One Giant LeapOther Galaxies

Lecture 27: The Dark Side of Matter

Lecture 28: The Birth and Life of Galaxies

Lecture 29: QuasarsCosmic Powerhouses

Lecture 30: In the Belly of the Beast

Lecture 31: Are We Alone? The Search Begins

Lecture 32: Communicating with Extraterrestrials

Part V: The Birth and Life of the Universe

Lecture 33: The Expansion of the Universe

Lecture 34: The Age of the Universe

Lecture 35: The Geometry and Fate of the Universe

Lecture 36: Einsteins Biggest Blunder?

Lecture 37: Echoes of the Big Bang

Lecture 38: In the Beginning

Lecture 39: The Ultimate Free Lunch?

Lecture 40: A Universe of Universes

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