Energy and Human Civilization

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The Science of Energy - Resources and Power Explained
Energy is, without a doubt, the very foundation of the universe. It's the engine that powers life and fuels the evolution of human civilization. Yet for all its importance, what energy really is and how it works remains a mystery to most non-scientists. For example:
  • Where does most of…
Sunlight - Inexhaustible Energy Source
Episode 13 of The Science of Energy
Sunlight is a literally inexhaustible source of energy. Discover why (and how) the sun gives off light, how much sunlight energy the earth's surface gets in an average day, how much land we'd need to supply all our energy needs through sunlight, and some of the geographical problems with solar…
The Science of Nuclear Power
Episode 11 of The Science of Energy
Travel to the subatomic level for a fascinating exploration of how nuclear energy is generated. It's an eye-opening lecture that touches on everything from nuclear fission and radioactive decay to the inner workings of nuclear power plants and the attendant fears and concerns of core meltdowns.
Wind Power and Electricity
Episode 15 of The Science of Energy
Wind power is another growing source of renewable energy. First, discover how giant wind turbines provide us with energy. Then, get a brief history of how humans have tapped into wind's potential and the meteorology of how wind works. Finally, learn the best regions for wind power and the advantages…
Energy Needs for Transportation
Episode 20 of The Science of Energy
Transportation is an enormous part of our global total energy consumption. From planes to trains to automobiles, learn how scientists are working to make popular modes of transportation as fuel-efficient as possible. Also, explore the topic of electric cars and whether or not they're truly more efficient than gas-powered ones.
Solar Power and Electricity
Episode 14 of The Science of Energy
The biggest area of growth for solar energy: transforming sunlight into electricity with the aid of solar panels. Go inside the world of photovoltaic solar panels to find out how they convert sunlight into functional power. Also, take a closer look at other solar-related technologies, like solar troughs, solar towers,…
Energy - Forms and Conversion for Use
Episode 2 of The Science of Energy
Energy is a fundamental part of our universe--in a sense, the universe is energy. Here, Professor Wysession introduces you to the many fascinating forms energy takes, including potential, kinetic, mechanical, and thermal energy. He also explains how energy is measured to make you more fluent in "energy-speak" for the coming…
The Nuclear Fission Fuel Cycle
Episode 12 of The Science of Energy
Professor Wysession explains how uranium is used to make electricity through the process of nuclear fission, from acquiring uranium-bearing rocks to disposing of leftover nuclear waste. Afterwards, learn some of the upsides of nuclear energy (including its nearly unlimited power) and its downsides (such as its inability to become decentralized…
Chemical Energy, Biomass, and Photosynthesis
Episode 5 of The Science of Energy
Turn now to chemical energy, the potential energy resulting from the position of atoms within molecules. After an overview of photosynthesis (perhaps the universe's most amazing form of energy conversion), learn how combustion transforms biofuels into light and heat, and how energy density affects the transportation of biofuels like petroleum.
Understanding Carbon Dioxide
Episode 10 of The Science of Energy
Carbon dioxide is a pollutant so significant to human civilization that Professor Wysession devotes an entire lecture to it. If CO2 is only 0.04% of the atmosphere, how can it be so harmful? Is global warming a natural process? What actions can we take to reduce the dangers of CO2?
Geothermal Energy
Episode 18 of The Science of Energy
Go deep underground for a look at geothermal energy. Topics include the energy budget of our planet, two main ways of using geothermal energy, five different technologies used for hydrothermal power systems (including dry steam power plants), and the concept of shallow ground source heat pumps (GSHPs).
Energy Efficiency - Technologies and Trends
Episode 21 of The Science of Energy
Where is energy commonly being wasted? How does one become a more efficient energy user? This lecture is filled with takeaways to help anyone (from home owner to car driver to CEO) become more energy efficient in a range of sectors and settings: industries, transportation, residences, and commercial buildings.