Cold
Part of the Series: How We Got to Now

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Light
Part of the Series: How We Got to Now
Johnson relates the story of people who take us out of the dark and into the light. Hear about Edison's light bulb, which he didn't actually invent, and learn how an 18th-century ship's skipper discovered a source of illumination by putting a kid inside a whale's head. See how a…
Metaphysics and the Nature of Science
Episode 1 of Redefining Reality
Start with the metaphysical concept of reality and how it led to a scientific worldview. Then see how the scientific picture of reality changes as theories are refined or overthrown. Explore examples such as the germ theory of disease and philosopher Thomas Kuhn's influential idea of paradigm shifts.
Curved Spacetime and Black Holes
By developing a general theory of relativity incorporating gravity, Einstein launched a revolution in our understanding of the universe. Trace how his idea that gravity results from the warping of spacetime led to the discovery of black holes and the big bang.
Quantum Mechanics
In 1926 Erwin Schrodinger developed an equation that underlies much of our modern quantum-mechanical description of physical reality. Solve a simple problem with the Schrodinger equation. Then learn how the merger of quantum mechanics and special relativity led to the discovery of antimatter.
Big Bang Cosmology
Episode 6 of Redefining Reality
Investigate the underlying reality that governs the universe. Is the universe eternally the same? Or is it changing and unstable? In modern times, this debate culminated in the contest between the steady state theory and the big bang model. Hear how unexpected events led to a spectacular solution.
Quantum Field Theory
Episode 9 of Redefining Reality
See how quantum field theory led to a stunning synthesis called the standard model of particle physics, which was confirmed by the 2012 discovery of the Higgs boson. Study the startling implications of this theory for our understanding of reality. Close by examining its impact on the visual arts.
Time’s Arrow
Embark on the quest that will occupy the rest of the course: Why is there an arrow of time? Explore how memory and aging orient us in time. Then look at irreversible processes, such as an egg breaking or ice melting. These capture the essence of the one-way direction of…
Exoplanets and Extraterrestrial Life
Episode 28 of Redefining Reality
Fiction writers have led the way in exploring the prospects of life beyond Earth. See how scientists are catching up, looking for extraterrestrial organisms using a variety of ingenious techniques. Learn how they are narrowing the search and which tantalizing clues have already turned up.
A New Theory of Matter
Episode 3 of The Nature of Matter
Discover how the idea that light comes in discrete packets called "quanta" led to a startling new theory of matter: quantum mechanics. One prediction is that matter, like light, behaves as both a particle and a wave, a property observed in subatomic particles such as electrons.
The Transformability of Information
What is information? Explore the surprising answer of American mathematician Claude Shannon, who concluded that information is the ability to distinguish reliably among possible alternatives. Consider why this idea was so revolutionary, and see how it led to the concept of the bit--the basic unit of information.
Clean
Part of the Series: How We Got to Now
Dirty water has killed more humans than all the wars of history combined, but in the last 150 years, a series of radical ideas, extraordinary innovations and unsung heroes have changed our world. Johnson plunges into a sewer to understand what made a maverick engineer decide to lift the city…
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…