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12 Essential Scientific Concepts | [The Great Courses]

12 Essential Scientific Concepts

Science is such a vast arena of knowledge that people looking for a better grasp of its secrets often wonder where to begin. The answer: with the essentials. Now, finally satisfy your desire for scientific inquiry in a way that makes this enormous field accessible, understandable, and undeniably captivating.
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Publisher's Summary

Science is such a vast arena of knowledge that people looking for a better grasp of its secrets often wonder where to begin. The answer: with the essentials. Now, finally satisfy your desire for scientific inquiry in a way that makes this enormous field accessible, understandable, and undeniably captivating.

Professor Viskontas boils down the scientific world into 12 key concepts every educated person should know. Devoting two lectures to each concept to give you more time to engage with it, her 24-lecture series is an engaging and enlightening introduction to everything from the behavior of subatomic particles to the latest theories about the Big Bang.

Throughout, you'll get accessible looks at key building blocks of scientific knowledge, including brain plasticity, fluid mechanics, electromagnetism, genetics, quantum theory, emergence, evolution, thermodynamics, the Big Bang, and the nature of matter. Each concept is presented in a clear, concise way that will inform and delight you, and that will give you the opportunity to probe the invisible life of living cells, visit the universe seconds after its birth, and much more.

Concepts that may have eluded you in school, that you may not be familiar with, or that you simply never appreciated for their intricate beauty are now brought to vivid life in a way that sticks. Welcome to the world of science - reduced to its powerful essence.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (210 )
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4.1 (181 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Tanglebones New York, NY 03-24-14
    Tanglebones New York, NY 03-24-14 Member Since 2014

    Rob

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent overview of major science concepts"
    Would you listen to 12 Essential Scientific Concepts again? Why?

    Yes


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

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


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

    The last two lectures on emergence


    Any additional comments?

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

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

    30 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A reader of fact and fiction 07-04-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    59
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    41
    5
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    "Not what the title promises"

    The first 10 chapters seem to be more about physiology than anything else. This may be better suited to people with interests to workings of human body and cognitive systems, but this is not what the title promises.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anton 07-19-14
    Anton 07-19-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
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    "Author's knowledge of physics may not be perfect"
    Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Indre Viskontas?

    Yes, I'd try another book from The Great Courses (And I've tried "Your deceiptive mind..." - absolutely brilliant), not sure if I'd try another book from this author


    Has 12 Essential Scientific Concepts turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Professor Indre Viskontas?

    No


    Was 12 Essential Scientific Concepts worth the listening time?

    So-so


    Any additional comments?

    I have a major in physics and I'm not sure if the author understands well the physical concepts and problems she is trying to explain. Different people may have different views, but I tend to disagree with several statements she made during the lecture. This makes me think she may not truly understand other scientific concepts too and so I'd not recommend this book and this author to my friends and family.

    13 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Chicago 09-09-14
    Mark Chicago 09-09-14 Member Since 2014

    I'm an science geek, artist, and all-around IT administrator. I find all things interesting and love to learn.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting. You almost need a pencil an paper."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, it’s fairly comprehensive and easily intellectually digestible. The ideas flow together fairly well.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patrick Farley 10-19-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good Content Ruined by Difficult Voice"
    What would have made 12 Essential Scientific Concepts better?

    The speaker's voice has a bizarre rhythm that made listening difficult. She stresses words and phrases seemingly at random -- a condition I've recently learned is called dysprosody. It's like reading a book where every fifth word is underlined, every third word is bold, and every seventh word is italicized, for no reason whatsoever. This made it difficult to absorb what the speaker was trying to communicate.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Professor Indre Viskontas’s performances?

    Not unless she consults a speech therapist, or hires a professional voice actor to read her lectures for her.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    If the speaker's voice doesn't annoy you, you will gain a comprehensive overview of the state of modern science.


    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hyrum Orem, UT, United States 07-26-14
    Hyrum Orem, UT, United States 07-26-14 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Mother Nature is not a driving force in Science"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Nope, lots of better science books out there.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Author kept referring to Mother Nature doing, thinking, or deciding things. While this may have been common in the 1800's I find it disconcerting in a modern science book.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Professor Indre Viskontas?

    Nope, poor grasp of science puts the ghost in the machine instead of explaining how things actually work


    Was 12 Essential Scientific Concepts worth the listening time?

    not really.


    Any additional comments?

    Kept getting the impression that author was going to try to sell something. Script and delivery were closer to a late-night sales person than someone trying to teach science.

    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    hamlet brooklyn, NY, United States 06-10-15
    hamlet brooklyn, NY, United States 06-10-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Informative"

    This book is very informative. However, sometimes it is hard to understand and stay focus. The author make a effort to make interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joel 01-31-15
    Joel 01-31-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Interests"

    I guess I can't force myself to be interested in some scientific subjects. I was enthralled through the last third of it but struggled through the middle where I was bored to tears.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kate Santa Barbara, CA, United States 10-14-14
    Kate Santa Barbara, CA, United States 10-14-14 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "For scientists and non-scientists alike"
    Would you consider the audio edition of 12 Essential Scientific Concepts to be better than the print version?

    I liked her delivery--I am sure it was much more interesting to me than just reading the material


    What does Professor Indre Viskontas bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She is brilliant and engaging. She made what could be some very dry material interesting. And she is funnily.


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

    I liked the end where she started talking about ants and how they work together, and then moves to socialization among people.


    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan 06-12-14
    Alan 06-12-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    "Disappointing"
    What was most disappointing about The Great Courses’s story?

    The topic was a "mile wide" covered to the depth of 1 mm. Anyone who has taken a "college prep" curriculum in high school would not find anything new in the 12 hours of listening. Many interesting concepts were introduced but no in sights were provided. The "Captain Obvious" character of the commercial comes to mind. The usage of scientific terminology was sloppy.


    5 of 11 people found this review helpful
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  • Amazon Customer
    4/25/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "great listen"

    all round great to listen to and well arranged. Most sections can be covered in one pass and each chapter makes it easy to re-listen to sections.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • BB
    UK
    6/21/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very dull to listen to."
    You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Some interesting thoughts but I gave up as so dull to listen to


    Any additional comments?

    Not one for a long car journey

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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