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Publisher's Summary

One of the greatest scientific feats of our era is the astonishing progress made in understanding biology-the intricate machinery of life-a progress to which the period we are living in right now has contributed the most.

As you read these words, researchers are delving ever deeper into the workings of living systems, turning their discoveries into new medical treatments, improved methods of growing food, and innovative products that are already changing the world.

The 72 lectures in this comprehensive exploration of living systems at all levels-from biological molecules to global ecosystems-will give you all the information you need to grasp this fascinating field and its impact on both our own lives and our understanding of the life that surrounds us.

Professor Nowicki presents his subject in a conceptual format, emphasizing the importance of broad principles. Though facts and details are offered in abundance, it is always in the context of developing a context listeners can readily absorb.

Your newfound mastery of the fundamentals of biology will serve you in many ways-whether you want to read the headlines with greater insight, update a subject you studied long ago, view the natural world with new appreciation, become a better-informed voter and consumer, or gain the intellectual stimulation of understanding the basic principles that unite all living things.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2004 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2004 The Great Courses

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Great for starters to biology

What made the experience of listening to Biology: The Science of Life the most enjoyable?

very very interesting, next year I'm starting to study biology in University,<br/>and I wanted a good background for it.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

36 half an hour lectures is not possible,<br/>but it was very catching and intresting

Any additional comments?

LECTURE LIST<br/>1<br/>The Scope of "Life"<br/>2<br/>More on the Origin of Life<br/>3<br/>The Organism and the Cell<br/>4<br/>Proteins—How Things Get Done in the Cell<br/>5<br/>Which Molecule Holds the Code?<br/>6<br/>The Double Helix<br/>7<br/>The Nuts and Bolts of Replicating DNA<br/>8<br/>The Central Dogma<br/>9<br/>The Genetic Code<br/>10<br/>From DNA to RNA<br/>11<br/>From RNA to Protein<br/>12<br/>When Mistakes Happen<br/>13<br/>Dividing DNA Between Dividing Cells<br/>14<br/>Mendel and His Pea Plants<br/>15<br/>How Sex Leads to Variation<br/>16<br/>Genes and Chromosomes<br/>17<br/>Charles Darwin and "The Origin of Species"<br/>18<br/>Natural Selection in Action<br/>19<br/>Reconciling Darwin and Mendel<br/>20<br/>Mechanisms of Evolutionary Change<br/>21<br/>What Are Species and How Do New Ones Arise?<br/>22<br/>More on the Origin of New Species<br/>23<br/>Reconstructing Evolution<br/>24<br/>The History of Life, Revisited<br/>25<br/>From Cells to Organisms<br/>26<br/>Control of Gene Expression I<br/>27<br/>Control of Gene Expression II<br/>28<br/>Getting Proteins to the Right Place<br/>29<br/>Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology<br/>30<br/>How Cells Talk—Signals and Receptors<br/>31<br/>How Cells Talk—Ways That Cells Respond<br/>32<br/>From One Cell to Many in an Organism<br/>33<br/>Patterns of Early Development<br/>34<br/>Determination and Differentiation<br/>35<br/>Induction and Pattern Formation<br/>36<br/>Genes and Development<br/>37<br/>Homeostasis<br/>38<br/>Hormones in Animals<br/>39<br/>What is Special about Neurons?<br/>40<br/>Action Potentials and Synapses<br/>41<br/>Synaptic Integration and Memory<br/>42<br/>Sensory Function<br/>43<br/>How Muscles Work<br/>44<br/>The Innate Immune System<br/>45<br/>The Acquired Immune System<br/>46<br/>Form and Function in Plants I<br/>47<br/>Form and Function in Plants II<br/>48<br/>Behavior as an Adaptive Trait<br/>49<br/>Energy and Resources in Living Systems<br/>50<br/>How Energy is Harnessed by Cells<br/>51<br/>Enzymes—Making Chemistry Work in Cells<br/>52<br/>Cellular Currencies of Energy<br/>53<br/>Making ATP—Glycolysis<br/>54<br/>Making ATP—Cellular Respiration<br/>55<br/>Making ATP—The Chemiosmotic Theory<br/>56<br/>Capturing Energy from Sunlight<br/>57<br/>The Reactions of Photosynthesis<br/>58<br/>Resources and Life Histories<br/>59<br/>The Structure of Populations<br/>60<br/>Population Growth<br/>61<br/>What Limits Population Growth?<br/>62<br/>Costs and Benefits of Behavior<br/>63<br/>Altruism and Mate Selection<br/>64<br/>Ecological Interactions Among Species<br/>65<br/>Predators and Competitors<br/>66<br/>Competition and the Ecological Niche<br/>67<br/>Energy in Ecosystems<br/>68<br/>Nutrients in Ecosystems<br/>69<br/>How Predictable Are Ecological Communities?<br/>70<br/>Biogeography<br/>71<br/>Human Population Growth<br/>72<br/>The Human Asteroid

164 of 165 people found this review helpful

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Great purchase even for a bio major!

Any additional comments?

I am using this audiobook to review some of the concepts I learned during my time as a Biological Sciences major. Although I am already familiar with most of the material being covered, I have been using this audiobook to review for the MCAT. I would totally recommend this to anyone looking for an easy way to review major concepts. He does an excellent job of describing mechanisms and processes in a way that is easy to comprehend. I typically listen to this while driving or on the bus. However, I should mention that this may not be an easy listen for someone who has never taken an introductory biology course at the university level. For those people, I would suggest getting a general biology book containing related figures and diagrams or better yet getting the video version of these lectures because it may be difficult to visualize certain processes just by his description.

54 of 54 people found this review helpful

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Engaging and Edifying

If you could sum up Biology: The Science of Life in three words, what would they be?

Science is awesome

What about Professor Stephen Nowicki’s performance did you like?

This could be terribly dry material in other hands, but Nowicki is a very good speaker, and makes things seem alive.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, I'm listening to it on daily walks. Today I listened to the episodes about the discovery of DNA, however, and it was so gripping I walked an extra half mile to get to the end.

Any additional comments?

This is really helping me with the biology class I'm taking. Everything is explained thoroughly, but Nowicki doesn't get bogged down with details that aren't pertinent at the moment. I've been recommending this series very highly to my classmates!

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Good place to start but outdated.

If you could sum up Biology: The Science of Life in three words, what would they be?

A great place to begin even for laymen, but the fact that this audiobook is from 2003 shows. This audiobook deserves a 2nd edition.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Biology: The Science of Life?

When Junk DNA (via retro viralesque means) was talked about as a viable possibility, BTW Junk DNA has been proven wrong.<br/><br/>This does not mean that this audiobook is useless, as there are a lot of relevant stuff in there as well.

What about Professor Stephen Nowicki’s performance did you like?

calm, clear, and easy to understand. <br/>I would petition Stephen for a 2nd edition.<br/>The way Stephen talks about the various subjects, as well as the way he structures his lessons, does credit to the initial goals, stated in lecture 1, that this is meant to be the layman's entry to the world of biology as well as useable by students seeking to get a college degree.

Any additional comments?

The title and intro (the opening lines of chapter 1) of this audiobook suggests that this is made for non-scientists as well. You cannot expect non scientists to be completely up to date on current scientific literature. Genetics happens to be an interest of mine(and i have Sadava's understanding genetics from the great courses), therefore i knew about junk DNA.<br/>But the average curious Georges and Janes are not necessarily going to have my interest, and they will most likely not appreciate the 41$ price-tag (15 if they subscribe to audible), just to get outdated teaching material.<br/><br/>Now i know i have just blitzed this audiobook, but i still encourage you, dear fellow layman consumer, to at least consider this audiobook.<br/>My tirade about junk DNA is about 5 sentences in one lecture, and junk DNA is served as a hypothesis and not as a theory, There are 72 lectures and most of this (at least to my knowledge) is still correct. <br/>The course guidebook even comes with several graphs and models. so you get lectures as well as what is basically a biology book.

24 of 27 people found this review helpful

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Great Overview of Biology the Science of Life!

“A great and growing volume of facts about life as it goes on about us
and within us becomes available for practical application … [But] this
new material is still imperfectly accessible to ordinary busy people.” H.G. Wells in The Science of Life.


1 The Scope of "Life"

2 More on the Origin of Life

3 The Organism and the Cell

4 Proteins—How Things Get Done in the Cell

5 Which Molecule Holds the Code?

6 The Double Helix

7 The Nuts and Bolts of Replicating DNA

8 The Central Dogma

9 The Genetic Code

10 From DNA to RNA

11 From RNA to Protein

12 When Mistakes Happen

13 Dividing DNA Between Dividing Cells

14 Mendel and His Pea Plants

15 How Sex Leads to Variation

16 Genes and Chromosomes

17 Charles Darwin and "The Origin of Species"

18 Natural Selection in Action

19 Reconciling Darwin and Mendel

20 Mechanisms of Evolutionary Change

21 What Are Species and How Do New Ones Arise?
22 More on the Origin of New Species

23 Reconstructing Evolution

24 The History of Life, Revisited

25 From Cells to Organisms

26 Control of Gene Expression I

27 Control of Gene Expression II

28 Getting Proteins to the Right Place

29 Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology

30 How Cells Talk—Signals and Receptors

31 How Cells Talk—Ways That Cells Respond

32 From One Cell to Many in an Organism

33 Patterns of Early Development

34 Determination and Differentiation

35 Induction and Pattern Formation

36 Genes and Development

37 Homeostasis

38 Hormones in Animals

39 What is Special about Neurons?

40 Action Potentials and Synapses

41 Synaptic Integration and Memory

42 Sensory Function

43 How Muscles Work




44 The Innate Immune System

45 The Acquired Immune System

46 Form and Function in Plants I

47 Form and Function in Plants II

48 Behavior as an Adaptive Trait

49 Energy and Resources in Living Systems

50 How Energy is Harnessed by Cells

51 Enzymes—Making Chemistry Work in Cells

52 Cellular Currencies of Energy

53 Making ATP—Glycolysis

54 Making ATP—Cellular Respiration

55 Making ATP—The Chemiosmotic Theory

56 Capturing Energy from Sunlight

57 The Reactions of Photosynthesis

58 Resources and Life Histories

59 The Structure of Populations

60 Population Growth

61 What Limits Population Growth?

62 Costs and Benefits of Behavior

63 Altruism and Mate Selection

64 Ecological Interactions Among Species

65 Predators and Competitors

66 Competition and the Ecological Niche

67 Energy in Ecosystems

68 Nutrients in Ecosystems

69 How Predictable Are Ecological Communities?

70 Biogeography

71 Human Population Growth

72 The Human Asteroid

Professor Nowicki of Duke University starts out his first lecture with this quote from 75 years ago. He wants to make Biology more accessible to ordinary people also and that is what this course is. I have to be honest and say this was the toughest course I have taken yet in the Great Courses I own. There are a total of 72 thirty-minute lectures and a 460-page book that also comes with the course to get through. I probably retained about a third of what the Professor was teaching and will definitely listen to this again and again until I can absorb it all.

What I really loved about this book was the in depth study of how life begins, what each part of a living being does and how it is determined. My other favorite parts were about Mendel and his Peas that he studied and how they differ from Darwin and his Evolutionary theory.

I also was fascinated by the Professor talking about how many Humans the Earth can sustain and what is the next step when we finally reach that threshold. I am retired and have tried to keep my brain active by learning something new every day and this course really helped to stretch my mind.

I highly recommend this course to anyone who loves science and Biology especially as this is a great overview of the subject. I certainly was entranced by everything the Professor taught.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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PDF images in black & white

Any additional comments?

Colorful images are a powerful tool to learn many scientific concepts, and help to retain information. Audio-only is rather difficult for so much information; thus, the workbook. The images were clearly created in color but converted to black & white for the PDF, diminishing the value considerably. Of course, the book cover on the PDF is in color, just nothing else. I will now need to search the web for each concept, where the book includes images, for a better learning experience. How very disappointing,

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Surprisingly more biochemistry-focused

It was good enough to keep me listening, but didn't stir the "soul". There are long periods of dry and cold material that leave you wanting a bit more inspiration. Otherwise, it was good and I appreciate the subject matter so I have bias towards this audio book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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My new addiction

I love all things science, so go figure this is in my top lectures. If you don't have a basic understanding of organic chemistry, this could be a bit overwhelming. For those that want to know more about biology or want to dust off their knowledge in general, this lecture is great. I will be listening to this lecture again.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Outstanding

If my college Biology course covered this same content, I might have even considered a career in molecular Biology! While there are some lectures that didn't interest me, about 75 percent of them were fascinating. Prof. Nowicki does a masterful job of providing motivation for each lecture, then guiding the listener on a logical path to the goal. Considering the cost of tuition at Duke, getting these 72 half-hour lectures for a single credit is a steal. It takes focus to keep up at times, and it might take a couple of listens to sink in. However, there are several great stories and anecdotes that are easy to take and you'll the newly learned facts to your friends.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Learn to Talk to your Son

Would you listen to Biology: The Science of Life again? Why?

I periodically return to lectures to see what I missed. The course is a tour-de-force. My son is taking AP Biology and plans to make a career in biology. I thought, as a lawyer and programmer who never took a college science course, that I should meet him half way. Perhaps, if I had taked a course with Prof. Nowicki, my career path would have changed.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Biology: The Science of Life?

I finally understood what the fuss was over "creation vs.evolution" and why the creationists are driving real scientists totally crazy. The classes on the origins of life, and on Darwin were fascinating and explained why treating the 2 schools of thought as "absolute truths" are completely incompatible. As an ethical guide and parable, maybe, ... but as absolute truth, modern man, committed to the scientific method finds that approach an anathema.

Which character – as performed by Professor Stephen Nowicki – was your favorite?

This was a science lecture. The discussion of the discovery of DNA was a great story.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • Deelite
  • 08-08-13

Biology brought to life!

What made the experience of listening to Biology: The Science of Life the most enjoyable?

This series of lectures is written and read in such a lively, engaging manner, its a pleasure to listen to and promotes effortless learning. I have been hoping in earnest for a series like this to appear (vast improvement over the lacklustre modern scholar title I tried previously) and I can't wait to sample other courses in the series. <br/>The professor - whose performance is bright and bouncy enough to carry you the distance with his enthusiasm- gives an extremely well structured overview of the life sciences, pitched at about A level. I am fairly familiar with the material but It is suitable for those with limited knowledge of the subject- however such a reader might need to supplement their learning with diagrams from books to gain a more complete understanding of some topics.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Florence Delaney
  • 09-29-14

Brilliant lecture series

Any additional comments?

This is a really enjoyable and engaging series of lectures. The information is clear and it gives a great in-depth overview of the subject. I was worried it would be too dumbed-down - not so.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Enthusiastic reader
  • 09-19-15

More than a superficial introduction to biology

Author is very enthusiastic and very good at explaining complex subjects without dumbing down. 72 lectures is a lot, but I miss listening to them now that it is over.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Santiago
  • 07-05-16

Thorough and well structured course

Amazing listen for the knowledge hungry. As a scientist in a totally different field, with no education in biology beyond high school, this audiobook gave me so much useful material, in a very approachable way and following a nice structure to retain all the key concepts.
Arid at times, skip through if a particular chapter doesn't interest you. Great knowledge lays ahead.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Nadine
  • 06-14-16

Adore this

I love this course, gives you a vast indepth overview of the magic that is biology. engaging and thoughtful lectures

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anand Manu
  • 08-26-16

Great Detail but do need some background.

Very detailed course. Does at times require some background knowledge. The 3 part organisation is good and the general strucutre of the course.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Malcolm
  • 05-26-17

Brilliant

Everybody on this planet should listen to this before they die. It's a wonderful summary of our current knowledge of life and how it works. I believe science is the greatest of mankind's achievements and the beauty of it should be shared with everybody. it was a privilege to listen to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful