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Publisher's Summary

What is the greatest scientific idea of all? Because science has so dramatically altered how we live and how we think about ourselves, the answer may well be the very idea of science itself, because - just like science's most important achievements - it, too, needed to be thought about, perfected, and invented. This 36-lecture series explores the ideas that have helped form the foundation of modern life - when society has been willing to pursue them. The lectures interpret the term "scientific idea" broadly, to include the ideas that made science possible at all, as well as the ideas that make it so immensely powerful. The result will be new insights into how science shapes society, as well as the way in which society, in turn, affects the directions taken by science.

You'll learn that there is no sharp distinction between ideas that are classified as scientific and those that are classified as philosophical or mathematical, or even between scientific ideas and political, religious, or aesthetic ideas. And how for 200 years, it has been the interaction of science and technology with society that has been the primary driver of social and cultural change, first in the West, then globally, and at an accelerating rate, affecting social and personal values and relationships; social, political, and economic institutions; and cultural values and activities in ways beyond anything our great-grandparents (or sometimes even parents) would recognize.

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

©2007 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2007 The Great Courses

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Average Customer Ratings

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Absorbing

Great erudition, rapidly presented. Will need several revisits to fully absorb its wide ranging content. Would love access to the written transcript for more detailed study.
Neil Brightwell

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • george
  • Bathurst, Australia
  • 09-26-13

Be inspired and informed!!

Professor Goldman made me want to go back to the study of Science. His presentation, his knowledge and the love for his subject were obvious in every lecture. This is one lecture series that you cannot put down. I was lost with some of the complex scientific content, but, that just made me want to listen again and go and buy the notes that go with the series.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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This opens a door, but will you walk through it?

Professor Goldman’s collegiate vocabulary, as well as his scientific, technological, and historic knowledge, and the manner he emphasizes certain important themes result in a very enjoyable set of lectures that kept me company over the course of a few weeks’ worth of commutes.
Professor Goldman’s work here, the fruit of obvious years' scholarship, cannot be compared to anything I’ve ever read or heard from any other author or professor.
The scientific literacy of Professor Goldman is deep in most areas and unbelievably broad. It is obvious that his not merely summarizing the summaries of science he has read elsewhere, but has delved deeply and thought about the implications of many specialized areas of science, and also how to explain the ramifications to an audience who may not be technical. I highly recommend this book for any student pursuing a BS, MS, or Ph.D. in the sciences--you will obtain a valuable perspective as your knowledge becomes more focuses on one specialty. Even if you are from the liberal arts, this great course will provide a more technical yet not overly technical perspective than you might find in another course.
While professor Goldman is technically a humanities/philosophy professor, his understanding of not only the philosophy of science, but the scientific methods, as well as scientific milestones throughout history and their significance, is much deeper than you might expect.
Very even handed in his narrative, professor Goldman does not shy away from the occasional controversy, for example, within science, and also sometimes between science and culture or science and religion. He does present all sides of the argument, without taking sides.
Lastly, while not explicitly, nor even implicitly as far as I could discern, an area of focus of this course, the role of western civilization in the development of science and technology is presented in a non-political manner. This course is neither politically correct, nor politically incorrect--it merely covers the topic at hand in an even handed and non-controversial manner.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Not for me.

Great speaker but boring topics at times with little to learn and grasp onto. Was wanting to learn more about the scientific topics but received more of a history lesson on view points and the thought processes behind the ideas.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Interesting, sometimes naive, but always interesting.

The material was excellent.

I feel like some of the interpretation went too far.

But overall worth listening to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ben
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • 05-05-15

Epic

I really enjoyed this one. I found it very informative, inspiring and spawned interest in a number of other areas.

Very well delivered.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Plenty for both lobes here

What made the experience of listening to Great Scientific Ideas That Changed the World the most enjoyable?

Great interplay of abstract and practical, and of philosophy and technology. Professor conveyed tremendous excitement and mastery of the material.

What other book might you compare Great Scientific Ideas That Changed the World to and why?

History of Ancient Rome, in that the professors had similar storytelling skills, and gracefully stepped out of the chronological narrative for thematic purposes.

Which scene was your favorite?

Relating of Einstein's Doh! moment when he added a fudge factor to the his General Relativity theory that proved extraneous.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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picked up towards the second half

the first 3rd of the book is brutally slow and boring. the remainder was top notch

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Ok, but not one of the better courses

Given the breadth of material this course covers I was expecting more insights into why a particular scientific ideas presented changed to world. Perhaps the course would be more interesting with a more capable and engaging presenter. I found the incessant pauses as well as references to future lectures annoying and made to discussion difficult to follow. In short, interesting material but boring presentation.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Least favorite Great Courses set thus far

This is not the best Great Courses, though I could be overly critical. This unit could be half as long & tedious if it cut units on language or writing or progress; he argues these all interweave to make sense as to why they were included, but I find even that idea equally half baked.
Additionally, often times I found myself asking "Wait, what? I didn't know that, where is that published?" but with no details ever provided. That's a criticism of many Great Courses lectures overall, not necessarily specific to this one.

It was still illuminating in many ways, but combine the above with the relative dryness and stammering of the lecturer, and it all adds up so a "so-so" course in my opinion.

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  • Jan
  • 12-29-15

very informative!

Interesting and well delivered. I'd prefer less information and more analysis but still I think it's definitely worth listening to.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful