What Science Knows about Cancer (The Great Courses)

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Few global challenges touch humanity with as much immediacy or ubiquity as cancer. Over the course of their lifetime, one in three people in North America, Europe, and Australia will develop a malignancy, and in the United States alone, the direct and indirect costs of cancer amount to billions of dollars a year. The sad […]

Mysteries of the Microscopic World (The Great Courses)

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An invisible world of astonishing complexity is all around you. A world so small you can’t see it with the naked eye. A world so crowded that its population staggers the mind. A world in which you participate every day—often without even knowing it. The inhabitants of this world are trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi, […]

Origins of Life (The Great Courses)

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Four billion years ago, the infant Earth was a seething cauldron of erupting volcanoes, raining meteors, and hot noxious gases, totally devoid of life. But a relatively short time later—100 to 200 million years—the planet was teeming with primitive organisms. What happened? Professor Robert M. Hazen, one of the nation’s foremost science educators and leader […]

Understanding the Secrets of Human Perception (The Great Courses)

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Your senses aren’t just a part of you—they define you. Nothing that you experience in your life, from the most important to the most mundane, would be possible without the intricate power of your senses. But how much about them do you really know? Your ability to sense and perceive the world around you is […]

Theory of Evolution: A History of Controversy (The Great Courses)

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Charles Darwin’s theory of organic evolution—the idea that life on earth is the product of purely natural causes, not the hand of God—set off shock waves that continue to reverberate through Western society, and especially the United States. What makes evolution such a profoundly provocative concept, so convincing to most scientists, yet so socially and […]

Joy of Science (The Great Courses)

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English novelist and scientist C. P. Snow classed certain scientific ideas with the works of Shakespeare as something every educated person should know. One such idea, according to Snow, was the second law of thermodynamics, which deals with the diffusion of heat and has many profound consequences. He might well have added Newton’s laws, the […]

A New History of Life (The Great Courses)

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Life is stranger than fiction. Recent investigations hint at episodes in the history of life on Earth that rival the most imaginative movies. For example: Could our planet have been seeded with life from elsewhere? Did the development of life create conditions that threatened to poison the biosphere? How have natural forces conspired, over and […]

Biological Anthropology: An Evolutionary Perspective (The Great Courses)

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When we consider ourselves, not as static beings fixed in time but as dynamic, ever-changing creatures, our viewpoint of human history becomes different and captivating. The crucial element of “time depth” has revolutionized the very questions we ask about ourselves. “Who are we?” has turned into What have we become? What are we becoming?” What […]

Oceanography: Exploring Earth’s Final Wilderness (The Great Courses)

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Earth’s ocean is a source of wonder, delight, sustenance, economic benefit, and awe in the face of its overwhelming mystery and power. It dominates the natural world in ways that scientists are only now beginning to understand. And although we call our home planet Earth, it would be more accurate to name it Ocean, since […]

The Human Body: How We Fail, How We Heal (The Great Courses)

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Your body is a fortress under constant assault. Infectious diseases, parasites, environmental toxins, physical trauma, allergens, and natural disasters are some external enemies it faces. From the inside, it is threatened by occasional overzealous allergic, immune, and inflammatory responses, as well as by the cellular mutations that produce cancer. Fortunately, the body’s defenses are remarkably […]