Thursday, November 4, 2010

Growing Up in the Universe - Must See videos

"Not explaining science seems to me perverse. When you're in love, you want to tell the world."
Carl Sagan

[This is not directly related to retirement, but I feel that it is one of the most constructive ways in which I have spent my available time.]

While browsing in my local library one afternoon, I chanced upon this gem. The DVD is called "Growing Up in The Universe" and it is a series of lectures delivered by the eminent Oxford biologist Prof. Richard Dawkins.

First, some background on the lectures and about the presenter.

This lecture series is part of a long British tradition of "Royal Institution Christmas Lectures." It was started in 1825 by Sir Michael Faraday, and continues to this day. This particular set was given in 1991, though the DVD only came out in 2008. The topics are all extremely relevant, so don't let the fact that this was delivered in the early 90's deter you.

I first learned of Richard Dawkins when I came across his book "The Selfish Gene." (After watching these lectures, I now realize that I misunderstood the topic of his book.)
He is an Oxford professor for the Public Understanding of Science. Dr. Dawkins is now known for his 2006 book "The God Delusion" which caused uproar in the creationists' community. But all that came later. In these series of lectures he explains evolution, presenting his arguments brilliantly, engaging the live audience of students with lots of interactions. He is a superb teacher.

Now comes the kicker: there are 5 lectures, each an hour long. I know that not everyone has so much time to devote to video lectures on understanding evolution. But take my word and watch just the first lecture. If you are not captivated, then you can choose not to watch the others.

While I was searching the web for the DVD, I found that YouTube has these lectures. (If you can watch them on your TV it is probably better, but here are the links.)

The five lectures are: (links to Youtube)
Ep 1: Waking Up in the Universe
Ep2: Designed and Designoid Objects
Ep3: Climbing Mount Improbable
Ep4: The Ultraviolet Garden
Ep5: The Genesis of Purpose

If you are ever looking for what to buy for any young teens (your friends' kids, nephews or nieces) consider gifting them this 2-DVD set to them.

Be sure to add "Growing up in the Universe" to your list of must-see videos.

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