June 27, 2014

Learn About Astronomy on Audio & Videos

The planets, stars, and what might lay beyond have been a topic of extreme fascination for us ever since early man first looked up into the heavens. With this list of 10 free audio and video titles, LearnOutLoud has put together an awe-inspiring way to help you learn more about astronomy. Topics covered include an overview of the cosmic landscape, an intro to stars, black hboles, and even something on how wormholes might help us figure out time travel. Big names in the field, such as Cosmos host Neil deGrasse Tyson help answer cosmic queries and Richard Dawkins takes us on a tour of the queerer corners of the universe. Look to the sky and explore the cosmic neighborhood by clicking any of the links below:

1. Earth and the Universe

This is the first lecture from the Modern Scholar course Astronomy I: Earth, Sky and Planets taught by Professor James Kaler. In this lecture Professor James Kaler puts Earth in perspective within the solar system, the galaxy, and the whole universe. He covers what makes a planet and the diversity of planets in our solar system discussing their size and their distance from the sun. Professor Kaler provides dozens of awe-inspiring facts about our solar system in this fascinating introductory astronomy lecture. This lecture is available for MP3 download on LearnOutLoud.com.

2. The Cosmic Landscape

In this interview with Dr. Leonard Susskind offered by the Commonwealth Club of California, the noted physicist discusses the latest discoveries that are helping us better understand the Universe. Using accessible analogues, Susskind explains how the mysterious existence of a universal dark energy is altering previously held concepts of how human life came to be. Using an accessible and humorous style, Susskind manages to explain incredible concepts such as Multiverses and String Theory in a fashion that is both easy to understand and exciting to consider. This interview is available on streaming video from FORA.tv.

3. Richard Dawkins: The Universe is Queerer Than We Can Suppose

In this mind-bending lecture from TED.com, biologist Richard Dawkins examines the universe from the standpoint of contemporary science and finds that our universe is much stranger than we are capable of supposing. He provides many examples in the biological world about how assumptions such as a rock being solid and our bodies being the same throughout our life are incorrect. Stretch your perspective with Dawkin’s case for “thinking the improbable”. This talk is available on streaming video and MP3 download from the TED.com website.

4. Neil DeGrasse Tyson: Death by Black Hole

In this talk Tyson muses on why he’s always getting questions about natural disasters. Starting with a detailed description of what might happen to someone unlucky enough to get sucked into a Black Hole, he then discusses the more realistic threat of asteroids impacting the earth. He asks his colleagues why we often run from these potential disasters, when we might productively devise a means of stopping them from happening in the first place. After all, this is the 21st century!

5. Stephen Hawking Asks Big Questions About the Universe

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking’s recently had his 70th birthday! We’re celebrating this amazing scientific mind by featuring his 2008 TED talk in which he addresses some of the big questions about the universe such as: How did the universe begin? How did life begin? Are we alone?

6. CBC Radio: Quirks and Quarks Complete Show Podcast
CBC Radio: Quirks and Quarks Segmented Show Podcast

One of the best science podcasts available is Quirks and Quarks from CBC Radio. Host Bob McDonald speaks with scientists around the globe about the latest in science, technology, medicine and the environment. They feature two podcast feeds: one of the complete hour-long show and one that breaks the show up into its three or four topical segments. In the latest podcasts McDonald explores the science of the brain in love in both humans and other animals, and he speaks with three different authors about the legacy of Charles Darwin. Subscribe to this podcast from CBC Radio.

7. What is a Star?

This is the first lecture from the Modern Scholar course Heavens Above: Stars, Constellations, and the Sky taught by Professor James Kaler. Professor James Kaler shares his genuine awe and lifelong fascination with the stars in this opening lecture. He describes what a star is and provides a lot of info about our closet star, the Sun. Kaler covers the colors, brightness, and sizes of stars, the history of stars, and the number of visible stars in our night sky. The lecture will help you put things in perspective in relation to our vast universe. This free lecture is available to download exclusively through LearnOutLoud.com on MP3.

8. Cosmos: A Personal Voyage

This thirteen-part television series was written by astronomer Carl Sagan, his wife Ann Druyan, and astrophysicist Steven Soter. From the very first episode called “The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean” Sagan takes us on a wonderful voyage across the cosmos as his spaceship travels through the universe’s hundred billion galaxies, the Local Group, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way, the Orion Nebula, our Solar System, and finally the planet Earth. Sagan also describes the Cosmic Calendar and where humanity lies on its 13.8 billion year timeline. Watch all 13 hour long episodes of the original 1980 television series.

9. Black Holes, Wormholes and Time Travel

In this streaming video presented by Vega Science Trust, physicist Paul Davies gives viewers a crash course on current scientific theories surrounding time travel. In this video you will see how scientists like Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan have broadened our understanding of how to bend the very fabric of space-time. Find out how the discovery of black holes and wormholes have given us a new way to utilize the cosmos in order that we may someday peek into the future.

10. Neil deGrasse Tyson: The Pluto Files

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses his newest book on Pluto’s recent demotion in this humorous interview conducted at the Los Angeles Public Library. In a style all his own, Tyson describes the uproar created when he helped demote Pluto to a new class of planetoid, even going as far as to cite letters from school children decrying his stance. He also goes on to answer many pressing (and not so pressing) scientific questions; including the role science has played in the Bush administration, and whether or not the world will end in 2012. This talk is available on streaming video from FORA.tv.