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"Suppose there was a place where there wasn't even space... what is that?"
November 26, 2011 10:26 PM   Subscribe

"...I'm here to present to you - not lectures that are part of some curriculum; but in fact, I've combed the universe for my favorite subjects, and I'm going to spend twelve lectures bringing those favorite subjects to you." Renowned astrophysicist and television host Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses the various aspects of our universe in twelve separate half-hour long lectures (MLYT). posted by Evernix (40 comments total) 161 users marked this as a favorite

 
..."colm" isn't a word. Did you mean "comb"? (sorry)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:35 PM on November 26, 2011


fixed it.
posted by taz at 10:37 PM on November 26, 2011


Great post, looking forward to digging into these.
posted by anifinder at 10:38 PM on November 26, 2011


Yeah, my bad on the typo. Thanks taz.
posted by Evernix at 10:41 PM on November 26, 2011


Oh there goes the rest of my week.
To science.
posted by Mizu at 10:42 PM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


YES-- 6 hours added to the 'Watch Later' list in one swoop. Damn, I better do some jogging this week.

I do love Neil-- he has a certain lightness and fun that none of my other favorite scientists from Nova, Discovery, etc quite do.
posted by herbplarfegan at 10:45 PM on November 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Neil is the man.
posted by candasartan at 10:58 PM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Neil deGrasse Tyson is god.
posted by Catblack at 11:08 PM on November 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Six hours? Good thing I didn't have anything to do...
posted by delmoi at 11:09 PM on November 26, 2011


Why is he standing on the set of a 1990s sitcom?
posted by migurski at 11:41 PM on November 26, 2011


Why is he standing on the set of a 1990s sitcom?

The real question is why aren't you?
posted by lumensimus at 11:45 PM on November 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


If I were going to watch one, which one do I watch?
posted by empath at 11:58 PM on November 26, 2011


Finishing #1, it takes him about ten minutes to hit his stride but it's a lot of fun.
posted by migurski at 12:07 AM on November 27, 2011


Holy cow. What a great post. Thanks so much! I'll be digging into these, for sure.
posted by hippybear at 12:23 AM on November 27, 2011


Why is he standing on the set of a 1990s sitcom?

This is a lecture from the Teaching Company called My Favorite Universe. They all look like that.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 12:45 AM on November 27, 2011


I love how he dances around a bit while describing the tidal forces.

This is a man who really gets turned on by the topics he's chosen to try to relate to his audience. I love that.

Again, thanks for posting. I love seeing people who are passionate about their subjects relate them like this. It's contageous and joyous. And my life is going to be more complete for seeing these.
posted by hippybear at 12:48 AM on November 27, 2011


Interesting—I guess that means these lectures really aren’t supposed to be on Youtube? It’s still a much better setup than the insanity of TED’s staging.
posted by migurski at 12:55 AM on November 27, 2011


Half Hour! w00T! I can enjoy it without falling asleep! I generally hate watching anything long in the day time, and documentaries, much as I love them, usually put me to sleep at night. :-/
posted by Goofyy at 3:29 AM on November 27, 2011


Neil deGrasse Tyson is god

or rather, he presents sound reasons why there isn't one
posted by the noob at 3:54 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I realize deGrasse Tyson is popular and respected, but for some reason the guy gets on my nerves.
posted by fairmettle at 4:14 AM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I realize deGrasse Tyson is popular and respected, but for some reason the guy gets on my nerves.

Yes, I can see that. One of his goals has been to get more kids involved in the sciences and I think his lecture style is geared towards grade school to high school aged audiences. He can adjust it up to older audiences, but his style can be grating.

That said, yay! More Tyson!
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 6:00 AM on November 27, 2011


Every time I see this guy I feel like donating to his museum. Funny how that works.
posted by Goofyy at 7:01 AM on November 27, 2011


Awesome!
posted by chillmost at 7:59 AM on November 27, 2011




He's wrong though... it would actually be 19.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 8:50 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I found his version of the story of how the elements were forged in stars (and how science figured it out) fascinating, and the delivery was profound, very appeopriate for a sunday morning.
posted by eustatic at 9:25 AM on November 27, 2011


I'm no saint myself when it comes to media on the internet, and I know the point that there's no loss of income when the consumer would never have purchased the item in the first place.

But because I like the company I want to point out that these videos are from The Teaching Company, or The Great Courses, as they seem to be referring to themselves these days. These particular videos are from this series.

They really have some great stuff. Their retail prices are ridiculously high — I've always assumed that these are for the school market. But they have frequent rotating sales when the prices become very reasonable. 6 hours of NdG Tyson for $40 is a good deal by me.

My favorite series is this one on the New Testament, by Bart Ehrman (I just have the audio version). As a non-Christian in America, it helped me better understand when people use the bible in arguments.

And it looks like I should have searched ask.mefi, as they have covered The Teaching Company, and Bart Ehrman already.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:26 AM on November 27, 2011


I think his lecture style is geared towards grade school to high school aged audiences. He can adjust it up to older audiences, but his style can be grating.

I'm a fan. But in my (limited but recent) experience, he doesn't do a very good job of adjusting to adult audiences. He participated in a noteworthy lecture series in my hometown about a month ago, to an audience of adults who'd paid a pretty penny to be there, and many of us were left very, very disappointed. His talk definitely came across as a lecture designed for junior-high students. I was particularly let down, because I'd been so excited to see him speak in person. He also ran about 20 minutes long, and joked about doing so, which was doubly frustrating since it was 20 extra minutes of pabulum. I wish he'd respected us enough to have given us a presentation with substance. Nevertheless, still a fan.
posted by azaner at 9:38 AM on November 27, 2011


Well, deGrasse Tyson is part of the new wave of science education, one which doesn't assume any knowledge on behalf of the audience.

You can see this same dumbing down happening on PBS shows like NOVA. It used to be that there was a real intelligence and even quick pace of information presentation which happened on that show, back 20 or 30 years ago. The premise being that public education gave students enough of a background in the basics that they could keep up with the more advanced concepts being presented during the course of the hour.

Now, you watch NOVA, and you find that it begins with an elementary school level of knowledge and steps forward from there. Not only that, but it steps forward, then goes back and recaps and moves incrementally forward from there, then recaps again. Repeat for the hour. By the time the program has ended, it's really only given you about 20 minutes worth of new, interesting information, because it had to start so far back in the basics to begin with and then felt the need to keep recapping what had already been said in order to make sure our short-attention-span culture didn't miss anything and feel confused.

I wish it weren't so, but our educational system is failing us so much that the scientists who are really doing interesting things and the scientists who are good at communicating those interesting things to us are having to backpedal what they have to share in order to make up for that gap in education.
posted by hippybear at 11:02 AM on November 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


Dang, hippybear, you've said (much more lucidly) what I quoted my mother as saying in the Fabric of the Cosmos thread:

"What's happened to NOVA? They used to actually discuss science and now they just show what are basically the same computer graphics over and over. I think they started going downhill once they began taking money from that bastard Koch."
posted by benito.strauss at 11:36 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I stopped watching Nova ten years ago for the exact reasons that Hippybear very eloquently pointed out.
I do appreciate what NdGT is trying to do though.
good post
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:16 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was wondering if anybody commenting on the failings of NOVA (of which I agree with partly) had any suggestions on a faster-paced science programs around the web?
posted by genezkool323 at 4:01 PM on November 27, 2011


I wish he'd respected us enough to have given us a presentation with substance.

It can easily not be a matter of respect. Maybe he's just too used to a different audience. Maybe working at that level just comes naturally to him (and this is why he found success doing it). Maybe he didn't have time to prepare a more suitable talk. Maybe lots of things.
posted by stebulus at 4:02 PM on November 27, 2011


I was wondering if anybody commenting on the failings of NOVA (of which I agree with partly) had any suggestions on a faster-paced science programs around the web?

Get your science straight from the source. Look up Susskind's series of theoretical physics courses on iTunes u. Starts with newtonian classical physics and goes up to string theory over hundreds of hours. No hand holding, but the only math you need to know is basic calculus. Any other math you need to know, he teaches.
posted by empath at 4:20 PM on November 27, 2011






And the source of anifinder's YT link (haydenplanetarium.org was overwhelmed, so someone re-posted the video on YouTube)
posted by filthy light thief at 4:19 PM on November 28, 2011


To those commenting that the Neil deGrasse Tyson talks are too simple: I think one thing he does best is making science accessible to people. I bet when the average person hears "astrophysics", "black holes" or just scientific concepts in general, their eyes glaze over and they automatically assume that it is going to be too advanced to be able to understand, extremely boring (flashback to droning science teachers in school) or they have to KNOW physics/math/biology/whatever in order to understand the concept. Tyson opens the door to scientific ideas that otherwise may seem intellectually off-limits to people. He makes science fun and extremely interesting, which in turn makes you want to learn more.
posted by littlesq at 10:02 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can see this same dumbing down happening on PBS shows like NOVA. It used to be that there was a real intelligence and even quick pace of information presentation which happened on that show, back 20 or 30 years ago. The premise being that public education gave students enough of a background in the basics that they could keep up with the more advanced concepts being presented during the course of the hour.

I don't know if that was the premise or not, but I've definitely noticed this and can't stand NOVA now. (I actually yelled at the TV for the recent, rare episode I watched on alternative energy, where they claimed that a steamer-trunk-sized fuel cell was "about the same size as" the bus it was powering and therefore not workable.)

I think the real premise was that NOVA was "intellectually aspirational" if I may coin that phrase. This is the same idea as the "aspirational spending" we have now where people spend beyond their means to seem rich.

The well-informed people watched it to find out the new stuff, the ignorant people watched it because they wanted to seem smart (or more charitably, find out new stuff and then they would fill in the gaps on their own). But the US is so far into anti-intellectualism now that not even NOVA assumes that anyone would aspire to be intellectual or curious. The cool thing now is to assume everyone is 3 years old and needs to be mentally fed with a spoon.

NOVA was probably one of the last holdouts of this kind of TV and there are probably not any left (Mythbusters does take a couple of stabs at it once in a while, but mostly goes in for explosions and whatnot). Mass market non-fiction stopped it too. Check out Hawking's and Dawkins' more recent books with their older, 70s/80s era ones. And not just those authors, but most popular science authors. Then compare that to Asimov's "science for the common man" essays and books. So much more information and depth because they weren't trying to make it "accessible" to people who refused to try to learn.

Accessibility means a gently ramped learning curve, not just a lowered plateau. Asimov is accessible, current NOVA just lowers the entire knowledge curve.
posted by DU at 8:42 AM on November 29, 2011


I can't see the video behind my firewall, but the ridiculous bus thing is somewhere in this video (click "watch the program") when David Pogue says (from the transcript): Take a look at the hydrogen tank on top of this bus. It's almost as big as the bus itself!

There's a picture of this massively-endowed bus here The huuuuge tank is the tiny little white rectangle on top.
posted by DU at 8:55 AM on November 29, 2011


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