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Sioux Falls Scientists endorse Understanding the Inventions
That Changed the World
for showing us the huge impact
science innovations had on human history.

Understanding the Inventions
That Changed the World
Lectures by Professor W. Bernard Carlson

Understanding the Inventions That Changed the World (2013)
36 lectures, 18 hours
Understanding the Inventions That Changed the World at TheGreatCourses.com

We're surrounded by inventions. Consider the clocks, appliances, and transportation that coordinate our days. Or the televisions, cell phones, and social media that connect us to each other. And the shopping malls, department stores, and catalogs that define the modern retailing experience.

Where did all these inventions come from? How do they work? And how do they reflect - even define - the values of our culture? From prehistoric times to the 21st century, inventions have changed the world, enabling humans to produce more food and energy and to establish social order and cultural meaning. In fact, great inventions have marked a number of key turning points in human history, transforming society and our daily lives. For instance:

  • The invention of clocks redefined our sense of time, life, and labor.
  • Telescopes and microscopes led to the scientific method of observation.
  • Access to clean water has perhaps saved more lives than any other technology in the history of the world.
  • Coal power gave rise to iron and steel, the basic materials of the Industrial Revolution.
  • The integrated circuit opened the floodgates for our world of modern electronics.

Now, you can learn the remarkable stories surrounding such monumental inventions - and how consequential these inventions were to history - in Understanding the Inventions That Changed the World. Taught by Professor W. Bernard Carlson of the University of Virginia, who is an expert on the role of innovation in history, these 36 enlightening lectures give you a broad survey of material history, from the ancient pottery wheel to the Internet and social media. Along with recounting the famous inventions you might expect, such as the steam engine, the airplane, and the atomic bomb, this course explores a number of surprising innovations, including beer, pagodas, and the operating room.

You'll see how each invention is not only a product of engineering know-how, but a result of social and cultural conditions as well. You'll meet some of the inventors and companies responsible for these innovations, and you'll investigate what inspired these ideas. You'll also get an inside look at the sometimes spirited competition between innovators to see who could develop - and market - the best, most cost-effective product.

From ancient China to 21st-century America, from the English coal mines to the high-tech companies of Silicon Valley, this course takes you around the world and across the ages to show you some of the most innovative moments in human civilization. This unique approach to history will boost your technology literacy and give you a completely new appreciation for the everyday objects around you.

Professor W. Bernard Carlson is Professor and Chair in the Department of Engineering and Society of the University of Virginia and holds a joint appointment with the Corcoran Department of History. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied the History and Sociology of Science. His publications include the seven-volume Technology in World History, and he coedits a book series, Inside Technology, for MIT Press. Professor Carlson directs the Engineering Business Program at the University of Virginia and serves on the Board of Directors of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

36 Lectures - 30 minutes each

1: Great Inventions in Everyday Life 19: Cameras, Telephones, and Phonographs
2: The Potter's Wheel and Metallurgy 20: Electric Light and Power
3: Beer, Wine, and Distilled Spirits 21: Department Stores and Modern Retailing
4: The Galley, Coins, and the Alphabet 22: Motion Pictures
5: Crossbows East and West 23: Surgery and the Operating Room
6: Roman Arches - Aqueducts and the Colosseum 24: Steel, Glass, and Plastics
7: Waterwheels and Clocks 25: The Model T
8: Pagodas and Cathedrals 26: Aviation - The "Wright" Time for Flight
9: Paper and Printing 27: Radio and Televisiong
10: Gunpowder, Cannons, and Guns 28: Nuclear Power
11: Telescopes and Microscopes 29: Household Appliances
12: The Caravel and Celestial Navigation 30: Electronics and the Chip
13: Unblocking the Power of Coal and Iron 31: Satellites and Cell Phones
14: Steam Engines and Pin Making 32: Personal Computing
15: Canals and Railroads 33: Genetic Engineering
16: Food Preservation 34: The Internet
17: Water and Sewer Systems 35: Social Media and Democracy
18: Batteries and Electric Generators 36: Inventions and History


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Understanding the Inventions
That Changed the World
Lectures by Professor W. Bernard Carlson

Sioux Falls Scientists endorse Understanding the Inventions
That Changed the World
for showing us the huge impact
science innovations had on human history.