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The Joy of Science

Narrated by: Robert M. Hazen
Length: 30 hrs and 29 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)
Price: CDN$ 80.58
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Publisher's Summary

Science is humanity's greatest achievement. It ranges from the study of the universe itself to the smallest particles of matter contained within it - and everything in between. It explores everything from the big bang to theories about the end of the universe.

If you want to better understand our physical world, as most of us do, gaining a basic understanding of science itself is profoundly important - yet many are intimidated by the breathtaking scope of such an endeavor.

Now an award-winning science teacher has taken out the intimidation, harnessing that breathtaking scope into a series of 60 exciting, comprehensive, and accessible lectures that let you explore and understand the wealth of ideas, discoveries, and principles in all of the physical and biological sciences. You learn that understanding science comes from understanding not only its component disciplines - each of which has its own theories, pioneers, problems, and fundamental questions - but of knowing how these disciplines work with one another to create an entire mosaic of human knowledge.

The lectures have been crafted to make those relationships crystal-clear, with an integrated approach that takes you through all of the major disciplines that fall under the umbrella of "science," including physics, chemistry, Earth science, geophysics, and biology.

Each lecture covers one of the 60 fundamental principles of the scientific world - offering you new knowledge and insight into topics such as the scientific method, gravitation, atoms, the big bang, plate tectonics, volcanoes, proteins, ecosystems, and electricity.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2001 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2001 The Great Courses

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  • Mark
  • Raglan, New Zealand
  • 2013-09-30

Back to school

I knew when I downloaded this book that I was being a bit of a nerd, using up time that could have been spent listening to riveting fiction swotting up on chemistry, biology and physics. But I couldn’t resist it. Science is a big part of my job (I work in an intensive care unit) but I didn't opt for science at school, and although I know a fair amount about human biology I’m really aware of fundamental gaps in my knowledge concerning the basic sciences underpinning biology and science in general. This lecture series has definitely helped to fill those gaps.

He’s a pretty good lecturer, with a very good knack for explaining complex concepts using simple, helpful analogies. And the series is thoughtfully constructed so that it begins with the most fundamental concepts in science and then builds on this so that the listener acquires an overview of all human scientific endeavour by the end of the series.

Downsides? Well, it’s pretty old. These recordings were made in the 1990s, and whilst the basics of science haven’t changed significantly in those 20 years, you do keep wondering whether some of the modern scientific topics he mentions are still current (e.g. the large hadron collider and recent advances in medicine). He talks about global warming as if it’s just some controversial new theory that some scientists are working on, and the internet isn’t mentioned at all.

If you can tolerate the fact that it is dated and you want to learn more about the fundamentals of science, you should get this book. It is also great value, with 60 lectures for your one Audible credit.

76 of 76 people found this review helpful

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  • Gabrielle
  • 2013-11-19

beautiful and exciting

If you could sum up The Joy of Science in three words, what would they be?

comprehensive, understandable, exciting

Who was your favorite character and why?

I never realised that Faraday was so cool.

Any additional comments?

This course was excellent - it was comprehensive and enthralling and I learned so very much even though I already had a good understanding of science already. The details on various subjects are great for linking ideas across fields and the snippets of history told throughout contextualise the scientists and their discoveries beautifully so that the information is easy to remember and place. I loved this course, it was entertaining and I had so much to think about and talk about as a result of listening to it. Whether you have studied no science at school or have always been interested in science, this is a very good place to start your journey. It was indeed a 'joy'.

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • John Walrath
  • 2015-12-16

Very, Very Dated

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

This is a nice primer for a lot of different subject areas. BUT..... I was narrated circa 1999-2000. The Human Genome Project has been completed; the LHC is up, operating and routinely making major discoveries; hundreds of planets have been discovered - these are just a few thing which happened since the lecture was complete.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

It was a good overall progress through the sciences, just very dated.

What does Professor Robert M. Hazen bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I listen while I commute, so reading was not part of the purpose in the first place.

Did The Joy of Science inspire you to do anything?

Learn more.

Any additional comments?

This is another of the Great Lecture series where the narrator references lecture notes. We are pay full price for a lecture, which in this case was over 15 years old, we should get all the material associated with the course. I think in the audio book description there should be a clear indication that the information may be dated.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • S
  • Orillia, ON, Canada
  • 2015-06-25

Full of Amazement

I often reflected, while listening to this lecture series, about the teachers that Robert Hazen must have had (beginning with his father) who inspired such a sense of wonder and delight in his view of the world of science. I majored in Science in University, but never studied electronics, physics or mechanics. This lecture series opened a door into that mysterious world, and I "caught" a sense of the wonder with which Dr. Hazen shared his flying trip through these subjects - always tantalizing the listener with other Great Courses that would permit them to delve further into these amazing subjects.
I have only one SMALL criticism. This lecture series is nearly 20 years old! With the world of science galloping ahead, it felt strange to hear Dr. Hazen refer to the turn of the century in future tense. In a way, it offered an almost historical perspective of the world of science and what scientists hoped to discover in the not too distant future (which is now past). I would love to hear a sequel . . . to pick up the thread where this wonderful series left off.
Bless Dr. Hazen - and bless those teachers who so inspired him to explore and inspire those who were lucky enough to learn from him.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Steven
  • 2013-07-31

Great course, but a bit dated.

Where does The Joy of Science rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I really enjoyed the course, but a lot of the course's mentioned projects have been completed, and there is a great deal that is missing...since this just came out, I was assuming it would be more current.

If you’ve listened to books by The Great Courses before, how does this one compare?

This is the best course of the three I have listened to.

Any additional comments?

I find Dr. Hazen is very good at explaining complex material. I read his book on scientific literacy, and it is a great place to start on many subjects.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • John
  • Comox, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2016-08-26

Dated content,

It's a good overview of the history of science, but really should have a disclaimer that some parts of the lecture should be considered dated. At times the course gets into preaching about controversial topics which would be better handled by a more balanced discussion to avoid venturing into politics.

Professor Hazen is a first rate lecturer but this course makes him seem out of touch due to it's being a bit old. The Teaching Co should ask him to redo the course, bringing it up to date.

Unlike some reviewers, I didn't mind the side trips into the personalities and lives of the various, sometimes obscure, researchers as I think it adds some interesting details that the listener would not otherwise know.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Mat J Monk
  • 2014-09-11

Very comprehensive

What made the experience of listening to The Joy of Science the most enjoyable?

This is probably my 10th or 11th Great Courses audiobook that I've gotten and it has kept up the tradition of being both informative and interesting. The only downside to the course is that it appears to have been recorded over a decade ago and things that Professor Hazen mentions as being things to watch in the future have already been done and in some cases are "old" news. But the depth of material is outstanding and very well organized.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The sheer scope of all the scientific disciplines. The least interesting is the references to the visual materials that are not available with the Audible edition of the book.

What does Professor Robert M. Hazen bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Down to earth way of explaining the various subjects with just enough technical details to not make it seem like he's presenting a children's book.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

At 30 hours, not a chance!

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • John M Him
  • West Richland, WA, US
  • 2015-09-18

Outstanding overview of the sciences.

Great lecture. For those picking this up, note that the lecture was performed/recorded sometime between 2001 and 2002 . Some of the topics discussed as future advances or unknowns have already come to pass and answers found by 2015. Still, I did not notice any outdated or rebuked information and think this lecture is still a good overview of the sciences with those caveats in mind.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Happy Woman
  • 2017-01-04

Good refresher of what I learned in college

I have a BS in Biology from 1993. Like many fields of science there has been tremendous growth & discovery since then. There has been more discoveries since this audiobook was made, too. Overall, it is a very well presented explanation of pretty much every field of science. For more specific and more up to date, newer audiobooks will cover those. This is one I really enjoyed listening to and look forward to re-listening in the future.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Tina
  • Novato, CA, United States
  • 2016-06-11

speed talking

While listening to this fascinating course I missed some of the content because
he seemed to be speaking at a faster than normal pace. Yet when I tried to slow it down,
it was too slow. But when I listen to the sample , it is at normal speed. So I don't understand what happened. Otherwise this course is wonderful.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Adriv
  • 2019-02-28

Good but outdated

It‘s a good, pedagogical course but it has been made in 1998 and you do not have the video which is too bad because the professor does much experiments and blackboard calculus that you cannot see. A normal “great courses” has a video ... so, maybe it’s better to buy the course directly from The teaching company