Mysteries of Time: New Teaching Company Course

By Sean Carroll | October 1, 2012 8:24 am

Just in time for the holidays (Halloween totally counts as a holiday), the Teaching Company (a/k/a “The Great Courses) is releasing a new course I recorded — Mysteries of Modern Physics: Time. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the format (and my previous course, Dark Matter and Dark Energy), this is a set of 24 lectures, each half an hour each, modeled on an undergraduate college course for non-scientists. Note that both are hugely discounted at the moment, by 70% off the ordinary price, which isn’t always the case. Unlike the previous course, this new one is available in an audio-only format as well as on video. But in the last few years they have upgraded their graphics and animation considerably, so the video version might be worth a look. Here’s the teaser:

Unsurprisingly, a lot of the course follows the outline in From Eternity to Here. But it’s also pretty different; the organization has been switched around, and the course has a lot more emphasis on time in everyday life and the psychology of time, less on cosmology and the multiverse. Here are the lecture titles:

1. Why Time Is a Mystery
2. What Is Time?
3. Keeping Time
4. Time’s Arrow
5. The Second Law of Thermodynamics
6. Reversibility and the Laws of Physics
7. Time Reversal in Particle Physics
8. Time in Quantum Mechanics
9. Entropy and Counting
10. Playing with Entropy
11. The Past Hypothesis
12. Memory, Causality, and Action
13. Boltzmann Brains
14. Complexity and Life
15. The Perception of Time
16. Memory and Consciousness
17. Time and Relativity
18. Curved Spacetime and Black Holes
19. Time Travel
20. Black Hole Entropy
21. Evolution of the Universe
22. The Big Bang
23. The Multiverse
24. Approaches to the Arrow of Time

These courses are a lot of fun to do, and hopefully they’re as much fun for the listeners/viewers. They reach a different audience than books do, and I’ve received fantastic feedback from people who went through the previous course. There are a lot of Great Courses available, so when you’ve had enough science take a look at the history and music offerings.

  • userphys

    70% off? So what’s the price now, about 150 bucks?

  • David Lau

    I do have the dark matter/ dark energy lecture video from a while back. So is the new video pretty much like the book” From here to eternity”? I am waiting for the new book to come out in Nov that I purchased on line.

    • Sean Carroll

      David– It’s closely related to the book, but not at all a direct adaptation.

  • David Lau

    sorry, I meant ” From eternity to here”

  • martenvandijk

    I miss Time and Length Contraction.

  • Charles LaCour

    I loved the “Dark Matter and Dark Energy” lectures as well as your book “From eternity to here” . Just followed the link over to Teaching Company ordered these new lectures. I hope it is up to your usual level of “scientistic arrogance”

  • Joel Rice

    Just wondering if it is actually possible to disentangle the Arrow of Time from the Arrow of Matter (as in no visible anti-matter) and the Arrow of Weak Isospin ( weak bosons don’t like right handed fermions).

  • David Lau

    with 70% off, so what is the actual cost?

  • Chris

    If you’d click on the link you’d see the price is between $35-70, depending on which format you choose. I sure Sean probably gets about $1 for every course sold.

  • Jimbo

    When did Sean get promoted to Prof. ? Do I smell video hawking, at the expense of honesty & hype ?

  • Chris

    Unfortunately from the promo they show it looks more like grade school science. Needs more math.

  • Darth Dog

    This is great news. I have Dark Matter, Dark Energy and think it’s great. I’ve watched it all the way through twice. I’ve done eighteen of the Teaching Company’s classes (physics, math, history, philosophy, neuroscience, and more) and it is definitely the best one I’ve seen. I’ve sent the link to my wife for my Xmas list – the new book was already on it.

    To commenters above who were dissing the lectures – watch them first. They’re excellent.

  • Kate Bouja

    Not worth the cost.

  • BPalmer

    Actually it is worth the cost.

    A great lecture series thank you Sean. Just finished watching it tonight.


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About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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