A few lectures
I’ve posted a few of Carolin Crawford’s astronomy lectures before – in this post I’ve added a few more:
If you want a more detailed account, Rory Barnes’ Formation and Evolution of Exoplanets is probably a good try, even though it’s a couple of years old and things are – as Crawford points out – changing rather fast in this field of exploration. I read the first couple of chapters of that book a while back and browsed a few of the other chapters a bit later on, but I decided against finishing it because it was too much work – the mathematics gets a bit ugly along the way, and if you don’t happen to have a rather strong foundation in physics and(/or?) maths it’s probably not worth your time as you’ll not understand much of what’s going on.
It’s sometimes a bit annoying that you can’t tell what she’s pointing at when she’s explaining what going on in a given picture or illustration (I find that this is a very common problem when it comes to online lectures, and it’s also sometimes an issue during the other lectures in this series), but it’s still a great lecture.
This one is actually the most recent one I’ve watched, even though it turns out it’s her first Gresham lecture. The sound quality of this lecture is a bit worse than that of the ones above, especially during the first minutes (perhaps I just got used to it? I don’t know…) but it’s pretty awesome anyway:
I think Crawford’s doing a splendid job and that’s she’s given some very interesting and educational videos. Please don’t skip/ignore these videos just because they’re somewhat longer than ‘the standard youtube video‘ – there’s some really awesome stuff here (the same thing applies, I think, to the various medical lectures I’ve posted recently as well – you can go back to those posts now and have a look if you skipped them the first time around; they’re all still there…). Wikipedia incidentally has great coverage of many astronomy-related topics and I’m sure (because I’ve read some of them before, e.g. the article about Enceladus) that there are some featured articles about stuff covered in these lectures waiting for you if you want to learn more. You don’t need to start at the Enceladus article if you want to learn more about Saturn’s moons – a better place to start would probably be this article.
As Razib Khan put it recently, this is truly a golden age of the mind, if you want it. As some of the readers who read my most recent post (I pulled it later, and there wasn’t much to read, really – so the rest of you didn’t miss out on anything..) might have inferred, I often have doubts about if this will keep being ‘enough’ for me, for some rather narrow definitions of ‘enough’ – but I should point out that I do derive (…/and so it is possible to derive…) a great deal of pleasure from living in an age where you at least in theory (but to a greater and greater extent also in practise) have the option of exploring and learning (/trying to learn..) stuff about almost any topic you’d care to have a go at. Even though I from time to time find myself depressed on account of wanting/desiring much more from life than what such a life of the mind on its own can possibly give me, I do think that most people do not take enough advantage of the opportunities they have today in this area of life.
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