Science Justice League: Who are your best science teachers?
So the user yelmurc recently made a post with the purpose to highlight the people whose careers are worth following, and that made me go back to an old folder with hundreds of documentaries, lectures, debates, and videos in general which helped me better understand and appreciate different areas of science.
So I'd like to share with you a bit of information on the scientists who I think can better explain otherwise complicated science to the general public (and also explain things very well to a public who is already scientifically literate).
I'll organize it by areas of science. You may jump right to your area of most interest if you wish! (:
He is really good at explaining stuff in a very understandable way, my favorites are he explaining Synesthesia (and how our brain is wired) and "Ghost Limbs" which is his main research work, I think. His areas of expertise are behavioral neurology and visual psychophysics. (And he has an adorable accent!)
You might disagree here with me, but I'm always baffled by how amazingly clear his mind and his thoughts appear to be, and how well he can articulate and explain things by "building" an explanation on top of another until everything makes perfect sense. I think all that time meditating in caves and learning about meditation were good to him.
His area of expertise and research is "consciousness", pretty deep huh?
Harris speaking about consciousness, and death, really worth watching.
He is really good, you'll need to pause and think if you want to understand what he says sometimes, but that's not a problem, and the point is, he's an excellent teacher, because he knows how our memory work, and knows how to teach.
I specially recommend his lectures on "Memories are made of this" and "Mapping memory in the brain", they're available on youtube:
1- Mapping memory in the brain
4- Memories are made of this
(As you can see these are lectures 1 and 4, in a series of 4 lectures. If you want to watch all of them, here are the links to lectures 2 and 3 (not by Eric Kandel)):
2- Building Brains, the Molecular Logic of Neural Circuits
3- Plan of Action How the Spinal Cord Controls Movement (Very good one! Explains about synapses throughout our body. Not by Kandel though).
(Also, this deserves a meme)
(P.S.: Although psychology is sometimes useful (and applied psychology is good for self improvement), I don't consider it an exact science, because as I understand it, the best psychology academics can do are "Correlational studies", which don't actually prove something, because correlation does not imply causation, and when a psychology research proves something brain related, it's because it is using Neuroscience tools, and then it is Neuroscience applied to explain behavior, which is Behavioral Neurology, not psychology.
TL;DR version: I don't consider psychology to be an exact science, but it is still useful and interesting, so I'll suggest somethings on it as well.)
Phillipe Goldin, Greg Walton and James Gross are good. And Christopher Bryan's researches are very cool!
And if you want some insight on how psychology researches work, how they're done and its frequent collaborations with Neuroscience, you should take a look at a series of lectures entitled How to Think Like A Psychologist (on iTunes U).
And I found it really fun to read a series of 12 books by Warren Hilton on Applied Psychology, specially book 6 ("Initiative Psychic Energy"). It is a nice experience because of the way he writes and structures ideas, and because it is very old, from around 1920s, so he explains things in a very simple and well structured way, due to the general lesser scientific literacy of 1920s people. He makes it so simple that even a Vulcan would understand!
And I cannot speak of psychology and not speak of Steven Pinker, he is great! An evolutionary psychologist. (And when he was younger, he was ultra-handsome and stylish! [and still is the most elegant person I know]). Author of a very interesting book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, a book about violence and how and why it has declined throughout history.
All I've read and studied in Biology were specific researches in one specific topic, Evolution, because I wanted to be sure Evolution was right. And it involved several papers, books and explanations in Biology, genetics, archaeology, etc. So I haven't single names to recommend, but I'll suggest The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins, it is a good book!
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Well, do I need to say something? He is Neil deGrasse Tyson! Just write Neil Tyson on Youtube. He is good at explaining to congress how we should spend our money in order to avoid going back to the caves. (Congress, however, appears to have no interest). You should read his books and watch his videos! He also hosts a podcast, where he answers questions from Twitterverse and the internet, it is really interesting, one can really learn a lot by listening to the "Cosmic Queries" part of the podcast.
You can find the podcast here. And subscribe to it on iTunes.
Carl Sagan. If you still don't know him, get prepared, because your life will change. In Cosmos, he is the very best teacher I've seen, in every category, he is the best. You should most definitely read his words on our pale blue dot or, preferably listen to them in his own voice!
When I first finished watching Cosmos, a series of 13 episodes explaining the Universe, I thought "Every politician in the world, no, every politician in the Universe, should watch this before they start ruling a country, planet, or dealing with people."
You can buy it on iTunes for $20,99 (13 episodes) or buy single episodes for $1,99 each. You can also find remastered versions in 1080p on Amazon, and a lot of other places. If you prefer, it is also possible to watch it on Youtube, at the Science Foundation's channel, in 360p.
I also recommend all his books, mainly Pale Blue Dot and Cosmos.
Richard P. Feynman
Remember that I said Carl Sagan was the best teacher ever in everything? Well, I lied. Richard Feynman is the best I know when the subject is Quantum Physics, or introduction to physics.
If you're a beginner, you can watch his 7 lectures on the Character of the Physical Law.
If you know your way trough physics, or if you're struggling with concepts of Quantum Electrodynamics, His QED lectures will certainly be helpful, and as a bonus, they're pretty fun!
And it doesn't matter who you are, you should watch Feynman using his imagination to explain the physics of how things work in a way that even a 5 years old could understand. It is fun to imagine, all crazy things that things really are like.
If I where to share all I recommend on Physics and physicists, it would be a book rather than a post. So I'll just add a few notes on a few more, and end it. (:
Michio Kaku offers a very good explanation on the four forces of physics here, and Big Think's Flying University is usually very good!
Brian Green can always explain very well what is string theory!
Brian Cox, a particle physicist, is good at simplifying things and using examples.
And I'll end with Lawrence Krauss, author of Physics of Star Trek and A Universe from Nothing, also director of the Origins Project, and host of tons of debates, including a very recent one, The Storytelling of Science (Part 1 and Part 2), on how to tell stories about science, I really recommend it! It is a lot of fun, I mean it! (Watch it! Mainly if you're a Verge science editor =D )
Well, I better stop here, or I'll keep writing forever!
And now I'd like to know what are the scientists who got you excited about science or helped you understand something better, and what you suggest on books, lectures, videos, etc. (Or, as always, feel free to speak your mind on the subject, even if it is not a suggestion. It could be just a thumbs up, or asking for suggestions about a good article, video, etc to explain one of your scientific questions!)
P.S.: I wanted to make a beautiful layout with all images at the right places, and use the tools available here, but I don't know a thing about programming and wouldn't know how.
And as always, thanks for reading. "And I wish you and yours, the very best."