Open source, for both the classroom and the self-educator, proves an absolutely swoon-worthy digital ocean of information. Unsurprisingly, the sciences thrive in such a climate, with the Internet positively flooded with panels, lectures, Q&As, talks, complete and incomplete classes, demonstrations, and other conduits through which education flows. Our 2009 listing featured some of the best around, but it didn’t even scratch the surface of available content. Adding an additional 100 on top of that won’t, either! All the same, though, that doesn’t mean we’ll stop showcasing some great viewing, reading, and listening from the most impassioned researchers!
When moving forward, please keep in mind that none of these lectures are to be considered ranked, and many require flipping forward to other videos. Some come bundled as part of an open source class rather than intentionally standing alone, and motivated science enthusiasts will likely receive a much broader, more edifying educational experience by indulging in all of them.
Watch and/or listen to some of the science world’s most notable names expound upon what makes their chosen career paths so satisfying — and what all they have to offer the human race as a whole, of course!
Contrary to popular assumption, it is entirely possible to turn toward scientific phenomena to learn about more overarching philosophical and ethical issues.
More of a casual talk than a formal lecture, the legendary Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman explores the wondrous intellectual treats to be found when embarking on a scientific voyage.
Certain policies within the Freedom of Information Act — specifically those that involve revealing private correspondence when research receives an auditing — give scientists pause when it comes to launching new research, as Ben Santer reveals in his Stanford lecture.
Even Nobel laureates find their successes baffling, as was the case with Physiology or Medicine winner J. Robin Warren, and his address to the awarding committee candidly analyzes both his research and the very nature of discovery itself.
Sometimes, being blinded with science launches thinkers into a realm of eagerly lapping up everything else life has to offer, collecting knowledge and experience the way some people collect stamps.
Despite the title, Stephen Hawking’s deeply personal lecture transcends the science and reveals how the disciplines beneath its umbrella can make for a remarkably gratifying existence.
This age-old debate likely won’t fizzle out in favor of either (or a hybridization of both), and “Two Ships at Night” peers into the tenseness and points out faults in approaches utilized by both religion and science.
Because so many manipulate and exploit science for not-so-honest marketing ends and (at worst) nefarious deeds, savvy citizens around the world need to know how to parse fact from fiction.
Sir Henry Kroto’s address to The Royal Society celebrates science’s little quirks and its role in helping humanity discover the truths lurking behind its surroundings.
When it comes to teaching science, educators and policymakers might want to seek advice from, well, science. Here, political scientist (still a scientist, y’all!) Michael J. Feuer explains what a greater understanding of how people process information could mean for schools around the world.
In his Nobel lecture, 2004 Physics recipient H. David Politzer decided to broach an incredibly sensitive topic amongst scientists — attribution, and who genuinely deserves recognition in industries where everyone’s research builds upon all that came before.
SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
Because science and engineering so often build upon and influence one another, understanding their codependent relationship leads to a greater appreciation for and comprehension of both.
Despite the title, William Sargent’s lecture focuses mainly on the man-made structures that wound up destroying New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and the impact they left on the environment.
Hear all about possible (or current, since this video was shot in 2000) engineering applications for and the inner workings of organic and conductive polymers straight from one of the top names in the field.
Obviously an oldie, obviously enough of a goodie to share right here. Learn all about what the scientific community believed nanotubes could contribute to electrical and structural engineering and compare it with today’s innovations for good times history fun.
Because of a tiny, low-cost slice of diagnostic technology, ill persons in the military and developing nations receive accessible, affordable healthcare; it just needs more widespread implementation.
Open source class enthusiasts wanting to learn all about electrical engineering, computer science, robotics, and their intersections should nestle in and virtually enroll in the MIT lecture series.
Anyone harboring a Terminator– or Matrix-induced (depending on the generation) paranoia of a robotic uprising might want to avoid this lecture by an Eindhoven University of Technology professor about the RoboEarth project. Its ultimate goal connects intelligent machines across the globe together and allows them to learn from one another’s experiences.
Molly Stevens’ Clifford Paterson Lecture blended materials science and bioengineering for a candid look at the unique challenges presented when using artificial means to emulate and replace organic functions — and how she and her researchers are addressing them.
Even non-fans of American rock band OK Go delighted when the official video for “This Too Shall Pass” hit the Internet with its drop-dead stunning, completely real Rube Goldberg-esque machine. The president of Synn Labs shares the intricate engineering behind the art and ruminates on how the two disciplines easily merge.
Hideki Shirakawa shared the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Alan Heeger and Alan G. MacDiarmid for their discovery of conducting polymers, and his acceptance lecture delves into the groundbreaking event and what it means not only for their field, but engineering and technology as well.
Water conservation and environmentalism expert Anupam Mishra wields examples from the Golden Desert in India to illustrate how centuries-old technologies still hold value and relevance today; and sometimes, they manage to completely surpass the efficacy of contemporary engineering marvels turned toward the same ends.
BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE
The biological sciences explain where life comes from, how it works, and where it might go someday. Medicine makes sure it keeps on being a thing that exists, and its current components stay as healthy as they possibly can.
More than just a lecture, MacArthur Fellow and Stanford neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky offers an entire free course consisting of 26 video talks about the physical science behind why humans act the way they do.
With so many herbivorous and omnivorous species running around, the only way plants can ensure perpetuation involves constantly evolving to outwit their animalian foes.
One of TED’s most popular talks sees a brain expert discussing how suffering a stroke actually opened up the best possible insight into how the essential organ repairs itself after damage.
The crux of Bruce M. Cohen’s career revolves around exploring the structures of bipolar, schizophrenia, and psychotic disorders and what sort of drugs might alleviate the symptoms — or outright cure them.
Although humanity tends to process evolution as something requiring millions of years, in actuality it can hold immediate influence as well. Knowing and diving into this could mean some hefty implications for keeping humanity as healthy and safe as possible.
Despite their deceptively simple unicellular structure, bacteria actually utilize a complex series of chemical cues to communicate with one another and collaborate on common goals.
The tiniest biological structures on the planet sport the remarkable ability to arrange themselves and keep even larger phenomena pumping along.
It took Cambridge microbiologists — not engineers, not technologists — to develop the most amazingly detailed microscope in history.
Because of so many differences between the physiology of men and women, medical science sometimes must tailor its treatment options to accommodate them, as this chat with Harvard’s Denise L. Faustman explains.
Medicine, by its very nature, involves a hefty dosage of social justice and consciousness — principles which this mother-and-daughter team of doctors can inspire in droves with their establishment of a peaceful, harmonious community based around their low-cost hospital tending to Somali refugee families.
John Maynard Smith of Sussex University sets out to explain the relationship between the DNA and proteins that make life possible, and possible answers to the resulting questions these interactions inspire.
Some of the world’s leading chemistry experts weigh in on how frothy soups of elements make up all organic and inorganic matter in the universe — and the startling principles that dictate how they behave and interact.
Nobel laureate Sir Harold Kroto expounds upon the wondrous phenomenon of the element carbon, and how it manages to comprise the tiniest terrestrial organisms and the most grandiose cosmic structures. And everything in between, of course.
Because his life’s work revolves around studying graphite, Malcolm Heggie from the University of Sussex eagerly harbors plenty of fascinating facts about carbon to share.
Crystallography’s history pops into vivid life here thanks to one of the 2011 Nobel Prize recipients in Chemistry.
Part exhibition, part lecture, Stephen Liddle’s fun times at The Royal Society proves that all those numbers and formulas behind chemistry can lead to some pretty amazing, exciting things!
Chemistry experiments have yielded some amazing pseudo-cells capable of emulating their counterparts in nature, posing some fascinating theories about how life itself may have originated.
Culled from an MIT classroom, this video lecture sees Introduction to Solid State Chemistry professor Donald R. Sadoway getting audiences familiar with two common models they’ll encounter in their studies.
Thanks to MIT OpenCourseWare, anyone hoping to wrap their brains around the core basics of “biological, inorganic, and organic molecules” can download this series of 36 video lectures (and class materials!) and teach themselves at their own respective paces!
Ei-ichi Negishi devoted his Nobel Prize acceptance speech to pretty much exactly which chemistry subject the title announces!
Lectures about the cosmos usually revolve more around physics, but chemistry also happens to make it all possible, too! William Klemperer ruminates on the helium ion holding it all together as well as other strange and wonderful chemical structures floating out there.
Like the title says, this Royal Society lecture seeks to draw out the differences between metals and magnetic elements and those that are decidedly not, not to mention some of the weird elements that throw off the patterns completely!
Self-motivated learners hoping for a quick — but not-so-easy! — look at a broad selection of chemistry topics should fire up this Berkeley open source class series and watch Angelica Stacy explain it all.
PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY
Whether standing here on earth, falling into a black hole, or maybe even traipsing about a parallel universe, physics explains the intricate hows and whys behind matter’s properties and interactions with the micro and macro worlds alike.
Bawdy, brilliant Feynman famously made the core principles of physics and astrophysics accessible to general audiences through his lectures at Caltech.
NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: DEATH BY BLACK HOLE
Since everybody always asks him about dying in a major astrophysical disaster anyways, the director of Hayden Planetarium went ahead and wrote a popular science book about it, and shares the sordid, gory details of what black holes can do to the human body here.
THE SEARCH OF A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF OUR UNIVERSE AT THE LARGE HADRON COLLIDER: THE WORLD’S LARGEST PARTICLE ACCELERATOR
With CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (better known as LHC) surging through public consciousness over the news of its progress in uncovering whether or not the Higgs-Boson particle exists, it might be a good idea to hear the whole project’s director, Rolf-Dieter Heuer, talk a little about process and goals.
Despite Albert Einstein’s mythic, iconic public status, most people probably don’t fully grasp the intricacies behind his findings — and that’s OK, because most people aren’t physicists! Yale professor Ramamurti Shankar hopes to change that with this enlightening presentation.
Marvel at the amazing soundtrack that truly punctuates the cosmos, courtesy of one enthusiastic physicist’s astounding TED Talk.
Listen to MIT’s Walter Lewin reminisce on his early professorship exploring how physicists might use X-rays to forge a broader understanding of the wondrous universe and its complexities.
In a Sarah Lawrence lecture sure to upset fans of the plucky little former planet, Michael E. Brown explains why the International Astronomical Union decided to downgrade its status. Using science.
Jokes about string theory sometimes pop up in the general public’s own parlance, but not everyone necessarily knows exactly what the incredibly detailed concept genuinely entails. Now they can.
Sally Baliunas expounds upon the beauty of physics, and how it explains everything from the tiniest of sub-particles to the universe itself.
Dark matter and dark energy combined make up 96% of the known universe, but despite this, their true nature, look, and composition beyond how they impact their environment remain something of a puzzle to scientists.
Despite his “amateur astronomer” designation, Ian Ridpath possessed the right stuff to present a public lecture at The Royal Society revealing the scientific magic and wonder behind how beloved constellations came to be.
EARTH AND ENVIRONMENT
With green initiatives such an understandably hot pursuit these days, everyone should make the effort to educate themselves on the scientific systems that keep the planet suitable for life and how to best preserve them for future generations.
Tom Lovejoy, a biodiversity expert with ties to three presidential cabinets and the United Nations, takes part in a Smithsonian lecture series explaining intersections between environmental science, natural history, and art.
F. Sherwood Roland won the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for furthering the discourse on atmospheric chemistry and ozone’s life span, which yielded essential research regarding how chloroflurocarbons just up and wreck it. Here, he traces his illustrious career and highlights his pioneering studies.
In his 2011 Bakerian Prize Lecture to The Royal Society, Cambridge geophysicist Herbert Huppert explains the shifts in the atmosphere’s carbon levels that may indicate climate change and other environmental concerns.
Geology and geography enthusiasts might want to tune into a seismology expert with the U.S. Geological Survey discussing the true global impact of earthquakes, and how one instance in particular led to such a broad, stunning understanding.
Primatology’s It Girl uses her prodigious knowledge of chimpanzees to assist surrounding communities in establishing sustainable relationships that preserve the dignity of both human citizens and the ecosystems in which they live.
Because the Patagonia region of South America sports some of the planet’s most dramatic ecological shifts, it also happens to serve as the subject of absolutely striking photos.
The Science Guy himself addresses “The Space Generation” about the wonders of the solar system, how the Earth’s atmosphere works, and climate change with his trademark engaging humor. Despite the kind of mediocre video and audio quality, the lecture still stands as a must-watch.
University of Leeds’ Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship recipient Fiona Gill, from the School of Earth and Environment, uses her knowledge of organic chemistry, geology, paleontology, and biology to analyze what basically amounts to rock poop. Doing so yields a fair amount of knowledge regarding species who died out long before humans ever existed.
Learn all about the possible sources of gradual forest death in North American and Europe from a team consisting of an ecologist and a geologist, who use the “unusually high mortality rate of sugar maples” between the 1990s and early 2000s as an example of what factors concern them most.
Pollution threatens the homeland of India’s king cobra and gharial, which actually poses far more of a threat to the general populace than the reptiles themselves.
Along with F. Sherwood Roland and Mario J. Molina, Paul Crutzen blew away the Nobel Prize committee with the aforementioned ozone-related discovery. However, this lecture mainly focuses on the influence industrialization holds over the atmosphere, which contributes to disconcerting environmental issues like pollution and climate change.
Soak up blended lessons in geology, geography, biology, and environmental science regarding how they all forced the others to adapt to an ever-changing planet.
TECHNOLOGY AND COMPUTER SCIENCE
Simple and complex technologies alike drive daily life, making the eponymous subjects up there a tantalizing area of inquiry for game-changes and those who want to study them — and their findings, of course.
She dubs herself a “cyborg anthropologist” and argues that the ubiquity of external media almost means humans tote around second brains in their purses and pockets, making them more robotic than their ancestors and setting the stage for intriguing evolutionary routes for their predecessors.
University of Southampton computer science professor Wendy Hall expertly ruminates on the Internet’s revolution from both a technological and a cultural perspective.
Although shot in 2002, this lecture by the then-coordinator of the Stellwagen Sanctuary still provides interesting information about how researchers utilized the day’s science and technology to better explore harsh underwater environments.
Through a series of five open-source lectures from MIT, Shaoul Ezekiel demonstrates all the main points of how lasers and fiber optics drive daily technologies, toning down the mathematical components so a broader audience can soak up everything.
One of the pioneers behind EDSAC, LANs, bit-sliced architecture, microprogramming, and other technological wonders shaping the modern world sat down at the Computer History Museum for an insightful, insider’s view about humanity’s intimate relationship with its own creations (but not in the Roxxxy sort of way).
As a popular voice in research regarding how new media shapes neurological development and communication, Sherry Turkle’s inquiry into how psychoanalysis must adapt to the current changes engages and challenges in the greatest of ways.
Education technology isn’t just about the latest gadgets that bleep and bloop and play games, though those still prove nice and useful when applied correctly. Arvind Gupta proves the most simplistic handmade doodads and devices work just as splendidly — and for far less money, to boot.
While a Nobel Prize-winning chemist, Ryoji Noyori devoted his acceptance lecture towards discussing intersections between his chosen field, technology, and — to a lesser extent — biology.
For as awesome, convenient, and educational as the internet has proven, its constant swelling to encompass new information every millisecond presents difficulties regarding privacy, safety, and reliability.
Joel Tarr might teach in the history department, but his expertise lay squarely within the realm of understanding its intimate overlaps with technology! His Journeys Lecture pulls from his experience growing up in industrialized communities, and how he learned at an early age what machinery accomplishes and why it’s necessary.
SCIENCE IN THE FUTURE
The 21st century may have, thus far, proven disappointing when it comes to jet packs and flying cars and Optimus Prime, but a plethora of exciting things might still lurk around the scientific corner.
Open Source darling Stanford University hosted its own TED-style forum featuring seven short lectures about various health science topics, many of them involving the brain – and how they might come to save lives in due time.
As one of the world’s leading futurists, this Cambridge biology professor believes that approaching the aging process as a curable disease rather than an inevitability to which humanity must be resigned might mean lifespans of 1000 comparatively healthier years.
Stephen Hawking compares and contrasts historical and contemporary perceptions of how humans look towards the future, some with an eye towards randomness, others with some semblance of order.
Especially today, technologies once thought impossible sometimes transition into reality, and a beloved physicist and popular science juggernaut reflects upon which ones might very well enjoy a similar fate someday.
We’re sort of cheating a little bit here since this is actually a panel more than a straight-up lecture, but this offering by the Computer History Museum definitely deserves watching — especially for futurists and scientists speculating about how the internet might evolve over the upcoming decades.
A TED fellow blends his love of greentech, design, architecture, environmental science, and engineering when envisioning the home of the future — one working in harmony with the planet and giving back what it takes.
SCIENCE AND BUSINESS
Balancing science, innovation, and business acumen proves tricky and raises a few different ethical questions. When it works, though, it most definitely works (and the reverse holds true!), as these enlightening lectures about what to do and not do prove.
Computer science enthusiasts hoping to launch their own game-changing codes, algorithms, and programs could probably learn a few things from the guy who helped launch little thing called Google if they tune in to this Stanford video series.
As consumer consciousness regarding sustainability, climate change, and other environmental concerns swells, so too does demand for products keeping the planet and its citizens safe and healthy. The world’s major manufactures better take note, because they stand on the front lines of creating lasting change.
OK. So Patrick Von Bargen isn’t a scientist. But his Yale lecture covers public policy and business practices within the energy industry, making it relevant viewing.
Because social media blends technology with psychology and sociology, any business owners hoping to harness its ubiquity could learn a few things from HubSpot’s official social media scientist.
Biotech CEO G. Steven Burrill offers up advice on succeeding in the industry in this clip, which also comes accompanied by other videos delving into entrepreneurship as a mini-course.
Whip out that notebook and start scribbling, as this series of 11 videos by computer scientist and Stanford’s 10th president illustrates some valuable points about intersections between business, science, and technology.
India’s exploding IT industry and the everlasting impression it left on computer science, technology, and engineering proved crucial to its economic development, and the gripping history comes to vivid life courtesy of T.M. Ravi and Ross Bassett.
Funny enough, Google’s marketing director in central and northern Europe actually holds a bachelor’s in physics, not business. But he believes wholeheartedly that studying science inexorably contributed to his eventual success in the boardroom.
Whether dissecting science’s ancient history, praising its ability to merge with other fields, simply waxing philosophical, or something else entirely, consider the following essential viewing in a well-rounded education.
Yes, Virginia, the social sciences are still sciences. Listen in as one of the most influential psychiatrists and neurologists of all time expounds upon why humanity should try a little tenderness and faith when it comes to interpersonal dealings.
MIT’s Tom Leighton presents a 44-minute open source lecture from his Mathematics for Computer Science Course, mostly covering proofs in addition to discussing what the class is all about.
Schools tend to separate the sciences from the arts, but Renaissance woman Mae Jemison (astronaut, doctor, dancer, actress, teacher, entrepreneur, and more) thinks the most effective educations blend the disciplines together and encourage creative and concrete skills.
Harvard brought together the culinary creme de la creme with their coterie of scientific masterminds for a now-open-source class on the physics and chemistry behind designing, cooking, masticating, and digesting meals.
Prior to his passing, Carnegie Mellon computer scientist Randy Pausch devoted his very last lecture to encouraging everyone to never lose sight of their childhood imagination and dreams. It might be exclusively about science, but it certainly stands as incredible lecture by a top scientist.
Columbia’s George Saliba takes viewers on an amazing journey through history as he outlines the role medieval Islamic thinkers carried on the legacy of their Greek predecessors and eventually went on to heavily influence the Renaissance.
Because they played a role in shaping Isaac Newton’s many scientific discoveries, enthused learners might want to tune into this talk about cubic equations, some of the oldest mathematics in the world.
Ever since Albert Einstein’s passing, the scientific community scrambles to score a slice, believing it might very well reveal some truths about the nature of what constitutes a genius. Or a physics genius, anyways.
A physicist by trade, Sean Gourley piques more interest as the man behind a team whose analysis of data culled from the Iraq War peeled back some shocking mathematical realities.
Everyone tends to pooh-pooh the mass media, but, as history proves, when used correctly, it educates the masses about academic subjects and encourages them to explore the world’s questions just a bit deeper. Radio accomplished this during the Atomic Age.
Image attribution flickr user chaseelliot