Understanding the Science for Tomorrow: Myth and Reality

Course No. 1391
Professor Jeffrey C. Grossman, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Share This Course
4.4 out of 5
46 Reviews
86% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 1391
Video Streaming Included Free

Course Overview

Science and technology are, without a doubt, two forces that will change the way you live your life in the coming months, years, and decades. Nanotechnology, quantum computing, genetic engineering; these and other fascinating fields have the power to revolutionize almost every aspect of existence, including how you eat and drink, how you communicate, how you travel, how you learn—even how long you live.

And in recent decades, these forces have evolved and developed at a lightning-fast pace. So fast, in fact, that the future of science and technology couldn't be any more exciting than it is now, as scientists are on the cusp of breakthroughs, including

  • new energy sources such as biofuels, solar photovoltaics, and nuclear fusion;
  • smaller, more powerful computers that can tap into the secrets of artificial intelligence and operate advanced robotic systems;
  • tools and equipment for making water safer to drink and food easier to grow, package, and preserve; and
  • new devices for speeding up the ways we travel from place to place and the ways we communicate and share information with one another.

These and other scientific breakthroughs of tomorrow will do more than enhance and improve everyday life. They also will help solve some of our world's most pressing crises and dilemmas, including food and water shortages, clean and reusable energy needs, detection and curing of life-threatening illnesses, and so much more. And while some of these promises are surrounded by hype and myth, the truths about them are more startling—and more important—than you ever imagined.

Explore the many possibilities of what your future may look like with Understanding the Science for Tomorrow: Myth and Reality, a scientifically accurate and enlightening survey of today's most advanced research in fields such as engineering, biology, chemistry, and theoretical physics. These 24 lectures by research scientist and Professor Jeffrey C. Grossman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology delve into the genuine science of today's—and tomorrow's—hottest issues in an accessible manner that helps you grasp these sometimes esoteric topics. They are designed for anyone curious about the current state of science and technology and where it is likely to be heading in the near future.

Investigate a Range of Real-World Applications

"For millennia, science has given us knowledge of how the world works that has led, in turn, to more magnificent discoveries and extraordinary innovation,"says Professor Grossman. "And yet rarely, if ever, has there existed a role for science, a scale for science, and an absolute need for science as there exists today."

In Understanding the Science for Tomorrow, you'll see firsthand how recent developments in science and technology can potentially fulfill this need in a range of modern-day, real-world areas.

  • Transportation: The key challenge of today's transportation lies in improving overall efficiency without limiting range and, possibly, speed. You'll discover how scientists are developing ways to face and overcome this challenge by exploring the science behind hybrid and electric cars, mag-lev trains, artificial fuels, and more.
  • Computing: Computers have literally revolutionized the world and are primed to do so even more in the coming years. You'll make sense of everything from optical computing, in which information travels as light instead of electrons, to quantum computing, which would allow us to tackle problems that today's computers are unable to even formulate.
  • Medicine: Nanotechnology, which involves the purposeful engineering of matter at scales of less than 100 nanometers, has untold ramifications for the medical field. You'll see how recent and future developments can change the ways we heal wounds, detect diseases, deliver drugs to specific areas of the body, and even show us what goes on inside cells.
  • Energy: Today, most of our energy comes from coal, gas, and oil. But this may not be the case in the near future. You'll investigate ways in which materials such as the sun, hydrogen, electricity, and even crops such as sugar and corn are poised to radically alter the way we make, use, and store energy.

In discussing these and other subjects, Professor Grossman takes care to explain the basic science behind them in terms that are easy to understand. He also shows the intricate connections between advancements in one field (such as energy) and their impact in a host of other areas (such as transportation, food production, and computing). You'll come to see science as a giant, interconnected web supporting not just one area of your everyday life but all of them.

Get Intriguing Sneak Peeks at New Scientific Developments

Understanding the Science for Tomorrow is filled with intriguing sneak peeks at the latest developments and technologies in a range of scientific fields. With his characteristic insight and contagious excitement, Professor Grossman reveals what you can possibly expect from these and other marvels.

  • Robotics: While still in the research and development phase, some primitive molecular machines (nanorobots) have been built and tested. The first useful applications of these machines might be in medicine, where they can be used to identify and destroy cancer cells, or for detecting the concentration of toxic chemicals in the environment.
  • Genetic engineering: There is the potential for great changes in biology and medicine based on genetic engineering. In the near future, it may be possible for us to make DNA sequencing available and affordable, leading to personalized medicine in which treatment can be customized to each individual's specific genome.
  • Biofuels: While biofuels based on food crops are not well-suited for fueling the entire world because they threaten food supplies, second- and third-generation biofuels get around this dilemma by using biomass from crops not meant to be used as food or even waste from the food industry.

In discussing these and other eye-opening topics, Professor Grossman always makes a point to emphasize fact and truth over fiction and hype. As startling as these possibilities for the future may be, there are still plenty of challenges that scientists are facing, as well as tradeoffs that need to be considered from the development and adoption of these scientific advancements.

Discover How Science and Technology Are Redefining Your World

In addition to showcasing his ability to sidestep media buzz and present only the reality of each of these scientific fields while peering responsibly into the future, Professor Grossman brings his celebrated teaching style to each of these 24 engaging and densely illustrated lectures. An expert in fields from computational science and energy storage to nanotechnology and thermodynamics, he's skilled at bringing such a broad range of scientific disciplines into a single, concise, and comprehensive package. And his research work at MIT finds him every day on the frontier of devising and developing new technologies for addressing the scientific dilemmas of today and tomorrow.

By the final lecture of Understanding the Science for Tomorrow, you'll have a stronger sense of some important fundamental scientific principles being used right this moment to innovate your life. You'll also find yourself filled with a sense of excitement and wonder for both how, and how quickly, science and technology are working to make your world a better place.

Hide Full Description
24 lectures
 |  Average 29 minutes each
  • 1
    Changing the Game
    Before you can understand the science of tomorrow, you need to understand how science works. Here, explore the process of scientific discovery (rooted in the scientific method), how information is tested and shared, the intricate relationship between science and technology, how we know when science is right (or wrong), and more. x
  • 2
    Magnetism—The Science of Attractions
    Professor Grossman helps you make sense of magnetism, explains its importance to your world, and offers exciting examples of the promises of new technologies. These include everything from cell phones that could run for two years on a single charge to mag-lev trains that could take you from Los Angeles to New York in under 10 minutes. x
  • 3
    Transportation—The Science of How We Move
    What will the future of transportation, on land and in the air, look like? What role will hybrid-electric, plug-hybrid, and all-electric cars play? How can we build airplanes that travel faster and carry larger loads? And what about jetpacks—are they really possible or just a novelty of science fiction? Find the answers to these and other questions here. x
  • 4
    Computers—Trillions of Bits per Second
    Computers have undoubtedly revolutionized life—and will continue to do so for years to come. First, survey the fast-paced history of computers. Then, focus on possible limits to computing power. Finally, investigate possible technologies such as optical computing, quantum computing, and computing devices so small they can be woven into your clothes. x
  • 5
    Artificial Intelligence—Thinking Machines
    You don't see much artificial intelligence (AI) in your life. Or do you? Find out what the future will look like by exploring key questions. Where did the idea for AI come from, and how does it work? What are some challenges hindering its widespread development? Where can you find it at work in tasks such as driving and cleaning? x
  • 6
    Robotics—Living with Machines
    Robots are more than just Hollywood fantasy—they may soon become a reality of everyday life. In this lecture, learn the radically different approaches taken by today's robots to achieve specific tasks or functions; meet robots such as Elektro and ASIMO; and explore robots—both large and small—in the home, at war, and in performing surgery. x
  • 7
    Microscopes—The Power of Seeing It All
    Make sense of how microscopes have dramatically expanded our ability to see into smaller and smaller worlds. You'll discover how microscopes evolved since the days of Galileo, learn why it is now possible to see individual atoms through superpowered microscopes, and travel to the frontier of tomorrow, with its "atom smashers", 3-D imaging, and more. x
  • 8
    Nanotechnology—The New Science of Small
    In the first of two lectures on this revolutionary subject, explore the "what" of nanotechnology—the purposeful engineering of matter at scales of less than 100 nanometers. Among the topics you'll learn about: what nanotechnology is, how it works, and how nanoscience has appeared in nature all along. x
  • 9
    Nanotechnology—Changing Everything
    Turn now to some concrete applications of nanotechnology in today's world. Professor Grossman covers four areas: new materials (such as powerful new adhesives); energy (including the development of cheaper solar cells); health (through highly sensitive disease detectors and drug delivery systems); and the environment (in nanoparticles that can detoxify common contaminants). x
  • 10
    Genetic Engineering—Life's Building Blocks
    We now have the potential for a revolution in biology and medicine based on our newfound ability to engineer life by accessing, modifying, and altering pieces of the inner "source code" of life itself: DNA. This lecture demystifies genetic engineering and reveals some of the many promises it holds. x
  • 11
    Synthetic Life—Making Life from Scratch
    Is it possible to "make" life in a lab? If so, how? Welcome to the world of synthetic life, which involves building new life forms from non-living substances. Learn how new strains of algae and viruses can help solve a variety of real-world problems. Also, encounter samples of life that—shockingly—exist without DNA as we know it. x
  • 12
    The Brain—Your Body's Supercomputer
    Study the brain as an intricate network of "wires" responsible for every facet of your life. First, explore the structure and function of this impressive organ. Then, discover how science has helped us know what we know about how the brain works. Finally, ponder what we still have yet to uncover. x
  • 13
    Cancer and Aging—Can They Be Defeated?
    When and how will we finally cure cancer? How far can we lengthen the span of our lives? These two piercing questions are at the heart of this lecture on the life and death of cells; how we understand what's going on in them, and how we can possibly better control them. x
  • 14
    Powerful Viruses—Future Friend or Foe?
    What is a virus, and how is it different from a bacterium? How are vaccines made, and is it possible to make a universal vaccine to protect us against all viruses? What knowledge and tools will be using to fight viruses in the near future? And how can viruses be essential to life on Earth? x
  • 15
    Food or Famine—Science Holds the Key
    Science and technology have radically changed how—and what—we eat. Here, examine why food is so important to our life; new advancements in how food is packaged and preserved; and the benefits and risks of genetically modifying food. Finally, close by taking a peek at what a meal from the future may very well look like. x
  • 16
    Water—The Currency of the Next Century
    Because of its growing scarcity around the world, water is primed to be the currency of the next century. Professor Grossman shows you how existing and upcoming technologies—including nanomaterials—can help alleviate the problems of water scarcity and contamination, and can offer new approaches to desalinate seawater. x
  • 17
    Biofuels—The Fuel of the Future?
    Investigate one of the hottest topics in the landscape of renewable energy: biofuels. Here, you'll learn what sets them apart from fossil fuels, how they're made from substances such as corn and algae, and some of the obstacles and drawbacks that still remain toward their mass use, such as high costs and low efficiency. x
  • 18
    Solar Cells—Electricity from the Sun
    Continue looking at alternative energy sources with this lecture on solar cells, also known as solar photovoltaics. Why is the most abundant renewable resource in the universe the least used? What can be done about it? Gain a newfound appreciation for our sun and the ways it can power our lives in the coming decades. x
  • 19
    Batteries—Storing Energy Chemically
    Unlike other energy sources currently in use, batteries offer a direct release of stored energy as electricity. Explore how far we can push current battery technology and vastly improve our ability to store energy in this manner. Also, take a peek at possible batteries of tomorrow, including lithium-air batteries and transparent batteries. x
  • 20
    The Hydrogen Economy—Fact or Fiction?
    Imagine a planet that runs on hydrogen, an element that is enormously abundant and completely clean. How would it work, and what would we use it for? Would a hydrogen-powered car be dangerous? What will a future global hydrogen economy look like? What technological advancements are still needed to make this idea a reality? x
  • 21
    Nuclear Energy—Harnessing Star Power
    Focus on the promising—yet controversial—topic of nuclear energy. Learn what makes it different from other forms of energy; how it's produced; the hot-button issues of safety and nuclear waste; and why nuclear fusion may just offer the best direction for nuclear science to take in the future. x
  • 22
    Prediction—From Storms to Stocks
    It's tough to make predictions. But thanks to recent advancements, we're coming closer than ever before to mastering the science of forecasting. In this lecture, Professor Grossman discusses the latest developments in our ability to better understand and master volatile systems, including the weather, earthquakes, and the stock market. x
  • 23
    Communication—Transcending Time and Space
    Survey the driving forces behind the evolution of communication throughout history, from the development of language to the Internet. Then, take a closer look at future directions for how we communicate, including tools that allow us to speak different languages with ease and the seamless integration of machines and our minds. x
  • 24
    Science in the Future
    Examine scientific ideas that, however thrilling, still remain distant possibilities, such as time travel. Then, Professor Grossman ends the course with a passionate discussion about the challenges of his profession and the continued hope of science and technology to solve today's most pressing challenges. x

Lecture Titles

Clone Content from Your Professor tab

What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Instant Video Includes:
  • Download 24 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 224-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 224-page printed course guidebook
  • Photos & illustrations
  • Suggested readings
  • Questions to consider

Enjoy This Course On-the-Go with Our Mobile Apps!*

  • App store App store iPhone + iPad
  • Google Play Google Play Android Devices
  • Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Tablet + Firephone
*Courses can be streamed from anywhere you have an internet connection. Standard carrier data rates may apply in areas that do not have wifi connections pursuant to your carrier contract.

Your professor

Jeffrey C. Grossman

About Your Professor

Jeffrey C. Grossman, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dr. Jeffrey C. Grossman is Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He earned his B.A. in Physics from Johns Hopkins University and his M.S. in Physics and his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before joining MIT, Professor Grossman founded and headed the Computational Nanoscience research group at the...
Learn More About This Professor
Also By This Professor


Understanding the Science for Tomorrow: Myth and Reality is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 46.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A top quality course that won’t go over your head. As an engineer I found this course to be very interesting. I listened to it on Audible and would have watched it on Plus if it had been available. Since it was not, I purchased it and have watched various lectures, some several times just make sure I did not miss anything. As a person who used to develop training courses, I found that you retain twice as much information with video as compared to audio. However you can multitask better with audio. The lecturer was very engaging and his presentation of the material was both entertaining and informative. Well worth anyone’s time.
Date published: 2020-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Covered a number of topics very well. I definitely recommend it.
Date published: 2019-06-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Lecture style is not good. The endless lectures by a guy who is reading a TelePrompTer does not hold my attention! Less of him and more real examples would help. His new clothes are not great! Distractions at best. Reminds me of the Hubble lectures! Not great!
Date published: 2019-06-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This is a very good course for the non-scientist. At first, I wasn't too sure about covering so many different topics, but it sort of grew on me. By the end I understood the rationale for doing it. The science disciplines really do overlap. I have to say that working in a science field myself, I found some of the explanations a little deceptively simple, nevertheless, I'm sure most people will get much out of this course. Well done.
Date published: 2019-04-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Science, Technology and Speculation This is a fun course—very fun. In covering a very wide range of topics in science and technology, a few errors (almost inevitably) creep through. But to point those out and be overly critical would be nitpicking, as they really have no effect on the thrust of the course. To be sure, Dr. Grossman takes an almost simplistic approach in his lectures on very technical subjects. In the areas where I have some background, too simplistic, but on the ones where my knowledge is only surface, I appreciated his approach. I think for most general audiences he hits the mark in being able to explain technical subjects in a rapid overview that gives us all enough background to appreciate and to be able to follow his speculation as to the direction that a particular technology might take. He begins each subject with background as to the development of that technology, builds upon it, often with some side trips discussing key players and finally explains how the future might happen given the direction he has laid out. Now this is a very sound method for us all to be able to follow the entire cycle. But there are a few missteps. Other reviewers have commented on the graphics. My take on them, is that they were clearly ones that had sufficed for other uses and were (almost) clip art and not purpose designed for the course. Almost all had too much information given the point Professor Grossman was trying to make. In areas that I knew well, this was not distracting, as I could easily focus on the salient issue, but when a topic was made outside of my knowledge, I had a very hard time filtering out the extraneous information, so that I could concentrate on the relevant. At times, the background information that began a lecture was too broad and attempted to cover material and a time scale that was far outside the main point. As an example, lecture 23 on communication began with the development of speech. This lecture took about 20 minutes (out of the 30 allotted) to get material that was current enough to get us to future developments. But with lecture 24, Professor Grossman sweeps away all my reservations about this course. His brief discussion of the difficulties of becoming a research scientist, along with the lack of financial remuneration is concise and distressingly accurate. But he remains optimistic about the future and is vibrant in his delivery. A fitting finale to a difficult subject.
Date published: 2019-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Authoritative, compelling, powerful An excellent accomplishment by a professor who delivers his lectures in an easily-understandable way, with no tics or oddities of speech ~ very refreshing! The topics are all dynamic, with those on nanotechnology, the brain, power from the sun, cancer, bio fuels, and several others being of special valuable impact and import. One note of concern ~ this series of lectures dates from 2011. Perhaps time for updating 7 years later? This course covers a wide range of technologies, with Dr. Grossman's ability to speak with authority in a number of disciplines, a key factor to the presentation. These lectures should appeal to the layman, as well as those with scientific backgrounds, whether in physics, biology, mathematics, or chemistry, for example. I consider this to be one of the best DVD lecture sets I have purchased ~~ now well over two hundred in my library. Thank you for reading this. Dec/2018.
Date published: 2018-12-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Misleading title This may be a subtle point, but the title uses the word "Science" in it whereas this is really a course on "Engineering" or "Technology". Professor Grossman is professor of engineering at MIT even though his PhD is in Theoretical Physics. So to me, the course just drones on and on about technology. I was looking for a course on the "theoretical future of science", not on the future of engineering and technology. I could not continue after watching just a few lectures.
Date published: 2017-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from TIES IT ALL TOGETHER! Have watched the course completely and quite a few of the lectures a couple of times. The lecturer was super. He put a number of the science courses I've taken from you folks into perspective. He tells what is being done with the science already done, what is being researched and the direction science and companies are taking to overcome current problems that mankind faces. I can't recommend this course more highly!
Date published: 2017-10-30
  • y_2020, m_12, d_1, h_16
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.12
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_5, tr_41
  • loc_en_US, sid_1391, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.0
  • CLOUD, getContent, 9.9ms

Questions & Answers

Customers Who Bought This Course Also Bought