Replaceable You (and Other Free Stem Cells Courses)

Here's another free, downloadable course coming out Stanford, which will tell you how regenerative medicine can keep your body parts almost new. You can access it here on iTunesU, and below we have posted the course description. If stem cells happen to pique your interest, then you may want to explore these two other related Stanford courses: Straight Talk about Stem Cells and Stem Cells: Policy and Ethics. Also remember that you can download at least 200 free university courses here.

Replaceable You: Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering in this Age of Enlightenment

"The good part about getting older is that we gain some wisdom and patience. The bad part is that our bodies (knees, hips, organs, and more) start to wear out. But what if our bodies could be "reprogrammed" to grow new parts? The new field of regenerative medicine is trying to do just that, and it takes advantage of the process of regeneration, which is nature’s solution for repairing damaged tissues.

Although humans cannot re-grow their limbs like salamanders and newts can, the capacity to regenerate injured or diseased tissues exists in humans and other animals, and the molecular machinery for regeneration seems to be an elemental part of our genetic makeup. The prevailing opinion is that the genes responsible for regeneration have for some reason fallen into disuse, and they may be "jump started" by the selective activation of key molecules. Using this knowledge, scientists are developing new strategies to repair and, in some cases, regenerate damaged or diseased tissues in both young and old patients. In this course, we will explore the exciting field of regenerative medicine and learn a little about what makes stem cells so special. We will also discuss some of the recent discoveries that can potentially allow us to be fit and healthy well into old age. Here, you will learn what is merely science fiction and what, remarkably, has become science fact in our new medical age."

Jill Helms
Associate Professor, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Jill Helms joined the Stanford faculty after eight years at UC San Francisco, where she was the Director of the Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery. Her research focuses on the parallels between fetal tissue development and adult tissue regeneration. She received a PhD in developmental neurobiology and a clinical degree and spends the majority of her time in clinically related research.

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Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia: Diving at the ’36 Games

Produced at the request of the International Olympics Committee (and not at the behest of the Nazi propaganda machine), Leni Riefenstahl's 1938 documentary, Olympia, is considered one of the more important sports documentaries of the 20th century. Below, we have posted a well known sequence that recalls the diving competition at the '36 Berlin Games.

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Robotics, Artificial Intelligence & Other Goodies From Our Readers

Over the past week, we've discovered a number of good items being put together by some of our readers.

The first is a new popular podcast called "Robots" (iTunes - RSS Feed - Web Site). Assembled by a group of grad students associated with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), each episode focuses on a specific topic (e.g., robot soccer) and features interviews with high profile guests in robotics and artificial intelligence. Also, each episode highlights news and views from people building and programming robots inside and outside universities.

Next, you may want to swing over to Nigel Beale's site and listen to his radio program/podcast called The Biblio File. The site houses about 100 audio interviews with various authors. Perfect for the bibliophile.

Lastly, two quick mentions: Tom Hanson, over at the "Open Education" blog, recommends Zaid Alsagoff's free e-book called “69 Learning Adventures in 6 Galaxies,” which essentially offers a "resource for teachers seeking to be technologically relevant." And then, along similar lines, you can find at a helpful post called "100 Awesome Classroom Videos to Learn New Teaching Techniques."

Keep them coming....

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Top Ten Psychology Videos

PsychCentral has posted its list of the ten best psychology videos available on the web. Below, we have posted links to the videos themselves. But if you want a quick description of each clip, then definitely read through the original post. Thanks to for bringing this to light.

1. An Unquiet Mind: Personal Reflections on Manic-Depressive Illness

2. The Stanford Prison Experiment

3. My Stroke of Insight

4. The Paradox of Choice

5. Trapped: Mental Illness in America’s Prisons

6. Teen Brain

7. Depression: Out of the Shadows

8. Thin

9. I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help: Research on Poor Insight and How We Can Help

10. The Psychology of Global Warming

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The Decline and Fall of the Roman (and American?) Empire: A Free Audiobook

colliseum.JPG Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire -- It's a major work of the Enlightenment, a book that shaped how we moderns write history (and, for that matter, how we aspire to write in the English language), and it's now available as a free podcast thanks to Librivox. Or at least Volumes 1, 2, 3, and 4 are.  (Click on each link to download the full zip files, which include many hours of audio. And please note that the remaining volumes are forthcoming.)

Published first in 1776, just as the US declared its independence from England, Gibbon's Decline and Fall looked to offer an empirical explanation for why Ancient Rome fell as a power, and he generally pointed to a decline in civic virtue among its citizenry (why bother fighting the Empire's wars when you can get mercenaries to do it?) and to the rise of Christianity (why worry about Rome when a better life, an eternal afterlife, awaits you?).

In part, Gibbon's work has endured because it speaks to questions that modern powers have on their minds. What brings Empires down, and what (implicitly) allows them to endure? These questions have a certain amount of relevance these days in an anxious US. And indeed Gibbon's name was immediately invoked in a podcast that asked whether America, today's empire, is on the brink. (Click to listen.) The parallels between Gibbon's Rome and the contemporary United States have also been directly explored by the prolific, young Harvard historian, Niall Ferguson. You may want to check out his October 2006 piece in Vanity Fair, Empire Falls. And depending on what you think, you can give time to his two books on Empire -- the first (and better) one focuses on the British Empire, and a second one devotes itself to the US.

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Isaac Hayes Performs Shaft Live, 1973

We lost another good one:

Live Streams of the Olympics

A quick fyi, you can catch live streams of the Olympic Games via the web.

If you live in the US, you can watch at,

If you live in the UK and Europe, you can get the stream at BBC TV Olympics

If you live on China's Mainland, you can see the games at

And for Australian fans, watch here:

via Actionooz

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