Kanopy Spotlight: Learn Something New with the Great Courses

Are you looking to learn something new this spring? Your Livingston library card gives you access to Kanopy.  Kanopy is an awesome digital resource that allows you to stream countless films from the comfort of your own home.  But Kanopy doesn’t just have films! Kanopy also has The Great Courses.

You can borrow up to one course per month (all episodes are included!) Below are some recently added courses that you’ll find to be fascinating.  

The History of England

From Kanopy: “Explore the Tudor-Stuart era: a captivating examination of the 229-year period from 1485 – 1714 during which England transformed itself from a minor feudal state into what has been called the first modern society. In making that transformation, England became the wealthiest and most powerful nation on Earth.”

Ancient Rome

From Kanopy: “From Ben-Hur to Spartacus to Gladiator, get a front-row look at the great movies that have shaped ancient Rome’s role in popular culture and memory. These 12 episodes cover over 50 years of cinematic history and talent, and immerse you in the glory and grandeur (and even the folly) of classic and contemporary films set in Roman antiquity.”

Financial Disasters

From Kanopy: “Professor Connel Fullenkamp of Duke University guides you through four centuries of economic disasters, from tulip mania in the 1600s to the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Each episode covers a notable incident of financial misfortune or folly and inoculates you against the gullibility, overconfidence, and herd mentality that have lured many to financial ruin.”

How to Write Best-Selling Fiction 

From Kanopy: “Get a comprehensive, eye-opening, and illuminating survey of the entire writing process, as well as a full breakdown of how dozens of best-selling authors have implemented best practices in their own writing. As an aspiring author, you will gain a wealth of tools that will not only improve your ability to write, but will also increase your enjoyment of the craft.”

Language and the Mind 

From Kanopy: “In 24 fascinating episodes, Dr. Spencer Kelly, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Colgate University, takes you on a fascinating journey to explore questions about the origin of the human mind, what makes our communication so much different than other animals, whether or not language itself influences thought, and how babies learn their native language without direct teaching.”

Fighting Misinformation 

From Kanopy: “The International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) has teamed up with The Great Courses to lead you step by step through the history, evolution, science, and impact of misinformation, and to arm you with the very skills needed to defuse the threat of misinformation media and become a more savvy media consumer.”

What will you learn?

-Jessica, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

The Red Planet Explored in Fiction and Nonfiction

The planet Mars has captivated humans since we first set eyes on it as a star-like object in the night sky, and has been very much at the forefront of space news recently. 

This February, Mars had 3 visitors from Earth. The United Arab Emirates, China and the United States all launched robotic missions to Mars last summer, seeking shortened voyages during the period every two years when Earth is closest to the red planet.

On Feb 9,  The United Arab Emirates’ Hope orbiter probe successfully entered the orbit of Mars Tuesday, marking the UAE’s first mission to the red planet.

Tianwen-1, the spacecraft launched by the Chinese space agency, also began its orbit of the red planet on Feb 10. After orbiting the planet for a time, it will send a lander containing a rover to the surface in May. 

Soon after, on Feb. 18, NASA’s Perseverance rover was set to arrive and immediately plunge toward the surface of Mars. After a successful landing, the rover will seek signs of extinct life in a dried out crater lake and riverbed. But first it will deploy Ingenuity, a small helicopter. That device has its own mission of carrying out the first powered flight from the surface of another planet. NASA is hoping to land the first humans on Mars by the 2030s.  Private spaceflight companies such as SpaceX are also getting into the Mars game.

Here are some Mars inspired fiction and nonfiction books, ebooks and movies available with your Livingston Library card so you can join along in the thrill and excitement of exploration of the Red Planet.

How We’ll Live on Mars by Stephen Petranek 

In this sweeping, provocative book that mixes business, science, and human reporting, Petranek makes the case that living on Mars is an essential back-up plan for humanity and explains in fascinating detail just how it will happen.

The Last Days on Mars (DVD)

A crew of astronauts on an exploratory mission to Mars discovers a deadly infection and succumbs one by one to a mysterious and terrifying force while desperately fighting to escape.

Life (DVD)

The six-member crew of the International Space Station is on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars. As the crew begins to conduct research, their methods end up having unintended consequences and the life form proves more intelligent than anyone ever expected.

Mars Rover Curiosity: An Inside Account from Curiosity’s Chief Engineer by Rob Manning

Manning’s fascinating personal account–which includes information from his exclusive interviews with leading Curiosity scientists–is packed with tales of revolutionary feats of science, technology, and engineering. Readers experience firsthand the disappointment at encountering persistent technical problems, the agony of near defeat, the sense of victory at finding innovative solutions to these problems, the sheer terror of staking careers and reputations on a lander that couldn’t be tested on Earth, and the rush of triumph at its successful touchdown on Mars on August 5, 2012.

Mars Season 1 (DVD)

Set in the year 2033, this one-of-a-kind blend of scripted drama and fascinating documentary sequences centers on twin female astronauts who courageously embark on an epic adventure: humanity’s awe-inspiring quest to colonize Mars. The world’s most brilliant minds in space exploration, including visionary thinkers Elon Musk, Neil deGrasse Tyson, NASA astronauts and more, share what the not-so-distant future may hold for all of us.

The Martian by Andy Weir

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit–he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him.

Also made into a  movie starring Matt Damon.

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

In this classic work of fiction by Bradbury, the tranquility of Mars is disrupted by humans who want to conquer space, colonize the planet, and escape a doomed Earth.

Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration by Buzz Aldrin

Buzz Aldrin speaks out as a vital advocate for the continuing quest to push the boundaries of the universe as we know it. As a pioneering astronaut who first set foot on the moon during mankind’s first landing of Apollo 11– and as an aerospace engineer who designed an orbital rendezvous technique critical to future planetary landings — Aldrin has a vision, and in this book he plots out the path he proposes, taking humans to Mars by 2035.

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

Chronicles the colonization of Mars in the year 2026.

The Search for Life on Mars: The Greatest Scientific Detective Story of All Time by Elizabeth Howell and Nicholas Booth

Based on more than a hundred interviews with experts at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and elsewhere, who share their insights and stories. While it looks back to the early Mars missions such as Viking 1 and 2, the book’s focus is on the experiments and revelations from the most recent ones–including Curiosity, which continues to explore potentially habitable sites where water was once present, and the Mars Insight lander, which has recorded more than 450 marsquakes since its deployment in late 2018–as well as on the Perseverance and the European Space Agency’s  ExoMars rover missions ahead. And the book looks forward to the newest, most exciting frontier of all: the day, not too far away, when humans will land, make the Red Planet their home, and look for life directly.

The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World by Sarah Stewart Johnson | ebook

In this beautifully observed, deeply personal book, Georgetown scientist Johnson tells the story of how she and other researchers have scoured Mars for signs of life, transforming the planet from a distant point of light into a world of its own. Here, with poetic precision, she interlaces her own personal journey—as a female scientist and a mother—with tales of other seekers, from Percival Lowell, who was convinced that a utopian society existed on Mars, to Audouin Dollfus, who tried to carry out astronomical observations from a stratospheric balloon. In the process, she shows how the story of Mars is also a story about Earth: This other world has been our mirror, our foil, a telltale reflection of our own anxieties and yearnings.

-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian