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Science Fiction Basics

When I fist saw this wonderful compilation by Sarah Russel, I had an epiphany, and knew I found a goldmine of content! So as a tribute, I’m posting this, revamping it a little, and then there will be a new section on my site: The Sci-Fi Knowledge Base.

This post contains some great links to solid Scientific material. In my opinion, it’s knowledge that all Sci-Fi writers should understand before attempting to write in the genre. (Well, not to the degree the scientists understand it (that’s their job, we write!), but enough to be able to hold an intelligent conversation about the subject).

On a personal note, as a writer, I find all this stuff extremely inspiring! I haven’t suffered from writer’s block in almost a decade!


  1. Richard Dawkins on our “queer” universe: Listen to this talk from biologist Richard Dawkins to consider the strangeness of our universe, and how there are so many things out there we can’t comprehend.
  2. Kary Mullis on what scientists do: Biochemist Kary Mullis references the 17th century as he talks about the nature of discovery and experimentation.
  3. Explanation of objective, issue and element of strategy: Nadine Hilgert discusses research ethics and experimentation in this lecture.
  4. Lee Smolin on science and democracy: Physicist Lee Smolin discusses how democratic (or not) the scientific community it.
  5. A Passion for Discovery: Peter Freund of the University of Chicago considers the entanglement of physics experiments and their effect on the behavior of scientists.
  6. A New Age of Exploration: From Earth to Mars: This video isn’t just about space exploration: it’s about the new age of experimentation and research.
  7. Dr. Hugh Ross PhD. Lectures on “Creation as Science”: Dr. Ross blames the science education crisis for all the hostility in creation vs. evolution debate.
  8. A New Kind of Science – Stephen Wolfram: Stephen Wolfram’s talk A New Kind of Science, credits simple computer experiments with challenging him to look at research in a new way.
  9. Science and the University – An Evolutionary Tale – The Endless Frontier: Donald Kennedy reflects on how modern research universities and programs were founded.

Science and Engineering

  1. WTC Lecture – collapse of WTC Buildings: Steven E. Jones discusses the collapse of the World Trade Towers from a physics perspective.
  2. Aircraft Systems Engineering: Jeffrey Hoffman of MIT lectures about the origins of the space shuttle, thermal protection systems, main engines and more.
  3. Symmetry, Structure and Tensor Properties of Materials: Learn about crystallography, 2D symmetries and other materials science principles.
  4. Machine Learning: Discover how machines “learn” due to statistical patterns, learning theory, adaptive control and more.
  5. Innovation Design: In this lecture series, you’ll learn about environmental innovation and the innovation process in general, as it’s related to engineering and science.
  6. Introduction to Biomedical Engineering: Mark Saltzman from Yale discusses then nature of biomedical engineering, including cell culture engineering.
  7. Nanophotonics: Discover the Magic of Light in Nanostructures: Evelyn Hu discusses optical materials and beyond in this lecture.
  8. The Second Law and Energy: Listen to Steven Chu’s talk about thermodynamics.

Biology and Medicine

  1. A Paradigmatic Complex System: The Immune System: Irun Cohen of the Weizmann Institute of Science is a physician and researcher who is trying to understand the complex immune system.
  2. Bioinformatic, Structural Biology and Structure Based Ligand Design in drug discovery: Discover how drugs are researched and developed.
  3. Molecular Biology: Macromolecular Synthesis and Cellular Function: Qiang Zhou from Berkeley discusses new findings in DNA research.
  4. Evolution of the Human Species: The discussion about evolution is still active. This lecture considers evolution from genetic and fossil records.
  5. Ventricular fibrillation in the human heart. Why is it different from the dog and pig heart?: Kirsten ten Tusscher looks at the structure of the human heart in this talk.
  6. Craig Venter on DNA and the sea: Biodiversity and genomics scientist Craig Venter talks about starting to writing the genetic code instead of just reading it.
  7. How Bacteria Cause Disease: Warren Levinson explains how bacteria are transmitted.
  8. The Origin of the Human Mind: Insights from Brain Imaging and Evolution: Find out how the human mind continues to evolve.
  9. Engineering New Approaches to Cancer Detection and Therapy: Find out what’s on the brink of cancer research.
  10. Principles of Systems Biology illustrated using the Virtua Heart: Denis Noble from the University of Oxford discusses complex organisms.
  11. Biological Principles of Swarm Intelligence: Guy Theraulaz discusses animal psychology and swarm intelligence.
  12. How the body fights infection: Discover the processes that occur when your body tries to protect you when you’re sick.
  13. Biological Large Scale Integration: Here Stephen Quake discusses his theories on tiny “plumbing tools” he uses to analyze DNA sequences.
  14. Psychology, Sex and Evolution: This lecture combines psychology and biology to find an answer to how preoccupied we are with sex.
  15. Dynamics on and of Biological Networks: Case Studies on the Machinery of Life: Stefan Bornholdt discusses molecular networks in this lecture.


  1. Graphite: a new twist: This University of Sussex scientist talks about carbon, diamond and graphite.
  2. Thermodynamics and Kinetics: Learn about work, heat, internal energy and more.
  3. Principles of Chemical Science, Normal Track: This course from MIT scientist Sylvia Ceyer covers atomic theory of matter, radiation and more.
  4. The simulation of structures in modern materials with the theory of density functional calculations: Karlheinz Schwarz takes on the theory of density functional calculations.
  5. Liquid Crystal Elastomers: Professor Heino Finkelmann talks about rubber elasticity and inducing the liquid crystalline state of elastomers.
  6. Janine Benyus shares nature’s designs: This lecture covers chemistry, nature and biomimicry.
  7. Penelope Boston says there might be life on Mars: Listen to Penelope Boston reveal the possibility of chemical and biological properties that may indicate life on Mars.
  8. General Chemistry: Kristie Boering introduces shape matters, chemical bonds and equilibrium in this series.
  9. Monodispersed particles in technologies and medicine: These scientists from Clarkson University discuss the chemical properties and use of monodispersed particles.
  10. Chemical Structure and Reactivity: Peter Vollhardt from Berkeley gives listeners an introduction to organic chemical structures, organometallics and more.
  11. Introduction to Solid State Chemistry: This MIT course lecture introduces you to solid state chemistry.
  12. The Families of Sugars and Chemistry of Aldoses: This lecture serves as an introduction to organic chemical structures.
  13. Properties and Chemistry of Heteroaromatic Compounds: Learn about heterocycles here.

Physics and Astronomy

  1. The Physical World: Topics in these lectures from The Open University include quantum physics, Einstein, helicopter flight and more.
  2. Astronomy Lecture 1: What is a star?: Finally learn what a star really is and how we all fit into the universe.
  3. Quantum gravity in three dimensions: Andrew Strominger discusses quantum gravity.
  4. Challenge in Astrophysics: Sarah Bridle introduces the challenge to measure and identify the shapes of distant galaxies.
  5. X-rays from comets – a surprising discovery: Watch this talk to learn how comets can be X-rayed and what the images reveal.
  6. The Black Hole at the Center of Our Galaxy: Nobel Prize-winning Charles H. Townes talks about what’s next in terms of deep galaxy exploration.
  7. An overview of the United State government’s space and science policy-making process: Find out what driving forces control the government’s policy-making decisions in regards to science and space exploration.
  8. Forty years of high energy string collisions: Gabriele Veneziano reviews what’s been going on during string collisions for the past forty years.
  9. What is the simplest quantum field theory?: In this lecture, Freddy Cachazo brings forth ideas of simpler quantum field theories.
  10. Physics III: Vibrations and Waves: Learn about forced oscillations and other physics properties here.
  11. Stephen Hawking asks big questions about the universe: Stephen Hawking asks questions about the beginnings of the universe, where humans came from and more.
  12. The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether and the Unification of Force: Anticipating a New Golden Age: Frank Wilczek introduces listeners to his new physics theory.
  13. Transitioning from the Space Shuttle to the Constellation System: In this talk, you will learn about the future of space exploration.
  14. The Second Law and Cosmology: Max Tegmark asks questions about entropy, temperature and equilibrium when studying the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Earth and Environment

  1. David Deutsch on our place in the cosmos: Scientist David Deutsch urges the greater scientific community to seriously consider global warming.
  2. Nature, not human activity, rules the climate: This controversial opinion gives nature all the credit in our changing climate.
  3. Stanford Experts on Climate Change and Carbon Trading: Dr. Schneider, one of the leading experts on climate change, talks about the crisis.
  4. The Invisible Forest: Microbes in the Sea: Learn about these key ocean organisms.
  5. Planet Water: Complexity and Organization in Earth Systems: Rafael Bras is credited with launching the science of hydrology and discusses water complexity here.
  6. E.O. Wilson on saving life on Earth: Biologist E.O. Wilson entreats society to become more educated on natural life on Earth.
  7. The U.S. Energy Crisis and the Role of New Nuclear Plants: Thomas A. Christopher considers the effects of nuclear plants on the energy and environmental crises.
  8. CO2 beyond tomorrow: a fundamental approach: This panel featuring Helmut List aims to predict future CO2 emissions effects.
  9. Sea Levels and Climate Change: David T. Pugh is a physicist who is concerned with sea level rise and coastal flooding.
  10. Importance of Science in Conservation: Conservation isn’t just a social or political issue: Peter Seligmann argues that science is also a strong part of the picture.
  11. In Antarctica: The Global Warming: Sebastian Copeland explains how Antarctica is a microcosm for what will happen to the rest of the world due to global warming.
  12. Climate change from the scientific point of view: Listen to a scientist’s view of what’s going on in the development in climate change.
  13. Robert Ballard on exploring the oceans: Discover the new research projects going on underwater.


  1. Saul Griffith on everyday inventions: Listen to inventor Saul Griffith discuss the importance and elegance of designing everyday materials.
  2. Energy Efficient Transistors: Alan Seabaugh from the University of Notre Dame explains how transistors are becoming more energy efficient.
  3. Bounding nanotechnology: Deconstructing the Drexler-Smalley Debate: Sarah Kaplan dissects the Drexler-Smalley debate in this lecture.
  4. Introduction to Robotics: Stanford’s Oussama Khatib covers the history of robotics, spatial descriptions, kinematics and more.
  5. Computer System Engineering: Learn the basics of computer system engineering as explained by MIT’s Hari Balakrishnan.
  6. Ray Kurzweil on how technology will transform us: Ray Kurzweil introduces the idea of a future populated with nanobots.
  7. Technology and Social Responsibility: Larry Page and Sergey Brin hold technology projects, researchers and companies to a higher standard in this lecture.
  8. Living with Catastrophic Terrorism: Can Science and Technology Make the U.S. Safer?: Lewis M. Branscomb is actually a public policy professor and co-chair at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, but this lecture takes on a critical debate about the importance of science and technology in government.
  9. Steve Koonin- Chief Scientist BP: Steve Koonin talks about his job’s challenge to plot long-term technology strategy.
  10. The Inner History of Devices: Sherry Turkle combines a study of psychology with physical science and technology in this lecture.

Science in the Future

  1. Juan Enriquez shares mindboggling science: Juan Enriquez explains how forward thinking and science are going to pull us out of any crises or disasters.
  2. Craig Venter is on the verge of creating synthetic life: Discover how synthetic chromosomes may be in the future.
  3. To upgrade is human: How can technology help human evolution? Gregory Stock considers customized human babies and the future of adoption.
  4. Next Generation of Solar Cells — Lowering Costs, Improving Performance and Scale: Tonio Buonassisi talks about capturing the sun’s power.
  5. Do-It-Yourself Biology: Natalie Kuldell combines computer engineering history with genetic engineering to predict a DIY future and scientific community.

Science and Business

  1. Balancing Science and Business: Understanding technology and modern business principles is ideal, argues Marc Fleury.
  2. Leading Innovation: This talk explores responsible, effective strategies for uniting technology and business.
  3. Globalization of Science: Opportunities for Competitive Advantage from Science in China, India and Beyond: Fiona Murray reveals how science, technology and engineering are valid forces in the business world, especially in competitive markets like China and India.


  1. Helen Fisher studies the brain in love: If you’ve ever wondered about the physical changes that the brain goes through when you’re in love, watch this lecture.
  2. Fuzzy Logic: This lecture from computer and information scientist Michael Berthold reveals how fuzzy logic is used for data analysis.
  3. Science Education in the 21st Century: Using the Tools of Science to Teach Science: Dr. Carl Wierman is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who comments on the future of science education.
  4. The Evolution of Trichomatic Color Vision: Consider genetic evolution of sight and brain processes here.
  5. Probability for Life Science: This mix of math and life science covers probability and beyond.
  6. Psychology in Human-Computer Interaction: David Kieras considers human-computer interaction in this talk.
  7. Electrons, Life and the Evolution of the Oxygen Cycle on Earth: This talk examines several different scientific properties and questions.
  8. Renaissance Physicists: Steven Weinberg isn’t too optimistic about the future of science and discusses the characteristics that define a truly ambitious scientist.
  9. Worms, Life and Death: Cel Suicide in Development and Disease: Consider cell death as a key factor in biological development after listening to this lecture.

Again, big thanks to Sarah Russel!

Write on.


About Christopher Dorda

I'm a Sci-Fi Novelist. Author of 'The Price Of Free Will: The Singularity Cometh' I love writing and I plan to take over the world.


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