Poisoned Food, Power Grids, and Scary Stories—In The News 8/20/18


In a fast-moving, ever-shifting world, news is continuously breaking. The Great Courses is here to help you understand full story behind the soundbites. Here are a handful of stories from the week of August 20, 2018, and their accompanying lectures on The Great Courses Plus

Header image for The Great Courses In The News posts

Financial Waves
Turkey’s economy is quickly deteriorating due to inflation, a tanking currency, and politically driven fiscal policies. Although it’s halfway around the world from the United States, this financial crisis has already spawned global turmoil and could have significant ramifications here at home. Look into the causes of inflation, efforts to control it, and the surprising wisdom of promoting a small degree of inflation.

Off the Grid
Last week, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority claimed to have restored power to 100% of the island. Nearly 3.4 million residents were without power for almost a year after Hurricane Maria struck in September 2017. Why did it take so long for this small island to reconnect? How does this power get distributed? Peer inside the technological marvel called the grid—the system that transmits electricity from its point of generation to users.

Cereal Killer
Everyday we hear new stories about common foods or household items being linked to cancer. Recently, many popular breakfast cereals came under scrutiny when it was revealed they may possess glyphosate—a common ingredient in weed killers that has been classified as a probable carcinogen. Familiarize yourself with the types of experiments scientists conduct to determine if something causes cancer, and consider whether a range of natural and man-made substances with carcinogenic properties really do have the potential to cause cancer in humans.

Clear the Air
Scientists announced they may have taken a big step forward in reducing greenhouse gasses and curbing climate change with a mineral that may remove C02 pollution from the air. C02 is only 0.04% of the atmosphere but remains a pollutant that is extremely significant to human civilization. Discover how C02 can be so harmful, the part it plays in global warming, and what we are doing about it.

Oh, the Horror!
Whether you’re already gearing up for Halloween like the stores are, or revisiting your favorite campfire tales, we all love a good scary story. NPR released the results from a recent reader poll of the 100 Best Horror Stories and Frankenstein ranks right up at the top. Delve into the background of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece and discover all the elements that the many film adaptations have missed.

We will be diligently monitoring current events and sharing updates on a regular basis, linking the latest headlines to our courses, so you can get the context, history, background, deeper meaning, and—especially—the facts. Our goal is to help our lifelong learners apply the knowledge they gain from our courses to the real world and become better-informed citizen about the present-day issues that concern us all.