Sun Spots, Shark Bites, and Meteor Showers—In The News 8/13/18


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 13, 2018, and their accompanying lectures on The Great Courses Plus

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Sun Spots 
The Parker Solar Probe launched on Aug. 11 and will get closer to the sun than any spacecraft in human history. It will take seven years and, if all goes well, it will pass through the corona and come within 4 million miles from the sun’s surface. Learn what the sun is made of and why even getting 4 million miles away is a big deal.

When Big Deals Go Bad
Mergers and acquisitions are part of daily life in the business world. Unfortunately, there are many instances when these deals do not work out and, in some instances, they even provide disastrous results. Recently, Tribune Media terminated its $3.9-billion merger agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group and is suing for breach of contract. Look at the strategic logic behind mergers and acquisitions.

Abortion in Argentina
Homeland of Pope Francis, and a predominantly Catholic country, Argentina has rejected a proposed bill to legalize abortion, prompting the Catholic Church to hold a “Mass for Life” in the capital, Buenos Aires. In Latin America, more than 97% of women of reproductive age live in countries with restrictive abortion laws. Examine the role of the Catholic Church within politics and culture in Latin America over the past century.

Chomp on This
Massive creatures from the deep seas have made their way to screens all over America this weekend. While the reinvention of a 70-foot shark believed to be extinct for more than a million years might make for a compelling horror film, what sort of creatures really did lurk in the depths of our oceans? Trace the circuitous evolution of real-life “Jaws” and the rapid development of fish that followed.

Still Showing… at a Night Sky Near You
Peak viewing for the Perseids meteor shower of 2018 was this past weekend, but if you missed it or the weather didn’t cooperate, it’s not too late. The show runs through August 24. Discover more about what meteor showers are, why they are so rare, and what makes these brilliant light shows so spectacular.

Innovation Station
Last week, Elon Musk suggested that going private would be the best thing for Tesla, but is it really that easy? Hear his thoughts on his previous ideas–including digging tunnels under LA–the latest from SpaceX, and his motivation for building a future on Mars in a conversation with TED Talks’s Head Curator, Chris Anderson.

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.