This evening my mind was blown several times, and video content on our Apple TV was the source.

'20110704_AppleTV_08' photo (c) 2011, ?? ?? - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

First of all, I watched the full two hour Apple iPhone 5 event video from yesterday. It’s a free video podcast on “Apple Keynotes” in iTunes, and I’ve watched the past several events directly on our home television via Apple TV rather than watching it on my computer. If you want to watch it on a computer and not via iTunes, just point your browser to www.apple.com/apple-events.

Of course I was amazed by the innovations Apple has come up with not only for the iPhone5, but also across its entire mobile product and music lines. I’m hoping to upgrade my iPhone4 to an iPhone5 soon. The origins and significance of Apple’s amazing engineering designs were “deeper” for me tonight, however, since I’m a bit more than halfway through Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs on Audible. Steve was an incredibly gifted human being, but also an extremely selfish and relationally destructive person. I’m very glad to have an opportunity to learn more about his life and his history, but I’m also far more enlightened about why Steve was such a controversial person. I’d heard people say “he was a jerk” but Isaacson’s stories color that statement in extremely vivid detail. Steve was a genius, but I definitely think he suffered from mental illness. His girlfriend, Tina Redse, believed he suffered from narcissistic personality disorder. Isaacson conjectures at one point he may have had bipolar disorder. Whatever the diagnosis, it’s clear Steve was often NOT a kind person, nor was he empathetic or charitable. You don’t have to have a mental disorder to exhibit those personality traits, but Steve’s dramatic mood swings and binary way of looking and both people and their work were clearly “outside the norm.” Everyone has faults, and I think most “true geniuses” in the world have had significant quirks. It was interesting watching the September 12th Apple Event tonight with Tim Cook presiding, and thinking about how Steve Jobs would be proud of how his Apple team is carrying on without him. They continue to make AMAZING products, and I count myself blessed to live in a moment in history (and have the financial as well as geographic means) to be able to use those products. I don’t have any embedded microchips in my body yet, but my iPhone has literally become a physical extension of my brain. It’s hard to imagine life without it, and it’s safe to say we wouldn’t have the iPhone and all the amazing technologies associated with Apple without Steve Jobs. Yes, incredible people and incredible teams have build these technologies and brought them to the masses, and no single individual can take all the credit for a product. Without Steve Jobs, however, there would be no iPhone. That’s also true for Woz. I’m thankful to have an iPhone and be able to learn each day in transformative ways which would be impossible without it. I look forward to purchasing yet another “amazing” iteration of this device in the weeks ahead.

'iphone5_1' photo (c) 2012, gyroscopio - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The second reason my mind was blown tonight was because of the AMAZING free video content available now on podcast channels via Apple TV and iTunes. I added several to my Apple TV “favorites” list. Does anyone know if the Apple “Podcasts” app will sync “favorites” from an Apple TV? I’m thinking no, but that would be great if it could. I haven’t updated to iOS 5.1 on my iPhone4 yet so I can’t use the “Podcasts” app. (Instead I use “Podcaster.”)

I just watched two brief episodes on two of the new channels I favorited in “Podcasts” on our AppleTV. The first was from the Discovery News Video Podcast. (It’s free.) I watched one about Ridley Scott‘s recent movie, Promethius.

Discovery News Video Podcast

I had seen a preview of the film at the theater and didn’t think it looked that great, but the backstory about the science behind the special effects as well as storyline was VERY compelling. Now I’m going to see the movie when it comes to our local dollar movie theater. This was a GREAT video and I look forward to checking out more from Discovery. As I watched and listened to Scott discuss this movie, I was also remembering from the Jobs biography that Scott had been the director of the famous Apple 1984 commercial. Scott is another amazing, creative genius. I sense it will be inspirational to see what’s he’s been creating lately.

The second free video podcast I checked out is Minute Physics. Minute Physics is not only on iTunes as a video podcast, they’re also on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. While I didn’t become a professional scientist or engineer as an adult, I have always loved science and I try to share my passion for science with my own children whenever possible. The “Talking Science Podcast” was an early experience in “podfading” for my son and I, but the practice of discussing scientific ideas and watching television programs like NOVA specials is something we continue to enjoy together. Rachel, my 9 year old, is also loving science and talking about science. Our trip together this summer to Bozeman, Montana, the DEN Summer Institute and the amazing Museum of the Rockies was a recent catalyst for some great conversations about dinosaurs, the origin of the universe, the big bang, and more.

Rachel and a T-Rex skull cast

During Spring Break a couple of years ago, Rachel and her sister made a “Zebra Print” video at the Mesalands Community College Dinosaur Museum in Tucumcari, New Mexico. I absolutely LOVE “talking science” with my kids and other students in situations like this, and I know these new “finds” on AppleTV and online for free science videos are going to lead to even more conversations like these.

Tonight on “Minute Physics” I watched the four minute video, “Picture of the Big Bang (a.k.a. Oldest Light in the Universe).” Rachel has been asking me some great “origin of the universe” questions in the past couple of weeks, so I’m eager to show this video to her and discuss some of its ideas. I’ll probably corner her sister and brother and have them watch it with us too. Often we underestimate the capacities of children to engage in complex thinking, and videos like this provide GREAT opportunities to stretch all our minds. (No matter what our age might be.)

Here’s how this video blew my mind: How incredible is it to have essentially FREE access to this kind of high quality, scientific video content AT OUR HOUSE?! These videos far surpass anything in the new, paper-based science textbooks my children are now using for school in 3rd, 7th and 9th grades in OKCPS. I’m struck by how remarkably different the landscape for information access is today, when we have better access to high quality science video content at home than students and teachers at schools in our district.

The iPhone 5, Steve Jobs, and free videos about the Big Bang. Yes, I admit these ideas might seem pretty random and disjointed when they’re put together. Our AppleTV and my iPhone (via Audible) “delivered” some amazing content related to each of these topics to me this week, however, and I felt inspired to share these stories with you.

We live in a truly remarkable era of human history. It’s a great day to be a parent, to be an educator, and to be a learner!

Rachel is fired up for the DEN Hoedown!

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