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THINK 45: Thinking About the Universe: What do we know? How do we know it?

What is the origin and ultimate fate of the universe? Can we know what came before the universe? Are there ultimate limits to human knowledge about the universe and are we reaching them? Cosmology (the study of the universe) raises profound questions about us, our place in the universe, and about the limits of our knowledge. It was only in the 20th century that cosmology developed from metaphysical and theological speculation to become an observational science and a recognized part of physics. In this course, students will explore questions about the Universe, its beginnings, its structure, its extent, its fate, from several perspectives - philosophical, experimental, and theoretical. We will discuss current research and the ongoing debates about the laws of nature on subatomic scales and the perplexing questions they raise regarding the universe and the limits of scientific inquiry.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-SMA

THINK 61: Living with Viruses

By examining this interplay of viruses and culture, this course challenges students to think beyond conventional disciplinary distinctions through questions about the impact of biology on human behavior as well as the potential of humans to shape biology through genetic engineering. The specific goals of this course are to engage students to examine the microbial world and how they interact with it. We will examine three overreaching questions: How do viruses effect our lives? How have they shaped our culture? How will they shape our future? Topics covered will include the question of whether a virus is alive, the importance of immunity, and the role of viruses in not only human culture but what makes us distinctly human.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-SMA

THINK 65: Preventing Human Extinction

Is human extinction inevitable? Is it necessarily bad for the planet? What might we do to avert human extinction? n99.9% of all species that have inhabited the planet are extinct, suggesting our extinction is also a distinct probability. Yet, the subject of human extinction is one that poses deeply disturbing implications for the thinkers themselves, namely us humans. This course will explore a series of plausible scenarios that could produce human extinction within the next 100 years and simultaneously consider the psychological, social, and epistemological barriers that keep us from seriously considering (and potentially averting) these risks. Students will . . .
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-SI, WAY-SMA

URBANST 109: Physics of Cities (CEE 6)

An introduction to the modern study of complex systems with cities as an organizing focus. Topics will include: cities as interacting systems; cities as networks; flows of resources and information through cities; principles of organization, self-organization, and complexity; how the properties of cities scale with size; and human movement patterns. No particular scientific background is required, but comfort with basic mathematics will be assumed. Prerequisites: MATH 19 and 20, or the equivalent
Terms: Spr | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: WAY-SMA
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