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1 - 7 of 7 results for: THINK

THINK 1: The Science of MythBusters

How do scientists actually go about answering practical questions? How does science function as a way of understanding our world, and importantly how does it differ from other approaches? As its point of departure, this course will examine and critique selected episodes of the television series, MythBusters (Discovery Channel), which tests the validity of many popular beliefs in a variety of imaginative ways, including myths, rumors, traditions, and stories. We will take the opportunity to delve more deeply into the applicability of the scientific method in understanding a vast range of real-world problems, and into the practical acquisition of fact-based knowledge, which together form the cornerstone of all science. The intellectual framework of this course will be based, first and foremost, on skeptical inquiry, combined with the other key ingredients of good science, which include: framing the question well, careful experimental design, meticulous observation and measurement, quantitative analysis and modeling, the evaluation of statistical significance, recovery from failure, disseminating findings, and the continuous cycle of hypothesis and testing. Note: This course is taught at an introductory level, but it pays serious attention to the quantitative treatment of experimental data and associated tests of statistical significance. All students taking the course will be expected to learn, and to work a series of problems in, basic probability and statistics. There is also a hands-on, "dorm lab" component that involves some fabrication and a significant amount of individual testing and measurement. The final course project will involve developing and writing a scientific grant proposal to test a myth. We hope to inculcate in our students "a taste for questioning, a sense of observation, intellectual rigor, practice with reasoning, modesty in the face of facts, the ability to distinguish between true and false, and an attachment to logical and precise language. " (Yves Quéré, 2010 Science 330:605).
Terms: Aut, last offered Autumn 2014 | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-AQR, WAY-SMA | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 3: Breaking Codes, Finding Patterns

Why are humans drawn to making and breaking codes? To what extent is finding patterns both an art and a science? Cryptography has been used for millennia for secure communications, and its counterpart, cryptanalysis, or code breaking, has been around for just slightly less time. In this course we will explore the history of cryptography and cryptanalysis including the Enigma code, Navajo windtalkers, early computer science and the invention of modern Bayesian inference. We will try our own hand at breaking codes using some basic statistical tools for which no prior experience is necessary. Finally, we will consider the topic of patterns more generally, raising such questions as why we impute meaning to patterns, such as Biblical codes, and why we assume a complexity within a pattern when it's not there, such as the coincidence of birthdays in a group.
Terms: Aut, last offered Autumn 2014 | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-AQR, WAY-FR | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 5: Justice and the Constitution

How does justice incorporate the ideals of liberty, equality, and security? How are these ideals balanced against each other? How are they made concrete in the US Constitution and law? What is the relationship between justice and the law? In this course we consider three core ideals that animate the idea of liberty: freedom, equality and security. We explore the relationship between these different ideals through an interdisciplinary inquiry that includes political philosophy, history and law. In your reading, writing and thinking, you will move between the realm of abstract ideas and actual legal cases. We begin with the philosophical roots of the ideals of liberty, equality and security and then focus on their articulation in the US Constitution and the overarching US legal framework and public policy. Students will learn to analyze the distinctive challenges posed to the ideals of liberty, equality and security by twenty-first century developments such as the emergence of the internet and the rise of non-state warfare.
Terms: Aut, last offered Autumn 2014 | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-ER, WAY-SI | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 7: Journeys

Is death final or only the beginning of another journey? How do the mysteries of destination give rise to our most basic questions of purpose, meaning, and faith, and challenge us to consider our proper relation to others? Journeys will examine works written across a span of some 2,300 years, from Chinese philosophy to American short stories. Each of these forms and genres presents some essential aspect of the journey we all share, and of the various passages we make within that one great journey that relentlessly challenge and transform us even as we advance toward what the poet Thomas Gray called our "inevitable hour." By reading, discussing, and interpreting these works, we will ask you to consider how each text compels us, by the penetration of its vision and the power of its art, to make part of our own journey in its company.
Terms: Aut, last offered Autumn 2014 | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 9: Technological Visions of Utopia

How do science and technology shape the frameworks for imagining utopian or dystopian societies? Sir Thomas More gave a name to the philosophical ideal of a good society - a word that is now a part of common language: utopia. In the almost 500 years since More's Utopia appeared, changes in society - including enormous advances in science and technology - have opened up new possibilities for the utopian society that More and his predecessors could not have envisioned. At the same time science and technology also entail risks that suggest more dystopian scenarios - in their most extreme form, threats to humanity's very survival. We will look at several works that consider how literary visions of society have evolved with the progress of science and technology. The readings begin with More and include examples of more technologically determined visions of the late 20th century, as imagined in works of fiction.
Terms: Aut, last offered Autumn 2014 | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 24: Evil

What is evil? Are we naturally good or evil? How should we respond to evil? There are many books and courses that focus on the good life or the virtues. Yet despite their obvious apparent presence in our life and world, evil and the vices are rarely taken as explicit topics. We will read philosophical and literary texts that deal with the question of evil at an abstract level and then use other readings that help us focus on more practical implications of the meaning and consequences of evil. By exploring the issue of evil, we will confront larger questions about the nature of humans, the responsibility to address evil as a society, and the moral and ethical ways we might begin to define what is evil.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

THINK 43: What is love?

Is love a spiritual or a bodily phenomenon? Is the concept of love timeless or ever changing? How does thinking about love lead us to ask other important philosophical and social questions? In this course we will examine the classical roots, medieval developments, and contemporary permutations of Western ideas of romantic love. With an eye to thinking about representations of love in our own culture, we consider some of the foundational love books of the Western tradition. From Plato's Symposium to Chester Brown's graphic novel Paying For It, we ask the fundamental question of whether and how we might distinguish between spiritual and physical desire. We consider how medieval and contemporary writers dealt with the relation of love to sex, power, money, marriage, and gender. We discuss these works of the past, for example the illicit love in the courtly romance Tristan, in tandem with representations of clandestine love from the present day, such as the portrayal of same-sex love in Brokeback Mountain.
Terms: Aut, last offered Autumn 2014 | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
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