These are the offerings for the semester starting February 1, 2006. Students are encouraged to sit in on a variety of classes during the “shopping” period.
In addition to academic offerings, this listing includes programs in the residence halls and around campus. Remember that a sharp mind needs to step outside the classroom and the laboratory from time to time.
ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
- “CSI: My Cat”
Instructor: Alison McCook, Location: The Scientist
Description: Determination of likely cause of a cat’s death.
Comments: Cats will be provided.
- “How much of this landscape would you protect?”
Instructor: alun, Location: alun
Description: The Thornborough henges complex has been described by English Heritage’s chief archaeologist as “the most important prehistoric site between Stonehenge and the Orkneys,” but what precisely is the site? Where does it end? This is becoming an urgent question as a mining company is seeking permission to scoop out large chunks of the landscape for gravel. Is it enough to protect the henges themselves, or is more of the landscape needed to provide context to the site?
Comments: Wear sturdy shoes.
ASTRONOMY AND PLANETARY SCIENCE
- Published Research Synopsis: 5.5 Earth Mass Exoplanet Found
Instructor: Anthony Kendall, Location: Anthonares
Description: A review and synopsis of the discovery of a ~5.5 Earth mass planet around a dim star near the center of our galaxy, with an original analysis by the instructor of total exoplanet populations.
Comments: Prerequisite: Attend screening of video explaining gravitational microlensing.
- “Another non-Earth-like ‘Earth-like’ planet”
Instructor: B and B, Location: B and B
Description: An overview of the recent discovery, via gravitational lensing, of what was
hailed in the press as the most “Earth-like” planet yet. Discussion of why there’s really little possibility of it being anything like Earth.
Comments: Bring an original essay about what the Earth is like to first class meeting.
- “If you can’t wait, just blow it up …”
Instructor: Karmen, Location: Chaotic Utopia
Description: Critical examination of NASA plan to knock a hole in Mars for research. Consideration of relevant information from Project Rulison nuclear test and methodological rules from archaeology and geology.
Comments: Come to first meeting to be added to waiting list.
- Core Concepts:“The Intelligence Illusion”
Instructor: AJ, Location: Omnidictum
Description: In the Intelligent Design/ Evolution debate, there is one concept that both sides seem to implicitly accept. While both “design” and “evolution” are questioned, intelligence never is. In fact, if not for the implicit agreement about what this concept means, it would be impossible to even debate whether life is an outcome of an “intelligent” process or a “non-intelligent” process. An examination of “intelligence” as a biological concept.
Comments: Grading is pass/no-credit.
- Ecology :“Does Interspecific Competition Mean Anything in an Evolutionary Context?”
Instructor: RPM, Location: Evolgen
Description: Discussion of inter-specific (between species) competition from a population genetics framework in order to understand ecological concepts from an evolutionary perspective.
Comments: Offered alternate semesters with seminar in organismal biology.
- Genetics :“Chimps More Like Humans Than Apes?”
Instructor: Nick Rao, Location: OK, so I’m not a cowboy
Description: Critical examination of the claims of a quantitative geneticist that genus-level affinities can be determined based solely on degree of genetic similarity. Discussion of the failure
of genetic similarity to say anything about functional similarity. Consideration of the history of the human genus and its current definition as discussed by two of the experts in the field.
Comments: “Monkey’s uncle” jokes are grounds for dismissal from this course.
- Molecular biology:“Fluorescent proteins and the currency of Darwin”
Instructor: Dyticas, Location: The Dyticas Chronicles
Description: Examination of how mutation and selection have been used to generate novel fluorescent proteins.
Comments: Black-light party immediately following first class meeting.
- Gene sequencing practicum:” Paleogenomics, the Future of Evolutionary Biology? “
Instructor: Moment of Science, Location: Moment of Science
Description: Sequencing of DNA from frozen mammoth bones.
Comments: Bring your own freezer mitts.
- Lab :“Persistence in Perfusion”
Instructor: Bora Zivkovic, Location: Circadiana
Description: Details of the experimental challenges of culturing quail retinae.
Comments: Eye-protection required.
- Zoology field-trip :” All in a day’s work …”
Instructor: TQA, Location: The Questionable Authority
Description: Trip to Kaena Point (at the northwestern tip of Oahu) to observe a colony of Laysan Albatross.
Comments: Pack a change of clothes.
- Simulations in biology:“Abiogenesis and information growth in simulations: what does it mean?”
Instructor: Adam Ierymenko, Location: GreyThumb.Blog
Description: An examination of the nature of artificial life simulations and of related epistemological concerns. Relevance of artificial life systems to questions about natural abiogenesis. Consideration of possible theoretical objections including the idea that there is a strict local conservation law for information in all causal systems.
Comments: Virus protection required for lab portion of course.
- Primary school policy: “Diversity in science: will we ever see a rainbow?”
Instructor: Sandra Porter, Location: Discovering biology in a digital world
Description: Why isn’t there a greater diversity of science students in the pipeline? The University of Washington hit an appalling low this year of 118 black students out of 5,000 freshman. Examination of policy from the perspective of parents with children in the Seattle public school system to assay an hypotheses about the way that school system and parents work, early on, to enhance the education of some and leave the education of others to a system of benign neglect.
Comments: Loaner children provided for fieldwork.
- Secondary school policy: “Losing One’s Educational Virginity”
Instructor: James, Location: Ruminating Dude
Description: Consideration of the different personal and institutional factors driving the enrollment (and attrition rate) in high school chemistry classes.
Comments: No crying in the teachers’ lounge.
- Shakespeare Seminar:“Falstaffian Hypodermic Needles”
Instructor: Jeremy Abrams, Location: bardseyeview
Description: A study of Henry IV with an eye to performing more effective vaccinations in modern patient populations.
Comments: Cross-listed in NURSING.
- “Implications of the Hwang case for authorship in academia”
Instructor: Radagast, Location: Rhosgobel
Description: A look at how authorship is often determined on academic papers, including some unanswered questions as to what should happen when fraud occurs.
Comments: Signed egg donor cards will be collected at first class meeting.
- “When will it end?”
Instructor: Rob Knell, Location: JourKnell
Description: In the light of recent fraud allegations, consideration of the importance of reproducibility. Tips for collecting data in ways that increase reproducibility of results.
Comments: Lab notebooks for this class will be subject to forensic analysis.
- American History: “Ben’s Birthday, Our Present”
Instructor: Brendan Maher, Location: The Scientist
Description: A survey of Benjamin Franklin’s correspondence with Erasmus Darwin.
Comments: Rainy-day kite-flying club meets right after class.
- History of Science Survey: “The Top 10 Science Discoveries … Ever!”
Instructor: David Wheat, Location: Science in Action
Description: Check the course title, Einstein.
Comments: Einstein didn’t make the top 10.
- “A particularly egregious misrepresentation of a study”
Instructor: Orac, Location: Respectful Insolence
Description: Case study to examine ways a newspaper article completely misrepresents a scientific study about lung cancer.
Comments: We anticipate this course will be moved to a larger room.
- “Nature got lucky, and so did I”
Instructor: Ivan Oransky, Location: The Scientist
Description: Conclusions that can (and can’t) be drawn from patterns of publication and retraction in scientific journals.
Comments: Bring fee for field trip to Las Vegas.
- “When is a Tanager a Spindalis?”
Instructor: Mike, Location: 10,000 Birds
Description: Exploration of the origins of the renaming of the Stripe-headed Tanager in 2000. Discussion of related issues of taxonomy.
Comments: Everybody knows the bird’s the word.
- “Thag not grok god!”
Instructor: Mark A. Rayner, Location: the skwib
Description: An exploration of early attempts to explain meteorological phenomena. Attention to the question of what requires explanation.
Comments: Cross-listed in HISTORY and RELIGIOUS STUDIES.
- “ID vs. QM (1): Jump, they say.”
Instructor: Florine Meijer, Location: Qulog
Description: An examination of the evolution of the wave function and issues raised by the collapse of the wavefunction. Consideration of an analogy with biological evolution.
Comments: Cats (will be/won’t be) provided.
- “The Multiple Natures Conjecture”
Instructor: Moby Dikc, Location: Cosmik Debris
Description: Discussion of the theoretical foundations of a new kind of model of the universe that can be very different from Einstein’s space-time universe. It is proposed that the new model could account for relativistic and quantum phenomena using an intuitive but novel method of predicting measurements.
Comments: Brain protectors available for purchase at first class meeting.
- ” A wildfire of controversy – science, politics, and publishing”
Instructor: Science Woman, Location: On being a scientist and a woman
Description: Attempts to censor a paper that appeared in Science from members of the faculty at the university where the work was done. Examination of the potential of private funding to influence scientific objectivity.
Comments: Graduate students may enroll anonymously.
PSYCHOLOGY AND NEUROSCIENCE
- “When you die, do you know you’re dead?”
Instructor: Dave and Greta Munger, Location: Cognitive Daily
Description: Examination of psychological research into the belief in an immortal soul. Consideration of effects of age and education versus cultural and religious values.
Comments: Must have physical exam at Campus Health Services before enrolling.
- “Happy hour: And how do we smell?”
Instructor: Sunil, Location: balancing life
Description: Overview of mammalian olfaction.
Comments: Everybody nose …
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STUDENT HEALTH SERVICES EVENTS AND CLINICS
- Health Chat: “Why has rheumatic fever declined in the U.S.?”
Facilitator: Tara C. Smith, Location: Aetiology
- Health Center Policy on Dispensing Antibiotics: ” Acinetobacter: We’re All Going To Die!”
Facilitator: Mike the Mad Biologist.
- Parasite Screening: “Castrating Trematodes!”
Coordinator: PZ Myers, Location: Pharyngula
STUDENT ORGANIZATION EVENTS
- Equestrian Club Lecture: “A Horse Named Skowronek”
Guest Lecturer: Equuschick, Location: The Common Room
- Garden Club: “Taxodium distichum”
Docent: Daniel Mosquin, Location: Botany Photo of the Day
- Film Society: Screening of a new documentary, “Darwin’s Nightmare”
Location: Invasive Species Weblog
After the screening, Jennifer Forman Orth will lead a discussion of the film and of ways that the introduction of a non-native fish has influenced life in Tanzania.
INTER-FRATERNITY COUNCIL WORKSHOPS
- “Evolutionary Trade-Offs: Big Brains or Big Balls?”
Facilitator: GrrlScientist, Location: Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)
- Recognizing the People Who Matter, part 6: “What’s your h-index”
Facilitator: The Mad Scientist, Location: The Daily Transcript
RESIDENCE HALL PROGRAMMING
- Memory tips and dorm banana storage: “Silencing and Memory, parts 1 and 2″
Location: The Genius
- Things you are allowed to grow in your closet: “Hydroponics: A Smart Alternative to Growing Rice?”
Facilitator: Gloria Gamat, Location: The Biotech Weblog
- Getting to class on time: “Plants as clocks”
Facilitator: Trout Grrrl, Location: Science and Sarcasm
- Dorm TV night: “Famous RNA Investigator Fun”
Host: Bartholomew Cubbins on RNA
- Review of residence hall policy on pets: “The Main Squeeze”
Facilitator: Diane A Kelly, Location: Science Made Cool
- Campus Compliance with the Drug Free School Act: “Wastewater Gumshoes”
Facilitator: Daniel Morgan, Location: Get Busy Livin’, or Get Busy Bloggin’
NOTICE TO SWIMMERS FROM THE ATHLETICS DEPARTMENT
CAMPUS COMMUNITY MEETING
- “Caught in the Line of Fire: Animal Rights Activists Take Over Oxford”
Facilitator: Nick Anthis, Location: The Scientific Activist
CAP AND GOWN ORDERS