English for Scientists

Summer Term 2008
Fridays, 2−4 pm; room 055, Computer Science building, Takustr. 9.


Dates given on this page always refer to the lesson a particular homework task is due for. If you have any questions at all, please don't be afraid to write an e-mail and ask. All materials can be found on the Resources page.

18 July
– Prepare a five-minute presentation of the book you read. Focus on a narrative that would show your colleagues why they would want to read that particular book. How did the book change you, your perception of the world, or even your dreams?

11 July
– In the Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing, edited by Richard Dawkins, find a piece that for some reason appeals to you and present its value in terms of adding to the scientific discourse we have discussed so far.
– Research Imre Lakatos's contribution to the philosophy of science.

4 July
– Analyse Rebecca Goldstein's text on falsifiability. Does she get her facts right, is the argumentation sound, and do you agree with what she says? Give specific passages in the text to base your analysis on.

27 June
– Read the two texts by Gould and Popper. Which aspects central to an understanding of science do these two texts add to our ideas on the subject? Which aspects do they help expand? Especially with regard to Gould's text, employ the text-analysis tools we have introduced so far.

20 June
– In "Just suppose it was us", David King writes about the consequences of the 2004 tsunami in South East Asia. Try and write one-sentence representations of the contents of each paragraph; let these sentences show how each paragraph relates to what was said before and to what comes after it.

13 June
– Read the chapter from Al Gore's book. Write an essay on the question: What are the "politics of fear"? Analyze and discuss. (ca. 500 words)

6 June
– Prepare to give a reasonably short account of your analysis of Zinn's essay. Which specific parts of the text did you look at and how did they imtpact on your conclusion as to whether he succeeded in reaching his goal?
– What would your main points be in a discussion of the essay?
– Start reading Al Gore's "The Politics of Fear".
– Remember that we're going to hear Paul J. Crutzen give his Einstein Lecture at 3:45 in lecture hall 1a in the Silberlaube building.

30 May
– Re-examine the section on the Analyze and Discuss type of essay in Warburton's book. You should be able to specifically relate what he says to your and your colleagues' texts.
– Read the first six chapters of William Zinsser's On Writing Well. Can you make out specific ways in which to improve your texts?
– For the next batch of words make sure that you get their pronunciation right and represent them in the IPA phonetic symbols. Make a note of any questions you might have as to how to use the symbols or what their particular qualities are, e.g. in comparison with sounds from your native language.

23 May
– Write a 500-word essay on: "What was Howard Zinn's intention in writing 'Unsung Heroes'? Analyze and discuss." Use Nigel Warburton's The basics of essay writing as a guide (available from the library's reserved book shelf). Please write a message to me if you encounter any problems.
– Post your text on the Essay page by 12 noon on Thursday, 22 May.

16 May
– Judging from the insights into possible definitions of science you gained from Sagan and Feynman, go back to the Horizon video and come up with an explanation of what exactly is under attack in this alleged war.
– In order to do so, do some research of your own of the relevant issues and the people involved in these debates. See the Resources page for a couple of links that might yield some information you might want to use.

9 May
– Read the two texts by Carl Sagan and Richard Feynman. On which points do their texts absolutely agree, and where does one go further than the other? Where do some of their ideas lead you?

25 April
– Watch the Horizon video. What is your emotional reaction to the presentation and to the people being presented in the programme? Whose side are you on after watching the video? What is the definiton of "science" that they use in the video? What is the "war"?

18 April
– This is our first session. Just come as you are.


Please feel free to leave comments or post questions that might be relevant to your colleagues. For everything else, please send an e-mail.


Topic revision: r15 - 12 Oct 2008, PeterMonnerjahn


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