English for Scientists
Winter Term 2008-9
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.

13 February
– We will hear the remaining project presentations.
– [probably to be read in conjunction with the following point] Prepare a short presentation of your book (three minutes max). Think about what might motivate the others to read your book. Did it move you, is the author a fascinating character, did it give you new ideas?
– Please remember that we will have a farewell meeting at 6 pm at Luise's at Dahlem-Dorf underground station. I will reserve a table for us. I'd love to see you there!

6 February
– This is the due date for your project presentations.

30 January
– Read the text by Johann Hari. What is his main point? (Arguably, there is more than one "main point" candidate.) What does he use and how does he use it to make that point? Identify at least three ideas that Hari mentions that would lead you to think in new directions and maybe to become aware of interesting consequences. If you can't find any immediately, keep looking.

16 January
– For the rest of the Selfish Green video, make a note of the main points that the four panelists try to make as well as their arguments for those points.
– Do some research on the panelists' work: what are their achievements? Why are they famous? (You will find videos on all of them, or by them, readily available on the web.) How does this tie in with what they are saying during the panel discussion?

9 January
– ./.

19 December
– In a forum post, try to pinpoint a convergence of ideas from the domains of science, creativity, education, and whatever else that has come up in our discussions.
– Watch the "Selfish Green" panel discussion. Briefly summarise the panelists' main points and, in a little more detail, point out their most important arguments.

12 December
– After you have watched Benjamin Zander for the first time, maybe you can appreciate the two Rachmaninoff recordings after all. wink
(You wouldn't believe how hard I laughed about how grotesque that situation must have been for you when I finally saw my mistake. smile )
– And after you have watched Evelyn Glennie for the second time, write about three ways that she, consciously or otherwise, makes reference to some of the ideas on science and creativity that we have discussed so far. Talk to others about this. Be bold. Come up with some interpretation that you think is actually original.

5 December
– If you failed to do the previous task, post your text in the forum by Sunday.
– Most of you will need more material to work with in order to answer last time's question. There have been three focuses so far: What is creativity? What is the relationship between creativity and science? What is the place of education in this equation? Post something on one of those questions in the forum and take part in the general debate.
– Have look at the Science Documentary Project page. Please make up your mind as to your two or three top priorities, there might be some competition. smile

28 November
– Now that you have a much more complete picture of what we take science to be, watch Ken Robinson's talk once more and write a 250-word text on the question, "Where can we possibly take these ideas about science, where do they lead, what is their relevance to you?"

21 November
– Write up your group's findings in a forum post. Discuss everybody's posts.
– Write a 250-word text on Rebecca Goldstein's critique of Popper. Answer the following questions. 1. Does Goldstein represent Popper fairly? Do her arguments actually hold water? 2. Do you agree with her conclusion? Give reasons.
– For the next group of 5 words from your book, focus on etymology. Find out something interesting to entertain your colleagues.

14 November
– Read (or re-read) Popper's and Gould's texts on scientific theories. I'd like concise summaries of their ideas and arguments. If you'd like to put your efforts to the test before this class, post them in the forum and have the group discuss them, which may just possibly provide you with some insights you would have missed.
– What connections can you draw between their ideas and those from the materials you have already studied?
– Watch the video with Brian Cox on the LHC. What does he have to say about the criteria that questions and answers in science have to meet in order to be accepted?
– If you feel like reading ahead a bit, or if you would like to be even better prepared, go see if you can discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Rebecca Goldstein's critique of Popper.

7 November
– Study the additional material your group found out you needed to complete your picture of what science is.
– Bring the first five words for discussion from your book. Be prepared to relate something remarkable about those words so that as many of your colleagues as possible will be intrigued.

31 October
– On the Resources page there's now a number of texts and videos that I'd like you to choose an item from. Do some research on that particular item, e.g. on the author, the subject matter, where the ideas come from. Prepare a short presentation for our next class, focusing on the question, "What is science?".

24 October
– Watch the Horizon video in full. For one of the disciplines, please bring the most compelling arguments for including that discipline in a curriculum for the next president. Additionally, what was left out of the programme that you think would be essential for the next president to know about?

17 October
– This is our first session. Just come as you are.

Topic revision: r19 - 30 Mar 2009, PeterMonnerjahn


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