English for Scientists
Summer Term 2009
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.

17 July
– Prepare a short oral presentation of your book. No summaries, please, but something that your colleagues might actually find interesting. What moved you about the book, annoyed you, made you think? Why would you (not) recommend it? Give the others something that tells them whether they'd perhaps want to read the book themselves. Please no longer than five minutes max!

10 July
– Please see to it that you address one of the questions from last time in the blog if you haven't already done so.
– Read Popper and the Time magazine interview with Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins. There is a convergence of ideas that we started to explore in last week's class. Please elaborate on that topic.

3 July
– In class, we touched upon a number of issues, including education, religion, and the question of how you can be sure that somebody isn't trying to manipulate you. I'd like you to explore one of these issues, making use of the materials in the Resources sections of this page and of the blog. Of special interest would be Richard Dawkins's "Viruses of the Mind"; Andrew Abbott's "The Aims of Education" address, especially the second half; and Popper's "Science: Conjectures and refutations".
– Please write a blog post focusing on one of these threads.

26 June
– I'd really like to see what you make of the last third of Johann Hari's text about science education. As I see it, there are three themes that to some extent also ran through the Dawkins–Krauss discussion: experience, engagement, and appreciation. I wonder what you'll make of the aesthetics argument and how Hari connects that to science.

19 June
– See the blog for ideas.

12 June
– Draw deeper parallels between Feynman's ideas and concepts in "The Uncertainty of Science" and the texts and videos we have looked at so far. Where might they lead you?
– Watch the Feynman interview to the end. Include that in your analysis mentioned above and try to link to it in your weekly blog posts.

5 June
– Read Feynman's "The Uncertainty of Science". How does his view of science compare with Sagan's?

15 May
– Choose a science book that you will read over the semester. I have made a small selection available in the Reserved Books section in the Maths/CS faculty library that you may choose from if you'd like to have something suggested to you.
– In the blog, put up your first post concerning your first contact with the topic of inquiry you chose with your partner. Detail and discuss one or two of the ideas that you encountered and what their possible meanings are. Take part in the discussion of your colleagues' posts.

8 May
– Watch the President's Guide to Science documentary. Which aspects in the programme coincide with items on your list of things to keep an eye on? How do their arguments differ from yours?
– With one partner, I'd like you to pick a topic from the list below that you are going to follow for about six weeks from a variety of different angles. Preparation will be done in those two-person groups, a discussion of an item of general interest will follow in class and hopefully unite and bring together the different perspectives that you will have been studying. Topics include, but are not limited to: Great Scientists, Science vs. Religion, Pseudoscience, Evolution, Philosophy of Science. If you'd like to suggest another topic, please feel free to do so. Topics can be chosen by more than one group, so there is no artificial limitation on who can do what.

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

Topic revision: r10 - 14 Jul 2009, PeterMonnerjahn


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