Spring Numbers Sections

Spring 2023 Numbers section descriptions below.

The preference form is closed (deadline was 9am PST, Nov 1st). If you missed submitting, please email GenEd@lclark.edu with any and all sections you would like to be waitlisted for. Placements will be emailed to your @lclark.edu account by Friday, Nov 4th.

(listed in order of class time, then by Prof last name)

MWF mornings

 

What do numbers sound like? An exploration of digital sound and music

Albert Bae, Visiting Prof of Physics

Stephen Tufte, Assoc Prof of Physics

  • Core 121-15 – MWF 9:10-10:10am (Bae)
  • Core 121-01 – MWF 11:30am-12:30pm (Tufte)

Also taught MWF 1:50-2:50pm (Bae). Please see description there.

Networks and Trees

Duncan Parks, Visiting Asst Prof of Biology

  • Core 121-03 – MWF 11:30am-12:30pm

Also taught MWF 1:50-2:50pm. Please see description there.

The Ancient City

Joel Sweek, Asst Prof w/Term of General Education

  • Core 121-02 - 11:30am-12:30pm

Also taught MWF 1:50-2:50pm. Please see description there.

MWF - 1:50-2:50pm

 

Space, Time, Spacetime

Paul Allen, Assoc Prof of Mathematics

  • Core 121-04 – MWF 1:50 - 2:50pm

The goal of this course is to understand the concepts of space and time present in Einstein’s relativity theories. To accomplish this, we explore the intellectual tradition that formed Einstein’s thinking. We start with the physics of Aristotle and Ptolemy’s model of the universe. These set the stage for the scientific revolution of the 1600s when the structure, methods, and limits of science were developed, leading to the physics of Newton. Simultaneously, we explore the mathematical tradition leading to the geometry of Riemann. We then proceed to explore how scientists and mathematicians (Einstein, Minkowski, Poincare) came to conclude that space and time can most effectively be considered as aspects of a single entity: spacetime.

What do numbers sound like? An exploration of digital sound and music

Albert Bae, Visiting Prof of Physics

Stephen Tufte, Assoc Prof of Physics

  • Core 121-15 – MWF 9:10-10:10am (Bae)
  • Core 121-01 – MWF 11:30am-12:30pm (Tufte)
  • Core 121-07 – MWF 1:50-2:50pm (Bae)

One of the primary ways that we receive information about the world around us is through our ears. Since the late 1800s we have been able to measure, record, and play back sound information using mechanical devices. In the last 50 years we have dramatically shifted the way that we do this. The vast majority of the sound information that currently barrages us is now digital.

This course will present the physical basis of sound (pressure waves in air) and will discuss how we can measure sound waves, with a strong focus on the modern approach of digitizing sound; in other words, turning sounds into numbers. We will learn how to use digital sound recorders along with powerful computer software to measure, store, transmit, and mathematically process this sound information into more meaningful forms.

By learning to analyze the sounds that surround us quantitatively, we can address a wide range of interesting and important questions. For example, what is high-fidelity and how is this affected by compression algorithms? Does vinyl sound better? What is a sound spectrum and how is it useful? How has the shift to digital music affected how music is recorded, distributed, and consumed? How are sounds used to scientifically investigate nature (e.g. seismology, echolocation, ultrasonic imaging, animal communication)?

Get the Lead Out: Chemistry, Public Health, and Environmental Justice

Barb Balko, Assoc Prof of Chemistry

  • Core 121-08– MWF 1:50-2:50pm

Lead has unique properties that have resulted in its widespread use as a colorant and in water pipes, solder, gasoline, and batteries. Unfortunately, lead has proven to be at least as dangerous as it is useful. Lead damages multiple organs and the nervous, digestive, reproductive, and cardiovascular systems. While the use of lead is gradually being phased out, because lead does not biodegrade or dissipate over time, lead pollution continues to impact communities. The affected populations tend to live near industrial areas, airports, highways, and communities with older homes containing leaded paint and pipes. There are many studies that show that the areas most affected by lead pollution are associated with certain demographic factors such as socioeconomic status and race.

In this class, we will examine the chemistry of lead through lectures, problem-solving, and discussion. We will also discuss the presentation of data in primary literature to understand how communities with high lead levels are identified. Workshops throughout the semester will introduce students to statistical and data visualization techniques to allow them to use datasets to ask and answer questions about lead pollution. In particular, students will learn to use geospatial analysis to address the issue of environmental justice.

Think Like an Ant: An Introduction to Complex Systems (added January 11th)

Ethan Davis, Digital and Data Science Specialist at Watzek

  • Core 121-13 - MWF 1:50-2:50pm

We’ve all seen a lone ant wandering aimlessly across our kitchen counter, with no apparent plan or thought, thwarted in its mission by something as simple as an orange peel. How then, does a colony composed of nearly identical ants collectively solve complex problems, adapt to changing environments, and process information to make seemingly intelligent decisions? The study of complex systems focuses on cases like ant colonies, where many individuals following simple rules can exhibit collective behavior that is markedly different from what happens on the individual level.

This course will follow the history and practice of complex systems science, and use it to connect disparate areas of study, from Protozoa, to ants, algorithms, and society. Students will learn the basic programming skills needed to build computational modes of systems, and how to use those models to understand real-world behavior.

Fire, Energy, and Civilization

Julio de Paula, Prof of Chemistry

  • Core 121-10 – MWF 1:50-2:50pm

The ancient Greeks described the composition of all matter and nature in terms of the “elements” earth, air, fire, and water. This course dives deep into “Fire,” more commonly referred to today as “Energy.” Early energy sources such as the burning of wood, followed by coal, and then oil, have led to the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The prospect of climate change has motivated the development of a dizzying array of alternative energy technologies that use sources as diverse as tides, kelp, and the deep earth. This course will discuss fundamental concepts such as heat, work, the laws of thermodynamics, and the generation of electricity. Then we will center our inquiry on this guiding question: “What must be done to reach the goal of net-zero global carbon emissions?”

To address this question, we will investigate energy usage in agriculture, manufacturing, buildings, and transportation. We will explore the influence of energy on community health, poverty, and security. Our inquiry will be rooted in mining publicly available datasets that we will analyze with online tools, spreadsheets, and basic computer coding. We will interpret and construct graphical representations of data and work in teams to tackle the pressing challenge of an equitable transition to global net-zero carbon emissions.

This section is intended for students with no previous experience with coding or statistics.

Networks and Trees

Duncan Parks, Visiting Assist Prof of Biology

  • Core 121-03 – MWF 11:30am-12:30pm
  • Core 121-09 – MWF 1:50-2:50pm

The branching network known as a tree is a fundamental geometry in both natural and human systems, from circulatory systems in animals and plants to transportation and utility networks. We will start by applying an understanding of graph models to a variety of real-world examples (such as routing and distribution problems). We will use mathematical tools to build optimal networks in utility or telecommunications contexts. We will then use those tools to build evolutionary trees and evaluate cross-species comparisons in a tree-based context. Finally, we will examine the branching patterns of human circulatory systems and actual plants, examining both the performance of those systems and the fractal geometries that govern their development. Students need not have advanced mathematical skills to use these tools, and students of all backgrounds will encounter new methods and approaches in this course.

Collecting Sound Data, Making Strong Inferences: An Introduction to Inductive Method and Logic

Colin Patrick, Visiting Asst Prof of Philosophy

  • Core 121-11– MWF 1:50-2:50pm

This course introduces students to inductive logic, or reasoning seeking to establish the likelihood or probability of its conclusion on the basis of sound observational evidence and data. We will explore common forms of inductive reasoning such as enumerative and analogical induction, causal arguments, inference to the best explanation, scientific method, confirmation and falsification; common impediments to cogent inductive reasoning such as innumeracy, ignoring base rates, confirmation bias, flawed estimation of probability, flawed data, and projection; and the reliability of perception and memory in cogent inductive reasoning. We will also explore Indigenous epistemology (sometimes called Native Science) and its similarities and differences from western scientific method, and critically apply what we learn to common but inductively questionable and arguably harmful ideologies such as populationism (the idea that global problems such as world hunger and climate change are a function of population numbers), biological determinism, the fixity of gender and race, and IQ testing as a measure of “innate” intelligence.

Hidden Vistas of Mathematics

Sweta Suryanarayan, Asst Prof w/Term of Mathematics

  • Core 121-06 – MWF 1:50-2:50pm

There is a secret world of mathematics only known to mathematicians and some people who really go out of their way to explore. In this world one sees topics which are significant, beautiful and completely different from what one sees in high school. There is plenty in the world that is easily accessible to all but stays hidden from many due to a predetermined structure by which math is introduced in an academic setting. The goal of this course is to enhance students mathematical thinking through some special fields of mathematics that they may have never seen before and that are NOT dependent on speedy computations using some formula. During the semester we will focus on exploring three hidden vistas of mathematics namely:

  • Modular arithmetic and its application in cryptography
  • Types of infinites
  • Topology; Study of mathematical objects by treating them like play doh

The Ancient City

Joel Sweek, Asst Prof w/Term of General Education

  • Core 121-02 - 11:30am-12:30pm
  • Core 121-14 – 1:50-2:50pm

There is a deep history to when, how, and why people began to gather in extra-nuclear groups and, eventually, live among strangers in what we call a city. Was it inevitable, this move from strictly familial foraging to living among strangers? How long did it take? What are the biological, material, and demographic details of that move from hominin gathering to share meat to “the high walls of Rome”? In this course, we will experiment with familiarizing ourselves with the quantitative archaeological record of the origins, emergence, and flourishing of the ancient city.