Spring 2020 CNS Honors Seminar
The Last Unknowns
Prof. William Press (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Monday 4-5pm in WCH 1.108
Office location: POB 3.258
Office hours: Email me to schedule.
Last year, editor John Brockman asked 300 famous scientists and
scholars each to submit exactly one question--their candidates for "the
most important last unknowns." In this seminar we will "question the
questions": Which are actually within the realm of possible scientific
discovery? Can we imagine the path by which they might be answered? If
so, what are first steps? Which questions are not scientific at all,
but instead are societal decisions or individual ethical choices? For
those, how can science contribute? And, which questions are
semantically meaningless or operationally empty--and how could famous
scientists have been so stupid as to ask them? (These are sometimes
the most fun.)
Students must obtain a copy of Brockman, The Last Unknowns.
Link on Amazon.com: here ($10.69 when I last looked)
Used copies on Bookfinder.com: here (might be cheaper, shows prices including shipping)
We will discuss a few questions each week, as a group or in smaller
groups. Students will be asked to prepare short oral presentations at
Wikipedia level, each week introducing the group to the field of
science behind a question.
CR/NC based on attendance and participation in class (and preparation
between classes, when assigned). There are no exams.
For now, the website is http://wpressutexas.net. We might
switch to Canvas later, if there is a good reason to.
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information, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259,