Survey: Favorite Classes

Have you ever eaten carbonated fruit?

My friends found a steel pressure vessel — exactly where, I haven’t dared to inquire — and we’ve started a series of scientific experiments. Various edible items are placed inside the vessel, which is sealed and pumped up to 5 atmospheres of CO2, and then placed in the refrigerator overnight. The results range from the odd (baked potato) to the delicious (navel orange, honeydew, applesauce). And let me tell you, burping for five minutes after eating a grapefruit is a novel experience.

So, while I recover from this experiment and prepare myself for the next one, it’s time for user-generated content! Yes, this is Web 3.11, after all, where you do the work and I luxuriate in advertising profits — and let me tell you, Google Adsense brings a whole new meaning to “micropayment.”

The first time I gave up and invited comments instead of doing work myself, I asked, “If you could fix one thing about the science-blogging experience, what would it be?” We heard requests for a better basic-knowledge infrastructure, something like an open archive of historically significant papers; also, voices were noted clamoring for better math support in blogs, for which Randall had a suggestion. In addition, one person had a single-world answer for what was broken about science blogging: “Nisbet.” Heaven only knows what got into that reader. . . although Australia’s best and brightest have an idea.

After that, I asked about “gateway physics books” — the sort of introductory or intermediate texts you could give a student who has enrolled in or just recently survived AP Physics. We received a couple nods to Halliday, Resnick and Walker, and small surprise, the Feynman Lectures too. For more, and if you have suggestions of your own, check the comments.

Today’s question is, at least in my bubble-addled brain, a logical follow-up to the last one. I expect my Gentle Readers have gone through a good many science classes all together, ranging from elementary school to post-graduate courses. What have been your favorites — and, if ranting is your thing, your least favorites as well?

8 thoughts on “Survey: Favorite Classes”

  1. It would be hard to pick a favorite; I’ve had several classes I thoroughly enjoyed.

    As an undergraduate, I enjoyed Plant Biology and Prokaryotic Bio. My least favorite (a bit of blasphemy around here, I’m sure) were the two semesters of Physics I took. That was largely due to the instructor, though, who was easily the worst I had in my undergrad career. I probably would have enjoyed it much more with a competent teacher who bothered to prepare for lecture.

    I’m taking a graduate seminar in the biology of symbiosis that I’m quite enjoying right now.

    Sooner or later, someone is going to bring up how much they hated taking Organic Chemistry (which, despite being a tough class, I liked). For those people, might I recommend one of these fine products?

  2. By far, my favourite classes were Electromagnetic Theory I and II (dynamics and statics, respectively, and yes I got the order right). Mostly because EM is just cool, and the equations, though hairy, were elegant in their own way. Sort of like a blue whale: big and unwieldy, but somehow still graceful.

    The one tattoo I thought of getting was Maxwell’s Equations. (Integral form on one side of my back, derivative form on the other.)

    The main reason I love those classes was the instructor, Professor Lee, who more than any of the other professors I had in college, had a very obvious love for sharing knowledge with his students. It didn’t hurt that he was ridiculously quotable, either. (Imagine an old Chinese man saying, “Can you find the flux of… grasshopper?”)

    After that, I’d say any of my Communications Theory or Signals classes, just because the topic is cool. And also the Fourier Transform is the coolest thing ever. The other tattoo I want, which I may still get some day, is the Fourier Transform of the Heart from xkcd…

  3. I really enjoyed my Nonlinear Dynamics class, set up around Strogatz’s book. I like having the (godlike) power to figure out many behaviors of a system of differential equations without actually solving them.

  4. Organic chemistry was the main reason for switching my major from biology to electrical engineering. Electrodynamics was my favourite (though electrostatics was fun too).

  5. Definitely my Chem 2 class. Getting to work directly with chemicals to do non-trivial experiments was the most fun I’d ever had in a straight science class.

    Of course, I quickly learned that the rest of chem was too complex for me. Give me math and computer science!

  6. You really are making it too much work. (But I guess that is half the fun.) Apples in a cooler with some dry ice, maybe some insulation to keep the apples from freezing…sparkling cider on the hoof.

  7. At a guess, using a pressure vessel and liquid CO2 allows for higher gas pressures; I don’t think your typical cooler is built to be that airtight. But yes, it’s fun to be extreme! The more equipment, the better! :-)

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