Autumn IntroSems status has been released! Check your status in the IntroSems' VCA. Autumn IntroSems with Space Available are open for self-enrollment. Check the Space Available page often--listings subject to change daily!
IntroSems quarters and schedules subject to change--check back often. Visit Re-Approaching Stanford for the latest updates on Academic Year 2021-22.
Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
How to make a tornado (and other flows in the atmosphere and ocean)
Have you ever wondered how tornadoes form, or what drives the Gulf Stream and how the current may or may not be affected by climate change, or why the weather in the tropics is usually dull compared to the stormy mid-latitudes, or what sets the tracks of hurricanes? The physics behind all of these phenomena is strongly influenced by the Earth’s rotation. In this seminar we will explore this physics experientially using rotating tanks of water. You will get your own small turntable to perform experiments both in-class and for your assignments. We will introduce different flow phenomena, from tornado formation to hurricane propagation each week and we will design experiments to simulate them. The experiments, like the oceanic and atmospheric motions they are simulating, can be visually stunning, like pieces of fluid artwork, and we will learn various visualization techniques to draw out their beauty. You will document your experiments by recording videos and writing reports. In doing so you will practice the scientific method while gaining an understanding and appreciation for how the ocean and atmosphere work.