Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

Science in the News


This seminar has two objectives: to encourage students to read some of the more accessible survey literature and original literature about the most current issues in the sciences and to understand the relevant scientific questions raised in these articles. The primary materials for our discussions will range from reports in the popular media (e.g., The New York Times and The Economist) to non-specialist scientific media (e.g., Scientific American and Science) to other informative sources available on the web. Possible topics include diseases such as avian and swine flu, HIV infection, SARS, and malaria; environmental issues including climate change, atmospheric pollution, and catastrophes such as the Gulf Coast oil spill and radioactive material release in Japan after the recent tsunami; future energy sources; human evolution and genomics; stem cell research; nanotechnology; cosmology; and the research associated with the Nobel Prizes that are announced in October. Once the basis for our understanding of the scientific questions involved is established, we will also get into discussions of ethical, moral, and policy issues. 


Meet the Instructor(s)

Hans Andersen

Hans Andersen is professor emeritus in the Chemistry Department. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and went to Stuyvesant High School, one of the well-known science high schools in New York City. He did his undergraduate and graduate work at MIT and postdoctoral work at Harvard. He was then appointed to the faculty at Stanford and has been in the Chemistry Department ever since. His research uses statistical mechanics, and he is best known for his work on the structure of simple liquids and the development of various computer simulation techniques for the study of liquids. He has won three teaching awards at Stanford. His wife, June, is a retired scientist who worked for IBM for many years. His two sons, Hans and Albert, are both computer engineers working for Microsoft. In his spare time, he studies piano (classical and jazz), and he enjoys live music (from grand opera to bebop), reading (fiction, current events, and a little history), and food.