Princeton Splash
Welcome to Princeton Splash, a student-run organization at Princeton University

Splash Spring 15
Course Catalog

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Arts Engineering
Humanities Math & Computer Science
Science Miscellaneous


Arts

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A266: Why Kanye is a Genius (But Not For The Reasons He Thinks He Is)
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Nikolaus Hofer

This course will look at the developments and trends of Rap/Hip-Hop in the last ten years. We will look at the roots of rap in the 80's and 90's and where it is going today, with a focus on the growth and proliferation of "sing-rap."

A309: Bookbinding 101
Difficulty: *

Need a gift for Mother's Day? Annoyed that everyone in your high school has the same notebooks? This course offers an introduction to basic bookbinding skills - exactly what you need. Bookbinding is 2,000 year old art that was invented before paper even existed and continues to be practiced all over the world today. There are countless ways to bind books and in this class we'll teach one of them. You'll get to bind and take home your very own softcover case-bound book (kind of like a Moleskine). Hand bound books make awesome gifts, beautiful journals and excellent school notebooks (we know from experience). You can already read books, but after this class you'll be able to make them too!

A245: Improv Comedy 101 Full!
Difficulty: *

We will teach students the basics of improvising. This will entail playing fun games, doing character work, and letting your imagination run loose.

A290: Visually Analyzing Film and Television
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Valerie Wilson

What makes a good movie or TV show so good? What makes film beautiful? How is symbolism used in visual entertainment media? Learn the answers to all of these questions in this course, where you'll learn how to look at your favorite movies and TV shows in a whole new light. We will cover analysis of motifs in color, costume, set design, direction, and cinematography, using examples like "Mad Men," The Grand Budapest Hotel, Inception, and The Great Gatsby. Get ready to see your favorite TV shows and movies like you've never seen them before!

A260: Post-processing of photos with Adobe Lightroom
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Sean Pan

Basic introduction into post-processing for photos, some explanation in exposure, color, and composition, some basic routines in Lightroom.
Adobe swag will be given!

A314: Identifying and Creating Feminist Media Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Lily Gellman

Are you discouraged by a dearth of strong female representation in the TV shows you watch and the books you read? Are you tired of sexist microaggressions in popular culture? Do you lament the lack of movies that pass the Bechdel test? Or maybe you aren't sure what I'm talking about, but either way, it's important to you to learn how to write complex female characters and establish rich creative universes in your work where women do not play second fiddle to men. In this class, we will interrogate our understandings of what might constitute "feminist media," and use a variety of cultural materials to develop a broad definition that works for all of us. In the final 1/3 of class, you can choose to develop your own concept for a TV show, story, film, etc, and we can make our own media!


Prerequisites
Bring an interest in popular culture, a creative spirit, and an open mind! You do not need to self-identify as a feminist.

A304: Bhangra!
Difficulty: *

Bhangra is a high energy South Asian folk dance, spreading across college campuses throughout the US! Come learn a few moves, get a great workout, listen to awesome music, and wow your friends on the dance floor! BRUUUUUAHHH!

A276: An Introduction to Contemporary Cuba
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Radha Sarkar

Many Americans think of Cuba as an outpost of communism with a despotic dictator, but far fewer know what life is actually like for people in Cuba. What do Cubans do for fun, at school, at work? How is this shaped by the policies of the Cuban state? What does communism look like for the average Cuban? By examining these questions, this class is aimed at giving you a realistic understanding of the challenges and benefits of living in Cuban society.


Prerequisites
An interest in Cuba

A310: Make A Change: American Hardcore and Punk and Politics
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Nicky Steidel

We will explore American hardcore/punk music and its implications for various social movements, subcultural and cultural norms, discussions of race and gender, and its implications today.


Prerequisites
An interest in music or politics or punk rock ! :) or just interest

A269: Fundamentals of Graphic Design
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Eugene Lee

Have you ever had to make a flyer or a poster board, and been disappointed by how it came out? Are you are a budding developer who can't figure out how to make your apps look good? Are you aggravated when people use comic sans? Do you just want to make nicer looking things? This class is for you.

This course will focus on the theoretical foundation that forms the backbone of all types of design, be it web design, print design, etc. In other words, if you learn these fundamentals well, you can make pretty much everything look good. You will learn the basics of spacing, typography, color, and contrast, and how to combine them to convey a message. You will come out of this course with a greater understanding of graphic design, regardless of your level of experience.


Engineering

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E241: Introduction to Signal Processing
Difficulty: **

Signal processing is something we do -- even if we don't know it -- every day. When we listen to music, we can hear different pitches; when we open our eyes we see different colors. Signal processing is the broad field that quantifies and formalizes how we understand and decompose signals, and its primary tool is Fourier analysis. If you've ever wondered how sound and light work and how humans and computers process these signals, come on out!


Prerequisites
Some algebra is good. Calculus is great. Linear algebra helps. Computer programming (in Python) is great. But really all you need is enthusiasm!

E248: Getting Started with Electronics Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Glenn Fisher

Come and learn the fundamentals of electronics! We’ll start with the basics and build up enough knowledge to design some cool circuits. Most of our time will be spent working in small groups to build each of three example circuits.

After this class, students will have a basic understanding of analog circuits. In particular, we will be discussing concepts such as voltage, resistance, and current, and using some particular components including switches, resistors, capacitors, potentiometers, LEDs, and breadboards.


Prerequisites
No previous exposure to electronics is required or expected. This class will cover the pre-requisites for my other class, "Getting Started with Arduino."

E291: How computers and electronics work
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Anqi Dong

Ever wondered how your computer turns cat videos on YouTube into something that goes on your screen? Or how it can be sent from your phone over to the Internet in the first place? Why is your computer faster at doing your physics homework than ripping a DVD? How a program can do anything at all?

I'll explain how computers function, starting from the level of logic gates, and trying to build those up to actual "high-level" programs that we use on a day-to-day basis.


Prerequisites
Some math, computer science, and physics background would be helpful. Know what Boolean logic is (just look it up if you're unsure).

E249: Getting Started with Arduino
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Glenn Fisher

Have you ever wanted to build a self-balancing robot, RFID cat door, or homebrew quadcopter? Then you should get an Arduino! Arduino is an "open source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software." It's a lot of fun to use and enables an astounding number of interesting projects and applications.

In this course, we'll introduce you to the Arduino platform and walk you through some simple projects. We'll spend our time getting hands-on with Arduinos to design and build a few basic circuits, culminating in the design of an Arduino-based theremin instrument.

Join us for a fun time of electronics prototyping, building, and hacking! You'll walk out of this course with the knowledge to begin tackling your very own electronics projects.


Prerequisites
Previous exposure to electronics fundamentals (i.e. voltage, current, resistance, and breadboards). These fundamentals will be covered in my other class, "Getting Started with Electronics." Previous exposure to basic programming is helpful, but not necessary.


Humanities

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H265: Intro to Persian
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Elly Czajkowski

Learn introductions, basic vocabulary, and how to write your name in Persian!

H294: Flawed Genius: Sherlock Holmes as Aspergian Hero
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Isabella Bosetti

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s notorious character has recently been reimagined in two television shows and a film franchise: it seems that there is no time more welcoming to Sherlock Holmes than the 21st century. Yet, in this class, we will examine how a modern Sherlock faces more challenges than his Victorian-era predecessor.

Using Sherlock Holmes as a case study and jumping-off point, we will examine society’s attitudes towards technology and people who are technologically adept, the portrayal of characters with mental illness in modern media, and the association between autism and crime.

We will conclude with some serious (and one intentionally amusing) responses by both experts and autistic individuals to the occasionally condescending attitude “neurotypicals” have towards people with autism.


Prerequisites
Familiarity with Sherlock Holmes in at least one of his many incarnations is recommended. If not, don't fret: context will be provided in class.

H272: The Ethics of Biological Immortality
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Fiona Furnari, Di Qi

Imagine a disease suddenly affects everyone on Earth - causing 100,000 people to die each day. Within thirty years, one in seven people in the world will have died of this - one billion people. If this were the case, it would seem that we would be obligated to try to fight this disease and save lives. However, around 100,000 people die each day due to aging. Are we obligated to fight aging? Supposing that we could be biologically immortal, should we allow humans to become so? In this class, we will introduce students to a new way of looking at philosophical arguments and discuss these dilemmas and more.

H273: Newspaper writing Full!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: William Navarre

We will be discussing the basics of writing newspaper articles. We will discuss lede-writing, the upside-down pyramid, preparing questions, and the major differences between writing a newspaper article and writing a novel.


Prerequisites
None

H259: Superwholock and Rhetoric: Examining Language in Popular Culture
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Loralee Sepsey

Love Supernatural, Doctor Who, and/or Sherlock? Love language and writing? Come examine the basic ideals of rhetoric by watching video clips of your favorite TV shows!


Prerequisites
None! Even if you don't watch Doctor Who, Sherlock, or Supernatural, rhetoric is universal and you should have no problem understanding the material.

H312: This Land is Your Land: Territorial Disputes Around The World
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Rahul Subramanian

From the Peloponnesian War to the current crisis in Crimea, land disputes have sown the seeds of conflict between great powers. In this course, we will examine the historical causes, current status, and proposed solutions to present-day territorial disputes.

Depending on student interest, some of the territories we may focus on include Crimea (Russia-Ukraine), Jammu and Kashmir (India-Pakistan-China), the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands (Japan-China), Dokdo/Takeshima (South Korea-Japan), Taiwan (Taiwan, China), Tibet (China, Tibet, India) and the West Bank/Gaza Strip (Israel-Palestinian Authority).


Prerequisites
Background knowledge of/interest in world history and international relations

H275: Languages Around the World
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Andres Parrado

We use language every day, but we rarely think about the different intellectual issues that shape the development of, and are embodied in a particular language. With Mandarin Chinese, Serbo-Croatian, and Hindi-Urdu as its main case studies, this class will briefly examine how external factors influence a language's script and what it means for a language to have a standard form.


Prerequisites
Eagerness to learn about the world and an open mind

H279: American Sign Language and Deaf Culture
Difficulty: **

Ever wonder how the Deaf communicate with each other? What is the difference between "deaf" and "Deaf"? Then this is the class for you! Conversational American Sign Language skills will be taught with an emphasis on fostering creative expression. Topics in Deaf culture will be discussed as well. There will be ample opportunity to practice with classmates through ASL-based games and activities. No previous ASL experience is needed.


Prerequisites
Excitement for learning a new language!


Math & Computer Science

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M293: Better Living Through Infinite Series: The p-Adics
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Roger Van Peski

We’re going to talk a bit about a somewhat lesser-known cousin of the real numbers: the p-adics. These may be thought of as infinite geometric series of powers of a prime p, where we generously allow these series to retain their identity as independent ‘numbers’ rather than just throwing them away because they (often) diverge to infinity. Far from being a whimsical exercise in pretending things don’t diverge, they are actually extremely important in a wide variety of areas in math. They also have a lot of interesting properties—for instance, if two p-adic discs intersect at any point, one is contained in the other! We’ll define and discuss some of the fascinating ways in which the p-adic integers and p-adic rational numbers behave and their relation to the regular integers and rationals, as well as what being ‘cousin of the real numbers’ actually means in a rigorous sense.


Prerequisites
It will help if you’re comfortable working with infinite series, such as the geometric series you may have seen in precalculus or the variety of series in calculus.

M302: Quaternions: Super Vectors
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Heesu Hwang

Quaternions, $$\mathbb{H}$$, are the next step up from complex numbers. Complex numbers are made from real numbers and a number i such that $$i^2+1=0$$. However, in quaternions, we have three such numbers i, j, and k such that $$i^2=j^2=k^2=-1$$. Come explore some of the history behind the subject and figure out why the heck the cross product makes sense (like really, did anyone actually understand that?).


Prerequisites
Familiarity with complex numbers. Appreciation for math history.

M253: Game programming with Elm
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Holden Lee

I'll introduce the basics of functional reactive programming - a new programming paradigm that combines the mathematical elegance of functions with effective signal handling to make programming games (and much more) clean and efficient. (In fact, Elm has been called the "happiest" programming language.*) Then you'll spend the rest of the time designing and implementing your own games, and I'll be on hand to assist throughout the process.

Come with ideas! See some examples at http://elm-lang.org/

*Reference: http://bit.ly/1BDFJFX

M243: Quotient Maps i.e. Mathematical Glue
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Christopher Zhang

The torus is constructed by taking a rectangle in the plane and "gluing" two parallel sides and then the other two parallel sides. Quotient maps is the rigorous way to do this. Other things that can be constructed by quotient maps include projective spaces, the Klein bottle, and other fun things.


Prerequisites
Some basic notions of set theory (like set, subset, onto) would be helpful.

M263: Codes and Cryptography Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Lisa Ho, Bianca Homberg

For Mary Queen of Scots, a broken cipher meant her execution. For the Allies during WWII, a broken Enigma code meant lives saved and war significantly shorter. When you can read your enemies' private communication, you know what they're thinking and what they're planning--and such information is never a bad thing.

Come learn how to send messages that your friends won't be able to read--and even better, how to break the secret messages that other people have sent! We'll cover a few different kinds of ciphers, including Caesar shifts, substitution ciphers, and the Vignere cipher. Most of this will take the form of you all working in groups trying to break code; there will be hints if you need them.

M286: Infinite Sums
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Christopher Zhang

Proves some of the properties of infinite sums and Taylor series in calculus.


Prerequisites
Some knowledge of calculus is helpful.

M283: Logic for Mathematics Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Adam Millar

Logic can get you from "A" to "B," but how does it get you from "(A and not B) if and only if C" to "(B or C) or not A?"
Mathematical statements, theorems, and definitions are formulated in a precise language known as First Order Predicate Logic.That language is the focus of our study today. Our goal is not only to understand how logic works, but how we make logic work for us.

Things we will learn;

The definition of Mathematical Validity.

Logical equivalences that let you attack proofs from different angles.

Why when you prove a theorem, you secretly prove other theorems too.

Why proof by contradiction is an acceptable (indeed very powerful) form of argument.

And more...


Prerequisites
Any proof based math class

M257: Make a Video Game
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Kyle Dhillon

Have an idea for an awesome game?
Want to know how your favorite video games are made, and how to make them yourself? Obviously the answer is yes so come to this class!

We'll cover the fundamentals of game development (2D and 3D graphics, input, logic, sound), as well as explore the game design process by looking at some popular games. We'll even make our own Java game from scratch!


Prerequisites
No experience required, but some programming (Java, C++, Python, Javascript, whatever) would be useful for making your own!

M258: Why can't we solve big polynomials?
Difficulty: ***

We all know the quadratic formula: if $$ax^2+bx+c=0$$, then $$x=\frac{-b\pm\sqrt{b^2-4ac}}{2a}$$. We might not have memorized the corresponding formula for cubic polynomials, but we know it's there. The formula for quartics is a monster, but, nevertheless, there is one.

Breaking the trend, in 1823 it was proven that it is literally impossible find a general formula for any polynomial more complicated than a quartic. How? Why? Come and find out!


Prerequisites
Familiarity with the concept of a group in mathematics.

M292: SET theory
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Roger Van Peski

SET is a fun card game which revolves around fast pattern-searching, but like many seemingly simple games, it has a lot more mathematical subtlety than meets the eye. In this class, we'll start by playing a game or two (beginners are welcome--the rules are easy to learn) and learning a clever trick to convince your amazed friends that you can count cards! This leads into a discussion of the mathematical life of SET, with connections to combinatorics, modular arithmetic, finite geometry, and group theory.


Prerequisites
None

M268: Intro to Quantum Computing
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Pranav Gokhale

What is a quantum computer and how is it any different from the computers we have today? When are quantum computers radically faster than traditional computers? Will quantum computers ever become a reality?

Take this course to find out! We'll start by understanding what a qubit (quantum bit) is and then explore concepts like superposition, teleportation, and measurement.


Prerequisites
-Math up (and including) precalculus -Basic knowledge of Boolean algebra: AND, NOT, OR -Above all, enthusiasm for learning!

M284: Introduction to Machine Learning
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Glenn Fisher

Machine learning is a field of computer science related to artificial intelligence. It combines ideas from statistics, optimization, and computer algorithms to learn from data. Machine learning methods have led to the development of email spam filters, search engines, computer vision, and even self-driving cars.

This class will introduce you to the very basics of machine learning: problem formulation, model selection, model implementation, and evaluation. We'll discuss some of the underlying theory, while using an application to motivate it and provide intuition.

In particular, we will use the methods of machine learning to teach a computer program to determine whether or not a human cell is cancerous. We will train a model from measurements extracted from pictures of both cancerous and non-cancerous cells, then apply the model to new cell measurements to determine if they may be cancerous.

The machine learning model that we discuss, called naive Bayes, will rely on probability. We will introduce the probability concepts we need (conditional probability and Bayes's formula), but this class will be easier for those who have had previous exposure to probability.

Come join us for an exciting introduction to machine learning, and learn how to teach a computer to recognize cancer cells!


Prerequisites
None, but basic probability and computer programming may be helpful.

M255: The Mathematics of Magic Tricks Full!
Difficulty: **

Want to impress your friends? Want to have some fun? Then this class is for you! Taught by past members of FRS174, a course led by Professor Manjul Bhargava (recent Fields medalist and all-together awesome person!), this class will guide you through an interesting variety of magic tricks, along with the beautiful mathematics behind them.Tricks will vary from the most basic Hummer Trick to mind-blowing, mind-reading card games!

M295: How to break your computer
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Anqi Dong

Your computer can break in many ways. For example, it can simply crash on you "by accident", because you did something it didn't expect but should have. We'll talk about how these mistakes can happen.

Your computer can also break because someone else is trying to mess with it. How do people trick your computer to do things you didn't want it to do? How bad can these attacks get? We'll talk about both how people can try to break your computer, and how you can protect yourself from these incidents.


Prerequisites
Willingness to ask questions! Some math, computer science, and physics background would be helpful.


Science

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S240: Crash Course in Neuroscience--Why Study the Brain?
Difficulty: **

Why do we have a brain? And how can we even begin to think about studying it? Are the theories that have been established credible? In about an hour, we'll take a tour of the brain, discussing what we already know about its function, how we've gotten this far, and the work in the field that has yet to be completed.

S307: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Waseem Khan

"I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics." - Richard Feynman

You might have heard of Particle-Wave Duality or the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, but where do these notions come from and why are they necessary? This class will give a semi-rigorous mathematical introduction to quantum mechanics, and use our formulation to look at basic problems. This class will move fast, and although you may not be able to truly understand quantum mechanics, you will be able to see how it is applied.

Based on interest and remaining time, we can discuss more advanced topics (paradoxes (Schrodinger's cat, EPR), complex potentials, applications, etc.)


Prerequisites
Some calculus (know what a derivative and an integral are), basic probability, complex numbers, algebra.

S305: How to Create a Universe
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Revant Nayar

Ever wanted to know the basics of modern cosmology in an accessible way? We provide you with a brief overview of standard cosmology, discussing topics ranging from the Composition, 'Shape' and Evolution of the Universe, to Dark Matter and Dark Energy. We will briefly discuss unanswered questions in the field if time permits.


Prerequisites
Familiarity with Calculus would be helpful, but not necessary.

S244: Virology
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Jenna Newman

Viruses, although discovered on the eve of the twentieth century, are ancient agents of disease (or sometimes, unnoticed residents) in the human body. In this class, we will learn how to categorize viruses and understand the answers to the following questions:
1) What do all viruses have in common? How do they contain such powerful information in small genomes and what are some tricks they use to optimize storage of this information? What techniques do viruses employ to vary their genomes to generate diverse genotypes, and consequently, phenotypes?
2) Why are viruses like Ebola or rabies so dangerous (note- they are highly fatal for very different reasons, both of which we will cover)?
3) Why do we have vaccines against some viral diseases, such as polio, while we have yet to develop a vaccine against HIV? Why is it that the vaccine for influenza changes each year?

We will also briefly cover other infectious agents such as prions and viroids.


Prerequisites
Background in at least high school biology would be preferable but is not mandatory

S267: What even is your mind? An introduction to consciousness Full!
Difficulty: **

Curious about how it is that we are conscious? How do our minds construct a 3D picture of the world and place ourselves in it, colored by emotions and populated with thoughts and memories? How do we even define what consciousness really is? This course will introduce the current theories and recent experiments in neuroscience, philosophy, and computer science about the basis for consciousness, its uniqueness, and the extent to which it can be mimicked.


Prerequisites
Being conscious

S306: Neurobiological Communication: How Your Everyday Behaviors All Boil Down to the Flow of Ions
Difficulty: **

Many behaviors can be linked to brain activity. But what is this "activity"? In this class, we'll be discussing what is known about neuronal communication, including a review of the action potential--how it's generated and its effects on neural systems. In addition to discussing the microscopic details of synaptic connections, we'll take a look at how neuroscientists build models to explain how the integration of millions of signals in the brain can explain human behaviors at the macroscopic level.


Prerequisites
It is recommended that students have taken some high school biology. It is also recommended, although definitely not required, that students have also taken the Crash Course in Neuroscience Class--either from this year's or last year's Splash!

S251: Our Bizarre Quantum Universe Full!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Todd Seiss

What is everything, and how does it work? The quantum theory is an enormously successful answer to these ambitious questions, leading to some of the most precise experiments ever conducted, whose results are exactly in agreement with some of the most precise calculations ever made. Despite the enormous successes, the theory is bizarre, utterly defying intuition. Single atoms spread out like ocean waves, things have literally zero size yet still spin, and a switch can be both on and off at the same time.
We will discuss at a conceptual level what this theory is and why it is so peculiar. In doing so, we will learn how the universe functions at the most basic level, and what all this implies about the nature of reality. Everyone is welcome.


Prerequisites
None

S287: Why does our big universe exist at all?
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Hou Keong Lou

Einstein famously said, "The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible". Modern physics has had huge successes describing nature big and small. Yet when physicists use the same equations to predict the size of the universe, our answers are off by a million billion. This seemingly paradoxical "Hierarchy Problem" seems to indicate that we should not expect any interesting things (including humans) to exist at all!

In this lecture, we will go over this "Hierarchy Problems" in theoretical physics: how it arises from Quantum Mechanics and its relations to the famous Higgs's Boson. We will also address proposed theoretical solutions, including Supersymmetry, the Multiverse, and what the Large Hadron Collider might tell us about nature.

The lecture will be at the layperson level with technical details kept at a minimum.


Prerequisites
Basic Algebra is required.

S274: Molecular Gastronomy: The Science of Food! Full!
Difficulty: **

Learn about the scientific principles behind modern cooking methods. Spherified juices. Transparent ravioli. Come find out about how chemistry and physics have revolutionized culinary experimentation and possibilities. There will be practical demonstrations and ample opportunities to taste some of the delicious creations made in class!


Prerequisites
Familiarity with basic chemistry and physics.

S311: Body Battles!: Introduction to Immunology
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Rahul Subramanian

The human body’s immune system is the ultimate fighting machine! This course will provide an introduction into the fundamental principles of immunology and help students understand how the human body is able to defend itself from a variety of pathogens including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and worms. The course will focus on basic organizational principles of the of the immune system (like adaptive vs. innate immunity ) and touch on concepts like host-parasite evolution, polymorphism, cross-reactivity and immunopathology. (If you don’t know what any of these terms mean-no worries, you will by the end of this course!). We will also discuss some ways in which the immune system combats the influenza virus on a molecular, cellular, and population level. This course can be taken in sequence with Virology and Vaccines, and will provide students with a foundation in immunology that could be useful for both courses.


Prerequisites
High school biology is recommended but not required.

S254: Literally How The Universe Works. (Statistical Mechanics!)
Difficulty: ***

Have you ever wondered how the universe works?! We bet you have. How are we so confident, you ask? We've been stalking you and know exactly what you've been thinking about. jk. But there's a nifty equation called the Grand Canonical Partition Function that tells us it's pretty likely:

$$P(E) = \frac{e^{\beta(N\mu- E)}}{\mathcal{Z}(\mu, V, T)}$$

$$ \text{where} \quad \mathcal{Z} (\mu, V, T) = \sum_i e^{(N_i\mu_i - E_i)/k_BT} $$

...sort of.

Unfortunately we can't stalk every single one of you, in the same way that we can't stalk every single atom in the universe, so we come up with equations that describe the behavior of lots and lots of particles. And believe it or not, the universe has A LOT of particles!

This kind of en-masse analysis, called statistical mechanics or probabilistic physics, lies at the heart of much of our understanding of the world. In fact, large portions of chemistry and biology are dependent on statistical physics!

We'll derive the Boltzmann Distribution to answer some really cool questions like: What is temperature, really? How is energy partitioned across dimensions? Where does classical mechanics get it wrong? Is the US Supreme Court just an Ising magnet that happens to be made out of humans? And is biological life an inevitable consequence of thermodynamics? In fact, we'll show that the remarkable and universal properties of energy can be applied to any energetic system.

(Note: this class will be fairly mathy, but everything will be described qualitatively as well so you should be able to follow along even if the math gets too hard core. The material is rigorous but we're gonna have the chillest time!)


Prerequisites
Good algebra and a basic understanding of calculus. Some background in at least classical physics is also recommended, and a willingness to leave it behind.

S252: The Science of Optical Illusions
Difficulty: *

Seeing the world around us feels effortless, but our visual system of our brain is actually incredibly complicated. We automatically make guesses about the world that influence what we perceive, and our brain has specialized areas to process different types of visual information. In this class, we’ll use optical illusions to investigate the surprisingly complex tricks that our brains use to help us understand the world. We’ll learn that all of us are partially blind, that colors are not what they seem, why faces are so important, and much more!

S256: Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness and a Fulfilled Life Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Duc Nguyen, Kaite Yang

For much of its relatively short history, the psychological sciences have been heavily focused on what is wrong with people, from Sigmund Freud’s ideas of mental disorders to Stanley Milgram’s obedience studies. Then emerged positive psychology, which began to use the scientific method to systematically study the “well-lived life” and how people can use this understanding to achieve happiness and satisfaction. Now, positive psychology is a thriving and exciting new branch of psychology with almost immediate implications for how we live, act, and think. As a primer for the new field, this course will explore how scientists define and study happiness and satisfaction, some of the not-so-surprising and surprising findings so far, and how we can incorporate some of these ideas and theories into our own lives.


Prerequisites
Basic understanding of psychology and neuroscience can help facilitate in understanding some concepts, but is not required.


Miscellaneous

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X285: Introduction to Crochet
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Wing Fei Wong

Learn one of the most relaxing, practical and (surprisingly) easy crafting hobbies out there: crocheting. From scarves to blankets, from doilies to stuffed animals, there is a crochet project for every occasion and person.

Alternatively called: "How to turn a ball of yarn into something useful, using a hook while watching Netflix."

We will go over basic crochet stitches, how to read a crochet pattern, and begin on a beginner's project: a scarf!


Prerequisites
No prior experience required

X301: Let's go to the Movies
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Jonah Donnenfield

In an era of mass marketing and high budget effects, how do we distinguish the good from the bad? In this class, we will explore classic examples of quality movies, and what exactly makes them classic.


Prerequisites
none

X242: Basics of Esperanto!
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Avaneesh Narla

Esperanto, created by Dr. Zamenhof in 1887, is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language. Created as an easy-to-learn, politically neutral language, now it has almost two million speakers. The course will explore the basics of the language, and expose students to Esperanto culture and history.


Prerequisites
None

X247: Preparing Competitive Pokémon: Beginner and Advanced Techniques
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Rita Fang

A discussion of competitive Pokémon battling in Generation VI, with a focus on how to prepare Pokémon for advanced play in the most recent games. We will begin with basic information on EV's, IV's, and natures, then go into how to breed by building up IV's. Finally, we will go into how to use the Time Machine method to take advantage of the RNG to help breed for Hidden Power.

If you're more interested in how to battle, consider taking X288: Competitive Pokémon Battling!


Prerequisites
Some basic knowledge of Pokémon, i.e. types, stats, etc. Feel free to bring your own 3DSes though!

X300: Introduction to Modular Origami and Kusudama Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Emily Zhang

Want to fold cool stuff? Modular origami uses multiple folded sheets of paper to create a larger, more complex model. Kusudama are spherical shapes made in a similar way.

Come hang out and make things! No origami experience required.

X277: Mind Control: How to Influence/Persuade People Full!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Stephen Cognetta

Do you ever wish you could just get people to do what you want? How to convince investors that you have the right business ideas? What about trying to get everyone to come to your awesome event/party when no one is there?

This class offers some simple tools to persuade and influence people on a daily basis. We will cover some material from Robert Cialdini's "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" and general psychological phenomena. You will learn scientifically proven persuasion techniques including how to draft emails to get maximum signups, give effective presentations, and host popular events.

Limited spots for this course are available! Many others have signed up in the past.

X296: Introduction to Lojban
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Paul Rapoport

coi rodo! Come learn Lojban, the culturally neutral, perfectly unambiguous language of logic.


Prerequisites
No prerequisites, but a grounding in predicate logic or basic computer science is weakly recommended.

X281: How Chocolate is Made: From Bean to Bar with the Institute for Chocolate Studies
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Kate Letai

Have you ever wondered how chocolate is made? Find out how the beans of the cocoa tree, Theobroma cacao, become a delicious dessert. Members of Princeton’s student‐run bean‐to bar chocolate factory will discuss all of the steps in the chocolate-making process, and will answer questions about the history and production of chocolate.

X250: Balloon Animals
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Joanna McPherson

Teaching fun balloon animals


Prerequisites
None

X289: Intro to the BBC
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Valerie Wilson

Ever overheard your friends talking about someone named "the Doctor" and you thought, "Who?" Wonder what all the hype about Bendycrick Cucumber is about? Want to understand more about the British dramas and comedies that hit shows like "House of Cards" and "The Office" are based on? This is the class for you! We will do a brief overview of the history and programming on Britain's most revered public broadcasting channel. Take a trip into the weird, wonderful world of British culture!

X303: Make your own marble cake !!! Full!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Julie Pourtois

Make your own marble cake from scratch using the colors YOU want. It will be ready to eat by the end of the class.

X282: Pizza-Making 101 Full!
Difficulty: **

Want to learn how to make your own pizza? Here's your chance to learn the basics so you can start creating your own culinary masterpieces!

X288: Competitive Pokemon Battling
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Quan Zhou

That's right - We're going to learn how to make a competitive team of 6 on Pokemon Showdown (a virtual, online Battle Simulator). This course challenges the notion that Pokemon is a children's game, and teaches that competitive battling is a real and rewarding challenge that revolves around predicting and responding to your opponents moves. We'll talk about why a team of 6 mewtwo's is a bad idea, how Skarmory+Blissey can cripple an entire team, and how obscure items like white-herbs (which restores lowered stats) can turn the tide of entire matches.

Topics include: A quick overview of Competitive Pokemon Battling, a Game Theory Analysis of the Metagame, and how Information plays a vital role in decision making.


Prerequisites
We'd expect for you to know what type Gyarados is. Bring a laptop. Leave your Gameboys at home.

X297: Rubik's cube for beginners Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Alan Chang

If you have no idea how to solve the Rubik's cube, this class will teach you! (I'll have cubes you can borrow during the class.)

Also, we'll talk about Rubik's cube competitions -- what they're like, how fast people are, etc.


Prerequisites
You should *NOT* already know how to solve the cube.

X261: The Liars' Club

Join us for a jam-packed session of playing games dedicated to bluffing and deception: Mafia, Resistance, and Liar's Dice! We, the Liars' Club at Princeton, will supply all the materials and teach you all the rules. Feel free to drop in for as many sessions as you like! FUN GUARANTEED.


Prerequisites
If you want to get comfortable with the basic ideas, read the rules of Mafia, Resistance, and Liar's Dice on Wikipedia! But keep in mind that we often play variants with different rules. We will post a handout soon containing the characters we use for Mafia!

X278: Bubbles and Crashes: Financial Crises Through History
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Oliver Sun

What determines the value of a commodity or stock? Are there any discernible patterns to the declines and rallies of the stock market? How can an astute investor reap profits from playing the game of finance?

From the Dutch tulip mania of the 17th century, to the subprime mortgage crisis of recent memory, the tides of fortune have displayed a fickle nature toward financial markets. This course will examine some of the most significant bubbles and crashes in economic history, seeking to establish their causes and underlying similarities. This course will also evaluate the effectiveness of various analytic theories that attempt to predict market movements.