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Teacup Classes on Zoom

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  • 6/11 -- Some early speculative bubbles..or were they?
  • 6/12 -- LGBQ pre-history (and a little history).
  • Later -- Angels in America In a few weeks, we'll take a look at Tony Kushner's two-part play, which is (among other things) about the AIDS epidemic. You can purchase a copy online, or download it from various sites, apparently. If you're having trouble finding a copy, you might contact me or Ilsley Library ( There is an HBO miniseries of the play which is great, but we will be looking at the script itself. Please let me know when and if you've read it, so I can schedule classes accordingly.

Already Happened

I'm maintaining this list so people can get sense of what topics I cover; some of them may later be available as videos.

  • 3/23 -- The Boston Molasses Flood (Using a disaster as a window into all kinds of wider historical topics.)
  • 3/24 -- Universal Basic Income / Direct Grants / Etc. (History of and ideas about a long-standing group of economic policy proposals, now in the spotlight due to coronavirus.)
  • 3/25 -- Intrinsic motivation and planning. (This class is particularly geared towards homeschoolers and unschoolers, and I will strongly suggest that you first read Anton Chekhov's short story The Bet.)
  • 3/26 -- Into to Euclid. (We'll go over basic concepts in classical geometry, and work through the beginning of Euclid's Elements).
  • 3/27 -- The Ely War. A look at a little-known piece of Vermont's labor history.
  • 3/30 -- Crop circles. Also, alien abductions. The truth is out there; probably not very far out there.
  • 3/31 -- The Great Depression. Prior to right now, the most famous economic downturn in US history. (We'll also specifically be discussing the dustbowl).
  • 4/1 -- The discovery of atomic theory. (We'll discuss the origins of atomic theory, its relationship to a wide range of other philosophical concepts, and the line of evidence that ultimately led to it being accepted. We'll go over the basics of the periodic table. This will be an introduction for a section-by-section walk-through the of the periodic table.).
  • 4/2 -- Prices, wages, and interest rates in the Middle Ages. (For those of you who are not already huge cliometry nerds, let's just say that this is gonna be more interesting than it sounds.)
  • 4/6 -- The Tank Problem and Drake Equation (A math problem and a blank formula which help illustrate some concepts in the search for life on other planets. Along the way, we'll discuss Fermi estimation (and why it got banned in my house (not by me)).)
  • 4/7 -- The Rise of Dinosaurs. (Millions of toddlers who cannot identify the birds on their lawn can name dozens of kinds of dinosaurs. Weird, right? And we've only known about dinosaurs for about two centuries. We'll look at the early days of paleontology, including the Bone Wars, Champ, and the Loch Ness Monster.)
  • 4/8 -- Hydrogen and the Alkali Metals. (The left-hand column of the periodic table, from Hydrogen down to Francium. We'll look at some of the quantum physics that determine chemical reactions: this is very reactive group of elements.)
  • 4/9 -- >The Harmonic Series. (We'll dive into one of the world's oldest and weirdest infinite-series problems.)
  • 4/13 -- What is a genre? We'll be discussing the concept of genres in arts and literature (perhaps elsewhere). How do they emerge and evolve? Is there art without a genre? What does that mean?
  • 4/14 -- The Noble Gases Jumping to the other side of the periodic table, we'll look at the Noble gases. Not much chemistry there, so we'll talk about the physics of buoyancy in different environments.
  • 4/15 -- Working with continued fractions. Continued fractions often reveal patterns in numbers that decimal representations overlook. But they are a bit daunting to work with. We'll look at some techniques.
  • 4/16 -- Games Part 1: what is a game? To get the ball rolling on a larger history of games, we'll ask what a game is or isn't, using some minimal examples from simple games.
  • 4/23 -- A few "visceral" math projects.
  • 4/24 -- Learning recommendations -- what, why, and how.
  • 4/27 -- Folklore (We'll look at common structures in fairy tales and folklore from different cultures, ranging right up to present-day internet narratives).
  • 4/28 -- Introduction to knots (This is a two-part class--we'll look at how to tie some basic knots, and we'll also look at basic knot theory in mathematics. Bring rope or string, and (if possible) pipe cleaners).
  • 4/29 -- The Alkaline Earth Metals (group 2 on the periodic table)
  • 5/1 -- Counterfeit currency (A long and quirky history, which raises some unexpected questions about real currency).
  • 5/6 -- Raban bar Sama (We'll look at a fascinating medieval story of a guy who just wanted to self-isolate and instead got caught up in world events.)
  • 5/7 -- Dreams (Approaches to dreams and the experiences of dreamers through history. This is definitely not just an hour-long ramble about weird dreams we've had, although some of that is bound to slip in.)
  • 5/8 -- Group 17: The Halogens (And some discussion of salts in general)
  • 5/12 -- Periodic Table, continued (We'll be looking at the Group 3 and 4 metals, and then, as a bonus round, go through the entirety of the Period 7 elements.)
  • 5/13 -- Khee-Kway. (The story of a messianic figure in the Amazon, which raises some questions about how societies do or do not change over time.)
  • 5/15 -- Medieval Astronomy. (The science, the controversies, the wild people involved.)
  • 5/19 -- Number Theory Basics. (Families of numbers, the infinitude of the primes, maybe we'll get to diagonalization.)
  • 5/20 -- Insects and Us. (We'll be looking at human-insect interactions: honeybees, mosquitoes, silkworms, termites...)
  • 5/26 -- Darwin's Metaphors (We'll look at some of Charles Darwin's precursors, and the metaphors he chose to use, as well as how Darwinism itself was used as a metaphor by later authors and movements.))
  • 5/27 -- The rare earths (and friends).)
  • 5/29 -- The War of the Austrian Succession (a.k.a. World War Zero)
  • 6/2 -- The main block of metals (groups 4 to 12)
  • 6/5 -- The Dugway: a local enigma, with some notes on historical research.
  • 6/8 -- The Post-transition Metals (sometimes called the "ordinary metals", although they aren't.
  • 6/9 -- Two other adventures in pre-Columbian history.
  • 6/10 -- The Non-metals and mettaloids...and maybe some thoughts on the future.

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