September 04, 2005

Helfand, David Silver_nugget
[ASTR 1404] Beyond the Solar System

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Helfand is a terrific professor, and this class is an ideal way to satisfy part of the science requirement for people who are interested in science but aren't considering any kind of science major.

Helfand is an absorbing lecturer, funny and informative. The class is not geared toward science-majors, but it doesn't feel dumbed-down. There is a special focus on using the subject matter to illustrate the fundamental principles of scientific inquiry (much like Frontiers is supposed to do, but better).

Helfand really has a gift for making the material understandable, and each of his lectures of is full of "man...science is cool" moments.

Helfand admits that his class isn't the easiest way to satisfy the science requirement (it's not), but the effort is worth it. This is the deal: go to lecture, take a lot of notes. There is a lot of information, and Helfand will make it clear what is most important. Don't bother with the reading in the textbook. If you have trouble with the problem sets (they can be tricky), go to office hours, and Helfand will walk you through almost everything.

Workload:

5 problem sets, 5 quizzes, midterm, final. He drops your lowest quiz grade and lowest problem set grade.