Splash Spring 2019 is May 4-5, 2019!

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ESP Biography

DAVID MEYER, computer, math, and science buff

Major: Mathematics

College/Employer: MIT

Year of Graduation: 2007

Picture of David Meyer

Brief Biographical Sketch:

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Past Classes

  (Clicking a class title will bring you to the course's section of the corresponding course catalog)

S2269: Are Science and Religion Compatible? in Splash! Spring 2012 (Apr. 21 - 22, 2012)
Beginning centuries ago and continuing today, the conclusions of scientific inquiry have often clashed with accepted religious teachings. Many notable founders of modern science, including Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, and Darwin, although religious men themselves, had to contend with religious leaders who rejected or denounced their discoveries. The clash between scientific and religious sensibilities continues to show in many areas of public policy, such as: climate change, stem cell research, and the teaching of evolution in public schools. At the same time, scientists are becoming less religious. A survey conducted in 1914 [1] showed that 58% of 1000 randomly chosen scientists (in the U.S.) doubted the existence of god(s). A similar survey repeated in 1998 [2] showed that 93% of top scientists (members of the National Academy of Sciences) disbelieved or doubted the existence of god(s). This is in sharp contrast to the general population, of which only 9% report disbelief and 9% doubt [3]. We'll start this class with a short presentation outlining some potential areas of disagreement between science and religion, followed by an open discussion about the topic. Feel free to ask questions, propose ideas, or challenge your classmates. Please bring an open mind, a willingness to contribute, and respect for differences of opinion. – [1] Leuba, J. H. The Belief in God and Immortality: A Psychological, Anthropological and Statistical Study [2] “Leading Scientists Still Reject God.” Nature, 1998; 394, 313 [3] “What People Do and Do Not Believe in”. Harris Interactive. 2009-12-15

M2278: Python Crash Course in Splash! Spring 2012 (Apr. 21 - 22, 2012)
Let's learn Python! We'll examine the Python programming language at a conceptual and practical level. By the end of this class, you'll have the knowledge and tools to continue playing with Python on your own! Things we'll talk about: 0) The Interpreter 1) Variables, expressions, assignments, operators 2) Loops and control flow 3) Exceptions 4) The object model 5) Functions 6) User-defined classes 7) Libraries/APIs 8) Example Python programs

M1723: Learn to Program Interactive Art in Splash! Fall 2011 (Oct. 29 - 30, 2011)
Learn the basics of programming using JavaScript and interactive art. You'll make little sketches that you can publish online and share. We'll use the environment; lots of examples of what you can do on that site! Visit

P1869: The Geometry of Space-time in Splash! Fall 2011 (Oct. 29 - 30, 2011)
A century ago, Einstein realized that the behavior of light could be used to understand the geometry of space-time. In this course, we'll revisit that discovery, with an emphasis on understanding Minkowski space through graphics and simulation.

M1870: Discrete Calculus in Splash! Fall 2011 (Oct. 29 - 30, 2011)
Discrete calculus is the discrete analogy of normal calculus. It is the reframing of the ideas of calculus in the context of discrete sequences and series. In this course, we'll learn discrete derivatives, integrals, and the theorems connecting them. We'll see how discrete calculus can be used to find closed-forms for sequences, such as sum of squares or cubes, and how it connects to Pascal's triangle. It will be helpful if you already know calculus, but this class could also serve as an introduction to the concepts of calculus.

P1873: The Paradox of Existence in Splash! Fall 2011 (Oct. 29 - 30, 2011)
Why does the universe exist? Why does anything exist at all (as opposed to nothingness)? How do the processes of the brain give rise to consciousness? Will we one day be able to replicate consciousness inside a computer? In this course, we'll discuss some theories of existence and consciousness. Everything will be highly speculative, so bring plenty of salt.

S1214: The Scale of Things in Splash! Fall 2010 (Nov. 13 - 14, 2010)
You are HUGE... There are 10 million million cells in your body, and each of your cells has 100 million million atoms. You are made of 1 thousand million million million million tiny pieces! But you are also SMALL! The sun is 30 thousand million million million million times larger than YOU. And there are at least 10 thousand million million million stars in universe. The universe is filled with inconceivably large quantities of just about everything. In this session, we'll talk more about the amazing numbers of things here and out there, and try to comprehend the unbelievable magnitude of it all.

S893: Visualize the Universe: Inside the Mind of Einstein in Splash! Spring 2010 (Apr. 17 - 18, 2010)
We will imagine ourselves a space traveler in the future, zipping through space at near the speed of light. What will we see? What will we experience? How do space and time transform around us? What will people on Earth see? No math in this class! Everything will be explained graphically, using diagrams and a lot of imagination. We will follow Einstein's original thoughts 100 years ago as he uncovered the amazing relativistic aspects of our universe.

S894: DON'T PANIC: Why humanity is NOT doomed in Splash! Spring 2010 (Apr. 17 - 18, 2010)
For 5000 years, humans have been addicted to predictions of the apocalypse. Judgment Day! Over-population! Disease! War! Famine! Earth Quakes! Tsunamis! Nuclear Winter! Terrorism! Energy Shortages! Peak Oil! Economic collapse! The names change, but the claim is always the same: the end is near! In this class, we'll see why the end is NOT near, not even close! We'll see why humans are terrible at understanding the future and foreseeing the obvious solutions to our problems, and perhaps understand why people get so excited about fire and brimstone.

S640: The Coming Collapse in Splash! Fall 2009 (Oct. 10 - 11, 2009)
For decades, the United States has benefited from its status as the world's most stable economic power. For almost 40 years, the U.S. dollar has served as the de-facto international reserve currency. Large quantities of dollars have been purchased by foreign citizens and foreign banks as a source of safety and stability. As a result, the United States has had remarkably low inflation, high investment returns, and low interest rates. (on everything from credit cards to home loans) However, due to a decade of fiscal and trade deficits, the U.S. is rapidly losing economic power and prestige. The U.S. dollar's position as the international reserve currency is crumbling. Projections show that the U.S. will continue to run large deficits for at least another decade. With the bursting of the housing bubble and the loss of millions of jobs, the United States government is now unwilling and unable to defend the dollar. With each additional bailout and injection of stimulus, we are edging closer and closer to the end of the dollar system. If the policies which lead us here continue, the economic prosperity of the U.S. is at severe risk. Let's meet to discuss how we got in this mess, how we are digging ourselves deeper, and what, if anything, we can do to get out of it.

S641: Science Will Set You Free in Splash! Fall 2009 (Oct. 10 - 11, 2009)
People born in the 1960s witnessed the evolution of the 8-track into the cassette tape, then into CDs, then DVDs, then iPods. They may have spent $5000 buying one of the first IBM PCs, only to realize that 20 years later they can now buy a machine 5000 times faster for $300. Then came the Internet, e-commerce, Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, Facebook, and more. Cell phones, which were expensive bricks 25 years ago, are now smaller than a wallet, and in the process of becoming portals to the Internet. Science and technology are revolutionizing humanity: the way we live, how we interact. and the way we spend our time. Moreover, progress is accelerating, as scientists build upon past knowledge and experience, and each generation of scientists push harder and faster than the one before. What scientific and technological inventions and breakthroughs will we see in our lives? Where is humanity headed? Will society be able to keep up?

S433: Economic Failure in Splash! Spring 2009 (Apr. 04 - 05, 2009)
The United States is facing complete economic failure. As recently as 1 year ago, almost all TV personalities, politicians, and government economists were saying the crisis was "contained", and that a recovery would begin by late 2008, early 2009. Now that the recession has been getting worse for 15 months, and jobs are disappearing at depression levels, the talking heads are claiming a recovery is just around the corner, end of 2009, 2010. But the truth is, the economic crisis is just getting started, and there is nothing that the Federal Reserve, Treasury, and President can do to stop it. The risk is that they may make the problem far worse, by continuing the policies that got us in this mess in the first place. We'll talk about the crisis from the viewpoint of the economists who saw it coming years ago: Nouriel Roubini, Marc Faber, Peter Schiff, Robert Schiller, Meredith Whitney, and why they believe the crisis is not going to be over any time soon.

C178: The Singularity is Near in Splash! Fall 2008 (Oct. 18, 2008)
If you are a senior citizen like myself, your first home computer may have been 25 MHz (lightning fast), with an 80 megabyte hard-drive, running the latest MS-DOS 5.0 with MS-DOS Shell. (Windows 3.1? What's that?) Though I seem ancient, the truth of the matter is that I was probably born less than 10 years before you. The fastest processor available today is a quad-core 3.2 GHz. That's a clock-speed 128 times faster than my original machine, and with four cores instead of one. Combined with other enhancements, today's personal computers are easily 1000 times more powerful than the personal computers of 1992. And today's storage capacities (soon to be measured in terabytes) are easily 5000+ times larger. This level of mind-blowing progress is not limited just to computer hardware. Other important areas of scientific research, such as genetic engineering, medical imaging, alternative energies, and nano-technology, are also experiencing exponential levels of growth. While our social, political, and economic systems are stuck in the middle ages, science and technology continue pushing forward with newer and more revolutionary advances. Despite barrier after barrier, each decade we see as much progress as all of human history before it. Within the next 60 years, we may see the elimination of cancer, aging, and death. We may see the creation and deployment of intelligent machines in industry, and we may gain molecular control over our bodies. We may be the first generation of humans to have the option of living forever. (if we so choose) In this class, we'll discuss the idea of the technological singularity, why it is coming, how and when it will occur, and the possible dangers ahead.

S182: Credit Crisis 101 in Splash! Fall 2008 (Oct. 18, 2008)
What's going on in the world economy? Why are housing prices tumbling? Why are jobs disappearing? Why have gas prices nearly tripled in 8 years? Why has the dollar lost nearly a third of its value against other major foreign currencies? Why are financial markets in a panic? Why are banks failing across the world? The tremors and earthquakes occurring in today's economy are extraordinarily complicated and unpredictable, even beyond the understanding of congress and the federal reserve. But understanding how we got here is relatively easy. We'll talk about what economic forces have been leading up to this crisis, form a time-line of events, and speculate on how things will turn out.

C184: The Theory of Sound in Splash! Fall 2008 (Oct. 18, 2008)
Sound can be represented as a function: amplitude as a function of time. You've probably seen a graph of this function before, with a pure note resembling a sine wave, and the human voice a series of jagged waves. In this class, we'll talk about how to analyze sound, from the viewpoint of someone who is processing sound in a computer. Topics will include: * Sampling sound (for digital processing) * The Fourier transform (frequency analysis) * Audio filters * Modulation (AM/FM radio) Cool demos of everything included, using a microphone, and custom sound software written by yours truly.