EAPS Seminars and Special Offerings

Interested in cross registration and need more information? Visit our Cross-Registration page for a summary of useful links.
 

Spring 2023 | IAP 2023 | FALL 2022 | SPRING 2022 | FALL 2021

PLEASE NOTE:  Subjects listed on this page are being taught under a Special Problems number, used for one time only classes. The title and description that you will see on the Registrar's and pre-registration sites will NOT match what you see here. They will list the general info that applies to all terms and years. Register for the right number, and you will be in the class you want.

 


Spring 2023

Coming Soon!

 

 

IAP 2023

Coming Soon!

 

 

FALL 2022

 

12.A32 Cellular Automata: Models of the Earth System 

  • Prof. Glenn Flierl 
  • Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences 
  • Meets: TBA

Cellular automata are like “Life,” only better! Find out how we can use these models and their relatives to study processes important to Earth’s climate: the transport of heat and other properties, the dynamics of ecosystems, the flow of air and water. These models divide the (possibly very complex) spatial domain into “cells” and use rules which say how the “state” of the cell changes depending on its current value and on the values in the neighboring cells. Although they are computationally simple, the results can be fascinatingly complex and chaotic. We will construct and experiment with a variety of models; thinking about rules, programming the models (using Octave/Matlab or python/numpy), and discussions of the results will be required.

Glenn Flierl grew up in Ohio and, of course, became fascinated by the oceans. At least they certainly seemed more interesting than Lake Erie, and physical oceanography appeared to have better job prospects than building sets for Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. A reformed hacker, he now uses computers to help understand the Gulf Stream and ocean vortices.
 

12.A56 GPS: Where Are You? 

  • Prof. Thomas Herring 
  • Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences 
  • Meets: M3-4.30 (54-824)

The use of Global Positioning System (GPS) in a wide variety of applications has exploded in the last few years. Hikers, drivers, sailors, and aviators use the system as a navigation aid but many others use GPS in ways that were not considered during its design. Some of the most stringent uses come from meteorology, where the system is used to track water vapor in the atmosphere, and from geophysics, where it is used to measure continental drift, deformation leading up to earthquakes, and mean sea-level rise. In this seminar we explore how positions on the Earth were determined before GPS, how GPS and other Global Navigations Satellites Systems (GNSS) work, and the range of applications in which GPS/GNSS is now a critical element. In this seminar you will explore how to find locations using simple household items (simple, at least by MIT standards). You will use hand held GPS units to hunt for candy around campus and have access to expensive units for use on the top of the tallest building in Cambridge and to write messages that can be can be seen from space. This seminar is followed by an optional UROP in the spring semester where results from precise GPS measurements will be analyzed and displayed on the web.
 

Thomas Herring is Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. He uses GNSS to measure millimeter-level motions of the Earth’s surface in many regions around the world, including recently tall buildings, with the long-term aim of understanding earthquakes and other deformation processes. He also studies the Earth’s atmosphere with GPS through the refraction of GPS signals.


 

12.S083J  Special Seminar in Julia: Solving Real-World Problems with Computation (6.S083J/18.S191J)
Instructor: Edelman (Math), Ferrari (EAPS), Marzouk (AeroAstro), Williams (CEE)
Units: 12 units, Undergraduate

Prerequisite: 6.100A, 18.03, 18.C06
Schedule: TH 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Location: 2-131

Description: Focuses on algorithms and techniques for writing and using modern technical software in a job, lab, or research group environment that may consist of interdisciplinary teams, where performance may be critical, and where the software needs to be flexible and adaptable. Topics include automatic differentiation, matrix calculus, scientific machine learning, parallel and GPU computing, and performance optimization with introductory applications to climate science, economics, agent-based modeling, and other areas. Labs and projects focus on performant, readable, composable algorithms and software. Programming will be in Julia. Expects students have some familiarity with Python, Matlab, or R. No Julia experience necessary.


12.S591 Special Seminar in Geophysics
Instructor: Frank
Units: TBD [P/D/F]
Schedule: T 3:00pm - 5:00pm
Location: 54-209
Description: Overview of classical papers and recent research in geophysics. Fields to be covered include geodesy and earthquake physics (e.g. tectonic earthquakes, induced seismicity, glacial earthquakes). The course will include a reading component (2-3 papers) and student led in class discussion. Every other week, external speakers will give an invited lecture followed by discussion. Students will also have the opportunity to meet with invited speakers throughout the day.The class is geared towards advanced undergraduate and graduate students. Interested faculty, researchers and postdocs are welcome to participate.

 

12.S592 Special Seminar in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
Instructor: Ravela
Units: TBD [P/D/F]
Schedule: F 9:00am - 11:00am
Location: 35-308   
Description: Organized lecture or laboratory subject on an aspect of geophysics not normally covered in regularly scheduled subjects. 12.S590 is letter-graded. Prereq: Permission of instructor.

 

12.650 Current Topics in Planetary Science
Instructor: J. Wisdom
Units: 12 (Letter Grade)
Schedule: MW 1:00-2:30pm
Location: 54-824
Description: The topic for this term will be the Natural Satellites of the Outer Planets. The natural satellites of the outer planets present a number of mysteries. Some possess subsurfase oceans. How did these oceans arise and how are they maintained? Dissipation in these oceans should have led to the damping of the orbital inclinations and eccentricities, the observed values suggest recent excitation. Surface features of Io, Europa, Ganymede, Tethys, and Ariel suggest recent tidal heating, yet other surfaces, such as those of Mimas and Calisto are ancient. Recently, it has been shown that the satellites of Saturn and Jupiter are evolving away from their planets much more rapidly than was previously expected (perhaps due to 'resonance locking' tides.) This neccessitates a revaluation of their tidal histories. Can we find a consistent explanation?

We will first examine the physical and orbital properties of the satellites, and then review proposed explanations for anomalous characteristics. We will then re-examine these scenarios in light of the observed rapid tidal of the satellite orbits. The format of the class is to read and discuss important/significant papers. Typically, we will read 1 or 2 papers per class. Some papers may require more time.

 

12.S680 - Exoplanet Atmospheres
Instructor: S. Seager
Units: 6 (Letter Grade)
Schedule: T 9:00am - 10:30am
Location: 54-517
Description: This is a project-based class where each student will choose a research project in exoplanet atmospheres to complete during the course. Instruction will cover fundamentals needed to pursue the research project, possibly including transmission, reflection, and emission spectroscopy, molecular cross sections, equilibrium chemistry, 1D temperature structure, cloud formation, and telescope noise. Students will gain a working knowledge of exoplanet atmospheres as well as a practical set of computer simulation tools via publicly available codes.

 

12.950 - Seminar in Physical Oceanography
Instructor: TBD
Units: 6 (Letter Grade)
Schedule: TBD
Location: TBD
Description:
Students who register for the course will lead the class discussion (each student will lead about twice during the semester) by presenting the research article or topic of discussion. Everyone in the class will read the articles (1 or 2 per week) and participate in the discussion. At the end of the semester, each student will write a research proposal (<5 pages) on a topic for future study, highlighting some new or unexplored question on submesoscale processes.

 

SPRING 2022

12.094/12.S590 Understanding earthquake hazard: from seconds to centuries
Instructor: Cattania
Units: 6
Schedule: TTH 11am-12:30pm
Location: TBD
Description: Overview of the scientific and societal challenges posed by earthquakes as an example of natural hazards. Outlines physical principles controlling earthquake occurrence, from tectonic forces acting over centuries to wave propagation during seismic events. Includes historical prospectives on earthquake prediction and discusses current mitigation measures, including long-term hazard models, building codes, and earthquake early warning, using case studies from around the world. Other sources of hazard (volcanic eruptions, tsunami, landslides) will also be discussed.

 

12.420 Essentials of Planetary Science
Instructor: Wiess
Units: 3-0-9
Schedule: WF 10:30am -12pm
Location: 54-819
Advanced applications of physical and chemical principles to the study of the solar system. Topics include terrestrial and giant planets, meteorites, asteroids, comets, Kuiper belt objects, rings, impact craters, interiors, surfaces, atmospheres, geomagnetism, cosmochemistry, remote sensing, formation and evolution of the solar system.

 

12.s493 Forensics of Food
Instructor: Summons
Schedule: Th 3:30-5pm
Location: E25-605
In this seminar each participant will present 1 to 2 seminars on research pertaining to the microbiology and chemistry of food preservation and utilization present and past. Appropriate topics include how geochemical tools (isotopes and molecules) can be used to discern food preservation methods, food provenance and the role of these processes in human health and development. A particular focus will be the application of geochemical tools to the analysis of archaeological remains.

 

12.S591 Special Seminar in Geophysics
Instructor: Frank
Units: 6 [P/D/F]
Schedule: M 2-4pm
Location: 54-209
Description: Overview of recent research in geophysics, including but not limited to earthquake seismology and geodesy, glacial dynamics, fault rheology, and experimental petrology. The course will include a reading component (2-3 papers) and student-led in-class discussion. Every other week, external speakers will give an invited lecture followed by discussion. Students will also have the opportunity to meet with invited speakers throughout the day.The class is geared towards advanced undergraduate and graduate students. Interested faculty, researchers and postdocs are welcome to participate.

 

12.S597 Humanity, the Earth system, and the long-term future
Instructor: Rothman
Units: 6
Schedule: F 2:30-4pm
Location: 56-169
Description: Human actions are drastically and irreversibly modifying the Earths system, yet this is the very system upon which our survival as a species depends. Could such actions lead to our own destruction? If so, how? And what should we do about it? This seminar aims to address these questions, integrating perspectives spanning the Earth sciences, social sciences, and philosophy. Topics include nuclear winter, global warming, how to reason about future human welfare and present-day costs, how to do so while considering uncertainty and low-probability catastrophic outcomes, pandemics and Earth system change, and technology as an increasingly autonomous or perhaps even geological phenomenon. We end by discussing physical, social, and dynamical aspects of achieving long-term sustainability on a planetary scale.

 

12.S680 Exoplanet Atmospheres
Instructor: Seager
Units: 6
Schedule: Th 9-10:30AM
Description: This is a project-based class where each student will choose a research project in exoplanet atmospheres to complete during the course. Instruction will cover fundamentals needed to pursue the research project, possibly including including transmission, reflection, and emission spectroscopy, molecular cross sections, equilibrium chemistry, 1D temperature structure, cloud formation, and telescope noise. Students will gain a working knowledge of exoplanet atmospheres as well as a practical set of computer simulation tools via publicly available codes. 


 

 

 

FALL 2021

12.091/12.S597 The Persistence of Earth's Biosphere
Instructor: Rothman
Units: TBD [P/D/F]
Schedule: F 2:30-4pm
Location: TBD
Description: Earth has undergone many dramatic perturbations throughout its history, yet life on Earth has continuously persisted for nearly 4 billion years. Why is that? The Gaia hypothesis — the idea that life acts to stabilize its own environment — is one potential explanation, but it suffers from a lack of clarity and an apparent conflict with standard ideas of evolutionary biology. This seminar examines how Earth's biosphere may have contributed to its own billion-year persistence, focusing on how stabilizing behavior could arise through Darwinian selection operating at smaller scales. The emerging story encompasses questions regarding the existence and dynamical evolution of biogeochemical cycles, planetary habitability more broadly, and the apparent absence of life elsewhere in the universe. We close by considering the implications for the resilience and future of Earth's biosphere in the Anthropocene epoch.


12.S591 Special Seminar in Geophysics
Instructor: Cattania
Units: 6 [P/D/F]
Schedule: T 3-5pm
Location: 54-209
Description: Overview of classical papers and recent research in geophysics. Fields to be covered include geodesy and earthquake physics (e.g. tectonic earthquakes, induced seismicity, glacial earthquakes). The course will include a reading component (2-3 papers) and student led in class discussion. Every other week, external speakers will give an invited lecture followed by discussion. Students will also have the opportunity to meet with invited speakers throughout the day.The class is geared towards advanced undergraduate and graduate students. Interested faculty, researchers and postdocs are welcome to participate.


12.S593 Phytoplankton: from Cellular Physiology to Global Ecology
Instructor: Follows
Units: 6 [P/D/F]
Schedule: F 1-3pm
Location: 54-824
Description: Special seminar in phytoplankton physiology. Marine phytoplankton are responsible for half of the world’s primary production. They are functionally and taxonomically extremely diverse. In addition to photosynthesis, many participate in complex trophic lifestyles and have evolved elegant solutions to the complexities of resource availability and mortality. We will read and discuss a series of classic papers on the physiology and ecology of marine phytoplankton encompassing the relationships between population growth and resource availability, predator-prey interactions, resource allocation and elemental composition, how competition and mutualism shape populations, and the application of remote sensing and numerical simulations in studies of phytoplankton. Weekly discussions will center around a focal journal article will be accompanied by background readings to reinforce key concepts. This course is best suited for graduate students, but undergraduates are encouraged to seek instructor permission if interested.
Grading: PDF

 

12.s595 Geophysics Field Course
Instructors: B. Minchew, W. Frank
Units: 3
Schedule: F 3-4pm
Location: 54-824
This seminar is part of the geophysics field course sequence and will prepare students to conduct fieldwork during IAP 2022. The seminar will involve practice fieldwork in the local area and background reading and exercises. The practice fieldwork will allow students to familiarize themselves with geophysical methods that we will use in the field, such as active seismics, GPS positioning, and, if possible, mapping using drones. The background reading and exercises will familiarize everyone with the field site and relevant processes that we will observe and study in the field.