Splash at Northwestern: Winter Splash February 26th, 2023


NU Splash Biography

Edit this biography!

JOHN THOMPSON, Mat. Sci. Grad Student / Full time nerd




College: Northwestern University

Major: Materials Science & Engineering

Year of Graduation: G

Picture of John Thompson

Brief Biographical Sketch:

I am currently a third year graduate student pursuing a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University. I have a degree in physics from New York University, where I was a teacher at cSplash.

Beyond my interest in the sciences, I am a passionate fan of pop culture in general, considering TV shows like "Lost" and "Battlestar Galactica" to be classics. In addition to these interests, I am a fairly eclectic person, equally likely to be spending an afternoon listening to Vampire Weekend, reading Y: The Last Man, playing tennis or doing a crossword puzzle.

As a student, I have always found it incredibly interesting to draw from many different disciplines when learning and I carry that same philosophy when it comes to teaching. By drawing from seemingly unrelated areas, some very interesting discussions may be had.



Past Classes

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


X191: Video Games: Art or Entertainment (or both)? in Splash 2012 (Mar. 31, 2012)
Today, the video game industry is one of the fastest growing industries, bringing in over $21 billion in revenue in 2008. It is also one of the more influential, with games like Grand Theft Auto routinely creating controversy not only among parents, but even within Congress. As new technologies came about, developers have pushed the limits of the medium in terms of graphics, interactivity and storytelling to compelling heights, becoming more than just pure entertainment. Big title games like Bioshock have managed to present lofty philosophical ideals while still delivering amazing gameplay. Indie games such as the mind-bending puzzle game Braid or the beautiful Flower strive to be more than just simple games. But can video games ever be considered art? In this class, we will explore this often debated question. After a brief discussion of what is considered art, we will look at some examples of games that truly blur the line between entertainment and art and talk about whether video games will ever be considered anything more than a lucrative from of entertainment.


S33: The Physics of Superheroes in Splash 2010 (Apr. 03, 2010)
Most of us have at least heard of the exploits of Superman and Iron Man either on the pages of a comic book or in the movies. And while they managed to capture our imaginations, how plausible are they in the real world? In his book, The Physics of Superheroes, James Kakalios explores this exact question. Could Superman really leap tall buildings in a single bound? Is it even possible that the X-men's Kitty Pryde could walk through a solid wall? What about the Fantastic Four's Invisible Woman? You've probably never realized that comic books sometimes actually get their physics right. In this class, we will explore some of these claims and along the way learn some of the basics of topics in physics ranging from electromagnetism to quantum mechanics.


X35: Video Games: Art or Entertainment (or both)? in Splash 2010 (Apr. 03, 2010)
Today, the video game industry is one of the fastest growing industries, bringing in over $21 billion in revenue in 2008. It is also one of the more influential, with games like Grand Theft Auto routinely creating controversy not only among parents, but even within Congress. As new technologies came about, developers have pushed the limits of the medium in terms of graphics, interactivity and storytelling to compelling heights, becoming more than just pure entertainment. Big title games like Bioshock have managed to present lofty philosophical ideals while still delivering amazing gameplay. Indie games such as the mind-bending puzzle game Braid or the beautiful Flower strive to be more than just simple games. But can video games ever be considered art? In this class, we will explore this often debated question. After a brief discussion of what is considered art, we will look at some examples of games that truly blur the line between entertainment and art and talk about whether video games will ever be considered anything more than a lucrative from of entertainment.