Splash at Northwestern: Winter Splash February 26th, 2023


NU Splash Biography

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TIMOTHY BLACK, ESP Teacher




College: University of Chicago

Major: Math

Year of Graduation: G

Picture of Timothy Black

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)


M280: Fibonacci's Rabbits in Splash 2014 (Apr. 06, 2014)
Take a look at this pattern: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, ... Each number in the list is the sum of the previous two numbers. It may seem like an arbitrary pattern, but it's secretly hidden in every pinecone, sunflower, pineapple, and artichoke. Leonardo Fibonacci used the sequence to describe how fast rabbits multiply. If you look take any two adjacent numbers in the list and divide the bigger one by the smaller one, you get something very close to 1.618... a legendary number known as the golden ratio or the divine proportion, and which is equal to exactly one more than its own inverse. If you add up the first 100 numbers in the list, you get exactly the 102nd number, minus one. In this class, we'll see these and other weird facts about this Fibonacci sequence. There shall be math.


S228: Fun with Science! in Splash 2013 (Apr. 06, 2013)
We will demonstrate superconductors that levitate magnets in midair, colorful fire that isn’t orange, materials that behave differently when cooled to 321°F below zero with liquid nitrogen, and more! We will also discuss the physics and chemistry that make these amazing things possible and why materials science is important to our day to day lives.


M255: Fibonacci's Rabbits in Splash 2013 (Apr. 06, 2013)
Take a look at this pattern: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, ... Each number in the list is the sum of the previous two numbers. It may seem like an arbitrary pattern, but it's secretly hidden in every pinecone, sunflower, pineapple, and artichoke. Leonardo Fibonacci used the sequence to describe how fast rabbits multiply. If you look take any two adjacent numbers in the list and divide the bigger one by the smaller one, you get something very close to 1.618... a legendary number known as the golden ratio or the divine proportion, and which is equal to exactly one more than its own inverse. If you add up the first 100 numbers in the list, you get exactly the 102nd number, minus one. In this class, we'll see these and other weird facts about this Fibonacci sequence. There shall be math.


M256: Paradoxes in Probability in Splash 2013 (Apr. 06, 2013)
Congratulations! You've been selected to appear on an exciting new game show! There will be two envelopes, each full of an undisclosed amount of money. The amounts were chosen randomly, except for that one envelope has ten times as much money as the other (but you don't know which has more). You will go on TV and pick one of the envelopes, and the game show host will show you how much money is inside. You can then keep the money in that envelope, or instead switch and take the other envelope sight-unseen. Let's say you pick the left envelope. The host reveals that there's $1,000 inside. Should you switch envelopes? The right envelope has a 50% chance of having ten times as much, $10,000, and a 50% chance of having a tenth as much, $100. By switching, you would get, on average, $5,050. That's way more than $1,000. So you should switch to the right envelope. But somehow this calculation didn't depend at all on the fact that the left envelope has $1,000 in it. No matter how much was in the left envelope, the right envelope would have on average about 5 times as much. So you should always switch to the right envelope. So why didn't you pick the right envelope in the first place? Well if you did, the same logic says you should switch to the left envelope. What's going on here?? We'll figure out what the problem is with this, and we'll also look at two other paradoxes (The Monty Hall Paradox and the St. Petersburg Paradox). We'll have a lot of discussion trying to resolve these paradoxes.


S133: Materials Science Demonstrations in Splash 2012 (Mar. 31, 2012)
We will show you superconductors that can levitate magnets in midair, fire that isn't orange, ferrofluids (liquids attracted to magnets), materials cooled to 321°F below zero with liquid nitrogen, and more! We will also discuss the physics and chemistry that make these amazing things possible and why materials science is important to our day to day lives.