Six new courses added in August

Drawing of a lithium-ion battery, showing cathode (plus sign) on the left, anode (minus sign) on the right, and lithium ions (small white circles)." src="/courses/chemical-engineering/10-626-electrochemical-energy-systems-spring-2014/10-626s14.jpg" title="Drawing of a lithium-ion battery, showing cathode (plus sign) on the left, anode (minus sign) on the right, and lithium ions (small white circles).

An example of a Lithium-ion battery, as discussed in the new OCW course  10.626 Electrochemical Energy Systems. (Image by Chem511grpThinLiBat on Wikimedia Commons.)

OCW added six new courses during the month of August. Two are brand-new to OCW, and four are updates to previously published courses.

New Courses

Updated Courses

MIT’s freshman year in OCW: after the core

Photo of three students facing a whiteboard covered with mechanics review notes.

MIT students at a mechanics review session. (Photo by Christopher Harting / MIT Communication Production Services)

As we described in a recent post, OCW gives you a complete picture of the core classes that comprise the typical MIT freshman year.

OCW also gives you plenty of next steps. For instance, check out these courses that might be taken by MIT freshmen who test out of one or more of the core math/science requirements.

Experience MIT’s freshman year with OCW

Photo of several students working together around a table.

MIT students getting to work. (Photo by Christopher Harting/MIT Communication Production Services.)

Best wishes for the new school year! And that goes double if you’re a new college freshman.

MIT’s freshman year is known to be rigorous and challenging; but there’s also plenty of fun, creativity and collaboration. What courses fill the first two semesters here?

  • A required sequence of six core math and science subjects
  • One course per semester in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS), since undergrads must take at least eight HASS electives before graduation.

Use OCW to get a detailed view of the complete MIT freshmen year. (One of these courses is also about to begin as a MOOC from MITx on edX, as noted below.) Get inspired, prepare for your own upcoming classes, supplement your current studies…or just relive the memories if it’s been a few years.

Core Math and Science Requirements

Each of these requirements can be satisfied by one of several courses. The course options accomodate diverse student backgrounds and interests, with varied ways to learn the key concepts.

Freshmen that test out of one or more of these core requirements are free to move ahead to higher-level math or science classes, or explore other disciplines like programming, engineering, and business. In this follow-up post, we use OCW to highlight some next steps.

Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) Electives

MIT has great strength in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. Freshmen choose from several hundred introductory HASS courses to round out their schedules. Here’s a representative sample from OCW.

Courses by two of Technology Review’s latest “35 Innovators Under 35”

Photo of woman in a lab coat standing in front of chemical lab apparatus.

MIT’s Polina Anikeeva, the AMAX Assistant Professor in Materials Science and Engineering, in the MIT lab where her group studies magnetic nanoparticles for non-invasive neural stimulation. (Photo: Denis Paiste/Materials Processing Center)

Last week, MIT Technology Review unveiled the 2015 edition of their annual 35 Innovators Under 35 series. This group is making their mark in key emerging technologies, working as inventors, entrepreneurs, visionaries, humanitarians, and pioneers.

Two of these young innovators have also published courses on OCW.

Polina Anikeeva, an Assistant Professor in MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, is pioneering new ways to record and stimulate brain activity. Her lab is developing new optoelectronic and non-invasive magnetic neural probes. OCW has her undergraduate course Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Properties of Materialswhich explores “how electronic, optical and magnetic properties of materials originate from their electronic and molecular structure and how these properties can be designed for particular applications.”

Michelle O’Malley is a leading researcher of anaerobic microbes, a class of single-cell organisms that could improve chemical manufacturing processes ranging from pharmaceuticals to biofuels. OCW has her advanced undergraduate Biology seminar, Fueling Sustainability: Engineering Microbial Systems for Biofuel Production, which she taught in 2011 while working at MIT as a Biology postdoc.

A new look at superfluidity (MIT News)

Photo of lab equipment with four people in the background.

The Ketterle Group is working with lasers to create superfluids at MIT. Pictured, from left to right: grad student Colin Kenned, Professor Wolfgang Ketterle, grad student William Cody Burton, and grad student Woo Chang Chung. (Photo: Bryce Vickmark)

Working at temperatures approaching absolute zero, a team led by MIT Physics professor and Nobel laureate Wolfgang Ketterle has acheived the first magnetic trapping of an elusive “superfluid” phase of matter.  MIT News reports:

A new look at superfluidity
MIT team creates a superfluid in a record-high magnetic field.
Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office | August 10, 2015

MIT physicists have created a superfluid gas, the so-called Bose-Einstein condensate, for the first time in an extremely high magnetic field. The magnetic field is a synthetic magnetic field, generated using laser beams, and is 100 times stronger than that of the world’s strongest magnets. Within this magnetic field, the researchers could keep a gas superfluid for a tenth of a second — just long enough for the team to observe it. The researchers report their results this week in the journal Nature Physics.

A superfluid is a phase of matter that only certain liquids or gases can assume, if they are cooled to extremely low temperatures. At temperatures approaching absolute zero, atoms cease their individual, energetic trajectories, and start to move collectively as one wave.

Superfluids are thought to flow endlessly, without losing energy, similar to electrons in a superconductor. Observing the behavior of superfluids therefore may help scientists improve the quality of superconducting magnets and sensors, and develop energy-efficient methods for transporting electricity.

But superfluids are temperamental, and can disappear in a flash if atoms cannot be kept cold or confined. The MIT team combined several techniques in generating ultracold temperatures, to create and maintain a superfluid gas long enough to observe it at ultrahigh synthetic magnetic fields.

“Going to extremes is the way to make discoveries,” says team leader Wolfgang Ketterle, the John D. MacArthur Professor of Physics at MIT. “We use ultracold atoms to map out and understand the behavior of materials which have not yet been created. In this sense, we are ahead of nature.”

Read the complete story >

OCW is honored to have a two-course sequence by Prof. Ketterle, 8.421 Atomic and Optical Physics I and 8.422 Atomic and Optical Physics II. Both courses include complete video lectures, and 8.422 also includes his teaching insights on a This Course at MIT page.

If you’d like to dive straight into Bose-Einstein condensates, start with 8.422’s Lecture 19:

Under Siege in Cyberspace

Photo of a computer keyboard with a padlock symbol on one key.

Image courtesy of UK Ministry of Defence on Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0.

By Joe Pickett, OCW Publication Director

Given the way the world has become dependent on computer systems, few subjects can have more urgency than cybersecurity. Every week, it seems, large computer systems are attacked, and vast amounts of information get stolen—social security numbers, credit card and bank accounts, droves of email messages, confidential business data, state secrets. Hackers work feverishly around the clock to break-in, shut down, tie up, hijack, and make off with the goods.

Luckily, MIT is on the job educating students how to design computer systems that can stymie these attacks. OCW has just published 6.858 Computer Systems Security, a graduate-level course taught by Professor Nickolai Zeldovich. The course site has full lecture videos, notes for most lectures, labs with supporting files, exams with solutions, and an extensive array of links to resources on cryptography, OS security, and more. There is no textbook; rather, students read a sequence of papers and submit questions before each lecture.

As Professor Zeldovich explains, computer system security has three high-level components. First, programmers must develop a policy, a set of goals they want to achieve. Second, they must construct a threat model, a set of assumptions that profile the adversary behind potential attacks. And they must create mechanisms that execute the policy and thwart the threat model.

All three areas are prone to error and must be questioned and tested in an iterative process to achieve a high level of security. The assumptions about the behavior of users (as in the kind of passwords they create or the answers they provide for security questions) can be flawed.  Even if accurately predicted at first, the capability of the bad guys can change as technology changes over time. The mechanisms providing security can have bugs, and even small bugs can lead to catastrophic consequences.

It’s all quite scary, but that’s to the good. Computer security is one area where paranoia can be not just beneficial, but essential.

OCW users who would like a more extensive introduction to how secrets can be shared safely will want to explore 6.857 Network and Computer Security, taught by Professor Ron Rivest, which emphasizes cryptography.

Nine awesome STEM college classes (HuffPost Tech)

A six-legged walking robot, from the side, showing the gears that move the legs.

This six-legged walking robot is one of the projects built in MIT’s Lego Robotics course.

MIT OpenCourseWare is honored to have two (!!) classes in HuffPost Tech’s new list, “9 College Courses That Will Have You Geeking Out And Rethinking Your Major,” plus another course in the lead paragraph:

Colleges across the country are getting creative with their curriculum. Each year, universities are inspiring new generations of students to debate the meaning of symbolism in literature by reading the Harry Potter series and to learn about engineering and robotics by playing with Legos [OCW’s Lego Robotics course]. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) departments in particular are turning over a new leaf and embracing unconventional methods to increase student interest.…

1. Street-Fighting Mathematics
While the students don’t actually get the chance to spar, they do learn “the art of guessing results and solving problems without doing a proof or an exact calculation.” It provides student with real-world mathematical applications to take on the world and their futures. Think of the streets as the many practical mathematical problems you face outside the classroom, and your weapons are the skills acquired in this class to overcome them.…

6. Advanced Kitchen Chemistry
Any successful chef would agree that becoming master of the kitchen is about understanding chemistry. To perfectly torch a creme brulee demands an understanding of ingredients’ properties and how they react. In MIT’s Advanced Kitchen Chemistry, students perform weekly “scientific edible experiments” and discuss important subjects such as “cheese making”, the “joys of tofu” and “the science of spice.” Sounds delicious.…

Read the complete article >