Open course: Science from Superheroes to Global Warming

By Aimee Whitcroft 14/03/2013

It’s been a while, dear readers. And how I’ve missed you*.

I’ve bought a house, been terrifying myself learning to ride offroad motorcycles on ‘the monster’ (my new bike), got involved in some veeery interesting new projects, and there’s still that damn day job 😛 Not good excuses, mind, but at least reasons.

But!  I’ve found something just wonderful for you all to have a play with. This morning, while reading about some of the oh-so-geeky classes one can take at tertiary level, I came across this one: Physics 21: Science from Superheroes to Global Warming, from the University of California, Irvine.

science. mmmmmm.
science. mmmmmm.

It ticks a myriad of boxes. Not only is it about science, the scientific method, superheroes and more, (like ‘the scientific possibility of things such as the effects of a yellow sun on an alien humanoid or if a truly invisible jet is possible’) but – and this is the best bit – it’s available to ANYONE.

That’s right, boys and girls, it’s licensed under Creative Commons, and you can take it online.

A fuller description of the course:

Have you ever wondered if Superman could really fly? What was Spiderman’s spidey sense? How did Wonder Woman’s invisible jet work? What does it really mean for something to be a scientific “fact”? Explore how science works and what constitutes “good” science through case studies drawn from a wide spectrum of people’s experience, for example superheros, movies, and real world issues such as global warming. The case studies will provide the chance to act as science critics as the students develop a better appreciation for science and the scientific method.


Michael Dennin, Professor of Physics, School of Physical Sciences, University of California, Irvine

I intend to begin it forthwith, to see what it’s like. I hope you’ll join me, and get everyone you know, no matter their age, to do so, too!


It’s been going since 2010, although I’d not come across it before**, and the NY Times seems to like it, which is a good sign.


*Well, those of you still reading, heh

** Not that that’s saying much

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