During the second semester of 2013 I drifted away from my degree (meteorology) and took two courses which are unrelated to maths or physics: evolution processes (biology) and one related to dramaturgy.
To avoid confusion: I didn't mean quitting a degree and changing to something else, it's more about different experiences.
The evolution processes course was largely based on the book "Evolution", by Mark Ridley. This course was pretty mind opening because at high school my knowledge about biology was mostly restricted to knowing the impact that Darwing have had in the world, knowing bits of plants, animals, how they are categorized and their biological features (heart, blood, proteins, DNA, etc).
We often learn that natural selection means "survival of the fittest", but that's not always true. I didn't know that selection can be directional, disruptive or stabilizing (wikipedia reference
). I didn't know that there are other forces that can play tug of war with selection, such as genetic drift. Another thing that was new to me was that selection isn't just about animals and plants, it happens down deep in the level of DNA too.
We had some classes in which we played around with Populus
. I was "wow! so in biology we can predict outcomes based on genetic data? That's similar to having meteorologists predicting the climate".
Because this course was an introduction and was given to biology students there wasn't much time spent in maths. But oh boy... I was "Eh?! Every conclusion about evolutionary processes does come from statistical data, so there is this much calculus in biology too?". And when you go deep in analyzing data there is a lot of matrix calculations and even vectors. I was "heh! for the first time I'm seeing that vectors aren't just about newton laws in physics."
Evolution can go backwards. That was new too. I remember the teacher giving a funny example "Suppose that Earth is invaded by aliens and the aliens kill ppl who are taller than x, leaving only ppl shorter than x alive. In some generations the average height of ppl is going to be lower. There was change, evolution did happen." He was trying to convince us that evolution doesn't necessarily means "better" or "positive".
The course about dramaturgy is coordinated by a teacher from the computer sciences department. Dramaturgy and computer sciences you may ask? The teacher, from the computer sciences department, who created that course said that the students of CS are often bad a human relationships and have their minds too much focused on logic. It was over 10 years ago that he called another teacher, who has experience with dramaturgy and teaching actors to open this course.
Pretty interesting course to say at least. According to the teacher the goal is to activate the creativity within you, which is often overwhelmed by the side of your brain related to logic and maths. To do so there is a plethora of techniques that the teacher borrows from dramaturgy, singing and acting.
There were classes in which we split in groups of ppl to came up with a story withing a short period of time and act it, sometimes without speaking any words. Other times in which we had to relax and learn to breath better. The teacher compared: "What happens when a teacher gives a lecture without presenting himself, speaking things that you can't understand? It's similar to reading a poem without putting any intonation in any word. It's sounds blablablabla.....".
And you? Ever had the chance to take a course on something really different from yoru degree?