What's New

June 12: Personal Explorations


    This is the last lecture in the semester.  There are no class notes for this lecture.


    There may be a quiz about the reading that was assigned last week (Excerpt from "The Gifts of The Jews")


    Final Exam Information


    Final exam information and a sample exam are available here.

    Some of the multiple-choice questions in the sample exam deal with topics  that were not covered this year. So, if you see questions about some unfamiliar concepts,  don't worry about it.


    June 5: Jewish Explorations


      Class notes: Jewish Explorations


      Mandatory reading: Excerpt from "The Gifts of The Jews", by Thomas Chaill.


      There may be a quiz about the reading that was assigned two weeks ago: (A chapter from The Emperor's New Mind)


      May 29: Explorations in Computer Science


        Class notes: Explorations in Computer Science


        Mandatory reading: A chapter from The Emperor's New Mind, by Roger Penrose


        There may be a quiz about the reading that was assigned two weeks ago: (Lincoln reading and Elements of Style)



        May 22: Explorations in Mathematics


        Class Notes

          Class notes: Explorations in Mathematics


          Reading: No reading this week. 


          May 15: Lincoln, and the Moving Power of Words


          Class notes: Lincoln


          Mandatory reading: 

          • Lincoln reading, from "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  Here is also a reading guide for this text.

          • Elements of Style (Chapter V) , by Strunk and White.  A treasure trove of tips and advice to anyone who has to express his or her thoughts in writing -- be it an essay, a presentation, a business plan, a formal email -- if you wish to learn how to write well, consult this resource.


          There may be a quiz about the reading that was assigned last lecture (Lewis and Clark)



          May 1: Lewis and Clark


          Class notes: Lewis and Clark.


          The story in video: here.

          Mandatory reading: Lewis and Clark. This text is from the book Undaunted Courage, by Stephen Ambrose.


          There may be a quiz about the reading that was assigned last lecture (The Double Helix)



          April 10: Watson and Crick


          Class notes: Watson and Crick.


          A talk by James Watson.  Watson, now in his 90's, is still one of the world's foremost life scientists.


          An animation showing protein assembly. The narrator says that you see the process "in real time" but of course this just a animated simulation of the real thing.


          Mandatory reading: The Double Helix (excerpts) , by James Watson.  A scattered collection of texts from the Double Helix, Watson's hilarious personal account of his role in making the most stunning scientific discovery of the 20th century.  


          There may be a quiz about the reading that was assigned last week (A selection of texts about Darwin).


          April 3: Darwin


          Class notes: Darwin lecture


          First chapter of a TV Series moderated by Richard Dawkins, an Oxford professor and one of the world's foremost modern evolution scientists.  You are well advised to seek and watch more clips of  Dawkins, who is a brilliant speaker.


          A talk by Douglas Adams about his wonderful book "Last Chance to See". One of numerous inspiring and funny talks by Richard Dawkins, Douglas Adams, and Stephen Fry, a trio of great writers, devout atheists, and staunch evolutionists.  

          Mandatory reading: A selection of texts about Darwin taken from the book "The Beak of the Finch" by Jonathan Weiner.  The book tells the story of Rosemary and Peter Grant, a couple of life scientists from Princeton, whose 1980 study of the Galapagos Islands revealed that evolution progresses in a much faster pace than previously thought.  The text also contains an excellent and passionate introduction to evolution and Darwin's legacy.

          There may be a quiz about the reading that was assigned last week (Magellan).

          Election Day (April 9) Exploration: On this day I plan a mountain biking trip in the Judea Desert. We'll be back on time to vote. If you are an experienced mountain biker and wish to join, email me.


          March 27: Magellan


          Class Notes:  Magellan lecture

          Mandatory reading:  Magellan. This text is from "The Exploration of the Pacific" by J.C. Beaglehole. A compact overview of several early explorers of the Pacific Ocean, including the discoveries of Magellan's Strait, Australia, and New Zealand, with special emphasis on the greatest explorer of the oceans -- Captain James Cook.


          There may be a quiz about the reading that was assigned last week (Shackleton).

          Election Day (April 9) Exploration: On this day I plan a mountain biking trip in the Judea Desert. We'll be back on time to vote. If you are an experienced mountain biker and wish to join, email me.

          March 20: Shackelton and the Endurance


          Class Notes:

          Mandatory reading: 

          Further (and optional) reading: Endurance, by Alfred Lansing: the story of Shackleton's incredible rescue.

          There may be a quiz about the reading that was assigned last week ().



          March 13: The Race to the South Pole


          This week we'll  join two great explorers on a desperate race to reach first to the South Pole.

          Class Notes:
          Mandatory reading: Amundsen and Scott.  This text is taken from "The Last Place on Earth", by Roland Huntford.

          Further (and optional) reading: The Last Place on Earth, by Roland Huntford: about the epic race of Amundsen and Scott to the South Pole.

          There may be a quiz about the reading that was assigned last week (First Attempt to the South Pole).


          March 6: Polar Explorations


          In the first class we'll give a course overview and introduce some polar exploration fundamentals. This background information will come handy in the first three lectures in the course.

          Class Notes:

          Mandatory reading (which you have to read after the lecture, and before the next lecture):

          • First Attempt to the South Pole (PDF file): this text is taken from the book "Shackleton" by Roland Huntford. The first section in the text describes some general details about diet and dogs in polar explorations. The rest of the text describes an early attempt to reach the south pole, in 1902. The team included Scott (leader), Shackleton (a young ambitious explorer who will become the hero of a later lecture in this course), and Wilson, a highly competent polar explorers. The text illustrates the problematic character and leadership style of Scott, and describes the unique British approach to polar exploration.

          Further (and optional) reading:
          • The Worst Journey in the World (by Apsely Cherry-Garrard): a detailed and authentic account of Scott's three years on the ice, written by a junior explorer who began the journey as a young unknown man and ended it as a celebrated hero. 

          • Farthest North (by Fridjtof Nansen): written by the pioneer of modern polar exploration, this book describes an early attempt to reach the North Pole.

          • Kabloona (by Gontran de Poncins): the author spent several years among the Inuit (Eskimo) people of the Arctic, and wrote an empathic rendition of the Inuit lifestyle, courage and stamina. This is a rare book, available only from used book sellers. However, it is a wonderful gem. If you buy it, try to purchase the hardcover version, which includes beautiful water color paintings by the author.

          • The Last Gentleman Adventurer (by Edward Beauclerk Maurice): if you read one book about life with the Inuit people, this is it. A funny and heart breaking memoire written by an Englishman who, at age 16, was sent to man a trading post in one of the most remote places on the globe. This book is also available in Hebrew.
          Note:

          Copies of all the books mentioned in the mandatory course reading section are available at the IDC Library.

          Welcome to Great Explorers!

          This general elective course is open to IDC students from all schools, programs, and years. The language of instruction is English. The course meets on Wednesdays, 15:45 - 17:15, at room CB01 of the Arazi building, IDC campus in Herzliya.  First meeting is on March 6, 2017. To find what lies ahead, read the course syllabus.