Response from Prof. B.

You are right that the experimental nature of this course has made the subject more interesting for me, and I expect that that will be true in future electronic versions, especially when we have solved some of the unfortunate technical problems and can concentrate more on content and the development of ideas. I expect that things will get simpler, with various aids to help people get their work into formats that are easy to transport from one machine to another and to read on easily accessible machines. The addition of spell checker will help many of the responses. By the way, you might check with someone about the spelling and pronunciation of the names in your presentation, especially the ones that are foreign. It's REE-mahn for example, and LYBE-nitz (spelled "Riemann" and "Leibniz" respectively). You don't want to distract people who are trying to follow your ideas.

You have a right to be proud of your creative handling of the setting for the cosmology group. Your group was quite successful, I'd say. Below are some general comments on the presentation on Monday. By the way, your course grade is Satisfactory.

Comments on the Cosmology Group

Your group certainly did a thorough job with your substantial web pages and your presentation. I'm glad that we allotted a full class period to it since it covered so much ground.

The Field of Cosmological Dreams was a very creative and successful way of presenting numerous interrelated theories connected with the nature of the universe, especially in relation to geometric ideas. There was effective use of visual materials and historical links, a nice final presentation component which was both engaging and historically accurate (even if the spelling and pronunciation of the names was somewhat inconsistent).

Possible shapes for the cosmos covered a great many topics, some combined in ways that were not included in any of the references. It might have been better to decrease the number of topics and to try to find some new ways of presenting concepts already introduced in class or in the readings. As it was, it definitely invited the audience to look at the references for further elaboration.

The Haikube was a very imaginatively presented illustration of a slicing operation, although the edge-first slices are still hard to understand and corner-first is quite mysterious. It might have been good to start with a more conventional Haiku, to illustrate the literary form and to serve as a basis of an expansion into another space. Following along the space-time analogy, you might consider a poem where three slices in one direction describe the same scene or phenomenon at different times, past, present, and future. Then slicing perpendicular to a different direction could reveal some other aspect of the poem? The relativity of rotation of a person or of space-time itself was nicely illustrated by the plastic card demo (and I would like to have that model, or a copy of it, for the collection.) These examples were a nice counterpoint to the physics concepts.

The Relativity section made some good links to other sections of the presentation and within the topic itself, although it might have been more helpful to include some suggestions for linking at the bottom of the page. It is a bit disconcerting to come to a dead end with no good idea of the way to continue. The asides were effective uses of the hypertext. There seemed to be some duplication in the pictures of spheres on a quilt and the finger pushing against a grid, so some additional links might have coordinated Flatland analogies better, ultimately among the various final projects themselves.

The Expansion section also uses links well to explore a subject that was only alluded to in general terms in "Sphereland" for example. The Hawking speech might have been connected to other parts of the presentation, along with some of the philosophical comments. The sphereland analogy could have been tied in better with the shape section in this presentation. The overall design of the presentation is effective, and the reader is drawn to consider further reading. A suggested bibliography would have been nice, for the whole presentation, not just for individual parts.

All in all it is an impressive presentation, showing a lot of effort. Good work.