Agnes Lifelong Learning - Fall 2018

Please click on a course title below to learn more about our Fall 2018 offerings.

The Biology of Amphibians

Instructor: Mark Mandica, Executive Director, The Amphibian Foundation
Location: Bullock Science Center, classroom to be determined

Course fee: $100
Max class size: 35

Class times: Saturdays - September 15 through November 3, 2018 (8 weeks); 2:30-5:30 p.m. each week

 Three amphibians

Amphibians (frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, efts and caecilians) are an incredibly diverse and interesting clade. This course explores the taxonomy of the major types of amphibians; defining each group and the characters that unite them before examining their biodiversity and adaptations. This course will be a deep dive into the biology, morphology, physiology, biogeography, and evolution of amphibians. Topics such as reproduction, metamorphosis, functional morphology, freeze tolerance and phenotypic plasticity will be covered in splendid detail. Special emphasis will be placed on the amphibians native to the metro Atlanta region.

The course assumes a basic understanding of Biology and Comparative Anatomy, but are not requirements. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia (Jensen, et al) is suggested reading, and all required course materials will be available for download here.

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Biology of Amphibians
Course number: 201803200

Chaos, Fractals, Self-Organization and Emergence

Instructor: John Boccio, Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Physics, Swathmore College
Location:  To Be Determined

Course fee: $100
Max class size: 40

Class times:  Saturdays - September 15 through November 3, 2018 (8 weeks); 2:30-5:30 p.m each week


How are these natural systems similar? What does the evolution of life, the dynamics of traffic jams, the distribution of earthquakes, the fluctuation of the stock market, the dynamics of social networks, the formation of patterns, the weather, mass extinctions, the behavior of insect colonies, the properties of the brain, and the spread of disease, etc have in common?

The basic laws of physics are simple, so why is the world so complex? The theory of self-organized criticality proposes that complex behavior in nature emerges from the dynamics of dissipative systems that evolve into a critical state, with long range spatial and temporal correlations. Minor disturbances lead to intermittent events of all sizes. These events organize the system into a complex state. This type of punctuated equilibrium dynamics has been observed in astrophysical, geophysical and biological processes, as well as in human social activity.

Self-Organization is the spontaneous emergence of large-scale spatial, temporal, or spatiotemporal order in a system of locally interacting, relatively simple components that cannot be described in terms of the simple components. 

We will discuss topics like chaos fractals, scaling and self-similarity, iterated function systems, pattern formation, self-organized networks, self-organized criticality, complex adaptive systems and emergence.

No prerequisites.

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Chaos, Fractals, Self-Organization and Emergence
Course number: 201803100