ESP Biography



DAVID FARHI, Senior at MIT, majoring in math and physics




Major: Phsyics

College/Employer: Harvard

Year of Graduation: G

Picture of David Farhi

Brief Biographical Sketch:

Not Available.



Past Classes

  (Look at the class archive for more.)


Newcomb's Paradox in Spark! 2010 (Mar. 13, 2010)
What does it mean to act rationally? In this class we’ll discuss Newcomb’s paradox, a strange philosophical question about the meaning of rationality. We may get sidetracked into discussions of free will, time travel, and parallel universes.


Entropy and Temperature in Spark! 2010 (Mar. 13, 2010)
Why does your room always get messier and messier, never cleaner? Why don’t all the air molecules fall to the ground? In this class we’ll talk about entropy and randomness in nature and how they connect to energy, heat, temperature, and engines. This class will probably be fairly rigorous and math-intensive.


Cosmology in Spark! 2010 (Mar. 13, 2010)
Someone has probably told you that the universe is "curved", began with a "Big Bang", and is "expanding." But what does that mean? If the universe has no edges, how can it "expand"? If there was a "Big Bang", what space did it explode into? How can the universe itself be "curved"? In this class we will start from the beginning and contemplate the evolution of the universe from experiments and logical deductions. We'll talk about what it means for the universe to be "curved" and to "expand", and why we think it does expand but is not curved. Then we'll talk about what makes it expand or contract. We will be able to use our model to predict what happened at the beginning of the universe and what will happen at the end of the universe.


Intuitive Calculus in Spark! 2010 (Mar. 13, 2010)
If you've always wondered what calculus is but haven't had a chance to see it, come try it out! I will try to demystify calculus and give you a feel for what it does and how it works. If you're planning to take calculus next year, this class will probably help build your intuition; if you already know what a derivative is, this class will be too simple.


A Bit Of Everything! in Spark! 2010 (Mar. 13, 2010)
Choose up to four whirlwind discussions and question-and-answer sessions about: Facts and myths about our universe: A chat about modern physics, what we know and what we don't know. We'll answer questions about stories you've heard regarding curved space, quantum teleportation, dark energy, strings, and whatever else you want to know. International Development: 1 billion people in the world do not have access to water, 29,000 children under the age of 5 die every day, and half the world lives on less than $2.50 a day. How do we even start to solve these problems? Protein cascades: how hormones and other external signaling factors can cause drastic changes in a cell's behavior through a series of astonishingly specific protein-protein interactions. Paradoxes: The next sentence is false. The previous sentence is true. This topic will amuse only those students who are not amused by it. Geoengineering: Geoengineering is what it sounds like - world engineering. Some scientists are proposing massive changes to our planet to combat global warming, like putting giant mirrors in space to reflect sunlight, or building giant, carbon filtering trees. Group Theory: What if you could "add" things that weren't numbers? We'll explore the theory of mathematical objects that allow for combining two elements with rules that mimic addition, and explore what kinds of objects we can get. Telescopes: From Galileo to the summit of Mauna Kea, learn how these pieces of glass have let us glimpse into the heavens; how astronomy, the oldest science, is born anew.


Lagrangian mechanics: Because Newton is so yesterday in Spark! 2010 (Mar. 13, 2010)
So you know all about classical mechanics, right -- you know about Newton's laws, conservation of momentum, energy, angular momentum.. all that jazz. After taking a calculus-based mechanics class, did you still wonder if there was anything more? Well, in some sense there isn't -- the only thing "fundamental" thing we have is $$F=dp/dt$$. But we can approach mechanics in a more formal, theoretical, and much awesomer way with something called Lagrangian mechanics. From this, you can derive Newton's laws from more fundamental principles!


The Strange World of Relativity (Part I) in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
Have you ever wanted to travel forward in time? Fit a 20ft pole into a 10ft barn? Weigh as much as the sun? Come see how you can do these and other really weird things, just by traveling really fast. This will be a self-contained course where we will discover some of the basic features of special relativity based upon some remarkably simple assumptions. You do not need to take the second part to be in this course.


The Strange World of Relativity (Part II) in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
As you have probably discerned with your brilliant powers of deduction, this class is a continuation of the class "The strange world of relativity (Part I)." We will learn more about the consequences of special relativity, possibly including but not limited to Minkowski space-time, stellar aberration, and mass-energy equivalence ($$E=mc^2$$).


Newcomb's Paradox in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
What does it mean to act rationally? In this class we'll discuss Newcomb's paradox, a strange philosophical question about the meaning of rationality. We may get sidetracked into discussions of free will, time travel, and parallel universes.


Guesswork and Uncertainty: knowing how much you don't know in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
How much does the Atlantic Ocean weigh? How many cells are in a human hand? What fraction of the earth's mass is contained in people? In this class we'll learn the art of making up data and guessing reasonable answers to complicated and difficult questions. We will also discuss uncertainty and the art of estimating errors.


Entropy in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
Why does your room always get messier and messier, never cleaner? Why don't all the air molecules fall to the ground? In this class we'll talk about entropy and randomness in nature and how they connect to energy, heat, temperature, and engines. This class will probably be fairly rigorous and math-intensive.


Cosmology, Dark Energy, and the Fate of the Universe in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
"Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice." (Robert Frost) As it turns out, we're pretty sure we know the world will end in ice. Come to this class to find out why! We'll talk along the way about the shape of the universe, the Big Bang, and vacuum energy.


Introduction to Quantum Mechanics in HSSP Summer 2009 (Jul. 12, 2009)
You've probably heard a lot about quantum mechanics - something about wave-particle dualities, cats being dead and alive, and lots of other things that don't quite make sense. In this class we'll develop quantum mechanics from the beginning, and try to make sense of all these strange notions. We'll start with some experimental observations, and try to explain them. Along the way, we'll meet Schrodinger's Equation, superposition, wavefunction collapse, quantized energy levels, and more. You will absolutely need to know calculus for this class. You should be comfortable with derivatives and integrals, and if you've seen some simple differential equations, that can't hurt. "Those who are not shocked when they first come across quantum theory cannot possibly have understood it." -Niels Bohr


Discovering Astrophysics in HSSP Spring 2009 (Mar. 14, 2009)
Pinpricks of light. That's all we can see in the sky, yet somehow astronomers can still understand phenomena like galaxies and supernovae and quasars. Even more basic than that, how can we tell how far away a star is? How do we know what stars are made of, or their temperature, or their age? How can we understand black holes, or come up with the big bang theory for the formation of the universe? In this class, you'll be directing experiments and interpreting the results. We'll give you data, but you'll come up with new ways to collect it, you'll find the patterns, and you'll make conclusions about just what's going on out there in the universe. Meanwhile, we'll present material that will help you in your investigations or explain more of the background behind what you're seeing, from the physics of black holes to general relativity to the formation of the universe.


The Strange World of Relativity in Spark! Spring 2009 (Mar. 07, 2009)
Did you ever want to travel forward in time? Fit a 20 ft pole into a 10 ft barn? Weigh as much as the sun? Come see how you can do these and other really weird things just by traveling really fast.


Newcomb's Paradox in Spark! Spring 2009 (Mar. 07, 2009)
What does it mean to act rationally? In this class we’ll discuss Newcomb’s paradox, and talk about what constitutes a rational choice. We may get sidetracked into discussions of free will, time travel, and parallel universes. This class will be very discussion based.


A Deeper Look at Mechanics in Spark! Spring 2009 (Mar. 07, 2009)
This class will be fast tour of kinematics, Newton’s Laws, dynamics, and angular motion. It will be geared towards students taking a high school physics class (without calculus) who are frustrated by the dumbed-down math and want to see the real concepts behind the theory.


Scheme in Spark! Spring 2009 (Mar. 07, 2009)
Ever wanted to learn to Scheme? Want to take over the world? We recommend a class in the social studies category. Ever wanted to learn Scheme? Have you heard of functional programming, but never learned any functional languages? Come to our class, and we’ll teach you the basics of Scheme, and how to learn more.


Bridge Building Contest in Splash! 2008 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2008)
Test your engineering skills with toothpicks and jelly beans.


Newcomb's Paradox in Splash! 2008 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2008)
What does it mean to act rationally? In this class we'll discuss Newcomb's paradox, and talk about what constitutes a rational choice. We may get sidetracked into discussions of free will, time travel, and parallel universes. This class will be very discussion based.


Quantum Baseballs and Relativistic Bicycles in Splash! 2008 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2008)
What would the world be like if the speed of light were only 1,000 miles per hour? If Planck's constant were only $$10^{-5}$$ joule-seconds? In this class we'll talk about the parameters of our universe, and investigate what would happen if they were different. In this class we'll see teleporting snowballs and time-traveling cars, and give new meaning to the glass that is both half full and half empty.


The strange world of relativity in Splash! 2008 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2008)
Did you ever want to travel forward in time? Fit a 20ft pole into a 10ft barn? Weigh as much as the sun? Come see how you can do these and other really weird things, just by traveling really fast.


Whirlwind Mechanics with Calculus in Splash! 2008 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2008)
This class will be fast tour of kinematics, Newton's Laws, dynamics, and angular motion. This class will be geared towards students taking a high school physics class (without calculus) who want to see the deeper concepts behind the theory.


Advanced Aluminum Foil Construction: Boat Design in Spark! Spring 2008 (Mar. 08, 2008)
Design and build your own foil boat, and see how it fares on the high seas!! See how much weight your boat can hold before it sinks, and try to design a stronger boat than your friends.


Bridge Building Competition in Spark! Spring 2008 (Mar. 08, 2008)
See how strong a bridge you can build out of simple household things like straws, toothpicks, and/or gumballs. Can your bridge hold a book? a bowling ball? a person? a car?


Beginner Aluminum Foil Construction in Spark! Spring 2008 (Mar. 08, 2008)
Aluminum foil is an amazing material. It's shiny, doesn't rust, can be sculpted into pretty much anything, and is really light. Come learn to make some aluminum foil creations!


The strange world of relativity in Spark! Spring 2008 (Mar. 08, 2008)
Did you ever want to travel forward in time? Fit a 20ft pole into a 10ft barn? Weigh as much as the sun? Come see how you can do these and other really weird things, just by traveling really fast.


Real Math in SPLASHONWHEELS (2008)
Why is the Pythagorean theorem true? Why is the square root of two irrational? How big is infinity? Come learn ...


Fake Test Class in SPLASH (2007)
Note to self: Please remember not to put this in the catalog


The Physics of Walking in SPLASH (2006)
You take thousands of steps every day. But do you really understand how? Neither do I. Come to this class ...