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Do not get tricked by the name. This class should be renamed to neuroscience 19 because it had more to do with the brain than physics. The lectures themselves were interesting in that it wasn't structured like a normal course with a static amount of information that is passed on each year. He is teaching you the concepts of his current research paper which delves into the intense concepts of the brain. For the most part, you are going to be confused for the entire quarter because the ideas are far too difficult for people who have no background in neuroscience but some basic ideas can be formed from the lectures. The class was very consistent every week. Two lectures which total up to 2 hours which are recorded and uploaded. For a seminar course, this class has about 0 discussion and participation required. It is mostly him talking about his ideas. There are lecture responses that need to be typed up every week so that he knows you are following along with his lecture. He also assigns a hefty amount of reading each week which you also have to write a report on. For a 1 credit course, the workload is pretty heavy. I can see myself spending 5 hours each week to complete everything. Other than that, the class was really easy especially because it is just a pass/ no pass class. Although this review seems pretty negative, I do think the professor is very kind and helpful and I can see that he is very passionate about this topic. I just think the class was designed poorly because it doesn't fit the categories it was listed as. Definitely take it if you are interested in neuroscience though.
The class was definitely not what I expected, but I still ended up enjoying it. It's less philosophical and more neuroscience heavy. Lots of confusing info, concepts, and terminology, but it was outside my comfort zone anyways and I ended up learning a lot. You can tell he's really passionate, so the class ended up pretty fun. There was more work than I anticipated though (an extra hour of lecture, a couple book chapters, reflections on the book, answering questions on the lecture, and asking him three questions due every week)
Professor Arisaka is a genius. The man is seriously smart and this class is essentially him lecturing about his brand new theory that consolidates his inquiries into neuroscience with his background in particle physics. The class is way less philosophical than what the course title lets on, but it's still every bit as interesting. It is super technical and you will learn a lot of terminology relating to the brain. The only issue is that the material is really confusing and convoluted. "I’ve given up hope of understanding any of this," was something I heard from fellow classmates more than once. Arisaka sometimes falters when students ask him questions and he expresses his own confusions of translating his Japanese thoughts into English. However, he will always try his best to further elaborate and explain material if you ask him, and he's super nice about it. He has a couple of books you have to read, one is easy, the other is extremely difficult. He lets you borrow his copies if you are unable to pay for them. The workload is kind of heavy for a Fiat Lux, two chapters of reading a week, a chapter summary, and you must ask him 3 questions on a google doc pertaining to the course. As long as you show up and do the work, you'll pass. I dropped the course Week 6 because it was my second Fiat Lux and I was starting to fall behind.
TL;DR: Overall, this is a good time. Arisaka is a passionate lecturer. I would probably wait until he's published a paper on the subject (hopefully Spring 2021) to take this class. But no matter what, the material here is fascinating and you will learn something you didn't know.
Brilliant professor and fascinating research. One of the best classes I've taken since coming to UCLA – not to be missed!