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ESP Biography



LAWRENCE CHIOU, graduate student in biophysics




Major: Biophysics

College/Employer: Stanford

Year of Graduation: 2021

Picture of Lawrence Chiou

Brief Biographical Sketch:

Ever since teaching at my first Splash (at MIT) as a college sophomore, I always wondered how long my Splash fever would last. Hundreds of hours and a dozen Splashes later, I've concluded that excitement for sharing my love of physics, pens, and probability, among other things, is likely a permanent condition.

When not occupied with Splash, I think about how to borrow tools and ideas from physics and math to answer biological questions at the cellular scale.

When not teaching or looking at cells, I enjoy playing Baroque keyboard music, doing puzzles, indulging in fancy pens, and writing about science.



Past Classes

  (Clicking a class title will bring you to the course's section of the corresponding course catalog)

A7317: Keyboard Music before 1800 in Splash Spring 2019 (May. 04 - 05, 2019)
The musical culture and keyboard instruments of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and their contemporaries were quite different from our own. Through playing on representative historical keyboard instruments, we will explore the historical context and performance practice of keyboard music from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Bring two contrasting selections of your favorite Baroque or early Classical keyboard music (five to ten minutes in total) to perform for the seminar.


C5387: Exploring Einstein's Special Relativity in Splash Fall 2016 (Dec. 03 - 04, 2016)
As Einstein posited at the turn of the last century, if we accept that the speed of light is the universal “speed limit” and that the laws of physics are the same to all inertial observers, then a simple thought experiment reveals stunning inconsistencies in the foundations of Newtonian physics. The theory of special relativity is elegant enough that starting with nothing but two simple postulates and a little algebra, we can derive and explain all of the fundamental results. We will also discuss some rudimentary aspects of relativistic dynamics (which requires a third assumption).


C5391: Advanced Classical Mechanics in Splash Fall 2016 (Dec. 03 - 04, 2016)
Given two points in the plane, what is the path connecting them that will carry a point traveling between the two points in the least amount of time? In general, what are the conditions under which there exists a conserved quantity (such as linear or angular momentum)? To answer these questions, it will help considerably to recast Newton’s laws in an equivalent but much more powerful form instead of working with Newton’s laws directly. A more advanced grounding of mechanics, the so-called Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalisms, provides the theoretical underpinnings for much of physics as we know it today. We will derive the so-called Lagrange and Hamilton equations and explain some of their implications on thermodynamics and quantum mechanics.


P5010: Exploring Einstein's Special Relativity in Splash Spring 2016 (Apr. 09 - 10, 2016)
As Einstein posited at the turn of the last century, if we accept that the speed of light is the universal “speed limit” and that the laws of physics are the same to all inertial observers, then a simple thought experiment reveals stunning inconsistencies in the foundations of Newtonian physics. The theory of special relativity is elegant enough that starting with nothing but two simple postulates and a little algebra, we can derive and explain all of the fundamental results. We will also discuss some rudimentary aspects of relativistic dynamics (which requires a third assumption).


H4733: Mightier than the Sword: The Greatest Pens (and Pencils) Ever Made in Splash Fall 2015 (Nov. 07 - 08, 2015)
A few years ago, I began my search for the greatest writing tools ever made. Although the quest for a definitive answer continues, I have identified some of the smoothest and most elegant (and at times most expensive) pens and pencils ever crafted by humankind. We'll examine the world of the mighty pen (with a focus on the elegant fountain pen) and trusty pencil (both mechanical and conventional). There will be live demos and samples on display.


P4734: Exploring Einstein's Special Relativity in Splash Fall 2015 (Nov. 07 - 08, 2015)
As Einstein posited at the turn of the last century, if we accept that the speed of light is the universal “speed limit” and that the laws of physics are the same to all inertial observers, then a simple thought experiment reveals stunning inconsistencies in the foundations of Newtonian physics. The theory of special relativity is elegant enough that starting with nothing but two simple postulates and a little algebra, we can derive and explain all of the fundamental results. We will also discuss some rudimentary aspects of relativistic dynamics (which requires a third assumption).


M4735: Math by Storytelling in Splash Fall 2015 (Nov. 07 - 08, 2015)
Sometimes, if you're doing it the hard way, you're doing it wrong. In math, oftentimes we can get away with very few equations and calculations, if any at all. Instead, we can rely on another powerful tool at our disposal: storytelling. We will examine how we can do some difficult combinatorics problems simply by interpreting what the math means.


P4736: Advanced Classical Mechanics in Splash Fall 2015 (Nov. 07 - 08, 2015)
Given two points in the plane, what is the path connecting them that will carry a point traveling between the two points in the least amount of time? In general, what are the conditions under which there exists a conserved quantity (such as linear or angular momentum)? To answer these questions, it will help considerably to recast Newton’s laws in an equivalent but much more powerful form instead of working with Newton’s laws directly. A more advanced grounding of mechanics, the so-called Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalisms, provides the theoretical underpinnings for much of physics as we know it today. We will derive the so-called Lagrange and Hamilton equations and explain some of their implications on thermodynamics and quantum mechanics.


V4737: The Meaning of Music in Splash Fall 2015 (Nov. 07 - 08, 2015)
What exactly makes music so alluring? What makes it so capable of painting with the palette of human emotion? What allows it to express meaning? Here, we offer some elementary insights into the question of meaning: how do composers express ideas in music?


P4738: All of Physics* in Two Hours in Splash Fall 2015 (Nov. 07 - 08, 2015)
If you're not sure what physics course to choose, you might as well take all of them at the same time. (At one Splash there were five classes on special relativity and six on quantum mechanics.) Starting with Newton's laws, we will proceed to explain all of classical mechanics and electromagnetism (including analytical mechanics and special relativity), then go on to wave mechanics, statistical mechanics, and quantum mechanics. *[Admittedly, this is a far stretch from "ALL of physics," but it does include the fundamentals of what was known from the 1680s to the 1930s. In any case, if you're ready to see quantum field theory (or have a very good idea of what that is), then this class is probably too easy for you, anyway.]


P4739: Quantum Mechanics in Splash Fall 2015 (Nov. 07 - 08, 2015)
An overview of elementary quantum theory.


M4741: The Art of Estimation in Splash Fall 2015 (Nov. 07 - 08, 2015)
To get an answer that's precise, go ahead and calculate, compute, and crunch formulas. But to get an answer that you can understand, there's no better method than quick-and-dirty estimation, the quicker and dirtier the better. Calculating the number of cells in the human body or the weekly Caltrain ridership off the top of your head is more than just a fun parlor trick. By estimating, you're getting a feel for the numbers in an active way—a crucial first step to solve any problem. From economists to engineers, those who hope to grasp the numbers that describe the world must eventually develop the crucial skill and elegant art of estimation.