Discovering the Universe is a GenEd physical
science (P) course. As the list of topics below demonstrates, the
course covers not only the Universe and the bodies in it -- planets,
moons, stars, galaxies, etc. -- but also some of how we know about
those things and the underlying physics of orbits and radiation. This course will lead you on the farthest, longest journey possible,
through the vast extensions of the known Universe, and back in time
12 billion years all the way to the Big Bang. The goals I would like
you to achieve throughout this semester are:
Along the way, you will learn about the Four Forces of Physics
that describe virtually everything in the physical Universe,
and you will also come to appreciate the almost overwhelming beauty of
the natural world.
Become familiar with the physical Universe
(Galaxies, Stars, Planets, Gas, Dust, Particles, Radiation, Dark
Matter and Dark Energy).
Understand how science works, and
how we know what we know.
Estimulate your curiosity for
natural phenomena, and your ability to
question the real causes behind such phenomena and to search for answers .
The course is organized into five sections:
This course offers a basic introduction to more technical courses, and
even research, in the Astronomy Department. Although it is essentially
a non-mathematical science course, a very basic knowledge of mathematics is
required. Perhaps this course will spark a life-long interest in
science and astronomy; perhaps not. In any event, the thought
processes and reasoning skills you develop this semester should stand
you in good stead in situations far surpassing this single
undergraduate course. You are now living in a complex, modern society
where science plays an ever-increasing role. It is crucial that you
understand how science and scientists actually work, since you will
find yourself voting on, reading about, and using the products of
scientific research in almost every aspect of your life.
- Naked-Eye Astronomy:
Learning to be an Observer.
- Tools of Astronomy: Physics,
Light, and Telescopes.
- Stars: Their Birth, Life,
- Galaxies and Cosmology:
The Origin and Fate of the Universe.
- Planets and the Search for Extraterrestrial
Life: Anybody out there?