Fall 2010
Fully Enrolled

SCIE 636
The Universe


09/13/2010 - 12/10/2010
Monday 06:00 PM - 08:30 PM

Van Vleck Observatory 110

What is the Big Bang Theory? What evidence supports it? What are its strengths, weaknesses, and limitations? How do current observations help us to understand the structure and evolution of the universe?

This course focuses on the largest sphere of human thought: the whole universe.

The reading in the course will be assigned from recent books written by distinguished astrophysicists such as Stephen Hawking, Roger Penrose and Steven Weinberg.

One paper, of approximately ten pages in length, is required. In addition, students will choose a topic to explore in depth and report on in class.

We explore the nature of stars, galaxies, and even larger structures, studying their origins and likely fates. The treatment is primarily non-mathematical and previous study of astronomy is not required. Telescopes and equipment of the Van Vleck Observatory will be used to view objects under discussion, as weather permits.

This course is open to auditors.

The deadline to withdraw and receive a tuition refund for this course is Friday, September 17 at 5:00 pm.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
SCIE 636

William Herbst, (B.A. Princeton University; M.Sc. University Toronto, Ph.D. University Toronto), is John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy and has served as Chair of the Astronomy Department and Director of Van Vleck Observatory. He and his team of students have discovered a sun-like star that is eclipsed in a way never before seen -- not by another star, planet or moon, but by dust grains, rocks and maybe even asteroids orbiting it in a clumpy circumstellar disk. This discovery has received international attention and continues to open new doors in studying the origins and evolution of planets. He is primary or contributing author of more than 250 publications in the astronomical literature, including the recent "Reflected Light from Sand Grains in the Terrestrial Zone of a Protoplanetary Disk" Nature (2008). Click here for more information about William Herbst.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Timothy Ferris, Coming of Age in the Milky Way

Robert Kirshner, The Extravagant Universe: Exploding Stars, Dark Energy and the Accelerating Cosmos


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