FALL 2001 COURSE GUIDE
These courses focus on basic scientific principles and examines the way these principles were developed through gradual evolution, the elimination of competing ideas, and scientific revolution. A lab or field experience is required. These courses focus on cultures and civilizations generally perceived as alternatives to those in Category 1, and based on traditions prevalent in Africa, Asia, Latin American, the Middle East, Native America, and elsewhere.
MW, 2:00 - 3:50
The marvelous ballet of the starry sky has fascinated mankind since prehistoric times. The questions, for instance, "Where are we?" and "What is the universe?" have spurred the development of astronomy. Since I am both a physicist and an astronomer, the course will be somewhat slanted towards physics. I will show how the quest for the nature of the universe has helped the development of physics tremendously. Physics, in turn, has paid back generously by delivering the very concepts that can make the seemingly weirdest things in the universe comprehensible.
This course is designed specifically for the non-science major who has very little, if any, background in the sciences and mathematics. The course is non-mathematical by prerequisite, but you will have the pleasure (sorry, I mean, you will be required) to learn to perform some calculation that are very simple and will employ formulae that are easy to remember. You will note that formulae represent ideas, reflecting the fact that mathematics is the language of science.
Requirements & Grading
Note: For another ASTR 100Lg section, see below.
This course is about your origins taken on the grandest possible scale. It is my hope that by the end you will have a sense of where we are in the universe, and how we got here: Not only in terms of the evolution of the planets, galaxies and of the universe as a whole, but also in terms of the development of our knowledge and understanding of astronomy. As a result, the early part of the course will involve a considerable amount of the essential basic science, and most particularly physics, organized according to how it was discovered, or became relevant to astronomy. The last three sections of the course examine what we know about the universe (and how we know it) at progressively larger scales: starting with the solar system, we then move out to stars in our galaxy, thence to other galaxies and, finally, to the expansion of the universe as a whole.
As a general principle, I will try to focus on universal features rather than on individual local peculiarities. For example, I would rather you knew what you might find in other planetary systems around other stars than you knew the names of every single moon of every single planet in our solar system. It will be essential to memorize a significant body of facts, but I will try to extract general themes from these facts and endeavor not to inflict you with the miseries of extensive rote learning.
This course has roughly four parts: (1) what and how we learn from observation, essential physics, basic concepts, and early astronomy; (2) the solar system; (3) the life and death of stars; and (4) the galaxies and the evolution of the universe. I wish to spend more time on (3) and (4) than is typical in the more traditional astronomy class. The concepts in this material are the more intriguing, and are not so easily digested without assistance. The cost of this choice is that we will only make a rather cursory study of the planets.
This course is designed specifically for the non-science major who has very little, if any, background in the sciences and mathematics. The course is non-mathematical by prerequisite, but you will have the pleasure of learning to perform some calculations that are very simple and will employ formulae that are easy to remember. You will note that formulae represent ideas, reflecting the fact that mathematics is the language of science. For the nervous math-phobe: in the first two lectures I will give you an idea of the level of mathematics that will be expected.
Note: For another ASTR 100Lg section, see previous entry.
This course examines the geologic structure and evolution of the planet earth.
Grading: 650 points total
Note: For the most recent information about this course, see the instructor's website.
This course introduces students to oceanographic processes active at the Earth's surface and their relationships to other components of the Earth's overall environment including climate variability and Global Change issues. Oceanographic processes include plate tectonics, oceanic circulation, biogeochemical cycles, marine sedimentation, and marine biology. The course also surveys the relationship between oceanographic processes and the availability of mineral/energy resources and pollution problems. The laboratory associated with the course employs a hands-on approach to illustrate the methods which oceanographers use to develop an understanding of how the world's oceans work. Selected videotapes will also be shown in the lectures/labs to better illustrate dynamic ocean processes.
Note: For most recent course information, see the instructor's website.
This course will explore the impact of Earth's natural evolution on civilization and the impact of our growing population on the Earth's ecosystems and resources. As leaders of tomorrow, students of today face unprecedented challenges that include both ethical and technical issues regarding our planet and its environment.
The Earth is a "restless" planet. Without volcanism and earthquakes, it would not have evolved to a state supportive of biologic life. Yet, the success of our species is leading to an increasing number of natural disasters. From floods to earthquakes to landslides, such forms of planetary instability are natural. They have always occurred but can become disasters when we fail to understand what is natural.
The course will consider how the Earth came to be where it is today and how humans fit into its natural evolution. Human population trends are increasing geometrically. Although it took two million years for our population to achieve the first billion mark, today our population grows by a billion every decade. As result, our impact on Earth is becoming severe with remarkable effects on the balance of nature in areas such as global warming, acid rain and pollution, and high atmosphere ozone depletion. Other topics include the Earth's diminished ability to provide through its water, mineral, and energy resources.
Because of such issues, students of today and our leaders to tomorrow need to be educated about the Earth, including the natural aspects of its instability and the ways that humans are unnaturally affecting its continued evolution. Are we to be part of the problem or part of the solution? These are global problems that carry into every corner of the world.
Note: For the most recent information regarding this course, see the instructor's website.
This course is designed for anyone with an interest in science, and will consider (1) our current knowledge of selected fields in the physical sciences (relativity, quantum mechanics, chaos theory, and planetary/solar system development); (2) the nature of scientific inquiry which has led us to that current knowledge, and (3) the relationship of scientific inquiry to other aspects of human knowledge and experience. We will explore current scientific ideas, how these ideas have evolved - how new scientific paradigms (broad scientific hypotheses) are developed (and older paradigms junked), and what are the limitations of science. By the end of the semester, we hope that all students acquire a more 'modern' scientific view of the natural world around us, both what we know and what we don't know, and also develop a more questioning attitude with regard to the learning process and observation of the world around us.
This course presents some of the advances in modern physics in the 20th century from a conceptual point of view. It is intend as a cultural enrichment course rather than a technical course. It is primarily addressed to non-specialists, but would also be enriching for students majoring in technical fields. Topics will range from the Big Bang cosmology of the Universe to the microscoping structures of matter including atoms, nuclei, quarks, superstrings, black holes, superconductivity, etc. Attempts will be made to explain the deeper theories of Physics by making analogies and relating them to commonly encountered events in daily life. The lab for this course will help to demonstrate the relationship between concepts learned in lecture.
Grading and Course Requirements:
Note: For the most recent information about this course, see the instructor's website.