Sonoma State University
Spring 2008
Astronomy 350
J.S. Tenn

Course Outline
with references to chapters in the books by Croswell [C], Kirshner [K], Singh [S], and Freeman & McNamara [FM]

SP = Student presentation. Choose your topic before someone else gets it! * means taken.

1Jan 28 The Big Questions [S: 1, K: 1]
Why are we here? Where are we? How did we get here? How does the universe work?
Surprisingly, some of these questions are amenable to the scientific method.
What is cosmology and what is the scientific method?
2Jan 30 - Feb 11 How is the Universe Organized? [K: 2–3]
The large scale: planets, stars, galaxies, clusters, the universe
The small scale: molecules, atoms, nuclei, baryons, quarks, and leptons
The laws of nature: fundamental interactions, classical and quantum mechanics
3Feb 13 - 20 The Beginnings of Modern Cosmology: Theory [C: 1–2, S: 2, K: 4]

Olbers’s Paradox (more)
Einstein’s Special and General Relativity, static models of Einstein and de Sitter
Friedmann: expanding models.
The cosmological parameters: H0, q0, k, Λ, and Ω and the age of the universe
SP: Gravity Probe B or the discovery of frame-dragging
SP: Gravitational radiation: the binary pulsar
* SP: LIGO ARM 3/10
4Feb 20 - 25 The Beginnings of Modern Cosmology: Observation [S: 3, C: 3, K: 5–6]
Slipher, Hubble & Humason: the redshift-magnitude relation. Interpretation: the universe is expanding.
Methods of measuring distance and the history of the Hubble constant.
5Feb 27 - 29 Early Thoughts on the Early Universe [S: 3–4, C: 4]
Lemaître: physics applied to a beginning
Alpher, Gamow, Herman: predictions of BB nucleosynthesis and the CMB
* SP: Primordial nucleosynthesis TLH 3/7
6Mar 3 - 7 The Steady State Theory and the Discoveries That Disproved It [S: 4–5]
SP: The steady state theory
SP: Radio source counts and quasars
The discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation by Penzias & Wilson
7Mar 10 - 21 The Standard Model and Inflation [S: 5, C: 5, 7–8, 12]
What the present universe tells us about the early universe, and vice versa
When cosmology was “a search for two numbers”
Observational support: the Hubble expansion, the abundances of the elements, the microwave background, and the consistency of estimates of the age of the universe
Problems with the standard model, and the inflationary idea
Review: Playing the Cosmology Game.
8Apr 2 - 9 Structure in the Universe [C: 9]
An introduction to galaxies
Deep surveys of galaxies: 1970s-80s  1980s-90s  current
FUSE detects intergalactic clouds
Hot dark matter, cold dark matter, and mixtures
Examples: Flight to the Virgo Cluster, SDSS Movie
SP: Comparisons of models with observations
SP: What does gravitational lensing tell us? (more) (simulation) (another)
9Apr 11 - 21 The Dark Matter [C: 6, 11, 13; FM: 1–13]
What we know and don't know about most of the matter in the universe
SP: The average density of the universe
SP: The search for dark matter: WIMPs
Mapping the dark matter with gravitational lensing, weak lensing
SP: The search for dark matter: MACHOs
Neutrinos. Is neutrino mass significant?
10Apr 23 - 30 The Formation and Evolution of Galaxies
Which came first, galaxies or clusters?
The first stars in the Universe
Active galaxies and quasars
11May 2 - 5 Learning from the CMB (more) [C: 10, K: 7]
SP: COBE results and their importance
SP: Boomerang and Maxima
12May 7 - 9 Supernovae reveal that the expansion is accelerating! (more) [C: 14, K: 8–11; FM: 14]
The cosmological constant returns as “Dark Energy” [37 MB]
13May 12 Today’s Cosmology; There is Still Room for Far-Out Ideas

Quantum fluctuations and the possibility of many universes
The Self-Reproducing Inflationary Universe of Andrei Linde
A cyclic universe?
Superstrings and higher dimensions
We still don't know what dark matter and dark energy are
14May 16 Summary

Historical Summary: Cosmology Since 1900

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