The Universe: Its Origin, Evolution, and Major Puzzles

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Cora Dvorkin (Department of Physics)
Freshman Seminar 51T 4 credits (spring term) Enrollment:  Limited to 15

This seminar will lead you on a tour of Cosmology and its open questions: how were the first structures of the universe seeded? What is dark matter? What is dark energy? We will study the universe since the very first tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang and its subsequent evolution. We will delve into its composition at large scales, and existing theories explaining its main components: dark matter and dark energy. We will learn about a wide variety of observations that are obtained and analyzed by different experiments around the world in order to make progress in our understanding of the cosmos. We will also study how these data sets are currently analyzed and debate about possible ways of moving forward in the times of “Big Data”. Finally, we will discuss how the scientific method is used in cosmology, where we only have one experiment: our universe.

Prerequisites: High school level math and physics. Non-scientists are welcome.

See also: Spring 2021