Late Fall Astronomy Class: Cosmology 101: Major Issues – November-December 2017

Cosmology asks the big questions of astronomy. Out of what did the universe arise, when, how? What is the present state of the universe and what will it be like in the future, billions and trillions of years from today?

Wednesday, Nov 1 – Special Relativity (SR)
Einstein. Ordinary and relativistic velocities. Implications and equations of SR. Spacetime and spacetime intervals. Confirmations of SR. Olber’s paradox. Redshift z values and formulas, with modifications for SR.

Wednesday, Nov 8 – General Relativity (GR)
Gravity: Newton and Einstein. Implications and equations of GR. Confirmations of GR. Gravitational lensing, gravitational waves. LIGO (2016)

Wednesday, Nov 15 – The Big Bang Theory
Lamaitre and Einstein’s “big mistake”. Hubble’s discoveries and Law. Universe’s age and  expansion. 1950’s debate: Steady State vs. Big Bang. Cosmic Background Radiation. WMAP breakthroughs. Evidences for and advances in Big Bang model.

Wednesday, Nov 29 – Top Mysteries Today

Dark matter, dark energy, ultimate forces and structure of matter. Latest mass-energy percentages. Refinements to H0.

Wednesday, Dec 6 – Alien Life?
Evolution requirements. The Drake equation. Viable stars. Habitable zones. Finding exoplanets.

Wednesday, Dec. 13* – Why does the world exist?
Creationism vs. natural processes. A universe from nothing? E= mc^2 works both ways. Nucleosynthesis of elements. Ultimate structure of matter. Multiverses?


Time:  classes start at 6:30 PM and go until 8:30 PM.

Location: all classes are held at Cicatelli Center, 505 8th Ave, at 35th St. in Manhattan on the 20th Floor (except Dec 13, which will be held on the 19th floor).

Instructor: David Kiefer
David Kiefer holds various Masters degrees, including a M.S. in astronomy from the Center for Astrophysics and Supercomputing in Melbourne, Australia.  He has taught physics and astronomy at colleges in New York and New Jersey,  and is presently a lecturer at City College and at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York.  A member of the AAA, Mr. Kiefer observes regularly at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn.