Spring 2016 Undergraduate Courses

Spring 2016

Topics in Modern Astronomy
This course provides a broad overview of modern astronomy and astrophysics for students in the sciences. Emphasis is on the application of basic physics to understanding of astronomical systems. Topics include the Solar System; planetary systems and exoplanets; the birth, life, and death of stars; white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes; the Milky Way and distant galaxies; cosmology, dark matter and dark energy, and the history of the Universe.
Instructors: Eve Charis Ostriker
The Universe
This specially designed course targets the frontier of modern astrophysics. Subjects include the planets of our solar system, the birth, life, and death of stars; the search for extrasolar planets and extraterrestrial life; the zoo of galaxies from dwarfs to giants, from starbursts to quasars; dark matter and the large-scale structure of the universe; Einstein's special and general theory of relativity, black holes, neutron stars, and big bang cosmology. This course is designed for the non-science major and has no prerequisites past high school algebra and geometry. High school physics would be useful.
Instructors: Christopher F. Chyba, David N. Spergel, Anatoly Spitkovsky
Science and Technology of Nuclear Energy: Fission and Fusion
Concern about climate change and need for energy independence has driven recent growth in nuclear fission power. However the events at Fukushima Daichi and the negotiations with Iran illustrate some of the issues. Fusion energy is moving towards realization of an alternative approach to nuclear power, with fewer dangers, but not yet ready to be commercialized. In this course we will study the science and technology of both fission and fusion. You will gain a good physical understanding of how both approaches work, including their benefits and risks, through applying and expanding your scientific and mathematical skills.
Instructors: Robert James Goldston
A general review of extragalactic astronomy and cosmology. Topics include the properties and nature of galaxies, clusters of galaxies, superclusters, the large-scale structure of the universe, evidence for the existence of Dark Matter and Dark Energy, the expanding universe, the early universe, and the formation and evolution of structure.
Instructors: Neta A. Bahcall