PHYS 141: Science as a Human Endeavor: Cosmology

Course DescriptionCosmology is the study of the universe as a whole, including its origin and development. The focus of this course will be on understanding the modern scientific model of the origin of the universe – the Big Bang model. In order to do this, we will first need to understand some of the physical principles upon which it is based: Newton's laws of motion and gravitation, Einstein's theories of special and general relativity, the structure of matter and the forces that govern it, light and its properties, and the large-scale structure and motion in the universe. We will then examine the evidence for and problems with the Big Bang model, as well as some of its theological and philosophical implications.

Catalog DescriptionAn exploration of what science is and how science changed our understanding of who we are and our place in the universe. This question will be explored as it relates to a topic of a particular science discipline. One hour lecture and three hours lab each week. Liberal Arts.

Bode’s Galaxy (Messier 81). Image: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

Useful Information

Class Time                         TR 8:00-9:50 AM, Paine 118
Instructor                          Dr. Aikens
Office Hours                      
MWF 1-2 PM, Paine 108
Help Session                     Monday, 6-8 PM, Paine 118


Course Syllabus
Updated Syllabus
Term paper hints
Sky View Cafe
Starlab Quiz Info




Problem Set #1
Problem Set #2
Problem Set #3
Problem Set #4


L1: Science, Christianity, and Logical Fallacies
L2: How Big is the Universe?
L3: Newton's Laws, Gravity, and Orbits
L4: Relativity
L5: Light
L6: Blackbody Radiation
L7: Atomic Spectra
L8: Nuclear Fusion
L9: Characteristics of Stars
L10: How Stars Form
L11: Do Stars Age?
L12: What Happens When Stars Die?
L13: Black Holes
L14: What is Our Galaxy Like?
L15: Are There Different Kinds of Galaxies?
L16: What is the Big Bang?
L17: Problems with the Big Bang?
L18: How do Christians Interpret This?