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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Neal Evans

Professor

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T C 302 • Origin Sci: Universe And Life

42955 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm CRD 007B
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We will consider the successes and limitations of the scientific mode of reasoning by focusing on two subjects of “origin science.” The origin of the universe and the origin of life have long been considered from religious and philosophical points of view. In the twentieth century, both became the subject of scientific inquiry. We will examine the history of cosmology to understand the evolution of our world-view and the development of the scientific approach. The current state of understanding of the origin of life will be considered in the same context.  Students will learn some physics, astronomy, chemistry, and biology in the context of historical events.

Texts/Readings:

The primary book for the origin of the Universe will be The Accelerating Universe, by Mario Livio. It will be supplemented by an anthology on cosmology edited by N. Hetherington entitled Cosmology—Historical, Literary, Philosophical, Religious, and Scientific Perspectives.

For the origin of life, we will use a book by Iris Fry called The Emergence of Life on Earth and also a book by R. Shapiro called Origins, A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth. This book is out of print, but the Co-op has permission to produce copies. It deals with both the science and the philosophical issues.

I will also supply materials, including articles at the level of Scientific American and occasionally more technical pieces.

Assignments: 

There will be two exams, primarily on the scientific content (40%) and three papers (each about 5 pages), which focus on the historical and philosophical issues (50%). The remaining 10% will be based on homework and class discussion. The grade for the papers will include a component for an oral presentation; each student will make one such presentation during the semester.  Class discussion will include at least one of the talks in the University Lecture Series.

About the Professor:

Professor Neal Evans studies the formation of new stars from interstellar molecular clouds using radio and infrared telescopes. He regularly teaches undergraduate classes on extraterrestrial life and the origins of the Universe, stars, planets, and life. He survived the sixties at Berkeley, earning both B.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Physics, while dabbling in English literature. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Caltech, he joined the faculty at the University of Texas, where he is currently the Randall Centennial Professor of Astronomy.

T C 302 • Origin Sci: Universe & Life-W

43725 • Fall 2009
Meets TTH 1100-1230pm CRD 007A
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Origin Science: The Universe and Life
TC 302            Tu-Th 11-12:30                      Fall 2009

Instructor:    Neal Evans           
Office:    RLM 15.214           
Phone:    471-3302               
Office Hours:    Tu 2:30-3:30           
    Wed 9-10           

Course Description: We will consider the successes and limitations of the scientific mode of reasoning by focusing on two subjects of “origin science.”  The origin of the Universe and the origin of life have long been considered from religious and philosophical points of view.  In the twentieth century, both became the subject of scientific inquiry.  We will examine the history of cosmology to understand the evolution of our world-view and the development of the scientific approach.  The current state of understanding of the origin of life will be considered in the same context. Students will learn some physics, astronomy, chemistry, and biology in the context of historical events.

Books: The primary book for the origin of the Universe will be The Accelerating Universe, by Mario Livio.  In addition, we will use an anthology on cosmology edited by N. Hetherington entitled Cosmology— Historical, Literary, Philosophical, Religious, and Scientific Perspectives. For the origin of life, we will use a book by Iris Fry called The Emergence of Life on Earth and also a book by R. Shapiro called Origins, A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth.  This book is out of print, but the Coop has permission to produce copies.  The book deals with both the science and the philosophical issues.

Grading: There will be two exams, primarily on the scientific content (40%) and three papers (each about 5 pages), which focus on the historical and philosophical issues (50%).  The remaining 10% will be based on homework and class discussion.  The grade for the papers will include a component for an oral presentation; each student will make one such presentation during the semester. Class discussion will include at least one of the talks in the University Lecture Series, to be decided in consultation with class. Attendance at a University Gem will also be part of the 10%; this will probably be visiting the HRC special exhibit on the original astronomical works of Copernicus, etc.
Grades will be based on the total points accumulated and will allow for pluses and minuses. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. I use the principles on plagiarism developed by the Department of Rhetoric and Composition, which will be handed out separately.








Origin Science: The Universe and Life
TC 302            Tu-Th 11-12:30                      Fall 2009

Instructor:    Neal Evans           
Office:    RLM 15.214           
Phone:    471-3302               
Office Hours:    Tu 2:30-3:30           
    Wed 9-10           

Schedule: Be sure to do the reading assignments before the class they are assigned for.  Chapters in boldface are optional. Homework is due at the beginning of class on the day it is assigned.  I will be happy to help you with the homework during office hours.  If the scheduled office hours are not possible for you, we will make appointments for other times.

Date    Topic                Reading Assignments        Work Due
       
                (L= Livio; H=Hetherington; F=Fry; S=Shapiro)   
8/27    Intro, themes, issues   
9/1    Science and the Universe    S Pro., 1; L1;H I intro, F intro
9/3    Disc. Nature of Science        H I 1-4, F1-2               
    Cosmology and Culture
9/8    Hist. of Western Cosmology    H II , III,  IV, IX intro., 30; L2

9/10    Disc. History            H V                    Paper 1 Proposal

9/15    Nature of Light             Handouts           

9/17    Disc. Expanding Universe    H VI intro, 18, 19            Hmk. #1
                        L3 pp43-53
9/22    Models of Universe, CBR    H VI 20,21; L3 pp 53-81
9/24    Disc. Tests of Theory                            Hmk. #2
9/29    Dark Matter            L4                    Paper 1 due
10/1    Oral Presentations                            Talks
10/6    A Flat Universe            L5   
10/8    Test #1
10/13    Inflation, then and now        HVII 22; L6   
10/15    Disc. Contrived or Beautiful?   

10/20    Creation     L7; H25        Paper 2 Proposal

10/22    Disc. Cosmology    H VIII, IX                                        Hwk. #3

10/27*    Life in the Universe    L8, F intro, 1-5

10/29    Life, Molecular level    S1-3, F6-7

11/3    Chemical Evolution    S4-7, F8-9                                       Paper 2 due

11/5    Oral Presentations                                                           Talks       

11/10    Transition to Life    S12, F10-12
   
11/12    Disc. Issues in Origins    S11, F13                                       Paper 3 Proposal

11/17    Alternatives and Context    S8-10, S13, F14                           Hwk.# 4

11/19    An Anthropic Universe?    L9
   
11/24    Disc. Saving Beauty?    L10                                             Paper 3 due   

11/26    Thanksgiving

12/1    Oral Presentations    Course-Instructor Survey   

12/3    Second Test

* Class will be rescheduled or taught by a colleague

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