AT 7: Day-by-Day Schedule (with Assignments)

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Saturday 10 Aug: Introductions & Overview

--->>> Reading Assignment for Monday: Introduction and Chapter 1 (34 pages)

Comment: The Introduction lays out what the authors will try to do in the book. They make several quite strong (and debatable) claims, for example: "Ours is probably the first major culture in human history with no shared picture of reality" (p. 2) and "There's no way to have intuition about things one has never experienced" (p. 8) and "Any picture of the expanding universe can only be symbolic. . ." (p. 9). There are many more; clearly this book will require a critical reading. (BTW: Do you know what is meant by "critical" reading or thinking?) AND THEN: Chapter 1 has a number of interesting points, but the central thrust describes WHAT SCIENCE IS, how it works, and how it is related to myth. We will discuss this in GORY detail on Monday and every day forever after.

TO TURN IN MONDAY: A list of what YOU think are the THREE MAIN POINTS in Chapter 1. Bring TWO copies of your list with you to class on Monday.

TO TURN IN TUESDAY: Commentary (2 pages or so) on the Louis Menand NEW YORKER Article.

Astronomy Pictures at: APOD Archive

Powers of Ten at: Powers of Ten

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Monday 12 Aug: Discussion of Introduction & Chapter 1: SCIENCE and UNSCIENCE

--->>> Reading Assignment for Tuesday: Chapter 2 (28 pages)

Comment: Chapter 2 examines a few myths which humans have used to envision the cosmos, and points out some of the advantages these myths brought to those who lived with that cosmic vision. Then, toward the end, the early beginnings of science are discussed.

TO TURN IN TUESDAY: Commentary (2 pages or so) on the Louis Menand NEW YORKER Article.

THERE WILL BE A SHORT MINI-QUIZ AT THE BEGINNING OF CLASS OVER CHAPTER 2.

See: Karl Popper & Falsification

Logical Positivism (see "Basic Tenets")

Magritte's Pipe at: Pipe (Click on painting to enlarge)

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Tuesday 13 Aug: Mini-Quiz and Discussion of Chapter 2: MYTHICAL TRUTH

--->>> Reading Assignment for Wednesday: Chapter 3 (20 pages)

Comment: This is a relatively short chapter which continues to track the evolution of our cosmic view from "classical" myth through the Galilean/Newtonian period, the so-called "Scientific Revolution." The resulting "Newtonian picture" of the universe is the one that the authors claim most everyone today takes as "real," but which (they claim) is no longer adequate.

TO TURN IN WEDNESDAY: Bring answers to the following

1. The authors claim (on p. 71) that ". . .medieval Christian writers, with the exception of Dante, largely avoided the topic of cosmology." Explain why.

2. A major conclusion is stated in the first paragraph on p. 72: "Meaninglessness is better than dogma; that is pretty much the choice the secular West has made for the past few centuries, and will no doubt continue to make until presented with a nonrepressive alternative." React to this statement.

3. What was the effect of Galileo's arrest and conviction on Rene Descartes? Why was Newton not similarly intimidated?

Joseph Campbell & STAR WARS at Monomyth

Joseph Campbell: Wikipedia

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Wednesday 14 Aug: Discussion of Chapter 3: SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION

--->>> Reading Assignment for Thursday: Chapter 4 (33 pages)

Comment: We begin "PART II" which states the present view according to the best current science. The chapter builds up to Figure 6 on page 115.

LIBRARY EXERCISE: THE AMAZING RACE, Fox Hall @ 5:00 PM

TO TURN IN THURSDAY: NOTHING - THERE WILL BE A SHORT MINI-QUIZ AT THE BEGINNING OF CLASS OVER CHAPTER 4.

Galileo: Wikipedia

Newton: Wikipedia

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Thursday 15 Aug: Discussion of Chapter 4: STELLAR EVOLUTION

--->>> Reading Assignment for Friday: Chapter 5 (34 pages)

Comment: Chapter 5 does for "time" what the previous chapter did for "space." The core of Chapter 5 is the "Big Bang" and how the universe has evolved since. We will see later that what our authors mean by "Big Bang" refers to evolution/expansion AFTER the end of the "inflationary epoch," but that depends on the reliability of current theory. Thus, even the definitions of words/phrases is theory-dependent.

VISIT FROM THE DEAN: 11:45 AM

TO TURN IN FRIDAY:

1. Explain how radioactivity is involved in determining the age of the earth.

2. Describe the role of galactic collisions in the evolution of the universe.

HR Diagrams & Stellar Evolution

HR Diagrams: Wikipedia

Stellar Sizes (w/o music)

Stellar Sizes (w/music)

Periodic Table

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Friday 16 Aug: Discussion of Chapter 5: THE OBSERVABLE UNIVERSE

  • Creation of the Universe, Part 1*

--->>> Reading Assignment for Monday: Chapter 6 (23 pages)

Comment: The chapter is about scale and "order of magnitude." The highlight is on page 174 - the claim that "intelligent creatures in the universe have to be midsized."

VISIT FROM LIBRARIAN: 11:15 AM

TO TURN IN MONDAY:

1. Explain the authors' use of the metaphor of "the Cosmic Uroboros."

2. According to the authors, WHY do intelligent creatures have to be midsized?

3. A TOPIC for your "Research Paper"

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Monday 19 Aug: Discussion of Chapter 6: AND BEYOND

--->>> Reading Assignment for Tuesday: NONE

TO TURN IN TUESDAY: NOTHING. THERE WILL BE A "MID-TERM" TEST OVER CHAPTERS 1 THROUGH 6

DEADLINE FOR PLAGIARISM TUTORIAL: MIDNIGHT

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Tuesday 20 Aug: Mid-Term Test and Discussion of Course So Far

--->>> Reading Assignment for Wednesday: Chapter 7 (27 pages)

Comment: The authors treat us to an almost-metaphysical examination of how the universe came to be. It looks at such questions as "what caused the big bang," and "is the observable universe the only one?" These are frankly admitted to be questions that science may never be able to answer.

RAHALL CENTER ORIENTATION @ 11:30 AM

TO TURN IN WEDNESDAY:

1. Explain what is meant by cosmic "inflation?"

2. According to the authors, how has science influenced the future of creation myths?

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Wednesday 21 Aug: Discussion of Chapter 7: QUANTUM PHYSICS & BIG BANGS

--->>> Reading Assignment for Thursday: Chapter 8 (30 pages)

Comment: We look at the possibility and likelihood of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. The authors seem to agree with those who think that the evolution of intelligent life of Earth was a statistically improbable event, and thus might be unique in the universe! The SETI program is mentioned, and we will want to look at this.

WRITING CENTER ORIENTATION: SE:103 @ 11:00 AM

TO TURN IN THURSDAY: NOTHING, THERE WILL BE A SHORT MINI-QUIZ AT THE BEGINNING OF CLASS OVER CHAPTER 8.

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Thursday 22 Aug: Discussion of Chapter 8: SETI & THE DRAKE EQUATION

--->>> Reading Assignment for Friday: Chapter 9 (30 pages)

Comment: The final two chapters are mostly exhortation. You are invited to think about his arguments and see if you think he successfully makes his case.

VISIT FROM AHC REPRESENTATIVE @ 10:30 AM

TO TURN IN FRIDAY:

1. Explain what the authors mean by a "conceptual metaphor" and why they think such things are important.

2. The authors connect "scale confusion," which was discussed in Chapter 6, with our individual personal attitudes toward existence. Explain.

The Drake Equation

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Friday 23 Aug: Discussion of Chapter 9: HUMAN RESPONSE TO TODAY'S AWARENESS

--->>> Reading Assignment for Monday: Chapter 10 (31 pages)

Comment: The final exhortation: the authors plead with us to connect our understanding of the universe with our personal lives. Almost every major point made in earlier chapters now is reviewed and the attempt is made to connect them into an argument for new human BEHAVIOR. Pay especial attention to the list of theories on pp. 295-296 and the categories they are placed in.

TO TURN IN MONDAY: Nothing. Work on Papers! Organize for Exam!

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Monday 26 Aug: Discussion of Chapter 10: EVALUATION OF ARGUMENTS & Student Presentations

--->>> Assignment: Work on Papers! Study for Exam!

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Tuesday 27 Aug: Student Presentations

--->>> Assignment: Work on Papers! Study for Exam!

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Wednesday 28 Aug: Student Presentations

--->>> Assignment: Study for Exam!

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Thursday 29 Aug: Final Exam