George S. Greenstein (Section 01)
In recent years, astronomers have come to realize that the view of the universe which we get through telescopes is not telling the whole story. Rather, in addition to all the astronomical objects we can observe, the universe contains an enormous number of unseen things: objects we have never directly detected and, in some cases, that we never will. Some of these objects are black holes, some are planets orbiting nearby stars, and the nature of the rest – the mysterious “dark matter” – is entirely unknown. In this course, working with real and simulated data, students will retrace the path whereby we have come to this remarkable conclusion. Much of the course takes an inquiry-based approach to learning: there will be very few lectures, but rather students will forge their own understanding through seminar discussions and scientific investigations in small groups. Students will write three long papers (there will be an opportunity to rewrite two of them); they will write and then orally present a large number of short communications discussing the status of their research; and they will present their final results in a formal "course conference" at the close of the semester. The course meets two days per week from 2:30 to 5:00 p.m. in the Webster Technology Classroom. These unusual meeting times are required by the inquiry-based nature of the course.
Fall semester. Professor Greenstein.