Freshman Seminar 3: The Cosmic Discovery

FS 3. Freshman Seminar: Cosmic Discovery. 6 units (2-0-4); first term. This seminar will address a general question: How are new discoveries made in astronomy? Unlike in most sciences, we cannot study astronomical objects in a laboratory - all we can do is to observe them from a large distance. Moreover, most of them evolve on time scales vastly larger than the human lifetime. So, how do we reach a convincing and reliable physical understanding of cosmic phenomena? What assumptions do we make in interpreting the astronomical observations? What is the role of technological advances in opening new domains for discovery? What are the natural limitations of our measurements? We will illustrate the scientific discovery process in astronomy with numerous historical and recent examples. Freshmen only; limited enrollment. Instructor: Djorgovski.

Thus spoke the Catalog.

Last changed: 15 Sep 2011