Introduction To Cosmology

3 Hour Topics in Physics Course

SELECTED TOPICS - 13474 - PHYS 3990 - 60

PRIMARY TEXT: "Introduction to Cosmology", Barbara Ryden, First Edition: 2002, Addison-Wesly (ISBN 0-8053-8912-1)

OPTIONAL TEXT: "An Introduction to Modern Cosmology", Andrew Liddle, Second Edition, 2003, Wiley (ISBN 0-4708-4835-7)

OPTIONAL TEXT: "The Oxford Companion to Cosmology", Andrew Liddle and Jon Loveday, First Edition, 2009, Wiley (ISBN 0-1995-6084-6)

Very Recent and up to date.  Will define LOTS of terms for you that you'd otherwise have to glean from strange or overdense websites.

Class time: Wednesday Evenings: 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM.

Pre-Requisites; Astronomy 1700 (Introduction to Astronomy), Mathematics 1600 (Calculus), Physics 1600 (Physics I). Or chat with the Department Chair, Dr. S. Chung to sign up if you do not have the prerequisites.

Cosmology is the study of the Universe as a whole. When looking on the largest scales, we consider entire galaxies as motes of dust in the cosmic void. There have been amazing discoveries in the last decade which have propelled science into new and uncharted territories. Cosmology has deeply contributed to our understanding of Particle Physics, an Particle Physics has challenged what we know about the universe as a whole. With the results from the COBE and WMAP missions, which have brought us well into the realm of precision cosmology, we may now look at the first moments of creation quantitatively, with evidence that can discern between models of the evolution of our Universe. We no logger have to rely on stories and myths to tell us "how it all began." It is now fully in the realm of verifiable experiment.

This class will introduce all the modern elements of current Cosmology, looking at physical processes that underpin the actions and workings from the Big Bang to the present day. The textbook is well-written, and will lead us down a good path from which we shall spring.

There is significant math involved in the class, and a working knowledge of calculus is required. It is also important to have taken at least the first semester of Physics in the minor to understand how and why we approach the subject the way we do. The course is not just a qualitative discussion; you'll be doing homework.

Topics covered will include:

1) Fundamental Observations of Cosmology.

2) The implications of the Equivalence Principle in Newtonian versus Relativistic thinking.

3) Derivation of the Friedmann Equation governing motion in the universe in bulk.

4) Derivation of the equations of state of toy universes with differing compositions.

5) Measurement of cosmological parameters.

6) The manifestation of Dark Matter.

7) The discovery of Dark Energy.

8) The Cosmic Microwave Background.

9) Big Bang Nucleosynthesis.

10) Inflation and Early universe conditions.

11) Large Scale Structure formation

12) Results from recent and current cosmological studies and experiments.

In addition to these topics, the student will encounter Particle Physics, Thermodynamics, Gravity as Geometry (General Relativistic concepts), Newtonian Mechanics and Electrodynamics.

The course will consist readings of the text and supplementary websites, weekly homework assignments, a midterm and a final. There will also be a special assignment to look at primary sources.

Please grab your books and start in.  We'll be doing problems, so please let me know if you need help with Calculus principles or ideas.  I don't want the math to get in the way, but the math and the problems are requirements.  The basis of the class will be the reading, supplementary reading on websites, weekly homework based out of problems in both Ryden's and Liddle's books, three tests and a final.  All of the tests will be a mix of problems and short answers, with the final adding an interpretation of a current work from  I'll give you a paper as part of the final, and you'll interpret it according to what you've learned in the course.  The three tests will be in-class, closed-book tests that should be do-able in 45 minutes to an hour. 

This will be an amazing class, and I'm very happy to have the opportunity to share this with you.  Also, you are to be commended for jumping on a class that will be both a challenge and a ground-breaking course for William Paterson University.

WPU Resources:

Continuing Education Course Listing:  for the general public  for members of approved astronomy clubs and organizations

Science Enrichment Center:

Math Department for tutoring:

Physics Department: