Astrophysics: Frontiers and Controversies - Video
By Charles Bailyn
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(ASTR 160) This course focuses on three particularly interesting areas of astronomy that are advancing very rapidly: Extra-Solar Planets, Black Holes, and Dark Energy. Particular attention is paid to current projects that promise to improve our understanding significantly over the next few years. The course explores not just what is known, but what is currently not known, and how astronomers are going about trying to find out. This course was recorded in Spring 2007.
|1||Video01 - Introduction||Professor Bailyn introduces the course and discusses the course material and requirements.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|2||Video02 - Planetary Orbits||Exoplanets are introduced and students learn how astronomers detect their presence as well as the challenges associated with it.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|3||Video03 - Our Solar System and the Pluto Problem||Class begins with a review of the first problem set. Newton's Third Law is applied in explaining how exoplanets are found.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|4||Video04 - Discovering Exoplanets: Hot Jupiters||The formation of planets is discussed with a special emphasis on the bodies in the Solar System. Planetary differences between the celestial bodies in the Inner and Outer Solar System are observed.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|5||Video05 - Planetary Transits||Professor Bailyn talks about student responses for a paper assignment on the controversy over Pluto. The central question is whether the popular debate is indeed a "scientific controversy."||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|6||Video06 - Microlensing, Astrometry and Other Methods||The class begins with a discussion on transits – important astronomical events that help astronomers to find new planets. The event occurs when a celestial body moves across the face of the star it revolves around and blocks some of its light.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|7||Video07 - Direct Imaging of Exoplanets||Class begins with a problem on transits and learning what information astronomers obtain through observing them. For example, radii of stars can be estimated. Furthermore, applying the Doppler shift method, one can find the mass of a star.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|8||Video08 - Introduction to Black Holes||The second half of the course begins, focusing on black holes and relativity.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|9||Video09 - Special and General Relativity||The discussion of black holes continues with an introduction of the concept of event horizon. A number of problems are worked out to familiarize students with mathematics related to black hole event horizons.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|10||Video10 - Tests of Relativity||The lecture begins with the development of post-Newtonian approximations from Newtonian terms.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|11||Video11 - Special and General Relativity (cont.)||The lecture begins with a comprehensive overview of the historical conditions under which Einstein developed his theories. Of particular impact were the urgent need at the turn of the 19th century to synchronize clocks around the world...||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|12||Video12 - Stellar Mass Black Holes||One last key concept in Special Relativity is introduced before discussion turns again to black celestial bodies (black holes in particular) that manifest the relativistic effects students have learned about in the previous lectures.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|13||Video13 - Stellar Mass Black Holes (cont.)||Class begins with clarification of equations from the previous lecture. Four post-Newtonian gravitational effects are introduced and discussed in detail.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|14||Video14 - Pulsars||Professor Bailyn begins with a summary of the four post-Newtonian effects of general relativity that were introduced and explained last time: precession of the perihelion, the deflection of light, the gravitational redshift, and gravitational waves.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|15||Video15 - Supermassive Black Holes||The lecture begins with a question-and-answer session about black holes. Topics include the extent to which we are sure black holes exist in the center of all galaxies, how massive they are, and how we can observe them.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|16||Video16 - Hubble's Law and the Big Bang||The third and final part of the course begins, consisting of a series of lectures on cosmology. A brief history of how cosmology developed into a scientific subject is offered.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|17||Video17 - Hubble's Law and the Big Bang (cont.)||Class begins with a review of magnitudes and the problem set involving magnitude equations. Implications of the Hubble Law and Hubble Diagram are discussed.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|18||Video18 - Hubble's Law and the Big Bang (cont.)||Professor Bailyn returns to the subject of the expansion of the universe to offer explanations that do not require belief in the Big Bang theory.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|19||Video19 - Omega and the End of the Universe||Class begins with a review of the issues previously addressed about the origin and fate of the universe.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|20||Video20 - Dark Matter||This lecture introduces an important concept related to the past and future of the universe: the Scale factor, which is a function of time.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|21||Video21 - Dark Energy and the Accelerating Universe and the Big Rip||Class begins with a review of the mysterious nature of dark matter, which accounts for three quarters of the universe. Different models of the universe are graphed. The nature, frequency, and duration of supernovae are then addressed.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|22||Video22 - Supernovae||Professor Bailyn offers a review of what is known so far about the expansion of the universe from observing galaxies, supernovae, and other celestial phenomena.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|23||Video23 - Other Constraints: The Cosmic Microwave Background||Reasons for the expansion of the universe are addressed at the start of this lecture, focusing especially on the acceleration of dark energy. Supernovae were the first evidence for the existence of dark energy. Two other proofs are presented||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
|24||Video24 - The Multiverse and Theories of Everything||Professor Bailyn begins the class with a discussion of a recent New York Times article about the discovery of a new, earth-like planet.||12/6/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
Astrophysics for poets but with production problems
On the whole, a thorough and well taught introduction for those with limited mathematics. Others have commented on content but a few words about production are in order. First, the professor uses an overhead projector which severely restricts the volume of information the student can see at any time compared to the (more normal) use of a blackboard. Second, while the professor patiently and fully answers questions from students in the classroom we, the listeners, cannot hear these questions and are left to deduce what he is responding to. And, finally, on the rare occasions when the professor displays slides the camera remains on the professor and, frustratingly, does not show us the slide material.
I am a high school physics teacher, and my students are absolutely fascinated with these topics. I have also been inspired by his method of simplifying the calculations. The “fables” are fantastic. I love it.
The way the professor teaches and carry the subject is simply amazing! He can keep your attention for the entire class and thats hard to see nowadays. The course is easy to understand without knowing too much of math,so for all those who thinks this class is difficult,you can simply go through it without a problem.
Anyway, fascinating subject and a fantastic course for sure.