Cosmology is the science of the beginning, organization, and fate of the entire universe. Within our lifetime it has developed from playful thinking to actual science. This course covers the development of cosmology and its present direction from a historical perspective. We will discuss the instruments of cosmology, the discoveries that fueled the rise of the field, philosophical and religious issues, the relationship between cosmology and culture at large, the interesting people involved in the exploration of the universe, and the sheer joy of looking over God’s shoulder. We will also study the unfortunate future of this science in our country. The readings, all of which will be on CTools, will come from original sources, public commentaries, and the memoirs of the men and women who created the science and have led to its recent extraordinary expansion. We will discuss the issues in class, and there will be three examinations to assess student learning.
There are no prerequisites beyond intellectual curiosity.