AS 109 - Introduction to Cosmology
Cosmology is a branch of astronomy concerned with the evolution
of the universe as a whole. We will be concerned with some of
the most fundamental questions that humans can formulate such as
``What is the universe and what is our role in it?'', ``Did
the universe have a specific beginning or has it always existed?'',
and ``Will the universe as we know it exist forever?''.
Cosmology focuses on the ``big picture'' and is not so concerned
with specific objects in the universe (i.e. individual planets,
stars, or galaxies). However, we will need to understand the
basic nature of many of these objects in order to understand the
full modern picture of the origin and evolution of the universe.
To do this we will apply the laws of physics as we know them on
earth to objects we observe in the universe. The level of physics
used in this class will be necessarily qualitative but will
encompass many of the basic concepts modern physics, atomic and
nuclear physics, elementary particle physics, the nature of
the space/time continuum, and the theory of general relativity.
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