Online reading assignment: cosmology (NC campus)

Astronomy 210, fall semester 2012
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Students have a weekly online reading assignment (hosted by SurveyMonkey.com), where they answer questions based on reading their textbook, material covered in previous lectures, opinion questions, and/or asking (anonymous) questions or making (anonymous) comments. Full credit is given for completing the online reading assignment before next week's lecture, regardless if whether their answers are correct/incorrect. Selected results/questions/comments are addressed by the instructor at the start of the following lecture.

The following questions were asked on reading textbook chapters and previewing presentations on evidence for the big bang, and models of the early big bang.

Selected/edited responses are given below.

Describe something you found interesting from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally interesting for you.
"Contemplating an edge to space. The 'edge' of space is actually just how far back time goes. The universe has no boundaries (but the observable universe does)."

"That telescopes are like time machines. We see what a star looks like in the past. I think its interesting because people constantly wonder what things would be like if they could go into the past with a time machine."

"Astronomers can detect radiation from the CMB and be able to explain what it is."

"Olbers' question about darkness in the sky was very interesting, and it was cool to see a literary genius such as Edgar Allen Poe easily answer this question several hundred years later."

"Well, it is interesting how much I am confused."
Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"I did not find anything particularly confusing in this chapter."

"That the night sky is dark because the universe had a beginning."

"That there is no center in the universe. It seems like there would have to be a place where the big bang happened."

"How we can see a star that looked the way it did thousands of years ago."

"I don't get why a big bang would occur? What would have caused the big bang in the first place?"

"Why lithium won't be created again after the nucleosynthesis era ended."

"I find the big bang hard to understand because I believe something else."
Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"Do you believe in God? Do you believe the big bang theory? How important is it for you to know how the universe began?" (Yes, yes, and very.)

"What is something you don't get about the big bang?" (How and why it started. To quote Rolf-Dieter Heuer, the Director-General of CERN: 'There's a need for us, as naïve scientists, to discuss with philosophers and theologians the time before or around big bang.')

"How can I get extra credit?" (There will be more extra credit opportunities later this semester online, and during review sessions.)

"I love this class! :)" (Awesome sauce.)

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