Online reading assignment: cosmology (SLO campus)

Astronomy 210, spring semester 2013
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.
"The acceleration of the universe because I have a personal theory to the origin of existence that uses this as key evidence."

"The history of the big bang and how it developed was really cool because I didn't realize how freaking long it took just to form galaxies, stars, etc."

"Personally I found reading about the Hubble law interesting...how they tried to come up with a concept that explains the size and age of the universe...claiming almost all galaxies appear to be moving away from us."

"I think its interesting that astronomy is full of recently found information. it seems like a pretty new branch of science. There are new things discovered all the time. It must be pretty rad to have the best job security as an astronomer."

"That a lot of stars are dead now but we can still see their light."

"I thought it was interesting learning about the big bang, because I believe that God created Earth. But I am still curious and open about other people's theories."

"That the universe has no edges it is infinite and there is no center, this is just insane to try to imagine."

"I found it interesting because I wasn't aware that the big bang didn't occur at a single place, but filled the entire volume of the universe."

"Olbers' paradox is interesting to me because of how the night sky should apparently be incredibly bright! Of course he was wrong but for Olbers' time he had something there."
Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"Olber's paradox."

"Differences between antimatter, dark matter, and matter. I've read the difference a dozen times but I can always hear it again. And the difference between an open, closed, and flat universe... I wonder if astronomer's are over-thinking things sometimes when the solution is sometimes apparent to even a child."

"It's a little hard for me to wrap my head around how the big bang 'occurred everywhere.'"

"'Edge in time, not space.'"

"I did not understand the 'wall of light.'"

"I was a little confused by the video."

"I'm still a little unsure what caused the big bang to happen."

"How are you looking back in time when you look at space at a great distance? Or is that just a metaphor?"

"Nothing at all."
Briefly explain how it is possible for you to see a star in tonight's sky that may have already died a long time ago.
"Since we're so far away from the star it takes years for the light to reach us."
Describe what will happen when a matter particle and an antimatter particle meet each other.
"They destroy each other and release photons in the form of gamma rays."
Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"If space/time is infinite, then why is our universe only 14 billion years old? Are we just really lucky to exist, or do we participate in an infinite universe cycle?" (Space (the size of the universe) is understood to be infinite, but time (the age of the universe) is finite.)

"What happens when there's more antimatter than matter?" (Then everything today would be made of antimatter rather than matter.)

"The big bang was probably the most fun part of this class to read about so far." (Cool. Cool cool cool.)

"Since Christianity does not teach the big bang theory, are most astronomers non-Christian or do those believers just have to have an open mind and accept the theories of the big bang?" (The big bang was originally proposed by a Catholic priest.)

"The Madonna Inn has good apple pie and coffee." (Damn straight.)

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