Astrology and Pseudoscience
Fundamental ideas of astrology. Requirement for new unknown force. Testing astrology in a fair and rigorous way. Results of in-class experimet with sun-sign astrology. Results of more stringent experiments. Clear questions about themes of pseudoscience. Examples and how to tell pseudoscience from objective science.
The structure of the cometary nucleus and its immediate surroundings. The coma of a comet and what its made of. The formation and nature of the ion (plasma) and dust tails of comets. Short period comets and long period comets. Periodic and nonperiodic comets. The origin of comets in the Oort cloud and Kuiper belt. Famous comets (Halley and Encke's comet). Clues to the formation of the solar system.
The Sun and the Formation of the Solar System
Observed parameters of the Sun: temperature, size, luminosity. The solar photosphere, chromosphere and corona. Granulation, sunspots, prominences, flares. Sunspots, magnetic fields and the 22 year sunspot cycle. A physical explanation for the magnetic reversal every 11 years. Energy generation in the Sun via nuclear fusion. Formation of the solar system out of a molecular cloud. Gravitational collapse, formation of a disk. Formation of planets in the solar nebula vial condensation, planetessimal formation, and accretion. Temperature distribution in the solar nebula and formation of icy vs. rocky planets. Time scale for planet formation was short (100 million years) compared with the age of the solar system.
Other Solar Systems and Life in the Universe
The most recent evidence for planets outside of the solar system. Evidence for massive planets around nearby stars based on the gravititational influence of the planet on the star. Questions arising from these discoveries ( .e. is our solar system typical?). The probability of life on other planets. Drake's estimator of the probability of finding a technological civilization in the galaxy. Astronomical, biological, and sociologicaly factors. The habitable zone - liquid water and the development of life. Likely values for each factor. Which terms in the Drake "equation" are more certain, which are not. The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intellegence (SETI). Methods used by SETI scientists in the search for artificial signals from space. Why radio waves are a good way of transmitting signals across the Galaxy?