This introductory course is intended to provide a basic understanding of our place in the universe in light of the latest scientific observations and discoveries. Stunning graphics and photos illustrate the lectures. Join us for a fascinating look at the evolution of human thought and knowledge about the earth and the cosmos through the ages, from Babylonian and Greek antiquity, through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the 19th century, and finally to the unprecedented present expansion of our detailed understanding of the universe. The course then looks at our solar system and its planets, followed by a review of star evolution and the location of our solar system within the Milky Way galaxy, the formation of the elements, supernovas and pulsars and black holes. This is then followed by our present knowledge about galaxies, supergiant black holes at their centers, quasars, and dark matter. The recent detection of gravitational waves will be discussed. Concepts such as dark energy, the age, size, dynamics and composition of the universe will be introduced, followed by the latest thoughts about the multiverse. The principal methods and tools of today’s Astronomy are discussed. The course concludes with a review of the prevalent thoughts about the probability of extraterrestrial life and intelligence in the context of both the exciting discoveries of extrasolar planets and the history of life on earth. Enrico Fermi, the notable Italian physicist, asked Where Are They? Can we answer his question? Math familiarity is not expected.
Pedro Lilienfeld is an electronics engineer and applied physicist with a life-long interest in Astronomy and Cosmology who became an amateur astronomer at age 15. He is a graduate of a special course in Astronomy under UNESCO auspices. He is presently a consultant and was Principal Science Advisor at Thermo Fisher Scientific in Franklin, MA.