Class begins with a review of the issues previously addressed about the origin and fate of the universe. The role of gravity in the expansion of the universe is discussed and given as the reason why the rate of expansion cannot remain constant and will eventually slow down. The actual density of the universe is calculated using various methods. Finally, the unsolved problem of dark matter is addressed and two explanatory hypotheses are proposed. One is that the universe is comprised of WIMPs (Weakly Interactive Massive Particles) that fulfill two requirements: they have mass and do not interact with light. The second hypothesis is that dark matter is made of MACHOs (Massive Astrophysical Compact Halo Objects), which scientists have attempted to identify through gravitational lenses.
This course focuses on three particularly interesting areas of astronomy that are advancing very rapidly: Extra-Solar Planets, Black Holes, and Dark Energy. Particular attention is paid to current projects that promise to improve our understanding significantly over the next few years. The course explores not just what is known, but what is currently not known, and how astronomers are going about trying to find out.
As one of the world's great universities, Yale traces its roots back to the early 1640s when colonial clergyman sought to establish a school in order to continue the tradition of European education within the Americas. Yale has now grown to educate over 11,000 students from over 100 countries on a 310-acre campus in New Haven, Connecticut. Within the school's 260 buildings are over 2,000 undergraduate programs in 65 departments taught by a distinguished faculty. As Academic Earth's first partner school, Yale has been a leader within the space of OpenCourseWare by consistently delivering on its esteemed mission to expand access to educational materials for all who wish to learn.