Spring 2014 Course at University of California, Santa Cruz


TTh  2pm - 3:45pm  Natural Sciences Annex Room 102

Instructor: David Koo

Office Hours: Thursday 4:00pm -  5:00pm and Friday 11am-noon in  ISB 263   OR BY APPOINTMENT  

Office Phone: 831-459-2130

WWW Home Page: http://www.ucolick.org/~koo

Email: koo@ucolick.org

Course Syllabus (with links to Lectures, Homeworks, Answers to homeworks, Quizzes, Exams, etc. when appropriate -- UserID and Password will be needed after 22 April 2014; 

REMINDER to refresh or empty the cache of your browser often to get updated materials from links).



Recommended: completion of high school algebra and physics. This course is intended  for science majors.

Required and Recommended Books:

Cosmology, along with galaxies and high energy astrophysics, are extremely rapidly changing areas of science. Unfortunately, no book is geared specifically for this course, so I chose  one REQUIRED book that is below the level and the other RECOMMENDED a bit above the level best suited for introductory science majors. Fortunately, the REQUIRED text, is available at the campus bookstore and  is a relatively recent edition: Universe: Stars and Galaxies  by Freedman & Kaufmann (5rd edition of this subset of the complete Universe book-10th edition) by W. H. Freeman Company.  The bookstore should have it in by start of spring quarter, with the Universe: Stars and Galaxies package sold for  about $115.  Unfortuntely, the other, recommended book: The Big Bang by J. Silk (3rd edition) is out of print, so I will provide 4 copies of them on Reserve (see below).  If you wish to have your own copy, you might want to check out internet book sellers such as Amazon and Alibris for the Silk book. 

Reserve and Supplemental Books

Besides the above two text books above, I have also placed the following on 3 day reserve at the Science Library as supplemental reading.  Note that some of them are wonderful books and EASILY  & FREELY available ONLINE.  

Ferris, T. Coming of Age in the Milky Way --- I found this book to be a truly enjoyable book about galaxies and cosmology -- highly recommended. (Q125.F425 1988)

Greene, B. The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory -- A must read  at the popular level for those interested in multidemensions (QC794.6.S85 G75  1999)

Greene, B. The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality  -- has outstanding discussion of space and time, including relativity, quantum mechanics, multidimensions, etc. (QB982 .G74 2004 - available ONLINE)

Kaku, M.  Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel --- this books sounds like alot of fun for those interested in UFOs to time travel; I have not read it myself but other students have enjoyed this author's books (QC75 .K18 2008)

 Shu, F. The Physical Universe --- This book is introductory astronomy geared for physics majors and would be a good resource who want more advanced material than that in Universe. (QB43.2.S54 1982)

Rees, M. Our Cosmic Habitat --- This is written for the popular level and should thus be fun and easy (QB981 .R369 2001) 

Smolin, L. The Life of the Cosmos --- This book is written for a popular level and presents an interesting view of how the universe of Universes evolve to produce one that has life such as our own. (QB981.S694 1997)

Guth, A. H. The Inflationary Universe --- This is a popular account from the originator of the inflationary scenario. (QB991.I54 G88 1997)

Bartusiak, M. Archives of the Universe: 100 Discoveries that transformed our Understanding of the Universe --- (available ONLINE) and The Day We Found the Universe (QB15 .B37 2006eb), which  is a popular account of  the discovery by Hubble that we live in a vast, expanding Universe -- should be a wonderful read -- let me know what you think, since I have not read this one yet, but her previous books were delightful.  

Course Description

This course is intended for science majors and will aim to provide an introduction to modern cosmology and extragalactic astronomy. We will explore our current knowledge and understanding of the physical processes in the evolving universe in the context of the big bang model. Special emphasis will be placed on what physical evidence can be garnered to understand the large scale structure and evolution of the universe. This course will also examine what we know today about the formation and evolution of its galaxies and quasars. We WILL NOT be dealing with cosmogony, such as the formation of stars, the formation of heavy elements by stars, and the formation of the solar system and life on earth (there are other astronomy course geared to these subjects). Topics include the origin of the universe, Big Bang cosmology, expansion of the universe, dark matter & dark energy, properties of galaxies, black holes and active galactic nuclei (AGN), and very energetic phenomena in our own and other galaxies.


The math and physics level will be more challenging than in the other introductory astronomy courses for non-science majors, i.e., Astronomy 2 through 5. High school level algebra and geometry will be extensively used in lectures, homeworks, and tests. The amount of new material in this subject is very large for almost every student, so I can only focus on the important points and physical understanding. Almost everyone (except upper undergrad astrophysics majors) will feel overwhelmed at some level; thus I certainly expect lots of questions during my lectures which are aimed to be informal. Since almost all  students will not have had introductory astronomy, I will cover whatever is needed to understand the physical processes.


Four required sets of homework problems will be given out, worth 20%of your total grade. These will include conceptual problems as well as mathematical problems. You are free to discuss and work on the homeworks with others, but I expect the written answers to be in your own words and your own calculations. The homeworks will serve as the basis for parts of the exams, so they should not be overlooked despite their relatively small weight for the total grade. Late homeworks will not be accepted after answers are given out (usually one week after due date); before that time, they will be penalized 50%.

Written Report & Oral Presentation:

The course will also require a five page, single-space, written report, worth 20% of your total grade on a scientific article, an idea of your own, a small research project, or whatever topic that each of you and I agree to NO LATER than Thursday 1 May 2014. The purpose of these reports is to enable each student to explore a relevant topic of their own choosing,  to give a personal account of that exploration (why topic, how explored, what reactions, etc),  and to communicate your ideas clearly in written form. These reports are NOT to be dumps of information from books or internet. I will be grading these reports partly on their quality of presentation and writing and will down-grade if it is not a personal account of the exploration. These reports will be due by Thurs 29 May  2014 -- the third (3rd)  to  the last class; late reports will be given only partial credit, 10% less per  weekday until 50% by 5 pm of the last class day on  Thursday 5 June 2014. Reports received after this date  and time will not be accepted.  In addition, any student  may volunteer to  give a 5 minute oral presentation of their report during the last  class on Thursday 5 June 2014;  this presentation may count up to 3%  extra credit toward the total grade.

Exams and Quizzes:

Three (3) closed-book, pop quizzes will be given during the quarter, from which your top two will worth 10% of your total grade, i.e. 5% for each of your best two.  You can thus miss one or mess up on one without any effect on your grade. These are likely  to take 20 minutes each . These will serve as  feedback for  you and me on how well you are understanding the  recent course material,  and will also  serve as examples of what the midterm and final exams will include -- see next item.

One midterm and one final exam will be given,  worth  20% and 30%  of your grade, respectively  Although the exams are closed book and notes, all essential equations will be provided so you do not need to memorize them. No calculators will be allowed or needed.  The final exam will be cumulative in the coverage of the course materials, so that it will cover the entire course, but with a heavier emphasis on the materials since the midterm exam.  The midterm exam will be aimed  for  the full 90 minutes of a class.   Some  class time will be provided before the midterm to permit any last minute questions. The final will use the entire 3 hours. Note the final  exam is on Thu 12 June 2014 from noon - 3pm.  


1) Homeworks (20%) ......

2) 5 Page Report (20%)
      5 min Report presentation (up to 3% EXTRA CREDIT) ......

3)  Best  2 of 3 pop-quizzes (10%)

4)  Closed-Book Exams (midterm 20% + final 30% = 50% ) ......

The course may be taken on a  pass/no-pass but the default is for a grade.  Nominally, 74%  or above will be considered to be passing, i.e. equivalent to a grade of C or above. There is no reason that anyone should fail or get a no-pass in this class if you do the homeworks, take the quizzes, and keep up with the lectures and reading, and study for the exams. This is especially true since extra credits  will be possible.  For example, if you feel the need for some extra credits to make up for a bad midterm exam, come see me and we can arrange something. BUT the specification of the extra credit work must be agreed upon with me, i.e. specified by Thurs  15 May 2014 and will be due by  the  next to last class  Tuesday 3 June 2014. These extra credits are limited to help a student pass (no-pass to pass) or to improve a grade by one  sub-unit (C+ to B- ,  B- to B, B to B+, or B+ to A-, etc.) and are not intended to move by larger amounts such as from a C to B-, B+ to A, etc.

Course Syllabus (with links to Homeworks, Answers to homeworks, Quizzes, Exams, etc. when appropriate. Note that a USERID and password will be needed after 22 April 2014 to access answers.) REMINDER to refresh or empty the cache of your browser often to get the latest contents from the links - you will otherwise see "PLACE HOLDERS".

QUICK LINKS to Lectures



Lecture 1 Notes --  1 Apr 2014

Lecture 2 Notes --  3 Apr 2014

Lecture 3 Notes --  8 Apr 2014

Lecture 4 Notes --   10 Apr 2014

Lecture  5 Notes -- 15 Apr 2014

Lecture 6 Notes --  17 Apr 2014

Lecture 7 Notes --  22 Apr   2014

Lecture 8 Notes --  24 Apr 2014

Lecture 9 Notes --   29 Apr 2014

Lecture 10 Notes --  1 May  2014

Lecture 11 Notes   --   6 May  2014

MIDTERM EXAM -- 8 May 2014

Lecture 12 Notes   --   13 May 2014

Lecture 13 Notes --  15 May 2014

Lecture 14 Notes   --  20 May 2014

Lecture 15 Notes --  22 May 2014

Lecture 16 Notes --  27 May 2014

Lecture 17 Notes --  29 May 2014

Lecture 18 Notes --   3 Jun 2014

Lecture 19 Notes & LAST CLASS: Presentations & Evaluation -- 5 Jun 2014

FINAL EXAM :   Thursday 12  Jun 2014   NS Annex 102   noon - 3pm

Making a Spectroscope - Homework 2 Due  24 Apr 2014