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Cosmology 101: Suddenly your problems seem so small

Cosmology 101: Suddenly your problems seem so small

According to Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the universe was sneezed out of the nose of a being named the Great Green Arkleseizure. But that theory was only accepted by the Jatravartid people of Viltvodle VI, who lived in perpetual fear of the time they called the Coming of the Great White Handkerchief. Here on Earth, we have our own theories on how the universe began, and thankfully they are a lot less icky and a lot more peer-reviewed.


Popular science educators like Professor Brian Cox and Neil deGrasse Tyson do a great job of communicating highly advanced concepts from the upper echelons of academia to laypeople., via TV shows, lectures and magazine articles. But what if you want to deepen your knowledge a little further than that, without actually taking a degree? Somewhere in between?


Here’s the answer: Cosmology 101 from Prepare to have your mind blown as it takes you through Discovering the Early Universe, The Origins and Early Days of Exploration, Size, Shape & Age of Our Universe, The Greatest Cosmological Advances, and Time Travel. A self-paced online course with instructor feedback, it takes students from the Ancient Greeks through Copernicus, Pythagoras, Aristotle, Newton, Planck, Einstein, Hawking and beyond in a chronicle of humanity’s attempts to describe and explain the universe.


When did time begin? How will it end? How big is the universe? Is there anything outside it? What is space made of? Can anything travel faster than light? How are stars and galaxies born? What happens if you fall into a black hole? Cosmology 101 takes learners through information gathered by CERN, the Hubble Telescope, WMAP, the Keck Telescopes and others and what it tells us about this great big weird bubble we live in and all that it contains.


Returning briefly to Douglas Adams, ‘Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space.’


For those wishing to grasp the basics of observing the heavens, an online Introduction to Astronomy is available from IOA.