Course Description and Philosophy
Textbook and Reading Assignments
Welcome to the home page for Physics 432/750: Cosmology. Watch this space for important announcements and useful hints. Plan to use email to ask questions about homework assignments and the course readings so that I can give you timely feedback and send any relevant homework hints to everyone else in the class.
Lecture times: Tuesday and
Thurssday 9:30 - 10:50 a.m. in Disque 919.
If you will be unable to attend class, please notify me ahead of time or contact me as soon as possible.
Cosmology is the study of the universe as a whole and the formation and evolution of its contents. The relevant physics span from quantum mechanics to general relativity. Beginning from the solutions to Einstein's equations that yield the prediction of an expanding universe, we will work toward an astrophysical understanding of the origin of structure in the universe from both theoretical and observational perspectives.
The field of cosmology is truly in a golden age, as we precisely map the distribution of galaxies at the present epoch, study the formation and evolution of stars, galaxies, and other bound objects, and probe fluctuations in matter and radiation when the universe was one thousandth of its current size. Together with theoretical advances that include the ability to simulate the evolution of cosmologically-interesting volumes of the universe, we are now able to make strong tests of proposed cosmological models. The questions of cosmology are central to physics: What is the matter and energy content of the universe? What drives the formation of structure? What were the initial conditions? Observations of the distribution of galaxies, the anistropy of the cosmic microwave background, and supernovae in distant galaxies indicate that a mere 5% of the mass-energy density in the universe is comprised of normal, baryonic matter. Roughly 25% is in the form of weakly-interacting dark matter. The remaining 70% - most of the universe - is in some form of dark energy similar to Einstein's cosmological constant.
The primary goal of this course is to expose advanced undergraduates and first and second year graduate students to the essential elements of astrophysical cosmology at a level that would allow them to read current literature in the field and to work through problems at the level required for beginning research.
The required textbook is Cosmological Physics, by John A. Peacock, 1999, (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge), ISBN 0-521-42270-1 (paperback), 0-521-41072-X (hardcover). This book should be available in the Drexel bookstore. The text covers most of the material at a first-year graduate level.
Other useful texts include The Early Universe, by E. W. Kolb and M. S. Turner, 1990, (Addison-Wesley) and Principles of Physical Cosmology, by P.J.E. Peebles, 1993, (Princeton University Press). Also see chapter 12 of A First Course in General Relativity, by B. F. Schutz (Cambridge University Press).
Please read the assignments before class and prepare to ask questions.
See the Course Schedule below for the weekly reading assignments.
Grades will be based on the following weighting of different
components of the course:
Midterm Exam: 30%
Final Exam: 40%
Note that this course includes two sections: Physics 432 for undergraduates and Physics 750-501 for graduate students. Grading for these sections will be as appropriate for the different levels of preparation.
Problem sets will be distributed in class. Use the PS or PDF files linked here in case you lose yours. There will be five homework sets, for which you will have roughly a week and a half to do each. Late homework will not be accepted. There will be no ``dropped homeworks.''
Solutions to the homework will be handed out in class on the due date (and posted on the web page), thus late homework will not be accepted. Please strive to present your answers in a neat, workmanlike fashion; the clarity of your solutions will count toward your grade.
Science is a collaborative enterprise and you are encouraged to discuss the homework problems. But you and you alone are responsible for the work that you turn in. Please write up your own solutions to the problems. Serious breaches of this policy will result in homework scores being divided by the number of ``participants.''Homework 1. Due Thursday, January 22.
homework 2 problems (PDF)
homework 3 problems (PDF)
Watch this space and your email for helpful homework hints. Let me know if you'd like to add one!Homework 2:
Homework 2 solutions
homework 2 solutions (PDF)
Homework 3 solutions
homework 3 solutions (PDF)
This schedule is subject to change. Watch for announcements.
|1||January 6, 8||Isotropic Universe||ch. 3||HW1|
|2||January 13, 15||Age and Distance Scales||ch. 5|
|3||January 20, 22||Hot Big Bang||ch. 9||HW2|
|4||January 27, 29||Inflationary Cosmology||ch. 11|
|5||February 3, 5||Matter in the Universe||ch. 12||HW3|
|6||February 10, 12||Galaxies and their Evolution||ch. 13||Midterm|
|7||February 17, 19||Dynamics of Structure Formation||ch. 15||HW4|
|8||February 24, 26||Cosmological Density Fields||ch. 16|
|9||March 2, 4||Galaxy Formation||ch. 17||HW5|
|10||March 9, 13||Cosmic Background Fluctuations||ch. 18|
|11||No Class||Final Exam|
Last update: January 9, 2004