Science has mapped our past from sticks and stones to the iPhone, allowing us to discover the tortuous route primitive humans travelled to stand upright, survive against incredible odds, and to think. We’ve gained an insight into the workings of diseases and aging and vigorously hunt for ways to stop both. Humanity has created tools that can measure the movement of entire continents, communicate with robots on another planet or send probes hurtling through deepest space. Once the stuff of fantasy, we can easily unleash the power of the atom, create super-fast computers that mimic the human brain, and entertain the possibility of cloning ourselves. The bizarre subatomic world of nature has revealed puzzles that shatter our common sense notions, yet giving us new ideas for strange new technologies. Our minds can understand how our sun lives and how it will die, grasp the vastness and emptiness of space, but we still eagerly listen for alien messages from the stars, looking for someone else like us. We are also tantalizingly close to recreating the conditions at the beginning of the universe itself!
These are some of the topics we will cover in this introductory course, de-mystifying the concepts of Science, and understanding its many facets and consequences – good and bad. We will explore the grand ideas that have shaped our history, still changing our lives moment-by-moment, and the possible futures opening before us.
This General Education course is for students without a math or science background, but with a healthy sense of wonder.