FSS > Undergraduate Division > Letters & Science > UC Berkeley

Astronomy 84, Section 1
Black Holes (2 units, P/NP)
Professor Steven Beckwith
Wednesday 1:00-3:00, 501B Campbell Hall, Class number: 12949

The seminar discusses the physics of Black Holes, the evidence for their existence, and some of the interesting implications that black holes pose for the universe. Using Kip Thorne's book, "Black Holes and Time Warps; Einstein's Outrageous Legacy," we will delve into the ordinary predications about black holes–space-time curvature, time dilation, the dangers of getting too close, the central singularities, frame dragging–as well as some of the more exotic ideas like black hole evaporation and even wormholes. Although the concepts in this course are not intuitive for most students, they can be understood by anyone with a background in high school physics and first-year college math, and they provide an excellent basis to learn how to reason about new ideas in science. Students most likely to profit from this class should have preparation equivalent to first-year college-level courses in physics and mathematics. They need not be majors in physical science or engineering. All students will learn the fundamentals of special relativity and the rudiments of general relativity in the first two weeks of class.

Steven Beckwith is a Professor of Astronomy at Berkeley. He was previously the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies at the UC Office of the President where he joined UC in 2008. From 1998 through 2007, he was the Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, responsible for the science operations of the Hubble Space Telescope, and a Professor of Astronomy and Physics at Johns Hopkins University for nine years. Previously, he was Director of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany for seven years and a Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University for thirteen years. His research interests include the creation of galaxies in the early universe, the formation of planets around other stars, and the detection of life on extrasolar planets.

Faculty web site: http://www.ucop.edu/research/beckwith.html

Quotes from Fall 2016 seminar:

The course is challenging but manageable if you put time into it, regardless of background.

Professor Beckwith is quite the engaging professor. He takes time to help non-astronomy majors to relate to this course and develop/improve skills that can apply back to individual academic majors.

The most important thing I learned was how to give a presentation on information that even I didn’t 100% know, and still present it in a way that allowed people to learn.

"I've never had a class that was so interactive and engaging. I definitely felt connected with classmates and the professor." - student in Spring 2013 seminar

"Dr. Steve is THE MAN. Seriously. Not only was the seminar interesting, but I was excited to come to class just to hear the man talk. Such a great speaker. I'm sad that we won't be meeting anymore." - student in spring 2011 seminar
Freshman and Sophomore Seminars are co-sponsored by the Undergraduate Division
of the College of Letters & Science and the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education.
For further information about the program,
contact Alix Schwartz (alix@berkeley.edu / 642-8378).

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